Love’s Labour In Progress

As I mention in the About page, this blog is a work in progress. You will soon see some changes as I attempt to spin the straw of this site’s content into, if not gold, at least some of that copper wiring people are always stealing from old buildings and selling for scrap.

In other words, I’m going to start occasionally putting in links to Amazon. If you follow them and buy things, I will get some pocket change tossed my way. I don’t intend to let product placement distract from the quality of my work; I write the posts first and then figure out if I’ve mentioned a product that you, Dear Reader, might be interested in learning more about. It will probably be clear in the post what I think of said product. If not, don’t consider the link to be an endorsement; I may just include them to save you the trouble of opening up a new window and searching for yourself.

As an experiment, I’ve gone back and modified my post on the best way to view the Star Wars films.

Feel free to provide any feedback about how this impacts your experience. By the way, the feedback form is also an experiment. Feel free to provide feedback about it, too.

“Now will I look to his remuneration. Remuneration!
O, that’s the Latin word for three farthings: three
farthings–remuneration.–‘What’s the price of this
inkle?’–‘One penny.’–‘No, I’ll give you a
remuneration:’ why, it carries it. Remuneration!
why, it is a fairer name than French crown. I will
never buy and sell out of this word.”

-The Bard (who also got paid for what he wrote)

Just Try to Enforce It

In the category of “Things I Never Thought I’d Have to Say Before I Became A Parent.”

Me: “Stop trying to use your freeze powers on your sister while we’re trying to get ready to go. We will just have to wait for her to thaw, which will take forever and make us late.”

RU (to MeToo): “Froze!”

MeToo (crying): “No! No froze me!”

Me: “I will suspend the use of all freeze powers in this house if you girls don’t stop it right now!”

Deprivation

RU had her tubes put in this morning; all went well. Grandma stayed with MeToo while the rest of us got up before dawn to make it to the early appointment.

Before. Dawn.

Did the Wife and I go to bed any earlier the night before? We did not. Did RU come in to our bedroom and wake me up at 3 o’clock in the morning (did you know there is a 3 o’clock in the morning?) just so I could carry her to bed and sit beside her while she fell back asleep? She did. As soon as I got back to my bed did MeToo cry out and need me to find her pacifier and pat her back to sleep? She did. Was the Wife awake nursing during the intervals when I was asleep? She was. (And her being awake nursing is pretty much the routine, of course, but she’s usually able to sleep in until 9 or later.)

We are tired.

The whole thing made me think — once I could think properly, a few hours later — of the lack of sleep that accompanies having a baby.

(By the way, I apologize if this post doesn’t make sense. I am writing about lack of sleep while suffering from it, in order to add verisimilitude. I also will probably not change any spelling errors I catch before posting. Though autocorrect is pretty good, so we might not get any hilarious typos.)

The postpartum period following Z’s birth has been the easiest for me yet, and, I think, for the Wife. I was awake for over 36 hours straight when she went into labor with RU — and then up all night two more times because we had some false starts. Her labor with MeToo lasted a week. There was a night when we were sleeping between her contractions which were coming about ten minutes apart.

With both girls, we went into having a newborn with a huge sleep deficit. The Wife would be up nursing, of course, and in our attempt to practice elimination communication, I was up taking the babies potty or changing a diaper after each feeding.

There’s a lot about those time periods that I don’t remember too clearly. I do remember what sleep deprivation feels like. For me, it becomes almost a physical feeling, like a pain that can only be eased by sleep. I know I develop a noticeable lag in how long it takes my brain to understand stimuli and make decisions based on it — when I start to get that way while driving, it’s almost as if I’m effectively blind.

This time around, we haven’t been as tired going into it. So far, Z isn’t fussy unless he is hungry or needs to be changed/taken potty. Even so, we’ve been going to bed about midnight and MeToo awakens promptly at 7:15 — even when she’s been up during the night. Which only makes us relatively well-rested. Today hit hard and will probably take a while to recover from.

Did you know lack of sleep makes you dumb? It hurts your cognitive abilities on pretty much every level, impairing memory, alertness, rational decision making — and all the other things you’d want your brain to get right when you have a newborn baby to take care of. (A little frightening to think that when your little one is most helpless and vulnerable you’re at your least capable, huh?)

It can also make you briefly forget you have said baby in the car with you when you decide the Starbucks drive thru is too long and it’d be quicker to park and go inside. I did manage a pretty spectacular pirouette right at the door.

The real news today is that RU is much improved. The paperwork says she can’t drive for 24 hours, but I think she’ll be fine. Mommy and Daddy need to have a nap on the way home.

Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

We have a mystery on our hands (literally)! Can anyone solve The Case of MeToo’s Bling?

(These events originally occurred last week, and this post was begun then. However, due to the nature of the ongoing investigation, it was requested that the press not cover the story until now.)

First, some background.

The Wife recently decided to try some Jamberry* nails in anticipation of an upcoming wedding. As a man, all I know about nail adornments is that you have nail polish and then there are those Lee Press-On claws. These things turned out to be more like decals. You trim it down to fit your nail and shrinky-dink it on with a hair dryer (at least, that’s what I observed). Several days ago, the Wife tested them out with a friend, also decorating the girls’ fingers. RU and MeToo got Frozen-esque designs of blue with white accents. By now, most of them have been picked off.

Which brings us to today. Late this afternoon I was strapping the girls into the car and saw that MeToo’s thumb was a sparkly silver. Huh. Oh, well, maybe the Wife did that when I wasn’t paying attention, or maybe the thumb had always been different and I just hadn’t noticed. Then, after dinner, the Wife leans in and examines MeToo’s thumb, saying, “Why is her thumbnail silver? Where did this come from?”

Whodunnit?
Whodunnit?

We don’t know. Someone painted my child’s fingernail and I have no idea who. If you ask MeToo, she says it was Mommy. Then she’ll change her answer to Baby Z. Ask her if it was someone in particular (“Did Granma Cake do this?”) and she will say, “Yes” no matter who it is. If I prompt her, she’ll agree that Caillou did it. Two-year-olds are no help.

We don’t even have a clue when this happened. I only noticed it this afternoon but she’s been with me since we woke up; clearly it wasn’t done today.

 

The Suspects

Granma and Grampa. They came over for dinner last night, both swear they didn’t do it. I could see either one deciding to screw with us and deny it. Nor is it impossible that it happened while we were in the same room without us noticing; there was plenty of distraction to go around. But the hair dryer had been put up by the time they came over — how could they have gotten the Jamberry nail on without a heat source?

Coach, Nana, and the babysitters. A couple of days previously, the kids were left with first Coach and Nana, and then a pair of sitters. We’ve asked them all, none have taken credit. The packages of nails were out and I think the hair dryer was still downstairs. However, I do believe any of these suspects would own up to it. As they were also watching our friends’ 4-year-old and newborn, I don’t know how they would have had time.

Caillou. Admittedly, this is unlikely, but the weird name makes me inclined be suspicious.

Sunday School. Only slightly more likely than Caillou, but literally the only other time MeToo wasn’t with at least one of us was during Church. This means someone watching the 1-2 year-old group just happened to have silver sparkle nail polish on them and decided to paint MeToo’s already-decorated nails.

MeToo. Could it be an inside job? Not likely, since the Jamberry nail thingie — and the Wife is convinced it is a Jamberry, not nail polish — has been expertly trimmed to fit her little nail and requires a heat source to apply. Similarly, if it is nail polish, it’s far too neat for MeToo to have done.

Sasquatch. 

If Law & Order has taught us anything, it’s that all perpetrators need means, motive, and opportunity. The above list are all the people we can think of who had the opportunity. Any of them could potentially have had motive — MeToo had probably lost the original Jamberry nail thing off her thumb and someone just thought she needed the now-plain nail to be jazzed up.

The real problem is the means.

The Wife’s Lennie Briscoe-like investigation has turned up the shocking twist that WE DON’T OWN ANY SILVER NAIL POLISH OR DIAMOND SPARKLE JAMBERRIES. Not even the few random extra samples that got included in the order match. This is not a color we have in this house.

What the heck is going on? And how much would it cost to hire Encyclopedia Brown to come figure this out?

 

*The link should take you to the “Jamberry Independent Consultant” that the Wife bought her nails through. As a guy, this sort of thing is way beyond my ken; I include it to be helpful for you, Dear Reader, if you’re interested. I get nothing out of it if you follow the link, or buy the product, or whatever.**

**Oh, I am totally trying to figure out how to get this little blog to earn some money. In the future, I’ll probably be experimenting with affiliate marketing, or sponsored posts, or whatever such things I can wrap my brain around. If and when that happens, I’ll tell you about it.

 

 

It Is Easier to Destroy Than to Cook

Casualties from this morning

MeToo’s pajamas and high chair due to wetting herself after telling me she didn’t need to go potty.

Two sausage patties and four eggs were sacrificed to make a cheesy-sausage-egg scramble that was only sort of okay. MeToo loved it, at least.

Not as good as it looks
Not as good as it looks

The Wife’s cooking got ruined by yours truly. Months ago, she had put several pre-made meals in the deep freeze in preparation for the coming of Baby Z. I baked a tray of cinnamon rolls and whipped up some icing for them — my first ever attempt at that. The result? Dry, crunchy cinnamon rolls with sweet-but-flavorless paste.

MeToo’s health did not get any favors from breakfast. Remember that we took RU to the ENT doctor recently? MeToo got allergy tested — she’s allergic to eggs! Did I remember? Not until after I served this to her.

One plate met with destruction while MeToo was trying to clean the tray of her second high chair of the morning.

Yep, gravity still works
Yep, gravity still works

The good news? Apparently, I’m getting better at remembering to take pictures of random things for my blog.

Tubular, Unfortunately

Over the course of several months, we began to suspect that RU sometimes has problems hearing. She certainly has trouble listening sometimes, so it’s hard to tell when she’s just ignoring us and when she actually doesn’t hear us. At checkups, the doctor has found her ears red, with a lot of fluid. She’s probably been having repeated ear infections for some time. We’ve treated her with antibiotics, but it hasn’t alleviated the problem entirely.

We went to the Audiologist and our ENT yesterday. She failed her hearing test miserably and still has a lot of fluid in her ears. So she’ll be undergoing minor surgery to have tubes put in.

You’d think we would have noticed a long time ago she was having problems. But RU never complains when she has aches or pains or isn’t feeling good. Seriously, even when she was teething she might have only had one or two days of being a little testy. And it’s not like you regularly peek in your kid’s ear canal to see how it’s doing.

Nevertheless, I felt like the title of this post should be “Parenting Fail.” (I decided to save that one for something worse; I’m sure I’ll have cause to use it one of these days. Stay tuned!)

There’s no guilt you can feel quite like that when you think you may have harmed your child for life. Could she have nerve damage? If this has been so bad for so long — one eardrum currently can’t function — could it have impacted how the sound-processing part of her brain has been developing? Did I ever yell at her or make her sit out when the real problem was that she just couldn’t hear me? After kicking ourselves over this for a while, we realized we could no longer recall whether or not she’d even had her hearing tested as a newborn.

Jeez, I might as well have just cranked up some Manowar on the ipod and glued the earbuds in place.

Before yesterday, the only thing I knew about having tubes in your ears was that it meant you couldn’t swim under water. Growing up, I remember there was always that one kid who couldn’t even go swimming because his parents made such a deal about it. As someone who spent about 20% of his life between the ages of 7 and 13 under water, I was halfway convinced they were some kind of birth defect.

So I was relieved to be told that they are temporary, easy to install, and doesn’t mean she’ll drown if she gets her head wet.

I am looking forward to RU getting some relief. Her hearing has seemed to be particularly poor today, adding a sense of urgency to go along with everything else. The nerve that transmits the sense of taste to your brain runs up along the spot where she has so much fluid buildup; we’ve wondered if that explains why she sometimes doesn’t eat much. If having tubes fixes that, too (notice how I’ve leaped to assuming it is a problem at all), she might eat better, and maybe she’ll feel better if she’s not hungry and having low blood sugar all the time…

Yes, there’s no guilt like a parent’s guilt.

The Dad Cooks: Biscuits and Gravy

The Wife tends to sleep late, especially these days of having to nurse several times in the night. Therefore, when the kids wake up at 7:15 in the morning claiming they are “still hungry” (then why didn’t you eat more dinner?), it is I who takes them downstairs and tries to put together a decent breakfast while struggling to wake up. I like a good breakfast. A lot. So, with tips from the Wife, I’ve been expanding my meager cooking skills. I can’t make a lot of things, but what I can make, I’m pretty good at. When it’s breakfast, anyway. Since recipes seem to be a pretty popular thing to blog about, I’ve decided to try sharing mine.

Here’s a little masterpiece I whipped up this morning. Sorry there aren’t more pictures; I didn’t think about taking any until far too late in the process.

Homemade Biscuits and Gravy

The first step is to get the biscuits started, since they’ll have to cook while you’re making gravy. We prefer Mary B’s frozen biscuits — either Southern Style or Buttermilk, there’s no discernible difference — but for some inexplicable reason what we had in the freezer was Pillsbury. Then, before you go any further, give the kids a little something to tide them over and keep them occupied while you’re cooking. I recommend those little oranges or splitting a banana between them. Put the baby in his rocker seat, which is currently on top of the kitchen table on the far end from where you eat. You know, the part of the table where the mail goes.

Get out a cookie sheet to put the biscuits on. It’s the flat, metal tray the Wife uses to make cookies. Place on it one biscuit for each child, two for each adult, and then go ahead and fill out the rest of the tray since you can eat the extra biscuits tomorrow morning with jelly. Set the oven to bake at whatever temperature the bag says, which will almost certainly be 375.

Now take all the biscuits off the cookie sheet so you can spray it with cooking spray, then put them back on. If one of the children has gotten bored and wandered into the kitchen, she can help with this part. Just make sure any biscuits dropped on the floor get wiped off before being put back on the cookie sheet. When that’s done, go ahead and put the cookie sheet with biscuits on it into the oven; don’t wait for it to preheat.

Get the coffee started. Make sure RU isn’t trying to rock Z in his seat and that MeToo isn’t standing up in her highchair.

Find a large pan or skillet. There’s no way to do that without making a lot of noise, but feel free to shush the cookware anyway. The Wife is still trying to sleep upstairs.

Now go make sure you actually have sausage. You’ll need a whole 1-pound package. When you don’t find any in the fridge, check the deep freeze. Score!

Put the frozen, rock-hard cylinder of sausage on the skillet and turn the stove to the medium heat level. This is probably “5,” which will work fine even if your dials only go up to 8. Because the sausage is frozen, this part of the process will take a little longer and require more direct attention. The outside of the sausage-brick will thaw and cook while the inside stays frozen solid. You’ll have to take a wooden spoon or spatula and, as one side starts to cook, scrape off the layer that has thawed out. Turn the remaining frozen block over to let the other side heat up, too. Repeat this process every couple of minutes, in between shooing the older kids away from the baby.

Note that the above scraping process actually results in a more “finely-ground” mass of sausage once it’s all thawed out than when you find the sausage unfrozen in the fridge and just mash it up in the pan. The texture and overall quality of the gravy is thereby much improved.

Once the sausage is cooked, add in milk. This needs to be whole milk. If for some reason you are out of whole milk, you can substitute something thicker, as long as it’s not the flavored coffee creamer. Remember to thin it out a bit with water if you use heavy cream or Elmer’s School Glue. Use a little more milk than you think you’ll need, as it will thicken up as it cooks.

Having just added the milk, you can now determine whether your middle child is saying “potty” because she needs to go or has just went. Or, if you’re as lucky as I am, you’ll find she has wet her seat but still needs to go poop. Remove the wet pajamas and place them in the bathroom sink to deal with later. Get the child on the potty and convince her not to get up until you come back. Then, go clean up the urine.

Return to the kitchen and set the timer like you should have done when you first put the biscuits in the oven. The instructions on the bag usually give a range, like “16-20 minutes.” If you don’t know how long it’s been since the oven hit 375, or can’t do subtraction before you’ve had coffee, just use the lower number.

The gravy needs 1/3 cup of flour added to it. It was very important that this happen prior to putting the milk in, because the flour needs just a minute to soak up the hot sausage grease before any milk is added to the mixture. Get a medium-sized bowl to pour the milk from the skillet into. Add the flour. Now go finish cleaning up your child in the bathroom. When you finish that, add the milk back into the skillet. Add some salt and pepper, then mix the ingredients together in the skillet. Stir occasionally as the gravy thickens up. If it gets too thick, you can always add more milk.

When you hear your older children begin to chant “Rock the baby! Rock the baby!” it will be time to take the biscuits out of the oven. If the baby isn’t in too much peril, you’ll have to settle for just turning the oven off, and maybe turn the stove down a notch or two if it looks like rescuing him may take a few minutes. Once you’ve stopped the girls’ attempts to love their brother to death, take the biscuits out of the oven. The gravy’s probably about right by now and the eye can be turned to Low while you get bowls, plates, drinks, and find the baby’s pacifier again. Combine biscuits and gravy. Ready to serve!

Awesomeness: It's what's for breakfast
Awesomeness: It’s what’s for breakfast
If RU is poking the baby's head, the biscuits must be ready
If RU is poking the baby’s head, the biscuits must be ready
Ingredients
  • 1 package of frozen biscuits
  • 1 pound of sausage from the back of the freezer
  • Whole Milk. How much? “Enough.”
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 2 hungry toddlers
  • 1 helpless baby

Disney-cation Roundup

Despite the tone of my previous post — and the tone of everyone’s voices on the last day of our drive home — we had a great time on our trip.

Except for RU’s baby Mickey doll, who I think must have had a role in the kids playing “Jack Bauer Interrogates A Suspect At The Off-Books Black Site.”

"No, Mr. Mouse, I expect you to die."
“No, Mr. Mouse, I expect you to die.”

 

We rode the new Seven Dwarfs’ Mine Car roller coaster for the first time, including RU. The Wife and I liked it — I’m a wimp when it comes to roller coasters and this one was easy enough for me to enjoy. RU said she did not like it, although (as she pointed out) she didn’t scream. She felt she will like it when she gets bigger.

MeToo seems to have completely grown out of the “terrified of characters in costume” phase that kids go through. She gave high-fives to nearly every one she saw.

Best thing on t-shirt spotted while at the park: “Six out of seven dwarfs are not Happy.”

Although I had come to the conclusion she probably wouldn’t like it, we offered RU the chance to ride Star Tours and she took it. She had a great time, riding first with Mommy and then with me. I told her the ride was based on some movies we’d watch with her sometime. Her mom said she could stay up late to see them; I think she’ll dig it.

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