Sunday, December 29, 2013

Digging Through The Thoughts of Past Me

I have found my old online journal. I have also found my husband's old online journal. We were both writing at the time, blissfully unaware of each other's existences. 

At the turn of the year 2005, both Smiley and I took the same online questionnaire that was presumably all the rage across the internet back then. I thought it would be interesting to check out what we said. (My answers will be in green and Smiley's answers will be in red.)

Both surveys start out asking about our names and screennames. Boring! Let's get to the exciting stuff!


I said:
1. I can sing fairly well
2. I'm good at DDR
3. I'm good at leading groups and organizing stuff

Smiley said:
1. my outgoiness and ability to make poepel comfortable around me
2. my confidence
3. the great friends i've managed to get

 This question is great. Here we see that I like the fact that I can "lead groups" and "organize stuff." Who knows what the heck I was organizing, but I felt like I was doing good enough at it to brag on the internet about it. Out of my three responses, I'm not sure I'd put any of them up there were I to fill out this questionnaire once more.

Meanwhile, Smiley sticks to making "poepel" comfortable around him. I thought about editing these responses for spelling and grammar, but boy would that be boring! His three responses are right in line with the Smiley I know.


I said:
1. Big bugs
2. Being alone
3. Scary movies =p

Smiley said:
1. snow
2. ice
3. bad literature

Well, it would figure that both of us listed first the one thing that we would have to deal with should we someday meet over World of Warcraft and decide to spend the rest of our lives together. I stated that big bugs scare me and there are plenty of those down here in Florida! I guess I had to move to Florida though because Smiley listed that he was afraid of both snow AND ice. Perhaps if I had listed big bugs and ridiculously hot and humid summers AND an annoying lack of sidewalks, we'd be up in Illinois.


I said:

1. Glasses or contacts
2. My purse
3. Taking a shower every day

Smiley said:
1. motorcyle
2. schrade multitool
3. toothbrush 

I know, I know. These responses are REALLY boring. But I enjoy the reminder that I used to wear contacts in a different life and I'm trying to remember the last time I've showered two days in a row. (To be honest, that's partially because I've found that I actually feel cleaner showering every other day and partially because holy crap small babies are time consuming.)

It kills me that Smiley lists "toothbrush" as an everyday essential along with his multitool and motorcycle. It doesn't feel like a lowly toothbrush belongs on that list. 


I said:

1. Stop biting my nails
2. Live peacefully with my mom
3. Get better at DDR ^^ 

Smiley said:
1. possibly alcohol on my 21st
2. probably get an xbox and join the ranks of the evil masses
3. my standup act again

I'm going to break this down, line by line. No, I haven't stopped biting my fingernails. Sorry past me. I no longer bite my nails so much that they bleed, if that's any consolation. But when I'm bored or anxious, all bets are off.

Those who know me in the present day may be surprised to know that I had a tough time getting along with my family while I was in high school. It was a bad case of "being a teenager and not having perspective." I don't think it got much better in 2005, but I did get better at it as I grew older.

Yeah, I'm pretty awesome at DDR now.

Smiley assures me that at this point in time, he had never drank alcohol. So that's something we had in common in 2005.

I'm told that he did, in fact, get an xbox.

Smiley continues to approach life with his trademark method of "not taking anything seriously, ever," but he has not segued into a successful standup career as of this posting date.


I said:
1. Teacher
2. Writer
3. erm... stay at home mom? ^^;;

Smiley said:
1. psychology
2. real estate development
3. real estate sales

I only included this because you might be wondering what the heck "^^;;" means. Well, it's a smiley face with giant anime-style sweatdrops. In other words, it means I was embarrassed and/or amused to suggest that I might consider staying at home with children some day. Silly past me.


I said:
1. Get married and have a family ^^
2. Learn to knit more than just a scarf
3. Get over my fear of death. ^^;;

Smiley said:
 1. break the sound barrier on a motorcycle
2. become a known name everwhere (IE celebrity status)
3. take over hosting duty on the daily show 

These are all some legit goals, people! I knew from a young age that family would be really important to me. And knitting, apparently. I used to knit, but I literally couldn't do anything except make scarves of varying lengths and sizes. My biggest accomplishment was making scarves with two alternating colors.

I remain fearful of death.

Smiley dreamed big. I think that he could accomplish all of this in one go, if he plays his cards right. Presumably when I am reading through this entry ten years from now, I will be inspired to let you all know how it goes.

Smiley said:
1. chronos
2. methos
3. syus


This is a bonus question! I apparently did not answer it or deleted it, because I don't have a corresponding response. But we see here that even in 2004, Smiley was dedicated to naming his kids after the Highlander show's four horsemen of the apocalypse. I'm honestly surprised he didn't list all four names even though it only asked for three, because Smiley plays fast and loose with The Man's rules. I'm not surprised that he spelled Silas's name wrong.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy Belated Christmas, Happy Belated Boxing Day and Happy Early New Years!

I'm beginning to think that I will never, ever sleep again. But it's ok. I rediscovered my old Livejournal and I apparently complained about not sleeping a lot back then too, so I guess I'm technically used to this and all.

Silas surprised us with a "Christmas miracle" and slept from 10pm to 6:30am. Let me backtrack a little to the start of that evening. Silas hadn't napped for even an hour earlier in the day and he was tired. It was almost six and he seemed as though he would crash if I waited until seven to put him to bed.

So, with the fear in my heart that he would wake up around eight and want to play for four hours, I put Silas to sleep around six. He fell asleep easily, no crying or anything. Then we waited.

Smiley and I played a game of Age of Empires II while we waited. I don't think that was part of the reason that Silas slept so well, but it was quite nice to sit down and play a game with my husband. I hadn't logged into my Steam account in over four hundred days, which makes sense - Silas is just over four hundred days old, and I've barely had time to shower regularly, let alone play video games that take longer than Words With Friends.

Around ten, Smiley and I were getting ready to go to bed, when I heard Silas cry. I felt crushed. I had been so hopeful that the early bedtime would somehow carry him through the night, but then I realized that I had made the decision to put Silas to sleep so early that he hadn't eaten a real dinner, only a snack! Though he had a larger than normal lunch, I figured perhaps he was simply a bit hungry.

I went into his room and quietly nursed him back to sleep, thinking that this was it. I was going to be waking up every two hours for the rest of the evening. Silas went back to sleep without much of a fuss.

Shortly after, Smiley and I also went to sleep. And then, we woke up to Smiley's alarm.

I turned over in bed, pulling the covers over my ears while Smiley turned off his alarm and turned to look over at me.

"Is Silas in bed with us?" he asked, patting the covers to see if Silas was curled up between us.

"No," I said, as I slowly became more awake. I realized that I didn't have any memories of going to Silas's crib and bringing him back into our room. Just to be sure, I glanced by the side of our bed; no, Silas wasn't there either. "No, he's still in his crib," I said.

Before I could tell Smiley to go check to make sure Silas was still alive, I heard him move in his room, and then I heard him start to chat with his stuffed animal. Silas was alive and well rested!

Sadly, when I attempted to replicate these results the next night, I had no such luck. Silas took a longer afternoon nap, so I adjusted the bedtime back to 6:30, and while he did sleep until ten again, he did not sleep well after a nighttime nursing.

But - as I am an eternal optimist, I still have hope. Yes, he woke up a lot the past two nights, but he has been fighting a cold. The runny nose and congestion are enough to make me think that perhaps, just maybe, once the cold is over, he will start to sleep better.

I know, I know.


(But we'll still see.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Laundry Surprise

I don't know how you do it, but Smiley and I have our dog's cage set up in our closet. We don't have a walk in closet, but we do have small dogs.

The other day, our dog Sherlock coughed up a hairball or something; he threw up in the cage overnight. It smelled icky, so I had Smiley clean it up. Later during the day, when I was hanging up a shirt, I noticed that the whole closet still seemed to smell.

"Didn't you clean the dog's cage?" I asked, and Smiley nodded. He gestured towards the roll of paper towels and the cleaning supplies that he had brought into the room. I could see the used paper towels in our trash can.

So, I started snooping around in our closet, wondering if Smiley's fear of Sherlock peeing out of the cage came true at some point. What I found was, perhaps, worse.

A box of belts that I had in the closet revealed that some of the belts were starting to grow mildew. And then I realized that was what the smell was. A quick sniff of some of the clothes folded on the shelves agreed with my realization.  Friggen everything was slowly starting to get mildew in our closet, except for the shirts that we used most often.

As I type this, I have my tenth load of laundry running. I never realized how many clothes I have stored in the closet that I never wear, but even if I wanted to donate them, I'd still need to wash them first. (Let's not discuss my problem with donating clothes; I have a hard time getting rid of clothes that I spent money on or that other people spent money on for me, even if I never, ever wear them. What happens if one day I completely change my mind and want to wear them and then I have to buy them again because I got rid of them? Nope, can't do it.) They all smell horrible. They all need to be cleaned.

I am learning that "hand wash only" is really just code for "put it in the washer anyhow on the gentle cycle because I don't have time to hand wash all of this stuff." I also need a second drying rack, because there is one rule I don't mess around with and that's "line dry only." I've seen too many shrunken or disfigured clothes in my day. My current little drying rack is doing its best, covered in old dresses, belts, handmade t-shirts and more.

Plus, I need to search the internet to figure out how to remove mildew from shoes, if that's even possible.

I guess this all started when I decided I would save money by keeping our air conditioning usage down during the summer. Florida's humidity and high temperatures have shown me that was a stupid way to save money. So yes, on the one hand, I'm glad that I have only had to run my heat a few days this year so far. On the other hand, my clothes are all mildewy and that's disgusting. All I'm saying, Florida, is can't you try to keep the humidity and heat down just a tad during the summer? Thanks.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Just Waiting

This month seems to be dragging on and on, which is crazy, right? The holidays are hectic and full of fun, but at the same time, I keep seeing the date each day and going, "Really? It's only the 15th?" It feels like it should be at least Christmas Eve by now.

I have a feeling that time will be passing slowly for a few months now as I wait to hear whether or not I'm accepted into an accelerated nursing program. I won't know until mid-March, so this slow motion time passing will probably stick around until then.

This year is Silas's second Christmas. He had a lot of "First" holidays last year, but was much too young to really interact with them. This year has been a lot of fun as he's enjoyed playing with the Christmas tree, playing with our (unbreakable) ornaments, putting his toys in the tree, and - my favorite part - waking up every morning and walking out to the tree and pointing at it until I plug the lights in. So cute!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tis The Season... find out if I can successfully bring home a Christmas tree in the car with Silas.

The answer is, yes.

I no longer have my dear Sebring, but I guess it's for the best, as this would have been an impossible task. In our new car, I can put down two of the seats and move Silas's carseat to behind the driver's seat. That way, the tree fit in on an angle through the trunk and I got to see Silas point and smile at the visible tree top on the drive home.

Actually picking out the tree was fun too. I had to steel myself to walk right past the more expensive, taller trees and we headed to the 5-6 foot section. I'm not a huge fan of the tree shopping here in Florida, because my northern upbringing insists that I shouldn't be able to wear sandals while picking out a Christmas tree, but it was almost eighty degrees out, so here we are!

Silas liked looking at all the different trees, and I pulled out a few from the piles to show him, spinning them around while he clapped and smiled and pointed at the bald spots. The one I ended up getting was, of course, the one that he seemed to smile the most at. Now, I had Silas in a shopping cart seat, because while he can walk, he does not quite understand how to stay near me yet. I debated grabbing an employee to come get the tree for me, since I didn't think I could carry the tree and push the cart at the same time.

But, I decided I should at least give it a try first. So I lifted up the tree and put it in the cart (remember, I was at the 5-6 ft section, so it's not like this was a mega tree or anything). I pushed the cart in a short test run and nothing fell over, so I brought the tree to the front of the store, getting only a few odd looks.

My favorite part was when an older lady came into look for a small tree and Silas started waving "Hello!" to her. Waving hello is Silas's newest skill, and she smiled and waved back at him and stopped to chat for a bit, telling me about her granddaughter who was also starting to wave hello. I really love being able to share these sort of conversations with strangers. It's a lot of fun, and I like seeing the pride that parents and grandparents take in their children come through in conversation.

The store employee at the front only seemed mildly hesitant when I said I wanted to put the tree in the back of my car. I'm sure they've put many trees in smaller cars though, and indeed, it was no problem to fit the small fir tree into the trunk of the car.

I think that the hardest part of the day was trying to stand the tree up and secure it in the base all by myself once we got home, while Silas did his best to "help." The tree only fell over once during this process (obviously I kept it from going towards Silas; thank goodness for small, "easy-to-handle" trees) and when it was set up straight, decorating with Silas was fun.

First, he tried to suck on the Christmas lights, because I have the slightly larger teardrop style lights. After I put an end to that, he started trying to unwind the lights once I put them on the tree. I gave him the plastic ball ornaments to unpack, and he set to this task vigorously. I had gotten the non-breakable ornaments three years back, before I even had a Silas to think about, and I'm glad I did. They might not shine as nicely as glass ornaments, but I do appreciate the peace of mind that if Silas grabs a hold of one roughly, he won't end up with shards of glass everywhere.

All in all, the bottom of the tree is already a mess from Silas checking everything out. He had to pull the lights and garland and the bottom branches. But he seems to have accepted that this tree is now just part of our household decoration and he's MOSTLY leaving it be. Now that I've written that, I can only imagine what he will do when he wakes up tomorrow.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It only SEEMS like I've disappeared

Between finishing out the school semester, NaNoWriMo, and a Thanksgiving trip up to visit my parents, I really don't have time to be writing this.

But here I am, anyhow.

So let me overshare with this story of toddlers and their bodily functions.

The trip from my house to my parent's house is a 15-16 hour drive, plus time to stop and take care of Silas's needs. The last two times I've made the trip, each way has been 18 hours long. Travel days are long days, is what I'm getting at.

Silas does remarkably well on the trip. He is content to listen to books all day, as long as he gets to stretch his legs every two hours or so by searching for sticks outside at rest stops. And since there are long stretches of road that aren't super well-lit, Silas also falls asleep fairly readily in the evening.

We had been driving all day, leaving my parent's house in the morning and merrily making our way back south. It was now about eight in the evening and we had finally broken through Tennessee into Alabama. We stopped to grab some dinner and to take a bathroom break.

I brought a sleepy Silas into the bathroom and looked for the changing station, which was located inside the handicapped stall at the end of the room. Cool. I got Silas onto the table and took off his diaper, which was surprisingly dry given how red his poor baby bottom was.

I thought for a moment, willing my car trip addled brain to use logic and reason. The issue at hand was that we still had over eight hours of driving to go, and I didn't want Silas screaming because of a bad diaper rash. I didn't have any diaper rash cream or baby powder on hand because I had left them up at my parent's house by accident. As anyone who has tended to a small child in diapers knows, that left the option of letting him air out for a few minutes. (Or, I guess, stopping to buy it at a drugstore, but that only seems obvious now.)

The problem came to a head when I thought to myself, "Oh well, I'll kill two birds with one stone by letting him walk around in the handicapped stall, diaper-free, for a bit."

You know how something seems so reasonable in your mind and then reality sets in? Truth be told, I've let Silas go bare-bum around our house every so often, and I could count the number of accidents he's had during those times on one hand.

This turned out to be the time that left me needing two hands to count the accidents. As soon as I set him down, Silas took note of the bathroom drain on the tile floor. He pointed at it, and then promptly peed on it. I watched in surprise and shock and then shook my head in disbelief.

"Ok," I said aloud, "Well, let's wipe that up and let the lady at the counter know that they should probably mop or something. And yeah, I guess it's good that you kind of understand that pee should, uh, go down a drain or something?"

Then Silas walked over to the door of the bathroom stall, and peed again on the floor, as if to say that he heard what I said and wanted to show me that I was incorrect. I could see why his diaper had been so dry.

You might be thinking that the smart idea here would have been to grab Silas and diaper him up before cleaning the bathroom floor. I make no excuses for myself, as I simply didn't think to do that at the time. Instead, I put Silas over on the other side of the floor and started grabbing wipes to clean up after him, putting my priority at cleaning up the symptoms rather than fixing the source.

So of course, Silas wandered over to the toilet and then peed on it too. (Had I taken him on too many walks with the dogs? Did he now think he had to leave his scent everywhere?)

Oh, hindsight.

In any case, you'll be happy to know that 1) Silas's air time did prevent diaper rash and he slept mostly peacefully for the rest of the trip and 2) I cleaned up the restroom floor as best I could and then went over to the register and told them what happened (albeit an abridged version) so they could mop up with better chemicals than wet wipes and tons of toilet paper.

A few closing thoughts - I've recently learned that pretty much everything I post online seems to be on one list or another of "things that no one wants to read about." Whoops. I thought this seemed like a funny story, but as we learned above, it's not good to trust my judgement.

I need to find a better way to get from Florida to Illinois and back again. Planes are so expensive, but the time-consuming drive is not much better. Just gotta keep holding out for portal technology, I guess.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What Would I Say? Part One

What Would I Say? (if you don't know) analyses your Facebook past and attempts to emulate you, with mixed (and hilarious) results. It's kind of addicting, because for every ten random statuses that make no sense, you end up getting some sort of a gem that tickles your funny bone in odd and different ways. And so you start clicking again. And again.

The website gives you a chance to post the statuses directly to Facebook, but rather than clog up people's newsfeeds, I'm going to share some of my favorites with you here. I think this will be done in multiple parts, because I'm finding some common themes that run through these statuses.

So let's get to it!

Today's Theme Is: Well, I Guess I'd Say That?

Alright, DaniBot, update my status for me:

"And I've had sudden overwhelming urges to nap in a temporary quiet state." -DaniBot

Hmm. Ok. Well, this status isn't a lie; I certainly have had urges to nap due to the fact that Silas still wakes up at least twice a night. But do I really need to be so specific? I guess I have to distinguish from my urges to nap in a permanent quiet state? Maybe I have a subconscious desire to nap in a temporary loud state.

Let's try again. Go for it, DaniBot!

"Driving for 17 hours is as nice as a full night's sleep." - DaniBot

Oh dear. I think DaniBot is just outright mocking me now.

"Silas is excited to play minesweeper and freecell for me." -DaniBot

This has my favorite combination of elements from the What Would I Say experience - it combines perfectly mundane parts of my life in new and exciting ways. Not that Silas is mundane, but I do talk about him a lot. And I also play minesweeper and freecell a lot. But to think that I'd be bragging about how excited Silas is to be playing those games for me? It's like a peek into a very scary and sad future.

"I think my creativity ran away." - DaniBot

Hitting me where it hurts, DaniBot cycled through this potential status update SIX times. Now, let's not focus on how many times I may or may not have pressed the "generate status" button for a moment. (It is literally hundreds, if not thousands, of times.) Let's focus rather on the fact that, given access to all of my thoughts on Facebook, this cold and calculating machine analyzed everything and decided to confirm one of my worst fears.

Then again, rather than come up with my own content, I guess I am relying on a website to generate potential humor for me to talk about. Well played, DaniBot. Well played.

Part Two to follow!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What is "extended" breastfeeding like?

It's no secret that I'm a fan of promoting breastfeeding. (At least, I hope it's not a secret, because then I need to talk to my PR department.)

Here are some more (rambling) thoughts.

My Favorite Breastfeeding Moments

Sadly, this moment is now just a memory. But in the past, when Silas used to fall asleep nursing, he would enter this stage of being mostly asleep, but j-u-ust awake enough to continue nursing. Then he would fall asleep completely, without my noticing.

Then, he would laugh in his sleep.

Look, you know that if you like baby laughter, it is the sweetest sound ever. Well, when a baby laughs because he is in a deep sleep and he still happens to be cuddled up to you, it adds a wonderful touch of surrealism to make it a perfect moment.

Now if I want Silas to laugh while he nurses, I can just make a funny noise and he will crack up. Everything is funnier to him when he is nursing, for some odd reason!

Why nurse past a year?

Some babies initiate weaning on their own, sometime around their first birthday. After all, ever since they received their first bite of solid food, a baby is on his or her path to weaning. And, let me tell you, that path can be very different for each baby. In Silas's case, he still loves to nurse. And nursing still is a wonderful experience for me.

So you can pick and choose whatever reasons you want to nurse past a year. If it's working for baby and for mom, then I don't need to bore you with World Health Organization guidelines or anything like that; just go with the flow. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Writing About Some More Writing

Today I'm discussing what happens when I write my characters and realize that they want different things than I do.

So you've created some characters and set them loose in a fun, vibrant environment (erm, the environment will be another post, I'm sure) and now you want to get to the Big Plot Points you had envisioned. If you're better than me, you might have even written down these points in some form or another of an outline.

My problem is that sometimes, my characters don't want to do that. As I write scene after scene, trying to push them into a specific corner, they squirm and wiggle their way into different rooms, sometimes sprinting down hallways of ideas I can't see. (And then I have to be cautious, because I'm afraid of the unknown.)

Does that make me a bad writer if I can't control my characters?

I don't think it does. (Of course I don't think it does!) I just happen to prefer to write character-driven plot more than action-driven plot. There's nothing wrong with either form. But to me, it feels much more organic to step back and observe what my characters do in a situation rather than force them to do what I want them to.

I don't think it makes me a bad writer, but I think it means I have to be aware of pacing and making sure that I cut out superfluous scenes. I think it means I have to make sure my environments have interesting elements to interact with and I have to occasionally nudge my characters to explore their own personalities.

I think this all goes back to what I said a little bit ago about how I need to allow more time to pass in my writing. Although I am perfectly content to read about the ins and outs of my characters day after day, not everyone will feel the same way. By forcing myself to use time leaps (sorry, maybe they have a fancy name that I don't know the phrase for), I've been forcing myself to imagine what has happened in the interim time instead of writing down every time the main character has trouble falling asleep.

I'm pretty sure that's helping me balance my characters with a little bit of action. We'll find out.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thanks, everyone!

Thanks to my friends, family and an army of dedicated spambots, my little slice of the internet has now received 10,000 pageviews.

Never mind that it's only taken me three years to accomplish this, never mind that many sites see that sort of traffic before people have poured their morning coffee, never mind that spambots seriously account for more than half of those views - mostly, I'm just happy that I've somewhat routinely updated a site for this long. I'll probably keep doing it, mostly because I'm really, really good at writing words down and hoping that people like them.

Here's some party hats, guys! When I first started blogging, I didn't have a clue that in three years, I would be having a baby and going back to school. I don't really re-read what I write, so maybe one day it will be fun to go back and see how that transition played out in my writing. (I suspect that I just like the IDEA of being able to go back and read about my life.)

Hopefully in three more years, I'll be a nurse, and have another kid (or two).

I guess I'll just have to wait and see how it turns out.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Totally Giddy - Will it Last?

Like a teenager in a first relationship, I am over the moon with my NaNo Novel so far. We've only really known each other for three days, but I feel like it's been forever. I mean, we just get each other. When I want to write a scene, my NaNo Novel is ready for me. It's encouraging me to keep writing. It's letting me know that, sure, yeah, I'm a little cheesy, but I'm having fun.

I want to stay up late writing. (Yeah, ok, "late" means ten pm.)

This is so completely different from last year.

Last year, I literally could not write. I distinctly remember trying to think of a plot for a story, and failing so hard that I thought for sure I was never going to be creative again. This year, it's like all of that potential creativity waited for me all along!

For the first time, I tried doing "word sprints" tonight. That's where you set a timer and then write as many words as possible during that time (no, you can't just write the same sentence over and over again. I'm looking at you, Jack Torrence!).

I set a timer for ten minutes. The first time, I wrote 584 words. The next time I wrote 632 words in ten minutes. I was happy about at least 80% of those words. You guys, I need to take a moment, because I'm pretty sure I'm just gushing about myself. It's embarrassing, really.

It's just nice to create things. And though what I'm creating is far from perfect, for once it feels like the story in my head is actually materializing on the screen in front of me. That's a new experience for me with my own characters. (I consider fanfiction to be a perfectly fine way to write, but it is a different animal to work with other people's creative property.)

So far, I have gotten off to a good start. I have 8423 words written, which will hopefully tide me over as I tackle my next round of schoolwork tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll try to keep my ridiculous moods to myself.


Entrenched in Writing

Since November started, I have gotten off to a good start on my NaNo Novel. I'm currently ahead on schoolwork, so I'm able to write during Silas's naps. However, this coming week, I am back to studying new topics, so I don't know how I will continue. We'll see.

I have another area of my writing that I know I need to work on, and I've decided to work on that in this novel as well. And that issue is the flow of time. I really, really like to show EVERYTHING. I don't know how to step back and leave part of a day unwritten. This is somewhat related to my annoyance with books that skip large periods of time; I'm pretty sure it's a personal problem and not due to bad writing. But, I just can't stand it. I hate that books and movies can just show a climatic scene and then cut to something else. I hate it because in real life, when something happens, people have to deal with it and then continue dealing with it.

Maybe this just means I have a problem with letting go of things. But here's an example. A character will make a BIG REVEAL about something, and then we cut to three days later. I can't stand it. What happened directly after the BIG REVEAL might not be as dramatically exciting, but it really kills my suspension of disbelief to think that no one else would have a problem with waiting three days to actually discuss what happened.

Again, I dunno. I will look for some more concrete examples later, but I have to go back to noveling now. And despite my rant above, I will be working hard to pick and choose the moments of time that I show, rather than just describe every minute of the day. (For example, in my first NaNo Novel, the 50,000+ words I wrote describe what happens in the course of one and a half days. Oh boy.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baby Small Talk

Yeah, I'm double posting this morning because I don't understand how to wait and dole out content in reasonable intervals.

Due to Sila's one year check up and a sudden and awful case of mastitis for me, I found myself at the doctor's office a couple of times these past few weeks and I quickly found myself having the same few conversations with the people I talked to. Baby small talk is not that different from commenting about the weather; every baby is similar enough that you have a common understanding of what words will come up in the conversation and every baby is different enough that you will feel like you are talking about Florida weather to someone who's only ever known Midwestern weather.

1. The Teeth Conversation

Silas smiles a lot. I'm happy about this; he's a regular Smiley Jr. The downside to his smile is that he reveals a mouthful of teeth. Which starts the exchange, almost every time:

"Oh, what a lot of teeth! How old is he?" said with a curious expression.

"He's about a year old now."

"Oh, my baby is almost one and has only has two teeth!" said with a slight frown, as if they were hoping for more teeth by now.

Don't you worry! I've got the statistics memorized. Most babies don't start teething until about 6 months, but can easily wait until eight, ten or twelve months to come up with that first tooth. All normal. Some babies will get one or two teeth at a time, others will cut a mouthful in a month. Still normal.

I try to suggest that perhaps it will be easier on them since when Silas started teething, I couldn't get him to hold a teething toy. Instead, he preferred to chew on my shoulder; nature's most ergonomic teether for a small baby, I suppose! I hope I don't come across as patronizing, because I know Silas has his "trouble" areas (like sleeping through the night!).

I talk about how Silas started teething at four months and how, though he has gotten his teeth quickly, each individual tooth has been working its way down consistently but slowly, if that makes sense. For example, his upper premolars started cutting through at the beginning of August. A month later, they still hadn't completely broken through the gum. He drools a lot.

As far as I know, teething is not a sign of intelligence or development beyond the fact that he can leave more bite marks when he chews on something. But teeth are a safe topic; most everyone has them.

2. The Walking/Crawling Conversation

This one takes several forms. When Silas was around eight months, I was flying up north to see my family with him. I had Silas tied up neatly in my baby carrier as I moved through the airport. As I walked, I fell in step with a husband and wife heading in the same direction. The husband was holding a baby.

The baby girl had cute, curly blond wisps of hair and a bright smile that lit up when she saw Silas. Her parents looked over at me and the dad started a conversation about how they also had a baby carrier but their daughter hated being in it and preferred to be carried. I nodded sagely, thinking of the time my friends and I went on a hike and Silas ended up being carried in our arms more than in the carrier.

Any conversation about babies always has an exchange of ages, done in weeks for the first 12 weeks or so, months for the first 24 months or so and then, finally, years once they hit 2-3. Their daughter was nine months.

"So does he walk yet?" asked the dad. I shook my head. Silas had just really gotten into crawling at this point. Before my headshake was over, the proud dad continued, "she's been walking for about two weeks now."

I smiled. I could see how excited he was. I told him and his wife I could see their daughter had walking legs and said that they must be having a great time chasing her around.

Babies walk at an amazing range of times. Some start as soon as seven or eight months, mostly girls (from what I've known. No scientific reason here). Others wait until past their first birthday, content to know they will be walking for a lot longer in their life than not walking. Again, all normal.

Sure, I did sort of hope that Silas would start walking as soon as possible, but I was in no rush. Silas started walking about a week after his first birthday. This has lead to me being on the other side of the conversation.

At the doctor's office waiting room, Silas was toddling around in his sandals, to the delight of an older woman. She watched him move across the room and asked me how old he was, and let me know that her daughter's baby girl didn't walk yet.

She looked at Silas again and confided to me, "I know that if my daughter would just put shoes on her baby, she'd walk!"

I'll admit, I was taken aback by this. Anyone who knows me knows that Silas has been barefoot nearly all of his life. It was just passing conversation, but I found myself wanting to explain that shoes aren't really necessary for a baby who is still learning how to manipulate all of the tiny muscles in her feet.

Finally, I said, "Well, maybe. I usually let him go barefoot in the house. But every baby is different." And she nodded, and I understood that it was a case where she believed what she believed and that was that.

So there you have it. Talking about babies is hilarious.

It's the time of year guys!

That's right. NaNoWriMo starts on Friday, and this year I am ready to get back into writing down the worst 50,000 words that pop into my head. Last year, I tried and got about a thousand words, but the truth is that I didn't really have any ideas - or any free time.

I'm ok with this. I understand that a newborn is going to require all of my free time, and I don't mind at all that for one year, the world was spared of my subpar prose because I was taking care of a teeny-tiny newborn Silas. (And boy, was he making the cutest faces to make up for it!) And considering I'm still hoping to have some more kids, it's safe to say there are other awful novels that I won't be writing in some of these coming years.

Why do I do NaNo?

Well, for one thing, the friend that introduced it to me is pretty awesome, and she had done it and won for several years. With my competitive spirit, there was no way I could not do it. And it was fun writing down all of my thoughts. Writing grounds me and allows me to imagine other people and their lives.

I'm not good at it; far too many of my protagonists are white, female, heterosexual women who share most of my values. So my goal this year is to deal with diversity. Diversity comes in a lot of forms. For me, first off, I write mostly about women because there are scads of male protagonists. That was the closest to diversity I got. But within that, I rarely HAD strong male characters. That's stupid. I'm looking for balance, for realism.

That's why this year, I'm writing from three perspectives I don't have a lot of experience with. One of my two main characters is going to be a guy, a 14 year old high school freshman who is dealing with the fact that his dad has cancer and might not be there to see him graduate. I can't think of a single male main character I have dealt with, fanfiction not counting since those weren't my characters.

The other main character will be a girl, a 14 year old high school freshman who is dealing with her sexuality. She's pretty sure she's into girls, but doesn't quite know how to react to this. I've never written about this before. Oddly enough, my previous fanfiction writing has included gay men, but never a lesbian. That's silly; obviously both exist. Finally, I intend for this girl to be African American. I'm terrified to try. What right do I have, you know? For all of these perspectives, I'm afraid I will portray characters in a racist light, overly stereotypically, and worst of all, as defined only by what makes them unique compared to me.

So, chances are that in about a month, I will have written 50,000 words about subjects I know very little about. My hope is to use this experience to learn more. I don't think I'll ever write a novel that people will want to read. I'll never be an author. My writing might always be mainly for myself, but as long as I'm trying to be better at it, I'll be happy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Time-Wasting Powers, Activate!

Let me tell you about a webcomic I read daily. You could read it daily too! It's called Dumbing of Age.

I had started by writing down a list of reasons to recommend this, but it got pretty long, and your time is better spent checking out the archives rather than read what I have to say.

Dumbing of Age, written by David Willis, is the somewhat autobiographical story of a young Fundamentalist Christian named Joyce going to college away from home after being homeschooled her whole life. If I'm losing you with that, wait around just a moment! Willis writes a huge and diverse cast, and if one character doesn't agree with you, you're certain to find another who does.

Maybe it's Mike, a jerk who doesn't sugarcoat anything. Joyce pays him to chaperone her first date at college, with hilarious results.

Maybe it's Dina, the incredibly shy and passive dinosaur lover. (I feel compelled to note, after profiled those dinosaur erotica books that Dina does not lust for dinosaurs, but is an aspiring paleontologist.)

Maybe it's Ethan, a Jewish -- Actually, it probably is Dina. People really love Dina.

Anyhow, the story follows a cast of at least thirty people through both hilarious and serious situations. If you appreciate that one day a hairstyle can be the punchline to a joke and the next day it can be used to discuss the racial implications of straightening one's hair, then you'll probably enjoy this strip.

 There are, also, occasional hard-hitting amounts of FEELS. (I guess that's how people describe emotional scenes now?)

I have been reading David Willis's webcomics for years now. While other webcomics come and go on my radar, he is consistently hilarious and amazing and I feel confident saying that it's worth checking out.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Just a Typical Morning

The other day I'm getting dressed and musing over what outfit to wear. My husband says I should wear a shirt I hadn't worn in awhile.

He starts describing it. "You know, that shirt that has the little shoulderpads?"

I'm pretty sure he's referring to a t-shirt I have that has a cute little double sleeve detail.

"If we're thinking about the same shirt," I tell him, scowling a little, "I wore it last weekend when Silas and I visited you while you were playing 40k."

He tells me that he can't remember when I wear everything and besides, he was probably paying more attention to playing with Silas during the visit.

But it is a nice shirt, this shirt I'm thinking about. It's a soft jersey material, so it's comfortable, but it still looks cuter than a basic t-shirt.

As I rummage around in my drawer to find it, Smiley continues describing the shirt. "Well, it's black and white," he says, as I nod to myself, now positive I know what shirt he's thinking about, "And yellow and blue."

Hold your horses, husband.

You've just veered into 'I have no clue what shirt I own fits this description' territory.

I pull out the shirt I think he's talking about.

"Yeah, that's the one," he confirms.

"This shirt is entirely black and white," I confirm.

I guess I should mention that my husband is yellow/blue colorblind. Sometimes I forget about that, because it only seems to be for lighter shades of blue and yellow.

He points to one section of the shirt and says "That looks like what yellow looks like and," as he points to another spot, "That looks like what blue looks like."

Both of the sections he has pointed to are gray and I tell him as much. He says he still likes the shirt and I should still wear it and I agree.

It's moments like those that remind me how even the most straightforward things can be seen in different ways based on who's looking.

The good news is, at least when I go gray, I won't have to dye my hair!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I wish I were making this up!

In the past two weeks, I've seen so many people run red lights that I'm starting to suspect I'm part of a mass hallucination whenever I "see" a red traffic light. Clearly, the light must be green and all the other people who are stopped with me are also hallucinating. It is obvious that these bold, innovative drivers have unlocked the secret of faster travel - through the strength of their own will, they are finding ways to shave precious minutes off of their drive time.

The first time it happened, I watched as a car turned left in front of oncoming traffic, treating the red light as more of a suggestion. I blinked several times, expecting to hear some sort of ugly crash noise. There was none. This driver had successfully played the traffic light and won, to a prize of moving through the intersection two minutes faster than me.

The second time it happened, I watched in lesser amounts of awe as three cars took lefts despite the left turn arrow turning to red a few seconds ago. I suppose I wasn't as shocked for this one because the left turn arrow had been green and sometimes I will play with the yellow arrow to make a left turn. The sheer number of cars going through an obvious red instead of dashing through the yellow is what still punctuated this event as "terrifying," especially since it wasn't like they had been stuck at the light for several cycles.

It happened a third time. The driver simply decided there was no reason to stop and continued straight through the intersection. As I said, it is this sort of bold driving that will continue to get the fine people of my city to their destinations faster, most of the time. Probably. Until they eventually, maybe get a ticket or get in an accident.

I have also seen more than a handful of right turns in the face of "no turn on red" signs. More common, yes, but still frustrating. Plus, I'm never sure whether I'm dealing with drivers who are just terribly unaware of their surroundings or drivers who assume the rules are for other people to deal with.

In the meantime, you'll recognize me as the "person not leaving her house until all of this dumb driving sorts itself out." (And also as the "person who is really surprised I haven't seen an accident yet.") I thought about walking everywhere, but I'm sure avoiding turn signals and not taking the time to look for pedestrians are two more ways that these drivers are saving themselves precious time.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Things I Hate - The Shopping Edition

I hate grocery shopping. I like the part where I get home and can make food for my family. I don't like the part where I have to sift through countless amounts of BS buzzwords and comparative math. Here are a few of my least favorite things that come up in the grocery store:

1. Anything that is " 'something' - style."

The moment, nay - the millisecond your brain perceives this two-word phrase, drop whatever you are holding. For what you have in your hand is not what you think! Certainly, it will be similar to the product you are hoping to buy, but in a sinister way.

Let me draw my example from Greek yogurt. I have slowly been branching out to try different brands (also known as different brands from the one I normally buy have been on sale) and what I came across was a "Mueller" brand yogurt that had the little corner compartment with fruit. They were on sale for a dollar each, so I grabbed a few that looked tasty.

When I got home, I noticed my grievous, horrible mistake. I hadn't paid a full dollar for actual Greek yogurt. I had paid extra for "Greek-style" yogurt. You might be asking what's the difference. The difference is, instead of straining the yogurt to achieve the thick and creamy texture, this brand has simply realized it is much cheaper to add some gelatin and corn starch. There is also a dash of whey protein to up the protein content of the yogurt, but at 9 grams per container, it does not come close to other brands.

I should have looked closer; I shouldn't have been pulled in by the price and by the blaring "Greek Corner" label that very much wanted me to assume I was obtaining Greek yogurt with my money. But my point is, I shouldn't have to take a minute to verify that the product I'm trying to buy is actually what it says it is. And, I understand that legally, the product is exactly what it says it is. But it is also BS, so I will not be buying the Mueller Greek Corner yogurts again.

Also, they don't taste that good.

2. Chocolatey Whatever.

Admittedly, this isn't too much of a problem for me anymore, since I've moved away from certain brands of granola bars and cereals. But it still scratches me the wrong way, so let's look into it.

Actually, there's not much to look into. Companies use "chocolatey" to get you thinking about chocolate while they conveniently don't include any sort of actual chocolate in the product. Quaker oats bars are guilty of this. You might wonder how they can afford to dip their granola bars in chocolate and keep the prices somewhat low! Well, wonder no more. They simply dip their granola bars in "chocolatey whatever" and it's kind of like chocolate except it's not. Again, saving money while staying in the legal confines of convincing people that they're getting something they're not.

Come to think about it, Quaker also appears to own the fake Greek yogurt brand mentioned above. I used to trust them. Now I just assume that whatever they claim to be selling is not what I can expect to buy.

3. Ice Cream

Well, I was going to go on a rant about the annoying trends in ice cream, namely, shrinking the container sizes while charging the same or higher prices.

But then I decided I'd rather talk about Publix brand ice cream.

Look, I moved over a thousand miles away from my family to live with my husband down here in Florida. It is some small compensation that Publix brand ice cream is actually the best ice cream I have ever had in my life.

You know how you buy the store brand when you want ice cream and the name brand isn't on sale? That's how I ended up with my first container of Publix brand ice cream. (Which, might I add, is still a half gallon and not endlessly expensive!) Imagine my surprise when a month or so later, a name brand went on sale, I bought it, and subsequently realized that Publix brand was better. Bam. That's it. I'm a believer.

Publix does all sorts of flavors and styles. I stick to the regular style - no splenda or low fat or whatever they do - and I love it. Also, they make great seasonal stuff. When we had roommates, our fridge always had several containers of Publix ice cream.

So no, it doesn't completely dull the achy homesickness I occasionally (often) feel when I think about how my parents are literally at least seventeen hours away from me even in the direst of emergencies. (And my siblings who are off at school are even further north from me!) But it is like an extra tasty consolation prize.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Normal People Just Fill Out Transcript Request Forms

Applying to nursing school is starting to freak me out. And I'm not even at the part where I apply to the nursing program. I'm just applying to the college that the nursing program is at. (You apply to the college, send them your transcripts, and then apply to the nursing school and send the nursing school a separate set of the same transcripts because apparently the programs refuse to share.)

Last night, I was already in a bit of an unsettled mood. I had tried to put Silas down for bedtime at about nine and he was having none of the settling down. So I let him crawl and toddle around for awhile and in a few minutes he was ready to settle down and nurse. Recently he hasn't been nursing to sleep. He will nurse almost to sleep and then stop and look up at me.

At that point, my cue is to get up, brace myself, and bring him to his crib where he will cry for a few minutes and fall asleep. Usually, because he knows how sad it makes me (I assume), he starts crying as soon as we enter the nursery. Last night was no different. He started to sniffle as we crossed through from the hallway to his room and I gave him a few back pats, telling him that it was time for bed now. That we had had a busy day and it was good and fun and I loved him.

Suspiciously, instead of starting to cry, Silas lay his head on my shoulder as I lowered him into the crib. Then he flipped onto his stomach and - nothing.

He fell right asleep.

As I do every night, I kissed him and left the room, expecting that the crying would start up in a moment.

The crying never happened.

So, I was already on edge, figuring that he was probably coming down with the flu and a cold and everything all at once and would wake up any moment with a fever of doom and that he only fell asleep in the first place because he was getting deathly ill.

(In fact, after about an hour, I did go and check to make sure he wasn't warm and that he was still breathing. He wasn't and he was, respectfully.)

So there's my mindset for the evening as I sit down at my computer to continue applying to my hopeful transfer college. I have to send my transcripts. Call me old-fashioned, but I hate using online services to send transcripts, so I was printing out all of the forms from the now numerous colleges I have attended.

And I'm freaking out. Because even though all I'm doing at this point is printing forms to fill out, it's still a step towards applying towards nursing school and that is a journey that could potentially end with my rejection and, well, I don't take (small amounts of potential) rejection well.

So Smiley sat with me while I printed out the forms and set them at my desk to fill out today. Which I was going to do during Silas's nap. Instead, I spent an hour cleaning the garage to procrastinate. (You wouldn't know it if you looked at the garage, sadly. See previous rants I've made about the amount of Stuff we own.)

But this story does have a good ending. Last night Silas slept from about 9:30pm to 5:15am. Woo! And I'll probably fill out those transcript request forms before too long.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Talking About Writing - Three Whole Points

You might have read Cake Wrecks before. Did you know that the person who started it, Jen, has a second blog where she writes about her various craft projects and other interests? It's pretty awesome. She had been on a two month sabbatical this summer and she writes about it here. Overall, there's a lot of interesting points, but a few things stuck out to me and I figured, what the heck. I might as well pretend like I'm a capable blogger, able to build upon other's observations.


1. She has two points on being a Reader of The Internet, and the one that sticks out to me is it's important to share your positive feedback. 

A lot of times, if I read something I agree with, I don't say anything. I assume the author knows that she has written something great and that my thoughts would be akin to a small, yappy dog trying to get attention. And maybe that is true, but I don't mind being a small, yappy dog. Sometimes, even the smallest and yappiest of dogs cause other people to smile. And I certainly want to be someone who makes other people smile.

2. As a blogger, she emphasizes to write what you love.

I think that this advice can go to both bloggers and people reading blogs. Rather than worrying about what an author might want to read in a comment, maybe try commenting with what his story made you feel. (Obviously, trolls need not apply that advice.) But even if you disagreed with a piece, maybe try commenting about what you felt in respectful terms. Because, why not? Respectful conversation is great.

As a blogger, well, I already set my ship sailing on trying to write what I think people will like. My target audience is (theoretically), people who play video games, who are interested in babies, raising a family, going to school, writing, learning about why the Chrysler Sebring is an AWESOME vehicle and watching the HGTV channel. Oh, and this is within the small group of people who will read a blog that routinely presents massive amounts of words and next to no pictures, despite my best efforts. Also my target audience is my friends and family. They're pretty awesome.

I've been blogging semi-regularly for a couple years now. I know I'm not going to break into an illustrious blogging career. But I enjoy hammering at my keyboard until the words in my brain are on a computer screen in front of me.

3. It's like she's read my brain.

Seriously. She writes about taking a half hour to write an email or an hour to write a twitter post, because she's afraid she will accidentally say something that will be taken the wrong way. I can't count how many times I've started to write a post, or a comment, or whatever, and taken ten minutes to write, re-write, re-write, and then convince myself I can't say what I want to say and that it was a waste of time to think anyone would want to read it and if they did read it, they'd just realize that maybe I'm not that intelligent, so I should probably avoid saying anything and then I delete it. Repeat multiple times, as needed.

But if it isn't obvious, I have made my new blogging goal to be honest with myself and see how that goes. I'm a reasonably ok person, after all. Maybe I'll rename this site to "Reasonably Ok."

Eh, I don't have time for a new banner. Besides, I'm still hilarious.

Happy writing everyone!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Apparently I'm on "Rantmode"

Almost before my first trimester was over, I had scoured the internet and bookstores for information on pregnancy. I like to know what information is out there and I like to read a lot of it to see all the different perspectives. One "piece of advice" that came up time and time again was to "remember you're not eating for TWO! You only need about 300 extra calories a day!" This advice always came, without fail, with an example of what these three hundred extra calories would look like: "that's the equivalent of a small bagel - WITHOUT cream cheese!" or "that's only a small apple and a piece of whole-wheat toast - NO BUTTER".

 Maybe it's something about the way that this advice always felt so criticizing, as if pregnant women were so stupid that they needed to be told in the most basic terms that food, surprise, has calories.

I'm not saying that we, as a human population, don't have problems with estimating portion sizes and the amount of calories in a meal or snack. I am saying that the way to teach someone about portion sizes is not to wait until they are at their most emotionally vulnerable (aka being pregnant and hormonal and probably seeing numbers on their scale that they don't want to) and then start shouting about how many calories are in that bagel they ate for lunch.  And don't forget to use all-caps when you assure this hypothetical pregnant woman that this calorie count is WITHOUT cream cheese. God help you if you added cream cheese to that bagel.

I don't know. At first I thought it just bothered me because it felt criticizing. I tried to rationalize it. I thought to myself, well, maybe a lot of women see being pregnant as a time when they really can eat anything and maybe we need to address that somehow.

But, no. Not like that.

While it is important to know that pregnancy doesn't require more than 200-400ish extra calories (depending on the individual person and the pregnancy), there's no reason we need to be so critical. I would argue that 90% of the reason that most women feel like they can eat anything while they're pregnant is because being pregnant is the only time in their entire lives that they feel like they don't have to be hyperaware of what they are eating and it is the only time in their lives that they feel like they can just enjoy what they eat.

As women, we spend a lot of time thinking about what we eat, and how much of it we should eat, and how much society will hate us if we eat the wrong amount of the "wrong" stuff. Aren't there always studies coming out about the high percentage of teenaged girls who say they need to lose weight and who say they have dieted within the last few months? Isn't it obvious that we are messing up girl's minds?

So then we have a problem. On the one hand, we need to fix society somehow and work towards having a healthy relationship with food. In the meantime, what do we do with this condescending eating advice for pregnant women?

This is the part where, if I were a smarter person, I would lay out a solution. I don't really have a solution.

Healthy eating (and living) starts with a simple concept - eat less and move more. Be mindful of what you eat and make an effort to move around during the day. And then it gets complicated by foods that taste really good but have a ridiculous amount of calories and by social norms and by entire industries (beauty, food, diet, etc) that might not have our best interests at heart. It gets complicated by the fact that each person will respond a little bit differently to the information they hear.

I do feel that if we could start with a healthier relationship with food, pregnancy might not be viewed as the only time that a person can "cheat" on their life-long diet.

With that in mind, I'd love to hear your opinion on whether or not I'm overreacting! Smiley says I might be reading just a bit too much into everything. I'm always game to hear what other people think!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Tale of a Year of Sleep Deprivation

Shortly after I gave birth to Silas, I realized I was never going to sleep again.

That might be a little melodramatic. We're still working on getting more sleep though. After a year of being somewhat sleep deprived, I'm going to try to reflect on what it has done to me.

I feel much less creative in my own pursuits. It is insanely hard right now to sit down and write. Nothing flows when I type and I feel like that shows with what I've written this year. I remember trying to think of an idea for a novel for NaNoWriMo in November and just couldn't. It's possible that after just two horrific attempts at plots, I'm out of novel ideas. It's more likely that sleeping in two hour chunks is not conducive to creativity.

On the flip side, I've been channeling my creativity into games to play with Silas and so while I don't write much, I'm still satisfied with my ability to create: in this case, it's mostly games that work for Silas's growing mental capacities.

One thing I never expected would happen is that after eleven months of waking up every two hours at night, I've tried crying it out with Silas. I have had a hard time following through. It is one thing for me to deal with Silas crying because he wants to play with something dangerous and I had to tell him no. It is another for me to listen to him wail, alone in his room, crying desperately because he just wants to be close to us as he falls asleep.

However, there would be nights where I would wake up every hour with him and I would be incredibly tired and depressed and just scared of the thoughts that raced through my mind in those moments of sleep deprivation.  It reminded me of the episode of Scrubs where Carla, having given birth a few months ago, tearfully exclaims that she wishes she could just throw her baby out the window or off the roof of the apartment. The moment was played partially for the laughs as we watch her husband's eyes widen in shock as he races to make sure the windows are firmly locked, but it was also a serious moment as Carla dealt with post-partum depression.

I understood that sentiment. I felt like I was giving everything I could to Silas and it wasn't enough and it was frustrating. How could he be so happy and calm during the day on so little sleep I would wonder? Everyone told me I had the happiest baby they'd ever seen, so who all was lying to me? People told me I was a good mother, but they didn't know that at 3 in the morning, I was crying and desperate, staying perfectly still as I held Silas, knowing that if I shifted my arms, he would wake back up and the crying would start again.

And I was caught between feeling like I'd abandon my principles by letting Silas cry when I lay him down in his crib to sleep and feeling like no matter what choice I made, everyone would judge me. If Silas was up all night, it was because I insisted on nursing him throughout the night and holding him and patting his back when he should learn to fall asleep on his own. I had no one to blame but myself.

If I let him cry, it was because I didn't give him enough of a chance to fall asleep on his own when he was younger and I had no one to blame but myself. If I let him cry, I was putting my needs above his and what right did I have to do that? And most of all, no matter what I did, and no matter how tired I felt, I had better not complain about it, because what right do I have as a mother to complain about the child I chose to bring into this world? After all, how many people would give everything for a chance to have their own child to hold and rock each night? And how many people would say the obvious solution is to not have a baby if you don't want to deal with the full baby package?

Ultimately, I don't have a good answer. Shades of all of these worries and doubts bother me each evening as we start getting ready for bed. Sometimes we have great nights - defined as Silas falling asleep nursing, transferring to the crib, and sleeping there until three or four in the morning. We've had three great nights this past year.

Most nights, it's not like that. Smiley joked that we're going to have to wait until Silas can understand basic logic and then explain that he can't sleep in our bed with us any more. Well, half-joked. Quarter-joked.

And the thing is, there's not really a black and white "solution" to sleep. Each family does what works for their family, and it's my goal not to judge other people for how they parent. I don't know their situations; I don't live their lives. I just know how paralyzing it is to feel like everything I do as a parent is judged, harshly, by others.

Whew. I didn't expect to get quite so intense about this all. I do suspect that it will get better. Sometimes, it can be hard to see the future when the best I can do right now is slog through another half-awake, zombie day.

And don't worry, guys.

I still REALLY, REALLY wish Smiley was on board with having another baby, like, right now. Because, seriously, I can't possibly be any more tired than I already am.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Driving Baby Blues

We're back from vacation. This vacation included a round trip drive from FL to IL clocking in at 17 hours each way, a round trip drive from IL to MI clocking in on an average of 8 hours each way, and plenty of daily drives out to various beaches.

What I'm getting at is that Silas no longer puts his arms up to be lifted out of his carseat when you unstrap him. Instead, he starts putting the shoulder straps back on, presumably because he has come to learn that his natural habitat is his carseat.

I wanted to make the drive from FL to IL by car instead of flying to see the difference in stress levels. The easiest conclusion is that there is no good way to get to and from IL with a small child. The more nuanced conclusion is that I think flying is probably better.

The downsides to driving included a 17 hour car trip that nearly destroyed my spirit to live. There's something about driving all day only to hit Indianapolis and realize that there's still three more hours to drive. At least. And on a good day, a three hour car trip is nothing to sneeze at!

Both times, we started the drive mid-morning and ended the drive in the wee hours of the new day. This stemmed from the fact that I wanted to be "well-rested" before starting the drive rather than sacrificing potential sleep to leave earlier. I am NOT able to stay up super late these days though, so the final early AM hours of driving were horrific.

Really, the only downside was that I had to drive all of the hours and therefore couldn't rest at all. Had Smiley been with me to take care of some of the driving, flying wouldn't even need to be an option, really.

The upsides included the fact that I had plenty of space to nurse Silas when he needed to nurse, and plenty of legroom in my seat. I could stretch my legs out and listen to any music I wanted without headphones. I didn't have to run across an airport with a baby and luggage. I had space in the trunk of the car to bring extra clothes, toys and books for Silas. I was also able to bring home stuff with me, IKEA stuff to be specific. Also, I traveled completely on my time, instead of being at the mercy of plane delays.

But 17 hours in a car is just really awful. It went beyond my driving limits and I should have stopped along the way and made it into a two day drive. Though things will change as Silas grows older and our situations change, right now I can say with 80% confidence that flying is mostly the better option as it packs all of the stress up into a nice, neat 6 hour package, but for at least 10 hours of the drive, driving was worth it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Adventures in Grocery Store Shopping

Despite my good intentions, I cannot seem to get pictures onto this blog. I expect this to be my undoing. After all, no one will read more than fifty words on the internet without pictures, right?

But setting that aside for a moment, I'm going to talk about a serious subject. Well, ok, not that serious. Only slightly serious, in a "Silas is going to wake up from his nap any moment and can I type fast enough to finish this post before he wakes up" sense.

Time was, I used to plan out meals for each week. All leftovers would be accounted for in the next day or two with lunches and grocery shopping was a once a week event, with MAYBE a second trip for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Now, thanks to Silas's love for going out and seeing the world, I find myself at the grocery store more often. We buy less each trip and meals are more on the fly. I thought for sure that this would add up. I'm positive I've read no fewer than six "money-saving" posts that implore you to go to the grocery store only once a week, and, for goodness sake, BRING A SHOPPING LIST or your budget will explode.

Neither of these things (going to the store more often and not bringing a list) has hurt my budget. Thanks to the magic of spreadsheets, I can confirm that I spend within the same average from month to month regardless of how I shop. This is good. Silas really loves getting out of the house and I really don't feel like planning out meals for each week.

This going to the store more often has also resulted in a few positive changes since I buy a few pieces of fresh fruit each trip rather than a bunch at the beginning of the week that goes bad before the week is over. And this is done without negatively affecting the budget as mentioned above. So, woo. Plus, I've recently had to start buying food for Silas as he has joined the ranks of babies who eat solids.

A typical trip to the store these days involves going to the produce section and buying fruit for Smiley, who will only eat green fruit. (This is maybe 25% exaggeration.) Then back to the meat department to pick up whatever meat is on the best sale, or, depending on the sales, no meat at all. Then up and down the aisles, mostly for Silas's benefit, but I check out sales prices on various items as well.

The back wall has the almond milk and eggs. We started drinking almond milk not for the price but to avoid the amount of calories in cow's milk. I suppose once Silas is old enough for milk we will add back in whole milk for the important fats he will need in the upcoming years, but that's still a few months down the road.

I buy whichever brands are on sale and I am not above pulling out my cellphone calculator to make sure that I'm getting the best deal in a world of varying container sizes and amounts.

My weaknesses are juice and whatever food I'm currently craving. For budget purposes, I want to shift towards drinking more water, but I really dislike having water all day. So I have to work on it some more because even on sale, juice is about a million times more expensive than water, which is more or less free from the tap. It might even be two million times more expensive than water.

As for the food I'm craving, that usually takes the form of some sort of easy-to-eat item that I will base my diet around for the next few weeks, occasionally months. Right now it is greek yogurt. I don't know if it really counts to call it greek yogurt since it is probably closer to a dessert than a yogurt, but I really love the thicker texture. Yoplait used to make a "thick and creamy" version of their yogurt that was similar in consistency, but it got phased out to only non-fat versions, and seriously, non-fat yogurts are the worst. They have a terribly chalky taste to me.

Well, I hear Silas starting to stir, so I best be on my way. We're going to have lunch and then hit the grocery store!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blisters = The Worst

Awhile back, my husband "surprised" me by having several of our trees cut down. This had a treacherous downside; some vines tangled at the top of the tree ended up re-routed onto our bamboo fence. As the days and weeks (and, yes, months) went by, I watched the vines slowly attempt to take over the bamboo. But given that it's not easy to do outdoor chores with an infant and that, well, about a million things felt like a priority over vines, I did nothing.

Until today.

Today, Silas was starting to fuss, but it was a little bit early for him to take a nap. Into the stroller he went, and I parked him outside under the bamboo fence, away from the vined section. Then I set to work, grabbing the vines and hoping they weren't poison oak.

I didn't bother to look for my gardening gloves, because that would take time. I used my bare hands to grab the vines and pull as hard as I could. At some point, a dead branch fell from the sky. I kind of expected it, but it also kind of freaked me out that the only thing holding it up these past few months were those awful vines.

Well, the mosquitoes quickly attacked despite a healthy coating of insect spray, so I didn't get very far with my project, but I did get far enough to get a few tiny-yet-annoying blisters on my fingers.

That's the price I have to pay for marginally nicer-looking bamboo and also for being able to delay Silas's complaints for a good half hour. I guess one of these days he'll get to watch me trim the front azalea bushes!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Chore Priorities

I, like many people, procrastinate by cleaning. (Many people do that, right?)

I realized today that I use this method while I am cleaning as well. I will procrastinate the heck out of doing the dishes and the laundry by doing other cleaning. I decided to rank a few of my "least" favorite chores, along with added commentary. The list is ranked "favorite" to "least favorite."

Vacuuming - my go-to chore, especially now that we have a cordless vacuum. Smiley would be all "I told you so" if he knew (so thank goodness he doesn't read this). I made a huge fuss about not wanting to have to charge my vacuum all the time, but it turns out not having to deal with a cord is the best thing that has ever happened to vacuuming.
Whereas before I would (no lie) go weeks and quite possibly months with only a few spot cleanings of the floor, I now go ahead and just vacuum whatever room I'm in, for fun, several times a week. Sometimes twice a day.

Laundry (gathering, washing and drying) - I have no problems with the first part of laundry. Gathering clothes from the hampers, sorting if needed and running loads throughout the day is easy and boring. Not as fun as vacuuming, and I do feel required to stick around the house while the washer is going in case it floods. Did I mention my cordless vacuum means I can literally pick up my vacuum and get dirt off my floors on a whim? I shouldn't be this excited about any chore.

Cleaning - When faced with a sink full of dishes or a hamper full of clothes that need to be put away, I divert to cleaning. I'll dust, wipe baseboards, spot clean the counters, and generally put things in piles so that they hopefully look neater. I always go in with the idea that I will sort through those piles later and put them in better places, but that part turns out to be way too boring to follow through with.

Laundry (putting away clean clothes) - I have no shame. I admit I set up a hamper in our house to put clean clothes in so that I don't have to put them away right out of the dryer. I've tried folding them out of the dryer but I just hate putting things on hangers so much that I will straight up start cleaning the toilet bowl just so I still feel productive. (Or I'll vacuum.)

Dishes. Seriously, screw dishes. I mean, what the heck! Even with our small household of three people, my sink is constantly full of dirty dishes. And now that Silas eats at his highchair, I have a highchair to clean three times a day.
But... as much as I hate them, I have a system. And that system means I don't like to just put everything into the dishwasher. Smiley would gladly put everything in the dishwasher. (Well, so he says. Maybe he's figured out that I just can't make myself take him up on that offer.)

Honorable Mentions:

Rearranging Furniture - This doesn't really get a place on the list because it can be too time consuming to attempt during one of Silas's naps. Before I gave birth, I would rank this somewhere around general cleaning. Now I just stare at our rooms and rotate 3D objects in my head.

Thinking About Organizing - Sometimes, just thinking that I will eventually, one day, sort through everything in my house diverts me from me actually doing that. But the truth is, I usually just think about this while I vacuum so it's kind of win, win.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Quick Moment of Posting

Silas is getting ever closer to being able to walk. When he stands up against something, occasionally he will forget that he doesn't know how to stand on his own and he will grab a toy with both hands. He will then stand there, completely supporting himself for a few moments. Then he looks down at the ground and falls over. Whoops!

It's not long, but when the end result is that he will be able to stand up and reach pretty much anything in our house (having a tall baby is sometimes the worst!), those few moments seem agonizingly long.

His current new favorite things to do include trying to take the recyclables out of the recycling bin, opening cabinet doors and attempting to smush his fingers in them, and pretending to lower his spoon into his bowl of food but then opening his hand at the last moment and grabbing a handful of mashed carrots.

In case you are wondering, no, this handful of carrots does not end up in his mouth.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm Probably The Last Human Being On Earth To Discover This

People who spend their time wisely at all times, you're dismissed from this post.

Otherwise, maybe you're like me. (It's ok. Don't be too scared.)

Maybe you'll be sitting at your computer trying to take notes on the heart cycle and all of the new vocabulary words are blurring together into blobs that start with "cardiac" and end with "oh my god I can't deal with this and seriously I think those two words are only different because one has an 'i' and one has an 'e'."

So then you think, "well, clearly I'm not getting my homework done right now. But my baby is asleep and I need to study right now because this is my chance."

Then you look at the etext again and maybe absentmindedly eat a dark chocolate pomegranate piece, hoping that it's just low blood sugar that is causing the confusion.

Nope. Those two words still look the same and "studying" now means looking ahead in the chapter to see if there are any words that you already know. Then you decide maybe you should just go on Facebook or something. Because then at least you'll still be at your computer for when the urge strikes to go back to studying.

Except that's not how it works. You go on Facebook or catch up on a webcomic and the next thing you know, your baby is waking up from his nap.

So this tale is fairly accurate to how I've felt several times while studying for my anatomy and physiology class. I typically read though a concept at least twice before I really start to get it, and that first read through is usually a glance followed by facebook. Except, (and I'm sure that I am the last person in the world to discover this), I found a better way.

When I feel like I'm not studying well, I get up and attend to my housework.

Yeah, I know. Right? Rocket science is happening, right here. Right now.

It's just that it is incredibly hard for me to tell myself that I can get up from my computer when I think I should be studying. I'll sit there and read random articles and browse websites, knowing I'm not going to studying any more. But just sitting there makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. Right up until Silas wakes up and I realize I didn't accomplish anything and there's still a sink full of dishes that now need to be cleaned while a newly rested baby tries to climb up my legs.

So for the past week, when I've reached that point in my studying, I've gotten up and done other things (mostly cleaning). It's silly, but I had to learn to give myself permission to get up from my computer and acknowledge that I won't be studying anymore for at least the next half hour. These breaks are sometimes good enough that I do sit back down and take another page of notes.

Look, I know that probably everyone else already knew how to do this. Or that it might not even be an issue, because before I had Silas, I could have just done other things at other times. But at some point in my life, all of my "free time" became "on-call for a baby" time and well, this new way of thinking about my time while Silas naps has really helped.

It also helps that Silas has been reliably napping for almost two hours each afternoon. Oh, it is glorious.

Now, if only I could convince him to sleep longer at night. But I suspect we'll get there one of these days. Weeks.



Friday, June 14, 2013

Traveling With Baby - To Drive or To Fly?

I've done two round trips with Silas now, for a total of eight flights. When you consider that both times, my return trip consisted of at least two trips to the airport each due to cancelled/delayed flights, I feel like I've pretty much mastered airplane travel with a baby.

The only problem is, my baby is growing much faster than intended! Right now I've been taking advantage of the "infant free in arms" part of flying, which puts the cost of flying somewhat close to the cost of driving. The time saved by flying easily pushes the flight option into the "best choice" category. However, the last time I flew, I had a heck of a time trying to nurse Silas on the plane. He's just too danged long!

It's no secret that I'll be seeing my family this summer again. I've started staking out plane tickets. Except, summer plane tickets are apparently very premium, as the prices are already over $100 more than I'm used to seeing. Between that and the fact that Silas is still growing, I'm starting to think driving might be the answer after all. (There's no way that the answer can be "buy two plane tickets" due to the cost). Assuming an average of $4 a gallon, I'd be able to drive there and back over two days for cheaper than a single plane ticket.

There's other benefits as well - I'd be able to bring larger toys and more books. Packing more clothes would be nice, though certainly not a necessity. We could stop closer to the times Silas eats and plays instead of attempting to have playtime at an unused airport gate for ten minutes in between flights. I wouldn't have to deal with a diaper blowout in an airplane bathroom. (It took me ten minutes to decide whether writing the words "poosplosion on a plane" would put me on some sort of government list.)

The huge downside is the time factor. The drive is about 16 hours (that's with about three to four stops for fill ups and food) which is a huge amount of time for a baby to spend in a carseat, even over two days. And it's a lot of driving for me. I've been able to do up to 8 hours of driving by myself, but my back does start to complain at 3-4 hours.

It's not an issue of days off; thanks to my school schedule, I can take my time and drive up over two days without cutting into the time that I see my family (though it does sadly leave me away from my husband for a day longer, he might not complain at the chance to have an extra full night of sleep). It's an issue of whether or not a marathon car ride is worth not having to twist sideways to nurse and apologize to a seatmate as Silas wants to explore their side of plane and maybe fusses for two two-hour flights. Whether it's worth it to stress about Silas crying in his carseat after the first hour of driving or to stress about running across an airport and missing a flight while wearing my baby and carrying our luggage. If it's worth it to have more of our items from home than to get there faster.

I'm not sure. I may feel like I have a lot of travel experience with a baby under my belt but right now it seems like I need to pick the lesser of the two evils. I certainly wouldn't mind any thoughts or comments or experiences with driving vs. flying, that's for sure!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Painting Party

Currently, my browser has five tabs open dedicated to school-related items, one for Facebook and one for "selecting the right gloss." Gloss, as in paint. You know how when some people move in to a house, they take the time to lovingly choose colors they like and spend a few days painting all of the walls before moving in their stuff?

Yeah, that wasn't what we did. We said, oh good. There's paint on the walls and it doesn't look that bad. And then we moved in all our stuff. And then I started to think that maybe it would be nice to have some different colors on the walls.

So we started small. We added blue to our door, green to our entryway and gray to our bathroom. But the other rooms had furniture and it seemed like a waste of time and money to paint. So we waited. In the meantime, I did what everyone does when they want to paint their rooms - I started stalking the Lowe's clearance paint section, figuring that I could love whatever color they had cheapest.

That's totally how it works, right?

Never mind the two color swatches I have, tenderly shoved in between odds and ends in my "drawer of important stuff," of "comet dust" and "spa pool" - the perfect combination of silvery gray and rich aqua that I think would be perfect for our bedroom. (Smiley's requirement is that each set of opposing walls be painted a different color.) Instead, over the past two years I have accumulated a bucket of "crocodile tears" (50% off! and it's the paint and primer premium mix!) and "sawgrass" (discounted to $5 for a whole gallon!) and some sort of dusty rose (it's almost like red, I told Smiley).

When we moved into our house, it wasn't but a month later before we had roommates. Very soon, we won't have roommates for the first time in nearly three years. I think this will be an opportune time to paint, finally.

I'm not sure which colors are going where. I think that the light green - (that's the crocodile tears) - will go into the kitchen. The dusty rose will probably grace our extra bedroom, which is currently yellow.

I mentioned Smiley's only requirement is that all four walls in a room cannot be the same color? He likes to do two colors, one set for each opposing wall pair. So I'm thinking dusty rose and yellow. How bad could it look? (Don't answer that, please. Let's wait for photo evidence so you can accurately put words to this situation.)

In all honesty, I'm not really sure I'll have the free time required to paint even half of one wall. In my mind, by this time next month, our house will be freshly rearranged and painted. In reality, those discounted gallons of paint will probably continue to sit on shelves in our house, waiting for reaffirmation that they are wanted, and realizing that their only alternative is to slowly grow old alone and wall-less.