Friday, April 26, 2013

A bit of confidence

Today, I only took pictures with my phone, and I'm without a doubt phone illiterate enough that I only know how to text the pictures to someone, not how to take them off of my phone.  I would have taken our sweet camera with me if I felt at all confident manipulating it along with two children.  Ergo, this post will be image free.  I'll try to replace the visuals with some word images.

I took the girls to the zoo today.  By myself!  (Picture me here debating about this venture before embarking thinking of the hard parts: nursing baby in public with three-year old in tow, manipulating bathroom trips with two children, 2 long car drives...picture my furrowed brow contemplating the weather situation.)  Every time I get a little more adventurous with the girls on my own, it feels liberating.  I feel powerful, even with something as mundane as a trip to the zoo.  I want day trips to be part of our normal, both spur-of-the-moment and blessings in good times. 

The thought of taking two sprouts out and about in new situations is sometimes daunting.  (Picture here the germ laden bathrooms where you cringe when any part of you touches any part of it.  And then you have a toddler touching all over it.  And for an added element of fun, you have a learning walker/crawler who is mighty curious as well.  Picture me wishing for a special disinfecting shower in the style of that which you might find in any science classroom.) 

The weather was just too temptingly delicious today, and we had no conflicts of time or scheduling.  So we ventured forth and had MUCH fun. 

Picture me giggling with my babies as we watched the goslings just off the edge of the path. 
Picture Abby bravely offering a lettuce leaf to a voracious giraffe. 
Picture Audrey kicking her pudgy legs when the sheep bleated for some supper.

Picture dozens of little moments throughout the 2-hour window that were just sunny and calm and delightful. 

We already have a handful of tangible pictures of Abby sitting on the same statues scattered around the zoo.  But I still snapped a new one at each one today.  Each one.  I'm a big fan of pictures that show growth.  All sorts of pictures...all sorts of growing.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Giving up the bottle

We all have addictions, right?  We all have things that we do without thinking, use as a source of comfort, or accept without fail.  For my youngest young'un, the bottle does not fall into any of these categories.  (As I'm writing this, I hear that she is also waking up after a short, short afternoon nap.  And, she had very little morning napping.  Frustration.)

OK, so Audrey won't take a bottle anymore.  To say that she used to take a bottle is even something of a misnomer given that her agreement to use the milk nanny was somewhat hit-and-miss.  When you have two kids, then the second one gets the shaft sometimes.  For Audrey, we didn't try nearly hard enough to have her wholly comfortable with the bottle.  It was (take your choice here on any given night) too much effort, too much clean-up, too time consuming.  And then we made the choices that we did and it was decided that she wasn't going to a sitter come 6 months, so the bottle usage plummeted even more.  Again, pick any of a number of reasons why. 

Bottles are super duper fabulous when you need to be away from the kid for whatever reason, like returning to some semblance of having adult responsibilities.  But having a kid who won't take a bottle also removes you from those same aforementioned responsibilities pretty easily.  What, you want me to lead the meeting tonight?  Sorry...I have a kid who won't take a bottle, so we'll have to be done by 7:45.  (True story.)

But this past weekend was the final drop of wasted milk.  (Once you start a bottle with a baby, you can't save the rest for later.  Whatever is left is wasted...annoying when they only drink one ounce of milk that you fought hard to put in that bottle in the first place.)  A few months ago, two of my sisters-in-law and I made a date for this past Sunday to have a girls' day in Indy.  I'm the only one who has kids, currently, so having a kids-free day was mostly the cherry on top of my sundae.  But Audrey won't take a bottle.  Who wants to guess the outcome of who went shopping and who didn't stay at home with daddy?

So I decided that the bottles and corresponding paraphernalia were wasting too much pantry space.  They're gone.  Relegated to the closet where they will likely remain until someone else has a baby and I can pass them on or else hawk them at a garage sale.  Weaning makes me a little sentimental and weepy but doing away with the thought of bottles?  Not.  So.  Much.

On the other hand, someone small has developed a mighty big tendency to chomp come milking time.  It's not biting so much as an incredible first bite/latch.  Oh the tenderness...I knew thee well and begrudgingly acknowledge thee again.  It's a good thing I don't often throw things away, like half-used containers of Lansinoh...

(What, is this everyone-under-the-age-of-five-wake-up-early day?  Good grief.)   

Friday, April 19, 2013

The pitter patter of another set of feet...

This... Maggie.

She's a pretty cool little munchkin.  Precocious.  Strong willed.  Independent.  Snuggly. 

And she has that sweet little baby voice.  Today, we were practicing how to say "Good gracious!  Sakes alive!"  But she still just won't say "Go Braves!" for me.  I'm going to keep working on her.

This little girl... the pitter patter of another set of feet around our house three days a week.  She's the daughter of a good teacher friend of mine and his wife, who has also become a good friend.  They were in a pickle a few months ago when Maggie's mommy's work schedule changed and they were in a need of a new babysitting arrangement.  Well, as it turns out, my work schedule had changed as well about that time.  So I up and volunteered to have little Maggie Moo come chill at our house, just us girls for a few hours a week.  And it has worked out pretty well, actually.  She comes over for the afternoon on days that we don't have any commitments, and a good chunk of her time with us is rest time for all.  Right now, I have a 10-month old snoring away in her room, a 3-year old doing something quiet (perhaps napping today?) in  her room, and a 20-month old snoozing up a storm in her quiet place.  Every time I get all three where they're supposed to be for resting on time and calmly, I feel like a small bit of applause is justly warranted.  So I usually eat chocolate while I fritter away my time in various pursuits, often meaningless and mind numbing.

Genetically, Maggie is stuck with a dad who loves the Cubs and Bears.  But with those rockin' pigtails and big brown eyes, genetics can take a back seat.  I just break out my Braves and Colts t-shirts to counteract the bad juju of her Bears water bottle.  And lest I forget, her mama brings us some sa-weet cupcakes once in a while.  Not a bad deal all the way around, right?   

Friday, April 12, 2013

In excess

Back in day (you know, a few short months ago), I was intending to return to work while the little babe was a wee babe, merely 7-months old.  For those of you not in the trenches, this means that I was intending to return to work at a pivotal time in my babe's food-taste development.  And if there's one thing that I'm pretty durn stubborn about, it's what my kids eat and how they eat it.  I'm stubborn about other things as well in regards to my kids; I'm cool like that.  But food, now, that's particularly important to me.  I'm not about to have my messed up for life because I screwed up their formative eating habits when they were young and impressionable.  And, I'm not about to give in to the "chances are" gods and play fast & loose with whatever diet regimen a caretaker for my child would impose.  Again, I'm cool like that.

So, I did what anyone would undoubtedly do in my position.  Two things actually.  First, I pumped like the very dickens and truly stocked up.  The last time around, we had to start supplementing with formula right around 7 months for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that I didn't pump as much as I could have when the going was good.  Lesson learned.  Today, in my chest freezer, I have somewhere between 150-200 frozen bags of milk, all between 4-6 ounces give or take 1/2 an ounce.  My kid was still going to get her goods even if I was going back to work.  And I wasn't really planning on pumping religiously at work.  I know some women who have, and bless them tenfold.  They are the very foundation upon which society should be built.  Second, I stocked up on quality baby food having no idealistic imaginings that I would magically be able to not only come home from working all day, make supper, make delicious baby food, and take care of two children, often by myself as track season starts mid-February and continues until early June.  I don't mind making baby food when the circumstance calls for it, but seriously...wasn't going to happen much.  This time around, I was stocked upon the milk but lacking in baby food.  So I bought some.  A lot.  Cases.  (Those buy-one-get-one-free sales will get you me every time.)

I'm pretty sure that going into December, I had 12 (t-w-e-l-v-e) boxes, which hold 12 (t-w-e-l-v-e) pouches each of various mushed up foods.  That's 144.  Plus, I had an additional 10-15 containers (with 2 containers/pack).  That's another 20-30 servings.  Plus, I had an additional 10-15 jars.  That's another 10-15 servings.  Add it up.  144+30+15=189 or so.  I guess I was intending to feed triplets or else bring the snacks for an entire day care each day.

We've been working our way dilligently through this excess for about 4 months now.  Each time I get rid of a box out of my pantry is like a little hallelujah moment.  Thankfully, I have a kid who doesn't mind baby food.  She also gets quite a bit of "real" food cause that's the way we roll.  We did this with Abby as well and it worked okay.  Baby food = quick nutrition some meals.  Others, I have the time and attention to put her meal together differently.

In the meantime, I have scads of baby food that would be expiring and would be a monstrously huge waste of money if I let it happen.  So...brainstorming time.  I know that applesauce substitutes well for oil in baked goods, so it stands to reason in  my mind that pureed pears would as well, right?  Yes and no.  The consistency is off, but the flavor is legit.  We have thoroughly enjoyed

*carrot, mango, & apple muffins
*green bean & pea pancakes (kind of)
*blueberry & applesauce pancakes
*apricot & pear pancakes
*apricot & pear brownies
*butternut squash macaroni & cheese

Someday soon, I'm also going to make

*split pea soup with extra pea-ness
*roasted banana and brown rice banana bread
*something else? 

I haven't come up with other ideas.  Anyone have a good one to share?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Society should not be okay with this

More often than not, I'm a pretty laid back individual as far as volatile issues are concerned.  I'm not interested in getting into a debate where emotions are charged and both sides are slingin' without thinkin'.  I'm a solid member of the camp that is cool with debate so long as its respectful and both sides understand it for what it is.  I'm also not confident in my ability to react and retort on the fly (oh, how I'm envious of those West Wing personalities in that regards!).  I use my venting allowance with the boy; he's always up for a good conversation, and I like the way he thinks. 

Here's one of the rare exceptions to my general way in regards to such matters.  This is a blog I happened upon a couple of weeks ago, and I was in dialogue with others who were equally concerned about this matter as well, all around the same time.  It's been sticking with me, and as soon as I read this, I knew I wanted to blog about it if for no other reason than it certainly hits close to my own favorite interests.  Let me know what you think after I try to organize some thoughts.  Really, I welcome other points of view and insights.  Anyone up for some respectful dialogue? 

I think I may have written about this to some extent before, so if I have and you're groaning at my redundancy, bear with me.  I may have something different to contribute. 

I have two girls.  They're young now, but the effects of how we view, label and treat women in our society filters down even to the toddler and infant sets.  Too often, I am wholeheartedly disgusted at some of the clothing choices that are marketed for children who are even this young.  In general, I'm not a fan of cutesy phrasing on clothing, but whatever.  I don't have to buy it and it's usually innocuous.  However, when suggestive, crude phrasing is purposefully marketed to children, that's disgusting to me.  Victoria's Secret should be ashamed of ever selling such clothing choices to girls.  Adults should be ashamed of buying clothing from Victoria's Secret (since when has this ever been a suitable clothing store for pre-teens?) with suggesting sayings on it.  Society should be ashamed that we think so highly of females that we create clothing choices for them with demeaning and belittling messages. 

We should be embarrassed at what we feel categorizes beauty in females, of any age.  Conforming to a standard and accepted dress code is a constant battle in high schools.  Females are encouraged to flaunt their bodies--sometimes via subtle choices, sometimes flagrantly so.  It is difficult to the point of nearly impossible for girls and teenagers to find clothing that is a) affordable, b) suitable to wear and c) stylish.  There isn't anything wrong with girls wanting to feel attractive by any means.  Yet the fine line between tasteful and coquettish is far too thin. 

We should be embarrassed at how we label females and all things feminineIn what universe is it okay for us to admonish boys for "crying like a girl"?  How does this ever create either a healthy understanding of self for the boy or a healthy understanding of mate/partner/friend in regards to a girl?  Crude and vampish sayings displayed across clothing demeans our understanding of what a female is, if nothing else. 

We should be embarrased with how we advertise to females and how we use them in advertising.  OF COURSE males also earn the short end of the stick as far as how they are represented, often being misconstrued as foppish, dull, inept, and/or stupid.  Does the sexualization of females become negated by the sexualization of males?  No.  Yet we have a very real and very serious issue of forced prostitution and a host of other abuses committed against females in our world.  What message do we convey when it is acceptable, even "normal," for clothing to be provocative and okay but abuse and prostitution to be unacceptable?  Provocative clothing has a purpose.  It just does.  It is highly hypocritical of our society to defend promiscuity as being acceptable in clothing as a "way to expresses yourself" but then demand your "self" to be untouchable.  One example that immediately comes to mind about how a female is mis-used in advertising involves one disgusting and completely inappropriate (in my opinion, of course) billboard here in town for an insurance company.  The picture on the billboard shows the front hood of a car hitting a female pedestrian who is dressed in grotesque fishnets and garish hooker heels.  It is overtly implied that the pedestrian being hit is a prostitute.  And frankly, there's no purpose in making it so.  The advertisement could easily be equally effective given another image.  Disgusting.

Raising a couple of girls who value their minds just as they protect their bodies will undoubtedly become more challenging.  We have no misguided sense of power that we will be able to wholeheartedly protect them.  Our lactation consultant and friend, Julie, sometimes talks about how when her daughter was a baby, she would always say "You're beautiful, and you're smart, too!"  It might be a small bit of wordplay, but the implications are great.  If only society would be with it enough to understand that slapping the words "juicy" on the back of a pair of short shorts and marketing them to a pre-teen is utterly degenerative to her understanding of self and the decades of work about gender equality. 

All of that being said, I'm so glad that I have two girls.  I'll take pigtails any day. 

"I believe in pink.  I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner.  I believe in kissing, kissing a lot.  I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong.  I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.  I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."  Audrey Hepburn

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Infinitum Ad Naseum

Never ending.  Perpetual.  Constant.  Infinity. 

The sorting, cleaning out and re-arranging at this house is ceaseless. 

For those few one of you who reads my meanderings with any regularity, you might remember that we decided to sell our house a while ago.  You know...two years ago.  This whole fiasco has turned into an epic fail combined with an epic sign to cool it.  But this post isn't about my enduring frustration with all things housing in this county.

Instead, it's about my everlasting frustration with all of the dinky, dunky, dorky bits of stuff that ooze from the very seams of every closet and crevice.  Two years ago this July, we shoved about 80 boxes of stuff up in the attic after going through the first wave of Operation Get Rid of Stuff.  Off and on, the boy has been up to scrounge and rummage, mostly for baby & kid things as little ones have grown up and popped out.  Now, all of those boxes have come back down.  And we are sifting once more.

I derive pleasure from taking bags and boxes to Goodwill, putting baby things away for the last time, and recycling piles of paper.  I dislike taking bags and boxes to Goodwill on half-price day (a sale on cheap junk...very popular in this burg apparently), putting certain baby things away for the last time, and having to make decisions about which papers to keep and which are not important though they obviously were at some point.

I can't figure it out.  We've been actively working on not only getting stuff out of our house for the past two years but also not bringing stuff in to replace what we remove.  How in the Goodwill world does all of this stuff keep accumulating and turning up everywhere?  At some point, the sorting and cleaning out just has to stop right?  Howsoever, I'm getting much better at removing sentimentality from practical decision making, so that's a plus, right?  Gack...I hate piles of unused stuff.  It's sorting that is infinitum ad naseum.     

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fire girls

Frequently, Abby has some rockin' good ideas.  I was chatting with her a few days ago, thinking about what we should do next for our monthly family service project.  The sprout piped up with "Let's make cookies for the firefighters...wait, let's make brownies!"  This was a solid proposal, unanimously agreed upon by all.  So solid, in fact, that it turned into one of those warm and fuzzy hours with lots of smiles.

It turns out that my brother is a firefighter.  It also turns out that he was working the day after Easter.  It also turns out that we were planning on staying at my parents' house for a couple of days over Easter.  We finally took the opportunity to visit my brother's fire station while he was working, which we had been talking about and trying to do for at least a year.  It turned into a fabulous girl trip as the hubs ended up staying home with a stomach bug and I took the girls up to my parents' myself.  My nieces were also spending the night, so my mom and I took all four girls for a personal tour of the station.  My velcro baby was a curious little squirrel, so it's fairly impressive that I managed to take so many pictures.  There were a few more opportunities that I missed while baby wrangling.     

The rest of this post is largely pictoral for a visual change of pace.  Abby's and my nieces' facial expressions make me happy.

 Macy & Abby are listening to instructions from Grandma prior to starting making brownies.

 Sophie, Macy & Abby all got a chance to crack an egg.  For Abby, this was a new venture.

Abby does this at home, also.  Her nose is always in the middle of what's going on.

Despite what we think was a touch of salmonella from a raw egg brownie batter 2 weeks ago, Abby joined in on the licking.  Sophie, who has lived with an egg allergy since she was a wee, roly-poly bundle, was the designated beater holder.

Abby was in awe--soaking it all in.

This shot demonstrates both the rapt attention of the girls as well as what a great job Joe did showing and teaching the girls about the different equipment.  This job is perfect for him.

The girls are actually sitting on the front grill of an engine.  It's pretty impressive and huge.

 She's going to want to water our plants like this, now. 

Ever the goofball, Abby was tha-rilled about getting stickers and an activity book after getting a full tour.

As soon as we left the station, Abby emphatically told me that she wants to be a fire girl when she gets bigger.  Or a doctor.  Or a police officer.  Irony: her waffling wasn't emphatic at all.  And then, driving home on the interstate yesterday, she declared that she would like to drive semi trucks someday.  In other words, she's majoring in general studies right now.