Monday, August 27, 2012

Baby bathing 101 (It only took me 4 babies to learn this!)

Giving the baby a bath has always been one of the most awkward chores for me. When I was pregnant with my first, I had delusions of happily washing the baby in the kitchen sink. It took me just one time to realize that holding a floppy soapy baby upright for an entire bath in a sink was just not gonna work for me or my sink. It took too much supervision and I only had one hand free at any given time.

Next I pictured my baby comfortably resting in the standard plastic baby tub. This was fine, but the problem was that I didn't particularly relish having a big plastic baby tub in my bathtub. And apparently I bought the wrong tub because the baby kept sliding down, so I still had the problem of just having one hand free. That tub exposed the baby to a lot of cold air, too. Bath time was never a happy occasion.

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It has taken me four children to come up with a bathing method I like. What can I say, I'm a slow learner. I like this method because it doesn't kill my back since the baby is laying down, doesn't involve a large plastic bathtub with a baby balled up at the bottom of it, and rarely results in the baby bursting into tears. I think this came from one of the many new parent manuals that was given to me in the hospital. I actually looked through those manuals because I still don't know what I'm doing half the time. And because I had the baby manual nurse nazi on my case. Except she had an Irish accent, so maybe she was the baby manual nurse IRA enforcer. She even threatened me with a quiz.

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Anyway, so what I'm saying is, I like this method. I get all of my towels/clean diaper/clothes/soap ready first. I fold the towels this way so that there will be padding for the head in the water,

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and padding after the bath with a flap left over to cover the baby.

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I put the water in while he's laying on his floor towel. Since it's such a shallow bath, the water gets cold quickly.

I put the hand towel in the bath, undress him right there, and place him in the water, paci and all. There's less than an inch of water in there; just enough to be able to get the wash towels wet when needed.

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One hand towel goes over his tummy to help keep him warm while I wash the rest of him. I usually start with the legs and work my way up, since the head is where he looses the most amount of heat. The nice thing about a flat, shallow bath is that I can easily keep him safe while I get soap and such. No strain on the back and I can have two hands free when needed.

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The hardest part is getting his neck creases. I like to sit him up and hold on to him like this

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to get better access to the neck folds and to wash his back. What a cute little bug!

Then, once he comes out, I can quickly fold the towel over him, dry him off, and get the diaper on asap.

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I give him something fuzzy and warm to put on his tummy while I get his clothes on.

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He really likes bath time; the first of my children to enjoy it!

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And I don't dread it, either!

Mmmm... freshly bathed baby smell...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happy birthday to my little girl!

We're on day three of my daughter's birthday. We didn't intend to stretch out the celebration this long; it just happened that way. In fact, this feels more like day 8 or 9.

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I've been decorating her room for her birthday and that has been quite a project. I'll have to do a separate post for her room alone. She chose the grape color I've been using in there, with a request for a more grown-up room. So the makeover has been lumped into her allotted birthday gifts.

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On Monday, we had her actual party. We just couldn't work it out to have her birthday party on a weekend, so she had an after school party instead.

I spent the morning while she was at school cleaning up her room and getting it finished enough so that she could show her friends her new space. And then I tried to cram in all of the food shopping for the party before she got out from school. So it was a rush to get everything at least somewhat ready. Because we were so crunched for time, I didn't get any pictures of the pre-party setup.

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You'll have to just imagine our after-school snack of muffins and rainbow fruit kabobs laid out nicely on the table. :) The kids invaded the family room and watched America's Funniest Videos while we waited for everyone to show up.

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I realize I'm not a ten year old boy, but I'll tell you what — nerf guns are FUN! I approve.

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Right after this shot she exuberantly punched the air with both fists stuffed with bills — "FIFTEEN DOLLARS?!?!"

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After the presents, we painted birdhouses.

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Believe it or not, no paint (as far as I could see) wound up on clothes. These kids were really, really calm and listened to directions so well!

Except for this little one. He got to sit at his own messy table and destroy his shirt in the creative process. It was worth it though, he was so fascinated and meticulous about painting his house. Completely engrossed.

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These well-behaved children even lined up for the pinata in a calm, organized manner. They were great!!

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Thanks for being so good, kids!

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One of the many baby whisperers who BEGGED to hold my youngest. It helped so much to have babysitters galore to help out while I managed the activities. Thanks again, kids! (I tell you — best party guests ever!)

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This pinata was ridiculous, though. I would not break!! This is a public service announcement — the pinatas from Cost Plus World Market are so tough that a grown man broke the broom handle he was using to open it, and eventually had to tear it open with his hands.

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I've heard WinCo's pinatas are much easier to break.

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Cheesecake, specifically the one with multiple choices, per her request.

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Happy birthday to my smart, friendly, lovely little girl!!

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After the party, we had planned to go to her choice of restaurant for dinner — Claim Jumper — but ended up being too full and tired. We went yesterday instead. And today, after school, we're doing some birthday money shopping. (See what I mean? This is the birthday that never ends.)

So, on her actual birthday we had Taco Bell instead.

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Hello, Fruitista!

Perhaps the best birthday present came from the state of California

"MOM!! I don't have to use a booster seat anymore!! Squeeeeee!!!"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Dance

In honor of yesterday's post...


I stand and feel the beating of my heart
keep time, then quickly jump into a race
when time is called. I step into the dark
and cross the frozen stage to take my place
And then—a pause—a leap, and there I go!
From somewhere in the fissures of my brain
a keen narcotic surges through my soul
that separates the body from the frame.

My essence, yards above my form can see
me pirouette and slide and dip and fly
and fly! There are a thousand eyes on me,
yet still they cannot see what edifies
emotion into pure exuberance—
the music, motion, force and feel: the Dance.

(Written by my 12th grade self.)


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Monday, August 13, 2012

Ballet years - the good, the bad, and the awkward.

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My daughter started ballet this summer. She loves it. And I love seeing her enjoy it, since ballet was a big part of my own life pre-children.

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"Mom, I somehow keep finding myself wanting to dance all the time!" Welcome to the dance addiction, kid!

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Her school produces a classical ballet twice a year in lieu of a recital. Instead of participating in the performance this summer, since she had JUST started, we decided to make a girls night out of it and go watch the show from the audience. We got dressed up and did big girl things, like using the curling iron on her hair.

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We found our seats, just to the left of four elderly ladies enjoying their own girls night out. At intermission we sipped our drinks and ate peanut butter cups from the concession stand. We sat on a long bank of backless soft benches splitting the grand foyer while dry lightning flashed outside. The bolts illuminated the hillside, covered in dry grasses. I wondered if, somewhere, wildfires were being started by those strikes. (They were.)

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It was emotional for me to be able to take my daughter to the ballet. I even got a little teary-eyed. Not just because I love to dance and I love that she loves it, but also because it signifies this phase in our lives; this turning point. We were poor for so long. Sitting there with her in the theater, I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for how blessed we have been in the last few years. I now have the ability to let her participate in lessons and take her out to do something special every now and then.

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As we drove home, I thought about my own ballet experience. There were some very awkward years, with very awkward costumes in there! I feel badly that my mom had to pay for some of those outfits. She saved them for me, and now my daughter dresses up in them and asks me to do dance lessons with her at home. And no, I do not participate in the dressing up part of this. I don't want to scar her for life!! But I do have little lessons with her. :)

Here's a brief history of my lanky ballet years.

I came late to the game, comparatively. I didn't start ballet until I was in 6th grade. That first year was really, really... uh... special?

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The sequins!!

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The claw hair!!

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The tambourines!! (Gypsy communities everywhere should be offended.)

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I was at a different ballet school by the time I was in high school.

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The costumes were a bit better by that point.

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Or not!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why we were late for the first day of school...

So, things have been a little busy. The day before school started, I went with my soon-to-be first grader to the orientation meeting where they told us that the kids would be in class for a long day (comparatively), and that everything would be okay. And that no, we didn't get to see the class assignments early. They were scheduled to be posted in just an hour and a half and we would have to come back to the school to get that information. I'm a little miffed about them not telling us the assignments and the second trip to the school (even though I would have had to make the second trip anyway, since we would need to go to see my daughter's class assignment. Which we didn't have to do after all because a friend called and told us who our teachers would be. But it's the principle of the matter. I digress. It's been that kind of a week.)

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Look at this cute back to school survival kit my friend brought me! Thanks, Mandy!

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So, we went to the meeting. At the meeting, they told us that the supply list was posted on the website, under the obscure "resources" link. Because that makes total sense to HIDE the supply list as a nondescript resource instead of putting it prominently on the front page of the website. Which, eventually, they did put on the front page — but not until like that day that I mentally complained about it. Anyway, I digress. Like I said, it's been that kind of a week.

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Oh, and you should have seen the concerned look on my little guy's face when the principal said that he didn't want to "throw the new teacher into the fire" on her first day of school.

"...There's a FIRE?!?"

The point in this VERY interesting story of the supply list, is that I finally had it, and I had no time to shop for it. I had house guests, and my husband's BFF on the highway patrol was stopping by for dinner in his cruiser.

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I have to admit, it's got an edge over the fire truck in some areas; it can show up at home, and it has sparkly blue lights, too.

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And it comes with cool things like bullet proof vests.

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"...But what happens if they shoot your arm?"

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So, it was kind of a busy day. And I didn't even think I NEEDED to go supply shopping before school. I thought I could wait until they handed out the lists on back to school night like they did last year. But then I found the top secret list and felt compelled to buy everything. That night. Because school was in the morning, and what kid wants to bring an empty backpack to school? The thought of empty backpacks haunted me. (I forgot about the fact that it would contain snacks and lunches; it's been a busy week and my brain can't keep up. Just ask my sister-in-law, who I inadvertently locked outside on the patio. Sorry, Heather!)

So, at 11 that night, in spite of the tiredness that set in after wrestling the kids to bed in their hyper-excited (back-to-school plus cousin visiting plus police car) state, I tracked down an open store and stared at the dry erase markers and pencil cases like a zombie. Then I made my choice, and changed my mind a bunch of times. Then I went to the office supply section and stared and changed my mind some more. Finally, I made it home, found the requisite old sock to include as a dry erase eraser, and stared at the piles of supplies some more. Then I decided that it would probably be a good idea at that point to go to bed.

Oh, and I gave my son a haircut sometime that evening, too.

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The next morning I woke up early and eager to get the kids ready for school. Their clothes were all set to go, Dad cooked breakfast, and everything seemed to be going smoothly. But actually getting them all put together and making sure the right supplies ended up in the right bags ate up our free time. It was a rush to get to school on time.

We made it, with a few minutes to spare. The only problem was that there was no parking close by. After driving far, far away, my kids spilled out of the car and told me they were going to run fast, fast, fast to their classes. I hurried them along, but realized within a few moments that their backpacks were overwhelming them.

The supplies were too heavy!!

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My first grader INSISTED that he carry his backpack all the way to class. I pushed for him to let me carry it, but it was not going to happen without a battle of wills. He had it pictured in his mind that he would carry his backpack to class, and that's what was comforting to him. Since carrying his backpack by himself made him feel secure and in control of the situation, I let him win that battle. I accepted our fate, our pace slowed, I took his hand, and we meandered to class as the bell rang and declared us late.

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My daughter ran ahead, insisting she knew how to find her class. So I let her. My little man and I walked into class late, but content and happy. At least, he was. I was still worrying about my daughter actually being able to find her class. And then I worried when I had to leave his class before all the other parents left, to go make sure my daughter found her class. Because what if his teacher said "Okay, wave goodbye to your parents!" and he was sad that he couldn't find me to wave goodbye? Sigh. Gotta love parental anxiety!

When I got home, I realized that I had forgotten to send lunch money with the kids. It's been that kind of week. My husband kindly ran it over to the school while I sat still for a moment.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out with the little kids and assembling the pool, which came just in time for this heat wave.

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The day dragged as I waited for school to get out. I worried about how the first day was going. Finally, when it was time to pick them up, the kids told me how awesome the first day was and my anxieties were put to rest. My son showed me the dolphin picture he worked on at school. "Look mom," he told me with a grin, "I turned them into SEA MONSTERS!!"

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Yay, he used the supplies! Then I came home and took a nap, happy that I didn't have to go school supply shopping.

So yeah, I blame the supplies. It's all their fault.

The end.
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