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And I’m ridiculously excited about it!

It took waaaAAAaaay to many hours but I learned some interesting things.  I can’t wait to share the sordid mess.  For now just a few little points:

  • So far it turns out that my favorite store to shop at is the cheapest one on my list.
  • Most of the items I priced were more expensive at the big warehouse store than at my favorite grocery store and almost half the things I wanted couldn’t be gotten there.
  • The grocery service that delivers to the house?  The one I claimed “saves my life” when speaking to my husband last week?  That one is absolutely more expensive than any other nearby option even BEFORE the $10 service charge.
  • Going out shopping alone on Saturday was strangely like getting out of the house for real.  Guess I’ll be doing it more now that I’ve discovered my beloved delivery service will break the bank.  *sigh*

Tomorrow: details, directions and pictures for all you other cheap skates.  I know you’re out there!

Dear Family,

You did it.  You fooled me.  Well, to be fair I think you believed it was true too but it wasn’t.  You convinced me that our precious little baby Adam wouldn’t take a bottle.

I believed you because I’ve tasted Isomil or whatever it is the doctor has him drinking now and guess what, it’s really, really, REALLY gross.  You believed you because you didn’t really want to give the baby a bottle for me–especially if it might take actual work.  In an effort to find enough time to do anything other than nurse this baby, however, I resolved to try a two-ounce bottle a day until I could get him to agree.

I succeeded on day one.  For future reference, here’s how it works.

The baby is crying and hungry.  You mix and warm up the bottle–not too hot.  Afterwards, you pick him up and put the bottle in his mouth.  He doesn’t like it too much because it’s a little bitter and, let’s face it, it’s rubber.  I mean how many sane men, young or old, ever said to themselves, “What I really want right now is a fake nipple”?  None, that’s how many.

Nevertheless, you keep the fake nipple in the baby’s mouth and you hold him gently.  Eventually he gets the idea that something that will cure his hunger pangs is dripping from it.  He begins to suck.

After a few minutes he may reject the bottle again.  Try burping him.  Whether he belches or not offer him the bottle in another minute or so.  He will probably protest but you will overcome!  Hold him close almost like you could nurse him yourself.  Give him a couple kisses on the head and a nuzzle while keeping said synthetic nipple full of bitter formula in his mouth.  In a second he’ll take it and you will have succeeded in giving your mother or wife a break.

For Pete’s sake.

If that’s not enough incentive think about how much sooner your own dinner will be on the table if I don’t need to drop what I’m doing every two hours to feed “The Gullet.”

Thank you.

Now that I’ve wasted a perfectly good hour re-reading some of my old blog posts I remember that I really like blogging enough to make time for it.  It’s fun and it’s probably not toooo much of a time suck if I’m strict with myself.

So, I’m going to stick with it for now.  Yay!

Time to get brainstorming.

:-)

Super Cute Baby Man

Adam John, content on Mom's lap at the computer.

My latest distraction and the answer to, “Are you still doing your blog?” 

Alas, mostly no. 

I sit on this fence so much.  Do I have time to blog?  I don’t know.  I would like to.  On the other hand, here’s little number eight.

He was 9lbs even at birth.  He is 12.5lbs at four months.  He’s not much for putting on weight.  The pediatrician offered to donate some fat for him but that’s not allowed.  I, however, am encouraged to give to the cause.

Now that Mr. Adam is below the 10th percentile for weight I get to hold him almost all day long.  The good doctor told me to feed him eight to ten times a day.  With the exception of a six-hour rest at night and two two-hour naps a day  that means I cannot waiver on offering him sustenance every two hours.

But wait, there’s more!  He’s sensitive to cow’s milk AND soy and he’s justifiably disgusted by hypoallergenic formulas.  (They taste like paint thinner if you ask me.)  Nutramigen made him break out anyway.  So there’s only one milk truck for Adam and her name begins with E. 

Will I be blogging more?  Maybe.  I have another entry started.

Stay tuned to see if I finish…

New (Year’s) Resolutions

It’s actually a bit of a coincidence that I’m here now with new plans and ideas at the New Year.  It’s really a matter of new baby Adam being big enough to give me a little breathing room.  Also, the holidays are over, no one’s involved in winter sports and I have a new Wii Fit–a birthday gift, not a Christmas present.  It’s time for the winter tuck-in.  Is that why people tend to make resolutions at the New Year anyway, because things are slow and quiet?  It’s probably also because everyone’s fat.

Nevertheless, I have resolutions.  I’ve been sorting them out in my mind and I considered going to Borders with my gift cards–Christmas this time–to buy a journal to get them down on paper.  Then I thought about how well journals have worked for me in the past.  They get misplaced.  They get scooped up by the kids.  They turn up and embarrass me.  They’re not the best choice.

But!  I never lose the computer and neglected as it is I’ve never forgotten how to get myself onto this blog.  The kids don’t and won’t have the password and I’ve never reviewed what I’ve written here and been all that embarrassed.  All that plus I think maybe using this space to post my goals and progress will give me a little bit more accountability.  Maybe.

So, here goes with my goals for the year and my little mini-goals for the month of January.

Health and Weight:  Sooooo clichéd but since I’m heavier than I’ve ever been excluding pregnancy and because I have all kinds of little symptoms that I know are weight related, I resolve to lose 50 pounds this year.  Let the wild rumpus begin!  I predict this will be the most difficult resolution to keep.  Perhaps I’m wrong.  As I sit here listening to David snapping at someone (probably Ben) to hurry up on whatever video game they’re playing maybe the next goal will be harder.

Family Life:  The level of unkindness my children exhibit toward each other is breaking my heart.  Phew!  Hard to admit.  Maybe it’s regular sibling stuff.  Do everyone’s kids fight like this?  Todd and I aren’t exempt from this either though.  A house stuffed with two parents, eight kids, a cat and a dog can be a pressure cooker.  We’re not always the parents we want to be.  Speaking for myself, that’s probably an issue more often than it’s not.  Nevertheless, we need more peace in this house.  And now, as I deal with yet another David/Ben Wii fight, I resolve to find a way to make everyone in this house behave more kindly to each other this year.  Ugh.  I’m scared.

Spirituality:  I think there’s something in me that’s drawn to spiritual things.  When I enter a church’s sanctuary I feel at home.  There’s something about it that instantly settles me.  When my attention to that part of me is lacking, I feel it.  Lately, it’s really been lacking.  I’m not sure what it is.  Is it time constraints?  That’s probably part of it but the truth is I’m confused too.  There are things about my Catholic faith that are pretty difficult right now.  The doctrines on human sexuality are tough, the various scandals that always seem to be in the press are hard too.  I don’t know how to get past these things but I know I have to try if I want to be comfortable with myself so I resolve to work to find a way to be at peace with myself in my faith this year.

Parenting: With such a large household it’s very easy to get lost in details of laundry and meals just to lose track of the children and their needs.  I try pretty hard with this but I’m embarrassed to admit how many times in the past couple months I’ve had a conversation with someone–usually a teacher–and lost track of a particular child’s particulars.  What am I doing this for anyway?  To be a master laundress?  I don’t think so.  This year I resolve to become more engaged with each and every one of my children.

Professional work:  And here we come to the area of my life about which I’m most conflicted.  Sure I need to be present for my children.  I absolutely need to lose weight.  There’s no question I have to get things straight in my spiritual life.  But, do I need to become engaged in some sort of professional work?  I don’t know.  Gah!  I just don’t know.  I want to.  We could also use the additional income.  College is coming in less than four years–god help us.  Oh man, I’m going to tack this on at the end here even though I don’t know how I feel about it.  I guess I’ll make it easy on myself I resolve to earn enough money of my own this year to buy Andrew a Xenith football helmet, sign a couple of the kids up for a couple of summer camps and pay for next fall’s music lessons.  Putting it that way makes it a lot less angsty for me.

And the specific steps for January…

Health and Weight: Plan weekly menus & spend at least thirty minutes a day working out on the Wii.

Family Life: Eliminate bad language from my vocabulary and that of the kids.  It starts with profanity but includes the words “stupid,” “idiot,” “hate,” and especially, “shut-up.”

Spirituality: Add fifteen minutes of spiritual reading to my daily routine.

Parenting: Spend at least ten individual minutes each day with each child.

Professional work: Spend fifteen minutes a day on honest-to-goodness income-generation.

Is this too much?  It’s scaring me a little but it needs to be done.  I feel like I’m in a rut of my own making and this is less than two hours a day of trying to dig out of it.  For now.  I think I can do it.  I’ll post at least weekly–hopefully more–on my progress.

Yowza!  Frightened.

I guess today the answer is to blog.

I’ve been spending some time thinking about where I want to go with this.  Do I publish whatever it is I write on my little-read/unpaid blog or do I spend time trying to publish my writing for pay?  Ultimately, I think the answer is both.

It looks like my last blog post was in March and honestly, I’m shocked to see that I still have people checking in here and there.  Wow, hi!

Since then I’ve been, you know, pregnant.  That’s a lot of work.  I’ve also been a slave to the phenomenon that is youth baseball.  We had four boys playing on five different teams this year.  It was fun!  It was oh so much fun!  The only thing I can say to that is I’m eternally grateful it wasn’t four girls dancing in five different dance troupes.  I think that would have killed me.

And lest you find yourself wondering why five baseball teams should be a burden, let me assure you there was more.  There was also girl’s JV tennis, flute lessons and all of the stuff that comes with the end of the school year–art fairs, very cute preschool plays, field trips, concerts, recitals and mommy guilt.  I’m afraid to say I’ve continued to fail at getting 1,000 lap-hours of reading in for my preschoolers.  I’ve also asked my big kids to babysit too much.

*sigh*

Basically, I barely had time to think.  And I needed to think for many reasons, not the least of which was to figure out where I’m going with this writing thing.

I also barely had time to eat, which means I was subsisting on PB&J and that, it turns out, makes me into a very, very low-energy pregnant woman.  When it was finally time for school to get out and about time for me to take my one-hour glucose test I started eating much more sensibly and voila!  I had a normal amount of pregnant-lady energy again.  I also had a lot less back pain, which I find surprising.  I still failed the one-hour glucose test though.  I find out tomorrow if I passed the three-hour test.  I hesitate to hazard a guess.

Nevertheless, all of that is behind us now.  The kids opted out of summer baseball and I opted out of signing them up for any other summer activities.  That has left us with six weeks of blessed boredom.  So far we’ve managed to fill this boredom with three pool parties (two of our own and one elsewhere), gardening, yard work and long neglected household projects.  Each day feels freer when one of those household project suckers gets checked off the list.

Today will apparently be a day for moving bedrooms around in anticipation of the little one’s September arrival.  I think I may even begin the job of painting Marie’s new girly bedroom.

The next several weeks of boredom will include a trip to the White Mountains, more painting and decorating newly reconfigured bedrooms, more neglected household projects, lots of summer reading, hopefully lots of writing, some crocheting of the new baby’s crib-blanket-from-Mom, waiting for crayons to go on sale for 20-cents a box at WalMart and getting the back-to-school shopping/scavenging through hand-me-downs under control.

All in all it leaves me wondering how all you people with zero to three children manage to make it through a single day without dying of boredom.  Really, how do you DO it?!

At any rate, back to the thinking about writing thing.  It seems to me I can both blog and write for profit.  Lots of people do it, right?  I can at least try.  (I say try because it’s not exactly the golden age of writing for profit at the moment right now, is it?)

For the past little bit I’ve been working on getting some fiction going.  I took a creative writing workshop a few years ago and I think I was pretty successful.  The instructor encouraged me to enter some contests and maybe I’ll do that again.  The idea of forging ahead on my own is a little scary though.  Finding out what’s buried in my head is a little scary too.  It’s always so dark.  We’ll see where it goes.

This morning I started working on some personal essays too.  That was easier though it’s where I get stuck on the idea of separating professional work from blogging.  For now I’m going to give it a try and see how it shakes out.  There’s lots from our daily life that can find a home here.

So, here’s to beginning again.  We’ll see how long I can keep it going!

Ah, Family Literacy Night.  Though it comes but once a year it brings with it mommy-guilt that lasts and lasts.

For those of you not familiar with the phenom that is Family Literacy Night, let me introduce you.  It’s the result of a lot of work and very noble intentions on the part of our town’s public elementary school faculty.  All three schools cooperate to present an evening of workshops, free books and performances all in the name of getting kids and families reading.  Now that’s a cause I can get behind.

Normally.

The free books are great.  My five-year-old took his to school the next day for show and tell.  It was all about caverns and the various things that hang around in them.  A week later he’s still carrying it everywhere.  The performances are entertaining and enlightening.  The refreshments are even better.  But the seminars, oh, the seminars.

Last year we attended one on literacy games.  It was really good.  We played one or two of the games.  The kids decorated game pieces.  We even got a big stack of mimeographed game boards with accompanying directions.

I think we were probably still at the school when my eldest (and obviously wisest) son said, “You’ll never play any of those games.”  I strenuously disagreed.

I brought them home.

I put them in a drawer or a closet or something.

I never played them. 

When enough pieces were lost and game boards were sacrificed in the name of arts and crafts I relocated them to the recycle bin.

This year’s seminar was on the importance of reading to young children.  One of the two teachers leading the group pointed out that research shows that children need a total of 1,000 lap hours, during which they’re read to by the person who cares for them, before kindergarten in order to be reading ready.

I am not kidding when I tell you that five-year-old Ben’s head snapped around to me and his eyes widened into saucers as he silently mouthed the words “ONE THOUSAND?!”

My thoughts exactly.

I’m a little slow so it took a few days but I finally did some math to get my mind around this.  If the lap time you have with your child is reading bedtime stories, I think it’s safe to assume you’re spending about thirty minutes each evening.  At that rate you would have to be sure to never miss a day from birth to age 5.48 to achieve the magic 1,000 hours.  If, however, you don’t intend to bring a pile of picture books to the hospital in your overnight bag and you think you might have a cold sometimes or you are considering ever having an outing that ends in toddlers falling asleep for the night in the car, you might want to bump that up to 45 minutes a day.  You can reach 1,000 hours in 3.66 years that way–or you can do it in five or so years with a reprieve here and there.

Either way, good luck.

Tonight I decided to watch the clock while I read to my three little ones.  I choose wordy books (Board books are for amateurs!) to make sure we got the maximum amount of time in.  We started with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.  Before we were through Ben wanted to know if he could leave.  I said no.  When the first title was complete, however, he slid off the bed, army crawled to the door and jumped up to announce “I got away!” before running off.  He lasted twelve minutes.

On book two, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, Marie was fidgeting.  She grabbed at the pages.  She bit me.  She stood on my lap, danced and tried to walk up to my shoulders.  She eventually escaped.

I’m not sure what the third book was now but James, the last hold out, stood up and walked away in the middle of that one.

We got 25 minutes in.

God help any of you who have children who can’t sit for a book because this is what happened with a couple of my kids who can sit.  I quake in fear for the others.  I guess they’re just doomed to the same fate as those who weren’t breastfeed for twelve to twenty four months or who didn’t have ugly black and white mobiles hanging over their bassinets or the ones without iPods playing Mozart in their nurseries on a regular basis.  They’re just not going to cut it in any way whatsoever.

The other day at lunch I asked Ben what he thought about needing to be read to for a thousand hours before kindergarten.  He made one of his crazy Ben faces and said, “I’m not doing that!”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it will give me a headache.”

I hope not Ben, but if I don’t get to read you a bedtime story tomorrow and we end up behind I hope you’ll forgive me.  I’m not sure if we got 1,000 lap hours in for your sister before kindergarten either but I have to go to her induction into the Junior National Honor and I might be home a little late.

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