Saturday, November 26, 2011

Baby Kisses

Sly loves to give kisses.  He kisses Mommy and Daddy all the time.  And his kisses are pretty funny.  He comes at you with a wide-open mouth, and makes a sound like, "aaah". Also, when he's not smacking him and pulling his fur, he can be very sweet with our cat Lance (the one one who lets Sly near him).  He snuggles into his fur and gives him kisses.  He also kisses the statue of Mary in the front hall (I only showed him that one time, and now he does it all the time!), and the picture of baby Jesus in his bedroom.  And he also kisses his reflection whenever he looks in a mirror.  SO CUTE.  He's very affectionate sometimes, or as Tom says, "mushy."

Earlier this evening, the three of us were sitting together on the couch.  Sly spontaneously gave each of us a kiss.  Then Tom and I leaned over and kissed one another too.  Though Sly has seen us kiss dozens of times, he somehow thought that this time was hilarious.  Laughing, he grabbed Tom by the ear, and me by my hair (ow!), and jerked our faces together to make us kiss again.  So we kissed, and Sly started laughing even harder.  He then made us kiss this way over and over, cracking up the whole time.

It sounded something like this: "Ow!" (Tom and I yelling as we got yanked by the hair, the ear, or  - a few times for me - the earring)... "mmwah!" (making a silly kissing noise)...and then laughter from all three of us.

It was a very sweet little moment :-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Our House Tour Part 3: The Office

I mentioned that our new place has two extra bedrooms.  After first signing the lease, we had toyed with the idea of turning one into a library, and the second into a cozy family room.  After visiting the house again, though, we realized that the logistics for the living room idea just weren't going to work out.  We ended up turning that room into an office/"Christine's work room" (Tom's workroom is pretty much the entire basement - with the exception of my nice carpeted little laundry section -  where he keeps all his dirty tools, and grease-covered man stuff).

I took these pictures in the late afternoon when the light was dim, AND I think Sly had been playing with my camera and smudged the lens again.  So the quality of the photos is pretty poor.  But I didn't feel like re-taking them all.  Sorry, folks.  Here they are anyways...

Check out that beautiful hammered tin ceiling!  It's painted white, which means a lot of people don't notice it right away.  But it's still beautiful.  So glad this has been left in the house all these years.
I rescued these wooden shutters from the trash pile at our cottage.  They used to adorn all the windows there, but several years ago, we replaced them.  These ones had a lot of sentimental value for me, though.  So I spent hours cutting them shorter, sanding them to perfection, and painting them a shade of blue that *almost* matches the original color.  Also notice how my ironing board is conveniently ALWAYS OUT which means that now I do much more ironing!

A craft cabinet!  Papers, paints, crayons, ribbons, flower-pressing implements, jewelry-making stuff, my wax egg materials...and my knitting stuff all in a crate on top.

In one corner, I have three laundry baskets.  One is for clothes that need to be ironed, one for things needing to be mended, and the other for things needing to go to the dry cleaner.  This is so much better than my old system where all these things ended up in one basket, and then I had no idea what was what!

My own sewing desk!  This has proved invaluable, as I've been having to make so many curtains and other things recently.  And the drawers are great to stash all my materials.  The pretty chair came from Goodwill for $7.

Computer desk back in the corner, and some plastic shelving for all our office-type stuff.

We also keep the changing table here, since we wanted it on the second floor.  Notice that huge expanse of open white wall?  Very boring.  Tom and I have some crafty ideas for decorating it, though.  Maybe in time, I will have a nice project to share on here.

The closet stores board games, puzzles, fancy dresses :-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Update on Using Cloth Wipes

I mentioned about a week ago that we were about to (finally!) start using cloth wipes.  I can't say why we didn't just do that in the first place.  We were given a lot of disposable wipes as gifts at the baby shower.  I guess we just got used to how easy those were, and were intimidated about using cloth ones.  Turns out, it's really no big deal at all.  I still use disposable ones in the diaper bag.  But at home, we're cloth wipes only now (I had to hide the box of disposable ones, so we weren't tempted to use it.  Those are *marginally* easier, and we are lazy).

The wipes:
We already owned twelve flannel bumGenius wipes (purchased before Sly was born, and never used).  They are a good size, and seem pretty durable.  But at almost $1 per wipe, a little expensive [but really...when you think about how many times you'd use them, especially if you have multiple children, I guess they're actually pretty cheap].  It so happened that Tom was throwing out an old thermal waffle-weave shirt (you know, the long-john style).  So I cut it up into little squares and got about twenty-five more wipes for free!  I didn't even have to hem them.  They've gone through a couple washes already, and are still doing fine - no fraying. 

The wipe solution:
 I have seen various recipes for make-your-own wipe solution (usually a mixture of water, baby shampoo, and some sort of oil), but was always wary of using them.  The biggest thing drilled into your head when you're using cloth diapers is that you canNOT use regular detergents to wash them, or put any baby products (Desitin, oils, etc.) on their bums, because these things would get into the pores of the cloth diapers, clogging them up and lessening their absorbency!  So I figured that washing a bunch of wipes covered in soap and oil in the same load as the diapers would be terrible, right?  Well, I laid out my problem to Adam from the cloth diaper store (Happy Baby Company), and he insisted that the very low concentration of those things wouldn't make a difference. 

He even sent me home with some free samples of honey chunks
 They are little squares of concentrated - and supposedly cloth-diaper-safe - solution that you dissolve in water to make the solution.  I do like them, but to save money, I'll probably just do the a homemade water/baby shampoo solution once they run out.

And some people, of course, just use plain old water.

I bought a dollar store squirt bottle to hold the solution.  Before I wipe Sly, I just spray the wipe a few times to get it slightly moist.  A little goes a long way.  The cloth wipes are able to clean up much more than disposable ones.  Huge "messes" that might have needed five or six disposable wipes can be cleaned up with just one cloth.  When I'm done, I just throw the wipe in the bin, to be washed along with the rest of the diapers.  Pretty much no extra work at all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I have FULL ON baby lust right now.  We've felt "ready" for another one since Sly was about four months old.  Now he's fifteen months.  I'm trying very hard not to feel jealous of the seemingly dozens of women I know who are pregnant.  It was very hard last week to discover that I am not pregnant, as we had been hoping.

Please pray for us.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our House Tour Part 2: Sly's Room

Next stop on the tour is Sly's room, since - again - it was one of the first rooms to get fully set-up.  It's also one of my favorite rooms in the house.  Huge, cozy, and a great place to hang out with my son :-)

Sly's room is entered through a door in our bedroom.  Love the rosettes in the woodwork!

Remember this scratch-off paper from art class as a kid?

For a one-year-old, this little boy has a palatial bedroom.

I mean, he has a freaking sandbox in his room. (it's because my mom insisted on giving it to him as an Easter gift.  And then we moved to a house with no yard.)  Now it's a toy box!)

You can see the curtains I made in the background.  I decided to make them thin, with not much drape in the width because 1. It cost half as much to make them that way!! and 2. they are semi-sheer, so plenty of light comes in even when they're closed all the time.

Cute little table and chairs from IKEA - only $20.

A little reading corner, a basket of blankets, and Starry Night.

This bookshelf was Tom's when he was little.  Now it holds Sly's board books (the books with paper pages are kept elsewhere, so he can't rip them). 

A close-up of the curtains.  A cute button print (good for boys or girls!).  It came from the quilting fabric section of JoAnn's.

Anything in the room with planes used to belong to Tom when he was little.  He used to be obsessed with them, and I think he aims to make Sly the same way.  This picture is a good example of my attempt to mix "baby" decor with "big boy" decor.  So we have pastels and primary colors mingling together around the room.  But I think it looks okay...right?

Cool metal planes on the wall.  And a slide (also purchased by my mom).  Seriously - being an only child has major perks ;-)

Sly's crib with a Peter Rabbit tapestry above.  And that cool globe has a nightlight inside.

60's vintage shelf (look at those splayed-out legs!) to store some toys.

Cute "Sly" train Tom's parents bought on their recent anniversary trip to Florence.

And that's it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ancient History: Me and My Hubby

For about a year now, I've been very slowly going through all my digital picture files, and choosing the best ones to set aside for printing.  I first got a digital camera in 2004, and for two years, I was really good about printing out copies to put in physical photo albums.  But I kinda ran out of steam, until Sly came along, and gave me a whole new reason to get passionate about saving memories.  So now I basically have five years-worth of photos to catch up on.  Ugh.

It. Is. Taking. Forever.

Anyways, as I was sorting through some of my backlogs today, I was really struck by something.  So, Tom and I have known each other since 2003, our freshman year of college.  We became friends, and remained that way throughout college.  As the years went by, we became increasingly close.  And then one day - really, it was actually as sudden as "one day" - almost five years later, we both realized we had feelings for each other.  And soon after, we started dating.

But looking back at some photos of the two of us from our "just friends" days, I am incredulous, asking myself, "how did we NOT REALIZE that we liked each other??"  Anyone besides myself would look at some of these pictures, and be sure we were a couple in them.

A Christmas party

A party at Tom's place


At a bar with friends.  Please ignore Tom's terrible facial hair.  And don't worry, as soon as we did start dating, I informed him that he could never have a mustache again.

Out with friends again
Helping to cook for a Newman Center event.  We both volunteered to cut onions together in the back room so we could talk about something privately.  I don't even remember what it was now.
Dancing in Tom's apartment at his fancy Ides of March party.
At a friend's Hollywood-themed party
Posing as a dorky 50s couple

This last picture shows me with a bunch of friends at my Cottage, the weekend I finally realized that Tom was the guy for ME, and not for the many girls I'd tried to set him up with over the years.  By the end of the weekend, just four of us were left.  After Tom busted out a bottle of whiskey and insisted we all share it, we all inadvertently got drunk on a Sunday afternoon (!).  It was then that it dawned on me - all in a flash.  It was so clear.  Tom and I were so alike.  We made so much sense.  We were supposed to be together.  I realized that for a while, I had had feelings for him, and just hadn't recognized what they were.

As they say, "in vino, veritas."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Our House Tour Part 1: The Hallways

After two weeks in the new place, we finally have enough stuff unpacked that I can begin showing you some of the rooms.  The first stop on the tour will be the hallways - not so much for their symbolic status as the "room" which ties together all the other rooms - but because they are pretty much the only part we have fully unpacked and decorated!  Remember that we're renting the place, which explains the blindingly white walls everywhere.

 First floor entry

Inside the front door.  Umbrellas in an antique bronze spitoon.
This statue used to be in our backyard.  Now we don't have a yard at all, so she'll watch the front hall for us instead.

Lovely woodwork on the banister.

The cats eat in the hall, and there's usually a baby gate on the doorway to keep *someone's* little hands out of their food.

I love actually having space for our coats now!  The bins on the shelf are from IKEA.  One for hats, one for scarves, one for gloves.

 Second Floor
St. Therese at the top of the stairs

More lovely woodwork.
Family photos on the wall

My beautiful washstand outside the bathroom door.  I bought this years and years ago at a garage sale for $25.  It's been sitting in my old room at my dad's house, just waiting until I lived somewhere big enough to fit it!  Behind it you can also see some curtains I made, but the sun totally washes them out.
A close-up of the curtains

Third Floor
We keep a laundry basket on both landings.  Very handy.  And you can see my bottle of Shout for attacking stains right away!
Our view of the city, right outside our bedroom door :-)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Funny Little Man

1. Tom and I have noticed lately that when we put Sly to bed at night, his tummy looks REALLY fat.  Then when he wakes up in the morning, he's thin again.  I guess it's because he eats all day long.  So I measured his circumference to see what the difference is, and it's three whole inches!  That's a lot for such a tiny little person!

2. Sly has become increasingly badly behaved at Mass.  This morning, he was drinking a sippy cup of milk in my lap, which was keeping him momentarily complacent.  But then it ran out.  So he grunted angrily, and chucked his cup through the air.  It smacked the head of the little boy in front of us (who looked back, very startled), bounced up into the air again, and traveled forward two more pews!  Tom was MAAA-AAAD!!  ...But I secretly thought it was kinda hilarious ;-)

3. This evening, we were playing Ravel's Bolero loudly over the stereo.  Sly was really digging it, and was bopping, swaying, and nodding his head to the music.  Very cute. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Using Cloth WIPES

I have an admission to make.  Despite my joyful ravings all the time about the wonders of cloth diapers, I have yet to work up the courage to try using cloth wipes.  All this time, we've just been buying the disposable kind!  It's certainly easier, but I think I'm ready to finally give cloth wipes a go.  They'd have many of the same advantages as the cloth diapers...much cheaper, better for the environment... and since I'm doing diaper laundry anyways, they can just go right in the wash with them!

I'm going to mix up the wipe solution this afternoon, and start the trial today.  I'll give an update in a couple of days about how it's going :-)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Woman's Role is In the Home

I've been thinking a lot recently about being a housewife/stay-at-home mom.  I hate that it's a rare and looked-down-upon decision for women to make anymore.  And our society's rejection of these roles is so very damaging.

I really wonder how families with two working parents even do it.  There are so many things I have to take care of while Tom's at work.  Watching over Sly is the biggest (and most important job).  But then there are all the chores: cleaning the house, laundry, ironing, grocery shopping, paying bills, balancing the budget, making and keeping appointments for doctors, making necessary phone calls, trips to the dry cleaner or tailor, cooking dinner, etc. etc. etc.

I seriously can't imagine having to work a full day, and then coming home with all these things waiting for me(/Tom).  A number of these errands have can only be done during business hours anyways.  So what would that mean?  I asked Tom, and he says most of his co-workers often make personal calls at work, or take time off to go to appointments, etc.  How terrible.  And in the first case, it seems definitely unfair to your employer.

How nice if you could have someone at home, managing all these things instead.  If your weekends could actually be a time for leisure, and not crammed with all the stuff you couldn't do during the week.  If you could eat REAL meals each night, instead of the unhealthy packaged crap that appears in greater numbers everyday at the supermarket.

Division of labor, man!

The funny thing is, I always wanted and expected to BE a stay-at-home mom one day.  And yet I spent thousands upon thousands of dollars going to college to get a degree that...well, I didn't get a chance to use very long.  I'm not necessarily saying I would take back that decision, even if I could.  But what I want to know is: why didn't anyone tell me that I didn't HAVE to go to college?  That it's OKAY to be "just" a wife and mother.

 I hate when people throw out the argument about how families can't afford to have the wife stay home anymore.  I'm sure this is actually true in a small number of families, just as it always was.  But there was a time when most wives, and pretty much every mother DID stay home.   So what has changed since then?  I'm no economist, so I will concede that there are possibly slightly lower average salaries now.  But I have only to look around to be able to name the culprit for most families out there.  Materialism.  You don't need three HD TVs.  Heck, you don't even need a TV at all.  You don't need the latest gadgets.  You don't need two or three cars.  You don't need the huge house when you only have two kids.  You don't need to go on vacations.  You don't need to eat out.  You don't need to buy your kids everything they want.  The list could go on.  When you actually bother to talk to the little old grandmothers in the older (and Catholic) parts of town, they'll tell you about how every family on the block had at least eight kids, living in tiny 2-3 bedroom homes with no car.

My point is, if American families still had the same expectations as our grandparents' generation, I bet most families would find that they can afford to have the wife stay home.  They might never feel financially "comfortable", but they would get by.  And I know the family would be better for it.

And while we're on the topic of being able to afford things...I can't believe so many families believe they can "afford" to let someone else raise their kids instead of them.  I'm talking daycare, nannies, and sometimes even school, which many think of as "state-funded daycare".  Children deserve to be cared for in their own homes by their own parent.  Especially the babies!  No wonder so many women choose to formula-feed, even knowing that science says "breast is best".  If you aren't going to be with your own child all day - for whom your breasts are making milk, expecting that that child will be near you, hungry - it would be so much easier to just drop of some formula for the daycare.  Pumping milk at work all day would be a pain.

I can't even imagine how terrible it would be if me and my husband worked all day, picked up Sly from daycare, got home at 6:00, made a quick convenience-food dinner, and then had, what? an hour or so to spend with our own child.  And then he goes to bed.  How would you even KNOW your own kids?  Seeing many modern families, I have come to this conclusion: many of them don't.

In a neighborhood where all the moms stay home, they get to know each other.  They see each other around.  Their kids play together.  It builds community.  When moms are at work all day, kids are either away at some sort of daycare of after-school program, or under orders to stay in the house.  Kids don't go outside anymore, because there's no one to watch over them if they do.  Kids don't play with other kids on their street.  Moms don't know each other.  So their husbands don't know each other.  Suddenly, everyone's a stranger, and no one feels safe letting their kids out to wander anyways.  So kids stay inside playing video games and watching TV all day, because that's "safe."  Kids work out their strong need for socialization at home with texting, twitter, the internet...which are all poor substitutes for real human contact.

My dad's parents met right after The War.  They both worked at the same bank.  They fell in love, and got married.  The day my grandmother walked into work after the honeymoon, the boss took her aside and told her that she couldn't work there anymore, since she was married.  This was apparently very typical of the time, and as far as I know, my grandmother accepted it.  Today, people would view this as so discriminatory and unjust.  She didn't do anything wrong - she was only being let go because she was a woman and married.  But I think society had its head on a lot straighter back in the 40s.  Her boss recognized that she was better off being at home.  To care for the house, her husband, and her soon-to-grow family.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Make-Your-Own Cloth Diapers

From time to time, I've come across people on the internet who make their own cloth diapers, and I always wondered the same thing: don't they have tons of leakage and wicking issues, since they seem to be using just regular cotton fabrics without a waterproof liner?

Well, whether that was actually the case or not, it won't be an issue anymore.  On my most recent trip to Joann's Fabrics, I noticed a new section in the store:  cloth diaper-making accessories!!  Everything they have right now is made by the same company, Babyville.  I didn't study the things for very long, so I'm not sure if  the materials are intended for making all-in-one diapers (with an absorbent liner built right in), or just the covers which would go on top of the actual diaper.

I doubt I'll ever actually decide to make cloth diapers at home, but it makes me happy to see those materials available.  It's a sign that more people are choosing cloth which, as my readers know, I totally think is the right decision.

Check out a few of the cute materials they make:
The book that teaches you all the sewing methods

 Snaps that come in many different colors (they also make velcro for the closures)
 Some cute waterproof fabrics
I love dinosaurs for little boys :-)