Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pretending Autumn

My two-year-old is starting to make an important distinction between what's real and what's "just pretend."

What used to be my favorite season has become a time of seasonal-envy depression. (I made up the term and am self-diagnosed, but it's a thing.) We've cooled down about two degrees and are still hot and sweaty all the time. So this isn't autumn, but we did our best to pretend.

Yesterday we baked pumpkin bread in the oven; apple cider warmed on the stove. We ate soup and grilled cheese for dinner. A late rainstorm helped the illusion. But my kids wouldn't be running around barefoot in a real autumn rainstorm. (And an attempt at being grateful in the circumstances: what kid doesn't want to run barefoot in a rainstorm?--mine get to.)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

September 13 is Roald Dahl's birthday and we went to the celebration at our local library. They read some vile verses, played some games, and made fantastic fox masks. Then we came home and watched James and the Giant Peach.

Fantastic Foxes

I loved Roald Dahl as a child, His stories are about children overcoming the mean adults in their lives. And some silliness.

One of my favorite books as a child was Matilda. In my mind I was Matilda. Minus the sleazy father, neglectful mother, tyrannical principal, and magic powers. But I loved books. So I was Matilda. (Nerdy, book-loving kids love books about other nerdy, book-loving kids.)

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Silly Things the Doctor Has to Ask You

Even though I read a million books and obsessed about many things with my first baby, there are some things I've never worried about that the doctor apparently does. Even more so now that I mother my baby from my experience and trusting my gut, some of the things that they want to measure seem ridiculous to me.

How often does he eat?
When he's hungry.
Well, would you say every hour and a half? every two hours? every three hours?

At this point I usually go with their middle number, because that's hopefully what they expect to hear. But really, I'm thinking that it's a stupid question because he's gained weight and is active and looks healthy. He eats as often as he needs to. And he gets enough. Sometimes that's every hour. Sometimes he goes four or five or six hours without eating. And then he eats for two hours with only a couple of pauses to burp to make up for it. Because my life is crazy enough without writing down when he eats and for how long and then average it out every 24 hours.

How many wet diapers does he have a day? How many poopy diapers?

Again, like I have the time to count. Oh wait, I actually did count his poopy diapers one day. But it was after the frustration out of realizing I was changing the fourth poopy diaper in less than an hour. So I counted out of curiosity and maybe some bonus points in my mommy book to see just how many poopy diapers I had to change that day. (There were eleven poopy diapers that day.) But normally, I don't count them. I have better things to do. And sometimes, just like counting how many times your baby woke you up in the night, knowing a number associated with an unpleasant task makes you more cranky about it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall 2014 Bucket List

Fall is my favorite season. Or it was. It's still hotter than Hades in Florida and will be except for the two days this winter when it's a little bit chilly. I miss crunching through leaves in boots and bundling up in sweaters against the cool breezes. I miss the colors of changing leaves and picking apples to make homemade cider and sauce. But since we miss out on these things, I'm even more motivated to do the fall themed things we still can. Here's my list of things I want to do as a family this fall:

Fall 2014 Bucket List

Visit a Pumpkin Patch
Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Leaves
Go to a Football Game
Go Camping

Arts & Crafts:
Paint or Carve Pumpkins
Make Leaf Art
Make Handprint Turkeys
Make Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Indoor Activities:
Write Thank You Notes
Watch Charlie Brown Halloween and Thanksgiving
Make a Thankful Tree
Family Room Fort

Drink Apple Cider Floats
Make Pumpkin Bread
Make Pumpkin Cookies

Have an Apple Dippers Party

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer Reading

A summer spent breastfeeding a newborn is a great time to do some reading. I read a couple of nonfiction books, but I spent most my time with novels. I'm behind on everything else in life. But my baby is fat and happy and my brain is full of books. Here's a few of my favorites from the last couple of months.

The best book I read all summer was All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry. The story was original and surprising. The writing was beautiful. Just read it.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd followed two women on either side of the slave South. I didn't know till I had finished it that it was based on true events and real, remarkable women.

The Girls at the Kingfisher's Club by Genevieve Valentine is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I've enjoyed retellings of fairy tales since I was a young teenager (a favorite author from those years was Robin McKinley, and the young girl still in me loves Shannon Hale stories). This is probably the most original retelling I've ever read. The bones of the story are still there, but it's set in prohibition era speakeasies.

Entwined by Heather Dixon was another retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I didn't intentionally read two of them. I think it might be becoming more popular (thus a movie should be coming out sometime soon). This one was more like a traditional fairy tale. Still fun and probably better for younger audiences than the above one.

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Frost I read because of the author. I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet a few years ago. The title of that one sums up his books for me: bitter and sweet. His stories are beautiful and sad, but always redemptive. He's a great storyteller. This one has some difficult subject matter, so definitely for an older audience.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart was a little bit dark, sending a few shivers down your spine. But if I can handle it, you know it can't be that bad. I liked it but would only recommend it if you like things that are a little bit dark.

Friday, August 1, 2014

3 a.m. Feedings

Sometimes 3 a.m. feedings aren't that bad--at least when you're breastfeeding. As your baby grows, you can even do it in bed and fall asleep during it. My baby still isn't great at latching in bed, so I get up and sit in a chair with a dim light on. Both baby and I stay sleepy so it's easy to go back to sleep when he's done eating. Most of the time.

And then there are 3 a.m. feedings that go like this:

Baby eats. 
Baby throws up everything he's eaten all over both of you.
Husband changes baby while you change. 
Husband goes to bed.
You sit down with the baby and the baby poops.
You change the poopy diaper.
While you're wiping the baby's bum, baby poops right into your hand (thankfully the wipe catches it all).
Once baby finishes pooping all over, you put a fresh diaper on him.
You sit down with the baby and the baby poops again.
You change the baby again and finish feeding him.
You finally get him asleep, but you're wide awake.

But you know, at least he didn't pee on me. It could have been worse.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review and Thoughts on Grief

Having a Kindle Paperwhite has allowed me to read many books in just the past month that I've been breastfeeding. It's a lot easier to hold than a print book, the baby is not distracted by the noise of turning pages, and I can easily read books at 3 a.m. without turning on any lights.

One book I recently read (and finished at 3 a.m. as often seems to be the case) is Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. It is a memoir of a woman who lost her husband, both her sons, and her parents when the tsunami hit Sri Lanka where they were vacationing on December 26, 2004.

I vaguely remember hearing about this tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people across many countries in the Indian Ocean. But as sad as such a news story is, if it doesn't directly effect you, you quickly forget it. As Annie Dillard said, "It hurts more to break a leg."

Wave tells the story of what happened to her family, and of the grief that followed. She is brutally honest about her feelings and her actions in the years following her loss. She doesn't sugarcoat the crazy things she did or the angry thoughts she had about other people. And she addresses things that made her feel guilty--like the fact that she didn't grieve for her parents' loss for a few years because she was so caught up in grieving for her sons and her husband. Something that most people grieving for the death of a loved one don't have to deal with because we usually face them one at a time.

This book made me think about grief and how we all deal with it. A couple of weeks ago marked the 4th year anniversary of my father's death from lung cancer. Two days before that an old acquaintance who touched hundreds of lives died. One day before that my great-uncle died. It was a tough week.

But I have something that Deraniyagala doesn't seem to--a belief in God and faith that we will one day be reunited with our lost loved ones. Knowing that doesn't mean you don't miss them or think it's unfair that they are gone. But when Deraniyagala spoke of her lost family, she kept stating that they were gone and she had to remember that. No hopes or thoughts of a future reunion. No comfort in knowing her family is together. How terribly bleak death must be without that faith.

I do not mean this next comment to make light of what Deraniyagala went through, but her apparent wealth made the process of dealing with what her family left behind different than what my family experienced at my father's death. Just the fact that her family traveled back and forth between different countries often shows she had a lot more than most. And this fact made it so that she didn't return to her London home until almost four years after her family's death--and it was still her home. My family had to leave the home they shared with my father just weeks after he died. Meaning we, and especially my mother, had to deal with the material things left behind right away rather than waiting years. I can't even begin to say what might be better or worse. She also traveled to new places she'd never been with her family to deal with the emotions she faced at each of her children's birthdays.

Birthdays. My family and I try to take my dad's birthday as a time to celebrate his life and remember him. The family that lives close get together and have a dinner of his favorite things and talk about him. I only rarely think about how old my father would have been. I might reflect on it more on the years he would have been 60 or 70. But losing a child fills each passing birthday with thoughts of how old they would have been, how much they would have grown, and what they would have been doing if only they had lived. I cannot even imagine that pain--especially in losing all your children.

As sad as the story is, I highly recommend the book. It is a very human story and I enjoyed her writing. It's one of those rare occasions when something extraordinary happens to someone and their memoir doesn't need to include the name of the person who actually wrote it. Fair warning, she uses the F word about half a dozen times. I can't say I necessarily blame her based on what she was going through, but I know some people would like to avoid it in the books they read.