Thursday, February 28, 2008

Twiddling My Thumbs

So now that our big trip is finished, what the heck am I going to do with my time? I took my inspiration from two things: 1. Ben's obsessive love for his blankie, and 2. The number of baby girls being born into my life this year.

Can you guess?

I'm making quilts! I went to the fabric store with my little family last night to buy fabrics to make a quilt for Katie and her little Mallory who will be born in May, and I decided that I might as well make one for Abigail, my niece due to arrive at the end of March. Who knows? Maybe my sister is incubating a daughter as well. I'm prepared to shower them all with a beautiful quilt.

This morning, I'm prewashing the fabrics (lots of reds and pinks that will probably bleed lots). Later, I'll iron them and prep to start cutting dozens and dozens of squares. I'm really excited about how it'll look, though I'm rather nervous about everything not matching up. I'm using Ben's blankie as a template, and since it was so expertly crafted by Dear Dorothy, I have a really high standard to live up to.

Here are the fabrics I'm using. Yay! And no, I'm not expecting to be able to pin and use the sewing machine while I'm on kid duty. I figure I can cut the squares and strips, but I don't think Ben could keep his hands off of the sewing machine. I knew I couldn't when I was little. How my mother's sewing machine survived the Cheryl Torture is beyond me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Remember This

We don't see Chris's family that often. Before our recent trip to Oregon, we hadn't seen his parents since Ben was six months old. That's what happens when you find a husband two thousand miles away from where you live and force him (willing or otherwise) to transplant himself to the snowy tundra of Wisconsin. We had four solid days of family time. I'll tell you what I will (or want to) remember, in no particular order. (Photos from our trip at bottom of post.)

1. Their dog, Mitzy, got so jealous about having kids in the house. She actually spent a good deal of time on BJ's lap, which isn't something she does normally. Ben wasn't mean to her or anything like that, but the kids definitely stole most of her alloted attention time.

2. Driving to Ashland, OR, to see the beautiful Lithia Park. That little town is so darn adorable to begin with. Add to it a top-notch, gorgeous park that looks well-loved by the community, and I'm swooning. The permanent structures weren't new or modern. They looked ancient and well-preserved. Definitely the kind of place I'd love to have in my own community. A park that won't change from generation to generation.

3. Meeting the uncles and cousins and learning the family history. It's a complex story, and I got a lot of the names and connections sorted out in my head thanks to BJ. Quirky, amusing and kind. That's how I'll sum them all up. The kind of people who would become my best friends if I lived in the area, and that's saying a lot, considering how few friends I let in my life.

4. The breast issues. I learned a lot about what causes breast pain. The yeast infection may not have been yeast after all. I finally lanced a large blood blister on the tip, and a chunk of dried milk the size of Anna's pinky nail squeezed out after the blood drained. It was messy and disgusting and not advised because you should never drain a blister, but the pressure relief was immediate. By the next day, the pain was minimal, and I kept swabbing on the gentian violet to keep it from getting infected. Last night, the scab finally came off. Oh, and gentian violet stains everything it touches, especially fabric of any kind.

5. Ben woke up Friday morning very grouchy and clingy. He didn't want to do anything but cuddle, and he was hot to the touch. Despite this, we bundled up the kids and went out for breakfast. Ben vomited while we were looking at our menus. After Daddy cleaned him up, we ate hurriedly while Ben sat cuddled against Daddy, wrapped in Daddy's sweatshirt. A l.o.n.g. nap and an entire jug of pedialyte, and Ben was up and running (literally) by dinner time. He was also eating everything within reach.

6. My dear husband beat me at Scrabble Sunday night. I forgive him, and we agreed that it was only because Uncle John helped him. It had been years since I played because no one will play me around here. When various family members tired of pinochle, we started playing Scrabble. It was a rousing game, and the competition was fierce. I tied for first place in the second game, but only because I went out first and gained all of the points left over from the other players' tiles. I wasn't in top form, and I'm ashamed. Seriously. Chris beat ME at Scrabble. The man who doesn't know there's a difference in spelling between since and sense. What the heck is the world coming to?

7. Date night with Chris was Saturday night. We intended to go to a Thai restaurant, but since the place looked dead, we decided not to risk it because we figured that if the place was any good, it would be hopping. We blackberried driving instructions to a recommended Chinese buffet place, and we eventually found it. The line for seating extended outside the door. Good sign. The food wasn't any better than what is available around here, but it was fun to have such a variety of things to try. We avoided anything fried and loaded up on the veggies. We couldn't find a grocery store (what is wrong with that town?), so we ended up raiding a chocolate shop in the mall for dessert noshes. We each picked out a little bag of different chocolates, and we took a bite of each kind before throwing out the bag. That way we got the experience of all that chocolate, but with fewer calories. We decided afterwards that cheesecake would have been better. Believe it or not, chocolate was a disappointment.

8. After we walked down the street to visit his grandparents, Ben had a wonderful time running around the house with a couple of dogs. They were chasing each other from room to room. So cute. Dixie's house was full of so many beautiful things to look at. I could have spent hours there, just exploring her walls.

9. Chris's aunt was the Anna whisperer. She had such a way with my kids, Anna especially. You know how Anna has her ultra-fussy times in the evenings where nothing makes her happy? Young managed to calm and soothe her time and time again. She's like baby valium.

10. The feeling that my kids are growing up too fast. We know that we probably won't see them again until Anna is a toddler and talking and Ben is in pre-school. Knowing that this time in their lives is so brief makes me cherish each of them even more. It makes me want to memorize every detail about what they are like at these ages. It makes me want to hold tightly to them, hug them more, shower them with kisses, and get on the floor and roll around a bit and enjoy their babyhoods.


Anna at five in the morning in the airport before we flew out of Wisconsin. It's impossible to be grouchy about getting up early when you get to see that cheery face.

Ben playing at the kid spot in our local airport before we went high in the sky like a bird. We kept the monkey on his back even when we weren't walking. He didn't mind.

This is Grandpa Jack trying to make Anna happy during one of her fuss fests. It was a valiant effort.

Home is where the "guck" is. Though Ben enjoyed playing with the toys that Grandma and Grandpa had, I think he felt more secure in a new environment when he could fiddle around with some toys from home. We surprised him with a little Lightning McQueen on the airplane, and he hasn't really put it down since.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Click Your Heels Three Times

And say... There's no place like home.

We made it back to Wausau last night around seven after being delayed in Chicago for a couple of hours due to the refreshing rain that turned into beautiful fluffy snow while we watched. No matter. We got home and so did our bags, and that's all that counts.

I'm so glad that I cleaned like a maniac before we left. It's so nice to come home to an organized house. It's also really amazing to unpack your bags and hang everything up because *it's clean already* since we kept doing laundry right up until we left. Small blessings with a big impact.

Despite totally pigging out on unhealthy foods on several occasions on our trip, I still managed to lose almost 3 pounds. Yeah. I don't have a clue. I made small efforts throughout our travels, but I completely expected that one slice of boston cream pie cake and the other more generous slice of reese's peanut butter cake to show up on the scale. It didn't, and for that I am truly grateful. Chris, the poor dear, went up a couple pounds.

That's okay. We're all heading back to the Y today to hop back on the wagon and the elliptical and get back to the business of weight loss.

Traveling yesterday was an adventure. We knew the weather would be getting bad in Chicago, so we kept expecting our flight to be canceled or diverted.

We woke up at 3 am again and got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, but at least we found some seats in the waiting room. After about fifteen minutes, it was standing room only, which isn't easy to do with a toddler and a baby for more than a short while. Ben ate many, many snacks because he decided it was breakfast. After four cookies I had saved from a flight last week, he had almost an entire Kashi Go Lean bar. Goofy.

We flew into Denver first with only an hour layover. Hoppity hop. Back on a plane, this time with on-flight entertainment. Ben had his DVD player and watched choo-choos. Chris and I watched Chuck, which was playing on the big screen.

Landed in Chicago. While we taxied to the gate, Chris turned on his cell to look at flight checker and found that we didn't have to run to our next flight. It was delayed more than two hours. We skipped the shuttle and walked to our next gate on the opposite side of the airport (we are vital, active people with fit, capable bodies, didn't you know). Then I paid nearly 30 dollars for semi-healthy food for us while Ben watched VeggieTales. We found seats several gates away from where we were supposed to be, but our designated area was jam-packed since they had four flights leaving from the same gate within thirty minutes of each other. Crazy.

Wait. Change diapers. Check the departure board. Wait some more. After two of those four flights were canceled, we sat where we were supposed to, and we waited some more as our aircraft landed, but couldn't find room at the gate because the planes that were supposed to take off, couldn't.

We made it eventually. Everything was fine.

Entertaining an infant on a plane is so exhausting. I worked my ass off to keep her from crying. The people around me had to deal with me singing the alphabet song and itsy-bitsy spider and making silly noises and faces and seeing a baby go up in the air like an airplane OVER. and. Over. and over. again. I got many "thank yous" and "your baby was so well behaveds" and "i'm impresseds." High praise indeed. Worth it. She did cry a little bit, but only for a few minutes at a time.

Oh. And those people who reclined their seats back into my lap while I was holding a baby? Karma, people. Karma. It'll come back to bite you in the ass. I had to stand on my seat to get out into the aisle. That's hard to do while holding a baby.

So that was that. And now it's over. Time to rest and recuperate from our vacation. :)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Blue Baby Blues

Yesterday morning, I thought Anna had bruised my right nipple badly. It ached and throbbed and hurt like hell when she nursed and even when she wasn't. It got worse during the day, and by evening, it felt like someone was dragging barbed wire through my nipple while she sucked.

This morning, I tried, but I just couldn't keep her on. The pain was so intense, the only way I can describe it is just like the "transition" period in natural childbirth, but the pain was focused on my nipple, not my low back. I was crying and gritting back screams.

So I went online and figured out pretty quickly that I had a yeast infection.

Did you know that pharmacies around here don't open until nine? Crazy. We walked through a few pharmacy aisles while the window was closed, but couldn't find the "gentian violet," the gold standard for treating nipple yeast infections. We finally were at a pharmacy when they opened the window, and the pharm tech quickly brought me a tiny bottle and said, "$1.62 please." Dang. I would have paid nearly a hundred for a remedy.

When we got home, I went into the bathroom with Chris and Anna, and I stripped down to the waist and made a few piles of burp rags. I rubbed vaseline on her lips, and sighed when I read that the gentian violet was ten percent alcohol. Oh well.

I swabbed her mouth with the dark purple liquid and watched the staining spread. Then I painted my milk spouts with the stuff and giggled at my reflection.

I probably used too much in her mouth because she was drooling purple. When I put her to breast, the purple spread all over her face. Oh dear.

The good news is, the relief was immediate. It barely hurt at all when she sucked for the first time. As for Anna? We were able to wipe most of the gentian off, though the inside of her mouth is still stained. I feel bad that I made BJ's granddaughter look all goofy when she finally is able to show her off to her family and friends.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Breeze and a Barf Bag

Flying was a breeze. We had some rough moments, but overall, we felt very fortunate to have prepared so well and to have such easy going kids.

1. The portable DVD player was so convenient and wonderful to have in the airports during long layovers. It really helped keep Ben from getting antsy. We did take him for long walks (Monkey walks), but he was happy to sit in his stroller, watching the DVD.

2. I'm so glad that Ben likes wearing his monkey harness. My nephew hates his, but Ben considers it a treat. Really. He loves not having to always sit in a stroller or in a cart when we go somewhere. And in the airport? We put Anna in the stroller and monkey-walked Ben. Awesome.

3. Ben had Benadryl in the morning before we left, and we gave him tylenol before the short puddle-jumper flights. He slept through both of those flights.

4. The flight attendant with the poofy red hair? Yeah. You can bite me. Tell me how else to let my son blow off some steam than walking (jogging) up and down the aisles. He wasn't running into anybody, and I was right behind him the whole time. We got many positive, kind smiles... but you yelling at us while you were having a (much deserved) coffee break in the galley? Not cool. Next time, you can provide the duct tape or the tranquilizer dart to keep my son still for four hours.

5. I belatedly remembered that I get airsick when I fly. Man, that sucks. Doesn't even take any turbulence. Just ascent and descent, and my stomach is lost somewhere above Utah. I finally threw up a little on the flight between San Francisco and Oregon. I was a blubbering, sobbing, snotty mess when we landed. I felt so miserable, all I could do was cry. The last time I did that, I was about six weeks pregnant with Anna, and then it only stopped when I made the on-call doctor call in my prescription for Zyrtec. We will be investing in some airsickness remedies before the trip back, or I'm going to have to inform my inlaws that they'll have to drive us back.

6. While we were eating totally delicious, not-on-the-healthy-eating-plan quesadillas in the SFO airport, I realized I had never been to California before. I enjoyed seeing the ocean from my seat in the airplane as we took off. We're taking a day trip to the coast on Saturday so I can get a better look.

7. The time difference is killing me. I'm an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of girl, and we were up at 3 in the morning yesterday. Didn't finally make it to bed until 9 last night. Of course it was only 7 here, so I was such a party pooper. And this morning my little family slept in until six (we normally wake up at five). Of course it was only 4 here. I'm surprised they didn't kick us to the porch.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Plane (Okay, 3) and a Dream

Tomorrow "morning" we leave the house at 4 am to drive to the airport and get on a plane to fly away. Ben has no concept of what a plane is or what flying is, though we've tried to explain and get him excited. Unfortunately, he only has eyes for trucks and trains.

I wished we lived closer to an airport so that we could have taken him there to watch the planes take off and touch down. But it's about twenty minutes away, and we didn't think of it on the days when we had time.

We have two large layovers tomorrow. We also have a portable DVD player (and a backup external power source), many DVDs, many trucks and cars, many little animal figures, many choo-choos, flashcards, books, lacing toys, stickers, crayons and paper... oh my god, is there anything else I could possibly pack in his carry-on? Oh and snacks. I packed lots of yummy, non-sugary snacks because I'm not an idiot.

AND... we tested out the benadryl on him yesterday morning. He got very sleepy and took a nice long nap. The day before, I tried it, and he played quietly for a few hours, but didn't nap. Overall, I think we can be certain that he won't be one of those hyperactive-on-Benadryl kids.

Our total travel time (including layovers) is twelve and a half hours tomorrow. I'll be thinking of my readers near Chicago and San Francisco when I'm stuck in the airport with two rugrats.

I've had our suitcases packed since Sunday, which left us time for troubleshooting such things like 1. Our lack of birth certificate for Anna, 2. The DVD player wouldn't hold a charge on its "long-life lithium battery" and 3. I don't have enough clothes for Anna in her new size. Those issues are now resolved, and last night before bed, Chris and I both started feeling the panic and urgency of "we're leaving soon are we ready oh my god we'll forget something important."

Maybe it will help to itemize my concerns so you guys can tell me it's no big deal:

  • I'm not looking forward to nursing in public. Anna's nose is stuffy, and she breaks the latch and turns away to breathe a lot. I haven't been able to get used to nursing with a blankie over the exposed parts because then it's hard to see if she's aimed right or being suffocated on my maidenly flesh. I'm worried about making other travelers uncomfortable if they see a flash of nipple or a squirt of forceful letdown. I know I shouldn't worry about that, that nursing is totally natural and beautiful, and it's their problem, not mine... but I'm a polite Midwestern girl who was raised to always consider the comfort of others before my own.
  • Ben. I'm preparing for HOAP (hell on a plane), but hoping for awesome behavior and a toddler's shiny enthusiasm for new experiences. I'm worried he'll get totally bored and ornery. I'm worried his ears will hurt and he'll scream.
  • Anna. I'm worried her ears are going to hurt or she's not going to like hanging out in the baby wrap. I'm worried her diaper is going to explode and we won't have packed enough spare outfits to change her clothes. I'm worried she's going to have her screaming fits and upset the other passengers.
  • Us, the parents. I'm worried that we'll be so freaking tired that we won't be able to have a pleasant experience. I'm worried we'll get frustrated and upset.
  • I'm worried that I've packed too much or not enough in our carry-ons. I'm worried that having two carry-ons will be too difficult to manage in the airports.
  • I'm worried about forgetting something crucial before the security points. Like not packing grenades or butcher knives. Gawd, I hope I remember to leave my uzi at home. (No, actually. We don't own any weapons. But I am a little concerned about the new liquids rule, and I'm worried I'll forget to put something in my little quart-sized bag for inspection.)
The list could go on, but Anna's crying, and there's breakfast to make, and three loads of laundry to fold and put away, a bed to strip and remake for our house sitter, two carry-ons to repack, a fridge to clean, a floor to mop... You get the idea.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

For My Anna, at four months plus

Oh Anna. You are four months old now. You are my last baby to turn four months old.

I think one of the neat things about only having two babies is that the first is so special because he's first. The second is so special because she is the last.

Everything that you do is tinged by a bittersweet sigh that catches in my throat.

Here's what you are like right now:

*** You love to interact with people. It's almost a frenzied obsession. I sit you up on my lap, facing me, and you look so deeply in my eyes, trying to catch a smile, the same way we look at you.

*** Ben is still enamored by you. He walks up to you wherever you are to say "Hi Baby!" He gives you his trucks, his choo-choos. If you cry, he finds your nuk. You soak it all up, staring at him, smiling and goo-goo-gooing.

*** You've started really going to town, playing with the spinny, rattly things on your walker tray. It's so neat to see your hands touch something, make it spin, and then your eyes track over to see what your hand is up to. It's like I can see the neurons in your brain making new connections.

*** You still totally empty my milk supply every evening, and then you demand a bottle. We just switched to regular baby bottles instead of the medela 4-oz bottles that we were using with the "disposable" nipples we got from the hospital.

*** You love the new bottles, and we love feeding you. Daddy loves the way you grab onto his hand that is holding the bottle, and he loves the way you look at him while you are sucking away. I love nursing you. You don't have much of a view, just my arm, really, but you like caressing it and exploring the parts of my body you can reach from your perch on my lap.

*** You are so darned verbal. So many coos and goos and gurgles. We love listening to you, and we love talking back to you, trying to get another delightful chuckle, another precious goo-goo.

*** I think my favorite time of the day with you is early in the morning, before five, when you get done eating and show no inclination to fall back asleep. I sit up with you in bed, and we smile at each other in the dim light. With a heart full of sweet sleepy dreams with you near me, I see you wake up to greet the still dark day. My little sunshine.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Skinny Meals Update

In the last couple of days, I've added recipes for my Hummus and Tuna Munchables and Skinny-ish Spaghetti on my Skinny Meals website. Enjoy!

Where I Come From

I am from the bow-bow chair, from Folgers, Lawry's seasoning salt and split pea soup with a side of buttered bread and Mister Rogers.

I am from the stucco house near downtown, the house on the hill, the house in the woods and the house at the end of the street with the misspelled sign. 

I am from the ancient lilac bush in front of grandma's house, the thick thorny blackberries that flourished under my youthful care until it bore fruit the size of my big toe.

I am from jigsaw puzzles in winter, saunas at sunset, well-deserved egos, from Tepsa and Martilla and Maki and Ylitalo.

I am from the tendency towards denial of negative situations, generosity of spirit, and singing in the car.

From toes are fishy food, daddy's gonna catch a weasel for breakfast, and very smart crows.

I am from evangelical Christianity and a chapter of Proverbs every day.

I'm from Wisconsin and the UP and Finland, Yooper pasties with rutabaga, squeaky cheese I still haven't tasted and "bannuguckwa" every week.

From my father's lumberjack years, my brother's panicked bike ride in the rain on Halloween, and the time my sister took off all her clothes on the neighbor's front porch.

I am from the sticky and stiff albums in my mom's living room, the boxes of treasures and homemade clothes, the elementary school report cards and pre-teen poetry, the princess dress I'm saving for Anna, and the picture of me my brother taped to his bunk bed.

You can do your own "Where I Come From" by following this template. No. I'm not creative enough to come up with this on my own, but didn't it turn out nicely? Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mommy Matters! Makeover

I've had a lot of fun goofing off on my laptop the last couple days. No, I wasn't just playing "Mysteriez." I was putting together a new blog header for my friend Candace over at Mommy Matters! Check it out. 

If anybody else who reads me regularly wants her own fancy-shmancy blog header, request it now before I start charging for this stuff. :) 

Wordless Wednesday: The Ravioli Clap

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cheryl By Fours

Momma Val tagged me for a meme! Yay!

Four Jobs I've Had

* Hotel desk clerk
* Nanny
* Cafeteria wench
* CNA in a nursing home

Four Places I've Lived

* Stevens Point, WI
* Milwaukee, WI
* Manitowish Waters, WI
* Here

Four Places I've Vacationed

* Colorado
* Germany
* Florida
* Bahamas

Four Of My Favorite Foods

* Oatmeal
* Fruit
* Spaghetti
* Fajitas

Four Things I Like To Do

* Play catch with Ben
* Read
* Play word games online
* Fiddle with graphic design

And I'll tag Candace of Mommy Matters! to do this meme... and anyone else who needs to some easy blog material. Just leave me a comment to let me know you are playing along!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Can't. Seem. To. Get. It. Done.

Ever have one of those days when you just can't seem to get anything completed?

In reality, I did get a lot done this morning. I spend three hours taking pictures of clothes and then writing little tags on the images to describe them and then uploading the files to my FTP site. Why? In addition to the HUGE Freecycle lot of plus-sized clothes that I went through on Friday, I also received two bags of clothes that a teenage boy recently grew out of or tired of. And I have nephews. So you can guess my train of thought on that.

But my house is cluttered with half-finished tasks all over the place, and it makes me feel frazzled. It wouldn't take too long to sort it all out. Hang up the rest of the laundry and fold the next basketful. Pack up the broken VCR that's being freecycled. Wash the two loads of dishes that are waiting and congealing on the counter. Pull out the top layer of socks from the donation box and throw them in the laundry because the cat slept on them, and then put the donation box in the closet where she can't get to them.

It's one of those days when I wish I had a couple of servants who would keep coming back to my side, asking what else they can help me with, and could they please warm up my coffee for me. Why, yes. Yes, you can. That would be lovely. And could you get the broom and sweep up those dust bunnies that I can see peeking from under the couch? Thank you. On your way back from the kitchen, can you pick up the puzzle that Ben left scattered on the floor? Terrific. Thanks.

On the fitness front, Chris and I have both been holding steady for the last week. We haven't lost anything, we haven't gained anything. This is probably a result of our half-assed devotion to clean eating (a few cookies on Thursday, a dessert after our lunch date on Friday). We'll get it back in gear.

I know exactly where I've been slipping. That just-before-I-go-to-bed hunger graze that happens when I'm overtired. When I want chocolate but have two portions of fruit instead. When I shouldn't really but I have it anyway peanut butter sandwich.

Hey. At least you know I'm not lying about this weight loss journey. It's not all plummeting scale numbers and enthusiastic recipe cooking.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mom Moments

You know you have watched too much Cars when you greet your baby with:

"Hi. My name's Mama. Like Tuh-mama, but without the Tuh."


Anna slept in her crib last night until four this morning. I woke up several times to check on her breathing. It was amazing. Anyway. When she fell asleep in my arms later this morning after I fed her, I put her back in the crib, but left the door to our bedroom open so I could hear her.

Ben was running around the house like a rabid baboon, throwing his big red ball here and there, climbing up the stairs to throw it over the half-wall at the top. "Ball. Ball. Ball!" (Can you guess where this is going?)

All of a sudden, I hear Anna cry. I wasn't surprised, because sometimes when she wakes up, she's startled to realize she's not being held, and she gets a bit upset about that. I went into the bedroom to check on her, and when I saw Ben peeking over the edge (it's a packnplay with the bassinet insert), I knew he probably had something to do with her crying.

I found his big red ball right next to Anna's face. He had thrown it in the crib so she could take a turn with the ball. He probably had hit her in the head with it, waking her up. *Sigh and giggle*


And finally, there's my helpful hints for dealing with a screaming Anna.

At my sister-in-law's baby shower, I received many comments about what a good girl Anna was, how surprising it was that she was content to just sit on my lap and watch the festivities. I smiled and said thank you, but secretly, I wanted to explain to them that she was actually a terror sometimes. I didn't bother because they probably wouldn't believe me. Who could believe that such an angelic beauty could ever give her parents a minute of despair?

Last night, I took my husband up on his standing invitation to watch the children in the evenings so I could go to the gym on my own for a workout. I ate dinner before he got home from work, and after feeding Anna one last time, I escaped the friendly confines of SAHM prison. When I got back 85 minutes later, Ben was eating dinner, and Anna was lying peacefully asleep in her dad's arms. But Chris was exhausted and frazzled.

Anna has had screaming fits in the evenings almost every night since her birth. Sometimes they only last fifteen minutes, other times, they extend for nearly an hour. It's very hard to deal with. It happens when she depletes my milk supply and is still hungry. She gets so upset, she won't take a bottle or the nuk. She just sits there, freaking out.

I asked Chris what he did to help her get through it, and he said he just held her tightly, patting her butt, offering the bottle and nuk every so often. Finally she passed out, soaked in sweat and exhausted.

He has seen me deal with her screaming fits in the past, and I've come up with a number of things that sometimes work on its own or in combination, but he forgets easily or doesn't bother trying and just sticks to the swaddle/pat routine. "It works eventually," he says with a sheepish look.

So I sent him an email containing strategies he can reference for Screaming Anna.

  • Strip off all her clothes and start rubbing her limbs and belly. Gentle caresses are fine. Nothing very vigorous. Use lotion if that will make you feel more comfortable. Let her hang out for a while in just her diaper and onesie after you are done. She's just like her mommy. She doesn't like to be too warm, and she heats up when she gets upset.
  • Stand up and walk around with her upright in your arms, bouncing as you step.
  • Walk around with her, talking to her, showing her different areas of the house and different items in it. "This is the chair in the dining room." "This is the crying baby in the mirror. Her name is Anna, and we love her anyway." Etc. Speak in soothing tones, sing-songy.
  • Strip her down again, only this time, have a cool wet washcloth nearby. Lightly brush it over her limbs. This is especially helpful after she's been screaming for a while and is all sweaty.
  • Just let her suck on your finger for a while, the pad of your finger on the roof of her mouth. This has worked for me a number of times when she has refused the nuk and the bottle and the breast. There's something perfect about the shape.
  • Keep changing her position, trying to interact with her, talking to her, making faces and expressions. Turn her around and show her the TV. Try to get Ben to kiss her. Go in the bedroom and turn on The Wiggles with Ben. Hold her while you sing, dancing around. The goofier the better.
  • If she won't calm down and you are losing your patience, strap her into the bouncy chair or swing with the burp rag around her neck and the nuk in place. Then go downstairs in the basement and move laundry or clean the litter box. Make sure the dryer is on. You won't really be able to hear her. Chances are, by the time you are done with whatever you were doing, she might have stopped crying on her own. She might have passed out, but she might have just given up the beast or finally gotten the fart out. Either way, you will have had time to refocus and gather your marbles.

My ideas worked, not because he followed them to the letter, but because he started watching me last night, and it just "clicked" in his head. After I went to bed, Anna started screaming again, but this morning, Chris was happy to report it only lasted five minutes. He had figured out that she did wanted to be cuddled against him, but she still wanted her nuk.

He's learning how to parent by intuition, which is an art form. I'm so proud. I think once he starts doing that more, he'll enjoy his Anna time.

Skinny Meals Update

I've posted our recipe for Every Morning Omelets on Skinny Meals.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Progress Report: 21 Pounds

It happened a couple days ago. I was startled, and I ran around the house, jumping and leaping for joy. I think that's a pretty good indication of how much better I feel now. I was running and leaping for goodness sakes. A morbidly obese person isn't supposed to be able to do that. One day I was 18 pounds under... and the next, I was 21 pounds under. Time for pictures!

It's interesting to see how much and how little we've changed. I see more of a difference in me on the side view, and I see more of a difference in Chris on the front view. I realize that the angles are different for my pictures, so you can't get a true idea of the change. (Check out my new workout clothes. I had to return the ones I ordered assuming I was still the same size as before. Heck no. These are 1X instead of 2X, and even these are a little loose in parts.)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Video Post: Anna is a Wonderland

Nobody was injured in the filming of this video. I promise.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ben's Dinner Time

Most of the time, we all eat together at the table. Sometimes if the timing isn't right, Ben eats in his high chair in the living room while watching a favorite show. We can usually get him to eat more if he's watching a show. It's a bad habit, I know, but when your goal is to fatten the kid up, it's okay. Hint to all overeaters out there: turn off the TV and you'll probably eat less.

I think we've succeeded in adding some fat to Ben's bones. We won't know for sure until we go for his weight check on Valentine's Day, but I see a little more roundness to his belly.

To commemorate this special time in our lives when we had to pretty much force Ben to eat as much as possible, I present a quick photo essay of Ben at dinner time.

This is Ben pouring ranch dressing on his slice of pizza. He's imitating Chris. This is before the Skinny Meals era, obviously. Ben didn't eat any of the pizza, and we had to give him a peanut butter sandwich instead later.

While I was fixing chicken breasts, broccoli and wild rice, Ben was eating more calorie-dense foods, like mac and cheese prepared with extra butter and whole milk, corn dog (he won't eat the breading) and corn niblets.

But breakfast is really his favorite. Take Monday morning's menu: yogurt, oatmeal and sliced apples. The front of his bib in this picture has a waterfall of yogurt down his chest. He loves to eat with a spoon, but as you can see, he tends to flip it upside down just before it gets to his mouth. This is generally okay for oatmeal, but has terrible consequences for yogurt.

Skinny Meals Update

Check out Skinny Meals. I wrote a product review of Quaker Simple Harvest Multigrain Hot Cereal.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

In Honor Of Eighteen

It's been just about three years since I was a size 18. That was how long ago it was when I last wore the pants that I tried on yesterday. They fit! Snug, but they fit, and I was able to breathe and move around. I find it phenomenal that I have lost 18 pounds in just under one month. We started this whole thing on January 5th. And now I'm two pounds away from my first 20 pound goal. That's when I'll take pictures and measurements again.

In honor of being a size eighteen again, I present 18 observations of the last two days:

  1. Ben randomly runs up to us now and tackles our legs. It's a typical toddler love thing, but it's a recent development for him, and I absolutely love it.
  2. Changing a baby's diaper while she's sitting on your lap in the passenger side of the car (we were stopped of course) is not nearly as difficult as gingerly peeling off poop-soaked clothes and replacing them with clean ones, all while trying not to get the offending goo all over yourself.
  3. I tucked the icy cold baby wipes under my breasts to quickly warm them so they wouldn't shock her delicate baby skin. I think that is one of the truest examples of a mother's love.
  4. I have wonderful siblings. I had so much fun with my sisters yesterday at the baby shower. I wish they lived closer to me. They sort of kick total ass, and I wuv them dearly.
  5. Driving to Appleton when the roads are snow-covered and slippery is a bad idea. Really. Driving back from Appleton when the roads are even more snow-covered and slippery is a worse idea. Daisy, you were out and about yesterday, so you know.
  6. We lost count of how many cars we saw go in the ditch. Once, we saw a car actually fly into the ditch. It was a white-knuckled trip.
  7. When we finally got to the church ten minutes late for the baby shower, I hauled Anna in right away. When I got to the room with all the baby shower stuff, I looked around and didn't recognize anyone, and the room was strangely decorated in blue. Wasn't my SIL having a daughter?
  8. Apparently, within two blocks of each other, two baby showers were being held at the exact same time at two different churches.
  9. When someone eats a whole scoop of frozen custard because that person's son absolutely refused to eat it himself, she works extra hard at the gym that night.
  10. Moms of toddler boys often have little cars in various pockets.
  11. Yesterday, I had no less than four.
  12. When you incorporate more activity into your life (chasing my son at a dead run down the church hallway), eating a little slice of spice cake at a baby shower doesn't show up on the scale. My weight went down another pound and a half since yesterday, and that was with some minor cheating, ie cake. (We skipped the creamy fruit salads and potato salads and filled up on a turkey sandwich and a whole mess of fresh veggies... and three cocktail turkey meatballs).
  13. I honestly think that I flipped a switch on my metabolism. How else to explain the constant weight loss?
  14. I credit T-Tapp with this. Even though the 15-minute workouts are intense and exhilaratingly difficult at times, I end up with a huge burst in energy afterwards that stays with me for most of the day. It's not so much of a big deal anymore to jump up and chase after Ben or to make several trips up and down the stairs. And really, that's what the advertisements say will happen. I don't get tired as easily.
  15. Anna's hair is changing from a dark brown to a medium shade of strawberry blonde. You can definitely see it in her eyebrows. I think with her deep blue eyes, it'll be a very attractive combination.
  16. Today is my spa day at the YMCA when I get to spend two hours there with no children or husband. I could spend it lounging around in the women-only whirlpool, but I will probably bust my butt some more on the elliptical trainer and the bike.
  17. I have this terrible urge to finally start chipping the tiles off of the bathroom walls like we had planned on doing last March. We put off finishing the bathroom makeover because of time constraints, but I'm getting very close to taking a chisel and a hammer and just going to town. I'm not quite sure what is stopping me, other than the inevitable mess and dust that I'll have to clean up.
  18. My dear sister is pregnant again. She's sicker than a dog now, so we have high hopes for this pregnancy. She's finally gotten some relief from the vomiting by taken Unisom. I'm so happy for her on so many levels, though with her husband in the military, she faces quite a challenge with having two children around the house. I wish I lived closer so I could ease some of the strain.
And there you have it. My Eighteen in honor of Size Eighteen. Wooo!!! Now get up off your butt and shake your tail feather in celebration of my awesome progress! And for those out there who are struggling with motivation to get in gear and make positive steps towards your weight loss goal... just remind yourself of me. If I can do it, so can you! No fancy powders, no difficult diets, no heart-hurting drugs. Just clean, healthy eating and clean, vigorous activity.