Friday, June 29, 2012

Surviving the Heat

 I think this is going to be a really ramble-y post, and I apologize.  My brain isn't really on today.

Another day in the mid-90's.  We're visiting Tom's sister in Erie, PA tonight when he gets off of work, and tomorrow we're going swimming in the lake.  Just for a few hours, but it's going to feel fantastic.

How did I ever survive a pregnancy in this type of weather?  Being pregnant is already draining enough, especially during the last couple months (which is where I am finally - YES!).  But when it's so hot and humid everyday, it can be debilitating.  It just saps me of all my energy.

We keep all doors and windows shut during the day.  The curtains are all drawn to keep out the light (i.e. heat).  Some of the curtains are semi-sheer, so we put up big sheets of cardboard behind them.  As soon as the sun goes down, all the windows and doors are thrown open, and Tom sets up his complicated series of fans in various windows to push air through the house (I still don't understand the logic behind all of it, and he gets frustrated when I try to mess with it).  I seems to help.

We have one AC window unit in the bedroom, but really try not to use it unless its really necessary.  The electric bills are just way too much.  On other nights, we have one oscillating fan at the foot of the bed, and one box fan aimed right at me and my gigantic stomach.  When I got to bed last night, I saw that Tom had moved my box fan to Sly's window.  I tried to sweat it out with just the one fan going at the foot of the bed.  But I woke up feeling like I wanted to die in the middle of the night, and cranked on the AC.

It would be awesome if I could just set up a tiny baby pool outside or something.  But we literally have NO yard, and our tiny porch is too narrow to fit one.  I've taken a few cold baths, though.

For weeks now, I haven't cooked anything that requires an oven.  I'm surprised by how many meals I've actually been able to come up with that are entirely made on the stovetop.  It might not be so bad, but we eat in the kitchen, and turning the oven on just gets it way too hot to stand.  I wish houses were still built with "summer kitchens".

Tom walks home from work everyday.  It's about a 35 minute walk in nice weather, but takes him about 50 minutes in the heat.  He comes home dripping in sweat, and jumps right into a cold shower.  I had to institute a "no walking around the house in just underwear" rule because he was trying to come to the dinner table too scantily clad!

Some days I've been finding excuses to get into air-conditioned places.  Taking not-exactly-necessary trips to the supermarket, etc. 

I've been doing a good job staying hydrated, though.  I drink glass after glass of ice water.  So far, my feet and ankles haven't even swollen up at all!!  I want to feel proud of myself for that, but I can't actually remember when it started happening during my pregnancy with Sly.  So it might just be that the terrible edema hasn't struck yet.

I probably shouldn't complain so much.  We live in the "north" anyways.  I know there are plenty of people - probably some reading this blog - who live in much hotter climates.  Although I'm guessing most of them do have air conditioning....Anyways, it really puts me into a state of amazement when I think about people 100 years ago, living in the south with not so much as a fan, and wearing WAY more clothing in the summer than we do now.  I guess you just get acclimated to it??

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yarn Along (Say What?)

So this might be the one and only time I participate in a yarn-along.  Because I just no longer have the time or the patience for knitting.  But I knit a baby blanket for Sly while I was pregnant with him, and swore to myself then that I would do the same for all my future babies.  So here's what I have in progress.

The pattern is Sunny Baby Blanket, which I found on Ravelry.  And the yarn is knitpick's comfy worsted in Vinca.

I'm reading Christopher West's Theology of the Body for Beginners, for a book group I'm in with the Catholic Moms.  It's okay.  I've gained a few insights from it, but a lot of it is stuff I've heard before.  I don't really like his writing style.  I feel like he uses a lot of words without really saying much sometimes.  And it can get a little slow.  But the discussions it spawns at the meetings promise to be enlightening.

Yarn Along hosted at Small Things

Monday, June 25, 2012

Little Gift-giving Rant

One of my brothers is getting married in August.  The bridal shower for his fiancee is coming up, and I need to find a gift.  I really wish I could think of something off-registry that would be perfect for them, but nothing is coming to mind.

They registered at Bed Bath & Beyond, which is a store I pretty much despise.  Everything there is so massively over-priced.  That's the ONLY reason they give out those 20% off coupons all the time.  I honestly think everything is marked UP by about 20%.  So if you buy more than one item at a time, you're always getting ripped off, but you feel like you saved money since you used a coupon.  Great business scheme.

Also, everything they picked for their future home is black and gray.  Ugh.  Whatever - if that's their taste, that's their taste.  But I hate spending money on stuff that I think is ugly.  haha.

Any unique ideas for a bridal shower gift?

Thursday, June 21, 2012


One of Sly's new favorite things is identifying "boo-boos" on people.  He's fascinated by cuts, scars, and band-aids. 

I should also mention that it's his new way of indicating any tiny little hurt that he experiences, even to the point of total exaggeration.  He gently bumps his head on something: "BOO-BOO!!!!" he whines.  But it's useful that he can actually communicate with us this way now.  Such as the other day, when he warned me about an impending diaper rash by repeated saying "pee-pee, boo-boo" and pointing at the area.

In his fervor to find every boo-boo on someone's body, though, he often makes mistakes: freckles, moles, smudges, pimples, etc. are all labeled as a boo-boo.  Now, everytime Sly has noticed and had the audacity to point out some pimple on my face that I was hoping only I was aware of, I've been quite content to let him refer to it as a mere "boo-boo".  But my dear husband decided he needed to be honest with our son.  So when Sly was fascinated by a rather large one on Tom's chin last week, Tom taught him to use the word "zit".  Awesome.  Sly is still gleefully pointing out Daddy's "zit" (which is gone by now) every day.

So my big fear - and I KNOW it's just a matter of time before this happens - is that he's going to embarrass the crap out of some poor friend or family member by loudly and repeatedly pointing out every one of their "zits" now...

Friday, June 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 14)

1. Thank you to everyone who weighed in about the hospital vs. birth center question.  After reading the advice which overwhelmingly supported the hospital, that's still where I'm leaning.  I met with one of the midwives on Wednesday, and asked her to lay out for me just what the birth center might offer that I could not get at the hospital.

It seems to me that the experience of labor and delivery wouldn't be too different at either place.  It's mostly the post-natal care and attention that differs.  The hospital keeps you for a couple days and you and the baby get regular visits from the nurses and a lactation consultant (which is good).  At the birth center, they mostly just leave you alone afterwards, and you go home in 4-12 hours.

However, at the birth center, you are encouraged to just hold baby on your chest for a long time right after birth, and start breast-feeding right away (which is good).  At the hospital, they give you about a minute with baby before taking him/her away (still in the same room) to check weight, Apgar stuff, etc.  They do bring baby back to the mother afterwards, but if I recall, they want the baby to be brought to the nursery for a more throrough pediatrician examination fairly soon after birth. 

But you know what?  I think I'm just one of those women who do like the pampering and attention (which many people might think is "over"attention) they give you in the hospital.  I'd prefer to have more immediate bonding time with baby, but it doesn't really take too long to check those things, and I mean...there's still the placenta and the potential stitching up that I need to be dealing with in that time anyways.

2. My best friend got married last weekend.  It was a beautiful wedding, and a memorable one.  We've been to so many weddings these past few years, and a lot of them have started to blend together in my mind.  This one will always stand out, though.  I'm not sure if it's just because I was the matron of honor, or because she's my best friend, or whether there was something especially unique about it.  It was the only time I've ever cried at a wedding.  I was very very happy for her.

Isn't she beautiful?

And here's us at the wedding. Tom is looking too serious.  The bridesmaid dress, which I complained about here ended up fitting a lot better after the (outrageously expensive!!) alterations.  But I still contend that it made me look more "large" than "pregnant"

3. Since I showed it to her already, I can finally reveal the wedding gift I've been working on for her for the past 18 months (yikes!).  It's a wedding cross-stitch.  And I will grumpily report that it's STILL not finished.  I need to fill in that entire center section with all the "wedding info" (names, date, place, etc.).

It's about 17"x15".  And yes, I know it has huge folds in it right now...

This is only the second cross-stitch project I've ever done.  If anyone is considering beginning this as a hobby, let me warn you that it takes FOREVER.  I have probably poured hundreds of hours into that thing already.  I fully understand why cross-stitch was historically a pasttime assigned to young ladies to teach them patience and dilligence.

close-up of a section
*If anyone's interested, the flowered border pattern comes from the book Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers

4.  I recently used some gift money I had saved up to purchase myself this cute pair of Crocs flats (Tom wouldn't let me use our common money on a product he so abhors).

The upper parts are actually more clear than they appear in this picture [stolen from the Crocs website]

Tom HATES them and complains about having to be out in public with me when I'm wearing them.  They remind me of the jelly slippers I wore as a kid.  They're very comfortable.  I was looking for a flat I could wear in the summer (i.e. without pantyhose) which wouldn't make my feet sweat like crazy (sorry if this is an over-share).  These do the job quite well.  Not exactly church-appropriate, but great for everyday wear.

5. The mini-mart in our neighborhood (pretty much the only surviving business along the total wasteland of what was once the main street) sells Slush Puppies!  This was a very exciting discovery, being that it's really hot, I'm really pregnant, and it's good motivation to make me actually go for a walk sometimes.

Slush Puppies are actually one of the most poorly-designed in the "iced drinks" category.  Their competitors, Slurpees and Icees, use much more finely-shaved ice, so you get a decent ratio of flavored syrup to ice in each sip.  When you drink a Slush Puppy, no matter how careful you are, you invariably end up with more than half a cup of flavor-drained ice.

But this is what I grew up drinking every summer at our cottage, so it has a major nostalgia factor for me, which beats everything else.  I can't wait to introduce Sly to them!

6. There's a spray park really close to our house.  I hadn't even heard of these until I became a mom.  It's basically a park with a bunch of enormous sprinklers and water-spraying structures that kids can run through on a hot day. 

Picture taken from the community website.  I've never actually seen it this packed, though

I thought it was a such great asset to have in a neighborhood, until I realized...they only put these in when they want to get rid of a pre-existing swimming pool!  Spray parks are just cheaper to maintain.  I get that, I do.  But I still think a pool is better for a neighborhood.  They talk up spray parks as being "more accessible" than a pool for those who are handicapped.  Maybe so.  But while there are no official age-limits on spray park use, I guarantee you will never see anyone over the age of twelve running through there.  It's sort of understood that it's just meant for kids.  And so it cuts off MOST of the people in the community from a good way to stay cool in the summer. long as the pool is gone anyways, I guess it's nice to have this so near to us.

7. Our gardening attempts this year - as always - have been mostly a failure.  We sacrificed having a yard when we moved to our new place last autumn.  We don't even have the tiniest patch of grass or dirt.  But we were determined to try some container gardening along the sidewalk nonetheless.

I started a bunch of seeds (flowers, herbs, and some tomatoes) in various pots and seed-starting cells.  As soon as anything sprouts, though, something has been eating them.  I could have avoided this if I started everything indoors, but that would have interfered with our "keep all the curtains drawn during the day to keep out the heat" method of cooling our un-air-conditioned house (see #3).  With the exception of a few flowers we bought and re-potted in hanging planters (and thus kept away from hungry mouths), the only thing that has survived are my morning glories.  I guess they taste bad or something.

Just about ready to be transferred

My hope is that I can get them to vine up the trellis-y stuff all along the bottom of the porch, and just kinda totally engulf the whole thing.  Morning glories are spectacular when they've taken over a fence, and they're all opened up at once.

eww - and maybe the vines will disguise that gross mold at the bottom that I never noticed until I took this picture

Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How Much Does a Baby Really Cost?

Ok, I found this article, and just had to share it:

How Much Does a Baby Really Cost?

I couldn't agree more.  You always hear these ridiculous figures about how expensive children are.  But that's assuming that parents are buying every little gadget possible for their kids, AND that they're buying everything new.  I read the book Baby Bargains when I was pregnant with Sly.  I would recommend it as a good guide to what baby products are available, and which one might be worthwhile to have.  But you definitely need to take all the cost totals with a HUGE grain of salt.

In this article, the author calculated that it costs about the same as buying a cup of coffee a day to raise a baby.  I haven't done my own calculations, but this seems very believable.

So how is this possible?

- Accept donations from friends and family!  I already have more (hand-me-down) clothes than I will ever need for the baby girl we're expecting, up to at least a year old.  It was the same way with Sly.  Our crib, changing table, stroller(s), high chair (s), baby carrier(s), bouncer, swing, cradle, and innumerable other baby implements were completely free.  As soon as people hear you're expecting, they start emptying out their attics, or scouring the garage sales for you.  It's awesome.  Ask someone to throw you a baby shower if it's your first one - people are more than happy to give you the things you will need.
- Cloth diapers - as I've already talked about ad nauseum, they save you bundles.
- Breast feeding - obviously MUCH cheaper than formula
- Buy second-hand - we've picked up all our books that way (besides ones that were gifts), and most of the toys which we've purchased ourselves (which is a very small percentage)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Birth at the Hospital or the Birth Center?

29 weeks pregnant.  And thanks to some cool weather recently, my feet aren't enormous yet!

So due to a recent change in my insurance, I actually have the option now to have this baby either at the hospital (as I did with Sly, both by choice and by insurance-dictated necessity) or at the birth center.  Either way, I'll be using the same group of midwives.

Here are some thoughts about the two options.


- Just in case anything goes wrong, they have everything they need to take care of me and the baby.  I wouldn't have to be rushed anywhere in the ambulance.  During my labor with Sly, I developed preclampsia and had to be put on IV (and stay on it for 24 hours after the birth - ugh, that was annoying).  The midwives told me that had I tried having a birth center birth, I might have been shipped to the hospital anyways, because of that.
- My experience last time was good overall.  The labor and delivery staff was awesome.  Once they moved me into the post-natal section, there was a noticeable decrease in nursing ability and attention.  But it might be worth dealing with the annoyance of that because...
- I really like that I got to relax in the hospital for a couple days recovering, and being taken care of.  The birth center has a 12 hour maximum stay after the birth (and I think it's usually less, if it's not your first baby).
- Friends visit at the hospital.  It's nice because it's not your own house, and you don't feel like you have to entertain them, clean up, or feed them anything.  You get "kicked out" of the birth center too soon for most people to have a chance to visit.
- This may sound silly, but I loved how they take those fresh-out-of-the-oven professional newborn photos.  We bought a 5x7 of Sly, and decided we'd do the same for all our future babies.  Sure, I could take baby girl to a photo place when she's a week old or something...but it's just not the same.
- On our last night at the hospital, the nurses took Sly to the nursery for an hour (gasp!  oh no, my baby's ruined for life!!*)  and served Tom and me a fancy dinner - steak, potatoes, good bread, sparkling grape juice, was just a really nice little touch.  And that, sadly enough, was our last "date" for a really long time after.  I liked that a lot.

Birth Center

- The birth center would probably be a more relaxed and low-key environment to give birth.  I'm assuming there'd be much less equipment beeping and flashing away, no doctors peeking in to check on things, etc.
- We live literally minutes away from the birth center - I could walk there even, except I know that when I'm having contractions, there's no way in heck I'll be willing to try.  It's not much farther to get to the hospital, but if it's time to go during rush hour, it'll be trickier.
- At the birth center, you're allowed to eat during labor.  At the hospital, you have to sneak it.  Although...I'm really not sure I'd have any desire to eat anyways, so this might not matter.

Just looking at the sizes of those lists, I think I'm leaning towards a hospital birth again.  If anyone has an opinion or experiences to share, though, please do!

* I was definitely being sarcastic about the nursery ruining a baby! Sly actually spent his whole first night in the nursery. I sent Tom home to get some much-needed sleep, and they wouldn't allow me to be alone with the baby, because the drugs I was on (for preclampsia)could supposedly make me woozy or confused or something. And yes, they gave him a bottle and a pacifier, and you know what? He still took the breast just fine, and I'm not upset about it at all.