Archive for March 2011

Words are calling   Leave a comment

So for the last few nights I’ve felt the words calling me again.

When I was writing more regularly I would wake up in the middle of the night with the need to write. The words would run through my head, good stuff just asking to be written down. It was more like someone whispering in my ears rather than words I was thinking myself. I guess, that is why they call it a muse. 

I would want to write them down so I would not lose them… I mean, it was good stuff.

If I ignored it the words would almost become too much and I would feel like I had to write them down simply to make them stop going round and round in my head.

I know, crazy stuff. But writers are not always known for their grip on reality.

I haven’t heard that in a while. In the summer of 2009 I was on a roll, determined to finish my book I was writing every day. I made a big chunk out of it but the words weren’t flowing.  (Would have been nice if they were, I got so stuck somewhere in that damn book).

To be honest, I haven’t heard them in several years… I’ve been writing, sure, and some of it is even good, but I haven’t been awakened in the night with the pressing need to cleanse my mind of what is floating around in there.

The last week I have.

Lines from stores, descriptions of characters and just general images have been pressing behind my eyes and in my ears for the last week. Baby fatigue has often kept me in bed but this morning I just couldn’t stand it.

But the problem is that real life sets in. The moment I sit down at the computer to write reality sets in. My whole big list of “I shoulds.”

I should…. check my email.

I should… check on those bill payments.

I should…. write that person back.

I should…. update my blog.

Usually what happens is by the time I finish with even a few of these “shoulds” I have lost some or all of the words and certainly my time to write.

So,  I am going to try to stop that and always give myself 20 minutes or so to write before I get back to the demands of the real world. In this case I was trying to use this forum to loosen me up. I don’t think I’ve written my fiction in nearly a year….

I’m rusty to be sure.

Well…. off I go 🙂

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Posted March 28, 2011 by etainl in Arts & Crafts

Homemade Cereal   Leave a comment

Cereal.

Snap! Crackle! Ka-Ching!

I don’t know about your house but cereal is darn expensive! My husband can go through one or two boxes a week… and that isn’t counting the weeks that I partake.

And those stupid things are expensive!!! For the good stuff it can be 5 bucks a week. Which means theoretically we could be spending 40-50 bucks a month just on cereal!

So in my Miserly Moms book I was pleased to find a homemade cereal recipe to try!

Now I am frustrated to report that even though I carefully photographed every step of the process the photos seem to have vanished! I cannot find them…

So here goes without them….

Here is the official recipe:

Nonfat Granola

3/4 C brown sugar

1/3 C concentrated apple juice from frozen

1/2 C nonfat dry milk

1/3 C honey

5 C quick cooking oats

2 T cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 C dried fruit (your choice)

Mix sugar, juice, dry milk and honey in saucepan and heat over medium heat only until sugar dissolves.

Combine dry ingredients and fruit in mixing bowl.

Pour sugar mixture slowly over dry mixture and blend well.

Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10-20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

You can also add peanuts, sunflower seeds, coconut, sesame seeds, peanut butter, or whatever you like.

It comes out to 1.50 a pound or so whereas the store bought is 3.29 and up.

Here’s how it worked for me.

I purchased dried bananas because Steve loves those. I was a little skeptical on saving money because just the bananas cost like 4 bucks. But that package could probably make 6 or 7 batches of this stuff so it does still save money.

I automatically added a bit more honey because we like sweeter cereal.

I also put the dried banana in a bag and crushed them up so they weren’t so huge.

It smelled AWESOME! I was SO excited for Steve to try it.

And when he did he declared it…. bland.

I couldn’t believe it, I explained that it had apple juice and cinnamon and sugar in it. He shrugged. So I tried it and …. eh.

I wouldn’t go so far to say bland… and it does develop more flavor the longer it sits in the milk. But it is a very simple thing.

However, I will make it again with changes.

I have four ways of change in mind:

1. Same as before but with MORE bananas, honey and apple juice.

2. I love dried pineapple… and they are the perfect size to be in cereal… so I want to try that. Steve says he isn’t sure he’d like it but he’ll try.

3. I am going to make it with peanut butter added in. Melt it with the apple sauce step I think. Steve loves anything with peanut butter so maybe that will be good.

4. Aldi’s has these great trail mix or mixed fruit bags for a dollar. There are some with yogurt covered rasins etc… I thnk I’m going to try to make a batch with those. Thinking the vanilla yoghurt may melt off but the flavor will transfer to the oats…. could be good.

So we’ll see…. but in the meantime I’m still eating the homemade cereal… Steve gave up on it. And I kinda like it, although I do think there is room for improvement.

On a side note, save an oats container, it is the perfect recepticle for homemade cereal storage!

Posted March 25, 2011 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Food, Stay at Home Mom

My fuzzy babies   Leave a comment

So before LA got here we were blessed with two fuzzy babies.

Cera Bella ….aka Cera was a gift from my then boyfriend, now husband, when we had been dating about 4 months. Her estimated birthday is the same day as our first date. So she is exactly as old as we are. Cera came to us with some issues. She wobbled and bobbled as if she had Parkinsons. They told us that it was because she had been exposed to distemper in the womb and now had holes in her brain. Hence her name, it’s like taking Cerebellum (the part of her brain with the injuries) and making it beautiful.

She couldn’t walk on tile or wood, couldn’t go up stairs, couldn’t jump up on anything and threw up when she ate when we first got her. She was afraid of everyone… totally uninterested in people. Over time she warmed up… especially when she learned she could con treats from people. Over the summer when I took her swimming her disability faded. Most people don’t even notice the slight tremble in her legs anymore. She loses control sometimes in enthusiastic running and she still can’t jump up on things (it’s cute to watch her climb the couch though) but otherwise she’s great. We joke she has her momma’s eyes 🙂

Baxter was an unplanned puppy. During our first dog rescue he was one of the original 7 that was in danger of being put to sleep. When we came home he snuck in the house, placed himself under the dining room table and basically has never left! He trusted Steve and I instantly but had to be convinced about all others. There was obviously something wrong with him, he would pass out and slept all the time. His eyes would roll back into his head and he’d sway… but he still was determined to protect Steve and I from …. well, everyone! We had to hug strangers to let them in the house he was so convinced someone was going to hurt us.

We discovered that he had an advanced case of heartworm, we think this is why his former family dumped him. Many of his teeth were gone or broken and he was in bad shape. We decided he’d stay with his while he was treated and then go to a family. Well, by the time it was safe for him to find a home we were attached… he was ours.

Couldn’t imagine the family without him! He even jumped out a window to chase someone who broke into our house! Good boy!

Weezer is my silly cat. When I first moved out I decided I wanted a cat. I planned on getting an older female who needed me. But when I arrived I saw this tiny boy kitten who was sneezing. I overheard one of the workers saying that if he wasn’t adopted by the end of the day he would be put down, it was 30 minutes to closing. I hadn’t planned on adopting that day but I rushed home, got my ID and money and came home with Weezer, named for the band and his peculiar breathing. He was so sick I nearly lost him a few times but he pulled through. It used to be just the two of us and I think sometimes he resents the additional husband, doggies and baby but he’s still my boy. I think sometimes he thinks he’s really a dog because he loves to play fetch and wrestle with Cera.

They are my fuzzy babies.

They are family.

We were shocked when several people seemed to expect that we would find them other homes when LA arrived. I loved that one person asked Steve, “What will you do with the dogs when the baby arrives?”

To which he shrugged and said, “I don’t know… feed them?”

I love my husband!
It never crossed either of our minds that they would be anyplace other than with us.

They were so excited for the babies arrival! Well, the dogs were….Weezer approached the matter the way a spoiled eldest child would. He tried to sleep in the bassinet or crib whenever he could. I swear I half expected to peek in and see him wearing a baby bonnet to try to pass as a baby for more attention!

As soon as I hit the second trimester the dogs became my constant companions. They were convinced I should not be alone. Baxter went so far as to inspect the bathroom before cramming in there with Cera and me.

Steve joked about my little parade I had going whenever I moved around the house!

When we came home from the birthing center I sat on the couch with LA in her carseat. I said to Steve, “I wonder who they will follow now.”
Steve took LA into the bedroom and left me on the couch. Without hesitation Cera trotted after him. Baxter came over to me, gave me a good sniff over, kissed me and left…. as if to say, “You’re ok mom… I’m taking care of Baby.”

Now they divide their time. As I write Cera is laying on the floor and Baxter is asleep in front of LA’s crib where she is napping.

Cera acts like the little momma and Baxter the protective big brother. If you are holding LA in our house and she cries you can expect Baxter to come over to check it out… he even gives the evil eye which is hysterical.

My point of all of this is that I love my fuzzy babies. And I feel terrible because, inevitably, they have lost some of their spotlight.

Last March we began making homemade dog food for them. It was great… Cera lost weight. Baxter had more energy. We were thrilled with the results. But the effort of making dog food for two 60+ pound dogs was exhausting. I’m proud of myself for pushing through, even with a newborn.

But this past month I couldn’t do it.

When I gave them kibble again I nearly cried. The guilt was compounded by the fact that they both suffered all sorts of tummy upsets from the food… further convincing me of how bad it was for them.

I did some research and decided to try dehydrated dog food…. about the same price and same nutritional value but FAR less work for me.

I felt pretty good when the sales people looked at me in awe and wonder after learning I’d been making their food for a whole year, even with a newborn. Made me a feel a tad less guilty for calling it quits. They seem to like it although it smells to high heaven of garlic. I mean, I love garlic… I eat it pickled and roasted and there is hardly a dish in our house that is not prepared with at least a bit (it’s SO good for you) but WOW… a lot of garlic! But that’s good for their fleas so I’m ok with it.

Now I just need to get back in the swing of doing more with them. LA is old enough to bounce around outside so I can throw the ball for Cera (Baxter is far too dignified for such things). And the weather is nice for walks… soon it will be nice for us all to go to the pool.

I love watching them interact with LA. She loves them… reaches for them and laughs when they roll on the floor with her. Except of course Weezer who simply sits and stares… which means she is most fascinated with him!

We’ll see how they all fare when she starts crawling after them!

Posted March 24, 2011 by etainl in Life

The Sleep Game- success!! (kinda)   4 comments

Well, I have not updated anything concerning our sleeping situation. Mainly because she has been sleeping.

It seems the book is so powerful that simply owning it intimidates your child into sleeping properly again!

Maybe…

Actually, I think it was one of two things. Either it really was the starting of solid foods that upset her system and therefore her sleep pattern and now we have adjusted so we are back on track, actually even a bit better than before. Or the few suggestions from the book (The No Cry Sleep Solution) really made that much of a difference.

So just for the sake of argument… and in case I have to come back to it (because it could get bad again, who knows) I’m going to tell you what the book suggests and what we did.

The first step is to document your childs sleeping patterns, including naps. She also suggested writing down bedtime routine so you can see a pattern, or a lack thereof.

So while we were having problems I started:

11:45 am mostly to sleep while nursing, moved to crib while drowsy (as book suggested)

12- up

1 fell asleep in car

1:30 awake- 30 minute nap

5 fell asleep nursing

5:45 awake – 45 minute nap

7 eat dinner

7:30 bath and change into pj’s

8:15 nurse

8:30 cuddle to sleep

10 up, nurse 7 minutes

10:07 asleep

10:30 up, nurse to sleep 10 minutes

2- up, nurse 10 minutes to sleep

5:45 up- nurse to sleep 10 minutes

Gets in bed with mommy

awake at 9

Now this was actually a day when she was already improving

Here is yesterdays:

11:45 noticed signs of tiredness, nursed, checked diaper, read story and laid in crib… fell asleep on own

1- up, 1 hour 15 minute nap

4:30 signs of tiredness, checked diaper and nursed, grandma read story and laid in crib,…. fell asleep on own

5:15 up- 45 minute nap

9- nursed to sleep

12:30 up – nursed to sleep 10 minutes

6:30 up, nursed to sleep in bed with mommy

10 am awake

SO MUCH BETTER!

I think it is a combination of her system adjusting to the solids… and the changes we’ve made while I was reading.

Change 1- We have always tried naps and done the best we can, but she’s an erratic napper. One day it’s 45 minutes, the next it’s 3 hours! The book stresses that daytime sleep drastically affects night time sleep. So I’m trying to improve our naptimes. I took the books advice and at the very first sign of tiredness I begin a routine. Our naptime routine is to check diaper, nurse, read story and lie down. Previously I would have noted the first sign of tiredness and waited a bit more…. then nursed her in preparation for nap. Sometimes she’d fall asleep nursing, sometimes not. This way works better. And there is the added bonus of her putting herself to sleep with music going.

The problem we still have is that she usually only sleeps 45 minutes. Occasionally I squeek a bit more from her but that seems to be her cap. According to the book this is when her cycle comes back to light sleep and I should try to help get her back into deep sleep without her becoming fully awake. Theoretically she’ll learn to do this on her own. The idea is that around her usual wake up time, in our case 45 minutes in, I hover nearby. When she starts to stir I do whatever works to soothe her back to sleep. In our case, this would probably be to slide the binky back into her mouth where it has fallen out during deep sleep.

I have tried this… I always seem to miss my window of opportunity. The one day I hovered from 30 minutes in to an hour she woke up 5 minutes after I left the room again! So we’ll keep working on this one.

Change 2- Starting a bedtime routine. This one is hard for us because our evenings are rarely the same. Steve gets home at different times. He likes to try to do things with her like feed her etc. We’re trying to make a routine. I’m trying to be consistent about getting into PJ’s, a little massage with lotion, a story or two, a lullaby and then getting in bed to nurse to sleep.

Change 3- Introducing a lovey. She suggests getting a little blanket animal that complies with safety and introducing it as a lovey. Kind of choosing one for her until she’s old enough to choose her own. The book said to sleep with it for a few nights so it smells like mommy. Then we nursed with it between us so she associated it with nursing and smelled like milk. Then it would become something to cuddle with when Mommy wasn’t there. Well, this had mixed results. One nap I came in to find her clutching it and I thought “Yay! She loves it!” But pretty much the rest of the time she ignores it. So I’m not sure if I should try a different lovey or sleep/nurse with it more.

Honestly those are as far as I got suggestion wise. Right now the book is just sitting off to the side. I need to keep reading because I’m sure something like teething or a growth spurt will set us back again. But right now I’m happy 🙂

Yay Sleep!

PS I wrote this last Thursday and forgot to hit post…. will have to update again lol

Letting go   2 comments

Is it wrong that I’m mourning the passing of LA’s infant time already?

One of my friends was commenting that the next six months offer so many exciting changes- crawling, talking, and walking to name a few. And, while I am excited, I also am sad. I love my little baby… the cuddles, the needing me, the babbles, her awe of the world.

It’s going to be hard to let that go.

Am I the only mommy who feels sad to see a stage passing? I know with my head I’ll love the next stage too- I AM looking forward to her first words, talking and all of that…. but right now I just want to freeze her.

I completely understand now what my mom always used to say. She used to tell me that she wanted to freeze a version of me at every age… I used to laugh and tell her there would be too many of me running around. But I know I understand and I’d be happy to fill my house with little versions of LA 🙂

I just read about another woman who was saying that she wishes you could bottle those moments of cuddles, smiles, and sounds to go back and revisit when you have hostile teenagers or just when you want to remember the sweet moments. It’s a shame we can take a picture or a video but we can’t capture the way those chubby arms feel when they wrap around your neck or when those hands lovingly pat your face as they drift off to sleep.

Posted March 11, 2011 by etainl in Celebrations and Milestones, Life, Mommy-hood, New Mom

The Sleep Game- part two   3 comments

So since writing my first blog she did much better. She went back to her two or three a night wake up rather than every two hours.

Much appreciated.

So I made an observation about her naps. Usually her naps last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Ocassionally, on rare occasions they will go a couple of hours.

This past Monday I was so exhausted that after I did some chores I laid down to take a nap too. Well after about 20 minutes she woke up. In a sleepy haze I pulled her from her crib and laid in bed with her praying that she would give me five more minutes (ironically the reverse of the stereotypical “Mom! five more minutes please.”) To my surprise she cuddled up and slept for another 90 minutes! It was blissful!

On Tuesday she took about 30 minutes of nap on her own. When she woke up I laid back down with her for a bit… in the name of science. She fell back asleep and slept for another hour. I then had to get up and go to my part time job. I gently scooped her up and put her in her car seat, expecting her to wake up any moment. To my surprise she slept another hour!

This encourages me but also tempts me to just pull her into bed with me at night so I can sleep.

To top it off she slept better Tuesday night and Wednesday night when she had better naps.

Up to this point it’s hit or miss. My pediatrician recommended that I try not to nurse her every waking, just once or twice. That’s great… and sometimes that works but sometimes she is determined to nurse. And she cries. If she were in a different bedroom I could try other things- singing, her music, etc but since she’s in the same room with Daddy it’s a variable that just won’t work.

Another variable is the dogs. Whenever I get up to just give her the pacifier and soothe her back to sleep I will creep back to bed congratulating myself. But since the dogs (and sometimes the cat) heard me get up they bounce all over. Their nails make skittering noises on the hardwood and wake her back up. And I lose.

I just have felt so frustrated because I feel like with sleep there are two options- A. the cry it out method. I know lots of people swear by it. I know I do not want to be manipulated and I know children learn to do that but I don’t think she is yet. I know it can be effective and it can be lovingly used. I have also heard of parents who seem to use it so heartlessly I don’t know how they do it.  I realize it may be a necessity but I’d prefer to avoid it if I can.

And B. The Your Baby Calls the Shots and You’ll Sleep when She’s Ready method. I’m sure I don’t have to explain why this one isn’t working for us.

I just felt that there has to be a middle road for this. And if it is there I want to find it.

So as a teacher a few weeks ago I searched the internet for book suggestions. I found “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” and bought it. It arrived on Friday and I’m in the midst of reading it. So far it sounds good. I’m hopeful….

I’m going to follow her tips and see how it goes and I’ll document it here 🙂

Posted March 10, 2011 by etainl in Mommy-hood, New Mom

The Sleep Game   Leave a comment

I wanted to call this post the Sleep War… but that seems really hostile. And I don’t want to feel hostile. I want to savor this time I have with my daughter. I love nursing her. I love the closeness and how her body melds to mine. I love her little soft sighs and the noises she makes.

I love how in the middle of the night it seems to be just the two of us cuddled close in the dark. I truly love lying in bed with her in my arms, looking over to see Steve asleep and to think “This is my family and I am so blessed.”

Of course, this is how I feel when LA sleeps more than a few hours at a time. When she is up every one to three hours my thought process goes more like, “LA… what are you doing to me? I are you trying to kill mommy? We will so not be able to do walks tomorrow if you don’t let mommy sleep! Without sleep you won’t like mommy very much.” And other various unpleasantness.

I hold her in a sleepy haze and I don’t enjoy it as much as I want to.

At around 2 months of age LA started sleeping 3-4 hours a night and by 3 months she was going 5-7 hours. As outlined in another post she would go to bed about 9 or 10 and sleep until 1 or 2 then she would wake up for about 15 minutes and then sleep until 4 for another feeding. Around 7 she would wake to get in bed with me and then sleep until 11 or 12.

That was going pretty steady until around her five month mark. Her period of sleep stayed similar but before when she would often skip one of her night feedings she was hitting them all. Also, before I could give her a binky occasionally and convince her to go back to sleep that would not happen now… it was nurse or nothing.

Then last week hit. We started LA on solid foods. Now, everyone has been advising Steve and I to give her a little cereal or solids…. “To make her sleep better.” I had read in a ton of books that this advice wasn’t true…. but I was hoping it was.

So the first night we went to bed and I waited. Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that I would not wait long. LA woke up nearly every 2 hours and demanded to nurse. She seemed a little gassy than usual so I thought that in the excitement she had swallowed more air than usual and was a bit uncomfortable. It has now been a whole week and she is still sleeping in 2-3 hour blocks and she will not be pacified with a binky.

I’m tired. The best sleep I get is when she gets in bed with me around 6 30 and then sleeps until about 9 30…. but since we can’t really have her sleep with us I feel like it would be a bad precedent to do this more than we already do.

I don’t think she’s teething although it is possible that she is experiencing a growth spurt.

My other concern is that I’m not making enough milk so that she needs more at night… this may be irrational but it’s what I’m worried about.

But I think my best guess is that she’s getting to the age where she has opinions about things. Strong opinions. And one of these opinions is that she wants to be close to mommy at night. And while this is flattering and I love it too…. mommy needs sleep.

The other night I tried for about 20 minutes to get her to sleep without nursing because I knew she wasn’t hungry. I tried patting her, singing to her, rubbing her back… at one point she reached down and patted me back as if to say “Oh is this the game we are playing?” I thought I might be able to slightly win this round if I could nurse her to near sleep before laying her down.

So I nursed her until she was almost there and then laid her down. She rolled onto her side like she usually does before settling into sleep. I slid into bed and prayed. It lasted about ten minutes before I heard her cry out…. this round to her!

I’m hoping things go better this week as she adjusts to solid food… but if not I have a plan! (I hope!)

Enjoying our first feeding…

Posted March 9, 2011 by etainl in Life, Mommy-hood, Sickness & Health