Thursday, June 9, 2016

I got a job! Sorta...

So, I've been trying to figure out ways that I can write and someone will pay me for it.  I started with fiction and finished one novel (in retrospect, it wasn't all that good), many short stories and the beginnings of at least 30 other novels.  The beginning and the end are awesome (in my head), it's that elusive middle part I have trouble with!

I started this blog as a way to write and also semi journal our adventures in trying to get pregnant and subsequently what life is like with two kids under two (not for too much longer!)  It's been a great way to practice and get my words out there, but I don't see anybody knocking on my door to give me money!

I stumbled across content websites where clients will pay for an author to write a piece on any random thing to use on their own website, blog, or online periodical.  I didn't know if this was worth anything, but I thought I'd give it a shot.  It's been a little over a week and I've written six articles.  The pay is no where near worth the time you put into it, but I look at it as practice writing in a marketing style, or really just practice in general.  The website I've been writing for give amazing feedback on grammar and sentence structure errors, so I am learning a lot while I'm doing this.  So far the feedback has been positive.

The biggest plus is that I can do as much or as little as I want, any time of the day or night.  Also, I can pick the articles that interest me, or at least ones I feel I can write confidently.  So far I've written about trampolines, a chiropractor, online reputation management, Beneful dog food, the 2016 Chevrolet Spark, and 50 ml conical centrifuge tubes with flat caps (which ties a little in with my lab background).  It's interesting and varied and I actually really like it!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

adventures in sleep training: a lazy mother's guide

Before I had Teddy, I read approximately ten million articles online about sleep training, co-sleeping, cry-it-out, and the like.  I asked all of my mom friends what they did and how they managed to get their babies sleeping through the night.  I even bought a book on children's sleep. Methods were as varied as the babies themselves.

I rejected co-sleeping almost immediately.  I treasure my sleep and must have a regular sleep schedule or things get out of whack quickly for me.  Being constantly afraid of rolling on an infant was not appealing to me at all!  I was more interested in cry-it-out, but all of the negative press about it made me reconsider.  Cry-it-out in gradually increasing increments is what I would have chosen.  The sleep training method I ultimately chose was, "Really Good Sleeping Baby."

At about eight weeks, Teddy started sleeping 8-10 hour stretches and by three or four months he was sleeping a solid twelve hours a night.  I thought I had a method, which included always putting him to sleep, whether for a nap or for the night, directly after a bottle when he was a little drowsy.  I'd heard to put them to bed drowsy but awake.  He made "sleep training" easy by just being a really good sleeper.  I was pretty anal about putting him down immediately after a bottle though, as if that was really what was doing it.  I didn't spike the bottle with Benadryl or anything, I promise!  I was actually afraid that when I weaned him off bottles that he'd stop sleeping.  He didn't.

When Oliver came around, I was prepared for him to be different from Teddy.  He was early, he had bigger glucose issues than Teddy, and of course he was a brand new person.  I worried that he wouldn't sleep as well and fretted about the whole sleep training issue all over again.  Admittedly, he didn't begin sleeping through the night as early as Teddy, but I gave him some slack since he was slightly premature.  He started sleeping 8-10 hours by about three months.  Then he had a horrible winter of sickness, so more slack was given.  By the time he was five months, however, I stopped getting up with him in the middle of the night.  He needed to sleep through and I knew he didn't need the bottle in the middle of the night.  Within days of me stopping getting up with him, he started sleeping straight through.  He's eight months and sleeping at least eleven hours a night.  He gets up earlier in the morning than Teddy, around seven, but it's alright!

I relaxed about the bottles with Oliver.  As long as he has a bottle within an hour or so of nap/bedtime then he's good to go.  So why do these two sleep so well?  Is it their personalities?  Is it because I didn't nurse/bottle them all the way to sleep?  Or rock them to sleep?  I put them down and if they cry, it's only for an extremely short time.  Maybe I'm callous because I didn't rock my babies to sleep every night.  I save that for when they're sick or hurt.  Whatever it is, I'm fortunate that they are such good sleepers.  I, myself, am a terrible sleeper.  I hope they continue to sleep well, even after they are not in cribs (no! never!), even after they start to share a room (after the inevitable big boy beds).  

P.S.  I'm not trying to brag about my good sleepers, I'm just exploring why they are.  Did I unknowingly sleep train them?  Or is it just them?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I Have No Idea

When I became a new mother, I was baffled by the amount of questions I received.  I'd just met this new little guy and suddenly everyone asked me questions as if we were lifelong buds and I knew all his likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, resume and shoe size.  As much as he was brand new, so was I.  I didn't know how to answer these questions.  I didn't know him yet!  New motherhood is an extremely quick learning curve, like being thrown into a PhD program with nary a high school diploma.  These are some of the questions I experienced and the answer is always the same:  I have no idea.

Does he always do that? I have no idea.  Isn't two weeks too soon to say always?  Because that's his age.

Does he usually sleep this long?  I have no idea.  I haven't slept more than three hours at a time in five weeks.  Sometimes he sleeps great; sometimes he naps for thirty minutes and makes me want to cry.  (Or actually cry.)  It's the unpredictability that gets to me.

Does he like sweet potatoes?  I have no idea.  I put food in his mouth and he eats it.  Mostly.  Whether he likes it or not, you'll have to ask him.  He eats most everything.

Does he pull at his ear?  Why do you suspect an infection?  I have no idea. He's screaming and he had a cold.  But it could be his teeth.  Or he could just have gas.  He's seven months.  He can't tell me.

Has he rolled over/crawled/walked/graduated yet?  I have no idea.  Wait.  Is he supposed to?  What does Google say?

Do you change him before he eats?  I have no idea.  Sometimes I do change him and he poops midway through the bottle and then I change him and he poops again when he's done.  Sometimes I don't change him and he doesn't poop at all.  Sometimes I don't change him and then he blows out his already semi-full diaper.  It's a crap shoot.  (See what I did there?)

How much does he eat in a day?  I have no idea.  This question was asked every time I went to the doctor for a well visit.  I learned how to answer, but the first few times I would frantically try to do math in my head and then usually just say something like, "He eats 3-4 ounces (or 5-6 ounces) 5-6 times a day."  Sometimes he ate a ton and sometimes not so much.  Also, if you're breastfeeding, there's no gauge, no ounce markings on each breast to show how much has been consumed.  I imagine you pretty much just guess.

These questions didn't really annoy me, but did serve to show me how little I actually knew about keeping a tiny human alive.  We're doing good so far, but number one is only 21 months.  It's too soon to tell.  I still feel like a new mother.  Is there ever a time when you feel competent, like, "I've got this.  I know what I'm doing.  They might make it to adulthood."?  I'll let you know.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Adventures in Potty Training

Day One:
Wake up.  Pee pee.  Have breakfast.  Pee pee.  Wait thirty minutes.  Pee pee.  We've got this!  It's nine thirty and no accidents.  9:56am.  Bathroom trip in four minutes.  Teddy tries to climb on my lap and I get a palm full of wet bottom.  Teddy says, "Uh oh."  Back to the bathroom.  Pee pee.  Change underpants.  10:11am,  Dark spot forms on front of grey underpants.  Back to bathroom.  Pee pee. Change underpants.  Today is the only day in the past year that he wants to sit on my lap - in his underpants with an unreliable bladder.

Number of times using the potty: 17
Number of pairs of underpants used: 7
Number of pull-ups used: 1
Number of wet pairs of underpants: 7
Number of twosies in the underpants: 1

Overall success rate: 58%

Day Two:
Follow same steps as day one, with one exception:  Every five minutes Teddy says, "Pahee?  Pahee?"  This is great except I'm pretty sure he's only doing it for the Teddy Grahams!  Sometimes he asks to go to the potty immediately after we return from the potty.  But, hey.  Whatever works.

Number of times using the potty: 1,901
Number of pairs of underpants used: 3
Number of pull-ups used: 1
Number of wet pairs of underpants: 3
Number of twosies in the underpants: 0

Overall success rate: 99.8%
(just kidding. He probably only went thirty times which would be a 90% success rate.)

Day Three:
Take Teddy to potty every twenty minutes unless he asks.  At one point this evening he says, "UH OH, pahee!  Uh oh, pahee!"  I feel his pants and say, "Uh oh potty, indeed!" and rush to the bathroom, where he pee pees in the potty even more!  I think he's kind of like a dog who needs to mark his territory, because he always saves a little pee pee.

Number of times using the potty: probably 20
Number of pairs of underpants used: 3
Number of pull-ups used: 1
Number of pairs of wet underpants: 2
Number of twosies anywhere: 0

Overall success rate: 90%

Conclusions:  Though I did a modified version of the three day potty training method (i.e. I didn't throw out diapers - still using them for night, pull-ups for nap), I conclude it's going to take longer than three days.  He did get markedly better about the number of accidents; he is incredibly motivated by Teddy Grahams. Taking into account the declining number of accidents each day, I expect him to be fully trained by Friday.  Just kidding.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

today was a good day... sorta

I filed our taxes last night and I thank the good Lord, we're getting more back than we ever have before.  Between my and Oliver's medical expenses and all the various deductions, we did very well.  Now we can chip away at that stupid debt that built up!

To celebrate we took a mini-shopping spree to Target.  One of Ed's coworkers had given us money to buy gifts for Teddy and Oliver.  I also have been eyeing a curling wand for a while and I had a few groceries to get also.  After lunch with Ed, we took off to Target, me pushing poor Oliver way past his eating time frame.  I had an emergency bottle, but he was so good I didn't use it.

The trip was mostly pleasant except for having to wrangle Teddy.  For some reason Target shopping carts are not made for Ted.  No matter how tight I belt him, he can twist around, get on his knees, grab stuff from the cart and chuck it on the floor.  He grabbed the Playtex straw cups I had in there and began trying to drink through the packaging.  Crazy kid.

I also treated myself to a flat white at Starbucks, mostly because I had no idea what it was.  The lady in front of me ordered it and I asked her what it was and she replied, "I'm getting ready to find out!"  Curious about it myself, and after the barista explained what it was, I ordered one as well, with a shot of toffee nut flavoring.  It was pretty delicious; it wasn't too sweet and wasn't at all bitter.

Once home I put them to sleep (after feeding poor Ollie), took a shower, dried my hair and played with my new curling wand.  I need a little practice, but I think it's going to work out!  And I only burned myself once.  That sucker gets HOT!

I made chicken soup with homemade noodles and invited Ed's brother for dinner... and I overflowed the stupid pot and lost like a quarter of the broth.  Darnit.

Despite all this, I consider today a success.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

it's all fun and games until someone poos on the bathroom floor

In the wake of Bailey passing, life goes on.  I'm not sure Teddy even remembers her; he's too young.  Nonetheless, we won't forget her and he can look at pictures!

In Oliver's world, we transitioned him to a crib a mere week after he started sleeping through the night; this was possibly a mistake on our part.  He started waking himself up (probably by flailing about in his huge new bed) and once he was up, I'd give him a bottle.  This went on for about two weeks before I stuffed him back in the Rock n' Play, where he's been sleeping soundly for 8-10 hour stretches.  Eventually he's going to grow out of the darn thing, but I swear, until he can crawl out of it himself, he's staying in there.  It may not be the "safe sleep environment" that the home nurse talked about when we came home from the hospital, but I feel he's safe and he and I both sleep way better.

Oliver has discovered his hands and very recently, his feet.  He coos and smiles all the time (except when he's crying, which thankfully is more rare than his brother's tears, both past and present). He can grasp toys (on purpose) and brings them to his mouth.  He kicks his feet voraciously sometimes which never fails to make me laugh.  In our double bath last night, he was kicking so fiercely that I was cracking up.

Oliver had his first course of antibiotics this past week because of an infection in his finger of all places.  Apparently, by putting his hands in his mouth he can cause an infection in his nail bed due to cracks in his cuticles.  It caused a big red blister between his nail and top knuckle.  The antibiotics are over today and his finger looks much better!

As far as Teddy's world goes, we've been practicing using the potty.  I prefer the seat on the big toilet because he can't get off easily.  When I tried to put him on the little potty, he just jumped right back up and got mad at me when I tried to hold him down.  I don't want it to be a negative experience, so I didn't push it.  He's peed many times on the big toilet and I've managed to catch one poo in there, simply because I was fast enough when he was diaperless in the bathroom.  It was more luck on my part because later that night we tried the same thing.  I knew he had to poo but wouldn't do it while seated on the potty.  I let him play in the bathroom without a diaper and while his bum was facing away from me and he was examining the hairdryer I heard a little grunt and it was all over.  On the bathroom floor.  Oh well.  Accidents are going to happen.

He's working on his vocabulary but I think I'm the only one who understands him.  I translate for Ed so he knows what Teddy's saying, though sometimes I don't even know.  For those who might try to hold  a conversation with Teddy, here are some translations:

Pee-uh:  please.  Sometimes he says pees or peesh.

Tattoo: thank you.  Basically if it starts with a sort of T-sound and ends in OO, it's thank you.  He uses this along with pee-uh if he wants something.  He uses it correctly sometimes.

Go: go. He first used this word when I was getting us all situated in a shopping cart.  He said, "Go!" very forcefully and I obeyed, mostly because I was so surprised to hear him issue a command.

Nown: down.  Used when he wants to get out of a high chair or off a toilet.

Ree: read.  He'll often bring you a book to help with the deciphering of his speech.

Ball: ball.  This was his first word.

Baba: cup of milk or water or water-juice.

Ba:  as far as I can tell this means blocks or box, anything vaguely cube shaped.

Ha ha ha: hot.  I always say, "Hot hot hot!" obviously when something is hot.

Boggie: doggie.  Alternatively he may say, "Woo."

He also says mama and dada, asking, "Ah dada?" or, "Ah mama?" if he wants to know where the other is.  He holds his hands palms up to reinforce the question.He says his name.  He also repeats words, or approximations of words.  He responds to commands (when he wants to), like, "Bring me (insert object here)."  This morning he was playing with his farm animals and I asked him which one goes, "Mooooooo!" and he handed me the cow.  I was pretty amazed, so I asked which one goes, "Bock, bock, bock!" (or however you spell it) and he handed me the chicken!  I think he might know the color blue, possibly more because of the Big Bird color book.

These are the areas in which he is advanced, as far as I know.  An area where he is not very advanced is in the tooth-growing arena.  He got his first two teeth at seven months and then didn't get any more for about six more months.  He now has six (well five and a half).  He started drooling at three months and never stopped.  He drips like a leaky faucet and I'm halfway convinced he might continue until college.

Teddy is strong-willed and very clear in his desires.  He cries or whines a lot if he doesn't get his way.  We've been treated to a few extremely dramatic displays which include throwing himself on the floor and crying.  I ignore him and let him have his moment and it's generally over quickly.  Luckily, Oliver is as laid-back and sweet as Teddy is obstinate!  Hopefully he will remain that way into his twos and threes (or heck, ones).

This got long, so I'll now insert some pictures to make it more entertaining!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Goodbye sweet Bailey

We spent a little over a week taking care of Bailey because of her coonhound paralysis.  For a few days she seemed to be getting better, sitting up on her elbows and pulling herself out of the bed.  Then it seemed she got weaker and she wouldn't eat very well, nor drink.  On Saturday night I spoon fed her canned food and then squirted water in her mouth from a squirt bottle.

We went to bed and when Ed got up at 4am to feed Oliver, he noticed Bailey's bed was wet.  After he put Oliver back down, he went to clean Bailey up and noticed she wasn't moving at all.  She had passed, not that long ago because she was still warm.  He came to get me and told me he thought she was dead.  We went out and I sat down with her and petted her.

It doesn't seem like she should be gone.  I feel like when we get home, she will be there waiting to greet us.  She was such a sweet dog and so patient with Teddy.  All she ever wanted in life was attention.  As long as someone was touching her, she was good.

We love you Bailey and we miss you so much!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Three months of Ollie

Oliver's Progress Report:  3 Months

Oliver is such a sweet baby.  He really doesn't cry unless he's hungry.  He might get a little fussy when he's tired, but other than that he is so sweet.  He's been sleeping through the night for a while now.  He will go seven to nine hour stretches then wake up to eat and often go right back to sleep for a while.  We're about to transition him to his crib, so that might be interesting!  Right now he's crammed into the spare room in the rock n' play, but little by little I've cleaned it out so we can put a crib up.  We moved the glider into his room, so that's nice for feeding and soothing.

Ollie doesn't have complete control of his big head yet, but it's getting better!  Soon he'll be sitting up in the bumbo and watching his crazy brother!

Speaking of his crazy brother, Teddy is SO helpful.  He brings me pacifiers and smacks his lips to tell me what you're supposed to do with it, sometimes trying to stick it in the baby's mouth.  Two nights ago he grabbed the bottle off of the table, and instead of trying to drink it like normal, he was caught shoving it in Oliver's face, while Ollie seemed a little nonplussed.  Last night Ed called out, "Teddy's sitting on the baby!" and I ran into the room and Teddy was indeed sitting on Oliver who was propped in the boppy.  The funny thing was, Oliver didn't seem to care about this at all.  During a diaper change, Teddy poked at Oliver's diaper and said, "Pee pee!"  So helpful!
He really hated the Santa hat...

Teddy being SO helpful!

Friday, January 8, 2016


On Sunday of last week I noticed Bailey acted a little stiff in the hips.  She had some trouble squatting to pee.  Her breed is known for hip dysplasia, but we didn't think it would strike instantly and at only eight years old.  By Monday I went to let her out and she couldn't stand up; her legs were scrambling for purchase on the slippery tile so I hefted her up but she wouldn't go outside.  At lunch Ed carried her out to pee and she flopped down on her belly.  Her legs wouldn't support her.  She didn't eat or drink anything on Monday or Tuesday, so we took her to the vet.

The vet was baffled as to what was going on.  There were several things that it could be including tick paralysis, toxin ingestion, myasthenia gravis or botulism from eating a dead animal.  They did some blood work and it came back fantastic.  We left her overnight (and two subsequent nights) for IV fluids, steroid injection and antibiotics thinking that these things would help some of the possible causes.  Bailey, however, only got worse.  She's not completely paralyzed but she has no strength in her legs and can only lift her head, but not hold it up for any length of time.

On Thursday, Ed and I went to visit her and talk to the vet again.  At this point we weren't sure what to do because we didn't have money for expensive testing and the next step would be referral to a neurologist.  We said we couldn't afford that and we were going to give her one more day to improve and then make a decision.  Our vet went above and beyond and called the neurologist and did an exam over the phone with her.  Together they came up with the diagnosis of coonhound paralysis (the real name is polyridiculoneuritis), which is a disease that half the time seems to come from contact with a raccoon and half the time is idiopathic, or they just don't know what causes it.  The good news is she can fully recover.  The bad news is, it could take up to four months.

At this point we had to decide if we could take on her care at home with two babies.  She can't go outside to use the bathroom, so we would be cleaning up her mess.  We would have to make sure she could eat and drink enough, possibly having to hand feed her.

She's been such a good (if high maintenance) dog, so we decided to bring her home and try to care for her.  We had her shaved for easier cleaning.  We have her on a thick pile of blankets and bedding which is covered with a waterproof tablecloth and over that we put towels and a potty training pad.  We have to turn her several times a day and offer her food and water multiple times as well, not to mention clean her.  Poor Bailey.  I just know she's so confused.

A big thanks to the staff at Forest Oaks Animal Hospital. They were really great throughout all of this!