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Archive for October, 2012

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So comforting, the well-stocked diaper needs shelf.

When a mother of three told me about Amazon Mom , I was ecstatic. Diapers, wipes and formula delivered to my door? On a set schedule so I don’t have to remember and never run out? At a 20% discount? Surely I’ve died and gone to heaven.

I’ll admit, it was fabulous in those hazy early days when I could barely function. But here’s the deal: No matter how well you plan, you end up with dozens of diapers in the size your baby grew out of overnight. Also, it’s really just a ploy to gin up Amazon Prime subscribers. (For the uninitiated, this is a program that gives you shipping benefits — faster, cheaper, etc. — and it’s $79 a year.)

Here’s how it works: For the first three months, if you’ve never had Amazon Prime and meet whatever other criteria they secretly set, you get a free three-month Amazon Prime trial membership when you join Amazon Mom (for which there is no fee). This also gets you the 20% discount. (Without Amazon Prime membership, the discount is a measly 5%.) They tell you that all of your purchases, including baby-related ones, count toward earning future months of Amazon Prime membership. You figure, hell, with all the diapers I’ll be buying, I will be an Amazon Prime member for decades to come!

Then you subscribe to monthly deliveries of baby stuff, though not all sizes and amounts are available. So if you want only 32 Size 2 Pampers Swaddlers because you think the baby is just about to bust out of that size, tough nuts — it’s 264 or no discount, babe! On the plus side, there is a set monthly delivery date for all your stuff, and they send you e-mails when they’re about to ship things so you can make changes or cancel an order.

At this point, my Amazon Prime free trial membership has expired, and kvetching about it to Amazon to get it reinstated is very low on my priority list. Meanwhile, it’s been fun playing Diaper Fairy (i.e., giving away the outgrown diapers), but also frustrating. I feel like I’ve been forced to buy more than I need. And while we’re not on a super-tight budget, I do try not to be stupid with our money.

So I’m using the service for formula and wipes and Diaper Genie refills, but being very wary with the diaper orders — in fact I just cancelled my standing Pampers order yesterday. And having tested them and done the math, I know that Target diapers do the same thing as Pampers.

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Please Help if You Can

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This hopeful little flower appeared on a neighbor’s confused azalea bush in late September. It seems a fitting visual for a post about recovery from The Worst Storm Ever.

Not to be all, “I’m more plugged in to humanity now because I gave birth,” but all I can think about this morning is all the babies that might be suffering. And their moms. Once the baby gets up I’ll be distracted, but right now, I’m glued to live feeds about all the awfulness.

And now, my plea: Please donate what you can to the Red Cross to assist in Sandy relief and recovery efforts. If you’re super-lazy like me, you can text “redcross” to 90999 to donate via your cell bill.

Thanks.

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If the Cheerios appeared in a manga, they would look like this. Thanks, Manga Camera!

A few weeks ago, there was a development just as exciting as the clapping, but in a different way: The baby learned how to feed himself Cheerios.

Similarly to the clapping, it happened pretty fast. First, I’d put them in his mouth so he knew they were food. Then I encouraged him when he picked them up and dropped them, or got them stuck on his face, or lost one inside his wee chubby fist. (This only ever happened with his right hand. Seems we might have another Southpaw in the house!)

At first, he’d hang on to them and suck them into goo instead of releasing them into his drooly maw. Very funny, and probably a necessary step in understanding the mechanics of self-feeding, so I let him be. Over the space of a few days, his pincer grasp became more precise and he mastered the art of delivering the little oaty Os to his mouth.

Within a few days, he became fully capable of eating them on his own, unless he’s really tired. And then, it’s both amusing and sad to watch him try, and I end up taking what my mom calls the Holy Communion approach. This is very high on the CS (Cute Scale) because he does the baby bird thing.

Anyway. This is all very exciting not only because he’s perfecting his pincer grasp (Big! Developmental! Milestone!), but because he will happily occupy himself with tiny edible rings while I prepare the rest of his food, or prepare our food, or do my nails.

Kidding about the last one, but there may come a day when I’m not. Is it possible for a baby to OD on Cheerios? Oh right, it’s called constipation.

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For a few days, I’d been clapping along to the (short, slightly annoying, electronic) songs issuing from the musical table. Then I’d clap and say “yay!” when the song ended. Baby Baboo (not his real name) would look at me and flap his arms in excitement. He loves that table and all the noises that come out of it.

Yesterday afternoon, around three, he was playing at the table by himself while I was cooking. He seemed to be banging his hands together whenever a song ended.

Hoy crap, I thought, I think he’s clapping. I started pausing my work to clap along with him whenever he clapped. He clapped with me, over and over, and got better at it as he kept doing it.

I almost cried. I’m completely serious.

A few hours later, when I was feeding him, he started clapping after every bite. Which was of course adorable unless I didn’t get the yogurt spoon out of the way fast enough, and then it was adorable and messy.

Maybe I shouldn’t have started saying, “Y for yogurt! Y for yummy!” Y for yay!” after every spoonful of yogurt…

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We received this book’s cousin, Little Bee, from my sister-in-law, who chose it because it was much beloved by both her girls. She would have passed her copy along, but the bee had been drooled on too many times to count, and board books are not technically machine washable.

When I learned there was a whole series, I resolved to get at least one or two more, because my son was gaga over the bee book. Wiggling the finger puppet holds his attention and gets him to engage with the book. The illustrations are cartoony-simple and full of contrast — again, great for holding the baby’s attention.

But what I really like about these books is the writing. I know. Crazy, right? Bear with me.

The lines rhyme without being saccharine, there’s a simple storyline (in this case, the fish going to sleep), and the word choices relate to the animal. So Little Fish contains words such as ocean, splash and tails. And the author (there’s none listed on the book) does all of this in only 45 words. As a writer, I find that impressive. As a mom, I appreciate the effect: A fun reading experience for both of us.

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In St. Louis, the full line of 21 books (or damn near the full line) is available at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s gift shop. Reading through them is fun, quick, and a great way to make sure you don’t get stuck reading something you don’t like 88 million times. Like the thing about flies in the spider one. Ick.

Happy reading!

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About an hour ago, a big Salvation Army truck began backing gingerly down the (not terribly wide) communal driveway behind our house. I figured the baby would enjoy seeing what was making the beeping noise, so I took him out on the deck to watch.

He kicked his chubby little legs in excitement (easily one of the top five cutest things he does). I narrated the scene: “Look, the driver is being very careful! He’s backing up…. now he’s going forward a little bit. Ooh, the wheels are turning to the left! Now he’s going to go back some more!”

Riveting stuff, I know.

Baby Baboo (not his real name) has begun waving bye-bye, sort of: He will reliably flap his left arm up and down when you say “bye-bye!” and wave. Sort of an embryonic bye-bye wave, but still, I think it counts. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to practice.

I said “bye-bye,” and waved. He flapped his arm. We repeated this sequence a few times before the driver noticed us and started waving. We waved and flapped happily until the truck pulled away.

Good times, for sure. And I suspect the driver enjoyed it, too.

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Washing Instructions

Welcome back to Kvetchy Wednesday. Today we will be discussing laundry, specifically: The Heartbreak of Footie PJs.

I only recently began reading the washing instructions on the things, because, well, why would I need to? But the kid seemed to be growing out of them in a matter of weeks, even though he couldn’t possibly be getting bigger that quickly. I mean, 8 months old, and already outgrowing his size 9-month PJs? He’s long-legged like his daddy, but come on! Using the round thing on top of my neck, I deduced that they might be shrinking. Hm.

So this is the deal, from one of the latest batches of PJs:

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Inside out?! Really? No. Cold gentle cycle?! Not happening. Anyway. I have been boiling those things and then baking them, comparatively speaking. No wonder they’ve been shriveling up like the feet of the Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy’s house fell on her. Or was it East? Because the house fell on the sister of the remaining wicked witch, right? East. I’m pretty sure it was East.

But I digress.

Here’s what I’m doing now, even though it seems ridiculous that I should have to: Cold water wash, line dry. On big people hangers, because that’s cuter. Here’s proof:

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Hopefully this will prevent me from having to buy him new PJs every two months. In all honesty, that isn’t a huge hardship, because: FOOTIE PJs! SO CUTE! AND I CAN BUY THEM ONLINE WHILE I’M IN MY PJs! THAT’S SO META! But it’s starting to bug me from a “needless spending” POV, and I don’t think anyone wants to read a Kvetchy Wednesday post about that. Boring!

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Back in April, or maybe May, we had our HVAC system checked for the coming summer. I answered the door with my newborn in my arms, and the guy mentioned that his wife was pregnant. Yesterday, the same guy turned up, only he’s not quite the same guy now because he has a two-week-old baby girl at home.

I asked if he wanted to see how ours had grown, and he said, “I’ve seen enough babies for now.” I laughed and said I had to fetch the kid anyway — can’t really leave him to his own devices for too long, ha ha.

The guy finished his testing, and as I was signing the paperwork he said, “I hope I didn’t offend you by saying I didn’t want to see your baby.” I assured him that if anyone understood that feeling, it was me. “You’re going through a crazy time. I’ve just been there. It’s overwhelming in lots of ways. Don’t worry about it.” I meant every word.

We chatted a bit about sleep deprivation, how his wife is holding up, what his baby girl is like, and the evils of video monitors (Him: “I’m not even going to mention to my wife that those exist.” Me: “Good call.”).

The last thing I said to him as he moaned (deservedly) one more time about sleep deprivation was something quite a few people said to me. It was one of the only things that really made sense to me in my addled state and helped me keep going.

“It gets better.”

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Sometimes when I’m driving with the baby in the back and he’s getting fussy, I’ll contort my right arm to reach back there (don’t judge — at stoplights!). I’ll waggle my fingers at the spot where I imagine the baby’s face to be, and he’ll grab my fingers. Then he shoves as much of my hand as he can into his mouth.

Just today, I recalled that my mom would reach her hand back from the front seat for one of us to hold, especially during long car trips. It might be the embellishment of time, but I remember my older brother and I fighting over who got to hold her hand. I remember feeling happy and safe whenever my hand was in hers.

And so the tradition continues.

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Black Bean Brownies

In my ongoing quest to chip away at my lingering baby weight without feeling deprived, I recalled that I had a recipe for black bean brownies. The beans replace the flour, which ups the protein and fiber content and makes you feel virtuous about eating beans. Miraculously, I located the recipe, but was shocked at the amount of sugar it called for: three cups. Jeepers, I thought, that just doesn’t seem right.

After a brief internet search I found this recipe, which was very similar but only called for 3/4 cup of sugar. And so I happily set up my mise en place whilst the baby slept.

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Because I am an inveterate and incurable recipe messer, I upped the cocoa and vanilla content, and added the baking powder a few people talked about in the comments.

Here’s what I ended up with:

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I do not agree with the commenters who claim these are indistinguishable from regular brownies. They are not chewy so much as very, very dense, presumably because the eggs have no wheat protein to play with. Fans of Asian sweets will recognize the particular texture of red bean paste, which almost has a snap to it when you bite through.

However. These are a reasonable enough facsimile for my purposes, and perhaps for yours, if you are looking to feel more virtuous about your brownie consumption or are on the hunt for a decent gluten-free brownie recipe. (At least, I think they’re gluten-free. I’m not an expert, so celiacs please proceed with caution.)

Here’s my recipe for those who would like to try it:

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan. Blend first two ingredients in food processor or blender until very smooth (1-2 minutes). Add all other ingredients and process until combined. Stir in nuts and/or chips (optional) and bake for 30-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting, freeze cut brownies if desired — they hold up well.

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. cocoa
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. instant coffee (optional)
1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

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