April 30, 2008

Prize Update!

Total sweetheart ktjrdn has donated one of her handmade personalized name doilies as one of the prizes for the Name Contest! Here's a sample one:

You can go see more information at her Etsy shop: Crocheted by Katie. The prize will be an (unframed) doily with your choice of name, and notice there are several colors to choose from.

Katie mentions on her Etsy shop that these would make good wedding or housewarming or baby presents, and I totally concur: personalized stuff is TEH AWESOME. Thank you, Katie! MWAH!

April 29, 2008

Contest the Second: Photo!

(Also see Name Contest!)

Time for the photo contest! Look at the photos below. Guess which one is me. If you already know what I look like, you're ineligible to participate; there will be a Pity Contest later on for you.

I have light brown hair that sometimes photographs blonder if the light catches it right, and sometimes photographs browner if it swallows all the light in the room. I've been known to tint it red. I can make it straight or wavy, depending on how I style it. I've recently had a haircut, but won't say whether it was before or after I took the photo.

  • Cheaty entries (example: "either A or C") will be discarded as too hard to score.
  • There is no advantage to guessing earlier/later: as long as the guess is made before the contest ends, all guesses are equal.

Thanks to everyone who donated a photo for this!
(Also: K is NOT Meryl Streep.)

Thanks to Bethany, who made a WAY BETTER photo system: all the photos in one big block. Holy crap, Bethany, it is SO MUCH BETTER than what I had. THANK YOU for doing all that work!

Click it to see it larger.


Contest deadline is Friday morning (May 2nd). I'm not sure yet what TIME Friday morning, so it would be safer to consider the deadline Thursday night.

A winner will be chosen by random drawing from correct answers. Right now I'm considering a prize of a Swistle Care Package: a copy of The Baby Name Wizard book; batch of fudge; things I find in the junk drawer.

Plus, of course there will be glory and honor among blog-readers, as we all hail your mighty guessing powers. There will be no Incredibly Awesome Prizes, unless someone is reading this who works at a huge company that would like to donate an Incredible Awesome Prize? Like a car? Or a mansion? Or a giant case of candy bars? That would be AWESOME! Just, um, send the prize to ME first, and I'll make SURE it gets delivered to the winner!

Good luck, and you may start guessing!

April 28, 2008

Contest the First: Name!

(Also see: Photo contest!)

I was born in 1973. Go to the Social Security Administration's baby name site, and go to the section called "Popular Names by Birth Year." Type in 1973, and choose "top 500." Then click "Go." Everybody got it? A list of the 500 most popular names in 1973? Good! Okay, here are your extremely limited hints:
  1. My name is in the top 150.
  2. I have always liked it.
You can have up to five guesses. The order of your guesses matters: the higher in the list you guess the correct name, the higher your score. You don't have to use all five guesses. If you already know my name, you're ineligible to participate; there will be a Pity Contest later on for you.
  • Partial credit will be given for being close.
  • Partial credit will be given for choosing names I think "fit" me, even if they're not correct.
  • Partial credit will be given if one of your first-name guesses happens to be my middle name, which is also in the top 150.
  • Partial credit will be given if you list a name my parents almost named me.
  • Cheaty entries (example: "1. either Janet or Janice") will be discarded as too hard to score.
  • There is no advantage to guessing earlier/later: as long as the guess is made before the contest ends, all guesses are equal.


Contest deadline is Friday morning (May 2nd). I'm not sure yet what TIME Friday morning, so it would be safer to consider the deadline Thursday night.

Prizes will be skimpy/pitiful, and will depend on how many winners there are: as with the lottery, the more lucky people there are, the less lucky each one will be. Right now I'm considering little Swistle Care Packages: a copy of The Baby Name Wizard book; batch of fudge; things I find in the junk drawer. [Edit! See Prize Update!]

Plus, of course there will be glory and honor among blog-readers, as we all hail your mighty guessing powers. There will be no Incredibly Awesome Prizes, unless someone is reading this who works at a huge company that would like to donate an Incredible Awesome Prize? Like a car? Or a mansion? Or a giant case of candy bars? That would be AWESOME! Just, um, send the prize to ME first, and I'll make SURE it gets delivered to the winner!

Good luck, and you may start guessing!

Almost Time for Contests, But Not Quite!

I think we all need to BRACE ourselves that the outcome of the contests may be Disappointing. Like when you have a book you've read a few times, and you have a mental picture of all the characters, and then a movie is made of it and they cast Natalie Portman, who is lovely but you were imagining someone more like Drew Barrymore. (Did she just compare herself to one or both of two thin, childless, beautiful, famous, wealthy actresses who are also younger than her? OH YES SHE DID.)

Or when a friend is pregnant and due any day, and you are DYING to know if the baby is a boy or a girl and what the name is, and you think you might just BURN UP from curiosity, and then the baby is born and you have the information and it's sort of...flat. You love the name, the baby is great---but the impact is less than you would have expected, considering the anticipation level. It's all over now, and now you know. (Did she just compare the excitement of finding out her name/photo to the excitement of the birth of a new human being? OH YES SHE DID.)

It might be wise for everyone to have plans for some other treat to occur on Friday, so that once the contest is over you will have a reason to go on anticipating the future with joy. Some sort of bakedy thing, or a Target trip, something like that. We should handle this like the holidays: we KNOW there will be a sinking feeling when they're over, so we can plan for it.

Also, I hope you will go on thinking of me as Swistle even when you know what is technically my "real name." I think of MYSELF as Swistle now.

April 27, 2008

Upcoming Contests!

You know how you're like, "Tell us your real name!! Show us a picture!!" and I'm like, "No, I'm all ANONYMOUS and you may not hear my name or look upon my countenance!"


Something is coming up that is forcing me to show my hand: I'm going to be writing at a new place, and they need (1) a photo and (2) an actual name.

So I thought that since I have to do this anyway, we ought to have some CONTESTS first.

For the name, I think what we should do is this: I'll give you some hints, like the year I was born and the approximate popularity of my name. You'll each have up to three guesses, or maybe five guesses. Depending on how many people guess right, there will be a prize or prizes. The higher the correct name is in your list, the more Right you are. Good, yeah?

A few of you already know my first name, and you guys can't play, which is sad but I can't think of a way around it. You could make a list of your favorite names from that year, or a list of names you think would also fit me, or a list of names you want to call me for excluding you from the contest, or whatevs. Maybe there can be a Pity Prize.

Don't do it now! Wait! This is just the heads-up about the contest, not the contest itself!

About the picture. We already did the quiz, and that was SO FUN but we've already done the answer key, so now there could be rampant cheating. It's too bad, because that would have been PERFECT. Well, every life rain fall etc.

OH WAIT!! I do have an idea! I'll post my photo along with photos of other people. You will try to pick me out of the line-up. GENIUS?? YES I THINK SO! If you have a photo you'd be willing to let me use as a decoy in the line-up, or if you have friends/relatives who wouldn't mind having their photos used, let me know (swistle at gmail dot com). (It increases your odds of winning, because you'd be able to eliminate an option right off the bat.) It has to be my approximate coloring: I've got dark blond (OKAY FINE IT'S LIGHT BROWN) hair and green-brown eyes. Also, I wear glasses.

Now I need to spend some time mulling about the prizes. Fudge? Brownies? A copy of my favorite baby name book? Clean out my hair products drawer into a box?

April 26, 2008

Things Removed From Henry's Mouth (Not All at the Same Time)

  • piece of chalk
  • plastic bead
  • penny
  • jellybean
  • pulverized crayon half
  • Lego
  • peanut
  • bark mulch
  • scrap of paper
  • ladybug

Stick to high chair food, Henry.

April 24, 2008

Undershirt-Inspired Affection, and More TCP Clothes

I was telling my mom about what I'd learned from all the comments on the little girl undershirt question, and I got this WAVE of love for all of you. Here we all are, in our own homes scattered literally ACROSS THE WORLD, and we can pool our knowledge about little girl undershirts so that one morning I am adrift on a sea of camibafflement and the next morning I know the whole scoop! Isn't that NEAT?

Okay, fine, I know it's only undershirts. But it's what is UNDERNEATH the undershirts. ...No, not little girls! SHARING and LOVE.

The subject of undershirts came up because I, um. Placed another order at The Children's Place. I know, I know! But now it's take an additional FIFTY percent off! (Plus the coupon code S1A48 for ANOTHER 15% off.) And that's when I go back and buy more stuff! And I bought Elizabeth some underwear in case she ever deigns to potty-train. And that's when I noticed the matching undershirts and got nervous.

Anyway, I bought that tiered chiffon skirt I liked so much last time. I was agitating and agitating about it not being available in Elizabeth's size, and about how I was Never Going To Be Able To Buy It, and sad sad sad, and This Really Matters and so forth, and then I was like, "Why not buy it anyway?" So I did. They only had it in size 6-9 months, so I bought it in size 6-9 months along with a size 6-9 months matching eyelet-trimmed bodysuit and size 6-12 months matching maryjane tights, the whole outfit for less than $10.

Great gift, yes? Especially if SOMEBODY gives me a NIECE. Or if SOMEBODY ELSE says yes to a sixth baby and it's a girl! Or if I ever find anyone else I love enough to give the outfit to. And if not, I will keep it in a box and take it out and look at it lovingly and play games where I choose my favorite stripe in the skirt, and my second favorite, and so on.

And I bought another outfit for Elizabeth. The outfit is not as wonderful as the tiered skirt outfit, but it has the advantage of being for a child who currently exists. I got her the green polo dress for $4.24 and the coordinating tights for $1.27.

And then I bought some dreadfully dull boy clothes: jeans and brown-striped shirts and some socks and YAAWWWWWNNNNN.

April 22, 2008

Question: Undershirts

I am hoping those of you with daughters older than mine can help me out on this. What is the deal with the "cami" tops sold in the little girls' underwear department? They're like tank tops and they match the underwear. They're undershirts, yes? And here is my main question: Do most little girls wear them? Or just SOME? Elizabeth still wears onesies now, but she's in the largest size and I've been wondering what's next, if anything. My older boys don't wear undershirts, but do older GIRLS wear them?

April 21, 2008

Boys and Pink Purses

I wrote an email to my in-laws, telling them about the latest things the kids have done and said. I mentioned how Elizabeth has three plastic dinosaurs she likes to take with her everywhere in her pink purse.

My mother-in-law wrote back that she'd tell me one thing: she'd rather have a granddaughter who liked dinosaurs than a grandson that liked pink purses. She added "Not that I wouldn't love him anyway. I'm just saying."

Let's bypass the feelings that can form in such situations, where you start with "Are you saying that there is anything but Total Awesomeness involved in her love of dinosaurs?" and move rapidly from there to "And WHAT exactly would be SO WRONG with liking pink purses that you'd need to CLARIFY that you'd still love him?" and go straight from there to cartoon steam billowing from ears because of course you can't SAY anything, since the person you'd be saying these things to would claim she was just kidding! Just making a light remark! My stars, she certainly didn't mean to OFFEND you! Goodness!

Let's instead focus on this question: am I now RELIEVED I chose not to include this photo of Edward in the most recent batch? Or am I wishing fervently I HAD?

He wanted to wear the genie dress-up outfit with his bunny ears, jeans, and baseball shirt. I wasn't going to take a picture, but he insisted.

April 18, 2008

Speaking of Nuclear Crab

What I'm angry at:
  • politics
  • religion
  • all of humankind

What set me off:
  • a single letter to the editor in our local paper

Chop. Stir. Mix. CRAB PUFFS.

I have a little task for you this weekend, if it's something you feel like doing. I mean, it's not like it's HOMEWORK. You can be all, "Nah" if you want. But our AndreAnna and our Cass are starting a new cooking/recipes site called Chop. Stir. Mix., and they're collecting recipes for it. EASY recipes, okay? Nobody wants to sit around clarifying and reducing all day. Or if they do, they are looking for information on some other site.

Elizabeth has been such a total CRAB PUFF recently. She's always had an imperious streak, and that's been amusing, but recently we are talking more about THIS action:

It starts with something relatively small. Perhaps she falls, or perhaps I criticize her tone of voice, or perhaps we're out of applesauce. For whatever reason, she goes into a NUCLEAR CRAB. Nothing can stop it! Nothing! You can't jolly her out of it. You can't have her cry herself out of it. She wants to do one of two things:

1) Sit on your lap and be cuddled while she continues to sulk (and also drool, because when she's in a Crab Fit she won't swallow---WHY??).

2) Follow you from room to room, standing near you with her lip out so you know she's still pissed off.

And do either of these things fix it? NO! All they do is reduce the volume of the attack.

She's also giving us new sleep issues, getting out of her bed and banging on her door. What the crap? None of our other kids have done that. Rob, William, and Edward all acted as if the bed was a crib they couldn't get out of without help. Elizabeth, though, has seen through the ruse. SHE is not physically bound by our words! Every night she falls asleep on the floor just inside her door.

Meanwhile, Edward is in a particular cute and pleasant stage, so Elizabeth suffers even more by comparison.

He came out of his room with a giraffe puppet on his hand, almost collapsing from laughter as he made the giraffe roar. Then he turned solicitous and said, worriedly, "That keer you, Mommy?" He's been scared by loud sounds recently, so he is concerned I might have been overly startled by the roaring giraffe. And he's saying "why" instead of "what," so if I call him and he doesn't hear me, he'll say, "Why? Why, Mommy? You talk for me, Mommy?"

And on the other side of me: The Lip.

April 16, 2008

Cry Aunt

Is anyone else developing a little crush on Eric Case, whose picture is currently on the Blogger home page? Whooooo. Cute stuff. Hm, maybe people without Blogger don't see it? I'd better steal his picture and put it here:

Speaking of adorable, your comments on yesterday's Engaged to be Parentsed post have been SO GOOD! Elizabeth's "Oh! If I had known it was going to be YOU, I wouldn't have worried" made me have to dab away tears on three separate occasions. Keep the comments coming: Erik and Anna haven't cried uncle yet. Or rather AUNT! You get it? AUNT?

Also, I took down the post on what to do about the treat I signed up to bring to Rob's class. I realized that using the name of my mother-in-law's signature recipe on my secret blog was perhaps not my best idea ever. But I'm so, so glad I did, because you guys reminded me that there are no nuts allowed at school anyway! So I'm out of it! And now I just need to find those windmill cookies. And make Paul return the expensive ingredient to the store.

April 15, 2008

Engaged to Be Parentsed

I had such a productive morning! I made three (3) batches of baby food ("carrot bean corn pea," "broccoli plus half a bag of corn we're never going to finish," and "raspberry blackberry prune applesauce"), and I wiped Elizabeth's nose one (1) zillion times. ...Hm. Well, it FELT like a productive morning.

I'd like to devote today's post to NAGGING.

My brother and my sister-in-law..... Wait. Let me give you their names so I don't have to keep referring to them that way, and so you're not thinking "Well, is this the woman married to her brother, or is this a sister of Paul's?" but without me having to clarify by saying "my brother's wife," which, I don't know, sounds a little funny. It reminds me of when my mother-in-law addresses my mail Mrs. Paul Thistle, like it's to ANYONE married to Paul, it doesn't really matter who it is.

AS I WAS SAYING, Erik and Anna are..."engaged to have a baby." That is, they have decided to have one, but have not yet..."planted the tulip bulb," if you follow me. There is still time to back away and actually plant actual tulips instead, and there are days I would fully support that decision and even chip in for the bulbs.

But here is what I am hoping we can discuss, since Erik and Anna read my blog, and since Erik has stopped answering my pleading, nagging, whining emails. Can we discuss how you felt before having children, and how you feel about those feelings now? Like, if you were scared before, but now think, "OH! If I'd known it was like this, I wouldn't have been so nervous!" Or if you thought you didn't really like children, but now you think "OMG I AM SO IN LUV W/THIS BABY!!1!"

(If you were confident before, but now think, "Actually, I should have gone with the tulips," keep your pie-hole CLOSED. We are looking for NAGGING, not for UNBIASED SCIENTIFIC DATA COLLECTION.)

And can we also tell them to HURRY THE HECK UP and make Swistle an aunt? What are they WAITING for? Spring is HERE!

April 13, 2008


One thing I found impossible to imagine when I had a toddler and a newborn and was melting with despair because I wanted more children but didn't see how I could POSSIBLY manage more when I was ALREADY at MAX CAPACITY for this crap----one thing I found impossible to imagine, as I say, was that the toddler and newborn would be OLDER than the new siblings. I was imagining adding MORE OF THE SAME, daycare-style.

This morning I was already up to HERE with Henry's angry fussing and it was only 7:45 in the morning. I was mashing him a banana and I wasn't even engaging with him anymore because I was discouraged and also kind of crabby with him for being crabby so much recently.

And then Rob came in and said to Henry, "Oh! Are you SAD? Oh, no! Why?" Then he said to me, "Have you seen an ORANGE BALL around here?" I said I didn't think so. He elaborated, showing me the ball's approximate size and describing more accurately the shade of orange ("bright"). I again said I didn't think so, and asked (a little impatiently, if truth must be told, but I don't see why we need the WHOLE truth) why we were looking for this ball. He said, "It's Henry's FAVORITE." I suggested it might be in the playroom and he went rocketing off, coming back with the ball. "HERE you go, Henry! Here's your BALL! Your FAVORITE ball!"

Then Elizabeth came in, and because we once told her to go sing the ABC song to a crying Henry, she thinks that's what she should do EVERY time, so she launched into a vigorous rendition, really DELIVERING that song, ballpark-style.

Then Rob said, "Oh, no WONDER! Your NOSE is running!" and went rocketing off again to get a kleenex, which he used to wipe Henry's nose.

Then William came bouncing in to tell me that Edward was getting into trouble in the living room, and on his way out he offered Henry a bite of his cereal.

Hm. Reading this over, I see a story of CHAOS, not of happy and helpful sibling relationships. You will have to trust me: this is a reassuring story about happy and helpful sibling relationships.

April 12, 2008

Midway Weekend Report

Today at bedtime, Elizabeth thought she'd see what happened if she said "no." Then she thought she'd see what happened if she said "No, I not ready!" Then she thought she'd see what happened if she added "No, YOU do it!"

And so I dealt with her for awhile, first the Training Session and then the Aftermath Snuggles. Then I discovered that while I'd been busy, one of our cats had hopped up onto the kitchen counter, eaten a big chunk of toppings off the leftover pizza, then hopped up ONTO THE TABLE and yorked it up there.

So how's your weekend going?

April 11, 2008

Shopping: Little Girl Clothes

I buy a lot of Elizabeth's clothes at The Children's Place. It fits Elizabeth well; most of it is made for play (the skirts are stretchy, and have attached shorts); and they use the same colors throughout so if you buy a dark pink shirt and a dark pink patterned skirt and dark pink socks, the dark pinks will all match---and it will be the same dark pink as in the shirt with a multicolored pink/blue/yellow/green flower on it. Mix-and-match = teh awesome.

ANYWAY. I like to wait until they have their "take an additional 30% off sale prices" end-of-season sales, and then I like to have a coupon, too. Which is why I keep my eye on pretty, pretty Mir, who has the scoop on coupons and free shipping deals: right now you get another 15% off if you use Mir's code.

Sale-waiting is always a gamble, and right now I'm wondering Why oh why didn't I buy this tiered skirt when I had the chance? I was too cheap to spend $9 (I wanted to wait for the additional 15%-off coupon), and now I bitterly, bitterly regret it! Now they only have it in 18 months and smaller. HEART SADNESS.
Well, into each life a little rain must fall.

Instead I bought these cute ruffle flare jeans, two pairs each of "pink" (they're blue denim, but with a pinkish tint) and grey, $4.75 a pair baby!

And these cute hair bows in green and in pink for $.88 per pair! Not that Elizabeth will let me put them in her hair! But at least I can BUY them!

And some $3-ish shirts such as these from the baby girls section, for her to wear this year:

And a bunch of $3.50ish shirts such as these from the big girls section, for her to wear next year (she's tall, so she's currently in the biggest shirt size in the baby girl sizes):

And finally---OMG could you DIE?---I bought her this smocked daisy dress for $7.73:

So I'm happy, and of course I'm already second-guessing: Should I have gotten the daisy dress in yellow instead? or in black? or in pink AND in yellow? Or should I have bought the gingham dress instead? Should I have bought more of those jeans in larger sizes? Should I have bought the yoga pants, even though she does not do yoga per se?

Well, nothing says there can't be a little rematch later on. If you buy anything, tell me what you get: I'm highly susceptible to your influence, and I think it's fun to match.

April 10, 2008

The Awesomeness of People (Up With Them!)

Some things can make me feel like like the world is a bad place filled with bad people doing bad things, or STUPID people doing STUPID things, or some other combination of bad/stupid that makes me feel yucky and sad and maybe NOT like procreating---and perhaps that more than anything else gives you an idea of the DEPTH of the moods I'm talking about: that I would, however briefly, NOT WANT ANOTHER BABY.

Anyway. These are balanced by flashes of GOODNESS and AWESOMENESS that make me love people more. I had that kind of flash while watching a video Paul found: some guy took Google Earth and carefully lined up real photographs with the weird, flat-and-not-flat Google Earth images. I don't know why I would find this so TOUCHING, and so indicative of the good of humankind, but I did. And so I will post the video here, in case it will give you that feeling too. People can be so GREAT. And so CREATIVE. And so CUTE.

April 9, 2008

Good Baby Stuff: Recommend It!

Monique sent me an email I thought we'd all want to pitch in on.
I'm 43 years old and just found out that I'm pregnant with our third child!!! Our youngest will be 10 by the time this one is born (I'm due at Thanksgiving) and our oldest will turn 15 in January.

My question is, where or what are the best resources right now? It's been so long since I've been pregnant that I don't know where to look. I greatly enjoyed "What to Expect When You're Expecting" the first time around. How is that for now? Anything better?

What should I be eating? or not eating? what about diet soda? I drink a lot of water when I'm pregnant, and I gave up diet soda for the last two, but I'm having a much harder time staying away this time around.

I haven't been to my doctor yet and probably won't until later in April -- He's hard to get an appointment with at first, but then it's easy.

We got rid of all the baby stuff when we moved 5 years ago, so we're going to need everything. Any recommendations? Keeping in mind we're on a pretty tight budget so many things will be second hand. Besides car seats, what should never be second hand? We will be having a large baby shower, but who knows what that will bring?

So, help! If you'd like.

Spill it, everyone! Powers of the Internet---ACTIVATE!

April 7, 2008

The Facts (for Some People)

Some people find they can "Sleep now, because you won't after the baby's here!" Some people find their sleep batteries don't work that way.

Some people have labors that are empowering and make them wonder why other women make such a fuss about it. Some people have labors that bring them to a crisis of faith about human design, because the Eve thing is insufficient explanation for this crap. Some people have labors that give them reason to be grateful for advances in medical science.

Some people will fall in love with their newborns instantly, on sight. Some people are fascinated right away, but not in love for a few days or weeks. Some people don't fall in love for months.

Some people get the agreeable, laid-back kind of baby. Some people get the colicky, crabby kind of baby. Some people get the angry, opinionated kind of baby. Some people get the happy, bossy kind of baby. Some people get the whiny, fearful kind of baby. Some people get the early-developing, adventurous kind of baby. Some people get the irritable, rule-following kind of baby. Nobody should take much credit or much blame for their allotted baby.

Some people will get babies who will cooperate with the baby-wrangling system the parents have chosen. Some people will get babies who require a re-evaluation of system requirements.

Some people find they can "Appreciate every moment!" Some people find they can only appreciate it later, looking back on it, when they're well-rested and well-dressed and fuzzy-memoried, standing in a supermarket telling a stranger to appreciate every moment.

Some people think the newborn stage is the best. Some people don't really like babies until they reach the less-shriveled stage around 2 or 3 months. Some people don't really like babies until they're not babies anymore.

Some people find that the impact of children on their lives is so severe, they need to warn the world how bad it can be. Some people find that the impact of children on their lives is so wonderful, they need to tell the world how amazing it can be. Some people find themselves confused about what exactly it is they want to tell the world.

Some people find that a new baby brings them closer to each other. Some people find that a new baby makes them feel like killing each other for chewing so loud.

Some people will find breastfeeding natural and easy. Some people will find it painful and difficult. Some people will find it a little from Column A, a little from Column B. Some people won't do it at all, for various reasons that there is absolutely no reason for anyone else to inquire about.

Some people will find that breastfeeding melts the baby weight RIGHT OFF. Some people will find that they can't lose the last pounds until after the baby is weaned. Some people will never lose their baby weight. Some people will gain weight for other reasons and will blame it on the baby.

Some people will find night feedings a chore, but not too bad. Some people will feel like leaping off a cliff. Either way, the child eventually sleeps through the night. Or grows up and leaves home.

Some people find a well of patience they never knew they had. Some people find a well of love they never knew they had. Some people find a well of rage they never knew they had. Some people get a grab-bag and never know what kind of day it's going to be.

Some people will be done after one child. Some people will be done after two children. Some people will be done after three, or four, or five, or six children. Some people will never be done. Some people will not be able to understand that different people want different numbers.

Some people say a lot of stuff about how they plan to bring up children, and then later they find they have to take a lot of it back. Some people notice this happening to other people, and are careful not to talk too much about their plans.

Some people will have listened mostly to talk about how beautiful and magical and fulfilling the child-rearing experience is. They will be in for a surprise. Some people will have listened mostly to talk about how horrible and barfy and crazy-making the child-rearing experience is. They will be in for a surprise.

April 4, 2008

Picking Your Brains

I have some questions for you. At first you might think I am copying Black Sheeped's Friday questions (and by the way, have you noticed she's moved to a new url?), but you see, HERS are fun questions about YOU, whereas MINE involve information I need to extract from your brains for my own personal benefit. If you know the answers to any of these, GIVE IT.

1) How much do braces cost these days? Rob has a significant overbite. I'm hoping some of you have kids in braces now and can give me an idea of financial planning here. I guess braces cost more for some situations than for others, but even a RANGE would be helpful. And also: I keep hearing that orthodontists are now doing "pre-braces" work for thousands of dollars in addition to the thousands of dollars braces already cost, but I don't get it. I don't need the 100% Most Excellent of Possible Excellence here, I just want his teeth straightened like I had mine straightened: wait for the 12-year molars to come in, then put braces on the teeth THE END. I don't want to add years to the process, though I can certainly see why the orthodontists would.

2) What's good for removing candle soot? My nice scented candles have turned on me; it seems like it was all of a sudden, but actually we've been noticing little smudgies for weeks and just hadn't connected it to the candles. The soot is kind of greasy (or, duh, probably WAXY) and it's in a fine layer on the plastic high chair, the white-painted cupboards, the plastic chairs and plastic toys, even the plastic cups that were in the cupboard. Candle smoke must be particularly attracted to plastic? Or maybe particularly visible on plastic?

3) Do those candle warmers really work? Do they use up the scent faster or slower than if you burn the candle the regular way? Do they spread out the scent as well as burning does? Are you then left with a scentless candle at the end? I have several huge boxes of scented candles that I bought to make myself feel happier, and now I am feeling LESS HAPPY IN RE THEM.

4) How do I make my blog post titles clickable? [Edit: I THINK Paul has fixed this for me. Let's see, now, if it breaks something else on the site.] My Swistle: Baby Names site has this: you can click the title of any post and it takes you to that post's own url, with the comments shown underneath it. My main Swistle site does not. WT? I've been through all the settings and can't see where this would be.

Night Shift

7:00-7:25 p.m. Elizabeth cries downstairs.

7:25-8:20 p.m. I try to figure out what the crap her problem is. I sing to her and rub her back as she says, literally, "Wahhhhh" (she's done with crying but still wants to do it) and she finally goes hitchingly off to sleep.

8:30-8:50 p.m. William has a bad dream. I get him out of bed and talk with him for awhile: it helps to fully wake up from a dream before going back to bed.

10:00-10:40 p.m. I lie awake waiting for sleep to happen. The last time I see the clock before falling asleep, it's 10:40.

11:00-11:05 p.m. A cat chases a plastic Easter egg wildly down the hardwood hall, skittering and bumping into walls. I'm so completely asleep, at first I think it's morning. I get up, pick up the Easter eggs and put them out of cat reach. As I do so, I "move the cat aside with my foot," in a gesture that some people might use a different verb for.

12:25-12:45 a.m. Henry wakes up and wants to nurse. I remind him that the pediatrician said babies Henry's age don't need to eat at night. Henry disagrees and/or did not receive that memo.

2:30-2:40 a.m. Electrifying sounds of a cat barfing repeatedly and energetically. I lie in the dark wondering if I'm going to cry first, hit something first, or just get up and deal with it. I just get up and deal with it. I can only find two tiny bits of cat barf---is there more somewhere? I refill the cats' water dish.

4:15-4:20 a.m. The cats have been up and around ALL NIGHT. What is their DEAL? They're fighting in the hall for the zillionth time. FINE. I will refill their food dish, because that's probably the problem. They can't wait even 2 more hours until morning. FINE. I go down to the scary dark basement and refill their dish---which STILL HAS PLENTY OF FOOD IN IT. The cats come running and galumphing anyway: it's FRESH food now.

4:45 a.m. Elizabeth cries briefly and goes back to sleep.

5:25 a.m. Paul's alarm goes off.

6:15 a.m. My alarm goes off.

April 3, 2008


This whole week, Henry has been so fussy. Did you ever see that thing, I think it was some PBS show, where first you see a video of a scary crocodile walking along the edge of the water, and they play horror-movie music in the background? and then you see the same video again, but this time with silly, ballerina-hippo-type music? It's amazing how different the scene looks, just with that soundtrack change: first the crocodile looks scary and ugly, and two seconds later his waddle seems hilarious and lovable.

That's how it is around here: Henry's fussing is the soundtrack of my day, and it changes the way I perceive the scene. A toddler asking me "My have that? My have that PINK HOAT? an' wear it, and it is so fuffy?" (My have that pink coat and wear it and it is so fluffy) is so cute under normal circumstances, but when the baby is crabbing in the background and has been ALL DAY despite cuddles and playing and tylenol and extra nursing/food and trying not to walk away from him because it triggers what is probably separation anxiety, it is very, very difficult to focus on a little piping voice insisting that I repeat back to her everything she's saying, and it is difficult to find it cute when she wants to hear me say it once more with feeling, and it is difficult to see our household as anything but a roiling pit of noise and demands and complaints---even if what I'm actually seeing is cuteness.

(I originally had a 60-second video here that illustrated EXACTLY what I meant: Henry crying while cute Elizabeth tried to tell me something. But after letting Blogger "process" the video for FORTY-FIVE MINUTES with no end in sight, I gave up. And get this: I hit cancel, and it is STILL "PROCESSING.")

April 1, 2008

Day Sadness

I am feeling Not Good today. Last night I had Night Sadness (lying awake thinking of sad and oppressive things, and all the ways in which I have failed / am failing / will fail), and usually sleep cures that---but this morning I woke up with Day Sadness. It feels like I do the same thing day in and day out, and like it's never going to change, and like I'm never going to handle anything right, and like the world is a bad and stupid place. I know that's not true, but what I know doesn't have much to do with it.

So today I'm in Postpartum Mode, doing all the things that can help with irrational feelings that feel rational. I got up and made myself coffee and two hard-boiled eggs for breakfast: caffeine! protein! hot beverage!---all things that can help. I took a shower with hotter than usual water, and I turned on a bunch of extra lights: usually Mother Earth has her way, but today the world feels like it's going down the toilet whether I use extra electricity or not.

I used my favorite 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner, which smells beachy. I used an apricot facial scrub. After showering, I used a serving of an expensive face lotion sample my mom's friend Donna gave me: it smells like perfume and it feels like being rich, and I use it when things are Grim. I lit my favorite Illuminations candle, the Flower Garden one that smells like flower petals and fresh spring dirt.

I held the baby for awhile. This is not recommended if the available baby is in a crabby, squirmy mood and will make you feel like a bad mother who can't even make her own baby happy. But if you have a cozy warm baby in a footie sleeper who hooks his little arm around your upper arm and rests his cheek against your cheek companionably, this is like a shot of psych meds straight into an artery, or perhaps I mean vein, or perhaps adding that kind of medication right into the blood wouldn't help anyway, but what I mean is that it's pleasant.