Thursday, October 30, 2008

thrifting for thursday: faking it

For the past few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about faking it. No no no no NO - not THAT KIND OF FAKING IT. Rather, the fake that's about substituting.

It started when I was reading an article about so-called "name brands" versus generic/store brands. In so many cases, the generic brand is not only made the same way as the national brand, it can even be made BY the national brand. Crazy, huh?

This week I want to talk about fakes. Here's a small sampling of my REAL/FAKE list:

Must have national brand:
- when consumed: jelly beans. MUST be Brach's or they just don't taste right.
- ice cream. Oh dear, I am an ice cream snob and I wish I wasn't. I love me some Haagan Daas, but it's like buying frozen bits of GOLD, for the price they charge.
- Aveda face moisturizer. And this? Would be LIQUID GOLD.

Will accept fakes:
- just recently: Eucerin lotion. I'm a lotion fanatic (dry dry DRY skin) - and just recently I tried the Target brand (half the price, y'all) and I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Lovely!
- ibuprofen, most pain relievers, cold medicine, etc.
- most cleaning products.

So tell me - what do you have to have the REAL thing of, and what items will you gladly purchase the fake?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the hills are alive

2006. Chip and I are sitting in my dad's den with my niece, Danae. The house is full-to-the-rafters with people for The Little Brother's wedding. Somehow Danae, Chip, and I have decided to seek refuge in the quiet room. Danae is writing on the computer. Chip and I (oh I remember THOSE DAYS) are inexplicably just laying on the couch.

Danae, turning around to face us: You know, when you guys have kids, they're going to spontaneously burst into song.

Chip and I look at each other, wait a beat, then we LAUGH.



You know how it is? When you find this person who somehow is your match? Who is very different from you in all the right ways, but still bursts into song at random moments, just like you do? And you do it so often that you don't even notice anymore until your 17-year-old niece points it out?

This is Chip. He is funny. He is sweet. He is goofy. He is talented. He is strong. He is a trusted and loyal friend. He is a very good citizen of the planet, and far better than even
I give him credit for. And I know this. He is (in my humble opinion) also quite a hottie.

In the past eight months I've also had the pleasure to see him become a wonderful and sweet father.

This is the honey I married, the man I will gladly cross an ocean of glass for. Oh, I just love him so much. Happy birthday, love.


Monday, October 27, 2008

a true (ghost) story

Well that was a busy weekend. The best (and documented) part of Friday night was watching Alice go crazy in the ginormous gym. Until she realized how ginormous it really was and decided that it was a little too scary to go too far from me. She spent the rest of the evening following me around and repeatedly running over my toes with her chariot. But! Halloween party is finished for another year! (Have I ever told you that Chip and I are the cruise directors for our church? -Think Julie from Love Boat, sans Isaac at the bar or the Doc or Gopher- dude I loved that show on the few instances that my parents would let me stay up late enough to watch it on Saturday nights). Ahem, anyway. So let me tell you something that I need to write in large letters on my mirror: MICHAELS DOES NOT CARRY STREAMERS. JOANN DOES NOT CARRY STREAMERS. TARGET DOES NOT CARRY STREAMERS. DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200 DOLLARS. JUST HEAD TO PARTY CITY AND GET THE DARN STREAMERS THERE BEFORE YOU WASTE AN ENTIRE AFTERNOON RUNNING AROUND TOWN TRYING TO FIND STREAMERS. It's embarrassing to admit just how many times I've forgotten just this tidbit and found myself at Michaels, madly combing the aisles before it dawns on me. And then I head to Joann (same thing), and then Target (same thing). Oh it's just stupid.

So let's talk about something else, shall we? Like how Chip is staying tonight at a real haunted hotel? How's THAT for some serious Halloween content? The dude is out of town this week (Washington coast, and oh how I wish Alice and I could have gone with him), and tonight he's staying in a very little town. When I was talking to him today I asked him where he was staying tonight, and (no lie) he tells me the place and I'm all, "HEY THAT PLACE IS HAUNTED! I JUST SAW IT ON THE NEWS AND EVERYTHING!" And Chip's all, "Oh. I was going to tell you that Teddy Roosevelt stayed there."

I don't know about ghosts, but the poor guy is in for it tonight. He called me a couple of hours later with this:
Chip: Um, I don't know how well you're going to hear me - the cell reception is awful. But I'm here, at the hotel. And I really do believe that Teddy Roosevelt stayed here. Probably in this room. And it hasn't been changed since.
Whimsy: Oh dear. I'm so sorry.
Chip: That's actually not the scariest part. The scariest part is the fact that there is no internet. There is no cable. Actually, there is no TV at all.
Whimsy: Well, at least you'll get a lot of work done, eh?


Saturday, October 25, 2008

what do you do on a friday night

Naturally you set up for a church Halloween party.

And you bring your baby.

With her walker.

And then you let her go all Speedracer in the gym.



What did YOU do?

Friday, October 24, 2008

thrift thursday: that's entertainment

So. Um. Remember when I was all, "I'm going to post ideas for thrift every Thursday"? And then how yesterday my blog was all "......"? Yes. So somehow the entire day just evaporated before my very eyes. I found myself on the computer last night thinking - Well, it's 11:50. If I post in the next 10 minutes I can still make it a THURSDAY post. And then I realized I was insane and I kept working on well, work.

So that's how I came to be doing Thursday's post on Friday. Not that you really need to know ANY OF THIS.

When I first started thinking about thrift, I was struck by the huge spectrum of improvement - people spend money on varying budgets, with varying needs. What may seem like the easiest thing to change for one person could be considered IMPOSSIBLE to another. I think the whole entertainment area of the budget makes these kinds of differences even more blatantly polarized. To that end, I'm reserving an area of ideas for Beyond - where Beyond is usually along the lines of building a yurt in the middle of a forest and consuming berries for the rest of your life. Sound good? Great. Let's get going.

For this week's subject, I've got a laundry list of ideas from you guys, and not a whole heck of a lot to add for myself. We went through the whole budget trimming before Alice was born, and the first area to get cut was Entertainment. The beauty of it all is that I hardly notice the changes. Having a baby does wonders for your social life, let me tell you. Where once upon a time we'd see a movie every few weeks, we're now VERY happy if we actually find 90 minutes to sit as a couple, enjoying the silence. How's that for a first crazy tip: HAVE A BABY - WORKS WONDERS FOR ENTERTAINMENT SPENDING.

However, there were a few of you who had some solid, good ideas:

- Serenity Now (who I hope, hint hint, will comment from time to time, hint hint) emailed me ideas about using the public library. Most library systems not only allow you to check out books (for FREE), but also books on tape, music, videos, and DVD's. Our local library system in King County has a fantastic website where you can check on the availability of titles and even reserve them - all online. One of my favorite features is the ability to have a title transferred to the library closest to you, thus cutting down trips in your car. Genius! Serenity Now also suggests that you check with your library to see if they offer books and movies that you can download directly from their website. This isn't a feature that I've checked for our own library, but it sounds fabulous.

- We spend about $15 each month on Netflix. And The Wife likes to joke that Chip and I are the customers who make it possible for the rest of the world to use Netflix cheaply because we forget about our DVD's. ALL THE TIME. I don't know how or why it happens, but we'll get a DVD in the mail, watch it (or not), and then it just sits there: day after day, racking up the rental fees. In the end, it's like we're buying these movies outright without the ability to, you know, KEEP THEM. It's ridiculous. And Chip and I have vowed to stop this behavior. That, or we're getting rid of Netflix altogether. Possible annual savings of $180.

- Buy used. Used books. Used CD's. Used DVD's. We try to purge our music, book, and DVD collections regularly. We're usually left with a healthy stack of items we'll never watch/read/listen to again. So we pack 'em up and head to our local Half Price Books. They go through our items and then give us a nice cash prize for our trouble. This not only saves money, but is a beautiful kind of recycling that I just love: knowing that something that gave me joy can go on to help someone else. If you're all kinds of slackerly (as I have been known to be about certain things), and you have a tough time setting aside the time to head to the used book emporium, load up your items in the car and keep them in your trunk for a time when you ARE out and about and can take the extra time to stop. Just be careful about packing that stuff around for another 3 months, AS I HAVE DONE.

- Scour your local newspaper or city magazine website for calendars of events. There are ALWAYS ideas in there for things to do, many times for FREE, which is right up the alley of someone who is trying to spend less. If you have kids, you can also check the websites of local children's magazines. We have a couple here: Seattle's Child and ParentMap Seattle. Both of these are great resources for things to do.

- Read aloud to your kids, to your honey, or just READ. A relatively inexpensive past time. Can even be FREE when using the library or borrowing books from friends.



Today's BEYOND idea:
- Get rid of television. Shut it off. Cancel your cable (or satellite or whatever means you use to view the tube). Decide that you're done with it. We are (gulp gulp GULP) on the cusp of just this. We can save upwards of $50 (and more) a month by cutting the cord. Television watching can become a much more intentional event where we watch a DVD (see Netflix issue above). I don't think we'll miss it all that much, actually. We can get our news from the newspaper and the web. We can watch the one or two TV shows that we like online, when we're ready, when we have the time, when we'd like to relax and watch a show. I think that we can easily become slaves to the TV schedule, to it's noise, to it's familiarity. I want to see how it will be to live our lives independently from the box. I'll let you know how it goes.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

mind bleach

I am writing for the sole purpose of getting a certain image out of my brain. This is my vain hope that talking about it (HA) will somehow magically remove said image from my mind's eye and leave me free to cartwheel around the house (or not).

Here's the deal: I just put Alice down for a nap. But before I did, I changed her diaper. Her diaper, which I realized a leeeeeeetle late, the same diaper that hadn't been changed in, let's say, A WHILE. Anyway, I'm doing the diaper change thing, and Alice is doing her wriggly thing, and it's all going just great. And then I'm all, "Look at that poopy diaper, sweetie!" And then she's all, "Whatever." And then I'm all, "Let's just wipe, wipe, wipe!" And she's all, "That's fine, whatev----EEEEEE!!!! EEEEEE!!!! EEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (hold breath) SCREEEEEEEEAAAAAAMMMM!!!!!"

And that's when I noticed the horrid red red RED RED ANGRY I'M GOING TO HURT YOU LITTLE GIRL HURT YOU REAL BAD DIAPER RASH.

This is the image that is junking up my head: the RASH and me WIPING and her SCREAMING and me APOLOGIZING and her SCREAMING and me (I'll admit it) CRYING. Oh my. That was just not a pleasant afternoon activity, my friends.

There are a million things I'm going to do as a parent that are neither glamorous, enjoyable, or particularly fun for Alice. I know that this is just one of those things. And some of you sage moms out there are going to tell me that it's totally normal and I'll get used to it. But dude. That's a very sensitive area. And I certainly wouldn't want someone scrubbing down there when it's all OUCHY. I'm just saying.

There were generous slathers of Desitin, and lots of hugs and kisses after that. Alice is asleep now. But I can't get this thing out of my head.

I need to scrub my brain with some comet or something. Anyone have some handy?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

meme me up scottie

There were some requests for photos from The Great and Terrible Rosemary Battle, but I'm going to have to disappoint. We never captured my get-up on film, though I can assure you that there will be plenty of times when I'm wearing something ridiculous. You wait around me long enough and you're bound to get a nice treat.

Also, I feel that you need a brief background tutorial on Chip's and my situation with Spiders and Other Bugs. You're going to LOVE these.

In the spirit of all this picture goodness (HA) - I'm answering a meme that The Wife tagged me for.



What are you doing right now? Listening for the Bean to wake up from her nap. (It was originally much earlier in the day when I was working on this.)


My age.
I have to say, the Tennessee thing has nothing to do with my age.



First name.
I wasn't going to Google my actual first name. So I did something else: I Googled for an image of my idea of Whimsy. It's a piece by one of my favorite artists, Sam Toft.


Middle name.
My maiden name. And it's just too distinctive to Google. When I enter this name in Google, it comes up with a picture of my Dad's cousin (my 1st cousin once removed and aren't you so impressed that I can accurately use that term?). It also comes up with pictures of a bunch of other people I'm most likely related to. And no, I am not even remotely famous. I just have a very unique maiden name.


Last name.


Maiden name.
My middle name is my maiden name. See above.


Favorite food.
Anything with CREAM.


Bad habit.
I don't really consider it a bad habit, but I drift off from time to time and daydream. This is a piece of art called Daydreaming by someone named Ling Tze.


Past pet.
Her name was Stella. She was very pretty.
She didn't look like this.


Grandma's name.
Mom's mom (you know who this is, right? if not, I am old old old):

Dad's mom (there's this librarian...):


Past love.
From when I was pregnant.


First job.


Favorite place.
with:


If I went back to school...
or


If I could visit any place in the world...

Okay. So let's see, who am I going to pass this misery on to? (HA HA). Let's do Alice, Shelly, Stacie, Wandering Nana, Artemisia, and Pickles and Dimes.

Go to Google.
Do an image search for your answer to each question.
Pick a picture off the first page of images that best answers the question. (I fudged on this a bit - the name searches provided some, uh, very unique options.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

we fought the rosemary

And we won. In The Great and Terrible Rosemary War, part the first: Pre-Battle, I am suiting up my uniform (sweats, long sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt, scarf on head).
Chip: Is that what you're going to wear?
Whimsy: Yes.
Chip: I don't want to scare you, but do you have anything that is a little, um, tighter around the ankles?
Whimsy: Um...I don't think so. I guess I could tie ribbon around my ankles if that would help. ARE YOU SAYING YOU WANT ME TO TIE RIBBON AROUND MY ANKLES?
Chip: No, not exactly. I just think you need to be more prepared.

In The Great and Terrible Rosemary War, part the second: The First Assault, I am working up a royal sweat while madly raking under the trailing bushes. I work fast enough to not actually register the spiders and other creepie crawlies.
Chip: How's it going?
Whimsy: Are you out here to track my progress?
Chip: No, not really. I just wanted to see how you were doing.
Whimsy: I'm fine. No spiders.
Chip: Give it time.

In The Great and Terrible Rosemary War, part the third: New Battle Front, I am still working up a sweat and I manage to look pathetic enough that Chip picks up a pair of clippers.
Whimsy: What are you doing?
Chip: Helping.
Whimsy: Isn't that sweet? Still no spiders, you know.

In The Great and Terrible Rosemary War, part the fourth: Enemy Retreat, I am still (yes, still) working up a sweat. I jump a little and make a small OH noise.
Chip: What?! Did you see a spider???
Whimsy: Um... no. Just an earwig. We're fine.

In The Great and Terrible Rosemary War, part the fifth: End in Sight, I am still (still still still) working up a sweat. I am reaching behind the bushes to catch some of the woody stems and trim them.
Chip: You are both brave and CRAZY.
Whimsy: What? It's fine. See, still no spiders.

In The Great and Terrible Rosemary War, part the sixth: Itsy Bitsy, I am nearing the end of the raking. I have yet to find any major spiders. It's almost disappointing.

In The Great and Terrible Rosemary War, part the seventh: Aftermath. Sunday early afternoon. We are getting into the car for church. Chip notices something on the garage wall.
Chip: DUDE DO YOU SEE THAT SPIDER? AND THERE ARE MORE OUTSIDE. OUR WORK YESTERDAY HAS UPSET THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS.



Friday, October 17, 2008

confessions

Remember how Chip and I are 80-year-olds who regularly watch The Wheel of Fortune? Well, we've been so fascinated since they created this whole Million Dollar Option on the wheel. It's a total long shot (think along the lines of the odds that you'd win the lottery or that I'd actually write, you know, a short post) - to win the million, a contestant first has to spin and hit the million dollar spot. And then the contestant needs to solve the puzzle. Then the contestant needs to win the game and go on to the bonus round. And then the kind people at Wheel of Fortune put the little million dollar ticket in the miniature prize wheel that the contestant has to spin to see which prize they win - IF they solve the final puzzle. So your odds are pretty tiny. Chip has had bets with me that anyone that actually makes it to the bonus round with the million dollar ticket probably has to solve an even harder puzzle. So imagine my surprise when I watched the other day and saw the contestant spin to the million. And then solve the puzzle. And then win the game to go to the bonus round. And then... she totally solved the bonus puzzle (leaky faucet and I totally got it way before her, I'm so good). And THEN... they open the little envelope to see what she won AND SHE WON THE MILLION. There was jumping! And streamers! And hugging! And jumping all over Pat! And leaping across the stage to hug Vanna! And (here's my confession): there I was, watching all of this, CRYING. Yes, I cried during Wheel of Fortune. I don't know what's wrong with me.



The cats have two food bowls for crunchies. The bowls are exactly the same. They are filled with the same food. But somehow, the cats have personally assigned the bowls, because if one is empty and the other is TOTALLY FULL, I'll have a specific cat following me around the house yelling GIVE ME SOME FOOD WOMAN until I finally give in and fill the bowl.


Okay, so that one above wasn't a confession. But it's weird, right? Here's another confession: I used a footstool to get into bed for the entirety of my pregnancy. Apparently, I couldn't make it that far up? I don't know. I had forgotten about the footstool until just a bit ago when I found it behind the rocking chair in our room. What was WRONG with me? I'm short, but I'm not, you know, THAT short.



Phoebe has yet to visit a groomer. Truth is, I'm totally afraid to take her because I know she's going to HATE me afterwards. I'm concerned about her access to my face when I'm sleeping. There are some unpleasant things she could do to me that I'd rather not contemplate. But I know it needs to be done. I have found two more state-sized dreadlocks.


I meant to link to Swistle's brilliant baby food making post on my entry for yesterday. And then I didn't. And totally forgot about it. The post is here, and she has some fantastic ideas (including hiding chick peas in the baby food - see, BRILLIANT!).



Yesterday I took a picture of Alice because she was laying on the floor, face down, sucking a paci, showing me how pathetic and sad she could be. It was her first tried and true temper tantrum. And while I should have been sad and concerned, instead I thought it was pretty funny. So I took a picture.



Anyone have any fantastic weekend plans? We're CLEANING THE HOUSE. And also RAKING UNDER THE ROSEMARY BUSHES (which really truly scare the pants off of me because that's where the biggest spiders live.... which means that I'm going to be doing the majority of the raking.... shudder).



Now I want to hear at least one confession from you. Go!




Thursday, October 16, 2008

thrifting for thursday

Please keep the ideas for living on less coming... you can email me at whimsyattack AT gmail DOT com. Each week (Thursday) I'm going to do a Thrift post, and I'll include some of the ideas that you guys have given me, too.


Our first guest suggestion is from Anonymous. She gave me a whole bunch of ideas,
but I'm going to highlight her suggestions about food for this week, since that's what I'm going to talk about.

She writes:
  • Never buy processed foods. Generally the more processed the more expensive and the worse it is for you. I make our bread and any sweets we might consume. I cook all meals from real ingredients not from prepackaged nastiness. I never do frozen foods (except for vegetables and soy and I buy generic of those). We don't eat any boxed meals except for Mac and Cheese and I wait for it to be on sale or have a coupon. Also, buy locally grown whenever you can-- it's cheaper and fresher.
Thank you, Anonymous! Dear Anonymous is writing, um, anonymously because she was worried that people would hate her ideas. Here's what I think: everything is a matter of moderation. First off, decide where you are on the Consumer Spectrum. Maybe you eat out every night - so a way to live on less, for you, is to cook at least three meals at home each week. Maybe you already do this - so a way for you to live on less is to start buying less processed foods - more actual ingredients... you get the idea. In the end, none of this is about making anyone feel guilty. It's about action. Doing something - anything - to reduce your consumption/expenses and decrease your NEED of HAVING. I know you understand.


Now my first idea for being a more conservative consumer is to make your own baby food. I know this isn't something that's going to help everyone, but it's a start. And it's where I started when Alice began solid food.

Those wee glass jars of baby food are seriously pricey, yo. And on top of this, we're trying to go with organic and locally grown produce, whenever possible, which... the organic baby food can be TWICE as expensive as the other stuff. Occasionally we still have to feed Alice the jarred stuff (when we're traveling) - and I've found a favorite organic brand that is pretty local to this area, and it's the best tasting (and most REAL tasting out of all of them), but I only buy it if I can get it on sale.

Anyway... about the making of the baby food. Is it really a Thrifty thing to do? Yes, absolutely. I shop for produce (both fresh and frozen) when it's on sale, and then I buy a whole bunch of it and make the baby food then, freezing for later use. I've worked it out that I'm saving at least $0.35 on each little ziploc container that I make - and that's the low end, it can reach upwards of $0.50 per container - and that's a savings, mind you, especially when you can spend over $0.85 per jar of the store bought stuff.

As for HOW to make the baby food? It's so much easier than you ever imagined.



Purchase produce: fresh or frozen, make sure it's on sale. And then buy a bunch of it.



Heat water in pan with a steam basket.



Add vegies or fruit. (If you're doing fresh vegies or fruit, make sure you was
h, peel -if necessary-, and chop up the items before putting them in the steamer basket.)



Steam. (With lid ON - I took it off to show you how pretty the green beans are!)



When complete, allow to cool a bit and put them in your blender.



If the item is thick (green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, squash), you'll want to add a little of the cooking water. Eyeball this and see what consistency looks best for your baby.



Blend.



Don't scare your child with the blender.



Once blended, pour concoction into ziploc storage containers. I use these because they're easy and reusable, but some people put the food into ice trays and, once frozen, place the little food cubes into freezer bags. I think the ziploc containers are a little easier, but that's just me.



Notice the difference between the store bought green beans and the homemade ones. Which ones would YOU want to eat? Yeah, I thought so.



Allow to cool before placing in the freezer.



When you're ready to use a packet of food, remove from freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator. I usually take a couple of packets out of the freezer before I go to bed at night and they're all ready to go in the morning. Done!


Next week: we're going to talk about (gulp) ENTERTAINMENT. If you have any ideas about fun things to do that require less dough, let me know.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

a word from winston

When I was in elementary school, my father lost his job. It was in the early 80's... I don't even know the year, to tell you the truth. I was aware that my dad wasn't working at Mighty Big Accounting Firm anymore and that we were going to need to be thrifty. In the time that followed, I can't tell you one thing I missed while our family was being thrifty. I can't tell you one toy I wanted but didn't get, I can't tell you one outing that we thrifted on, I can't tell you one single material item that screamed WE ARE ON A LIMITED BUDGET. I applaud Winston and mom for their candor with us kids. They let us in on the family project. And I'm amazed how well they kept it together mentally and emotionally. I never saw either one of them cry, curse, or get mad about things. I never witnessed stress, though I know - both from the obvious OH MY GOODNESS WHAT WOULD WE DO IF WE WERE IN THAT SITUATION and from conversations I've had with both of my parents about that time - that there certainly WAS a great deal of stress. And tension. And worry. But somehow, someway, they were strong. Strong enough for themselves, and certainly strong enough for our family.

This is the kind of strength I want to have for myself, and for my little family. For Alice. For Chip. For whatever babies might be on our horizon one day.

We are FINE HERE, so don't go thinking that either Chip or I are jobless. We are incredibly fortunate. We have exactly what we need. But we know, we know that a time is coming when we are going to need to make do with less. Less stuff. Less creature comforts. Less clutter. Less. This time of knowing may not come in the form of a lost job like it did with my dad. It might come because we need to help out someone else in our family, it might come because of natural disaster, it might come because of health issues. We don't know how it will come, but it will come.

My phone rang on Friday morning while Chip, Alice, and I were walking the streets of beautiful Friday Harbor on San Juan Island (pictures coming). It was Winston, and he wanted to talk about conservation. He and mom had been discussing the times we're living in, and what's going on with the economy, and they felt it was important to remind their family about thrift. About making do with less. I'm so glad they let us in on the family project.

I don't remember anything that was missing from that time of joblessness because (and here's the thing to remember) as a child, I didn't know any different. We made do with what we had, and I was happy. Happy! Can you imagine? I was happy to not wear new clothes. Happy to not have the latest video game. Happy to not have a cell phone. I think we can do the same: teach our children, our neighbors, our friends, that it's possible to smile and laugh and live a really beautiful life full of purpose without HAVING to HAVE.

So now I'm letting YOU in on the family project. I have some ideas about it, ways we can live on less. Ways we can have fun while doing it. And I want to hear your ideas. Tomorrow will be my first post - I'll do a weekly message and I hope you decide to join in our mission. Email me at whimsyattack AT gmail DOT com with your ideas for thrift. Ways you cut down, ways you make something last longer, ways you are living conservatively.

Come on, it'll be fun.

Monday, October 13, 2008

baby, bathwater

These days I find myself turning to Chip after Alice has done something new and remarking about the activity's status as a milestone. Picking up small piece of cracker with forefinger and thumb? Milestone. Objecting to a toy being taken away? Milestone. Working to retrieve a dropped toy? Milestone. Where was the knowing mothervoice on Saturday when I passed a milestone? It was going YIKES YIKES YIKES and then STUPID STUPID STUPID because my milestone was decidedly less joyous: I dropped my baby.

Okay, okay, maybe I didn't actually DROP her. But she fell. On my watch. And I feel just awful about it.

Here's what happened: I was getting ready to put her down for her afternoon nap. She takes a paci during her naps but I didn't have one in my hand. So I put her down on the extra bed that lives in her room. And then I turned away. For TWO SECONDS. To grab a paci on the small table by the closet. In the TWO SECONDS it took me to grab the paci, Alice managed to wiggle herself over to her belly, turn a full 180 degrees, and then make the 3-foot trek to the edge just so she could take a nice header off the bed. I turned just in time to witness a tiny Alice body sliding sickeningly head-first toward the floor. I sort of caught her. I can say sort of caught her because she still hit the floor. With her head. My hands helplessly clutching her ankles.

In the 20 minutes it took for me to comfort Alice into a hiccuping sleep, I went through all the emotions, including feeling so horrible about myself that I didn't even want to tell Chip what happened. I ran through every mistake I've made so far with Alice, all the things I could have done better, all the little things I wish I knew just a few short months ago, all the while rocking and whispering and comforting a screaming baby. It's okay, it's okay, it's okay - momma loves you, you're going to be fine - and then this one: momma is so sorry, so sorry, so very sorry.

Which leads me to this: why is it that we run through EVERY BAD THING that we've ever done, ever thought about, ever condoned, ever taught, ever skipped over, ever even contemplated in these moments? It's like the moment itself isn't heart-stoppingly awful enough, we need to slather on just a little bit more guilt - you know, to make that Mistake Sandwich that much better? It's the whole baby and bathwater conundrum: I don't think I need to tell you how hard it is to remember ALL the good when you're faced with some bad. Those little bad bits just want to taint everything, don't they?

After Alice slipped into sleep I watched her face for a while, wondering what other things I'm going to do (or not do), what other mistakes will come our way. Her sleep that afternoon was peaceful, even if my mind was not. When she woke up, she was all smiles, all forgiveness, all forgotten.

I hope I can be that strong.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

why i want to be rich and other miscellania

I want to be rich. And not for all the obvious reasons (house paid off, can purchase items on a whim, no need to work). I want to be rich so I can have a travel bag fully stocked with all my toiletries at all times. I've thought about this a lot, you guys, and I think it's one of the reasons why those folks with oodles of money always look so well-rested: they don't spend AN HOUR running around their house trying to gather all the everyday creams, gels, and pastes they need for a trip. They've already got second copies of those things stashed in their luggage. So travel prep is, like, 20 minutes of gathering their favorite outfits together and then they're done. Voila!



Now joining Similac on MY LIST: our vacuum cleaner, which does not suck? ..... it has no sucking power? ..... it's ability to function properly is impaired? ..... IT DOESN'T WORK.



Am I the only person that has to layer 40 black long sleeve t-shirts on top of one another so as to achieve a non-see-through look? Does no one make a thick black long sleeve t-shirt? And let's not even mention the white long sleeve tee that is so thin, I could put it on my head and drive around town... at night, still the picture of traffic safety.



Phoebe's dreadlocks? Still mostly intact. I say mostly because she has started depositing forlorn dreadlocks on my pillow. I found one last night that was nearly the size of Texas. I think I could have hollowed it out and floated down the river in it, it was so big. Much like this man.



I spent three hours yesterday gathering calendar info for my boss' newsletter. I stumbled across Chip's own personal Hell. Check it out here - it's the one at the top SEARCH FOR SPIDERS.



I'd be a terrible person not to thank y'all for the very nice things you said about Bean and her hat, which I'm proud to say I MADE. I'm working on another, more fully formed pink knit flower hat. It looks pretty much like a flower, right? I worry that it is more pink pumpkin like than I intend...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

montana wildlife encounter


This is beautiful Montana.




The Bean can sneak up on visitors and attach itself to their shoulders.



Upon removal of the Bean, it might expect food.



Fingers are not a good substitute.



Neither are lips.


Fish might
be an option, but they are fast and wily and very difficult to catch. You cannot stare them out of the water, no matter how hard you try.



Do not allow the Bean to leap into the water for the fish. Hold on tight.



Occasionally the Bean will require help with footwear.



Flies are also not for eating. Though they're awfully HAIRY, aren't they?



The roads might be a bit of a distraction from the Bean's hunger. That, or the CLIFFS.


Then again, maybe not. Back to fingers.







Friday, October 3, 2008

wrap-up

Perhaps my favorite line from a comment yesterday (from the fantastic Wandering Nana): "I have raised 5 children and have 11 grands. I'm not an expert but they all lived and have turned out to be wonderful people."

I think I can live up to those standards.

Goals:
- Keep Bean alive (check)
- Help her to become the amazing person that I know she's destined to be (check)
I can do this stuff.


thirty words: 4

Will soon resurface. Have pictures to share.

Until then: something must be done about Phoebe. While we were gone she grew DREADLOCKS. I foresee a trip to a cat groomer.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

more interruptions

I don't remember exactly WHY it was so very important that I sit down here and write this post (interrupting both the WORK that I've been working on and the 30-word posts) - but here we are. Upon my request, Chip has forbidden me to search the internet for any more "baby sleep nap pattern" business because OH MY HOLY MOLY I CAN'T TAKE ANY MORE INFORMATION. Just when I'm thinking, Okay, this is going to work, this feels right --BAM-- I make the mistake of reading another "helpful" article about baby sleep patterns and I'm spinning again.

What is "normal"?
What is "typical"?
What is "should"?
These little nuggets of comparison are enough to make a person absolutely stinking crazy. How about that one, experts: WHAT IS "CRAZY"? Me me me. That's what crazy is. The mother who is trying to find some kind of pathway through this thing and she's totally overwhelmed with a million conflicting bits of information, most notably: her daughter, who seems to defy common "normal" "typical" "sense".

Some of my favorites:
Babies will sleep until their typical wake-up time, with no relation to when you put them to bed. In other words, you can put a baby to sleep early and she'll still wake up at her typical wake-up time, if at bit more rested.
You say? Really? Because I have a little one who has a remarkable internal clock that starts dangling madly at the 9 1/2 hour mark. Put her to bed at 7pm, she wakes up 4:30am. Put her to bed at 8pm, she wakes up at 5:30am. And so on.

Another:
I put my baby to bed at 7pm, but wake him at 11pm for a night feeding - and then he sleeps through the night, waking at 7am. Works like a charm.
And again: REALLY? Because I wouldn't dream of waking Bean up. For any reason. Because dude, if I woke her to feed her she'd be ready to party for a good few hours. I'm not doing that madness at midnight. And quite frankly, I'd be afraid to even TRY IT for fear that she'd decide that midnight was a good time to resume the middle-of-the-night snacking.

And another:
If you find that your baby has flipped over in the night, don't worry. Most babies at this age (7 months) will move during the night - there is less need to worry as her risk of SIDS is drastically decreased.
I don't know about SIDS, but if Alice is moving enough to actually flip herself over in the night, she's awake. And she lets me know about it. There is no "moving through the night". There is only "smacking oneself in the head at night" and also "gouging one's ears during the night". We still swaddle her, and I'm of the opinion that she still needs it because darn, she is a restless little sleeper.


I'm so sorry. This whole week has really melted into a pool of sleep-related goo, hasn't it? Don't get me wrong - so far, the whole getting-Bean-to-nap-in-a-more-consistent-way plan is going absolutely swimmingly. She's a natural, and there has been very little coercing Alice into anything, excepting keeping her awake longer than normal. And she's a trooper. So I have very little to complain about here. It's just... doesn't this whole Sleep Landscape just give you HIVES? I mean, there are some Very Big Opinions out there about baby sleep. REALLY BIG. And if you're not a mom, let me just tell you that if that time comes for you, you're going to hear a lot of these opinions. The CIO (cry it out), the Ferberizing (a dot on the spectrum of CIO), the attachment parenting model. And everything in between. It's a lot of information. A lot of opinion. A lot of experts telling you that you might ruin your kid if you don't do things their way. A lot of stuff to wade through until you get to the other side and think, I'm going to have to feel my way because no one (NO ONE) has the one single answer that is going to fit.

I should just come clean and tell you that I fall on the somewhat hippie free-wheeling end of the sleep spectrum. We co-slept until Bean was nearly five months old (and she slept in our bed, not even in the bassinet that we had set up in our room). We have practiced attachment parenting in all its glory: night feedings, baby wearing, and soothing baby to sleep. We have ignored our pediatrician every time she has told us that letting the baby cry herself to sleep was normal and was perfectly safe, if we could handle it. I don't think that anyone is the devil for doing this stuff themselves, I'm just saying that this wasn't for us.* Alice is a pretty sensitive little kid. And whatever, maybe every mom says this about her baby, but I'm standing by it: I'm a wee bit sensitive (you: REALLY?), as is Chip. So it would make sense that we have a little emotional bundle of joy. She's amazing and special. But she needs a little bit of finesse.

So here we are. With all my free-wheeling sensibilities I also know that things need to be done: house needs to be cleaned, work needs to be completed, meals prepared, showers taken. And for momma to do any of this, little baby girl needs her beauty rest. Which is why I'm trying to urge Alice into a more humane (to me, anyway) sleep pattern. So what do I do? What does any well-meaning, blogging, twenty-first century person do? She checks the internet. And then hits herself over the head with a shovel. Repeatedly. Because my goodness, the sheer VOLUME of opinion.

In the end, I've had to do what I've done when buying our digital camera or car. Set a limit. Do my research. And in the end, close my eyes and pick the one that feels best.

I'll let you know if any of the small parts get lost in the mail, okay?




*As disclaimery as a disclaimer can get: Whatever works for you. Your mileage may vary. I'm not going to judge. I don't want to set off any sort of sleep war over here at The Creamery because we're all too nice and civil for that, yes???? Let's just be friennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnds, regardless of our sleep theories!

report

Well that was.... easy. Like amazingly easy. Astoundingly easy. E-A-S-Y. It's like Bean had her own little baby network to clue her in to what I was planning. And she figured, I might as well just do this myself. We had three naps yesterday - of decent length. Alice was happy all. day. long. And she didn't cry. Even ONCE. We had a fantastic day. We played. We ate peas. We ate bananas. We laughed.

How weird is that? How AWESOME is that? How likely is it that we will have this same outcome today? I don't know. And I don't care. Because one amazing day is enough to fuel me for a few hard ones.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

we interrupt this week of 30 word posts for this message from whimsy

I have to tell you about something and it's going to take more than 30 words. But it's important. Like, MY BRAIN IS GOING TO MELT IMPORTANT.

Here's the thing: my child, the light and sweetness of my life, my dear dear cutie pie Alice is a wee bit on the, uh, strange side when it comes to naps. They're like, barely naps. They're snappers. They're napettes. They're the N without anything else. And they last, at best, THIRTY MINUTES. And she takes A LOT OF THEM. Like, FIVE. Yes, five naps a day. It's ridiculous. It's crazy. And it's sort-of, um, killing me softly (or not so softly, as the case may be). I found myself telling Chip the other day that I'm running on a hamster wheel that barely has time to reset itself: wake, play, feed, play, sleep - repeat repeat repeat five times. In the day.

So here's what I'm going to do, dear internets. I'm going to try to reset the whole darn thing and melt the 30-minute N's into full blown NAAAAAPS. Two of them, maybe three.

How am I going to do this, you ask? HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAA!!! (That's the universe laughing at me.) I'm going to try to just sort-of keep her awake for a couple of days. Okay - that sounds like I'm going to keep her awake continuously! But no! I mean, instead of putting her to sleep at her usual 3-hour intervals, I'm going to keep her awake past the 3-hour intervals for a couple of days, hoping her body will sleep longer when she does get a nap, and thereby get us onto a more normal system of 2 (or 3) naps each day.

I know that the next couple of days promise to be somewhat challenging, shall we say. And I know - WHY AM I DOING THIS INSANITY IN AN ADMITTEDLY ALREADY STRESSED OUT WEEK? Because I really need to get this settled. It's making me crazy. And Chip isn't doing any business travel this week, which means he's here for an extra set of Sane in the evening. And I hope that in the end we'll get little Alice Bean to invest in some nice chunky full-blown NAPPAGE.

What do you think? Any thoughts (besides CRAZY, cuz I know that already)? Has anyone out there ever tried to do something like this?

In the words of The Wife, pray for us sinners.