Wednesday, October 31, 2007

this year I really can blame my belly on the candy bowl

Halloween festivities have abounded around here over the past week.

We had a successful Halloween party this weekend, with loads of cute babies dressed as loads of cute things.

These rats are not representative of the cute babies.

I have leftovers coming out of my ears; I could literally throw another entire party and have enough to feed people.

Poisonous centipede, anyone?

My mom is visiting, and she and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning preparing and decorating and clearing out space for the 40+ people that rsvped to the party. I was ready to have a nervous breakdown because our tiny house can definitely NOT support 40+ people, but thankfully, they came in shifts. Plus, a quarter of the participants were under a year old, so they took up less space.

We went apple picking, pumpkin picking, traveled through corn mazes, made pumpkin pies and apple muffins, purchased costumes, set up mums and went on foliage trips.

It has been a wonderful month, and I'm a little sad to see it end. Tomorrow we have another party to attend and we're trick or treating at Josh's work in the afternoon before we head home to hand out candy.

Today, however, we completed an important rite of passage for Gabe. We carved his first pumpkin.

He helped. Especially if you count licking the pumpkin and poking things into it helping.

I think we're well on our way to securing the Halloween obsession in the future generation.

More than anything, though, I've realized that Halloween is a million times more fun when you can share it with your friends and family.

I've also realized that time really does fly when you're having fun.

What a difference a year makes, huh?

Happy Halloween from our little stinker to yours!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

he's very advanced

Gabe and I went to a playdate at a friend's house this afternoon. A friend that has a baby 3 months younger than Gabe, and who is not yet crawling or scooting around the house. A baby that stays on the blanket on which you place him, and who is not yet eating dust and cobwebs and pulling himself up on anything that is within reach. Meaning, a friend whose house is NOT babyproofed.

More than not being babyproofed, though, her house was a veritable construction site of danger. The doors to her basement were hanging open, the wires to her flat panel that hangs on the wall in her living room were taunting us as they sat jumbled together on the floor, the screws to her missing fireplace gate sat menacingly from the wide open fireplace bricks. And Gabe, with his super special sense for all things that could kill you, headed straight for each of these.

Oh, I did what the books tell you... I distracted him, redirected him, encouraged him to play with LOOK! the ball! the car! the talking table! the book! my water bottle! my cell phone! please? anything!!! But I have a determined child with a singular purpose- to reach whatever I have told him not to touch.

After I'd peeled him off the fireplace opening for the 6th time, he started to get annoyed with me, and frankly, I was a little annoyed with him. By the 7th time, he started to cry when I hauled him across the room. And by the 8th time, he threw his first ever, real live tantrum.

He threw himself face down on the floor, sobbing and flailing his arms and legs.

At 9 months. NINE MONTHS.

Then, amidst the big crocodile tears, he picked himself up again and headed straight back for the sooty dirty fireplace with the screws and the brick corners and the step up and the danger danger danger. I pulled him off again, and he threw another tantrum, and I realized that I wasn't having fun anymore. So I picked him up, packed up our bag, and headed home. It wasn't a play date if there was no playing going on, and at least in my living room I don't have to keep saying no to a person that doesn't even understand what I'm saying.

Isn't 9 months a little young for this, though? Isn't toddlerhood going to be AWFULLY long if we start with the tantrums now? I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

there are still witches in Salem, right?

This weekend we went apple picking with Chatty Cricket and her crew. Unfortunately, there were no more apples, but we did enjoy the unseasonably warm fall weather, the pumpkin patch, and the cuteness of the kids.

Does anyone know how to bottle up the adoration of a 9 month old?

Josh and I are wondering. We'd like to save some up for when he turns 16.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

maybe the IRS will call today too

It's been QUITE a day today.

Here are the infractions on the list (and keep in mind that it is only 3:59pm at the time of this writing):

1. As we were getting ready to walk out the door to take a walk with a neighbor, Gabe puked up his whole breakfast on himself. I'd just removed his bib about 30 seconds prior. It soaked his pants, sweater, shirt and onesie, so we had to start all over again with the wardrobe decisions. To add insult to injury, as I pulled off his sweater, I accidentally smeared the spit-up onto his face and into his hair.

2. Gabe wouldn't take a nap. I have nothing more to say about this, my ears are bleeding from listening to him whine about it.

3. The dogs pooped on the living room rug.

4. One of the dogs puked 5 times on the living room rug because they ate snacks out of Gabe's hand.

5. Then Gabe ate the left over bits of the snack that had fallen out of the dogs' mouths. The previously slobbered on bits.

6. I was in the kitchen getting materials to clean up the puke, and returned to find Gabe sitting on the floor with my coffee mug between his legs, licking the rim of the coffee cup to get the remnants. Shocking that he won't take a nap, no? He was saying "mmmm, mmmm, mmmm" to himself while he licked the edge, and screamed when I took it away.

7. My house is a disaster zone, DISASTER, and with Josh working late every night this week, I've had no time to clean and I'm supposed to host a book club tomorrow night. I am surrounded by piles of dirty clothes and dust bunnies.

8. Josh also just sent me an email with the list of traveling that he will be doing over the next two months. A list of traveling that includes several nights and days away from us.

Sigh. Just sigh.


In other news, we're introducing Gabe to some musical classics, and would welcome suggestions.

So far, he enjoys:
Billy Joel
Elton John
Lionel Richie
Tina Turner
Neil Diamond
Bruce Springsteen
Rod Stewart

He also did some dancing to Tiffany's "I think we're alone now", when it came on the radio the other day.

Any thoughts on who we should add to the list?

Monday, October 15, 2007

i have to live up to my name, after all

October is fast coming to a close, and I'm sure you know what that means.


We're very excited about Halloween in the Halloweenlover household, most of all because it is Gabe's first Halloween! Such a milestone! I can tell that he is particularly excited about it. I've been showing him pumpkins and costumes and scarecrows and together we pulled out all of the decorations and took on the extensive process of spooking up the house. We can't wait.

Our front stoop is ready to greet trick or treaters, and friends that come in the meantime.

Josh would like you to please note the 50 pound pumpkin that I made him lug home from the Berkshires. He says that it ruined our gas mileage for the drive home. Whatever, it was totally worth it.

We have our Halloween countdown calendar set up and ready to go.

FYI, our name is not actually Craig, this is just the sample picture from the PBK catalog.

Gabe is prepared with the appropriate wardrobe choices for the month.

His costume (not to be revealed yet) is purchased and waiting for him. I promise you that it is cute enough to make you throw up.

The cookbook with all the good pumpkin muffin and pumpkin bread recipes is sitting out on the counter, and the slow cooker is cooking away. Plans for apple and pumpkin picking are on the calendar. A baby Halloween party is in the works for all of Gabe's new baby friends and some pre-Halloween and actual Halloween festivities are also in the works. Gabe's Nonna is even coming to town for the week of Halloween, so we have lots to look forward to, lots to celebrate. How about all of you?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm especially bummed because I don't get to burn those calories

In the grand scheme of things, I think I've had a pretty easy go of the breastfeeding thing. I never had any pain, never had any latching problems, supply was great. I found breastfeeding to be lovely right from the get-go, except perhaps for the sleep deprivation. Many of my friends complained about the hours and hours spent trapped on the couch breastfeeding, but none of that bothered me. I'd just curl up with Gabe in my arms and a good book resting on the edge of my boppy and I was happy as a clam.

When I look at the last 9 and a half months objectively, though, I realize that breastfeeding isn't really, per se, easy. In the early days, I spent 1/3 of my days sitting on the couch breastfeeding Gabe, when his marathon feeding sessions would take up to an hour each time. Then I spent hours upon hours pumping so that I'd have enough for a frozen stash and for an occasional bottle if I ever left him with Josh. Around 6 months, I dealt with his nursing strike, then recently, I dealt with his bottle strike. For the last 3 months, I've dealt with him not wanting to feed long enough to initiate a letdown. If the milk isn't there the second he is hungry, he'll arch his back and try to get out of my arms. This means that I often have to pump until the milk starts flowing, then put Gabe on, at which point he'll eat. Needless to say, this is very annoying.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's been worth it. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

In order to do all this work, though, I've realized that I have to believe that what I'm doing is the best thing for Gabe. I have to believe that breastfeeding him is worth all the work. It doesn't really matter whether I know that logically formula is totally perfect too, because in order to justify all this work, I've just internalized the idea that breastfeeding him is the best thing I can do for him right now.

Over the past few weeks, I've had some trouble with supply. Gabe wants to feed 6 times a day one day, 3 times a day the next. Sometimes twice a night, sometimes not at all. My milk hasn't been meeting his demands, so I see a definite drop in supply. I used to be able to pump one additional bottle for him after he'd gone to bed, but lately I can't get anything when I try to pump. Sometimes I'll have to pump 10-15 minutes, just to get my letdown to start at dinnertime. It is so frustrating. I'm very emotional about the whole thing, and I'm trying everything. I drink tons of water throughout the day, upwards of 12 glasses per day. I'm taking fenugreek up the wazoo, and I'm making sure I eat enough as the day goes on. Still, we're slowing going through my frozen stash and I'm getting nervous.

At his most recent well baby check-up, the pediatrician's advice was clear- give him formula in his cereal instead of my frozen milk. In the meantime, I can continue trying to get my supply to come up. He said that if Gabe seems really hungry after I feed him, I shouldn't feel bad about supplementing him with formula. I'm not willing to supplement with a bottle of formula, at least not yet, because I know that if he doesn't stimulate my breasts, my supply will really never come up. On the cereal front, though, it sounds so reasonable. It would be so much easier to just add formula to his cereal instead of agonizing over the frozen milk and restricting Gabe's cereal consumption out of fear of wasting milk.

The problem is, I care. Even if it is ridiculous or stupid, even if I know that babies thrive on formula, even though I know that Gabe has made it almost 10 months with nothing but breastmilk, even though I know it would be so reasonable, I still care. I keep thinking that in just another 2 and a half months, he'll be moving onto cow's milk, so why don't I just try to hold on until then? But I'm making myself crazy in the meantime with the pumping and the stressing and the drinking of water.

I never thought I'd be in this position. One of my friends referred to me as a cow because I'd sit down to pump for 5 minutes and get upwards of 5 ounces per session. Turns out that everything can change at any minute, just like the rest of life, huh?

So this morning I did it. I put formula in Gabe's cereal, just an ounce, the rest breastmilk. And guess what? He survived. He didn't even notice. I feel a tiny bit sad, but a lot relieved. I love my pediatrician, and I know he's right. Parenting is all about adjusting your expectations. The adjustment has only just begun.

Like I said, though, he's totally worth it.

"Mom! Formula is good! It tastes better than feet!"

Monday, October 08, 2007

let me save you the trouble

Thankfully, Josh is liking his new job. That is a huge relief on my part, of course. He likes the people, the work is interesting, the hours are relatively good, and he feels challenged. In my opinion, though, the best part about Josh's new job is that it has a ridiculously extravagant perk. His company flies all employees and their families to Europe for a holiday party. The whole family. To Europe. For a PARTY. They pay for the flights and the hotels and the parties and the babysitting. Crazy, huh?

All of this means that Gabriel needs a passport and he needs it in time for December. We looked on the State Department's webpage and downloaded the forms and made a list of the items we need. We took him down to the neighborhood drugstore and tried to get pictures. It turns out that getting a passport picture of a 9 month old is not the easiest thing in the world. It took 3 unsuccessful tries, and we finally had to go to a different drugstore that had more experience with babies and we were finally able to get the two pictures we needed with his head centered and no shadows and without Josh's hands showing where he was holding him still. Phew.

I filled out all the information, looked up the appropriate locations and set off with Gabe to get the passport taken care of.

I arrived at 9:30am, and was told that I was too early. Passports will only be completed between 10am and 1pm. Oh, and also, both parents need to be there or I need a letter from Gabe's father authorizing me to get him a passport. I went home, Josh typed up a letter, and I went back between 10am and 1pm the next day. Oops, they forgot to mention that I need a notarized letter, not just any letter, and just so you know, they won't budge on that.

Josh doesn't have a notary in his office, so we searched the Boston post offices until we found one post office that would stay open until 6:30pm completing passports. Josh left work early so that we could meet at the doors at 6pm to give us enough time to get all the paperwork completed and just a little bit of cushion time in case things went awry.

We get there and discover that the line is snaking throughout the post office and out the door. One thing you should know about Josh is that he is a planner, so he takes this opportunity to freak out about the possibility that they might cut off the line when the clock hits 6:30pm and we'll have to start over again and wait a week because they only stay open until 6:30 on Tuesdays. I'm happy to report that they did NOT close the line, and after 45 minutes in line, they take our paperwork. Even though we have 10 weeks to go, the post office doesn't recommend we rely on the State Department to get us his passport in time. We have to pay $60 extra, $150 total, to get his passport by mid-December.

We sent off the paperwork, paid the fees, and can now say that Gabe should be able to accompany us to Europe for the party. Honestly, though, who would have thought that getting a passport for a baby would be this much trouble? So just in case you foresee yourselves traveling anytime soon with a child who doesn't have a passport, let us save you the heartache and send away from it way way way ahead of time. Like more than 3 months ahead of time. That advice is free of charge.

My consolation prize is that for the next 5 years, Gabe's sweet little 9 month old face will be his passport picture. At least some things won't change around here for a while.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

the post that is interesting only to me

Adult time is lacking around here these days. We don't have any babysitters, except for the occasional grandparent that stops by, and on our fifth wedding anniversary (isn't that wild?) our friend watched Gabe so that we could grab dinner alone. Besides that, our little sidekick is with us all the time.

So when Chatty Cricket was kind enough to invite me to join her in a quilting class, I bent over backwards to find a way to make it work. It isn't even the quilting, because up until she asked, I'd never even given quilting a second glance, but rather, the thought of having one evening every week for six whole weeks of uninterrupted "me" time. Six weeks of being able to hang out with Chatty Cricket and a couple of her friends, working on something that would require all my attention, with no other little person requiring me to make sure they don't fall over. I'm very excited.

In true type-a fashion, I've spent the last two weeks obsessing over what to quilt. Gabe already has a quilt that matches his bedding, so that was out. I figured I'd make a quilt for his next room, but deciding what he might like in another 2 years was a little too much pressure for me. Then I decided to make a throw quilt for our living room, but when I told Josh, he poo-pooed the idea. I suspect he has little faith in my quilting abilities and is trying to avoid having to keep something in the living room indefinitely that looks terrible. Isn't he sweet?

I've finally decided, though. I'm making Gabe a play quilt. While he is still little, we'll use the quilt to throw on the floor while he plays and once he gets bigger, he can wrap himself in it to read or nap or whatever he'd like to do. Plus, don't kids have to bring blankets with them to preschool for naptime? Maybe this can be the blanket he takes with him! Even better, if I totally mess up the quilt, Gabe won't know the difference.

My type-a personality took me to many websites, and many quilting shops, and many fabric stores, but thankfully, a fabric jumped out at me as the perfect choice for Gabe.


Who doesn't love monkeys! Gabe is totally a monkey! I think he'll love it!

Once I'd picked the monkeys, there were lots of coordinating fabrics to go along with them for the quilt. I need 6 different fabrics for the quilt, another background fabric, a trim fabric, and a fabric for the backside of the quilt. Choices, choices, choices...

We have monkeys, so CLEARLY, we need bananas.

Monkeys fall down a lot, so we need band-aids too!

These monkeys like to count, and hopefully Gabe will too, so we have numbers!

The monkeys apparently like to dress up and take pictures. This one is called "family album". This is Josh's and my favorite!

Dots! Who doesn't love dots!

I think this one will be the trim fabric, and I guess edging, if there is edging on the back of the quilt.

I'm still picking the fabric for the back of the quilt, but I'm thinking something with, umm, I don't know, monkeys maybe? There is a cute fabric of monkeys playing different games, so that one might work. All of these fabrics are hopefully going to come together to make the world's brightest quilt EVER.

Here's hoping that Gabe likes bright things. And monkeys. If he doesn't like monkeys? We're screwed.

Our quilting class starts tomorrow! Wish us luck!