Sunday, December 27, 2009


Our cutie laughed. Seriously, he laughed. Haha--haha. Like that. My sweetie had said he'd heard him laugh the other day, but he wasn't sure if it really was a laugh, but today we both heard it, several times in a row. While his was grinning from ear to ear. He used to squeal in this mood; today he laughed. It was pretty exciting!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The line between fiction and reality

As I've mentioned, I've been reading a fair bit lately, more than I have in a long time. This is because there are several periods a day when I have to sit in a chair and feed the baby, and the only thing to do during these times is read (well, or nod off, if it's a 2:00 am feeding!). At the moment, I am on a sci-fi kick: I am alternately rereading Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series and reading Orson Scott Card's Ender series for the first time. I think the latter is more serious in its themes, but the former is a damned good read.

Anyway, as a result, I am spending more time with books, particularly fiction, than I have in a long time, and since I am not working, the only person I talk to regularly is my sweetie. This has resulted in the characters I read about being rather more real to me than they might otherwise be. To the point where I start to think about their lives outside of what's written in the books.

For example:
Do you think Anne Blythe (nee Shirley) breastfed her six kids? I think she must have, but do you think she had trouble with it? Did Gilbert, as a doctor, have advice for her, or did he stay out of the way?


I wonder if Miles Vorkosigan, in addition to his well documented medical problems, also had cradle cap?

Yeah: I need to get out more, in more ways than one....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday baking

Every year I bake cookies for presents for our neighbors. This year, as my overly social husband continues to make friends, that means 14 houses. In the year I have a baby and can't bake like a factory. SIGH.

Normally I bake four kinds of cookies. I did actually bake four kinds this year, too, but two of them were disasters. OK, one was a disaster (ironically, the only one I'd made before) and one was just so utterly boring I didn't think it was gift-worthy. So, it's just two kinds this year :-).

On the left are Maida Heatter's Gingerful Biscotti, from her Brand-New Book of Great Cookies ((c) 1995--so, out of print and no longer brand-new), later reprinted in Maida Heatter's Cookies ((c) 1997 and also now out of print). These are delicious, the big winners this year, easy to make and definitely worth making again. That's saying a lot, because I have thousands of cookie recipes in my house (so not exaggerating there), and not many get made more than once, since I'm always looking for something new.

On the right are what ended up being my version of a Sno Ball, a snack I occasionally crave even though I fully acknowledge they are plastic and gross. My version is a bittersweet brownie base (I took the recipe from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies, but any reasonably dark, sturdy (not cakey) brownie will do), baked a bit thinner than called for in the recipe, topped with the toasted coconut marshmallows from this month's Cooking Light. These are pretty tasty, though I didn't sample them extensively since I barely have enough to cover the 14 houses. Making marshmallows from scratch, something I've wanted to try for several years now, is reasonably easy but has a lot of steps; I don't know that I'll do it again. Maybe as a treat for my son when he's old enough to love hot cocoa.

Speaking of cooking light, these aren't bad: only the brownies have any butter in them. The marshmallows have coconut, and the biscotti have eggs and almonds, but overall these are way down on the fat scale for me. I laid in two pounds of butter for this cookie bake off and barely made a dent in the first pound.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


We are in the midst of a sleep experiment.

This is our cutie a week ago, after he had his first shots. Three shots, in the thighs, and he slept for 7 hours in the afternoon, like a log. He continued to sleep through the night, much more than usual the next day, and then everything started to fall apart.

Thursday night, he slept poorly, Friday night and Saturday nights not at all, but slept like log Saturday during the day. Very frustrating. By Sunday morning we were at our wits' end, and decided it was time to try Crying It Out.

Much controversy surrounds crying it out, and the younger you do it, the more controversy is involved. But none of us was sleeping (though our cutie slept Saturday day, he did not sleep Sunday during the day: one day of sleep out of five days and nights does not a healthy sleep habit make), so we had to take some action.

All the sleep books direct you to put the baby to bed drowsy, but awake. We had not been doing this: we would rock the baby to sleep, then put him in the crib. So the first step was to stop doing this.

After putting the baby down drowsy but awake, sleep books diverge, based on their philosophy towards Crying It Out. Some books tell you that letting your baby cry it out will teach him that he can't trust you, that there's no point in crying if he's hungry or hurt, because no one will answer. They tell you that he'll be needy and anxious his whole life because he won't be sure of his parents' love.

Other books tell you that babies need to learn to soothe themselves, and that will involve some crying. If they don't learn how to do it, they will be lousy sleepers their whole lives. My sweetie's cousin, at 25, is still a lousy sleeper, and she blames her mother for always rocking her to sleep. Her two younger siblings were allowed to cry, and they can sleep through a tornado.

(As a side note--do you detect a theme? Anything you do will affect your child for the rest of his life. No pressure.)

Anyway, we chose to let him cry, going in after a certain amount of time to reassure him that we were still there, and he was not alone. The first night, after some struggle (boy, is it hard to listen to him cry!), he fell asleep and slept--no joke--for eight hours. Last night he did it again. And, since good night sleep promotes daytime naps and vice versa (yes, sleep begets sleep--don't ask me why), he has been starting to take longer naps during the day.

Well. I hate to think he thinks I can't be trusted and that I don't love him, but I sure am glad that he (and we) are getting real sleep at last. Fingers crossed that the trend continues!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Home in one piece

We took our cutie on his first cross-country plane ride for Thanksgiving. My sweetie's family lives on Long Island, NY, so we took a trip to visit and introduce the cutie to his great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, regular aunt and uncle, first cousins once removed, and second cousins. And, of course, the grandparents, whom he's met before.

It was not a bad trip. Our cutie was very good on the plane ride east (a red-eye); for the most part, he slept. It was harder on us, because you can't sleep while holding a baby: you might drop him. And our arms got very tired. I thought that at home he never lets me put him down, but apparently I do get a break every now and then, because even sharing the duty with my sweetie on the six-hour flight, my arms were tired. Or maybe it was the combination of holding him and being jammed into a cramped window seat on a very HOT plane.

During the visit (12 days long!), the cutie charmed everyone with constant cooing and smiling. Everyone agreed that he was the smartest, most advanced baby ever. While my rational mind takes this with a grain of salt, my mama mind is very proud. We also discovered, via a trip to a pediatrician (it turned out to be a blocked tear duct--nothing serious), that our cutie now weighs 12 lbs.

This is noteworthy because that visit to the Long Island doctor occurred on November 23, a mere 21 days after his one month appointment with his Seattle doctor. This means that in 21 days, he gained 1 lb, 10 oz. I'm kind of terrified to hear what he weighs at his two month appointment this week!

Despite the trip to the doctor, our cutie made it through with flying colors. I had been so nervous about exposing him to germs on the plane and among the relatives that I got an H1N1 vaccine before I left. I do not usually get a flu shot, but he's too young for the vaccine, so my getting it became my sort of talisman against him catching anything. Apparently, it worked: we've been home five days and he's still healthy. I think any sickness he shows now would be home grown.