Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Photos

Katie (my baby sister), Trystan, and Charlotte

Princess Charlotte showing off her new dress-up clothes

Trystan's big toy

Trystan figures out how to unwrap a gift

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


We should be heading back for St. Louis this afternoon. I really, really hope that Charlotte sleeps the whole way. She has not napped more than 10 minutes at a time since the drive here on Saturday afternoon, and has been up till 10 every night. She normally pushes her bedtime back until 9 or later, but takes a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoons to compensate.

Trystan's sleep schedule is out of whack too, but he's getting in enough hours of shuteye. Unfortunately they're not the hours that we would choose. Last night he fell asleep around 6:30 St. Louis time, and slept for about 3 hours. That was just long enough for us to get started on a game of Diplomacy (Aside: if you've never heard of it, it's kind of like Risk, but you end up spending a lot of time making deals with the other players in order to attack or defend your territories..all that talking makes for a long game). My husband and I took turns attempting to put Trystan back down to sleep for probably over an hour, until we finally gave up and just brought him back downstairs, where he got mad about not being allowed to eat our pencils and paper.

Sometime around 11 or midnight, I abdicated my position in the game and headed for bed. I was too tired to think straight. My husband played my holdings for a while until everyone called a draw. Trystan still wasn't asleep. I put him in his bed and let him cry for a while, after he refused any milk or snuggles (unless I would let him claw my lips off, which I do not appreciate). It was some time after my husband had come to bed before the crying-snoozing-waking-crying cycle finally was broken for the rest of the night and Trystan just slept. Somehow Charlotte slept through the whole ordeal (we're all in the same room). Trystan was up and moving by 7:30 St. Louis time this morning.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas drizzle

It turns out my vent may have been fueled by a bit more than annoyance. After I tried to go to sleep last night, my stomach hurt. I wasn't sure for a while if my dinner was going to come out in a hurry, from one end or the other. By the time I finally started feeling better, Trystan woke up and puked all over me. Poor little guy. After I got him cleaned up and changed into fresh jammies, he went back down and slept really well until about 8 this morning. He woke up, had some breakfast (milk and baby oatmeal), a bath, more milk, and was back asleep by 10. It's now 12:30 (local time) and he's just now waking back up. My stomach is feeling better--though it did feel the need to empty its contents in a hurry when I woke up.

Man I hate getting sick. I'm not good at recognizing that my horrible moods are caused by not feeling well until I really fall awful. Blech.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Steam

Bah Humbug.

We're at my mom's. This is our first long-distance trip with Trystan, which means it's the first one we've attempted with two children. Both kids were OK for the drive, though a portable DVD player in the car did wonders for Charlotte's attitude. Right now, sleep is their problem (well, it's ours more than theirs).

The original idea was for my husband and I to share my mom's full-size guest bed, Trystan to sleep in a pack n play, and Charlotte to sleep in my baby's sister's unused bunk bed. 3 out of 4 of us were happy with the arrangement, but Charlotte would not go to sleep in her aunt's bed. Not with snuggles and books, certainly not with the door shut (to keep out the dog and cats). She has issues with closed doors. There is barely room for 2 of us in that full-size bed (we're used to a king...), and adding a toddler does not help. We did convince Char to sleep on blankets on the floor next to us. Convince, cajole, threaten, whatever.

Here's the current breakdown of sleeping arrangements. I am #2 of 5 girls. #1 and her significant other are here, staying at Mom's, as of tonight they're in teh bunk beds. I'm here with hubby and 2 kids, all 4 of us in a 10x12 guest room. #3 can't make it because of school committments (she was studying poisonous frogs on a tropical island until yesterday). #4 lives here in town with her SO. #5 is 11 and still lives with Mom. She's sleeping in Mom's room for the holiday.

So tonight, after I spent my "free time" of the evening addressing Christmas card envelopes, while my husband sat around playing card games with two of my sisters. Oh, he logged onto this laptop (which is nominally mine), and attempted to chat with his mom a bit too. I then went grocery shopping with my mom. When we got back, I tried to hurry up and finish the cards (my husband addressed a handful while we were gone...maybe 6 out of the 40 or so..).

Then Trystan was tired so I went upstairs to put his jammies on and nurse him. He was very nearly out when Charlotte came banging into the bedroom, climbed up on the bed, talking nonstop, and wanted to play. She played with Trystan, she played out of her clothes and into her jammies, and then she played with Trystan some more. Clearly, the baby was not asleep. I finally put Trystan in the pack and play, and let Charlotte entertain him there (he was outright giggling by that time and not settling down at all), and went down to yell at my husband, who was still engrossed in a card game with my sisters and didn't realize that Charlotte was even upstairs.

We both then went back upstairs and attempted to get both kids to bed. By then, sister #4 came in to say that everyone else (#1, #4, #5, and 2 significant others) were going out for a late dinner because the guys were hungry. She invited us along, but there was no way for us to leave the kiddos even if they were asleep already (Mom has to work tomorrow briefly, and was not a candidate for baby duty).

After more nursing and more convincing, I went to the restroom and my husband ended up getting both kids to sleep. I tried to gather up our scattered belongings for the night, to help cut down the chaos level in the house.

I then tried to log in for some precious surfing or blogging or (gasp!) writing time. Unfortunately, some combination of my husband updating Messenger, or perhaps updating Guild Wars, or maybe some other nefarious program managed to cripple Internet Explorer for over half an hour. I could clik on links on a web page, but could not type anything into the explorer bar, or it would lock up. I uninstalled a large number of unnecessary and suspect programs (no spyware, but several Yahoo things that were junk, IM, games that hadn't been touched in over a year, etc), and ran Windows Update and finally seem able to actually surf.

So basicaly, I'm in a bad mood. Travel with kids is not that fun. 3-year olds who are schedule driven do not handle changes of bedtime routines well. I vented to my husband about the whole playing-games-and-not-wathcing-children thing, and about the playing-games-while-there's-work-to-be-done thing (those are variations on a theme). I feel better after venting, though the two of us haven't really worked out that issue yet. He's probably still annoyed with me for being annoyed with him.

The Christmas Card thing is probably on it's last year. They're cute. But they're a pain in the neck every time we've tried to do them, and somehow I always feel like I'm doing a majority of the painful parts. Tonight, not only was I not enjoying myself, but I was trying to do soemthing that I consider work while everyone around me was playing games or being sociable, and I didn't get a chance to participate. So, if you get a card this year (and our list is shaky at best), and don't next year, please don't think that we don't like you. But I spend a lot of time blogging, and am including the url of the blog in our Christmas letter, and darnit, I don't know that I'll feel like rehashing what I already spend a lot of time writing about.

As for my laptop, I'm still annoyed about the half hour or more of system administration I had to do tonight. I wanted a laptop in part because I wanted my husband to not mess with it. With our other computers, every other time I would try to use them, he would have changed hardware, re-burned the harddrive, or installed some crazy thing that made it annoying or impossible for me to use it. He makes a hobby of messing with computers, which is fine for him. I don't, and I want my computer to work the same way every time I log on. If I have half an hour to spend on the computer, I don't want to waste it all cleaning up a mess first.

In other words, Bah Humbug. Maybe tomorrow will be better, and I'll get a chance to relax and spend time with family and not feel like bawling everyone (or anyone) out. Now I guess I should attempt to go to sleep.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shopper's Paradise

I'm taking a training class this week in Clayton. Usually I really enjoy these classes because they're 1) a break from the normal routine and 2) I get an hour for lunch without having to work an extra hour at the end of the day. I do, occaisionally, learn something as well.

At lunch today, I actually had a little over an hour, as I was done with the assigned "exercises" a bit before noon. Any extra time I had there was eaten up by having to arrange my pump, however. I have a rather nifty (in theory) breastpump that I can wear around under my clothes, running on batteries. (It's called a Whisper Wear if you're interested but if you look it up online, the thing is no longer made, and the website is long gone). Once on, I look like I'm either stacked, or deformed, depending on how well the two pumps are staying in place. And far from "whispering", the things sound like a pair of asynchronous ducks following me around. In any case, I keep my coat on, and hope no one suspects me of being a suicide bomber.

Today at lunch I made a very poor decision--to drive to the Galleria for lunch and attempt to do some Christmas shopping. Apparently, half of St. Louis had the same idea. And none of them know that there are more than two levels to the parking garage. I think it took me 10 minutes from entering the garage until I found a spot..with about 50 other open spots nearby, all very very close to the Macy's entrance. The first 9.5 of those minutes were spent stuck behind other cars who were waiting for little old ladies to stow their packages and slowly back out of their parking spaces. Seriously, folks, keep driving up to level will walk the same number of stairs (down!) to the entrance and there is more parking.

Of the million people at the Galleria at noon, at least fifty thousand were eating at the Bread Company. Finding a table was much like finding a parking space, except that Bread Co has no level 3.

Lunch itself was good, but by the time I'd parked and ordered and eaten food, I was tired of the ducks and had to find a restroom to remove them. Either the other ladies in the Famous (sorry, Macy's) restroom didn't see me pulling things out of my bra, or chose to ignore it. I wonder what someone would have thought if they noticed me pouring baggies of white liquid into small bottles and disassembling objects that I pulled out from under my clothes. Maybe I should be composing my defense for drug charges, not bomb threats.

I did manage to buy a Christmas gift for my baby sister, the last person on my list that I hadn't shopped for yet. I got back to class a little late, having forgotten to account for shoppers-that-question-every-price-at-the-register. Given how much time I'm finding to post, I guess I'm not that far behind.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Charlotte is becoming a great songwriter. She has always enjoyed songs and singing along when other people sing, and singing along with the radio. But lately she's actually composing new lyrics and notes. And it's hilarious.

I remember when the "Dark Horse and Cherry Tree" song (sorry, can't give the artist or correct title....I can never know the one I mean) came out a year or two ago. that song was on every radio station all the time, and I would hear Charlotte in her car seat behind me singing "woo-hoo, woo-hoo, No-No-No-No" along with the radio. Like most children (and many adults, for that matter) frequently do, she accidentally mixes up words and verses. Her alphabet song, until recently, has always had quite a few more "jake-elemeno-pee" verses than the original.

Charlotte's music evolved from repetition, and repetition with mistakes, to making deliberate mistakes. Admittedly, she has a couple of examples to follow. My husband and I frequently change the words to songs to make the kids laugh, or to get their attention when speaking voices won't. My husband is better at it than I am--I don't rhyme well on the fly, and I have to work hard enough to do the singing that it doesn't allow much brainpower left for the words.

In the last couple of months, she has taken to actually composing new songs, with music, words, and, occaisionally, choreography. She has watched a fair number of Christmas movies, read several Christmas books, and they talked about it during children's liturgy at church yesterday. So last night, Charlotte took one of her baby dolls, wrapped it in a blanket, and ran around the house singing (or maybe chanting) "Jeee-sus is Boo-oorn" at the top of her lungs, holding her swaddled doll up above her head like Father Gary does during a baptism. Eventually the song morphed into "Jesus at School" and then "Trystan at School" and finally "Trystan is born", but mostly, it was about Jesus. This lasted for probably 20 minutes or more. The baby doll was wrapped, unwrapped, carried, paraded, and snuggled all around the family room and kitchen.

It is really hard not to simply bust out laughing in joy at her. I don't want to make her feel self conscious, because her performance was wonderful and creative and completely silly but non-destructive (and entertained Trystan, and didn't involve the TV, etc, etc).

It must have been a lot of effort for the plastic Jesus (who besides the blanket was stark naked), because eventually Charlotte carried him upstairs and tucked him into Trystan's crib to sleep. She made me promise to be quiet so I wouldn't wake him up. Later, Charlotte informed me that Jesus's parents, Mary and Jofus (her pronunciation), were coming to visit soon. I wonder if she expects the fire department to bring them, like they did Santa Claus a week ago.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mixed emotions?

I broke my stand mixer. I was making a cake to bring to work for our Christmas lunch, and first I heard a clank, and then the beater stopped moving. It's a KitenAid, with the accessory port on the front. We have a can opener that plugs in and is powered by the mixer motor, which I had removed it while I made the cake. I covered the accessory port with the little metal circle circle. Apparently I did not screw it on tightly because at some point, it fell off and into the cake batter, got hit by the beater, stopped the beater, and probably broke a gear inside the motor. The motor makes noise when powered on, but does not move anymore. I didn't realize what had happened until I was attempting to finish beating the batter by hand and found the metal piece swimming in the bottom of the bowl. I had to stop by the grocery store this morning to buy canned frosting, depsite the plethora of powdered sugar and other ingredients in our cupboard--mixing icing by hand takes more time and one more hand than I had free last night (the cake was from a mix and would normally have taken about 5 minutes + baking time to prepare, if I didn't have to mix it by hand after troubleshooting the mixer).

This sucks. I love my stand mixer, and I use it a LOT. I don't really have any backup for it--a couple of years ago I gave away my bread maker and my hand mixer because I never ever used them. The only time lately that I've regretted not having something else was when I needed to beat 2 eggwhites to stiff peaks--the kitchenaid does larger batches of egg whites really well, but that small amount isn't caught by the whisk attachment well, and it takes forever (about as long as doing it by hand, and just as frustrating)--needless to say I've chosen a different waffle recipe to use since that episode.

My husband and I may try to repair it ourselves--he attempted to disassemble it last night to figure out which part was broken, but ran into trouble getting to the motor (he had every visible screw undone at that point and was stumped). I'm hoping there are instructions online somewhere (we found several places that stock all manner of parts). There are also repair centers, but I'm afraid that the labor may be more than it's worth. Luckily the basic design has been around forever (50 years? probably more), so the repair procedures should be fairly well documented somewhere, and the workings are mechanical and not electronic.

I don't want to have to buy a new mixer, because it's going to be expensive. It will be more expensive than the original one (not even counting the wedding gift cards we used to actually purchase it), because I'm sure I'd talk myself into upgrading to a more powerful version, or perhaps the "commercial" one that has a sturdier motor (metal gears vs platic I think) that would stand up to all the use I put mine through. They don't actually sell the exact model that I have anymore--the 5qt "heavy duty" with the bowl lift--currently their 5qt with my speed motor has a tilt head, which I think uses different bowls (and I have an extra, plus lids...would have to buy those too).

What does it say about me that I'm actually sad about the mixer? It's not the fridge, which we absolutely need to provide food for the family, or the oven, or even the dishwasher, which would be really obnoxious to do without. I guess that's why I like my mixer so much--it's not an appliance that I need, but one that I use to do fun things like bake cakes and cookies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What's Not On My Christmas List Yet

One of the gadgets that I am seeing advertised a lot this Christmas is the e-book reader, like this one from Amazon. It sounds like an interesting concept, to be able to store so many books on one little device. The thing works like a cell phone, without the access charges (yet) for browsing and downloading books.

I'm not sold yet. I love the feel of a real book in my hands, the smell of the paper. I still much prefer to browse a real bookstore to an online one. It takes so long to click on all the links to get a good feel for an unknown book, and browsing online takes so much longer than scanning a shelf at the store. Plus, Amazon doesn't have a coffee shop, and most bookstores these days do. Besides the physical difference between paper and e-books, I have a few questions on their usage:

Why is it so expensive? Amazon is charging nearly $400 for theirs, before the cost of books, most of which run $9.99. I think I average spending $10-12 on a book, maybe less (I love the bargain book section)--that's going to take a long time to recoup my costs.

Can you create your own e-books to read and pass around? I didn't see technical specs on file formats. Is this going to cost several hundred $ for special software, or will the things accept a pdf file or a word document.

What do you do when you're done with a book? Can you loan them to a friend? Sell them to a used book store? Hide them from your parents? Will libraries be able to offer e-books? Amazon's website talks all about getting books *on* to the device, not how to get them back off again.

Can you really dog-ear pages? Sure, you can bookmark a page. But can you really really bookmark one so that the next person to pick it up knows immediately where the juicy scenes are?

If you plan on becoming a serial killer, is there a way to completely disable the built-in cell-phone like wireless? After all, we're all familiar with the police tracking cell phone signals. It would be terribly embarrassing to be caught because you stopped to download the latest Stephen King after burying the bodies.

How will we ever hold a decent book burning? Somehow, the image of a circle of right-wing activists holding book readers, thumbs poised as the leader says "On the count of 3, everyone click Delete together" just doesn't hold the same appeal as a massive bonfire.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We're beginning to catch up with the rest of the world. Is it really Christmas season already? What happened to October? November? September for that matter?

We now have a Christmas tree up and decorated in our living room. We bought a new, pre-lit one this year. Our old tree is fine, but putting on the lights takes hours, and we decided that after nearly 10 years of use on a $40 tree, we could afford a quicker one. Charlotte loved decorating it, almost too enthusiastically. We have enough ornaments in the house to decorate 2-3 trees, so I was trying to edit what she put up (sticking to the shatter-proof ball ornaments instead of the glass ones, keeping a color scheme, etc). A few unauthorized ones crept through (there's a bright ceramic Little Mermaid in the middle of our mostly silver and gold tree).

After Charlotte was born, I bought a Little People nativity set that we put away with the Christmas decorations every year. We have it set up under the tree, and both kids get to enjoy it this year. Trystan has sucked on nearly every item, and seems to be particularly fond of the camel. The thing is cute, with angels, shepherds, sheep, donkeys, wise men, etc, and the stable plays "Away in a Manger". I've heard that song several dozen times already since Saturday afternoon.

I had some time Friday afternoon to go shopping, and have a fair number of gifts bought. Well, maybe half. Ok, half of my half of the shopping. My husband typically must decide on his family's part because our families approach Christmas and gifts very differently. It's just less stressful to divvy up the shopping.

We've even been to a Christmas party at a friend's church. It was a sort of family playtime event--with a bounce house, craft projects, cookies, face painting.

Maybe Christmas won't sneak up on us as fast as I feared it would after all.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Trystan is home. He was discharged yesterday afternoon, which is about the earliest that we had expected that he could be sent home. His surgery Friday was (so far as we know) without complications, and even immediately afterwards, the nurses reported hearing good bowel sounds.

Anytime the intestines are operated on, or even moved around while other body parts are operated on, there is a chance that peristalsis, the coordinated action of the intestines, can get out of synch. So, instead of moving contents steadily downwards, parts can get messed up and try to force the contents back upwards. Trystan had blessedly little or no trouble with that this time. After his colostomy at 2 days old, it was over a week before the doctors deemed he was safe to try eating, and it took an extra day or two beyond that before he would eat without puking everything back up.

This time, he started passing gas and pooping at about 30 hours post-op. I was holding him Saturday night, with my hand lightly patting his bottom when I felt(and heard) the first toot. My husband and I were both giddy--you have never seen two parents so excited about an 8-month old soiling his diaper. I was even disappointed that we didn't have a camera, and joked that my husband could take a photo of the dirty diaper with his phone. We didn't, actually. But he continued to pass gas and stool all night (where he got some of that I have no idea, digestive juices mainly I guess since he'd been completely cleaned out before hand). Sunday was rough, as he was hungry, and the doctors still wanted his bowels to rest. So he was allowed 1/2 ounce of breastmilk every 4 hours until first thing Monday morning. The poor little guy did not want to let me (the food supply) out of his sight. Yesterday morning, he was given the green light to eat as much as he wants, and by about noon, we were told we could pack up to go home.

We're all exhausted around here, except for Charlotte who's stressed and dealing with it as any 3-year old does: by throwing tantrums every couple of minutes. Trystan slept in our bed last night--on top of me most of the night. Saturday and Sunday he did the same thing at the hospital and would not let me put him down to sleep. My back is still recovering from that. My husband had duty Thursday night and Friday night, which weren't any better.

So, now we get to deal with the aftermath. We're going to need more diapers, as he has a raging case of diarrhea (completely anticipated), and we must keep on top of the dirty diapers lest he develop diaper rash. Many kids really struggle with the rash between the new experience of having poop on their skin, consistency issues because the colon is not really doing its job well yet, frequency, and all the antibiotics around the surgery. Our laundry is about hip-deep in all bedrooms--much of it clean and needing to be sorted and folded and put away. Our pantry is mostly empty.

Did I mention Trystan's newest trick? Somehow during his hospital stay while he was physically attached to me or my husband the entire time (and basically resting), the kid learned how to crawl, and can suddenly pull up to kneeling. Maybe it just took a sore belly to convince him to try holding his weight on his knees instead of squirming on his tummy. Amazing.