31 December 2005

oliver on the mend

I'm pleased to report that Oliver has had a great day. No fever, good moods, and great naps. His appetite is a bit slow to return but he's eating enough that I'm not concerned. I had yet another clogged duct or something yesterday but that is mostly resolved too. We are finally going to see the lights at Hartwood Acres tonight, after trying all week and having various things prevent us from getting there.

After what I used to go through (spend an hour getting him down for a nap, having the nap last 10 minutes) I am truly astounded at how easily he goes down for naps lately. And he stays asleep for an hour or so pretty regularly so I can even get some things done. Unfortunately, that's often WAY too much blog surfing. Check out the list of must-reads on the right. There is a new addition to the list, Give Me the Booger. SJ is an absolute hoot. She's caused me to nearly lose bladder control more times than I can count and I've only been reading her for a couple of days. Granted, the bladder control thing is more of a challenge since Oliver arrived, but still, I'm blaming SJ. She blogs about stuff I would need an anonymous blog for, especially her great stories. Someday I too will spill all the tales of my mis-spent youth, but none of you readers who know me will ever hear about it!

29 December 2005

penguin's handiwork

Penguin has been obsessed with Oliver's new puzzle. So much so that when I wasn't paying attention she stole one of the pieces, by its handy handle, and took it to her bed for some quality chewing. Perhaps she is not getting enough fiber in her diet. I am hoping some sandpaper, or maybe the dremel, can make the piece safe to use again. Pen does not appear to have injested any wood.

The little guy has been under the weather today. He started the day lethargic and clingy, running a low fever. He wanted to sleep a lot, preferably on the chest of one of his parents. The fever went up a bit near dinner time. He's snoozing now, after a couple of long nursing sessions. I hope I am making antibodies to whatever he's fighting off and he will be his happy self again tomorrow.

28 December 2005


Oliver has achieved a few milestones in the last couple of days. I think his teachers are going to see a big difference when he returns to school next week. He is now consistently able to go from crawling to sitting. He was trying to do this last week but usually got a leg stuck awkwardly underneath and would give up and go back to crawling. The crawling is also improving. We see far fewer belly flops and his speed is starting to scare me.

Technically, he met the definition of "sleeping through the night" last night by going 6 hours without waking. That falls a bit short of my definition, but progress is being made nonetheless. We have discontinued feedings between my going to bed and at least 5am. CD gets up with him and is usually able to get him back to sleep. We have noticed Oliver's wakings are getting a little later each night, but I think we have a way to go before he gives up entirely. I was hoping it would happen before CD has to travel again but it doesn't look like that will happen.

26 December 2005

ho ho ho and mistletoe and presents for pretty girls

My two favorite men came through with excellent Christmas gifts. Thanks boys!!! After months of whining, and hints that were not the least bit subtle, I now own a digital camera. It's a Canon PowerShot SD450 and is truly an itty bitty thing of beauty.

Here's a little bit of what it can do, without me reading the manual. I did take a peak at the manual this afternoon. The "pets and kids" mode sounds especially intriguing. I will have to do a bit more reading and fiddling with the camera, but I'm really pleased with what it can do without me knowing anything at all.

Oliver says, "Thanks for the legos, Auntie Kate! They sure are tasty."

[Bonus points for the first commenter (other than my sister) to identify the title of this post.]

22 December 2005

too cool for school (naps)

Oliver's typical naps at school are 30-40 minutes. Sometimes there are two, sometimes three. Sometimes he teases us and sleeps over an hour, but that's rare. Sometimes, like today, he has a 20 minute nap.

In contrast, we have a fairly nice weekend nap routine. I can usually get a 90 minute nap early in the morning, another hour or so around noonish, and a third nap later in the afternoon. This started working even better when I began swaddling him for naps, like they do at school. Swaddling never worked for us before, not even when he was just home from the hospital. I'm not sure what is different now but it's working. I do leave his right arm free so he can have his thumb, which is frequently the key to happiness.

I have a few theories on why he naps so much better at home. First and foremost, we can let him fuss mid-nap and that's a bit difficult in the nap room at school. At home he may fuss for a minute and go back to sleep. At school though, there may be other napping kids nearby. His teachers don't have the luxury of letting him fuss and put himself back to sleep, in most cases.

Another theory is that school is interesting while home and parents are boring. I very much hope I'm wrong about this one but the first morning nap really tells the story. Oliver is frequently sleepy when we arrive at school. One look at his teachers and the toys and he's suddenly wide awake and ready to play. Sometimes it is an hour or more before he goes down for a nap.

Finally, I think he may be so exhausted from not napping well during the week that he conks out on weekends.

I sincerely hope the holiday break, and lots of good naps, become a habit he takes back to school in January.

And in related news, Oliver went seven hours without eating last night. He didn't sleep that entire time but he also wasn't starving when I fed him either. I really think he's ready to be sleeping through the night but the nighttime feedings have become a habit for him. Inspired by a recent post on dadcentric, we are going to try having CD help him get back to sleep during those night wakings. Perhaps after a few nights of scratchy beard instead of boob, he will give up and let us all sleep. Wish us luck.

21 December 2005

where's that time machine when I need it?

Sorry Oliver. Mum is NOT ready for Christmas. Therefore, it shall be postponed 3-5 days while she gets her shit together. Perhaps we should make that 5-7. And change "days" to "years", please.

The list of things I have not done in preparation for the arrival of Granny and Santa is very long and not terribly distinguished. I'm thinking I need to find a turkey. And clean up the tumbleweeds in the kitchen and dining room. When you have three clumber spaniels and no time to groom them the result is tumbleweeds, poofs white fur that get larger and larger every day, and blow around every time you are called upon to serve as your dogs' doorman.

There's laundry to do, food to be acquired, a few more presents to buy. And I think we need some tape if any wrapping is to occur. And the cleaning. If I started now and didn't eat, sleep or feed Oliver, I would probably get the house looking presentable.

Don't get me started on the decorations that are neatly in their boxes, just as I put them away last year.

Somebody wake me when this is all over.

19 December 2005

my underachieving breast

There has been a lingering effect of Ralph's recent visit, a dip in milk supply. Specifically, my right breast has decided it no longer wishes to hold up its end in its conversation with the pump. I'm not dehydrated. I've gone back on the herbs. I'm eating oatmeal and drinking water. Still it mocks me. "An ounce is enough, " it says. Ha! "Tell that to my growing 8 month old," I say.

It's like the theme from Frasier. "What IS a girl to do? Right breast has. left. the building."

10pm update: Right breast not on strike after all. Plumbing is clogged somewhere, as I have a large hard area in that breast now. This happened once before. I tried all the usual things (nursing, pumping, massage, nursing, hot shower, nursing, more pumping, did I mention I tried nursing?) but no luck until many hours later when a middle of the night nursing finally solved the problem.

All this is maybe to be expected since I allowed (begged is more like it) a plastic surgeon to slice and dice the girls four years ago. That the plumbing works at all is a minor miracle.

7am update: The middle of the night feeds (yes, that's a plural) were mostly ineffective at clearing the blockage but Oliver finally worked his magic. I can hear the sighs of relief all over the 'net.

18 December 2005

for the visitors from EphBlog

If you're visiting from EphBlog and looking for the post on my second child dilemma, click here. Thanks for dropping by! Go Ephs!

[If you're asking, "What's an Eph?" here's a wikipedia link.]

16 December 2005

talk to me

Okay, I know you're out there. I see you checking this blog once a day, and sometimes more often than that. But you're awfully quiet! I'd love to know why you're a regular reader, and in addition to pictures of Oliver, what you would like to see more of. With the holiday break from work coming up I'll have more time to ramble on in my usual fashion.

there are only HOW many days until Christmas?

So yesterday it hit me...10 short days until Christmas and I had done almost no shopping. Between the visit from Ralph, a bunch of really crappy (but somewhat pretty if you don't have to go outside) weather, and being ridiculously behind in just about everything in my life, shopping was not even a faint blip on the radar screen.

As of noon today, I'm just about done. I expect my credit card will burst into a puff of smoke any minute. And holy moly, is Amazon fast!!! UPS just delivered a toy I ordered for Oliver yesterday. How'd they do that???

There's still a bunch left to do, like clean the house, decorate, and support CD's valiant efforts to finish the master bathroom remodel, but the bulk of the shopping is done. I had as much as I could shipped directly, as our post office lines are insane and the clerks in no way acquainted with "holiday spirit".

Not to bury the lead or anything but Santa visited our house today, in the form of a very nice job offer for CD, one that enables us to stay in Pittsburgh for at least a year. It will be a big change for him but he is genuinely excited about it and after the energy he poured into the Mulberry email client for 10 years, that is really saying something. More about all this after the New Year, except to say how lucky I am to be married to him.

11 December 2005

lost and FOUND

Not long after Oliver was born I started searching my house for my copy of Marshmallow, a wonderful book from my childhood. At some point about five years ago I discovered it was in print again in hardcover and I purchased it. When I was in elementary school my kindergarten teacher, Mrs Osgood, invited me back to her class once a year to read to her students. Every year I took Marshmallow out of the school library and that is what I read.

Obviously, my memory is completely shot to hell. Not only could I not find the book, I didn't even remember the cat in the book is named Oliver. You can't imagine how much of an idiot I felt like when I took Marshmallow out of our local library a few weeks ago and read it to Oliver.

Tonight, after much searching on many occasions over the last few months, and many times deciding I had hallucinated making the purchase, Marshmallow was found. It's in pristine condition, after spending a few years in the bottom of a box. I probably could sell it but I'll be keeping it for Oliver. I'm sure it won't be pristine much longer but that's okay. As soon as we graduate from board books, the ones Oliver prefers to chew on more than anything else, Marshmallow will be his.

The only thing better than the story is the illustrations. If there's a cat or bunny lover on your holiday gift list, I recommend it.

the eight month update

Oliver is eight months old today. I know it's trite but really, where did the time go? and what did we do before he was born? It's as difficult to remember life before Oliver as life before Clumbers. Sometimes I ponder whether we should have jumped on the baby train a little sooner, but in truth, I wouldn't change a thing. Thanks to CD, we've done things in the right order for us. Good think there is one being in the house equipped with patience and foresight.

Oliver's newest skill is the 90% crawl. He's just about got it, but still flops onto his stomach to move his arms forward most of the time. It looks a bit like a seal. Darn cute, and we do have a little video. Not sure I'll figure out how to load it here though. We have been saving video for a new DVD for family far away and once we get that done, maybe we'll look into putting a clip or two on the blog.

He also can spin around on his tummy, a full 360 degrees. Thus, Oliver is now able to get wherever he wants to go, and in many cases, exactly where we don't want him to go. He has developed obsessions with laptop powercords and the shelves below the TV, which contain all the usual things people without children leave there, exposed: cable box, dvd player, vcr, speakers, and various and sundry cords, adapters and general junk. Very little in the way of baby-proofing has been accomplished. That project is rapidly bubbling to the top of our list.

We are starting to see small glimpses of separation anxiety in Oliver. When I pick him up at school I usually try to check the diaper, nap, and food logs before he sees me. If I am spotted before going in to the nap room, he gets upset when I disappear. In general though, he remains a very happy kid with smiles for nearly everyone. While shopping yesterday he was charming as could be in the stores, only to scream at the top of his lungs due to being tired when he was in the car. I wonder if this is his idea of being a comedian. Time will tell.

We have accomplished eight months of nursing today too. I'm struggling a bit with supply after getting very dehydrated on Friday. I am contemplating taking Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle again if we're not back to normal on Monday. I still haven't spotted any white patches in Oliver's mouth so we haven't started treatment for thrush. I didn't want to start it while he was sick anyway. I will probably have to aim a flashlight in his mouth when he wakes up from his nap. (It's not even noon and he's on his second nap!!)

10 December 2005

the tree dilemma, likely solved

We are expecting a very special visitor for Christmas. Oliver's granny from England will be joining us, and meeting her grandson for the first time. I think this takes care of the Christmas tree dilemma. We have much to do in preparation for her visit. We will just have to add "putting up Christmas tree" to the list.


We're all doing better this morning, after a relatively peaceful night. I'm able to keep water down and some applesauce. Once I get a shower I may even feel like a human again.

Oliver had a little cereal and fruit this morning, about a quarter of what he usually eats but we are going to take things slowly this weekend. He's down for his nap now, snoozing happily.

Now we can get started on the thrush treatment.

09 December 2005

the fun never ends

We seem to have been visited by the dark mark, or "Ralph and Di" as Misfit Hausfrau puts it, far better than I ever could. We have the added bonus of our first case of thrush. Woo hoo!

Oliver hurled on Wednesday and Thursday but seemed to be fine today. He never barfed breastmilk, just his solids. I thought he was out of the woods. "Ralph" made his visit to me at midnight and is sticking around. Ginger ale helps but water isn't working, nor is toast. Two calls from Oliver's school today. The first to tell us they suspect thrush. Then again a few minutes ago to say he lost his lunch and they'd like him to go home. It's going around the room, apparently. At least two teachers have it as well. I sincerely hope, for all our sakes, that CD is spared. We need one healthy human in the house.

As for the thrush, I've had a bothersome nipple for a week or so now. On good days, it feels like ground beef. I chalked it up to those two top teeth Oliver is sporting. Looks like I was wrong.

As if all this were not enough, I found a lump on Penguin, possibly a mammary tumor. She's been acting very squirrelly and clingy lately. We'll try to get her to the vet tomorrow, if anyone is up to it.

08 December 2005

better lobster

As promised, here is the better lobster boy picture. As Sally would say, "Isn't he the cutest thing?"

07 December 2005

the nicest room in the house

Without question, Oliver's room is the most "done" and easily the nicest in the house. Not coincidentally, it is also the smallest. It's an irregular shape which doesn't help. Maybe 10 feet at its longest and widest points. Itty bitty, yes, but we've managed to creatively cram in all the furniture and storage a growing boy needs.

The renovation project was planned for between Christmas and New Year's last year and the plan was to rip out the carpet, spruce up the nice hardwood floor, paint, apply chair rail, bask in the glory of our handiwork. We were not counting on finding 50 year old linoleum under the carpet, since it didn't exist anywhere else in the house. In the end, it took about six weeks of hard slogging to finish and we acquired many new power tools. I can take almost no credit for the finished product. Other than the sponge painting, it was all CD. I have never thanked him properly for working so hard and giving our baby boy such a nice space.

Last weekend the finishing touch was added.

I wish I had a "before" and a "during" to add. Prior to becoming the nursery, this room had icky blue carpet and housed the dog crates.

04 December 2005

a far less life-altering dilemma

After my last entry, it's time to move on to a far less life-altering dilemma: Christmas Tree or no?

We had a tree one year, 2000. It was great. CD had never had a real tree before. Apparently that's not done in England. (This is the only reason I can think of for not moving there, other than the part about never being able to afford a house....) We got it at IKEA, when they had the deal where you could return it on a Saturday in January and give you a gift card for something close to the purchase price AND they would chip the trees and donate the mulch to local garden projects. I hear they aren't doing this anymore. Too bad.

In 2001, we got Piper. Though we thought about getting one and just putting an ex-pen around it, we ultimately decided that a tree with a new puppy in the house would not be a good thing. And every year since we have concluded that Piper + Christmas tree would be disaster. The new house doesn't have a fire place do it's damn hard to make it the least bit festive for the holiday, especially without a tree.

Since this will be Oliver's first Christmas I've been going over the possibilities...put a tree outside on the very bare front porch where it would be unreachable by Piper...but I couldn't put any of my nice ornaments outside. Ditto for the back porch, and Piper could get to it out there. Inside? There's a possible spot in the living room and one in the dining room (though that would be a stretch). Yeah, we could re-arrange a few dog beds for a month.

One dilemma I never thought I would have is real vs fake. I'm a real tree girl, all the way. Never had fake, never will. I'm reconsidering. Technology seems to have advanced to the point where I really want to check them out, especially the pre-lit ones. Not having to wrestle with strings of lights is darn attractive.

What do you think? Am I mellowing in my old age? Should I let go of my purist tendencies just this once? Or should we skip the whole thing since Oliver isn't going to remember it anyway?

02 December 2005

one more time, with feeling

To sib or not to sib. I've been thinking about the whole second baby thing for a while now. With my 40th birthday less than two months away, time's a-wastin'. This entry on Blogging Baby was the impetus to finally write about the topic. Thanks for the kick in the butt, Karen.

One of my first thoughts after surviving Oliver's delivery was utter amazement that some women go through it more than once. I was thrilled to have my son but my body felt like it had been through hell. My mother had five kids. The mind boggles. When I got over the initial trauma, and the area of my body known to my nurses as "the war zone" finally surrendered, I started to go back and forth in my head, many many many times a day, over whether Oliver should have a sibling.

There are so many good arguments on both sides. I fear a child who is the polar opposite of Oliver, starting with the pregnancy. I would have morning sickness with the next baby. She would sleep like a log at night and be grumpy all day. She wouldn't nurse well, would develop severe nipple confusion with bottles, hate all strangers and would be happy only in a bathtub. She would have no sense of humor. Thoughts like that are almost enough to make one consider tubal ligation, or better yet, vasectomy.

On the other hand, CD and I won't be around forever and I don't like the idea of Oliver being alone in the world. Or having to figure out how to push both of our wheelchairs by himself. I would like to know he has someone to talk to who has shared closely in his life experiences should there be difficult decisions to make. And while I have known perfectly well-adjusted only children, necessary lessons about sharing may be easier to teach at home with another child.

But then what about all the alone-time I've had with Oliver? I would never have that with baby #2. Would he/she feel cheated? And how could I possibly give Oliver any less attention, parcelling out time between two kids? Some would argue two is twice the fun. I must be a "glass half-empty" girl because sometimes I see twice the work and thus, half the fun, in the bizarre calculus going on in my head.

Then there's the desire to balance things out by adding a girl to the family, though with the dogs and cat factored in, girls are already in the lead in our household. Before Oliver, I never imagined myself the mother of a boy. I could only picture myself with girls. Now, as so many mothers of sons before me have discovered, it's hard to imagine adding a girl to the mix. I should really let this one go since we don't exactly get to place our order anyway. But then it seems like CD would like one of each and there's the strong desire to make him happy. I'll never forget the day in Maine, when I was coming up on 12 weeks pregnant and a few days before we got our CVS results and knew the gender of our baby. One of my family members asked CD if he was hoping for a boy or a girl. He responded something along the lines of, "It doesn't matter with the first one." That was truly the first time the idea of a second child ever crossed my mind. Clearly, he had been thinking about it a bit longer.

So this is how it's been in my head for a while now. Back and forth. Up and down. Round and round. A couple of months ago we agreed to discuss it on Oliver's first birthday, in April of 2006. I don't think I'll be physically ready before then and given my age, we don't want to leave it much longer. We also liked the timing of that pregnancy. I wasn't big or uncomfortable during the summer heat, which I hate anyway, and Oliver arrived after the end of the very cold weather. And of course, I already have maternity clothes that are seasonally correct.

At last, in just the past week or so, I have figured out what was really bothering me, and it is ridiculously simple. It's the "older parent" thing. Growing up I was very conscious of the fact I had older parents. It was more my dad, who retired when I was 12. I always said it wasn't being 40 and pregnant that scared me. It was being 55 with a 15 year old. But the more I think about it, the real problem isn't my fear of being an older parent so much as my fear that my kid(s) will be the only one(s) with older parents. I need only look around Oliver's school to see this is not the case. The parents under 30 appear to be in the minority. Demographics are on my side.

That doesn't entirely solve my dilemma, but it goes a long way towards putting me into a frame of mind where I can envision making one more trip down the parenthood path. And the slightly faded memories of "the war zone" help too.

01 December 2005

look out world, here he comes

This really should be accompanied by a little video but Oliver is teetering on the brink of crawling. After a few weeks of moving backwards and a week or so of doing his best inchworm impersonation, he has figured out how to organize the movements required for forward motion. Now he just has to do it more than once.

He is also doing some nifty pivots on his tummy too. Yesterday he managed a >180 degree spin in about three very well-executed moves.

Toys are the primary motivation right now but I have a feeling once he gets moving for real there will be no stopping him. Fasten your seatbelts!