Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'd Be "Little Miss Sleep Deprived"

We have many Christmas traditions in my extended family. One of them is that all adults buy presents for ALL the kids. You are considered an adult when you have been graduated from college for a year. I suppose the thinking is that you'll have a kickass job by then and can afford to buy a boatload of presents for all your cousins/nephews/nieces. There are a lot of kids. My grandmother had six children and they all got married and had children and those children are having children. This year there are nine children eagerly awaiting the Christmas present deluge. Luckily, three of those kids are mine so I only have six to buy for this year.
It's tough to know what to purchase for them. I can't afford anything too extravagant and I know most people just give them money or gift cards (which I LOVED when I was on the receiving end oh so many years ago) but everyone else is giving at least $50 to each kid and I just can't swing that. In years past I was able to save some money by making my gifts - one year I knit hats and scarves for everyone, one year I made sock monkeys, and one year I made t-shirts from old photographs of the family. That was all before I had three kids. Now, I'm lucky if I even get time to take a shower. The idea of knitting anything is such a joke to me right now . . . I sold 3/4 of my yarn last month on Ebay. Anyway - I don't have time for handcrafted presents and I don't have the money to keep up with the rest of the family. I've had to become creative in what I choose to buy. I figure maybe if I find something really cool for the kids they won't care that I didn't go into debt for it.

So, this year everyone is getting t-shirts with the Little Miss/Mr. Men characters on them. These are cute, right?

Well, I hope they like them.

On a completely unrelated topic, here is a completely ingenious way to swaddle your baby. We use Miracle Blankets and love them, but if I had known of this method we probably never would have spent the big bucks for them. I predict that the next time I fall behind on laundry I'll be trying out this method.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas! New and Improved!!

I have no idea how much lead it takes to harm a small child. And would owning half a dozen toys decorated with lead paint be enough to seriously hurt Logan? I don't know. Maybe. But the more I think about it, the less time I spend pondering the Chinese toy-making debacle and the more time I spend considering how refreshing it would be to simply avoid all the brightly colored plastic and opt for something a little more rustic and a lot better made.

This Christmas we are spurning Toys R Us and Wal-Mart in favor of small, non-chain retailers. We are lucky that Logan doesn't watch TV (he's just not interested) and is not yet infatuated with Elmo or Diego. He isn't asking for the latest and greatest toys - he probably still won't even understand Christmas. I know for many parents this would be next to impossible and I'm certainly not criticizing anyone for their choices. I have to admit though, that it does warm my heart to think that I'm supporting mom and pop retailers (many of them local, too) and thumbing my nose at the corrupt big businesses while simultaneously purchasing some really beautifully made toys for my kids. And these toys will last. There aren't a million small pieces to lose in the sofa cushions. They're not cheap plastic that breaks the first time mommy trips over a carelessly strewn toy on her way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

The only downside is that they're more expensive - and rightly so - the materials are top notch and they're handmade in America (some are from Europe), so we had to pick only a couple of things. Lately, I've come to the realization that I'd rather have a few really nice things than hundreds of pieces of crap. I hope little boys feel the same way. I know the twins don't care just as long as I keep shoving my boobs at them every 3 hours or so.

So, here's what we got:

The stacking rings will be for the twins and the jumbo lacing beads and the work bench will be for Logan.

Logan's really into vehicles right now and I think he'll have a blast with this school bus and the little people inside it.

I found these blocks for Logan that I LOVE. They're like Legos, only they're wooden and they're made by the residents of Camphill Village.

Emma and Molly are each getting one of these wooden bowl and spoon sets - I'm trying to move away from the plastic bowls we used for Logan.

They're also each getting a maple teether.

Oh, and this parachute toy for Logan. I remember playing with an el cheapo plastic version when I was a kid and loving it.

I also bought him a SIGG water bottle for taking in the car and to the park. We had been using a Nalgene bottle until we read how dangerous they might be.

And of course, everyone's getting pajamas and clothes and other boring things like hats and socks.

I know what you're thinking, and no I haven't become some sort of tree hugging hippie, but I have to say, it makes me feel really good to be buying quality products for my kids instead of mass produced pieces of junk. And I'm sure the time will come when they will be begging for some heinously crappy Made in China doo-dad, but this Christmas I'm going to enjoy simplicity.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Even My Eyelashes Are Tired

Logan had a good time at his birthday party.

I don't know why it says the date is January 18th. This photo was taken today with my dad's camera.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Factory Closed

Dad, don't read this.

Okay guys, I need your help. I just remembered that at my six week checkup after having Logan the doctor wanted me to choose a birth control option, so I'm assuming I'll have to pick one tomorrow. Damn. I've been trying to figure out what method I'd go with but I see pros and cons to them all. I came so close to just getting my tubes tied while I was having the c-section, but I read that some women have truly horrific problems after such an operation. So, there's the pill, but I'm breastfeeding and the only one I could take is the mini pill which isn't really as effective as the full blown pill. And I'm really not too thrilled with the idea of putting hormones into my body. I was on the pill for a few years and when I went off it I had severe mood swings and heart palpitations and it was not much fun. Then there are IUDs but they can puncture your uterus sometimes and I think they hurt to put in and they make your period worse. The patch and the shot are just more hormones . . . the sponge is too hard to put in and take out (remind me to tell you one day of the time Steven had to "deliver" a Today Sponge that I could not remove myself). Condoms are icky and too much trouble. Has anyone heard of this Essure thing? Seems kind of wacky.

Why won't Steven just get a vasectomy? Men!

Go, Go, Go

Tonight, I am exhausted. We had a full day of food shopping (our first time taking all of our one million children with us) and errands and cleaning and cooking and present wrapping. Tomorrow, we are having Logan's 2nd and my mom's 40th (you can thank me later, mom) birthday party. My parents were coming up anyway to watch the kids while I go to my six week checkup so we figured we might as well do the birthdays too.

Did you know that Veteran's Day was being celebrated today? Because I didn't and we went to the Town Hall to register our new minivan and relinquish my entire paycheck to the state of New Hampshire and the town of Merrimack and no one was there. That was fun.

Yes, we have a new minivan! It's sort of a bittersweet new addition to our recently grown family. We're very excited to have it because we could not all leave the house at the same time before. We had a Honda Civic - there was no way in hell. But, we're also kind of bummed since we had bought the Civic brand new two years ago and we had strong faith that it would last us forever and not leave us stranded on the highway or having to replace random doodads every couple of months. Our minivan is used. And while it's a year newer than our Civic, it's not a Honda and who knows what might go wrong.

Anyway - whatever. At least I can leave the house now. I spent the past six weeks trapped in the house and I don't think I've ever gone that long without going somewhere, even if it was just to work. Oh, and the minivan has power door locks and power windows, which is a step up from our Civic. I bet you didn't even know they made cars with manual door locks and crank up windows anymore, did you? Well, if you want to save fifty cents a month on your car payment that's the model you go with.

Well, I have presents to wrap and my grammy's famous baked macaroni and cheese to make for tomorrow and a bathroom to clean and a dozen balloons to blow up before I can call it a night, so I better get off the computer and get to it. Thank god I took the lazy mommy way out and bought a Carvel ice cream cake instead of making my own.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Old-Fashioned Fun

I am so sick and tired of huge baby toys with flashing lights and annoying music - the kind that take 8 D batteries and require half the real estate on your living room floor. My god. The babies are 6 weeks old, they don't need 8 different lullabies in 5 different languages with 12 recline options and 3 removable toy bars. All they need is a place that isn't their crib that they can be blobs in. I mean, that's what they are right now. Blobs. And I'm certainly not complaining. When Logan was teeny tiny I remember I couldn't wait for him to start moving around and playing. Yeah. Not so much this time. They can remain immobile for as long as they want - god knows how I'll handle it when I have three small children running around like rabid monkeys.

Anyway, I searched high and low for something mildly entertaining that the girls could use for more than six months that didn't run on batteries and didn't threaten to give us all lightshow induced epileptic fits. Bonus points if it wasn't hideously ugly and/or plastic.

This is what I ended up with:

If that's too fancy for ya, you can remove that totally not obnoxious toy bar and you are left with this:

Ahhhhh . . . I can breathe again.

We haven't received it yet - it's being shipped - but, doesn't it look simple, refined, dare I say elegant?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tick Tock Method

In my last post I mentioned researching the best way to burp a baby. Here is a video of Steven performing the Tick Tock Method on Emma.

Friday, November 9, 2007

No Storks Allowed

When we were in the hospital after the birth of Emma and Molly we were cautioned not to place a birth announcement in the paper or put up signs in our yard or balloons on our mailbox to herald the twins' arrival. They said it was just asking for trouble - practically inviting wackadoos to show up on our doorstep to steal our babies and announcing to all the pedophiles that there was "fresh meat" in the vicinity.

This seemed like a really paranoid overreaction to me, but then I did some research at home and found that these warnings were actually justified. I do not consider myself a naive person and I consider myself to be more wary and cautious than many people I know, but this seems like a really bad soap opera plot (worse than the time Marlena became possessed on Days of Our Lives). How sad is it that you have to put a lid on your happiness and must think twice before sharing your good news with the neighborhood?

This all reminds me of the stories you hear of firemen starting fires so they have something to do or those people who read about funerals in the newspaper and then go to the grieving family's home and burglarize them. These are the things people might call unbelievable in a work of fiction, but they are infiltrating our everyday realities at an alarming pace.

It saddens me that such an innocent, joyful practice has become so dangerous, however, I am really hoping it means we won't be seeing much of these around anytime soon.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bringing Home Baby . . . and Formula (Apparently)

Anyone who knows me well knows that I can be a little obsessive with my research. And by "research" I mean I'll spend twenty hours looking up which carseat is ranked the safest or which method of burping a baby is most productive or which model Dyson is the biggest bang for your buck. We're not talking rocket science here, but I prefer to be well informed before making decisions.

It should come as no surprise then that I become a walking encyclopedia of pregnancy and all things baby-related when I am pregnant. I scour the internet, I read the books, and I watch the Discovery Channel as if it's my job. The more I learn the less anxious I feel and I become increasingly more confident. It's a good thing.

Now that I'm done with the whole gestating thing and the whole get-these-babies-out-of-me part, I find myself particularly enamored with a certain show on TLC (an offshoot of the Discovery Channel) called "Bringing Home Baby." It shows you how new parents deal with taking care of their newborns during the first 36 hours of their birth and then shows you how they're doing a few months down the line. I love this show. I can relate to so much of what the parents go through. I've been there . . . hell, I'm there now! And a small part of me is amused by the mistakes newbie parents make or their realization that caring for a newborn is freaking tough. Another smaller (but more evil) part of me enjoys feeling like an old pro who is somehow superior to the mother who whines into the camera that she can't handle feeding her baby every two hours or the father who recoils at a meconium filled diaper.

Lately, though, I've made a disappointing discovery. It seems as if almost every episode treats breastfeeding as if it's this Herculean effort that detracts from the new parent experience and makes everyone lives miserable until the mother finally admits defeat and breaks open the formula. Every episode. How can this be? I know a lot of mothers who breastfeed - how is it that TLC ends up with all the mothers in North America who cannot/will not breastfeed? It's odd. It makes me wonder. The skeptic in me is suggesting all sorts of scenarios - most of which involve the formula companies donating large sums of money to the station and the station then forcing the mothers to tell a little lie on camera about how hard breastfeeding is and how they had to switch to formula. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense to me. I know that some women do not breastfeed (and I am not about to criticize anyone for it), but surely not the vast majority of women, right? Not 90% of women. And these aren't women whose babies were born teeny tiny and had to spend weeks in the NICU or women whose milk never came in. These women have no extenuating circumstances working against them. Their reasons for quitting are pretty lame - not getting enough sleep, babies are allergic to breastmilk (is that even possible?), babies have jaundice, babies seem hungry all the time, mother thinks breastfeeding twins is impossible, sore nipples, etc. Does Enfamil own the Discovery Channel? Something is a little fishy.

Why do I care? Because I'm sure other expectant or newly initiated moms gather their information from the same places that I do. And it seems to me that this show is doing a disservice to all mothers by constantly delivering the message that breastfeeding is hard/uncomfortable/not worth pursuing. Breastfeeding is not always easy and it requires dedication - TLC should be ashamed of itself for promoting one-sided, negative views on such a natural and beneficial method of providing sustenance.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Things I've Thought of Today That Have Made My Milk Let Down

  1. the twins (duh)
  2. Logan
  3. coffee
  4. Stewie from Family Guy
  5. Christmas
  6. sleeping
  7. paprika