Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Baby, Sitting

Today was a big day for spending piles of money. That's rarely fun, but it's especially unfun at this time of year, when the amount coming in is so small as to be practically nonexistent. With our trip coming up, though, it's important to make sure everything is in order. Today that meant groceries, rent, and a vet visit. It also meant getting up really early, because M had to go to school and deliver his final exam. I hauled Robert's sleepy little body out of crib at quarter to seven and we rolled out at seven-fifteen. The only good thing about that hour is that the traffic is much lighter than an hour later in the morning. We dropped M off and came back for a breakfast of peaches and rice and leftover pizza, then packed up the birds.

Our budgies are senior citizens now. Jeremy is eight years old, and probably coming up on nine around the end of the year. (Budgie birthdays are an inexact science.) Aegis is about the same age, then Dana's just a little younger. Isaac and Boris are tougher because I didn't get them as bappies, but they're at least five and probably considerably more. A well-tended pet store budgie has a lifespan of about ten years, maybe a little more. Some of my budgies haven't made it this far, but the ones that have are starting to show their age. One symptom of that is beak problems. When they were younger, they could chew their cuttlebone to keep their beaks trim, but now kidney function and other bird health stuff makes their beaks grow faster than they can whittle them down. Aegis and Boris, especially, have bad problems with this, but Dana's starting to as well. I can't trim beaks at home, it's much harder than trimming nails, and the consequences for screwing up badly are grim. So I have to take them in periodically to the vet.

Bird vets are not cheap. Seriously not cheap. Especially since they insisted that Dana would need a physical too, because they haven't trimmed her before. But that's what the emergency summer savings account was there for, and you have to take care of your pets. At this point, if one of them gets very sick, it would probably not be a kindness to do much more than palliative care, but beak and claw maintenance is a quality of life issue, and we owe them that. I've taken care of most of them their entire lives, after all. And being responsible teaches Robert good lessons, even if he's too young to remember them now.

While we waited for the birds to get done at the vet, Robert and I went shopping. There is only so much soup you can eat in a week without going insane, so I picked up some of the sandwich meat and cheese on sale at the deli. I'm liking the deli sales at Meijer lately, if you can get the meat at four dollars a pound and have them slice it thin, two dollars can get you quite a few sandwiches! We got salami, mesquite turkey, and provolone cheese, plus the sale bread. I found some half-price milk  that hits its sell-by tomorrow, some clearance caffeine drink to put into water bottles, and picked up some frozen peas. I had two two-dollar-off coupons for Ball Park franks, which was great, cause they're on sale for two-fifty. Fifty cent hotdogs, yay! I also used my coupon for a free Sobe, and bought a raspberry lemonade that ended up tasting very banana-y. That was all easy, and then I did the WIC stuff, which was a nightmare.

This is only my second month buying baby food, and last month was simple because I only bought peas, carrots, apricots, and peaches. I wanted to mix it up a little more this month, but that was a big mistake. It turns out it's really difficult to get 32 jars of baby food where not a one of them has any extra starch, sugar, salt, or dairy. I had to run back once because I didn't realize that I got three boxes of rice this month instead of two like last month, then canceled the transaction entirely because one set of jars had yogurt in. I didn't want to make the people behind me insane, so I had him just set all the jars aside and did the rest of my checkout. Robert, who was overdue for a nap by now, was wailing like a tiny banshee as I tied up my bags and went back to the baby section to replace the ones with yogurt. I got new jars and came back, only to find out after waiting in line and checking out again that some of my other jars had added starch! Robert was frantic, and I was so stressed out I could've cried, but a nice manager went back for me and got me some jars that would work while the cashier finished my checkout. They were both very nice to me, and even though the experience was upsetting, they washed the bad taste out of my mouth I had after the last time I did WIC at Meijer.

All told, after coupons and the WIC vouchers, I only spent 15 dollars at Meijer, which is not too bad. Robert and I then had to go pay the rent, because YOU MUST PAY THE RENT, she declares, twirling her moustache evilly. Robert and I always have a nice time talking to the ladies down in the office, even if we got the sad news that the pool closes at the end of this week. No more swimming for us, and we hardly used the pool. It was too hot to swim! Oh well, we can swim at Mimi and Papoo's house! I ended up moving three hundred fifty dollars from our emergency fund into the bank to make sure we'll cover the rent and all the bills. Really, it could be worse. This time last year we were into our credit cards, even though we had food stamps then. Now I am still on track for paying down the credit cards, and though money is a worry, we at least _have_ money to worry about.

Also, check out my big strong baby boy! He's gotten to a breakthrough point with this sitting thing. He can't pull up to a sit, but if we sit him up, he can balance and even catch himself sometimes when he starts listing. And he really enjoys sitting up, too! My squishy little chicken nugget is becoming a little boy faster every day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scaring the Baby

Today was a nice and mostly lazy Saturday, which I always appreciate. We're getting ready for our trip next week, so I haven't gotten groceries lately and we've been eating our way through the stockpile in more or less creative ways. It's funny because a year ago, I was just ramping up the stockpiling, going into squirrel pregnancy mode as I worried about the baby and money and how we were ever going to make ends meet. It's been just about a year since I started looking into couponing, actually. We had soup for lunch today, since I've gotten a bunch of it very cheap this past few months. For supper, I defrosted one of the steaks I got from my folks. It was a very nice steak! I have another, but I wanted to save it, so I took the steak and pounded it just as flat as I could, till it was more than twice its original size. I cooked it up in a little olive oil then cut it into chunks, and we had delicious steak sandwiches. Creative and tasty!

Robert got three meals of solid foods today, a fact of which I am quite proud. He had banana and rice for breakfast and ate nearly a whole banana. Wow! Lunch was garden veggies and pasta from Gerber, and then for supper he had more pureed kidney beans. He ate about half the beans and got bored of it, so I put a few spoonfuls on his tray and let him fingerpaint with them. He liked that quite a bit, and make a huuuuge mess. Bathtime tomorrow morning before church, definitely! But I think he's going to be very artistic.

After dinner, we both switched off playing with Robert to tire him out for bed. For awhile, we were all playing together on the floor. M laid down on his back and his shirt rode up.  I scooted over there with Robert in my arm and went "I see... belly!" like I often do with Robert,  then started tickling M's stomach. Those of you who know him know that M's reaction to tickling is loud giggling and yelping, punctuated with squirming and the occasional flail. He did all of that as I continued tickling him, till suddenly Robert burst into loud and hysterical tears! He has a special sort of cry he does when he's scared, short little frantic sobs designed to make parents feel terrible about whatever they did. I stopped tickling M immediately, and we both set about trying to comfort the baby and assure him that Daddy was okay and everything was all right. It took several minutes before Robert calmed down and stopped crying. Guess we won't be playing the "Tickle Daddy" game till he's a little older.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Model Child

So, remember the other day when I posted five million pics of Robert outside and said it was for a project? Today that project came to fruition, more or less. Robert and I went downtown and got him signed up with a modeling agency, how exciting! I sent his picture to them more than a month ago, and they eventually got back saying they were interested and liked the pictures and wanted to see him. So I took him in, and we learned about baby modeling and filled out some forms, and learned what kind of "headshot" type pics he needs. Babies don't have headshots so much as they have whole-body shots, being as how they are quite small. They need to be on white or not-busy backdrops.

So in the afternoon Robert and I went to a new photo studio to get some pictures. This place was neat because they don't send away for your pictures, they have the big picture-printing machine right there. How convenient! The photographer, Levi, was awesome at getting Robert to smile and laugh. It was hard picking out one pose for the package I had a coupon for and then two for the modeling sheets. In the end, the whole thing cost about forty dollars, which is pricey, but I got a 10x17, two 8x10s, two 5x7s, four 3x5s and 32 wallets of the one pose, and then 2 5x7s each of the two model shots. So I did get quite a few photos, plus the sitting, all for that 40 dollars. It's a pretty nice place, I might go back if I get another coupon.

Another exciting milestone in Robert development is protein! I talked with the nutritionist at WIC about Robert's eating. She says he's completely on track and ready to start both proteins and yogurt! Exciting! Jarred meats are nasty, nasty, nasty, so she recommended starting with pureed beans instead. I have a policy with the pets that I think I'll extend to Robert of not feeding them anything I wouldn't be willing to eat a bite of, so beans are the far superior option. And he really liked them! I went very simple, took a can of precooked and seasoned kidney beans, rinsed them well in warm water to get most of the seasoning off of them and warm them up a bit, then pureed them with warm water and rice into a smooth mix. He needed one bite to think about it, then ate the rest of it right down very happily. What a good eater!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wear and Tear

I need to get some sleep, really. I did better last night than the night before at getting to sleep, but that was partly because I went to bed really late. We also got up very early, so I only got four and a half hours sleep. I did okay during the day on that much sleep, oddly enough. Robert and I went to the health department and got our new WIC vouchers, we picked up the portraits from Penneys, which are fuzzy and will need to be reordered, I made an actual dinner of turkey mignons and steamed carrots, and did three loads of laundry. I got a lot of stuff done, when you think about it!

Trouble is, exhaustion usually reveals itself in my emotions first, and tonight I am in such a bad mood. Cranky, jealous, irritable, and depressed over stupid and meaningless things! It's not a good way to feel, and even though I know I should be shaking it off, the physical weariness makes it impossible. I need to remember that when I write, it is to please myself first, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about it or if anyone even reads it. This blog is great because I do get feedback sometimes, but even if I didn't, it would still be worthwhile to write. I need to focus on that and not on wishing I were a better writer, or that I had heaping piles of praise being dropped on my head. I know I will feel better once I finally catch up on my sleep, but I don't know if that's going to be tonight. I get into these self-defeating cycles where I get tired and become anxious and then can't sleep due to anxiety. Maybe I will do some of the meditation I learned in Hypnobirthing and see if it helps. Tomorrow is a big day, after all, and I can't afford to be so underslept.

Anyway, there's another batch of new pictures on the Flickr stream. They are very cute ones of Robert smiling and laughing, so you won't want to miss them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I gotta go to bed! This insomnia is not good for me at all. Robert and I have our WIC appointment tomorrow and we need to be bright and chipper, but last night I lay in bed for two hours. Yuck. Anyway, here are a bunch more pictures of Robert on the Flickr photostream to make up for not posting much tonight. It was a quiet day anyhow!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Robert Goes Outside

I forgot to post yesterday! I got so busy answering ChaCha questions and reading my new book, suddenly it was 2am and I was falling asleep in my chair. D'oh. Here are extra pictures to make up for my shameful lack of diligence! We took Robert outside this afternoon to get pictures of him in natural light. I took thirty-six pictures of him and he smiled for exactly one of them. I think I will try again tomorrow in the morning, when he generally feels more smiley.

Today was a cleaning day. My friend Jamie came over in the afternoon, so in the morning M and I straightened up the joint, washing dishes, gathering laundry and cleaning the living room. I put the plastic floor pad from the desk that we NEVER EVER EVER use under the baby feeding station so I don't have to set a towel down anymore. It looks much nicer and is more effective to boot. (The desk is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, it takes up a huge chunk of our bedroom real estate and is used only as a repository for junk. I would like to get rid of it, but have been consistently outvoted by M and M's muscles, without which the desk cannot be moved.) Anyway, the place is looking a lot better and Robert has more room to almost-crawl. He crawled nearly a baby-handspan today before falling on his face!

Jamie's visit was fun, we talked about baby stuff and cravings. She is pregnant now, and is inheriting a lot of Robert's baby gear, since they're pretty sure it's a boy. This is awesome because we have no room for Robert's old stuff, and I don't want to actually get rid of big things like the swing. Today I gave her a box of Robert's newborn clothes, so there's the added benefit that I'll be able to see another teeny baby wearing Robert's adorable outfits and remember how he looked wearing them. D'awwww. As an added plus, Jamie and her husband come to town often, so they will look after our pets while we are traveling! Awesome! That's always the hardest part of traveling, finding someone to care for the animals. I am very happy about that.

Not too much else of interest today, so I'll backtrack to yesterday. We went to church and had some fun there with Robert's little buddies. The microphone system at church is new and very, very sensitive, so we also got a little of the sermon from the Unitarian church across the way, much to the pastor and sound guy's chagrin. It made Robert's friend CeeCee cry, very sad. After church, we dropped M off at school to do an afternoon of intense, baby-and-wife-free schoolwork, and went shopping.

Well, napping, and then shopping. Priorities! I had thirteen dollars in CVS reward money that was expiring yesterday, so that was the big priority. Luckily, CVS was running some great sales. Robert and I went in and got three things of John Frieda shampoo, two Glade scented oil warmers and two refills, a bottle of eyedrops, and three big cans of iced tea, all for under five dollars, which I paid with a gift card. I spent the 13 reward bucks and got 11 back, so that's not shabby at all. I saved fifty dollars off retail.

I just want to take a moment here to shill for John Frieda's Frizz-Ease line. I don't normally do that in my regular blog posts, but I am feeling in very good charity with them because I love their stuff and they release great coupons for it. I have frizzy flyaway hair, especially in the summer. This is hands-down the best shampoo I have ever used for making my hair actually look neat and orderly after it's been brushed and dried. It's awesome, and if you have frizz, you should try it out. Kind of expensive at five bucks a pop, but like I said, they have great coupons that combine well with CVS sales. I got my three bottles for two dollars after coupons and reward bucks. It's definitely worth more!

Anyway, after CVS we hit up Office Depot for their back-to-school loss leaders. It was right on the way, so it was an easy stop. I picked up ten pocket folders, three rulers, and three pencil cases, all for a total of 17 cents, which I was luckily able to find in my wallet. I wasn't about to do a debit transaction for 17 cents, that's just dumb. Hooray, stray nickels and dimes.! Most of the stuff at those office stores is ridiculously expensive, but if you go regularly and only buy the best sales, you get great deals. More stuff for the food pantry! I'm sure there are kids who use it who still need supplies.

Our last stop was at Sam's Club, where I spent a lot of money. I don't shop at Sam's as often as I used to, but every so often I go and stock up. I had armed myself for this trip in advance by cashing out the rewards for our two credit cards. Discover's cashback rewards scored us a free year's renewal and a ten dollar gift card, very nice, and Chase gave us 50 dollars right into our bank account, also excellent. Not, you know, excellent enough that I'm not still working to pay down as fast as I can, but still. All of that went right into this trip. The biggest expense by far was new printer ink. I won't buy the off-brand stuff anymore, but three color and two black cartridges set us back sixty-plus dollars. Yeow! Good thing we don't print too many pictures. This set will also last a lot longer than the last set. I ruined those cartridges by trying to get the off-brand cartridges to work. The first set we had lasted a long time.

Besides ink, I got a case of bottled water that'll last us a few months, a box of tortilla chips and two jugs of salsa, five pounds of carrots, three pounds of grapes, six pounds of bananas, and five pounds of mozzarella cheese. I also got new trash bags and paper towels (Yes Dad, we actually needed new paper towels, finally!) After much consultation with Robert, who was very encouraging, I also caved and bought the new Nora Roberts hardcover, The Search. It was ten dollars less than the cover price, and I have wanted it since before it came out. I'm so weak! But I stayed up half the night reading it, and it was amazing, and I'm not really very sorry. The whole trip, after gift card, came to 145 dollars, ouch! But I got pretty good deals on things, and passed up a lot that I would've thought were good deals before I educated myself.

When we got home, I embarked on one of my favorite activities, putting things in the freezer! I broke the big bag of shredded mozzarella into two-cup portions in individual baggies, put them in a freezer bag, and froze most of them to save for when we need them. We use tons of mozza, but in the fridge, some always goes to waste. I washed and froze the grapes, which are delicious that way, and pureed and froze almost fifty carrot cubes for Robert's future meals. The bananas are still green, but when they are ripe, a lot of them will hit the freezer too. I love it! I spent most of the evening, after baby was sleeping, reading my book and answering questions. As of tonight, my total ChaCha earnings are about 38 dollars, and I'm having a good time. After my last job, having a good time is extra-nice.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sleepy Saturday

Contrary to my expectations, Robert slept until nearly nine this morning, partially because the lousy weather meant it was surprisingly dark all morning. This spoiled my plans to take him outside and get some pictures of him, so that will have to wait for tomorrow. I need ten or fourteen good pictures of him taken outside for a project whose details I will disclose later if  things work out. But it has to be sunny! Today was just hot. But at least we got to sleep in.

We did the typical two-meals, four bottles, and a snack for baby food today, with another frozen banana as the snack. Robert was fussy in the evening, even after Orajel and Children's Tylenol for the teething, so we gave him a diluted bottle to chew and suck on. He doesn't like water much yet, but even a little formula taste makes him happier. He went to bed really early, poor munchkin. Tooth soon, please! During the day he was better, near-crawling all over the place, and actually making some progress walking in the aroundy-go. He's smiley and happy and pleasant for most of the day and very fun to be around, it's just when he gets tired in the evening that it gets hard.

When Robert was occupied or sleeping today, I answered more questions on ChaCha. It's kinda fun, and I ended up making fifteen more dollars today. I won't get rich on it, but it's a lot more than I usually make sitting on my butt at the computer! And hey, if I'm careful and keep up my 66% savings average, 25 dollars is like 75 dollars worth of buying power! Every little bit helps, and if I can keep from dipping into our savings, I will be really proud.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Questions and Answers

So things are going pretty good so far on the earning money online thing. I got approved as a ChaCha.com guide, answering text message-sized questions with text-sized answers for 10-15 cents a pop. It's like Yahoo Answers, but faster and you get paid, so I rather like it. I made almost 7.50 today just doing it for a couple hours, mostly after the baby went to bed. There's a referral program, so if this works out, I will happily pass it along to anyone else who is interesting in trying their hand. I also got my first article approved on another site. So cross your fingers and hope that lots of people need the information I have to share!

Robert had a very busy day. He is so, so, so close to crawling. Not only can he get up on his hands and knees and rock, he can get up on his hands and toes and arch his whole body! He is sort of crawling already, but he can only move backwards. His arms are just so much stronger than his chubby little legs! He played with his balloon and had lots of solid food, and it was very nice. He also got a lot of sitting up practice. He's getting a lot better at that, he's learned he needs to lean forward a little to stay upright, and he even caught himself once with his hand. Victoria provided a strong incentive for him to stay upright, because he is extremely interested in her right now. We had to rescue her from baby hands more than once! M and I traded off naps and chores, and it was all in all a pretty good Friday.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Streams of Revenue

Today was a very nice morning. M got up with Robert and actually took Robert to school with him so I could have a rest and really sleep in. I took full advantage, catching up on several days of restless nights. It was great! When they got home, we Skyped with my folks. My mom just had her surgery and she is doing pretty well, with any luck, she will come home tomorrow! Hooray! And I'm so happy that she's got the laptop now, it will make her convalescence so much nicer. When Skyping was done, I gave Robert garden veggie baby food out of a jar, while M got a much-deserved nap.

For supper, Robert had carrots and blueberry-banana out of my freezer stash. I really like this homemade food thing! I think when I have my WIC appointment next week, I will ask for less baby food coupons and more fresh produce vouchers. I would like to try more of different produce. Fresh avocado is a reliable hit (plus I'm really starting to like it myself), and carrots are great. I would also like to try some squashes, green beans, freeze some more bananas. We definitely need more bananas. Baby loves his frozen nanners! M and I had macaroni and peas for supper, to which I added the rest of the barbecue chicken from the crockpot last week. Man, that turns out really well, and is so easy! I don't worry about making barbecue chicken anymore, because after we are tired of sandwiches, we can do this!

Okay, what you do is you make barbecue chicken in the crockpot. Take enough thighs and legs to reasonably fill your pot, and peel as much of the skin off as you can. Pour in most of a bottle of barbecue sauce. I use whatever I've gotten free at the store recently. Let it cook for six hours. After about four, take the bones out and start picking apart the big lumps of chicken. After six, mash it all up like you would pulled port, and get out any of the gristly bits from the ends of the bones that might be left. Voila, barbecue chicken! It's great on sandwiches, with just a little extra barbecue sauce for more flavor.

After you're bored of sandwiches, it's time for macaroni. Take two boxes of macaroni and cheese, and a big pot half full of water. Boil the water, then cook the noodles three minutes. Toss in half a bag of frozen peas, and cook until the noodles are tender. Meanwhile, take a cup and a half or two cups of barbecue chicken leftovers, or whatever you've got, and microwave them till warm. When the noodles and peas are done, drain them and return them to the pot. Dump in the chicken, the cheese packets, and a lot of garlic salt. At least a teaspoon, maybe more to taste. This is a lot of macaroni to season. Add whatever butter and milk you normally add to mac and cheese. I use half a stick of margarine and about a quarter cup of milk, because I don't like it runny. Stir everything up really well, and eat it! It's great, trust me. It's also a good way to use up pulled pork.

Anyway, the other thing I did today was look for paying work online. I got a newsletter from All You about it, and thought it would be worth exploring. So I signed up with a couple of content-for-pay websites, and one answer questions for pay website. I did up a little writing sample that was 900 words about bird care, and submitted it, and was accepted to both sites. I'm sort of in limbo with all three places at the moment while they review me, but I'm optimistic. I've done all right with a couple of online endeavors so far, and while this isn't going to be a job-equivalent for me, if I can even make 150 dollars a month, well that's my entire grocery budget right there!

If there's one time of year that reminds me of how precarious our finances are, it's August and September. We still have all the money I put in savings for the summer, but doggone it, I want to keep it there! I'm pretty sure I'll have to dip in at least once when September's rent comes due along with the other bills, but if I could eventually replace that money, it would be great. And in this economy, there is security in multiple streams of revenue, even if most of those streams are closer to trickles. I spend a lot of time online anyway, might as well make that and my research skills pay. Wish me luck, and I will update on that as things develop.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Roll of a Seven, A Lucky Surprise

Happy seven month birthday, Robert! He celebrated his birthday by being cranky most of the day. That tooth has just got to come in soon! He wouldn't take an afternoon nap, and was exhausted but sleepless by six. We eventually got him down around seven, which probably means he'll be up again at six. Which means I've got to get to bed pretty soon here. He's been getting lots of fruit in his teether lately, and making a huge mess, but he likes it. I took a whole bunch of pictures, which you can see on the Flickr photostream, as well as one for the page here. He's getting baths a lot more frequently these days, that's for sure. Between sweat and fruit, he can be a sticky, stinky baby. But he also likes the bath a lot, now that he has a bath book and a boat to play with. I think he will have even more fun once he's reliably sitting up without my help in there.

I know I was talking yesterday about how things were when we first realized Robert was coming into our lives. I wrote a letter to the baby, or to the idea of the baby, on the night of August 16. I went to look at it today, and realized that both the file and the backup had been corrupted! I was really sad, but when I opened the file in Wordpad I was able to find a raw-text, barely readable version still left. It's sad how ephemeral things like that can be, isn't it? The only way to preserve anything digitally, I guess, is to have enough backups that they can't all be lost. In the spirit of that, and of sharing with you all, here's the retyped version of the letter I wrote: 

Dear Baby: 
Hello, for the very first time. I won't know for sure until tomorrow if this hello is premature, but at this point the evidence is suggestive that you and I have been hanging out for awhile, with me all unawares. You're very sneaky! If I'm wrong, and you have decided not to show up yet, then that's okay. We will meet another time. But I feel flutters inside me and I know they can't all be the butterflies of waiting for the doctor tomorrow. I've already taken two pregnancy tests, and you're certainly indicating your existence there! Way to not be shy. That's important, especially in a family with two very distractible parents. I am sure you will never have much of a problem getting our attention.

I feel a lot of different ways right now, knowing you're here. It explains all the moodiness and funny feelings I've had this summer. It explains the time at the Honda dealership where I nearly passed out and threw up in the poor dealer's trash can! But you never made me sick for very long, and that's why I never noticed, I guess. I owe you for that one. I hate puking. Your dad and I didn't see this coming, but it wasn't because we didn't want you. When I was in college, my doctor told me I wouldn't have children without medical assistance. That can get really expensive, and be so heartbreaking. I didn't know if I would ever be ready to walk that road, even though I wanted kids. We thought that maybe when we were older, when he was finished with school, when the economy turned around and I had a job with insurance. I didn't see the signs, because I just never thought to look. 

Maybe the timing isn't so good for us right now, but if you're here, it's a miracle, and that's not something to be disregarded or wasted or ever, ever regretted. You were created in love, and will be born in love, and raised in an extended family full of love and support and laughter and prayers. I don't know where the money's going to come from, but we will figure it out. Everyone is going to be thrilled to have you. Allie and Kirsten have been bugging me to introduce you to them for nearly five years now, and they will be very excited. We haven't said anything to anyone yet, because I just took the test this morning, after you squirmed all night and kept me up. Then I took the other one this afternoon, because it was so hard to believe. If we're lucky, maybe we'll see your picture tomorrow at the clinic, and we can share you with everyone. 

Right now, the whole thing feels huge inside my head, and it's hard for me to wrap my mind around. I look at the baby development websites, and it's like my thought process just flips off, and I can only stare and wonder. I feel bad that I didn't see earlier, that I didn't start taking the vitamins weeks ago, and that I ate all that ramen. Sorry about that, baby, it was delicious, and my will is weak! At least I don't smoke or drink, and my iced tea habit is apparently much better than coffee or soda. I promise I will do better by you from now on. I'm sure that later on we will place many expectations on your likely-oversized head (hey, it runs in the family!), but for now, all I want is for you to be healthy and whole and okay. 

Maybe we only just found out about you, but we love you already, and we're going to do our very best for you. I hope you can ignore or forgive the lapses and mistakes along the way, and that we can give you the sort of life that you deserve. I'm so sorry that we aren't bringing you into a better world, and that the place and time we live in is so messed up in so many ways. I'm sure your dad will teach you that every time and place is messed up in its own way, but if I could make you a perfect world, I would in a heartbeat. But it'll be okay, I promise. Let's both get some sleep now, and hopefully I will see you in the morning. 
Love, for the very first time, 

Monday, August 16, 2010

An Anniversary of Sorts

Tomorrow is Robert's seven month birthday! That is a milestone in and of itself, of course. Seven months, what a big boy! But today is also special because one year ago today, I woke up very early on a Sunday morning and left M sleeping to drive out to Walgreens. I had been having such strange feelings in my stomach for the past couple of days, I was no longer able to sleep for worrying. I had to prove to myself, I thought, that it was gas bubbles I was feeling, or indigestion, or whatever. I left a note on M's computer that I'd run out to get a new hairbrush (which was something I happened to need at the time anyway), and would be back soon, just in case he woke while I was gone. I thought I would go out to Walgreens, get a test, come back, reassure myself that I was imagining things, and have the evidence disposed of by the time M woke. Not that I was worried about him seeing it, really, but I would've felt so silly. We both knew I was infertile, and on birth control pills besides! I felt like a little bit of an idiot even entertaining the notion, but the persistent strange feelings in my stomach would not be denied.

Buying a pregnancy test is a little embarrassing no matter what the circumstances, I think. Luckily, the store was pretty empty before seven in the morning on a Sunday. I decided against the Walgreens brand and sprang for a two-pack on one of the more inexpensive name-brands. I also bought the hairbrush, and some headbands, and a can of iced tea, and some candy, just to show that I was totally not out first thing on a Sunday morning for the sole purpose of buying a pregnancy test, no sir. I'm pretty sure the cashier didn't care even a little bit one way the other. When I went home, M was still sleeping, no note necessary. Ah, those days of lazy weekend slumber! I left him sleeping and went into the bathroom. I had barely gotten the post-test plastic cap onto the wretched thing before the big bold PLUS sign was becoming visible. I just sat there for a few minutes and looked at it. I was stunned, but somehow I was not surprised. The kicky feet inside me were not gas and not indigestion, and deep down I think I had known they were not, but I was in such deep denial that I had made myself disbelieve.

Telling M was the next thing on the agenda. If I had it to do over again, I probably would've just waited till he woke up, but I was not thinking entirely straight at the moment. Basically I woke him up and waved the test at him and told him it was positive, and he had no idea what I was showing him or what I was talking about. It took several minutes for us to get onto the same page and wasn't exactly the sort of storybook reveal I sort of thought it would be if we ever did have a kid, but the circumstances were also not exactly what we had envisioned. We had no idea how pregnant I was, or even if the test was accurate, or what on earth we were going to do now. At that point, we did not even know the month we conceived, much less have an idea on things like last menstrual cycle or due date. It was entirely overwhelming. In the days to come, we would go to New Hope for the first time, take three more pregnancy tests (all positive, of course) and get an ultrasound to show us the face of our unexpected addition. But when I think back on that day, it's sort of funny, how absolutely shocked we were.

We didn't actually do anything that day, because it was a Sunday and no one was open. We didn't call anyone, I'm not even sure we really said the word "pregnant" beyond the initial conversation. It wasn't until the next day that we got the other tests done, and I felt comfortable enough with the reality of it all that we started telling people. My dad was in the hospital for tests on his heart, and I almost waited to call them, but decided not to. If he was going to have a heart attack, might as well do it in the hospital, I figured! I was a little worried what the reaction from our folks might be. I didn't have a job or any insurance, we were barely scraping by as it was. The last time I'd talked with my dad about my prospects for the future, I'd wound up crying (which makes a lot more sense in retrospect, with the whole hormones thing.) But of course my parents were just thrilled, and M's parents were thrilled, and they were 100% behind us all the way. My mom was just beside herself with excitement, and it was actually pretty funny.

I didn't have this blog active back then, but I did have another online journal I was keeping, a more private one that is not quite as open for the world to see. I posted a message there on August 17, 2009 for my friends that I will replicate here for posterity:

This has been such a weird summer. Sure we've been in a new place and I still haven't gotten a job, but there have been other weird things as well. Like the dizzy spells. Sometimes when I was walking around or in the shower, I would start feeling really funny and need to sit down or lie down. Then there was the great grandpappy dizzy spell back in May, when I all but fainted on the floor at the Honda dealership, then threw up in the poor manager's trash can. Then there was the moodiness, to the point where I was fighting tears if I didn't win initiative in a game or saw an especially sentimental commercial. I thought it was because I was depressed about not working. I gained some weight, too, but I did get off Weight Watchers, and it wasn't like I grew out of all my clothes or anything...

You know, when you put it all together, it seems far more suggestive than it did at the time. But when a doctor has assured you that something won't happen without significant medical intervention, it's just not the first thing on your mind, and when you haven't had a regular menstrual cycle since high school, missing a couple periods isn't something you think much about. But when something starts butting its head against your pelvis and demanding attention should be paid, well, attention generally gets paid. 

All that said, guess what, everyone! We're spawning! It's not an ideal time for it, but considering I didn't know if it would happen at all, I'll take a miracle as it comes. After four pregnancy tests to confirm it, anyway. It's hard to doubt at that point, especially when you started taking them to figure out what was wiggling and jiggling and tickling inside you. We're getting an ultrasound ASAP to figure out how far along we are, but we could have a new Davisling come January. Wow! It seems like so little time with so much to do, but at least we noticed now, and aren't one of those couples who show up at the hospital in labor, all unawares. We'll be very busy, but there's time for a little shock and awe yet. 

What a difference a year makes, huh? It's hard to believe how quickly it's gone, or what a beautiful baby came from such slapdash and makeshift origins. But I think it's reassuring too, Robert has always been a baby who has his own. We're there to give him everything we can, but he's an independent little cuss, and he's going to make it just fine. 

Guest Post: Bobby LaBonte

Thanks to Roman May
My son Spencer was three at the time, while we were watching the Michigan race in I think 1995. Vroom vroom, he use to say while we tuned our satalite tv. to the now weekend ritual. "Bobby BaBonte", he would say, as the Winston cup champions would glide around the oval. I think "Bobby Babonte" was one of his first words, either way; this is why I've become a Bobby fan. The green number 18, at the time, was pretty much the only car my son could pull out of the crowd. Bobby won that day, and the excitement of race day with dad just gets me every time.
His uncle Alex pulled down a number 18 car from his collection at the bar and handed it to my son. His eyes lit up, and set him of on his "Bobby Babonte" Chant. To this day I get a chuckle from knowing that the name on the matchbox car was Dale Jared, not Bobby. Bobby is just a year older than I, and I hope to see him come out of his racing career strong. I thank him for those Michigan racesmy son and I shared. Now 15 years later it's still a memory we cherish.

Going Bananas

Today at church there were so many babies! We sat in the back on the blanket, and there was M and I and Robert, and another little baby and his big sister and their mom, and another little boy and girl and their mom, and the twins and their moms, and it was just a huge baby convention. Robert thought it was awesome. He loves other babies, he thinks they are fascinating. In another few months he will probably express this by trying to poke and smack them, but for right now he mostly just watches. Some of the long-time members were obviously tickled to see such a baby boom. Which is good, because Robert was a pistol through the whole service, so it's just as well that people like him! This teething thing is rough business.

I've started using the Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder  with Robert, after a friend recommended it to me. She said it was the only thing that made her teething baby happy. I sliced up a banana and froze the slices in an ice cube tray, then shoved enough of them in to fill the little mesh bag. I thought it might take a little while for Robert to figure it out, but within thirty seconds, he had the mesh part in his mouth and was sucking and mashing like a champ. He loved it, and the bananas are good for him, and it probably feels pretty good on his gums. Unfortunately, it's far from a clean proposition, and he ended up with banana in places I didn't even know it was possible for a baby to get banana. He looked like he'd put on hair gel, but it was banana. We gave him a bath this morning before church, and he could probably use another one. But it makes him happy!

I was very annoyed with the newspaper today. I started getting home delivery of the newspaper to avoid having to go out and pick it up every Sunday, and because it is cheaper. Today, my newspapers didn't come at all! I waited till after church to make sure they weren't just late, but apparently the office closes at noon on Sunday, so I was out of luck. Someone did respond to my email this afternoon, but they said they wouldn't redeliver the papers, they would just credit my account. And a fat lot of good that does me, when I've already paid for a year, and after that year the price goes up! What I paid for the papers I didn't get today isn't going to buy me a paper a year from now! I emailed them back and told them that since it was their fault I had to go out and buy two newspapers today, they should credit me the newsstand price instead. We'll see what they say about that.

Robert and I did a little shopping today, not groceries, but we went to Michael's. I had a coupon for 25% off my entire purchase including sale stuff, and I was hope-hope-hoping the paper stacks would be on sale. They were last week when I went to get some pipe cleaners, but no luck. Robert, who'd been super-fussy, did fall asleep in the store though, so that was nice. I did get some good deals, I got some plastic dishes and some picture frames that were very cheap. It was pouring down rain by the time we were done, so we made an unscheduled detour to Babies R Us, where I just happened to have a coupon in my coupon pouch. We picked up refills for the Diaper Genie. Not cute, but useful. Then I went to both CVS stores and neither of them had this weeks sale items and neither of them had the newspaper. Very disappointing. I ended up having to stop by a gas station on the way home to get them. Sigh.

Anyway, everybody give prayers and good thoughts to my mom, who gets her hip replaced tomorrow! She got one done a couple years ago, and now she needs the other one. It's a big surgery, but she's going to feel so much better when it's done!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sleepy Boy

Robert has been sleeping very fitfully lately, which is sad for all of us. I don't know exactly why, but he wakes fussing several times in the night, cries for a few moments, and then subsides. When we go in, he's sleeping, but he does it again a little bit later. Then he wakes up much earlier than usual, which is also quite unfortunate. During the day he's tired and naps a lot, and is fussy in the evening. I wonder if this is a teething thing, and hope he's not sick or something. He's not running a fever or anything, and is active, so maybe it's just the dreaded teeth.

M went out to class today, but other than that we all stayed home all day. I cleaned up the living room and vacuumed again, because Robert was having a rolly day. He wants to crawl so much, he just can't quite get those legs under him! Soon, very soon. We watched Fraggles, ate soup, and fed the baby bananas and rice. It was pretty much a quiet and more importantly, very inexpensive day. The baby was obviously exhausted by about six, and against my better judgment, I put him to bed at six-thirty. I am afraid of how early he will be up in the morning.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Little Night Robert

It's late, once again, and here I am dashing off a post just before I go to bed. I am a bad mommyblogger, I totally forgot to even take a picture today! I had to sneak into Robert's room just now, aim the camera by guessing (the LCD screen is useless in a dark room) and snap a single picture.Surprisingly it turned out okay, though you can't see much of his face.

Robert made it an early morning this morning. He fussed a little at 3:30, then wanted a diaper change at half past four. He was up for the day at six, which made M and I both very sad and tired. We watched him and took turns napping to catch up on sleep. At least the baby was in a good mood, even though he got up so early. He ate pears and garden veggies and pasta, and lots of bottles. He still will have little to do with bottles of regular water, and nothing at all to do with the sippy cup. I think I may need to try another kind. Out of curiosity, I tried to drink from the sippy, and found it very difficult. Maybe he can't get the idea because it's too hard.

We went to Kroger in the evening and took advantage of the mega sale again. I made a rookie mistake in my counting that makes me mad and cost me a few dollars of savings, but it turned out that some of my coupons rang up better than I thought they would, so in aggregate, I spent exactly what I expected and got a few dollars-off coupons for next time. Unfortunately, I am already over budget for groceries this month because there have been so many good stock up sales! Oh no! Well, it's not like we need a lot more food this month, and the things I would still like to get are just that, things I'd like rather than things I need. Still, there's a heck of a lot of month left. Boo. August is the cruelest month in this household, definitely. But I still have a couple of CVS and Walgreens gift cards, and a small gift card to Sams, so I'm not totally cut off, just curtailed. It'll give me time to (sigh) organize. And I don't regret all the money I spent on school supplies, either. Some kids will have a better start to their school year because I'm getting creative with the groceries for a couple weeks, and that's nice.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Man, is it hot out. I don't care to think what our electricity bill is going to be this month, but it's just too doggone hot not to run the air most of the day and into the night. It's not even leaving the 80s till midnight these days, and hitting ninety well before noon. I need some autumn action, but it's August. Not even mid-August yet, either. We have miles of hot to go before we see any relief. I'm just grateful that we have air conditioning in our apartment! Driving anywhere is a misery these days, and results in sweaty, fussy baby if we stay out even a few minutes too long.

Today we didn't leave the house much. M went to his class and came back, reporting on the extreme hotness. Robert and I went out for lunch with my friend from church, who is having a baby in  February. We went out to a place that I had a Restaurant.com gift certificate for. I've never actually used one before, and I wanted to test it out. Typically, at Restaurant.com, you buy a 25 dollar gift certificate for 10 dollars and you can use it, say, on an order of 35 dollars or more. I bought mine on sale for two dollars, good deal there. My friend and I had to get 35 dollars worth of lunch to make it work, though, so we both got soft drinks, appetizers, entrees, and pie. Big lunch, but it was great, and I had leftovers to bring home. All of that, including the tip, ended up costing us ten dollars apiece, and we got to spend a long time chatting and talking. I won't say it was the most economical thing I've done lately, but it sure was a bargain for what we got. Robert was very good too, especially once he got his bottle.

After lunch, we went to Kroger, where they are doing a mega-event this week. If you buy eight of their sale items, you get four dollars off at the register. I went and stocked up on tuna and more Helpers, picked up a couple of avocados for Robert, and got some soup and Chex Mix. I have more shopping to do there, but it was a pretty good haul. I was excited to find a hanging Topsy Turvy pepper planter on the 50% off clearance rack. All summer I have been eying the various Topsy Turvy hangers avariciously, but they were just too expensive. This one was only 3.50 after all the various discounts! It has no perishable parts, so I'll just pop it in the closet and next summer get an early start growing myself some peppers!

After that we came home, and were home for the rest of the day. I made barbecue chicken in the crockpot, enough for sandwiches and pizza for the rest of the week, and it's quite nice. Robert played and played and played and then fell asleep on the floor, then played some more. He was a busy boy today. I gave him the blueberries and bananas for the first time, but I think it was a little bit tart and strong for him. Next time I will mix it with more rice and a little formula to take the edge off. He has about twice as many taste buds as I do, after all! Tomorrow we're going to try and head to the library, but for now, it is bedtime.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Having and Giving

You know, I think there are three real pleasures inherent in couponing. The first and probably the most superficial is the fun of the game. Couponing make me feel quite clever, and if I get a really good deal, I feel like I've won something. This is nice because I am a competitive person, but M doesn't like to play board games with me. Competing in a battle of wits against the store, to abide by all the rules and yet come away with a better deal than anticipated, that's quite a rush, and I have been known to brag about it all day. That's part of what this blog is about, of course, telling everyone who'll listen about all the cool stuff I got for so little money.

The second pleasure of couponing is the having. I love having things. This is not necessarily an ideal love in an 850 square foot apartment, but I do anyways. I come from a reasonably affluent background, as does M, and we are both used to having things that we want. These days, having what we want must compete with having what we need and paying for what we can't afford to lose. If you have read the very earliest articles in my blog, before the reboot, I'm sure you can probably see my gritty desperation about how on earth we would ever get by on the money M made. It was a deprivation lifestyle, and it was very difficult! Couponing doesn't let me have everything I want, of course, but it lets me have things. Oftentimes the things I can get for free are brand new items on the market, and they are cool, and I love that! Having new cool things helps make up for not always being able to afford things I would like. And I can afford more things that I like because I'm not spending as much money on the things that we need.

Today Robert and I went out in the morning. We went to the library first for baby readalong, but found that it is done for the summer. So sad! We can go back in September, though. So we went off to Staples instead, where I had crazy coupons. I got a 2GB flash drive, two big reams of multicolored printer paper, 100 sheets of 8x10 photo paper, two boxes of pens, five bottles of glue, six notebooks, four scrubbie sponges, and a bottle of glass cleaner, all for 20 dollars. We are always looking for new flash drives around here, and getting one for a dollar after rebate is irresistible. And while right now I cannot afford to buy origami paper, I now have a ton of colored printer paper that will work almost as well, and is making my fingers itch to play with it.

The third great pleasure of couponing, one I've been exploring a lot lately, is the giving. Once you have, I've found, you start wanting to share more. Especially if you live in a place where space is restricted. =) In my first few months of couponing, I found it hard to part with things like toothbrushes and deodorant, things I use and need. Now I've realized that those things always go on sale, and there's no reason for me to stockpile in our limited space. Now when I get them for free, I make sure I have a couple months' worth socked away for my own family, and I can give the rest away. I've totally lost count of how much I have given to the food bank and other places since I started, but it makes me feel good when I can fill one of the baskets at church with the fruits of my shopping labors. More than that, when I give, it makes me feel less poor. Concentrating on others' needs lets me remember my own blessings. When I give away a stick of deodorant or a bottle of body wash, I remember that I am blessed to always have enough of those things, even if I don't have the latest gadget or book or whatever. Filling a bag of school supplies reminds me of how I always went to school with new things, and how I want someone else to have that experience too.

After Staples, Robert and I went over to the New Hope Center, where M and I did our prenatal classes and where I went to clinic. I know I've spoken about them before here. They hold a special place in my heart for all they did for us. Our counselor, Joan, was not in today, but we saw Denise instead, who remembered us right away and was happy to see us. Robert is having some stranger anxiety this week, but he let her hold him for a minute or two, while I brought in the diapers from the car. I decided that the best thing to do with the Size 2 diapers I couldn't return to the store would be to give them to someone who can distribute them where they are needed. There were quite a few diapers, too! Five full jumbo packs of Huggies, one partial jumbo pack of Huggies, and one partial store brand pack. I hope they will help someone out who needs diapers. I still remember that article about women who can't afford to change their babies when they are wet, and it makes me so sad. I have always had enough diapers for Robert, thanks to couponing and to the kindness of people like the ones at New Hope. That's a big blessing!

When we got home, Robert took a two hour nap, and spent the rest of the afternoon on a hyperactive baby tear. I'm not sure what got into him, but he was in quite a mood. Luckily, M was around to help deal with him as well! I spent some time in the kitchen, freezing more blueberries and baby food. Today the green bananas were yellow, so I took two of those and pureed them with blueberries into a lovely mush that I froze in an ice cube tray. When Robert is ready for blueberries, he'll have such a treat! I couldn't resist eating one myself, after they were frozen. This freezer is definitely a blessing. I love it so much! It is going to help me save so much money!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stocking the Freezer

Today was a lovely day! Robert woke up at 5:30 and needed a diaper change (he's been doing that recently, maybe something to do with solid foods), but he let himself be sung back to bed and slept till the blissful hour of eight thirty. We played around and snuggled on the bed and watched Fraggles, and he ate some peas very nicely. When M came home from class, I even got a chance to take a nap, which is always wonderful. After my nap and Robert's nap, we went shopping and left M to have a nap and a few hours of peace and quiet as well.

And there was plenty of shopping to be done! I had to skip the stores that I would've had to take the interstate to get to because of an unexplained traffic jam, but we still hit up four different stores. At Office Depot, we got five cent pencil sharpeners and folders and 25 cent scissors, plus a fifty cent composition book for M, and new paper clips for my coupon binder. At CVS I got a new Schick Hydro 3 razor, a very nice razor that is normally ten dollars. I had to pay 1.50 because the other items I was going to buy were not in stock, but since I got 4 dollars back in extra care bucks, I feel pretty good about it. Now that M is shaving with a blade, we need twice as many good razors! At Walgreens, I got some free low-dose aspirin for the food bank, a couple of free pens, and clued in a nice lady with a lovely English accent about the sale on glue sticks, before picking some up myself. All of that stuff from all those stores cost me about five dollars total, not counting the ECBs I got back.

We finished up at Meijer, with some serious grocery shopping. There were some great sales in the deli, so I got ham, turkey and cheese, plus a half-loaf of day-old italian bread for sandwiches. I got four pints of blueberries and some peaches and some bananas, all of which will be pureed (except for what M and I eat) into baby food. There was also another sale on chicken legs and thighs, and this time I could stock up, because I have a freezer! Between that, the deli, and two pounds of ground turkey, I bought fifteen pounds of meat today. Meat is what we needed though, because we still have tons of stuff in the pantry that could be used with meat. I got bread too, for more sandwiches, and almost got some giant marshmallows, but they were too expensive, Oh well.

Robert was super good through the trip, getting compliments from the checker at CVS and the man stocking the frozen meat section at Meijer. He's in a bit of a solemn phase now, and that just makes people all the more eager to get him to smile. The cashier at CVS said I could just leave him right there with her, but I said my husband would probably have some hard questions if I came home without the baby. He was getting tired by the end of the fourth store though, and fussed a bit in line, but that was the worst of it. He's such a good shopper. We came home and he had a bottle and some banana mango food, and I made big fancy sandwiches on the italian bread for supper. I also bagged up the chicken pieces into crock-pot sized batches and put them in the freezer, and froze a tray of blueberries to eat later. I took a whole pint of blueberries and put them in the blender with a little rice cereal, then poured the puree into an ice cube tray and froze that too. When all the blueberries were frozen, I put the berries in a bag and the berry cubes in a bag, and, you guessed it, put them back in the freezer! I love the freezer!

Oh, and my niece advised me to try the Nuk sippy cup with Robert, since that's what worked with her kids. I actually happened to have one around that I picked up on clearance months ago, so I pulled it out to give it a try. Not a lot of progress today, but I have hope. We'll keep working on it. =)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day of Rest...of the Laundry

Church this morning was really fun. The past few weeks have mostly been quiet, with Robert as the only baby in the back of the sanctuary. (Our church is small, so there is no nursery in the summer, parents sit with their babies in the back of the sanctuary on this big colorful blanket so the babies can play.) Today, though, there were three other, bigger babies there as well. What fun! Robert was not quite up to joining in on the shenaniganry, but he is fascinated by the antics of older babies who can crawl and run and play with far more facility than he can. It was a little noisy sometimes, but fun, and we all had a good time. Our pastor was back after two weeks away too, so that was nice.

There was salad and a movie after church, but Robert was getting kind of fractious and we didn't stay. Also, M is not nearly as fond of salad as he is of soup. We start Soup Sundays again soon, and he'll be very happy about that. I need to get some new recipes! Oh, and I dropped off all the school supplies I got free or almost free this week, plus all the stuff I found when I was cleaning our room that I meant to donate and forgot about. A lot of body wash and deodorant, which I'm sure will not go amiss with the weather this hot! Being clean and not stinky is not as important as having enough to eat, but it goes a long way to making you feel better about yourself, I think.

I finally did all the laundry this afternoon, after some unsubtle nudging from M about it. I wasn't very happy with him, as the division of laundry is a bit of a sore subject in our household. He sort of got out of it by default with his habit of not pocket checking and ruining things, which is not the best way to get out of something. But while I did the laundry he did do the dishes, so that helped. Also, Robert pooped all over him, and that was funny, and I felt better. I am a terrible person. Hey, lucky I was already doing the laundry, right? For supper I made pork fried rice as promised, and it turned out very nice. Hurrah for one meal doing a week's worth of work!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Picture Day!

Today was picture day! The morning was mostly devoted to getting ready for picture day, even though part of that consisted of M and I trying to banish some circles under our eyes by taking turns for extra napping. Robert and I got a bath, M showered and shaved, and I even put on makeup for the first time in forever. Robert had outgrown the pants I was hoping he could wear, so we had to make a last-minute substitution, but in the end, we all looked good. Luckily, Robert doesn't need a lot of primping to look adorable! The car even cooperated, today wasn't quite as hot as other days this week have been, and the air conditioning stayed on long enough for us to take the interstate to the mall with the windows rolled up, rather than driving with them down on the surface streets, in deference to my hair.

The photo session itself was very funny. We thought ahead of time to bring along Robert's monkey, because it's his current favorite awake-time toy (it's much too big for the crib, so his brown and white puppy accompanies him there). We figured that if the photographer had a hard time getting him to smile, she could use the monkey. It turned out to be a really good idea. Robert had just woken from a nap when we went to the studio, and he was feeling very somber apparently. Not crying, just giving his studious look to everyone and everything. The photographer got no smiles from him at all until she started using the monkey, and even then she had to be so outrageous that M and I spoiled a few shots by laughing ourselves! We even ended up taking a few pictures of Robert with the monkey, to commemorate his love. Once again I had a package coupon for a single pose, and once again I spent an extra ten dollars on an extra 8x10 of a different pose, but at least it was only one. It was still just 20 dollars total for our family picture sitting, three 8x10s, two 5x7s, four 3.5x5s, and sixteen wallet size. I think that's an excellent deal. With all these 8x10s though, I'm going to need to get a gigantic photo album, as I do not have near enough picture frames.

While we were out and about, we decided to celebrate August and M's paycheck and a successful photography expedition by using a few more coupons. We got BOGOF pretzels at Auntie Anne's and 50% off a small cup of Dippin' Dots that we shared. I had never had Dippin' Dots, and had always been quite curious. Now I know I never need to have them again. For dinner, we went to Cici's Buffet and had two dinners and soft drinks for 10 dollars with my coupon. Robert was so worn out by all this that he slept through most of the meal. He was feeling good at home though, and giggled and rolled all over the place, drank two bottles, and played his electric piano with great verve before succumbing to sleep.

Today's pictures, by the way, are the low-res versions of the poses we decided on. If you want to see all of them, follow this link and give my first and last name with no capital letters in the customer's name field. For some reason the site won't work with Chrome, so if that's your browser, you'll have to work around it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Quiet Friday

It was a quiet day today, and that is a good thing! Robert is feeling better and ate normally again, so I think the bug is wearing off. He didn't want to nap and was very energetic almost all day, so maybe he's making up for some lost time. He's still drinking a lot of bottles every day, and eating four ounces of food at  a sitting now. I wish I had better guidance on how much he should be eating a day. He seems happy with what he's getting, but I don't know if it might be too much or too little. There is so much conflicting advice online that I've almost given u looking there. One site I read said that by now he should be starting to use a cup and a spoon, but I think that's kind of ridiculous. I might try introducing a sippy to him soon, but he's got nowhere near the coordination to get a spoon of food into his mouth yet. He's not even seven months old! I think I need to solicit the advice of more experienced moms on this issue.

Not too much else happened, I didn't go to the store like I wanted and I didn't get the laundry done. The hot weather makes me feel so draggy, even in the air conditioning, and I was tired all day. Which means, I suppose, that I should go to bed now and hope tomorrow is more productive. I know I need to get my life more organized and start setting a better example for the baby. I should be preparing meals for the table and feeding him solid food meals three times a day, with sippy cup, instead of twice a day and letting him have his morning bottle first thing. I should stop letting him watch television. When I think about everything I need to change, it usually feels so overwhelming that I back off from everything. It's hard to know where to begin. M and I haven't eaten regular table meals every day since... well, probably since we were in high school, or on summer break from college. It's never been important to us, and trying to start it up now seems so weird. But if it's good for the baby, I guess we have to try.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Inspection Day!

I forgot to take a picture today! I am a bad blogger! I will make up for it this weekend though, we are going Saturday to get formal pictures taken. Well, not formal formal, dressy casual pictures, really, but at a studio. I have a coupon! When I get them, I will show everybody how they turned out. I was more than pleased with how JCPenney's did Robert's baptism shoot, so we're going back there. Anyway, here's one that's a few days old, but still relatively fresh.

Today was annual inspection day, which was relatively painless. This place was cluttered, as always, but not a health hazard, and all they really wanted to do was inventory our cabinets and bathrooms and stuff, apparently. I think they've been renovating apartments as people move out of them, but because we have been here more than two years now, we have not gotten renovated. That is okay with me, because they have also not raised our rent in two years, so it seems pretty fair. They came during Robert's naptime and did not go into his room, which was quite civil of them. I still need to do lots of laundry, eee!

Robert was mostly better today, and very hungry. He got his bottles, but he also got peaches and rice cereal for lunch, and a whole four ounce jar of butternut squash for supper. He is such a good eater. I gave him some Babv Puffs, which are like really dissoluble Cheerios, but he only wants to play with them for now. Other moms I've talked to swear by baby puffs, so I bought a case of these on sale at Amazon. M and I both tasted some (we got the apple kind,) and decided that though the flavor is quite understated, they're not bad. A good step towards Cheerios, which I already have a million boxes of. Tonight's been a little rough with Robert, he went through twice after going to sleep, enough the first time that we had to strip and change the bed. Now he is sleeping though, poor tired little guy, and I hope he stays that way.

Today M and Robert went on an adventure to school and left me alone in the house for awhile. I don't really worry when they are gone, per se, M has the phone and a full diaper bag and he is a great and watchful daddy, but it always seems a little strange to be alone in the house. Restful though, and kind of nice for a change, just for a few hours at a time. I got some more work done on my scarf, and tonight we watched documentaries and I made cookies from the freezer. It's amazing what you find when you clean out the freezer!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Freezers and Tummies

The freezer came this morning! Woo-hoo! They called me at 8:30 to say it would be there between 10:30 and noon, and then came at 9:30. I can totally live with that. I immediately had to unpack it and plug it in. It is great, and it fits perfectly into the size for it. As soon as it had cooled for the recommended four hours, I rearranged the fridgetop freezer and started loading already-frozen food into the chest freezer. It was so cool. Now my freezer is ready for ice cubes and baby food!

Speaking of baby food, today was not such a good day on the baby tummy front. Robert woke at quarter til five, crying. He went back to sleep after a diaper change and song, then slept late, til eight or so. I gave him his first bottle of the day but he threw up halfway through. Not like baby spitup, but like stomach-spasming vomiting. He was running a little fever too, so I called the doctor. We took him in this afternoon and got Dr. R to look at him. We like her, she saw him for his six month checkup and has seen him several times before, so we know her better than some of the other doctors. She says that a stomach bug has been going around, and indeed I have been feeling a bit punky in the stomach for the past couple days. We didn't give him any solids today and monitored his intake and output, but by the end of the day he seemed to be getting better. If he's good tomorrow, we'll go back to solids on Friday. Poor baby was lethargic all day but didn't want to nap, he is sleeping well now, though. Hopefully he'll sleep late.

This evening has kept us busy, yearly apartment inspections start tomorrow. We hit our room very hard, it's the room in by far the worst shape. It's looking substantially better now, if still in need of work. The place doesn't have to look perfect, it just needs to be inspectable. At least most of the house is already in decent shape!

Oh, and the picture? Robert was fussy and hot, so I took off all his clothes and put him on the floor on a couple of towels. He had fun rolling and scooting around for a little while. It's interesting to watch all his muscles move as he learns how to move his body. Looks very different from the amorphous little baby-blob he used to be!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Changeup Day

The only time I left the house at all today was to walk down to the office and pay the rent, but it still managed to be a very busy day! Robert slept till seven, good baby, then I got up with him and fed him, then worked on cleaning the kitchen for a little while. When people come over to the house, I do like to try and make sure it doesn't look too much of a mess. Our floor is as clean as it's ever been, but the counters and shelves are a work in progress. I also made a huge batch of pulled pork in the crockpot, which was just a matter of getting it ready in the morning, then letting it cook all day long. 

When M got up, we disassembled the swing, which was a little bittersweet. We hardly use it anymore, Robert's just too big and active to really like it at this point, but I remember putting him into it and watching him sleep when he was still a tiny curled-up newborn. I would listen to the music it played for hours and hours and not care as long as he slept. Now he is big, and it is time for new things, and we have no room for it. Besides, I have a friend at church who is having a baby in February, and she is happy to be able to borrow the swing! So that really worked out well. I had to get into my toolbag to find an allen wrench, which amazingly I was able to find after emptying the entire thing out on the floor. I also found four hammers, five tape measures, two levels, and more than a dozen screwdrivers in different shapes and sizes. Why do I have five tape measures? It is a mystery. The hilarious thing about that is that when we measured for the freezer, I didn't even bother to get out a measuring tape and just used the dressmaker's tape that comes with my Knit Kit.

Anyway, after lunch our friends came over and picked up the swing. We also lent them the diaper-changing attachment for our pack 'n play, which we rarely use but is very handy with new little babies, and my Snoogle. Now the Snoogle and I were very close friends for the last three and a half months of my pregnancy or so. It's basically a long pillow shaped like an elongated C, where your head goes on the top curve, and the bottom curve goes between your legs. You can use the length of it for back support or tummy  support, depending on what hurts when. I swear I do not know how pregnant women sleep without one. But alas, the Snoogle fell from grace after Robert was born and I was fine with a regular pillow again, and has been mostly taking up space. Might as well let it go where someone else can enjoy it! (By the way, for anyone else who uses Blogger, the  Amazon widget is very handy when you want to link to something so people can see a picture of it!)

So the swing was out of the house just in time for the new toy to arrive! I wrote last week about the Bright Starts Around We Go Activity Station, and how I wanted to get it for Robert when we had the money. Papoo and Mimi read that, and decided that they would buy it for Robert, so hooray! Thanks, Mom and Dad! =D The UPS guy brought it right to the sliding glass door for us, mostly because I was watching so hard that I ran into the yard when he arrived instead of waiting for him to come to our door. It came in a zillion pieces, of course, but luckily I already had my toolkit out, and was able to assemble it in a little more than an hour. While I was putting it together and positioning it, M took Robert out and bought batteries for it, and then when they came home, it was time to try it out! I was probably more excited than Robert was. His little legs are a bit too short to reach the ground meaningfully yet, but that'll change! He really, really like all the toys on the activity table, especially the electric piano. What fun! He tired himself out quite thoroughly. 

The only thing that didn't happen the way I wanted was that the freezer didn't come today! We went out yesterday and bought it, and I was so excited. I called before we went and asked when it could be delivered if I bought it that day, and they told me Tuesday. So we went and we used our gift cards from SmartyPig and we bought the freezer. The lady who sold it to us asked when we wanted it delivered, and I said Tuesday, and she said we could get it delivered Tuesday afternoon. I said that was good, and watched her put it in the computer. So today I waited around all afternoon, and at quarter after four, I called them, and they told me it was going to be delivered on Thursday! I was pretty upset, but I did my best to be very reasonable, and the manager was able to arrange it so it will be delivered Wednesday morning. He said he was sorry and that I should make sure to call when it's delivered so we know everything's all right, and he'll make it right with a discount. I'm not sure how that's going to work, but really, as long as I get my freezer, it's pretty okay. Heck, if that's the worst thing that happens to me all week, I'll consider it a banner week. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Baby Story, Part 4

(This is Part Four of Robert's birth story. The first three parts can be found here,  here, and here. Tomorrow, back to the chronicling of our daily lives! Also, notice how clean my carpet is in today's picture!)

Sister Kay kept the lights dim and the room cool for me, and things were very timeless, in that it seemed like an eternity, though things were going very quickly. I got to a point where I was sure that I couldn’t handle anymore, and I wanted to ask for an epidural, if only I could sit still long enough. (At this point, I hadn’t sat down for more than a minute or two since being released from the bed hours earlier.) Sister Kay checked me in a standing up position, which I hadn’t even known was possible, and told me that I was fully dilated and could start in on some pushing if I wanted to. That sounded a lot better than an epidural, frankly. I wanted that baby OUT! I climbed back into the bed, with the head raised up and the bottom totally folded down, and the nurses brought in all the giving-birth stuff they keep tucked away to make the labor room seem cozier. It all seemed kind of surreal, and yet I was aware of every little thing, every sensation. It was time for the baby to be born, and I knew it. I think it was at that point I stopped complaining that I couldn’t do it and started concentrating on actually doing it.
Two nurses came in for the bearing-down phase, each one holding one of my legs and pushing back towards my body while I grabbed the backs of my thighs and curled my body. I didn’t want counting, so Sister Kay told me to go with my feelings, to push when the feeling was there, and release when it wasn’t. I had a lot of pushing feelings at that point, and somewhere in there I found the sweet spot, the good-pushing-feeling spot, where I knew things were happening. One of the ways Hypnobirthing encourages moms to practice bearing down is to concentrate on bowel movements, how it feels when you don’t have to push, it just happens naturally while you are bearing down, and it really did seem to work. I got to the point in pushing where it felt that way, where I was breathing and bearing down and it felt good even though it hurt. I concentrated hard on a yellow spot on the wardrobe across the room, with no idea what it was, just that it was something that could catch and keep my eye. I realized later it was actually a reflection of one of the lights that had been turned on so Sister Kay could see what she was doing.
The final moments were very intense, as Sister Kay directed me when to hold off so that I could stretch around the head and avoid excessive tearing. That was difficult, since I’d been listening so hard to my body up till that point, but it was important, and really did help protect me from tearing. I had asked not to have a mirror, but she let me reach down and feel the fuzzy head full of hair before most of him was born. That was the first thing we heard about him, “Look at all that hair!” Once I could feel that he was really coming out, I got one last surge of energy and push-push-pushed until he was born in one quick rush that I felt every moment of. I think that was the best part of no epidural, I felt every instant of him leaving my body and it was an immense and overwhelming sensation. Robert was born at 9:17am on January 17, 2010. I had been in the hospital for just over four and a half hours.
He was placed on my chest immediately, just as we had wanted, and he came out crying. His tiny lungs were very healthy, as was everything about him. I didn’t do toe or finger counting or anything right away, or even confirm he was a boy (though Sister Kay did that for us), I just stared at his tiny face and his huge eyes and listened to him cry, and marveled. They wiped him off a little, but we asked for an hour before shots and eyedrops and any of that, so we really weren’t interrupted at all in those first few minutes. Sister Kay cut the cord after it finished pulsing to let all the blood flow out of the placenta and into Robert where it belonged. M wanted nothing to do with the cord and I wanted nothing to do with the placenta, so we had very little awareness of any of that even happening.
After fifteen minutes of being totally blown away, I remembered my mom in the waiting room and let her come in too. She came in and cried, and it was nice, and called everyone who’d been waiting for so long to hear the news. After that first hour, I let them take Robert to get weighed and measured, and got up myself for some tentative walking and bathroom use. I actually felt amazingly good. Tired, and somewhat sore, but all the pain of labor was behind me, and I had no major tearing. There was no medication to walk off or sleep off, so I walked around the room and watched as Robert got all his baby chores taken care of, and spent a little time hugging my amazing husband.
Robert weighed in at six pounds, eleven ounces, and twenty inches long, and he was entirely perfect in every way. His head was amazingly cone-shaped, but it began rounding out almost right away, and was nearly normal by the time we left the hospital. We stayed in the hospital two days, though I’d been hoping to only stay one, because Robert was not getting the hang of nursing. He couldn’t seem to suck at all, even on a bottle, and we weren’t allowed to leave the hospital until he could demonstrate that he was eating. I wound up pumping for him for a month before he learned to nurse, but he turned out to be a good eater, and very healthy. We count ourselves extraordinarily lucky to have had a birth experience that, while it wasn’t quite what we expected, was exactly what we’d hoped and dreamed. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Baby Story, Part 3

(This is Part Three of Robert's birth story. Parts One and Two can be found here and here. And yes, this is a day-old action shot of Robert, I forgot to take one!)

I had several more contractions along the way, but eventually we reached the labor and delivery area of the hospital and were put into the triage room. I was wearing the purple sweatsuit I’d chosen to labor in, but they had me put on a gown for a few minutes while they did an examination. The pelvic exam really hurt,  much more than the ones at the clinic, but she told me I was a strong four centimeters and that they would admit me. I admit I was a little aghast that after three days of contractions, I had only opened one centimeter. But there was no going back now; at three minutes apart, I most certainly wasn’t going back home. We were shown into a room and I was put back onto the external fetal monitor, so they could get a test strip, I was told. They said I couldn’t get the labor tub I’d hoped for, all those rooms were full. It was disappointing, but I didn’t have much energy to think about it. Being in bed and on the EFM was awful, and the nurse wouldn’t let me off, even after 20 minutes, She said the strip wasn’t clear enough yet, and they had to be sure the baby was doing well.
            My savior, Sister Kay, showed up at that point, thank God. I’m not sure when the last time was I’ve been so glad to see anyone. She asked me how I was doing, and I said I was having a hard time coping with the pain. When she asked what I needed, I said I needed to be off the EFM, and she took me right off and let me stand up. It helped. She suggested the shower, which seemed like a good idea. I was filled with restless urgency, but exhausted at the same time, and it was hard to think. I stayed in the shower for nearly an hour, clinging to the grab bar and letting the water pound down on me. M was right there the whole time, sitting just outside and reassuring me, sometimes putting his hand into the shower to rub my back. I couldn’t hear what he was saying most of the time, and I wasn’t really paying attention, but I knew he was there. He admitted later that he was so exhausted, sometimes he didn’t even know what he was saying.
After an hour, I was starting to feel dizzy from the heat, so I got out, and Sister Kay and M wrapped me up in a huge bath sheet, maybe a blanket. I got to put my clothes back on, and I had M find my labor beads, and fill the water bottle. I had the okay from Sister Kay to eat if I wanted, and we had easily-digested snacks in the bag, but I didn’t want to eat. I was very thirsty, though. I don’t know how women could get through labor with nothing to drink. It must be torture. I did throw up once, into the room’s big trash can, but it wasn’t much and it was just another sign of the progression of labor. I’d done my homework beforehand and knew that throwing up is actually good, because it’s a vagal reflex and actually helps dilate the cervix. Still wasn’t pleasant, but I certainly wouldn’t have given up being able to drink water to avoid it. She checked me, and the news that I had dilated to eight centimeters while in the shower was enough to give me new courage. Things were moving along!
 The next part of labor is blurry in my memory; I spent what felt like a great deal of time leaning against the room’s broad windowsill, staring down at my labor beads and remembering to breathe as I swiveled my hips relentlessly to try and move the baby down. When it became obvious that I was too exhausted to remember and use my Hypnobirthing techniques, Sister Kay got me started on purse-lipped breathing instead, which is basically just blowing raspberries on every exhale. I would’ve thought it sounded insane, but I’d actually read about it just a couple of days before in Ina May Gaskin’s book about natural childbirth, so I knew it was actually something people do for pain management. I tried it, and it was oddly effective. Not in that the pain stopped, but it became more manageable because I was thinking about how weird my lips felt, and because it gave me some noise to make besides moaning. I did quite a bit of that too, the low guttural moaning that is supposed to be more effective in labor than screaming or squealing. I’m sure I must’ve sounded quite strange to anyone passing by, but they probably hear it all on the maternity ward.