Thursday, May 31, 2007

How to Accomplish Nothing

9:00 a.m. Take your child outside, because it's a lot more pleasant than letting him whine at the door. You won't be able to fold laundry, but maybe you can catch up on all that during his nap.
Noon. Your child is napping. You have time to yourself. Do you really want to spend it doing chores? Fold those clothes when he wakes up.
3:00 p.m. So you've been with the kiddo all day, all by yourself. Must. Go. See. Another. Adult. Go visit a friend. The laundry can wait.
5:00 p.m. No time for laundry when you've got to get dinner on the table.
7:30 p.m. Your child is tucked in bed. You're pooped. You're eager for uninterrupted adult conversation with your spouse. You want to lay on the couch and do nothing.
10:00 p.m. Okay, now you're going to fold those clothes. For real. You turn on the dryer to let the heat shake out the wrinkles. You brush your teeth while it runs. You put on pajamas. You get a drink of water... Then you get into bed, completely forgetting that you really were going to fold those clothes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Passat of my Dreams...

will remain in my dreams, for the time being. My car was repaired for under $200, and her problem was due to mistakes by my oil-change mechanic. Oh, well.

Tom starts moonlighting next month, so maybe we'll be able to pay cash for something in the not-too-distant future. Then I can get all self-righteous on you. Except that I'm determined to at least start test driving some cars (even though we all know it's going to end up a Passat), which is a pretty dangerous thing for a penniless, drooling mama in a beat-up Mazda to do.

And his first job interview? Looks good. I liked "Mayberry" and want Tom to sign on the dotted line. He was equally impressed but wants to think and pray and interview at a few other places over the next several months before making a decision. Yada, yada, blah, blah, blah.

Meanwhile, I'm engaged in a project that has torn me away from the blogosphere. I'll be back, but maybe not as often these next few weeks.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


In The Continuum Concept, Jean Liedloff lauds the parenting practices of a Stone Tribe in South America. In this tribe where she spent several years, the kids were compliant, respectful, and generally pleasant. It's a fascinating book, a little "out there", but I've got to say this: If Peter lived in the jungle, he'd be pretty easygoing himself. The kid loves the outdoors. When we go outside, our battles largely end.

So we spend much of our time chasing birds and squirrels, searching for the neighbor's cat, and pulling the leaves off of bushes. When he hears an airplane, Peter stops what he's doing to look until he finds it.

Today, Peter stopped for the wind. He stood at attention, quiet and alert, as a strong gust swept through our cul de sac. I didn't even notice the sound of the wind in the trees, until he imitated with, "ssssshhhhhhhh." Is my kid brilliant or what?

Note: We're on our way out of town for my husband's first job interview, and I won't be back to the blogosphere until Monday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

On the Menu Today...

My own words. I am constantly eating them. Let's look back to a few of my favorites:

1) "They are starving their children." When attending a La Leche League meeting while pregnant, I heard mothers talk about postponing solids until 8 months or even-- gasp!-- one year. Determined that my child would have more than "just breastmilk" once he hit six months, I dutifully tried to feed him. I was so determined, in fact, that I tried to feed him every day for two and a half months. Unsuccessfully. The few times I managed to get the spoon in his mouth, Peter spewed it all out within seconds.

He ate when he was ready, at close to nine months. Rosemary garlic potatoes. The funny thing is that the more solids he gets, the thinner he gets. At his one-year appointment, he was on the charts for his weight (as opposed to skyrocketing above them) for the first time since he was born, though his height still soars.

2) "He lacks in vocabulary, at least compared to your girls, and I think it's because he's not at the best of daycares." That's how I explained why a fifteen-month-old boy I knew spoke almost no words, while babies I knew of the same age had been speaking for months.

Here we are, on the cusp of 16 months, and Peter only knows three words: Mama, Ma (for Tom, gotta love it!), and 'nana (banana, which he learned just last week). Though he can tell you what the tiger says (grr) and the snake (ssss) and the car (bshbshbsh)!

3) "I will never finance a car." Well, I haven't done it yet, but I'm considering it. My 12-year-old mazda visits the shop more than I do the grocery store. The cost to keep it running has become pyrrhic.

Dave would tell me to drive a clunker until I'd saved up enough cash for a replacement car. That's been the plan, and neither Tom (who drives an eleven-year-old car) nor I are particularly showy about our cars anyway. All we want is something dependable and paid for. Technically, we could pay for a car right now, it just would deplete our savings and the emergency fund.

And depleting the cash reserves isn't an option. So what do we do?

My dad, a financial planner by profession, a man who saves the shards of his bath soap in a dish beside his sink and who refuses to drive a beamer as a matter of principle, thinks we need to get over ourselves and replace my car now. This normally frugal man knows that in one year, Tom's income will increase exponentially, and we could pay off the loan in a month. Even Dave makes concessions to callers who are in medical training, cutting them more slack than those whose incomes won't be changing.

But isn't that a slippery slope? One minute, we're financing a car-- the next, we're... I don't know, throwing away our soap shards?

Well, we'll see what the mechanic says today. Maybe the current schreeching and smell of burning rubber is something that can be repaired for under $200.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Things to Leave Off Your Registry, Part 2

Just when I thought I'd seen it all:

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You can buy this at Babies-R-Us, where it is billed as a "solution" for changing little boys.

Sunday Brunch: Honeycombs and Forest Fires

{Breakfast comes early, since I'm on my way out of town!}

Words. They are the essence of humanity, what separates us from the beasts. I know you can teach a chimp sign language, but until I see one reading Pride & Prejudice, I'm sticking with my premise. Our words have enabled us, the most vulnerable of species, not just to survive in this world but to rule it.

With our words, we have created civilizations. We have imparted knowledge and passed wisdom from one generation to the next.

We use words to think. We use words to teach. We use words to encourage, exhort, and comfort. We use words to fill the silence. We use words to gossip. We use words to bruise, to fight, and to wound. One word can seal a friendship. One word can end it.

With words we confess our faults. With words we extend forgiveness. With words we reconcile.

God brought this world into being with words. With the Word of Life, he redeemed it.

Why then, are we so careless with our speech? Why do we speak idly? Why do we fail to recognize the power of our words, for better or for worse?

Take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 5:3-6

And yet,

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Things to Leave Off the Registry

Nothing against cribs, but ones that are $2000?
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Maybe if you have triplets, in which case you are allowed to do anything:
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How about you just carry your baby?

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Things I'd Rather Do Than Sleep

After delivering my son, I remember my doctor asking at our six-week visit, "Are you sleeping when the baby sleeps?"

"Heck, no!" I said. "That's my time to myself. I'm not going to waste it sleeping." When an introvert has a baby, she can forget about 8 hours sleep.

I'm still saying it a year later. There's just too many other things I'd rather be doing: reading, sewing, playing on the 'net, taking a bath, cuddling up on the couch with my husband. But sleep? Naw.

Supposedly this lack of sleep is going to shave years off my life and make me obese. But you know what? I don't buy it. And here's why:

1) I've got plenty of energy. I'm productive and rarely fatigued.

2) Up until the last fifty years, Eskimos slept 14 hours a night during the winter and 6 hours a night during the summer. If they can be so adaptable, why not me?

3) Sleep isn't one-size-fits-all any more than your temperature. (Did you know that few people actually have a 98.6 resting body temp? Mine is usually 97.8.)

I've got my dad's sleep genes (the man is a machine), and I embrace it. So why can't I embrace the fact that my son has those genes too? The kid just doesn't want to slow down. Why sleep when there are cars to roll and balls to bounce and dogs to hug? I tell myself it's a sign of future greatness. Margaret Thatcher only slept five hours and night. As Napolean once said, "six hours sleep for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday Brunch: A Way to Pray for Your Child

As I nurse my son to sleep for his nap each day, I pray with a pattern given by Jesus himself: The Lord's Prayer. Each line reminds me of things I want to cover. "Hallowed be thy Name" reminds me to praise God. "Forgive us our trespasses" gives me the opportunity to confess my sins. "Deliver us from evil" has me praying for loved ones who are ill. You get the idea.

It's occurred to me that I could use this entire prayer as a way to direct my prayers for my child (or anyone else, for that matter):

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thank you for fashioning Peter in my womb. Thank you for providing us with a child. You are the Creator, the Giver of Life, the Provider.

Thy kingdom come,
May your kingdom come in Peter's heart. May your kingdom come in the life of his future spouse. Let them know what it means to worship and serve you as King.

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,
Help Tom and I to do your will as parents, so that Peter can do your will as a child. Guide us all and give us wisdom. Teach us to obey.

Give us this day our daily bread,
Provide Peter with the things he needs, from a nutritious diet to learning experiences to quality sleep. Most of all, give him a hunger for the Bread of Life.

Forgive us our trespasses,
Help Peter to learn right from wrong, so that he will know the fruit of obedience and the joys of forgiveness.

As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Forgive me for the ways that I have trespassed against Peter. Forgive me for being impatient, for being quick to anger, and for the times I am selfish at his expense.

Lead us not into temptation,
Provide distractions for Peter when he is faced with things he can't have.

But deliver us from evil,
Let Peter's feet run to that which is good, and protect him from illness, injury, and harm.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.
Thank you for reminding me that it is your kingdom, not mine; your power, not mine; your glory, not mine-- that will be the salvation of Peter.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

How to Make a Wool Diaper Shirt to Match Your Recycled Woolie!

Since all you need to make your own longies are the sleeves of an old sweater, that leaves a lot of leftover wool. What to do with it? You could make a standard diaper cover or even a pair of socks. I made Peter a matching shirt. It took about five minutes. Here's what I did:

1) Trim off the bottom of the sweater to the length you'd like the shirt to be:
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2) Lay a t-shirt on top of the sweater, matching the necklines, and use it as a pattern to cut beneath the arms and down the sides. Leave yourself room for 1" seams:
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3) Use an overcast stitch to finish all of your cut edges:
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4) Turn the shirt inside out and sew the sides together:
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How to Make a Wool Soaker from a Recycled Sweater

Should you ever decide to destroy one of your own grossly expensive sweaters-- or do the smart thing and pick up a wool sweater from the thrift store-- here's how you can turn it into a woolie diaper cover:

1) Cut off the sleeves where they meet the body of the sweater:
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2) Measure your child's inseam. Then, starting from the sleeve cuff, measure off that same amount (or less, if you want it to be short pants rather than long). Knick the fabric with your scissors to mark your spot. Then cut a slit in the sleeve that goes from your mark to the top of the sleeve. Repeat steps on the other sleeve:
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3) Trim the edges at the top of both sleeves to even them:
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4) Using an overcast stitch, finish off all of the edges which you have cut. ** Be sure to use 100% polyester thread, which repels moisture**
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5) Turn the sleeves inside out. Then sew them together at the place where you first cut a slit in the arm:
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6) With the pants still inside out, fold over the top. Sew it down, creating a casing for your elastic, leaving one inch of the casing open in order to insert elastic. The casing should be about 1/2" wide. Then cut a piece of 1/4" elastic to the size of your child's waist. Attaching a safety pin to each end, thread the elastic through through the casing and sew it in place at the opening.
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7) Remove safety pins, put the long woolies on your kiddo, and let him admire your handiwork:
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Oh, and don't forget to lanolize it before use.
Next I'll show you how to use the rest of the sweater to make a t-shirt!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

How My Son Got $200 Pajamas

Niagara Falls has nothing on my son. Until recently, our only hope for a leak-free night has been the Bummis wrap. Even the few times we tried a fancy disposable diaper, it would leak—unless we used a Bummis wrap.

This arrangement has served us well, but we needed a change. I panic when anyone besides me diapers Peter for the night. If you don’t get every millimeter of cloth tucked into the wrap, you’ve got a leak. We needed a cover that could slip on easily over his double-stuffed, hemp diaper—a cover so big and stretchy that you just can’t get it wrong.

A cover so easy, even a dad could do it.

The answer? Wool. It’s odor-resistant, antibacterial and can miraculously repel and absorb water all at the same time. It’s the perfect diaper cover, especially for overnight.

Our only problem is that the slightest touch of most wool has me ready to claw off my skin. Maybe I’m allergic. Who knows. But simply putting Peter in a wool cover, least of all having him sleep next to me for part of the night wearing one, just isn’t something I could fathom.

There’s only one wool I can handle: cashmere. Making a wool cover for Peter meant sacrificing one of my beloved J. Crew cashmere sweaters, bought in the days when I had money to spend on things besides groceries. This kid is sleeping in style. Unwilling to waste an inch of that precious wool, I even made him a top to match.
Peter debuted his new pajamas last night. Not only did it keep him dry, but for me, it was like sleeping with a cashmere teddy bear. Can you imagine?

Of course, Tom wasn’t crazy about seeing his son “dolled up” in the fuzzy, pale lime-green. Just wait until he sees the second set. I’ve got another sweater in salmon, which I can only hope my husband thinks is orange, but he may decide it’s pink…

Monday, May 7, 2007

Have You No Shame?

I’m reading a lot of discipline books, and I’m struck by the negative references to shame.

What is shame? “A painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety,” according to Websters.

Parents often expect things of their children—particularly toddlers—that are beyond a child’s capabilities. When the child fails, some parents will shame him. Shame on the parents, I say. As do the experts. But then we part ways.

See, I don’t believe that all shame is bad. Think about it: Wouldn’t it be good if dishonest CEOs had some shame? Wouldn’t it be good if the Girls Next Door had some shame? Wouldn’t it be good if the marketers of formula had some shame?

Shame is an appropriate response when you’ve done something unseemly. Without it, there’d be a lot more sociopaths in the world.

“But if you allow your child to feel shame,” the books say, “he’ll think your love is conditional.” Quite the contrary, I say. When the time comes that Peter deliberately disobeys me (we're not there yet), I certainly hope he feels ashamed. Because then, he’ll get to know my love in a whole new way. He’ll find that I still love him even when he’s at his worst.

Unless you know what it means to feel shame, you’ll never appreciate what it means to be forgiven.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Match Made in Heaven

“Goodness of fit.” It’s a term used to describe how well (or not well) the temperaments of a parent and child mix. When their temperaments fit nicely, that gives the child the best possibility for social and academic success.

It also allows the mother, if she only has this one child, to pat herself on the back for being Best Mother on the Planet while smugly offering advice to anyone who’ll listen. I pray for the fertility of these mothers. Give ‘em enough kids, they’ll get their comeuppance.

(Oops, did I say that out loud?)

So, how nicely does Peter’s temperament fit with mine? Well, we’re alike. We’re both persistent, intense, active, and not-so-adaptable. Either we were made for each other, or one of us is going to drive the other into therapy.

I’m not sure what the experts would say, but you know what? I believe that Peter and I are the perfect fit. I believe that my next child, however different he may be, will be the perfect fit. And the child after that, too. I believe this because God doesn’t make mistakes. When God formed Peter in my womb, he knew what he was doing.

He knew that Peter’s colossal resistance to sleep training would humble me. He knew that Peter’s elevated sense of humor would delight me. He knew that my determination might sometimes frustrate Peter, though it would also stretch him.

He created both of us, knew us before we were born, and in his wisdom chose that we be mother and child. Together with Tom, we are puzzle pieces in his ultimate plan, even if we don’t know what the final picture will be.

I do not always understand the ways of God, but this I know:

"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8,9

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Books I Can't Live Without

Of course, you don’t think I could put all my books in storage, do you? A few escaped to a bin beneath my bed. If I were stranded on a desert isle, these are what I'd want with me (well, these, and my sexy beast of a husband, my tiny tot, and some sun screen):

And for Bible Study:

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


I’ll never understand the expression “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” I mean, what’s sweet about it?

I’m writing here with a broken heart. Weeping, really. I’ve just made one of my greatest sacrifices as a mother, saying adieu to 98% of my closest friends. You know, Leon Uris, C. S. Lewis, Martin Luther…

Yes, I’m still stuck on the books thing. Great as public storage is, I’ll miss my personal library. So here, in no particular order, are the five books most difficult for me to pack away…

1/3 of my closest friends:

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Creative Problem Solving

After months of battling my bookworm-- that is, my child who devours books in the most literal sense of the word, even though he won't eat half of what I put on his high chair tray-- I have finally solved the problem.

Did I use our new code word, "Off limits"?

A simple, "No"?



Positive Reinforcement?

No, I found something much more effective:

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Meanwhile, I've discovered the joys of public storage. Did you know you can get a 5X8 bin for only $30 a month? The same bin might be as much as $100 depending on the part of town, so you've got to look around. But I have to say, if you are parenting a toddler, just give yourself a break and make the investment. Not only are our books stowed away, but so are tabletop items, Christmas decorations, maternity clothes... And we've got a lot more room to live.