October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Our little monkey wishes you a happy and safe Halloween!

October 30, 2009

this just in: Lincoln has HANDS!!

Over the last week or so, Lincoln has had the majority of his fist in his mouth most of the time. We assumed that meant that he knew where that fist was originating, but it seems that he has only actually realized that he has hands in the last day.

It's amazing to watch him study his own body so closely and try to determine just what he's seeing. I swear you can actually see his mind working as he turns his hands around and pulls his fists in close to his face to examine them.

He uses one hand to grab the other and stop it from moving long enough so he can get a good look. Then sometimes one finger will wiggle free, and you end up with this confused look:

It's just so amazing! I love watching this development happen right before our eyes. Awesome!

October 27, 2009

mixer cover 2.0

I've gotten a couple of requests lately for a cover to fit the Kitchenaid Artisan mixer, which is a different model than the one I have. Thanks to a generous friend and neighbor, I was able to borrow one to work out the sizing. (It's a shorter mixer and the bowl has a handle on it.)

I initially thought I could just take the length off of the cover that I designed for the Professional model, but I wasn't happy with the way the handle jutted out when I did. In the end, it took me three modifications before I came up with proportions that I was happy with! I'm pleased with the results though, and now that I have the pattern set the production time should be much less.

This first model is for a co-worker of Gus, who sent me a photo of her kitchen and said that she kind of had a thing for roosters. I was pretty sure that although there is a plethora of country-themed rooster fabric in existence out in the world, that was not what she had in mind.

What I came up with is a simple khaki cover with red flat piping detail and a rooster applique on the pocket. I took a cue from Margo's suggestion about the skirt and added a split-corner detail like you might see on a tailored bed skirt. And like all of my covers, it's also fully lined so there are no raw edges exposed and it's interfaced so it's got a little bit of body. I love it, and I hope that its new owner does too!

October 26, 2009

update on the job front

It's been almost three weeks since I interviewed for the job that I talked about before. I was thinking that they must have hired someone, because it had been so long and I hadn't heard anything, but I was surprised because I thought that they would have at least called to let me know.

Well, on Friday morning I finally got a call, which I missed because I'm sure I was changing a diaper or feeding Lincoln or starting a load of laundry or something. It was the lovely woman that I had interviewed with, offering me a second interview for the position. Of course I was pleased, because that meant that I had been correct in my assessment that the interview had gone well and that I was a good fit for the job; but I was also kind of upset because that meant that I was going to have to make a decision! I hate that!

I put off the call on Friday so I could give myself the weekend to think about it and talk it over with Gus, but in the end I think that I've known all along what I would do. I called this morning and thanked them for the opportunity to meet with them, and told them that I really thought that a position in their company was something that I would really enjoy and excel at. They said that they agreed, and that was why they would like me to come in and speak with them more. I said that I would love to come, but I was afraid that it just wasn't the right time for me. Lincoln is only going to be this small particular age and size once, and I just don't want to miss a thing.

Maybe in a few months things will be different, and at that point it might be the right thing for me to be working back out in the real world. For now though, I'm pretty sure I'm right where I belong. And if this big smile is any indication, I think that Lincoln might agree.

October 21, 2009

approximately 4,000 more reasons it would have been great to have birthed at home:

Despite all the planning and preparation that we did before Lincoln's arrival, one thing we never really spent much time thinking about was the expense of the actual birth itself. Part of the reason for that was the fact that we are fortunate enough to have health insurance, and the midwives that we worked with were chosen from a list of preferred providers on the insurance company website. Once we were certain that our midwifery care would be covered at the same rate as a traditional hospital birth (80% in our case), we just filed it away as something that we didn't really need to be concerned about.

We were soon pleased to discover that one perk of midwifery, and especially homebirth, is that the cost of care is really minimal. And by choosing to birth at home, we were even able to avoid the fee that the midwives charge to labor and deliver in their (lovely) birthing center. Instead, we were simply given a list of things to order from a hospital supply website. The total cost of our birthing kit was just $35 and included such things as a footprint kit, a nasal aspirator, and a whole slew of various absorbent and protective pads. We opted to spring for the labor tub ($300) and the doula ($350) out of pocket because we felt that it was a small price to pay to have everything just the way we wanted it to be in the comfort of our own home.

Well, obviously, things didn't exactly go as planned. We ended up starting our birthing adventure at home with our midwives, labor tub, and doula, but ending it at UW Medical Center in an operating room. And again, fortunately for us, we have health insurance through my husband's employer. And yes, it covers labor, delivery, and recovery at 80% regardless of where it takes place as long as you're with a network provider. And yes, UW and their doctors are in the network just like our midwives.


(I know you had to see that coming!)

Turns out that giving birth in a hospital is A LOT more expensive than giving birth at home would have been! And since hospitals and doctors charge based on what's known as fee-for-service, we even got to pay extra for the cesarean! And we got to pay the anesthesiologist once for the epidural that I received when we first arrived at the hospital, and again for the anesthesia that I received during the surgery! And one fee for the room that we were set up in when we arrived, and a separate fee for the room that we recovered in! When it's all said and done, even just our 20% portion of the hospital bill amounts to more than the total fee that we would have owed the midwives without insurance! And not even just a little more- like a thousand dollars more!

Does your brain hurt yet? That means that for less than $3,000, we had nearly a whole pregnancy's worth of prenatal care- including home visits, three midwives in attendance during my long labor, and post-natal follow-ups. Our 72 hours at UW? More than $20,000! Something just isn't adding up!

I'm not going to get into the politics of the whole thing here, but I think that it is sufficient to say that health care here in America is a broken system. I am grateful that we are fortunate enough to be among the insured, but even with that benefit, Lincoln's birth is going to cost us much more than we ever imagined. And what if we hadn't been insured? The family that doesn't have access to health insurance benefits probably doesn't have $20,000 to pay hospital bills.

The last two episodes (391- More is Less & 392- Someone Else's Money) of This American Life offer a glimpse into the health care system in America, and as always, they're intriguing to listen to. Listen on the web or download in iTunes, it's a good use of an hour or two!

You can also visit the website of The MAMA Campaign to read about some important work that our midwives are involved in to help make midwifery available to more families.

my dress on a real baby!

I was recently contacted via Etsy by a sweet woman who wanted to buy a dress for her niece's upcoming birthday. Isabella was going to turn one, and she was having a ladybug-themed birthday party. (How cute is that, by the way?) Anyway, she saw my ladybug dress and asked if I would be willing to make it in a larger size for her niece in time for the party. Of course I said yes, and she was nice enough to send me a picture of the adorable birthday girl wearing my creation!

Since I've only made a couple of these oliver + s outfits, and they've been rather feminine, I haven't put them on my own child to see them in action lest Gus find out and choose to divorce me. So, that makes this the first one I have seen on a real human child! Doesn't she look great?

Posted here with her mama's permission, of course. Thank you!

October 17, 2009

culinary nerdiness

Last night we fulfilled a dream that every good foodie has- we got to meet Alton Brown!

He was at Third Place Books promoting his new book Good Eats: The Early Years, and buying a copy of the book got us two tickets to the event.

He basically just took audience questions for an hour, and his responses were often funny and occasionally downright asshole-esque. He's a snarky guy, so I guess it's as you would expect.

The book signing after the Q&A was a whole big orchestrated event, with a letter assigned to each ticket that indicated when you were allowed to line up for your autograph. We purchased our tickets pretty late in the game, so we had 'N'. It was taking about twenty minutes per letter, so we figured that we were going to be hanging around for about two and a half hours to get our book signed. Lincoln was amazingly cooperative the entire time, napping occasionally in the Ergo and taking periodic breaks to snack. It was getting late though, and we knew that his good mood couldn't last much longer.

It was approaching the witching hour, and we were only up to the letter 'H' when an announcement was made over the loudspeaker. Alton was specifically requesting that a special group of fans get cuts in the signing line. Fortunately for us, that special group was anyone with a child under age seven! Yes! We knew that kid was going to come in handy for something eventually!

We said goodbye to our friends, who sadly did not have the requisite child in tow, and made our way to the line. After another twenty minutes we were finally there! Alton was standing right in front of us! (He seemed smaller in real life than I expected him to be, by the way.) I thanked him for giving the babies cuts, and then just stood there like an idiot while he did this:

That's a self-portrait, I can only assume, with the instructions "Mix Hard!" and his signature "AB". AWESOME! He signed our book too, but really, who cares? That's not nearly as cool as the mixer autograph.

Since then, I have perused through the book a bit, and it's pretty cool. It's basically the first six seasons of the show, with a mini chapter devoted to each episode. All the cool stuff that you learn on the show is represented, and all the recipes have been reworked and improved since they originally aired to ensure better results. It's going to be a great resource for us, as we're often turning to YouTube to watch the episodes before we attempt one of his recipes anyway.

October 16, 2009

breastmilk: nature's protein shake?

Just thought I should mention that Lincoln continues to overachieve and scored his first 100% yesterday. That's right- he's currently in the 100th percentile for height and weight, coming in at 14lbs, 12oz, and measuring 25 1/4" long. For those of you not familiar with those charts and all the percentile business for infant size, that simply means that he's BIGGER THAN ALL THE BABIES!

The charts will obviously have to be reconfigured to account for that 19 pounder that was recently born in China, but until that happens, we're relishing our little moment in the sun.

October 15, 2009

one fish, two fish...

I think the thing that I hated most about pregnancy was the fact that I wasn't able to eat sushi for so long. It was the only thing I ever really got a craving for and I couldn't have it. Once Lincoln was born, getting that sushi fix was high on my list of things to do, but there aren't a lot of options in beautiful downtown Burien, sprawling metropolis though it is. I didn't want my first experience after so long away to come from the grocery store, for obvious reasons, or the mall.

Mashiko has been my hands-down favorite for sushi in the area, and now that they've gone sustainable, there's even more reason to love them. Unfortunately, hubs doesn't really share my affinity for sushi, but he'll eat it occasionally. I was pretty excited tonight when he announced that he was having a rare craving for raw fish and suggested that we stop at Mashiko on the way home from work.

Monkey was asleep in his carseat, and since he'd gotten his two-month vaccinations this afternoon, he was pretty drowsy. We thought we might as well take advantage of the opportunity to have a nice meal out and we were shown to a corner table by the hostess. Lincoln started fussing the minute that we sat down, so I got to use my fancy nursing cover to give him a snack while we decided what to order. Usually getting a bite to eat will calm and quiet the little monster right away, but he must have sensed that I was really looking forward to my meal because tonight the crying only escalated.

I took him outside after we ordered because we really never want to be "that couple." You know the ones- they force the other innocent patrons at a restaurant to suffer through their child's crying while thinking that offering an apologetic smile makes it okay. Sure, having a screaming child of my own has made me more sympathetic to those people, but it still doesn't make me want to be one of them.

We spent some time pacing around the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, but it seemed that Lincoln was hell-bent on screaming for the foreseeable future. I suggested that we just get our order to go, and headed to the car where I could try to comfort my little monster without feeling the burn of the public's judgmental eye all over us. Gus returned to the table to wait for our order, and brought the brown paper bag full of goodness out to the car a few minutes later.

Lincoln continued to cry for about half of the twenty minute drive home, while I sat in the back seat with him and tried to comfort him. We're pretty sure that the fussiness is due to the discomfort he's feeling from the three mean vaccine pokes that he got earlier- two in one thigh and one in the other. We were sore last week when we got our flu shots, and I imagine it must be worse to be a baby and get three times as many shots in a much smaller region.

Once we were home and had gotten the monkey changed and resettled, we sat down to enjoy our much-anticipated treat. I opened the bag, pulled out the box, and discovered that they had only given us half of our order! Worst. Moment. Ever. My poor hungry husband had to go all the way back to the restaurant to get our forgotten fish. They were intensely apologetic, and even reversed part of the charges for our meal, which was really sweet considering that it wasn't inexpensive to begin with.

So no, it wasn't quite the experience that we'd been hoping for when we made our dinner plans tonight, but that's life now, right? Even things that seem relatively simple, like eating, have gotten much more complex since the arrival of our little bundle. We definitely wouldn't have it any other way though, and I wouldn't trade him in even for all the sashimi I could eat.

October 12, 2009

two months!

Dear Lincoln:

Yesterday you were two months old and I can hardly believe it. The time has gone by so quickly! You are more of a little boy and less of an infant every day. I'm not talking just about your size, (although you are huge!) but about your personality and interactions too. Your smiles and the chattering conversations you'll have with anyone who'll listen are a delight to watch. Midwife Heather said she expected you to start speaking in full sentences by the midway point of our appointment last week!

Your communication skills have changed even in the last day or two, since you've been testing the effectiveness of a new cry on us. You debuted it at around six am on Saturday morning and I have to admit, even at that early hour I laughed a little. It's a high-pitched, squeal-y little number that is so obviously fake- it's really hard not to chuckle at it. You've been experimenting with that every morning since, as well as with a few other variations on the fake-out cry that appear to be your way of asking us to pay attention to you or pick you up when we're being less than attentive.

Thankfully, the last week has also brought about a change in your attitude toward being worn in a few of the carriers that we've amassed. Suddenly and inexplicably, being carried in the Ergo or wrapped up in the woven wrap on my chest no longer brings endless wails of upset. Instead, you're happy to look around interestedly while I describe all the wonders around you, or more often, you curl up and rest your head for a nap. It makes things much easier when we can operate hands-free like that, so I'm so glad that you've grown to appreciate being worn.

You're such a strong little guy too! You've been holding your head up for a while now and no one can ever believe it when we say that you're just eight weeks old. Granted, you were kind of born looking like a three-month old, but we've already broken out the six-month clothes because you seem to be expanding exponentially in every direction. I get a great workout carrying you around everywhere, but you no longer fit across my body for our middle-of-the-night nursing sessions. Your head rests on my arm as it always has, but your feet are now suspended in the air a few inches beyond land. You don't seem to mind, but we'll have to redesign our layout before too long or you'll be kicking Daddy in the belly with your wayward limbs.

And speaking of sleep, I don't know how we got so lucky, but you are just such a great sleeper. We haven't had much trouble at all, and even with all the changes of sleeping appliances and locations we've tried, you just sleep on. We tried the cocoon thing for a week or so, moved the swing to our room for a week after that, and now we're back to the original set up with the regular bedside cosleeper. You'll even let me return you to your own bed for short stretches of time between feedings now, so I get my own opportunity to stretch out and snooze too. I still tend to fall asleep many nights before I get a chance to relocate you, but that's my fault, not yours!

You've also made it crystal clear that sleep is something that's very important to you. Missing a nap is one of the only things that is sure to turn you into a real bear and set you off on hour-long crying sessions. We've learned that we need to act quickly when you start to show signs of being sleepy, because if we miss your window and you move into overtired we're in for trouble. The miracle blankets have been an absolute necessity in that regard, as nothing seems to chill you out better and faster than being swaddled does.

Despite how it sounds, we're not always asleep though. During our waking hours we spend our time trying to expose you to the world. We read books to you and sing you made up songs in our awful voices. You can't complain yet, but I fully expect that as soon as you can talk you're going to ask us to please, just shut up! We discovered early on that we can't remember many of the words to the nursery rhymes we grew up with, so we just improvise (badly). I like to think that we're teaching you creativity and freedom of expression.

I was surprised to find that being your mom is something that has come really naturally for me, and it feels so good to be comfortable parenting. Even though I grew up in a home daycare, (or maybe because of it) before you were born I had never even changed a diaper. I was worried that I wouldn't know how to do this mommy thing, but my fears disappeared the moment I saw you. And watching your Daddy with you is amazing. He's a wonderful father and he loves you so much! Already in your short life you've made both of us more sensitive, more loving, more careful drivers, and we're so grateful to be your parents! We're beyond excited to keep watching you learn and grow. We love you so much!

October 8, 2009

workin' mama?

Yesterday I did something that I haven't done in months, and honestly thought that I wouldn't do for many months more. That's right- I interviewed for a job!

I've been applying for various positions since January, and as I've mentioned here before, my applications seem to travel straight from my email box to the black hole the moment I hit send. I've gotten a couple of rare and fruitless calls back, and even one offer to work as a money launderer, but not much else. As a result, I was rather surprised last week to receive a call the same day that I sent my resume to a local business who was advertising on Craigslist.

The interview went really well, and it seemed that my experience and interests meshed well with the company philosophy and their needs. It's a part time position, 16 hours per week over three days, with the potential for more hours later. It sounds like a really great job that I think that I would enjoy doing.


I'm not fully convinced that I want to go back to work right away, and it definitely wasn't part of the plan that I would. We've resigned ourselves to the fact that we'll be living carefully on one paycheck because we believe that it's best for Lincoln if I stay home. I can't imagine leaving him in a daycare, and we've even turned down baby sitting offers from my mother-in-law because we don't think any of us are ready for that just yet. The guilt that I feel even thinking about being away from him for an extended period is enough to break my heart.

And even if I was mentally prepared for it, there's the monetary factor as well. Child care doesn't come cheap, and it's unlikely that I would even make enough working (full or part-time) to cover the added expense. Add in the cost for my commute and the additional expenses involved with being a member of the workforce again, and it's probable that we'd actually spend more.


All logic aside, there's a sliver of a percentage of my mind that wants to have a job again. I realized the other day that 2009 is almost over, and I haven't worked formally since January 15th! If it hadn't been for the two weeks we spent selling off the equipment after the business closed last December, I wouldn't even get a W-2 this year! It's just so strange to think about.

I think perhaps if I hadn't been unemployed for so long, I wouldn't have this (tiny) longing for work- for something that's just mine. I mean, there's plenty to keep me busy if it's just the labor I'm after. My to-do list has been growing as steadily as our son, and no matter how much I try, I can't seem to squeeze enough time out of the day to ever get anything done.

Fortunately for me, I have a wonderful and understanding husband who totally gets it. He supports the desire to stay home with Lincoln and he also knows that I might need to have a job in order to get out if the house a little and maintain sanity. Either way, it's going to mean sacrifice and hardship to a certain extent. I haven't been offered the job yet, but if I am, we'll have to decide how to handle it and weigh the costs carefully. Emotional, financial, developmental... How do you decide what weighs heaviest?

October 5, 2009

happy to be home!

Well, I think that the trip went pretty much as expected. Lincoln did fine in the car for the most part, sleeping much of the way as predicted. When he wasn't sleeping, however, you would have thought that there was someone in the car driving hot stakes under his fingernails, so loud and inconsolable were his cries.

The drive that should have taken about five hours ended up taking eight each way, after we stopped all the necessary times to feed, change, and comfort Lincoln. Some of the stops were at restaurants, gas stations, or rest stops, but plenty of them were simply off on the side of random middle-of-nowhere roads when we couldn't make it any further.

At around the sixth hour on the road each way, Lincoln started to get sick of being in the car and decided to express his discomfort and general unrest the only way that he knows how. Unfortunately, it was around the same time that we were also tired and cranky and ready to be done driving. His version of the "are we there yet" is way worse than any five year old's- guaranteed.

It wasn't until we were nearly home that I realized that I could have saved us a lot of time and stops if I would have had the foresight to pump so that we could have fed him and made forward progress at the same time. As usual, hindsight is 20-20. I would say that we'll know for next time, but I would like to think that we're too smart to attempt another trip that long for quite a while.

We had a great time once we finally arrived at the farm, and our hosts were amazing as always, feeding us and providing us with a comfy nest to sleep in. We even got to participate in some fun farm activities while we were there. Gus helped out a bit with the construction of the red shed, which is being outfitted as a guest house; and I followed Hanni around with Lincoln in the Ergo while she milked the goat and fed the chickens and did other farmerly chores.

I was excited to meet their midwife, who came for a home visit on Saturday evening. Unfortunately, Lincoln had other plans and we instead spent about an hour and a half in our room while I tried in vain to soothe a very cranky and overtired boy. He was wailing and crying big, heartbreaking crocodile tears and absolutely refused to be consoled. He eventually did fall asleep, but the midwife was long gone and I'm sure Hanni was questioning her decision to procreate by that point.

Now that Lincoln's a big grown up boy of seven weeks, who stays awake for longer stretches of time and is far more involved in the world around him than he was a month ago, it's easy for me to forget that he's still a newborn. He's a huge newborn who is wearing six-month clothes already, but he's a newborn nonetheless. I think I've been so anxious to resume some pattern of our previous life that I've been stretching the limits of what he's really capable of right now. My sweet little boy has been considerably more fussy the last week or so, and I'm pretty sure that that's in direct proportion to how much I've been dragging him around lately and how many naps he's been deprived of as a result.

This week I'm going to try to be more conscientious, and make more of an effort to take better care of my boy. He's only going to be a baby for a little while, and I don't want to rush through this part! There will be plenty of napping on mommy happening this week. I think my list will just have to wait.

October 1, 2009

Road Trip... Addition

I just wanted to pipe in here for a minute with a few minor details. Lulu forgot to say the friends we're visiting are scheduled to have their first child in a about a month. On top of that they've been spending all their free time doing fairly major construction converting an out building into a guest house. This has included the 7 month pregnant wife burying utility lines. That's right. here's a math formula to illustrate this scenario

8 month pregnent lady + major construction = Exhausted lady who isn't getting much sleep

These ain't no sissy folks, but I don't know it they're ready for the little sleep they've been getting to be disrupted but our suddenly slightly more fussy baby boy.

Exhausted lady who isn't getting much sleep + fussy baby screaming in your ear = X

Solve for X

I know they're looking forward to seeing us, and I can't wait to get my farmhand on, but I think Lulu's right and we've possibly made another series of unwise decisions here.