December 30, 2005


I really don't like being in forward motion, then getting tripped up by something little.

Case in point: Trent & I are planning to go to a marriage conference. It's not that we have huge issues to work out, but we're operating on the principle that tune-ups are better than accident repair.

I went to the conference web site to get some more information, and found an explicit statement that it was for adults only. So... now my assumption that we can take Nathan with us is in question.

Being the conservative, don't-want-to-offend-rules person I am, I called the info number they listed on the site. The woman I spoke with said that they understand some exceptions, but since there isn't a cry room on site at the conference, they really would prefer that there be NO children at the conference.

I explained that I couldn't really leave my nursing 4-month-old with someone else since I was coming from out of town, and she simply asked that I sit at the back of the room so I could take him out if he started to make any noise. I said I'd be glad to do that (I can't fathom choosing to stay in a public venue with a noisy child, but maybe that's just me).

So... we're still going, but now my anticipation of the conference is balanced by some anxiety over being a disruption.

Grr. Tripped up by something small - in this case, something 15-pounds-and-25"-long small.

December 27, 2005

New Discoveries

My doctor asked me at Nathan's 2-month appointment if he'd started squealing yet. He hadn't then, but he discovered the squeal capability in the next couple days. It took until a couple days ago before he discovered the components of "duration" and "volume level" and how to maximize them.

It's cute now to hear him squealing away to himself like a stuck pig as he lies on the floor or sits in his exersaucer, but I can tell already that we will quell squealing when he's a toddler; the boy is loud. I feel like I'm watching a child discover a new toy; they poke and prod it, suck on it (if possible) and determine how it responds to various changes in circumstances - only Nathan's new toy is his voice. He seems pretty pleased with himself and how he's able to duplicate this noise that gets him attention and laughter.

He still loves music (singing along with his own baby noises and squeals when I sing to him) and physical actions (the arm motions on "Deep & Wide", pattycake, etc.). He desperately wants to see things and move. He regularly tries to pull himself up with his stomach muscles; and if you burp him you'd better not have him facing a chair back - too boring.

I had the first mommy-scare of my life last week... While out shopping with my mom, I had Nathan in the front-carrier facing out. The weather was nice, so I decided to walk from Best Buy to the Starbucks just across the street. I was good and made wise decisions (even hit the 'walk' button rather than dodge traffic), but tripped and fell forward ~4 feet from the curb. The pavement dipped down - and that's where I went: down. I landed hard on my knees and one hand. The other hand immediately grabbed Nathan to keep his little face from grinding into the asphalt; I caught him just a few inches away from contact with the pavement. Even now the thought of possibly scraping his nose or cheeks makes me feel sick inside. He was fine, despite some dirt stains on the toes of his sleeper, but it scared him enough that he started crying. I picked myself up and limped the rest of the way to Starbucks, doing my best to soothe my screaming son the rest of the way. He had a sober expression on his face the whole time we were at Starbucks.

I hope I haven't given his little mind fodder for nightmares because of my clumsiness.

December 23, 2005

Diaper Categorization

[Note: one wipe = one alarm, e.g. '1 wipe diaper' approximates a 1 alarm fire]
1 wipe diaper: slight mess, but compact; damage control and clean-up can be accomplished in two swipes of the same wet wipe

2 wipe diaper: one wipe for damage control, one wipe for final spot-checking and cleaning; each wipe may be used more than once by creative folding and positioning.

3 wipe diaper: starting to get directional flows; messier. Use the diaper itself to swipe the bulk of the mess to the seat of the diaper before proceeding to wipes. One wipe to assist the diaper's aim, one for major remaining mess on buttocks and genital area, & the third wipe for final clean-up.

4 wipe diaper: Now you need to be careful - the mess will start to migrate if you don't take precautionary steps. For example, either take off all clothing or push it above the baby's nipple line. Do yourself a favor and remove socks ahead of time. Wipe downward with the diaper before using wet wipes. One wipe for mess around the rear-end crease, one for final clean-up there - rest baby's bottom on the new, clean diaper and continue. Wipe #3 for major clean-up around genitals & wipe #4 for final clean-up.

5 wipe diaper: Here and beyond can easily become a disaster. Mess migrates via clothing to stomach, chest, back, legs, hands. Again, start at the back and work front - Wipes 1 & 2, rear-end damage control & clean-up; wipes 3 & 4, genital damage control & clean-up; wipe 5 should be used for peripheral damage or to assist any of the other tasks.

Put the kid on the floor with a burp pad under his head before washing your hands thoroughly with soap. Don't give him the opportunity to roll off the changing table and add to the day's battles!

December 21, 2005

Dividing Line

While doing my devotions this morning, I read through some past entries and found this quote by Susannah Wesley to her young son John regarding legalism:
"Would you judge of the lawfulness of pleasure? Take this rule: Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God or takes away the relish for spiritual things - in short, anything that increases the strength of your body over your mind - that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in and of itself."
Doesn't leave a whole lot of maneuvering room, does it?

I, who have so often determined my value from what I accomplish or how productive I am, am a full-time mother of a 3-month-old. Nathan, the major usage of my time and energy, doesn't demonstrate the massive amount of time he takes. It was helpful to have Trent home sick this last Monday; I had an objective observer to tell me at the end of the day that the only time I wasn't working or doing something else was when I was feeding Nathan.

All too often I get to the end of a day and wonder where it went... I have to limit my expectations for each day drastically. Right now I have laundry to fold (it's been in the basket since last Friday), more laundry to do, checkbook to balance, bills to pay, a budget to calculate, records to file, rooms to clean and Christmas presents to wrap. Which of these will I do today? I'd like to clean, but I think I'll be limited to wrapping presents. Yesterday it was all I could do to send out Christmas letters - I only just made it to the post office by 4:30 p.m.

My sense of self-worth is having to find a different, more appropriate source than my level of productivity. In the meantime, I can't find words in the English language to convey how inept I feel - especially when I do almost no cleaning or cooking here at my parents'. I'm trying to stave off thoughts of how horrible I'll feel when we're in our own house and I'm still this unproductive.

Philippians 4:6-7; I know, God; I know...

December 19, 2005

Enslaved Android

It's cold and bright outside, and inside there are battles being waged for young minds.

Trent's home sick today; he's wrestled with the flu most of the weekend. Nathan was in his exersaucer, squealing and inhaling every bit of sensory perception his little body would give him, mostly sights and sounds. Trent decided to introduce him to Sesame Street - but only Dora the Explorer and Barney & Friends were on. If you're at all uncertain about my stance on Barney, let me describe my favorite screensaver from college: Barney jumps and chuckles to himself (you can set the number of jumps), then you hear a gunshot. He looks down at the bullet hole in his stomach, says, "Oh!" and explodes.

So... Trent turned the TV to Dora and told Nathan he wanted to hear him speak fluent Spanish when the show was over. It was frightening how riveted Nathan was to the screen. My own little mindless droid, staring eyes, drooling and all.

I'm so proud.

December 16, 2005

And the Wolf Shall Frolic with the Mink

I don't remember who came up with the idea, but it must have been me, since I led the pack of 5+ streakers on our tear through the neighborhood. I made it most of two blocks, cutting through neighbors' houses and various backyards, marking which path I had taken by posting t-shirts at the decision points.

I realized as I exited the 2nd house that a wolf and several mink were running with me, curling about my ankles as I went. I hollered back over my shoulder to the others to watch out for the mink; their coats might feel soft, but their teeth were really sharp.

It was somewhere between then and the last row of houses that I realized no one else was with me. No one at the formal outdoor event taking place at the house to my right saw me (I think), but one of the gentlemen at the family cookout in the backyard to my left hollered out that I should pass his compliments on to my husband.

I made it back home (two t-shirts covering the critical areas); everyone else had already returned and donned clothing again. I also got dressed and went to get $5 from my mom - everyone else had already collected their money. Somehow we managed to keep her in the dark about our streaking.

Mom says a psychologist could make a fortune off of me on this dream alone.

December 14, 2005

Payback's a Mother Dog

You've heard of the Wars of the Roses? Well, today was another battle in the Wars of the Stanleys.

Nathan, though cute, packs quite a painful punch for a 25", 15-lb 3-month-old. He woke up at 3 a.m. (I got back to bed ~3:30), woke again ~7:30 and raked the front of my neck with his fingernails as I tried to feed him (note to self: MUST trim those again), cried off and on until 10, then spent the rest of the afternoon (and now evening) alternately charming and irritating me.

I haven't swung from extreme emotion to extreme emotion like this since Jr. High - no, I take that back: being pregnant. Maybe that was training for this.

For those days when I treated you to behavior like this, Mom... my sincerest apologies.

December 10, 2005

Narnian Delight

I shudder to think how much adjusting I'll have to do when we have our own place - stocking a pantry from ground zero, performing home maintenance tasks, making meals every night, hiring actual babysitters...

...but for now I'll enjoy life. : )
Trent & I went to see the first Chronicles of Narnia movie last night. I think it's wonderful, particularly compared to the BBC miniseries that was made many years ago. Chubby, pudding-faced Lucy with her exclamations of "AZ-laaaan!" Ick. No, no, no, no, NO!

This one's much better. I left the theater impressed by several of the actors, wanting to look more information up on, wanting to buy the soundtrack - even wanting to see the movie again.

Considering the town is only ~6,000, the lines for the movie were the longest I've ever seen at the theater. It was almost like being back in Kansas City for a premiere, except that no one dressed up in Narnia gear. Some strange behaviors are curtailed by a 15-degree temperature; rejoice and be exceeding glad, I say.

Since so many of my family members have ADD tendencies, we often use the saying that "people without ADHD just don't understa- ooh, look! A chicken!"

I tell you this now because, "Oooh, a chicken!": my mother just left the room in delight, having assembled both of the Christmas boxes she needs to mail. I call her the Queen of Tape, since her boxes are extremely difficult to open. I just heard from her own lips (and I kid you not), "If you use enough tape, you can actually waterproof your package."

Recipients of her packages, arm yourselves with paring knives. Nothing else will make it past those rectangular fortresses.

December 09, 2005

Fitting a Schedule

When I was in college, I applied to be an R.A. There were parts of the process that went well, while others... didn't.

When the head of my residence hall got the report back from the interview crew, he shared the wonderful news with me: they felt I was looking for a group to control, not that I was concerned with helping others fit in. I remember one question in particular - What would I, personally, do to help a lesbian on my floor feel like she fit in? Since that fit nowhere in my small-town, conservative upbringing, I actually had the gall to hem and haw a bit before saying something about trying to help her find groups of like-minded people on campus.

I still wonder how much of the final judgment had more to do with them deciding they didn't like ME and how much it was that I truly was unsuited for the job.

This comes to mind now because I _AM_ someone's housing and schedule authority. Whether Nathan likes it or not, there are many days (continuing perhaps for several years) when I can mandate alone time for him - whether he likes it or not. I started implementing a schedule of sorts with him this week:
wake ~7-8
play time (exersaucer or time on his tummy)
nap ~10:30 for an hour or so
cuddle time
alone time/nap from 1 to 3-ish
awake time (books, talking, singing, etc.)
time in his downstairs bed (while we eat supper)
nap for 1-2 hours
awake until bedtime (this is usually when he's the most awake he ever gets)
get ready for bed
...and one last feeding before bed ~10 p.m.

Getting him on a more consistent schedule is Step One in being able to organize the rest of my necessary tasks. Trying to wait until he doesn't need me to do laundry simply doesn't work - and it creates a bad situation of my life being organized completely around his demands.

December 03, 2005

So Help Me, Nathan Will NOT Be/Do/Say/Act...

- He will not chain-smoke by age 2.
- He will not bite his nails to the quick in the first twelve months of his life.
- He will eat every bit of liver I place before him.
- He will not curse at me in Swahili.
- He will not bifurcate his tongue at age 10.
- He will not design a personal tattoo with "Muther" in it.
- He will not have a complete collection of Yanni tunes.
- He will never exceed the speed limit in a Model T.

Figured I better start with loose things I know I can keep. I have other things I think he will "never" do, but I'll wait until he's 15 and see how many of those I can actually control before I'm stupid enough to put it in writing where others can see (and later tease me about) it.

December 02, 2005

The Chocolate Whore

Have you ever figured out what your name would be if you were a stripper? The supposed formula is to use your middle name and the name of the street where you grew up. Some people have exotic dancer-ish results - Aileen Mahogany or Lynnae Birch or something like that.

My name? Jean Sixth Avenue. Don't you want to stick dollar bills down that woman's waistband?

Well, I may not have a cool exotic dancer name; but I have a cool Bond villainness name now, thanks to Trent: The Chocolate Whore. He told me last night and I laughed so hard I gagged.

It's not quite true that I'd do anything for chocolate, but I do rank quality chocolate pretty high on my indulgence list. Greater love hath no Susan than that she share an Andre's chocolate with you - not buy one for you; give you one from a box she has purchased for herself.

I highly recommend the truffles and their grand cru chocolates.

December 01, 2005

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

It snowed again last night - lots of snow. 7 inches' worth "lots of snow". It was a Christmas snow: steady fat flakes, but not wet and heavy. I was able to sweep 4" piles of snow off my parents' patio with a push broom. I finally gave up because everything was coated again in 5 minutes.

Could snow be one of God's pause buttons?
Think you're flying out to San Diego? Sorry - bzzt. Blizzard. Thank you for playing.

I was in Chicago a few years ago for one of these. A blizzard had Windy City weatherpeople talking about survival techniques and the wisdom of staying home. It was easier to walk the few blocks from my hotel to the hospital for work than it would have been to take any other form of transportation. O'Hare closed down. -Hell itself couldn't have been far from icing over.

Once I get over the frustration of plans shortcircuiting all around me, I start to see snowstorms as a get out of jail free card. Didn't want to go to play practice? Not a problem; it got canceled. Wrestling with your conscience as to whether you should head back to work or stay home by the fire with a hot drink and a good book? Snow makes the decision for you; no guilt.

I am glad to be back in the world of smarter winter drivers, that's for sure. Other parts of the country freak if there's frost on the windows. My sister once called home in irritation because West Coast news programs were describing how people would need to scrape the frost off their windshields that morning in order to see. Interstates slow down to a 15-mph crawl if 1" of snow falls. Cars end up in ditches because people stomp on their brakes rather than pump and steer away from a skid instead of into it. The loud noise you just heard was a large snort from the wintry parts of the country. Pansies.

No pansies here. 7" of snow fell last night, but Wal-Mart and Hy-Vee still had plenty of milk cartons left in the coolers. Life continued (at slower road speeds), but everyone took the opportunity to check out of life's obligations a bit earlier in the day and stay home. I, who had been at home since Sunday evening, went to run errands last night in the midst of storm. Braving the weather, conquering the elements... Ahh... it's good to be home.

Scrappy December

I've become possessed by yet another addiction. I fought it for several months, but eventually succumbed. I was heroically denying myself, but then my mom brought out her equipment and sucked me back in. -My sister-in-law and my best friend here do it, too! I can't let them go through it alone, can I? I can control it, though, I know I can... I'll pace myself... control how much I do it... how much it costs... how much of me it consumes... This time it will work, I know it.

Formerly a hold-out, I'm now following the scrapbooking herd. My biggest point of resistance before was the whole photo thing. I love taking pictures; I'm horrible about getting them developed. I still have a roll of film from three years ago that I haven't taken in. So... once we got a digital camera, I didn't have to get them developed! Buy some photo paper from a discount store, and voila! Insta-prints in less than 5 minutes.

With the picture issue not an issue any more, there's nothing to prevent my love of office supplies, storytelling, calligraphy, and creativity from consuming me. The problem will be actually finishing anything. It should be a lesson to me that my mom still hasn't finished my brothers' baby books (they are currently ages 26 and 23).