Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Part II: The Evil Within

We own a copy of the children's classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, in which the caterpillar eats his way through all sorts of food items, including swiss cheese, cherry pie, and a pickle. He ends up with a tummyache, eats a big green leaf, and feels much better.

In real life, I have only ever seen caterpillars eat leaves. Until last night.

I was outside with Natalie, picking up the yard after our family squirt gun fight earlier in the afternoon. I heard a frantic wing-flapping in the grass, and saw a dragonfly struggling. As I parted the grass to see what he was caught on, I saw that a caterpillar had wrapped itself around the dragonfly's body and was attempting to eat the dragonfly. As I came to realize what horror was going on in front of my eyes, the dragonfly stopped struggling. I think I will be scarred for life over witnessing that scene. I know, circle of life and all that, but I prefer not to witness a predator killing his prey.

But, seriously. Caterpillars eat dragonflies? What the...? I've always thought of caterpillars as benign creatures, not dragonfly killers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Looking for a fabulous dessert recipe? Go ahead, click that link. I'll wait.

OK, now I'm going to warn you. DO NOT make that recipe, unless you will have a houseful of people over to help you eat it. That tiramisu is single-handedly destroying my efforts at dieting. Also? YUM.

Friday, July 25, 2008

We went to the county fair last night, and on the way home, Sammy kept saying his tummy hurt. "I really sick," he said. "I need some medicine." I assured him that his tummy just wanted some healthy food, and he'd feel better after we ate supper.

We got home, and he went up the stairs. On the top landing, he threw up. It took everything I had in me to not do the same. There is nothing worse than the smell of vomit. This morning, he seemed fine, though, so it was hopefully just a case of too much fair food. He only ate two mini-donuts and drank some root beer float, though. That doesn't seem like much to me.

Enough talk about sicknesses for this week. Here is an excerpt from a recent performance by the 2-year-old:

(I never before realized that Are You Sleeping and Where Is Thumbkin share the same tune)
Are you sleeping
Are you sleeping
Brother John
Brother John
How are you at daycare?
How are you at daycare?
Run and hide
Run and hide

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Natalie's fever, which was more of an aside on yesterday's post, got worse as the day went on. By noon, I thought she may have actually become grafted to me, what with the resistance that I got when I tried to put her down.

Sammy was a sweetheart. When he came home from daycare, he was very concerned about her and wanted to do what he could to help. I gave him a cold, wet washcloth and he dabbed her head very gently. He brought her a binky, a blanket, and a bottle. He suggested I take her to the doctor. When I explained she'd already been to the doctor, he told me to bring her again.

I carried her around in a Moby wrap all day. When she fell asleep and I took off the wrap so I could lie down in the recliner with her, Sammy asked Ron to help him put the wrap on. Then he came over and wanted me to put Natalie in the wrap. He finally settled for a stuffed gorilla instead.

At 5:00, Natalie's fever was 103 and she was becoming inconsolable. I thought a lukewarm bath might help cool her down, and soothe her. I took off her clothes and, as I was running the water, she peed all over my leg. And the bathroom rug. And the towel. At least I had proof that she was getting enough fluids, and wasn't dehydrated. When I tried to put her in the bathtub, she clung to me like a baby monkey, and howled like one, too. So much for the bath.

She slept on my shoulder most of the evening, and at 10:00, when I was ready to go to bed, I brought her with me. The first hour passed peacefully. Shortly after 11:00, I woke up to blood-curdling screaming. I picked her up and she continued to scream bloody murder. She would calm down a little bit, then shudder and scream some more. Ron and I seriously considered calling an ambulance, or waking Sammy up so we could go to the ER, because I have never heard her cry like that before. It took about 15 minutes before she calmed down, and then the rest of the night passed without any more crises.

By this morning, her fever had broken but she was stuck to me like Velcro. It took an hour for me to leave the house, because she would get so upset every time I'd leave her sight. It was much worse than the separation anxiety-type-crying which is so typical these days. I did finally leave, and so I'm back at work today, while Natalie is home spending some quality time with Daddy.

I still don't know what the incident overnight was about. Fever-related seizure? Disorientation due to the fever? I learned something this morning from the nurses I work with. The way to tell if a baby is having a seizure is to hold one of their extremities. If the "convulsion" stops, it's not a seizure. I hope I never again have the opportunity to use that test.

On another note: Do you think Sammy might be getting a little big for his bed? Maybe it's time to upgrade.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Not the Best Idea I've Ever Had

This weekend, we took the kids camping for the first time. We went to a state park in the southwestern part of the state, about a two-hour drive.

In the days leading up to our trip, I suggested making reservations half a dozen times. With an $8.50 non-refundable registration fee, Ron balked at the thought. "We don't need reservations," Ron said. "I'm sure the campsite won't be full," he said.

We pull in at 5:30 p.m., to find that there are only two campsites available, both in the "rustic" campground. This means no running water and no flush toilets. That wouldn't have mattered much to me before having kids, but I wasn't looking forward to the thought of changing diapers without being able to wash up afterwards, or having to drag a kid with me into the filthy outhouse. But we didn't have much choice, so we took one of the sites and pulled in to our spot--which was right on the corner of a triangle of roads, and very cozily next to another campsite. Meaning, no privacy at all, and constant worries about the kids going onto one of the roads.

Ron and Sammy got back into the van and went back to see if we could still get the other spot, which was more secluded. We were lucky enough to be able to switch campsites, so we got set up in our new home.

The ground was very muddy in the patches where the grass had worn away. The kids were both covered in mud from head to toe before we'd even been there for 15 minutes. And with no running water, clean-up wasn't too easy. We went through a lot of baby wipes, in an attempt to keep the dirt under control. And both kids had poopy diapers within fifteen minutes of being at the campsite. Thank goodness I remembered to bring some antibacterial hand gel, since there was NO RUNNING WATER.

Around 8:00, we started to get the kids ready for bed. Natalie went to sleep pretty easily, but it was after 10:00 when Sammy finally settled down and went to sleep. Then, for the next hour, I got to listen to a kid in a nearby campsite wail and scream. I get enough of that at home, thank-you-very-much. I didn't need to drive two hours to hear someone else's kid throw a tantrum for an hour because he was over-tired and needed to get to bed. So much for the park's "quiet time", which was supposed to start at 10:00 p.m.

But the next morning, we were on the other end of it. Every other time I've been camping, it's been in much more secluded areas than this particular campsite, so I hadn't worried about our kids' early wake-up time disturbing anybody else. As usual, the kids woke up around 5:30 and for the next hour, I did my best to keep them quiet, but I'm sure we still managed to wake up half the campground. As soon as it was obvious that other people were starting to get up and move around, we packed up our tent and left. We were all too tired and cranky to do any of the fun things we had planned on, like swimming in the sandy-bottomed swimming pool in the park, or the nearby caves which we had thought about touring.

On another note, I'm home today with Natalie, who woke up with a 101+ degree fever this morning. She's had some other symptoms for the past week, which I'd attributed to teething, but when she developed the fever, I thought I'd better have her checked out. The doctor thought the fever was just some random virus, and she agreed that the rest of it is probably teething. Poor Natalie is cutting six teeth, all at once, and it's been rough on her. Not to mention the rest of us.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping with the kids last weekend, we turned a corner to find a group of three very large, very loud women talking and laughing with each other.

As we passed them, Sammy said loudly, "They really bigger, Mommy!" Luckily for me, the women were talking too loudly to hear, so I didn't have to turn beet red and fumble for an apology.

And so it begins. Now I need to figure out how to explain, at a 2 1/2-year-old level, how words can hurt.

Fingerpaints, part 2

Because I don't always read the comments on other peoples' blogs, I wanted to mention a question that came up in my comments section about the fingerpaint project.

How long is the paint good for? That's a good question, since this is the first time I have attempted this. I can tell you that the paint does develop a skin when it sits out, and the longer it sits, the thicker the skin gets. If it's a thin skin on top, you can just stir it back into the paint. If it's a thicker skin, scrape it off first, and stir up what paint remains.

I am storing my paint in the refrigerator, in baby food jars. I am going to experiment with freezing some, too, to see how it thaws out. I'll let you know the results of my experiment!

I also have a few different recipes for fingerpaints, and I'm going to try a couple of others, as well. The "pudding skin" is a bit of an issue with this recipe, when it's not all used at once.

Edited to add: The paint stayed good in the refrigerator for about a week, before it started getting moldy. I froze some in a small container, and it thawed out to the consistency of pudding skin. Totally unusable. Make only as much as you can use within a few days!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Craft day! Homemade fingerpaint

We haven't been doing a lot of crafts lately. It's summer in Minnesota, and since we get about two months of nice weather all year round, it's practically a state law that you need to be outside during the summer. We did manage to fit in a craft project this weekend, though.

There are lots of recipes for homemade fingerpaints, and they are all pretty simple. I went with a cornstarch/water/glycerine fingerpaint recipe. Ignore the mess on the counter. I didn't have time to Photoshop it out.
Begin with 1/2 cup of cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water.

Mix together. The mixture will be lumpy and dry-ish.Gradually, add 2 cups hot water, stirring as you go (to prevent lumps).Cook over low heat until it boils. I switched to a wire whisk after a few minutes, because I was starting to get cornstarch lumps.
This is what it looks like when it starts to thicken.
Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup cold water and 1 tablespoon glycerine.
Separate into batches and add food coloring. I went pretty easy on the food coloring - about 5-6 drops of food coloring gel per bowl - because I wasn't sure how well the fingerpaints would wash off. It washed off of skin very well, but the kids were painting topless so I couldn't attest to how easily it washes out of clothing.
As you can see, the paint was pretty pale - more of a watercolor effect. Next time, I think I'd try a few more drops of food coloring.
There was another reason I didn't want to overdo the food coloring. I knew that Natalie would want to paint, too, but that she'd also try to taste it (you can see the evidence on her face). I didn't want the kids ingesting too much artificial coloring.
As you can see, Sam had to take a taste, too.

One note: I let the paint sit for awhile to cool, and it did develop a "pudding skin" on top. But it stirred up nicely and was as good as new.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Baby steps

Sorry the video is so dark. This digital camcorder works great in daylight, but I am still trying to figure out how to take decent indoor videos.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Engineer's Guide to Cats

This YouTube video is one of the funniest things I've seen in awhile.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Weekend Update

Friday morning, we went to a parade, which both of the kids loved. Sammy was a little intimidated by the older children who shouldered their way past him to grab as much of the candy as they could get, but eventually he got braver and did manage to snag a few tootsie rolls. We went to a fireworks display on Friday night, and Sammy was underwhelmed, to say the least. He has been going to bed around 8:30 lately, and the fireworks didn't start until 10:00, so I think that was a big part of the problem. The good news? He slept in until 7:30 on Saturday morning. I honestly don't remember the last time he did that.

Natalie had a huge weekend. Not only did she learn how to walk, but she cut another tooth (finally! a grand total of 3 now!) and - can I get a drumroll, please - she slept through the night last night, for the first time ever! Surprisingly, I didn't even wake up to wonder why she hadn't woken up yet, so I got a very restful night's sleep.

Speaking of Natalie, let me tell you about our little drama queen. For example, this morning she wanted to play with Sammy's potty chair (yuck!) so I finally picked it up and put it where she couldn't reach it. She looked at the chair, looked at me, then flung herself face-first onto the floor and started shrieking in outrage. This exact scene plays itself out a couple of dozen times every day. I had to laugh when I picked her up from daycare on Thursday, and her daycare teacher told me they'd been calling her a "drama queen" all day. Apparently she doesn't just save those shows for me. I should also say that her teacher said that with affection - I know that's one of those things that could be taken different ways, and it all depends on the tone of voice. Trust me, every time I call her a drama queen, I am struggling to contain my laughter. I'm sure I won't find it as funny when she's a teenager, but right now I find it hilarious to see a 2 1/2-foot-tall little girl in a frilly dress flinging herself on the floor in tears over a potty chair.

And one last random story. Both kids seemed to have some sort of mild stomach bug this weekend. It didn't really seem to bother them, but it did give them yucky diapers for about half a day each. And that resulted it a really nasty-looking diaper rash apiece. Sammy's cleared up pretty quickly, but poor Natalie was still really red and sore-looking last night, so after bath I decided to let her go diaper-free in the kitchen for awhile. I gave her some crackers and cheese cubes in a bowl on the floor, and that drew Sammy's attention (for some reason, her food is always much more appetizing to him than his own food).

After about fifteen minutes, I vaguely heard Sammy say something but I was lost in my thoughts and didn't pay any attention. A few seconds later, his voice became more urgent and I snapped to attention. "Hurry up! Nye peeing all over!" he was saying, over and over. I turned to look, and there she was, sitting in a growing puddle and, unconcerned, was just about to pick up a soggy cracker to put in her mouth. That is why I kept her in the kitchen (tile floor versus carpet) for diaper-free time.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Milkmaid No More

After a long, close personal relationship with my breastpump for all but 3 months of the past 2 1/2 years, I think it is finally over between us. This wasn't how (or when) I saw it ending, but it is what it is.

I ended up weaning Sammy earlier than I wanted to, at 17 months old. At the time, I was 6 months pregnant with Natalie, and since becoming pregnant, nursing was not only painful but gave me a creepy-crawly feeling similar to hearing nails on a chalkboard. So when he started going for a day at a time without asking to nurse, it only took a little gentle encouragement on my part to wean him. I was sad about our nursing relationship ending, especially since I had hoped to nurse him until he was two years old, but I was also really ready at that point.

Then came Natalie. Since she is my last baby, I planned to nurse her as long as she wanted to, envisioning that I would have to be the one to put an end to it at some point. Wouldn't you know, she ended up being born with a mind of her own (imagine that!) and soon, the little baby who wouldn't deign to let a silicone nipple pass her lips for the first three months of her life started daycare, and learned to love and prefer the bottle. By six months old, the only time she would nurse was in the middle of the night, when she was too tired to care what method was used to deliver her milk, as long as it got into her belly, stat.

About a month ago, she stopped nursing at night. It was up to me and my trusty pump to keep her supplied with mama's milk. Unfortunately, due to renovations at work, I no longer have a private room to pump, so that set me pretty far back. Most of the time at home, it's all I can do to keep the kids fed, clean, and happy, so finding 10 minutes to sit down and hook myself up to the milkers is a near impossibility. So I ended up pumping only twice a day, which quickly went down to once. Yesterday, I realized I'm only pumping 2 oz. per day - not even half a bottle worth - and finally decided it's time to throw in the towel.

The good part? I can now finally concentrate on losing the last 10 pounds of my pregnancy weight (from my pregnancy with Sammy!) and hopefully a little more. In the past, every time I've tried to diet, my milk supply has crashed. And the next time I get a cold, I can take cold medicine. Oh, how I've missed my cold medicine over the last 2 1/2 years, in which I've averaged a cold a month during the winter months, thanks to all the viruses the kids drag home from daycare.

I suppose now I'll have to change the name of my blog...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Here We Go Again

It's official - Natalie is now walking. Wouldn't you know it, I turned on the camcorder to capture the moment and...dead battery. It's charging now, so I'll post some video tomorrow. Assuming I haven't lost my sanity by then.

I Prefer Chocolate, Too

Grocery shopping with the kids yesterday, I was pushing the cart down the dairy aisle. When Sammy saw the eggs, he said hopefully, "Let's get the chocolate eggs today." I looked up to see that he was eyeing the brown eggs and practically drooling at the thought of all that "chocolate". If only, kid. If only.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Because I Just Don't Talk Enough About Poop

Since Natalie has outgrown the blowout stage, I rarely have share-worthy poop stories anymore. That's a good thing, from my perspective.

Warning: don't read this while you're eating. It still makes me gag to think about this.

Last night, the kids got together and hatched a diabolical plan to poop at the same time, while Ron was outside, weed-eating. I had to launch Operation Poop Removal with no backup.

I brought diapers and wipes into the bathroom, since I wanted Sammy to sit on the potty chair after he was cleaned up. I removed his diaper, used a wipe to clean him up, rolled up the used wipe so no icky surface was exposed, and set it on the rim of the bathtub for the moment while I turned to make sure he was properly positioned on the potty chair (very important when you have a boy).

I turned back to find that Natalie had picked up the used wipe and put it in her mouth, and was sucking on it like she does with washcloths. *shudder*

So, after I washed her mouth out thoroughly with soap (I'm kidding, of course, although the thought did cross my mind), it was her turn for a diaper change. She flopped around like a dying fish the entire time, which is the usual course these days.

Then it was time to dunk the diapers, a step that normally isn't necessary, but it sure was yesterday. I lifted the toilet lid, and the entire time I was dunking, Natalie was trying to grab onto the toilet rim. I don't like her to do that, since I get grossed out with the thought of all the germs that collect there in between cleanings. I held the soiled diaper with one hand, while I used my other hand to pull her away from the toilet, just to have her back at it five seconds later. Sammy tried to help me out by tackling her, which resulted in a lot of woe and tears.

Fun times.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Weekend update

Saturday, in addition to being library day, is Farmer's Market day at our house. I know, we lead such a glamorous life, right? If we're feeling really crazy, we'll even end the day with a trip to Target. ;-)

So, Saturday we went to the Farmer's Market. St. Paul and Minneapolis each have their own, but we prefer St. Paul's. It's smaller, and less busy (meaning: a LOT easier to find parking), than the Minneapolis one.

I *heart* the Farmer's Market. I love the idea of supporting local farmers, and everything is fresher than the grocery store, as well as being cheaper, in most cases.

The highlight of our day, though, was stopping at Sonic after we finished at the market. Minnesota's first-ever Sonic just opened last week in St. Paul, and we were excited to try it out. Obviously, we don't get out much.

We weren't the only ones who had that idea. There was a police officer directing Sonic traffic down to the Catholic Charities parking lot down the street, where the line was forming. We were told it would be a 15-minute wait, but happily, it was more like a 5-minute wait. And it was worth it. Yum.

It seems to take a long time for Minnesota to get the good chain restaurants. I remember when our first Krispy Kreme opened up in February 2002. It's not as sad as it seems that I remember the exact date. That is when I had my lasik surgery done, and the lasik clinic was on the same block as the new Krispy Kreme. When I went in for my post-op appointment, there was a cop directing traffic that day, too, due to all the donut-hungry customers.


Natalie's been having a rough couple of nights. Teething, a cold, and who-knows-what-else, means that I've been running on fumes. Yesterday, I didn't trust myself driving, so I called in to work and stayed home. Natalie and I took a 3-hour nap after we got Sammy off to daycare, and I felt almost human again after that. Sadly, last night wasn't much better, but I didn't feel like I could take another day off of work, so I muddled through as best as I could. I know some day, I'll get enough sleep again, but it's hard to imagine that right now.


Lastly, yesterday afternoon, I took the kids to a local park with a swimming beach. The water close to shore was very warm, and Natalie loved playing in the sand and sitting in the water, but Sammy didn't want to have much to do with it. I'm pretty sure that was my fault, though. On the way there, I was warning him against drinking the water, since I knew that would be one of the first things he'd try. I think I went too far when I explained why I didn't want him to drink the water. I said that fish and geese and ducks poop in the water, so it isn't good to drink, and he got a horrified look on his face, right before saying "I don't think I want to go in the water."

He did put his toes in for a minute, right before saying that he wanted to go play on the playground. We climbed up the two-foot retaining wall, and I gave Sammy a little boost to help him up. I had an "awwww" moment when I heard him say, "I help you up" and turned around to see him trying to take the hand of a little girl who was about twice his size, to help her up the wall.