Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: Keeping Baby Socks from the Dryer Monster

So you know how you always lose socks in the laundry. No one's sure exactly what happens...but there always seem to be a few less when you're done than you had when you started. This is especially true with those teeny-tiny baby socks. Well, one day, I had an epiphany (which I know that others have had as well, but I had this epiphany before I was even reading other "Mommy" blogs, so it was original, if not unique, in its origins).
Why not use one of those "delicates" bags to wash the socks in? I mean, everyone knows that the Dryer Monster has better things to do than to bother unzipping one of those bags, just for a tasty snack. I mean, seriously, there's _bound_ to be someone next door with loose socks for the taking.
So, knowing that the socks were safe from the Dryer Monster, I then moved on to the next epiphany. Why not keep the bag on the changing table in between washes? That way, when the socks come off, they go right into the bag and the House Gremlins can't take them and stash them under the couch or _in_ the couch or in any number of other hiding places.
But, even though I had a foolproof plan, I knew that, occasionally, things don't go according to plan and there was a small chance that the House Gremlins would succeed in hiding socks. So there was the third epiphany. Any time I couldn't find a sock, the loose one would go in the bag and stay there until its mate returned. Sure, a colored sock might fade a little in the multiple washings, but at least they'd find each other in the end. Plus, most of our socks are white, so it really wasn't a big deal. And the House Gremlins _always_ give up their prey _eventually_ (it might be when you move, but you always get the stuff back...someday).
So if you're looking for a way to defeat the Dryer Monster and House Gremlins in their search for your socks, try this out. It's easily adaptable for larger people too. Just buy a bag for each person and keep it near the spot where the socks usually come off. You might need to further refine for socks of color, but I'm sure you can make it work (laundry is the only place where segregation is ok).
So that works for me. For more ideas, check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lightbulb Moment

So today, I saw the lightbulb go off over AJ's head. He's spent the last day or two clapping (and really gets a kick out of it when I clap and cheer along). Well, just a few minutes ago, he was sitting in his high chair eating lunch (or whatever you want to call it - it's his second of four meals...I guess that makes the afternoon meal "tea"). He was obviously slowing down in his eating, so I figured he was pretty close to being done, so I did what I've been doing for three months now (give or take) - sign the word "finished" and ask if he was done. He didn't really respond, so I asked (signed) if he wanted more food. He didn't really respond to that one either (usually a sign that he's done, he's just not really sure yet). So I gave him a minute to think about it and he started clapping. So I started clapping and cheering and that made him laugh. So then, he held up one hand and twisted it at the wrist. I got very excited and asked again if he was "finished" (signing back what he'd just signed to me), and he started smiling and laughing (his normal response when he's done), except that he kept studying his hand, watching it move. And you could just see the lightbulb turn on over his head. All the sudden, he _GOT_ it. "When I move my hand like _this_, Mama knows that I don't want any more to eat!"

Yay for effective communication! Less screaming for us!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Growing Like A Weed

So AJ had his 9-month check up yesterday.

  • His head is still at the 75th percentile (that's about where it's been tracking for a while now - but is still exemplary of his amazing cognitive abilities - I told you about him saying "fish," right? FISH. The kid's a genius, I tell you.).
  • His weight had dropped some to be >5th percentile.
  • But his height? It went from 5th percentile at 6 months to _85th_ percentile at 9 months. about sprouting!
And, don't worry too much about the weight. We've only been doing fruits, veggies, and breastmilk up till now. But yesterday AJ had his first MEAT (chicken), and will soon start eating yogurt (full fat). We're still gonna be leery of too much cheese and try to avoid the wheat products for a while yet, but I think he'll start bulking up. Even the pediatrician noticed how "active" he is (her exact words were, "he doesn't ever stop moving, does he?"), so she's not too concerned. Plus breastfed babies tend to be a little smaller, AND his Dada was a wee little one who grew up to be a normally-sized grown up (as did AJ's Dada's sister).

He nurses to take naps and go to bed at night (3-4 times a day), in addition to the times during the night when I'm too asleep to deal with getting him back down without nursing (usually 2 or 3 times lately, due to the teething). He has at least one bottle a day (6-8 oz, usually about half juice, half water). And he typically eats about 30 oz of baby food, not to mention "Perky-Os," teething biscuits, and other finger foods. Yes, that's right. He ingests almost _TWO_POUNDS_ of "solid" food a day. I'm not worried about him getting enough to eat.

No wonder the legs got too short in lots of his clothes all of the sudden.

Now if I could only get him to sleep more easily. He's started getting fussy lately around 6 or 6:30 PM. We usually try to hold him off until at least 7, but he's usually in his PJs, toys put away, nursed till he's done, and cried for a few minutes until he's asleep by 7:30. He'll often wake up at about 9:30 and again at 11:30. Both of those times, I'll try to get him back to sleep without nursing. Lately he's been waking at 2, 4, and 5:30 or so. Those times, I'm usually too out of it to do much more than pick him up and nurse him without falling over or hitting his head against something. Holding the writhing and screaming banshee that he becomes when he wakes in the night until he quiets enough to lay his head down on my shoulder to be bounced, rocked, and shushed back to sleep is WAY beyond my capabilities.

The 5:30 AM waking is by far the worst though because that's when his Dada is getting up and getting ready for work. On the days he wears his dress shoes, the clicking as he walks around the condo is WAY more than our super curious boy can stand. So three times this week, the final wake up has happened right around the time that Dada left for work. Not much fun for a sleepy Mama. But the advantage is that he then has his first nap _much_ earlier and therefore early enough that his Mama can actually nap a little too without feeling like too much of a lazy bum. He also sometimes manages three naps on those days.

Still not worth getting up at 5:30 though.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


So I just got the following email from VNB:

"Your car is paid off."

Yay for bonus checks and one more step on the way to being debt-free!!

Works for Me Wednesday: Coupon Chief

Is it Wednesday already? Well, since it is, apparently, I guess I'll tell you what's going to work for me the next time I shop online. I haven't used it yet, but it definitely looks like something I'll use now that I know about it. It's a website called Coupon Chief. Basically, they find all of the online coupons for you. All you have to do is search for a store or merchant that you'd like to purchase something from and they give you a list of all the coupon codes that are available. If you're like me and most of your Christmas shopping is done online, this could come in mighty handy.
For instance, say you were looking for a computer or computer accessories for the holidays. You could look for Dell coupons or HP coupons. They also have "big box" stores if you're looking for something more generic. All you've lost is a little time if they don't have any stores you need, but you could save big for free if they do.
As I said, I haven't actually used this yet, but I'm sure I'll at least look at it in the future. So check it out next time you're shopping online. For other tips, check out Rocks in my Dryer.

Monday, October 08, 2007

9 Months On, 9 Months Off (well, almost)

So nine months ago today, AJ made his grand debut into the world. As of now, he's officially been alive on the outside longer than he was alive on the inside. In that time, he's:

  • drooled a lot
  • eaten "solid" foods made by various companies, but also (actual) bananas, grapes, cantaloupe, honeydew, "Perky-Os," gluten-free teething biscuits, carrots, broccoli, green beans, and he's tried watermelon,but hated it so much that when it was offered to him a month later, he refused to even touch it, much less put it in his mouth like everything else
  • fallen down
  • pulled up
  • sat down from a standing position (_VERY_ important as it cuts down on the number of times he _falls_ down and then screams)
  • fallen off the bed three times (all while in my care - "world's best mom," that's me!)
  • walked (more like ran) while holding both hands of a trusted adult
  • taken a step or four while holding _one_ hand of a trusted adult
  • said "Dada," "Mama," "Kee-kee" (kitty-kitty), and fish (I kid you not, clear as a bell, shocked the heck out of him and me both)
  • discovered the joy that is the knobs on his Dada's stereo (which, incidentally, also now controls the TV, DVD/VCR, CD changer, cable box - changing the inputs is like Christmas morning to AJ...and the volume knob? No comparison)
  • learned to fall asleep on his own (after crying for a while)
  • learned to sleep in his crib
  • cut two teeth (with more on the way, yay for more no sleep!)
  • cried a lot
  • screamed a lot less than he's cried
  • been happy (and/or asleep) a whole lot more than he's cried
  • giggled and laughed a lot
  • laughed and smiled in his sleep
  • smiled at everyone who'd catch his eye
  • messed up LOTS of clothes
  • flown on an airplane five times!
  • driven to Nashville once, and to and from NC multiple times
  • zrbeted his Mama's leg twice
  • tickled his Mama once
  • been tickled _by_ his Mama (and Dada) as often as we can manage it
  • played in the bath
  • swam in a lake
  • camped while it hailed, in the freezing cold, and in the sweltering heat, all in one weekend
  • been to a NASCAR race
  • been to the Udvar-Hazy National Air & Space Museum (by Dulles)
  • been to the Statue of Liberty
  • been to Ground Zero
  • participated in many technical discussions concerning the life support systems on the Crew Exploration Vehicle
  • brought worker productivity to a standstill on numerous occasions at both his Mama and his Daddy's offices
  • made it so I have to change the station or skip the song when Mark Schultz's "He's My Son" or Michael W. Smith's "Hello, Goodbye" come on
  • been told that he should be a model on numerous occasions
  • been called the cutest/handsomest baby ever by lots of people other than his Mama (but called that by his Mama the most)
  • become my constant companion
  • made it so I relish my "freedom" when his Dada or someone else is watching him, but also so that I relish coming home to him and his Dada even more than I ever thought possible (and I _REALLY_ like his Dada)
  • brought more joy into our lives than VNB and I ever imagined

While he was inside me, I managed to gain 50 lbs (recommended max? 35. I rocked the pound gainage...that's something we're supposed to be proud of, right?). My midwives (and others) repeated often the mantra "9 months on, 9 months off" referring to how quickly I should expect to lose the baby weight. Well, I'm proud to say that on most occasions (meaning, the last couple of weeks except for five minutes ago when I weighed myself), I am back to within my "normal" weight range. That still means that I'm up to 10 lbs heavier than I was when his knitting together first began...and I can definitely still see it in my gut, hips/butt, and thighs...but I feel almost back to my old self again. That's very satisfying. It'll be much _more_ satisfying when my gut is gone, my hips/butt are back to their normal (not-quite-so-gargantuan) size, and my thighs no longer act like jello, but it's nice to know that I'm back within spitting range.

And AJ is still the cutest, handsomest little man ever. Just ask me! I'll tell you all about him! :) Yes, I am in deep smit with my son. Good thing that the only (here on Earth in corporeal form) person with whom I am more smitten is his handsome Dada. :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

My Alter Egos

Ok, so I was checking out Not the Queen's blog to thank her for her stain removal tips when I came across this meme (I have no idea what meme stands's just one of those things that gets passed around from blog to blog, like the annoying forwarded emails, but without the annoying forwarded email!). So enjoy!

  1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME (first pet & current car):
    Mara Escape
  2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME (favorite ice cream flavor & favorite cookie):
    Butter Pecan Snickerdoodle (maybe this one works better for guys, but this just doesn't seem "Gangsta"-y)
  3. YOUR "FLY GUY/GIRL" NAME (first initial of your first name & first three letters of your last name):
  4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME (favorite color & favorite animal):
    Red Koala
  5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name & hospital where you were born):
    Ruth Loudon
  6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME (first three letters of your last name & first two letters of your first name):
    Jonme (or Turme as my Star Wars Maiden Name)
  7. SUPERHERO NAME ("The" & second favorite color & favorite drink):
    The Blue Caffeine-Free Coke ( How about "The Blue Earl Grey Tea?" (yeah...not so much)
  8. NASCAR NAME (the first names of your grandfathers):
    Nelson Franklin or Franklin Nelson
  9. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME (mother's and father's middle names):
    Lou Winford
  10. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (your 5th grade teacher's last name & a major city beginning with the same letter):
    Johnson um...Johnson City? Heh... I know! Johnson Juno! (Why do so many of my alter ego names seem to be masculine names?)
  11. SPY NAME (your favorite season/holiday & flower):
    Winter Daffodil. Yeah, that's not spytacular at _all_. Winter Rose isn't really either.
  12. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit & article of clothing you're wearing right now & "ie" or "y"):
    Strawberry um.....Sweatsie? yeah...not so much, I think.
  13. HIPPIE NAME (What you ate for breakfast & your favorite tree):
    Nothing Climbable. What? I haven't had breakfast yet and my favorite tree is one that I can climb! (Yes, I'm a responsible, married adult, with a small child, why do you ask?)
  14. YOUR ROCK STAR TOUR NAME ("The" & your favorite hobby/craft & your favorite weather element & "Tour"):
    The Reading Thunderstorm Tour (boy, I'd shell out the dough to go to _that_ concert, let me tell you!)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pay Per Post a while back I heard about and signed up for PayPerPost. You look at their various opportunities, write a post fitting the requirements of one of the opps, and you get paid.

I figured...ok...I can do this invisibly by finding things among the opportunities that I'd talk about anyway, and just get paid for what I'd talk about anyway. Nice, huh?

Well, the catch to most of the opportunities was that you had to have a certain amount of traffic in order to be eligible for them. So most of the time when I check (which happens around the time they send me my monthly newsletter), there's nothing that I'm eligible to write about.

Well for the first time, I was eligible for something. I get $20 for writing about PayPerPost itself, including this link to payperpost, and this other thing (really, there's something in that space). I think there's also a button on the bottom of the post.

Specifically, they want to know why I love PayPerPost (theoretically easy money), how I heard about it (no idea), why I signed up for it (theoretically easy money), if I've made any new friends (nope), what I've learned (nothing that I can think of, other than that I don't have much blog traffic), and what I'm gonna do with the money (buy things). Oh, and it had to be at least 200 words (272!! Whoohoo...except that I just added more!, so now it's 283...wait, now it's 287...288 (I'm counting the numbers as words here, so the number increases each time I write the's funny if you're a geek like me) - 314).

So that's PayPerPost in a nutshell. It's possible that I get referral bonuses if you sign up from this link. I have no idea. But I _should_ get $20 after I post this. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Mommy Blogger

This is a long one, so bear with me if you will. If not, I'll put up some more pics of AJ soon!

So I think I've mentioned this before, but there's this whole "mommy blogging" community out there. Officially, as AJ's mom who also blogs, I'm a part of it. I participate in some of the 'carnivals' (like Works-for-me Wednesday), I've got links to other "mommy blogger's" blogs, I read several other blogs written by "mommy bloggers," occasionally I'll comment on other "mommy blogger's" blogs...basically, I ought to have the bumper sticker and t-shirt (and laminated membership card)...but I don't, and I haven't really figured out why yet.

Partly, I'm reticent I think because I started out as just a blogger - long before I met VNB, and even longer before I became a mommy. So changing my mindset from being a 'blogger' to a 'mommy blogger' has been difficult.

But I think more than that, the 'mommy bloggers,' while wonderful, wise, witty, and fun ladies...well, I just don't think they'd be the kind of people that I'd hang out with were we all in high school. From my point of view, they mostly fall into two categories: conservative Christian stay-at-home moms (SAHMs), or ultra liberal SAHMs. There are a large percentage who are work-at-home moms (WAHMs) like myself, and a smaller number who work outside the home. Ironically, a large majority of both sides homeschool and are somewhat "crunchy" in terms of earth-friendliness.

I think I shy away from the Christian side of the fence because, in my high school, EVERYONE was a Christian. The question wasn't "_Do_ you go to church," it was "_Where_ do you go to church." And 9 times out of 10 it was a Baptist church (I went to hs in Nashville - "the buckle of the Bible belt"). And the kid who was a known pot-head and trouble maker wore his Christian t-shirts with pride and I'm sure was a pillar of his youth group. So I stopped wearing Christian t-shirts since I didn't want to be associated with his kind of Christianity. And the "Christian" crowd...I dunno how to describe it...even then that seemed like too sheltered a way to live. I just had _friends._ It didn't matter in the making of them what religious background they had. Sure I wanted them all to know what I know, but that wasn't the basis of our friendship.

These Christian mommy bloggers seem somewhat similar to me. They're insulated from the real world and "real" people. Not that they aren't wholly sincere...they're just...this tight-knit little community that rarely seems to do much more than pray for each other and link to each others' blogs (not that those things are wrong). I mean, they share wisdom and creative solutions on any number of useful topics (a popular one that I've been trying to learn from is "Home Economics" - not sewing and cooking like we learned in middle school, but actually how to run a home economically) and are wonderfully supportive in times of emotional need...many have at least one sidebar link to things like the Scripture of the day, which shows up on a pretty background. Often their entire post will just be a Psalm of praise and a picture of their (perfectly landscaped) backyard.

The thing is, I bet if I met them in person, they wouldn't talk like that. They wouldn't see a beautiful scene, gasp, pause, and in a reverent tone quote entire Scripture passages from memory. And I know that people (including myself) have different written voices than we do in person...but I just doesn't always seem genuine to me. It seems like they're all trying to live up to the word "Christian" in their little sidebar summary description.

I appreciate that these women are all diligently trying to be better Christian wives and mothers, I really do. And I enjoy learning from what they share with the world. But I just don't consider myself "part" of "them."

And yet I'm (obviously) not part of the ultra liberal crowd either. But misanthropes...they're just more fun to me! The cynical, the sarcastic, the biting...their writing has _FLAVOR_, if you know what I mean...and yet I'm reticent to link to their sites for fear of what you'll think of me. I mean, is one of the absolutely funniest sites on the planet. But it's about _yoga_. And she _curses_! But it's about doing yoga with action figures! And it's HI-LARIOUS! (but she _curses_!) And not all of them are misanthropic or cynical...but their writing still has a 'tang' to it that the "Christian mommy bloggers" just don't always have (and I'm not saying that the liberal crowd aren't Christians...they just don't advertise themselves as such on their blogs).

Does that mean that I love the world too much? Am I so enticed by the things of importance to this world that the more reverent "Christian" community doesn't appeal to me? (And I'm not saying that the "Christian" community isn't irreverent either...they just all have on what I call "church face"). Or have the "Christian" mommy bloggers so sequestered themselves that they are of no impact on the world?

I of the blogs that I read is actually written by a single girl. While she grew up in a church-going family, she does not emblazon herself with the label "Christian" (she blogs about tv and baseball and movies and advice - and did I mention that she curses?), and she and her readership just since the first of October have raised over $50k for "Donors Choose" a website where teachers ask for money for projects for their schools and you pick which ones you want to donate to. Apparently Donors Choose is running a month-long contest among bloggers to see which blog can raise the most money for these teachers. Political blogs are doing it. Technical blogs are doing it...but I haven't heard a peep from the "Christian" community about it.

Just about every "Christian mommy blogger" has a link on their side bar to pray for this family or that little one who has such and such grave illness...and it's not wrong to do that...but why aren't we impacting our world more? And how do we go about it?

There's definitely a dichotomy of readership too, I think. The Christians use their churchy words and talk about submitting to their husbands (and potty training and child-rearing and home ec and dozens of other topics) and the liberals talk about all the same things, minus the churchy words and teachings and with a dash of cursing and salt. And to some extent, never the twain should meet.

Except that _we're_ called to be the "salt" of the world. Why are we so boring?

No answers here, folks....discuss amongst yourselves.

(But how is it that doesn't have "blogger" in their spell-check dictionary?)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: (Backwards Day) Baby Stain Fighting

So today is "Backwards Day" over at Rocks In My Dryer's Works-for-me Wednesday. What that means is that I ask for some wise and creative ideas to solve an issue all my own.

While I've seen others post on previous WFMWs on stain fighting, I have to say that I'm still struggling with this - not with my clothes or VNB's, always with AJ's. Specifically, bibs and the legs of onesies.

I think my biggest problem is that I'm in a small condo with communal laundry facilities (meaning that I do laundry at most once a week) and no place that I can really leave something to soak with any regularity that either the cat or the baby couldn't get into, other than outside on our porch...which kinda weirds me out, plus it's starting to get cold and things won't stay liquid out there for too many more weeks.

This is what I've tried and the results:

  • Dreft stain remover - worked pretty well, but not better than oxyclean stain remover, and neither got the entire stain out, even with leaving for longer than it recommended on the package. This would be a choice which would make me happy if someone could tell me how to make it work as Dreft is the cheapest of the stain removers by far ($3 at Walmart), and there are coupons for Dreft products, making it even cheaper!
  • Oxyclean stain remover (both sprayed on and poured in with the detergent) - didn't see much difference when poured in with the detergent, but worked the best of everything I'd tried when clothes had already been washed a couple of times, then I think I tried the dish soap and washed again, then sprayed with Oxyclean stain, then left to sit overnight, then washed and dried. I haven't tried just spraying them and letting them sit overnight by themselves though, so it could just be the combination.
  • Dish soap - maybe I did this one wrong - I put the soap on the dry clothes, rubbed it into the stains, then left them to soak in the sink for about 30 minutes. It worked some, but no better than anything else. I guess this would be the absolutely cheapest method, but it was _REALLY_ messy, and involved having a clean sink and work area around the sink (which doesn't usually happen in conjunction with laundry days).
  • Shout Advanced gel - I seem to recall this working really well, but it's also _REALLY_ expensive and I go through a bottle in about two laundry days. I'd much prefer something cheaper.
  • Bleach - other than to take color out of things that ought to be colored, I've never seen bleach make a difference on anything. And yet I keep buying it and using it with my whites.

I always wash the stained stuff in hot water, and usually wash them until I can't stand the effort anymore (or AJ no longer has clothes), then I dry them. I really don't care that much if colors fade (he's a baby, he doesn't care, and most of the issues are with bibs which are mostly white, or onesies - also mostly white, and usually worn under clothes).

Please help! Tell me a combination or a method or a product that works (worked) for you with baby stains! And if you're looking to help more people with your wisdom and creativity, then check out "Backwards Day!"

Monday, October 01, 2007

The 300

So this is officially my 300th post. I didn't know when I wrote my 100th post that it was "supposed" to be a list of 100 things about myself (according to blogging 'tradition,' which may or may not have existed then). And, although it was completely unintentional, that one ended up being a list of 111 things - my favorite memories of Baghdad.

My 200th post wasn't nearly as interesting.

Anyway, so as I neared the 300 marker, I kept contemplating what this post should be about. I thought that maybe since I'd never really done it, I should do the list of 100 things about myself. But I always find those things somewhat pretentious (and wayyyy too long) then I thought, why don't I make a list of 100 things I'm thankful for? Surely that's less pretentious. You know...counting your blessings. But then I thought about the list of things I'm grateful for...and, while it certainly wouldn't be meant that way, it would have come across as, well, pretentious.

So then I thought I'd just write whatever was on my mind since I hadn't done anything special for any of the other blogging milestones (why start now?)...but I kinda wanted to mark this one since I actually noticed that it was coming. But while I've got lots of ideas for deep, theological things to write about (like this), nothing's really ready for public consumption yet.

So then I thought about writing a list of things I thought about writing about for this very special entry. And I guess that was my plan when starting this entry. But then in the explanation of why I was writing about what I had been contemplating writing about, I pretty much wrote about what I was going to write about (you still with me?).

And since I've somewhat completed my intended task, and in the meantime AJ has gotten hold of the tissue paper I couldn't put away because of the bathroom surround that's blocking the doors to his closet (don't ask), so I should probably go.

But in the meantime, on the "singers and standards" music station on our cable, it's now Sammy Davis, Jr. singing "My Funny Valentine." So please pause for a minute to remember my sweet puppy who died on Valentine's Day in 2004 when I was overseas. Apparently I wasn't blogging then.