Blog-o! Notes from latte.ca

Fri, 24 Feb 2006
Good Stuff I Bought

You know how all makeup claims it's the best thing since they invented makeup, and it will change your life? Well, Cover Girl LashExact won't change your life, but it does do what it claims, which is not clump. As far as I can tell the goo in the bottle is the same as ever, but the wand is new technology; it's not regular bristles like a normal mascara brush, but little plastic bristles very evenly spaced. It works a dream.

The next thing I like is something my mother sent us, a set of three CDs called 100 Silly Songs. It has every kid's song you have ever heard, plus a few that haven't been heard for decades because they're quite politically incorrect, like "The King of the Cannibal Islands", or "I Wish I Were A Little Bar of Soap". They're all nicely arranged and well-sung, with complete verses. It's almost like a reference CD.

The last thing I have bought that I like is my new crumb sweeper. I didn't get that brand -- mine is much cuter -- but the idea is the same. It works really well at picking up the crumbs off the tablecloth after Delphine the barbarian has eaten -- I just, swoosh, sweep it across the table and the crumbs are gone as if by magic. (I use a tablecloth because our table is wood and I want to keep it nice until the children have manners and are less prone to drumming on the table with their forks and such.) I am looking forward to the post-croissant cleanup on Sunday.

[Posted at 17:15 by Amy Brown] link
Some More Advice

First I need to add a couple of things about the high chair. You probably already have a thousand thin flannel receiving blankets -- if you don't now is a good time to go get some, or better, find a friend (or an aunt with a friend) who has a serger, and get them to make you a bunch of two foot by two foot squares of flannel.

Once you have your pile of blankets, fold one up so that it lines the high chair under the baby. Then when the inevitable explosive poo happens you will only have to wash the blanket, not the entire high chair cover. Repeat as necessary for bouncy chair, car seat, stroller, etc.

You'll also need a rolled up hand towel to prop next to the baby in the high chair, so she doesn't topple over sideways. Like this.

Diapers

I haven't come across a brand of diapers which isn't perfectly adequate. They all seem to do the trick, store-brand or name-brand alike. Huggies are a little nicer in that they are softer and stretchier, but they don't objectively function any better. Pampers are just weird because they are scented: why? If you get on Huggies' mailing list they will send you big fat coupons on a regular basis, so you can feel a bit better about spending huge piles of money on diapers, but I'm not sure how I got on the list. Maybe just email them and ask?

Wipes, on the other hand, are not all created equal. The cheap brands all seem to be smooth and thin and useless at sponging up poop. We stick with Huggies-brand wipes when we're out, and wet washcloths when we're home, which you probably won't want to do unless you launder your own cloth diapers. Huggies are more expensive, but since you probably use twice as many of the cheap kind maybe it works out in the end. There might be other good brands out there, but I'm warning you, buy a small package to start off with because you don't want to be stuck with 200 lousy wipes.

I don't think you're using cloth diapers because you're not INSANE, but if you do and you wash them yourself, let me tell you the big secret: use Tide. There is all sorts of advice out there to have two diaper pails, or to soak overnight, or to rinse with vinegar, blah dee blah dee blah. I just stick the diapers in a pail all by their smelly selves, and then dump them in the washer on a heavy-duty hot cycle with Tide. Voila, fresh, stain-free diapers.

Incidentally, in other laundry news, most stains ever encountered by man or baby can be removed with an overnight soak in a wash basin with hot water and some Oxy-Clean. I just used it to get some thirty-year-old stains out of a hand-me-down blanket from when Blake was a baby. It's freaky-good.

Sleeping

If you're nursing, the best advice I can give you is to sleep with your baby. I've slept with both of mine and I had to nod politely through all those conversations with other mothers about being so sleep-deprived, because I'm just not. Baby wakes up, you offer the boob, baby nurses while you drift back to sleep. And sleeping with your baby is just nice. It's lovely to be able to smell her soft round head in the middle of the night.

I don't know if I would try it if I were bottle-feeding, though, because breast-feeding mothers actually sleep more lightly than normal people, so you're less likely to squish your baby in the night. Also don't sleep with your baby if you smoke (!), or if you've been drinking or taken medication which makes you sleepy like Neo-Citran. Also the baby should sleep next to you, not between you and your husband, again because of the rolling-onto issue. We have a bed rail on my side of the bed but it's just a technicality, because your baby will glom onto you like a remora. It's astonishing how quickly a supposedly non-mobile baby will make her way across a bed to the nearest warm body.

(Having said that, I still think the bed rail is a good idea. And don't put the baby on the bed between you and a wall, there's just too much scope for disaster there.)

You'll also want another one of those receiving blankets under your baby and your boobs, to catch poop and spit-up and spilled milk. It's a lot easier to change a small blanket than your entire bottom sheet.

Crying

Blake's advice for dealing with a crying baby is, do everything you can think of. Then do it again. Eventually something will work. My advice is, do all the sensible things (feed, change, burp, rock, etc) and if nothing works, take off all her clothes. Ostensibly you're looking for rashes or irritating tags on her clothes or whatever, but I find babies just like being naked.

Remember crying peaks at six weeks, so this won't actually go on forever. And if you have done everything you can think of and she's still crying (and you don't think she's sick), remember to keep cuddling her. Even if you can't make her stop crying at least you can give her comfort. (Unless you think you might throw her out the window; in that case, put the baby down (somewhere safe) and back away (maybe into the shower or something) -- give yourself a time-out.)

Another thing you might do, although I don't remember doing this with Delphine, is go out for a walk. Fresh air usually settles babies down and if she's tired the stroller will help her sleep. Our midwife told us about a 24-hour drugstore where there are often groggy parents doing midnight laps with their babies in strollers.

One thing that helped me when I felt like a lousy parent because I couldn't stop Delphine from crying was to think about people with sick babies. Blake was really sickly when he was a kid and he must have spent HOURS of his life crying, and it doesn't seem to have done him any harm. I have a friend whose baby had open-heart surgery at six months -- he must have cried so much, and there was nothing his parents could do, but he is a perfectly normal and happy kid now. So don't put too much stock in the crying -- it's upsetting to you, the parent, because it's meant to be, but it doesn't always mean something is horribly wrong that you can fix.

[Posted at 16:49 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 22 Feb 2006
February Books

Who Runs This Country, Anyway? A Guide to Canadian Government by Joanne Stanbridge is a kids' book but since I knew nothing about the structure of our government I needed something with small words and lots of diagrams. This served the purpose and now I know more stuff.

Fiddlers by Ed McBain. Ed McBain is dead. This makes me sad. Ed McBain wrote lots and lots of books, and I have only begun to scratch the surface of them. This makes me feel a little better.

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner is pretty good fluff. Yeah, they made that movie about it. I'm sure the book is better -- it's pretty thick and I'm sure they had to cut a lot of it out to make a movie. I won't be renting the movie to find out though. (It wasn't THAT good.) The characterization is a little suspect, though; people change but the author isn't really convincing as to why they change.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail by Jared Diamond took me forever to read, not because it's badly written but because it's long and Diamond is teeth-achingly thorough. He examines at least eight societies in minute detail in order to make himself clear. It's more like taking a course than reading a book. By the end you're well and truly convinced, though.

It was an interesting read in light of the other book I read about how it's all going to hell, The Long Emergency; Diamond isn't as pessimistic but it's clear that he's thinking something big is going to happen within our lifetimes or those of our children (although probably not his since I think he's in his seventies. The man is awesome! So smart and sprightly and he has that dapper Abe Lincoln beard-but-no-moustache thing going on.)

Ingrid and the Wolf by André Alexis is a book for young adults which I would have loved when I was younger. I still quite like it now. It was too short, though -- I would have wished it had gone on for much longer. As an adult I see that it is a good length for the story, though.

Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man by Charles Barkley . Not much to say -- this didn't suck.

Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender by Louise Bates Ames . You know how everyone says "my kid didn't come with a user's manual!" Well, here it is. This is just a discussion of what kids are like, and it's one of a series covering different ages. There isn't much specific advice, but what there is is delightfully non-judgemental and pragmatic. I'm reading the one about three-year-olds, and their recommendation for dealing with three-and-a-half-year-olds? Put them in daycare, because they're at an age where they want to evoke an emotional reaction in their mother, so they act up. With a daycare provider, no emotional reaction, no acting up, everyone is much happier. Failing that, they say, get a babysitter. Awesome!

They also give some advice which set my mind at ease: they give you a bunch of "techniques" (ie, tricks) for dealing with your toddler and getting things done, like saying "Let's put away your toys" instead of telling the kid to do it and then getting into a huge battle of wills ending with the inevitable timeout. If you say "Let's..." then you can just go ahead and do it without your kid's help, and no-one has lost face. I had been thinking that I can't do stuff like that because I Have To Show Her Who Is Boss -- Ames says it's more important just to get through the day without a thousand battles than to make every interaction about who is boss. So, very useful books.

[Posted at 11:23 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 20 Feb 2006
Unsolicited Advice

I have this friend who just had a baby, and I am about busting with advice that she does not want. But! There is so much I have learned about babies! I want to share!

So I will non-agressively put what I have learned here so she can take my advice or not without giving offence, and also so it's available for anyone else who wants it.

Of course I don't suggest that all of this advice will work for everyone, but some of it will work for someone, and I think the more we all talk about how we handle this parenting thing the better off we will be. (To that end you should go read Mimi Smartypants and Dooce.)

Your baby is going sleep most of the time, but after she's a couple of weeks old she'll be awake sometimes too. Most of the time you'll be feeding her and changing her diaper, but sometimes you're going to want to put her down. Get a high chair. One that reclines a lot so you can put a newborn in it. We have an Evenflo Simplicity Easy-fold which I am very happy with. Cordelia sits in it and hangs out while I'm cooking or typing or whatever. Also it has wheels on it so I can wheel her around the condo with me. (You're not supposed to wheel it around with the baby in it, but whatever.) And I tip it all the way back and put a blanket on her and a soother in her mouth, and bang, she's asleep. (I think the way the chair surrounds her is more comforting than lying flat on her back in the crib -- she's only four months out of the womb, after all.) It's her one-stop captain's chair.

Interestingly I haven't heard this advice anywhere else -- where do other people put their babies when they're awake? Alone in their crib? In a bouncy chair so all they can see is knees? Flat on their back in a playpen to look at the ceiling? I don't know.

Okay, that's all for now because Cordelia is howling (in her high chair -- it doesn't work miracles!).

[Posted at 16:51 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 17 Feb 2006

No particular reason for that title, I just always wanted to use it, and it is generally true. In fact, I could pretty much use it as the title of my entire journal.

First some shout outs (shouts out?) to my crippled friends. On the other side of the pond is my friend Frances, who I knew when I was in the equivalent of grade seven and eight, and who I have by some miracle managed to keep in touch with ever since, off and on. We barely know each other, really, but we persist in keeping in touch because we're stubborn like that. And as it turns out she likes Minette Walters too, so she must be at least as cool as she was back in 1907 or whenever.

Anyway, she is laid up with a broken leg which she suffered in a bar fight at the hands of two unnamed female assailants while nobly protecting a friend. Fortunately Frances is a kickboxer so if she has a broken leg I shudder to think what shape the others were in.

A little closer to home, my friend Kathryn (Delphine's "beatifuw Kafryn") also broke her ankle over Christmas. Sadly she doesn't have a good story like Frances, but she does have an assortment of plates and pins in her leg which necessitate her carrying a card at all times stating that she is not a terrorist. I think that's pretty cool.

Kathryn is one of those people who seems to be blessed with longer days than the rest of us, because she crams in so much. Besides being a teacher she also is in at least two bands (she plays flute and piccolo) and my choir. She plays volleyball and just the other day I suggested we go skating together sometime (after she's better, of course) and she casually mentioned that yeah, she's a certified CanSkate instructor. All this and she's pretty too. She has a new blog so all y'all can read about her interesting and busy life. (No pressure, Kathryn.)

Cordelia just woke up so that will have to be all for now. I'm off for a cuppa tea.

[Posted at 10:45 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 14 Feb 2006
Conversations with Delphine, V

This morning Delphine slept late, and she was in an exceptionally chatty mood when she woke up. She came into bed with farting on the mind, and asked,

"Who farted?"

"I don't know," I said, "who?"

"I think Zaida farted."

"Yeah?"

"Zaida has a big white moustache. And hair. His hair match his moustache." A pause. "Zaida is very old."

[Posted at 09:42 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 03 Feb 2006
Miracle Cure

Due to an ill-advised combination of drinks last night (cherry beer plus sweet wine plus cider) I woke up with a killer headache and no small amount of nausea. It was miserable; you would think by thirty I would know how to drink sensibly. I didn't even get drunk! It was just all the alcopop.

But the best part is that my back, which has been troubling me for weeks, feels fantastic today; no aching or tightness or alarming stabbing pains. I'm not sure if it's coincidence or the muscle relaxant properties of alcohol, or what, but I am very pleased. (Now that my headache and nausea is gone.)

[Posted at 10:19 by Amy Brown] link
About the Name

I wrote a bit about Cordelia's name.

Okay, I'm trying to figure out the cheesy Cordelia song. It might not be Chris De Burgh, because I couldn't find anything on the 'net. It goes "Cordelia! Let's (something) away the night together, let's (something) 'til the stars fall down from the sky". It's really cheesy, y'all, but I can't find it anywhere on the Internet. Isn't this what the Internet is for?

[Posted at 10:03 by Amy Brown] link