Burn Baby Burn

We passed a milestone as parents this past weekend: first trip to the emergency room with Sarah, who got second degree burns on her palms after trying to climb some metal bars at the playground on a 93-degree day (we at first thought it was the slide, but retraced her steps and realized the real culprit). It was shocking and scary and frustrating, but I also felt a new, completely unexpected feeling: detachment.

Sarah will be two in September. Now, two is an age I’ve heard about ad nauseam: Ah, the terrible twos! Followed by the extremely annoying term threenager (apparently three-year-olds are total bitches). But I have a question: why does no one talk about the super-injury-prone age of one?

At 22 months, Sarah can walk, run, and climb just well enough to be constantly covered with bruises and scratches. She understands us well enough, but can only communicate the very simplest ideas: she wants maa–her word for milk–she wants to go to the pool, or, denied that, she plaintively asks, Baaa?–her word for bath.

She has no idea of the most basic dangers. During our trip to Wyoming, we did a mad dash to urgent care because she placed her hands in a door jamb and got her fingers pinched. I was holding her at the time and heard a cracking sound that lodged in my throat. I panicked as she cried, handing her over to Scott and wringing my hands and wailing as others gave her ice and looked for urgent care locations. I struggled to pull it together, finally bundling her into the car, naked in a diaper, and riding with her into town.

While we returned with her clothed and shod (I at least brought clothes with me) and a verdict of parental overreaction (it was the wood that cracked, not her little fingers, she was fine), I was ashamed of my extreme distress. After all, I’m Sarah’s parent: I’m supposed to be calming her and getting her to safety, not falling apart.

Compared to the finger pinch, the burns on her hands were much more gruesome–giant, angry blisters destroying her tiny little palms. It was the sort of injury you see and wonder, Will that leave a scar? But I did manage to hold it together, sitting with her in the back seat of the car while Scott drove us to the hospital. I thought about her little fingers in Wyoming and pushed my panic down, smiling and telling her that everything would be just fine, we were going to the doctor right now to make everything all better.

Weirdly enough, it worked like a charm. Sarah calmed down and laughed while we sang our ABCs together (her new favorite song). And the more I talked to her, the more I believed that everything would be fine. I stopped looking at her burns as a scary injury, or an indictment of my parental skills, and saw it as an accident that we were going to treat as quickly anas possible.

In the days after her grand ordeal, Sarah has done the following: tipped over in her tiny deck chair onto a brick patio, tumbled down the back porch steps, banged her head (while goofing around) into a wooden stair, and rammed her head into a wall (again, while goofing around). Today, she tripped during a visit to Sid’s new middle school and hit the floor.

And while I cringe at every tumble–and try to watch her ever-more carefully, I swear–I’ve noticed that new steel in my nerves as she hurls herself into my arms, crying Mommy! and I murmur, I’m sorry, everything will be okay. Because I am the parent. And I am going to buy that silly baby a helmet.

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Garden Time

Happy Monday! Links to Make Your Day Brighter

Happy Monday! After a rough wakeup at 4 am (thanks, Sarah), she and I slept in until the glorious hour of 8 am, which meant she skipped her morning nap (a.k.a. my writing time), so this post is late. But hopefully still welcome!

Events and Geekery

Felicia Day of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Geek & Sundry is in Portland today, signing her new memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), at 6 pm at the Cedar Hills Powell’s. In her book, Felicia details growing up geeky, complete with her addiction World of Warcraft, which inspired her hilarious web series, The Guild.

What, you’ve never watched The Guild? I have a link for you here. It’s charming and hilarious. In the meantime, watch Do You Wanna Date My Avatar, my favorite of her videos!

So. Many. Tomatoes.

Garden Time

Sid watering the garden!

We are swimming in tomatoes–we’re harvested more than 20 pounds so far! So my Mom and I will be canning my roma tomatoes tomorrow, and I’ll be using this water bath canning technique!

One of my favorite things to do with fresh, homegrown tomatoes is to make a simple sauce and serve it over spaghetti. I like this Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe from Martha Stewart, but I like to add fresh basil.

Parenting

Oh my god, I spotted this 23 Incredibly Helpful Charts For New Parents post on BuzzFeed the other day–wish I had these handy oh, 10 months ago when Sarah was born! Read them, save them, live them!

That’s what I’ve got. I’m currently writing some stuff about the end of summer break and beginning of the school year–tune in later this week!

I Need a New Title

Ain't they cute?

Ain’t they cute?

(A few days ago): “You still can’t talk about TFAW without saying, ‘We,'” my husband said. “You need to get over it.”

(Last week): “Why don’t we let our guest, Elisabeth Allie, introduce herself?” “Hi there, I’m a former marketing manager for Things From Another World, now stay-at-home mom . . . ”

(My Twitter description): Comic lover. Former marketing chick for . A baby is my boss now.

It’s true. I quit officially quit my job in December to stay home with Sarah, but I’m still clinging to my old title like a security blanket–my identity. Who am I without a job? I’m afraid of the answer.

After all, I think–why would podcasts like Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men or Ask Me About My Draculas ask me to be a guest, if not for my (now over) job? I still message a pal at work: Hey, so-and-so just announced a new book, this would be a great signing! I pull out my work history (history) as some sort of credentials whenever I meet someone new. It’s like I’m saying, I wasn’t always a housewife! People paid me to use my brains and (try to) make money.

Which is completely insulting to what I’m doing now: of course I have to use my brains to run our house and raise our children. And I’m “making” money by figuring out ways to trim our budget and use our funds wisely. So what am I so afraid of? Here’s a short list:

  • I’m afraid of losing touch of what’s happening in the comics world. Not only do I love comics, but it’s my husband’s life, as well. But now, when I hear comics news, I feel like I’m on the outside with my nose pressed against the window.
  • I’m afraid I won’t have anything interesting to talk about. I’m obsessed with zero waste and the 10-item wardrobe. I’m cooking and gardening. I’m fascinated with every developing detail of Sarah, and I can talk about Sid until the cows come home. But it’s hardly thrilling material to people who aren’t also parents or stay-at-home moms, and I dread seeing that slightly . . . glazed look on people’s faces, the moment I know I’m boring them silly.
  • I’m afraid I’ll never go to San Diego Comic-Con again. I know I know, so many of you will say, “I wish I didn’t have to go!” You’re fucking liars. It’s the big show, the big game, and even the parts that really suck are better than staying at home and seeing announcements on Twitter. It sucks!
  • I’m afraid that if I do go to SDCC again, it will be as . . . a wife. A nonentity. I was joking last night that if I went again, I would probably volunteer to man someone’s booth . . . and then I realized I wasn’t joking.

So who am I? How do I describe myself now? I don’t want to make up some cutesy, insufferable made-up title, and I don’t want to go back to work full time. I love being home with the kids, actually! But . . . I’m restless . . .

GroVia Hybrid Diaper

Six Items I Should Have Added to My Baby Registry

When I created my baby registry about a year ago (I used Babylist, FYI), I had no practical experience with babies. So my research consisted of Googling phrases like, “Best Baby Car Seat 2014” and plugging the “winner” into my Babylist.

However! I was fortunate enough to have some experienced mamas go off registry and give us things I never would have thought of–that have since become invaluable in terms of saving time and preserving my sanity, and I thought I would share them here.

Note: All of the gifts I received were amazing, thoughtful, and useful, and I am so grateful to our friends and family, who were so generous. These are just the things I was a stranger to, pre-baby. Thank you everyone!

  1. Baby Play Gym

    The exact Baby Einstein Play Gym we have–you can switch out the toys in these to keep baby entertained.

    Baby Play Gym: When my aunt sent me a Baby Einstein play gym, I thought, “Cute–for when she’s older,” and stashed it under the crib. Little did I know how this would change my life: when Sarah was two months old (and just coming out of a three-week-long fussy period that often left me in tears), I laid her under it–and she was enthralled. She had never reacted to a toy before at this point, so it was incredible to see her respond and “talk” to it. Even better, it soon kept her occupied for up to 20-30 minutes–long enough for me to, say, write a blog article. I could even (before she started rolling) leave the room for a moment to grab a load of laundry and fold it next to her. Once Sarah could sit, I got an activity jumper off Craigslist–amazing. And that version traps that roll-y baby so she can’t get into mischief

  2. Happiest Baby on the Block DVD

    Sanity. Saver.

    Happiest Baby on the Block DVD: So about that “fussy” period I referenced above? Some people call it colic, but the Happiest Baby on the Block dude refers to the first three months of an infant’s life as the “fourth trimester,” and says they are still more like a fetus than a baby at that point. That’s why they freak out. He offers some very simple techniques to calm your baby and help him or her sleep longer, and by God, they really did work a lot of the time. Even when they didn’t, it still made me feel better and more in control on those days when I was home alone with Sarah and she decided to cry . . . for hours . . . for seemingly no reason. Get this. Watch it before you give birth, I wish I had.

  3. Babysoy Kimono Top

    So easy, so cute!

    Baby kimono tops and gowns: You know what you don’t want to do with a tiny baby who you’re afraid you’re going to break? Pull something over his or her head. Dressing a baby gets much easier later, when they can move their heads and limbs, but in the beginning, it’s like trying to pour a bowlful of jelly into a sausage skin. Kimono tops and gowns are super easy. Open it up, lay the baby down, wrap it up: done. My Mom got me these kimono bundlers from babysoy.

  4. Clothes sizes 3 months and up: Newborn-size clothes are for suckers. You might have a tiny baby. Mine was 21.5″ long at birth (8 lb 4 oz), and I could barely squeeze her into the newborn footie pajamas I brought to take her home! Plus, for the first couple of months, Sarah only wore a diaper, a swaddle, and a hat, unless we were going out (we rarely got out of the house). So I ended up with so many cute newborn outfits that were barely worn! Start with the 3 month size. Even if they’re a little big, your baby will be growing so quickly, they’ll be too small before you know it.
  5. Carters Sleep and Play

    Sarah lived in these!

    One-piece baby outfits: Once you recover enough to be embarrassed by your practically naked, unfashionable baby, you will be ready to dress him or her in actual clothes. However, I suggest you start slow, with footie pajamas (Sarah lived in Carters Sleep and Plays) or other one-piece outfits. They’re easy to dress your baby in–no coordinating, no keeping track of socks–and they’re really easy for diaper changing. My two cents: zippers are nice because they’re fast, but they also mean you have to practically undress your baby to change a diaper. Snaps are more of a pain, but you can just take the legs out as needed. If the weather’s cold and you have a zippered outfit (and are trying to keep your baby sleepy during nighttime diaper changes, which is a worthy goal), slip him or her into a short-sleeved onesie under the footie pajamas. Footless one-piece baby outfits are a little more flexible, size-wise, while your baby grows, but I found keeping track of socks was a pain.

  6. GroVia Hybrid Diaper

    The most important thing: diapers.

    Diapers: This was the biggest duh of all. Hello, the things you will definitely need, no matter what, and will always use, no matter what, are diapers. Although I love my GroVia cloth diapers, I wish I had asked for starter packs of several kinds, so I could compare. The same with disposables: I kept her in those the first few months, and again, it would have been nice to have several types on hand.

So, here are the things I haven’t been able to live without while bringing up baby: what are yours? Pass your wisdom along, mamas!

Secrets of Making Baby Food

Bit of a frustrating day, so I thought I’d distract myself by sharing the mysterious secrets of making baby food. It takes all of my skill and intellectual abilities to execute this properly, so get ready. Here it is:

  • Firm fruits and vegetables (apples, sweet potatoes, zucchini): cook and mash
  • Soft fruits and vegetables (bananas, avocados): mash

I hope you have someplace safe to write this all down.

Cloth Diaper Pail

Yes You Can: Put Together an Inexpensive Cloth Diaper Pail

I know: of all the things I could write about, I’m writing an instructional post about cloth diaper pails?!? But I am psyched, and you know why? My daughter’s room no longer smells like urine, and I only had to spend $21.97. Plus it looks nice, is much more convenient than what I was using before, and I’ll be able to use it as a regular trash can once Sarah’s potty trained. Win-win-win-win-win!

GroVia Diaper Baby

Look at that cute baby in her GroVia diaper! She could never be stinky, right?!?

As I’ve mentioned before, the whole reason I got interested in zero waste* is because I was adamantly against the idea of cloth diapers, and I wanted to cut down on our garbage so I could fill it with disposables. But I had one particular friend who loved her son’s cloth diapers, and she was convincing enough that I ordered a starter kit from GroVia.

* Note: This, unfortunately, is not a zero waste project. I know I could have made some cloth laundry bags, or found some plastic free, but: the stink. I needed to act fast.

I. Love. Them. The GroVia hybrid cloth diapers work really well–way fewer leaks/explosions than disposables (although I do still put her in an overnight disposable diaper at night, since she’s started sleeping up to 12 hours at a stretch), way less garbage, way less money. Plus the covers are cute.

However. The GroVia “Perfect Pail” was not so perfect. Basically, it’s a hanging PUL (polyurethane laminate) bag with a zippered bottom. It’s easy to use and washes up nicely, but. It stinks. Literally. Plus, because it hangs, I had to hang it in Sarah’s closet. Not only was this fairly far from my changing table, but the close quarters meant every time I opened the closet, a huge cloud of odor attacked me.

Cloth Diaper Pail

Little. White. Not stinky.

Plus, her “nice” clothes hang in that closet! I finally had enough and started looking for cloth diaper pails. However, the ones I found on Amazon and Babies R Us were almost $50–just for the pail, without a liner. Since I had already spent money on the GroVia pail, this made me cranky. So I decided to try to put one together myself, and I am quite happy with the results!

Inexpensive Cloth Diaper Pail

You need:

I found a white, touch-top trash can at my local Fred Meyer for $9.99. I chose the touch-top version not only because it was cheaper than the step-on option, but because I can put something in front of it if needed and still access it.

DIY Cloth Diaper Pail

Small, compact, works perfectly.

I then found two cotton laundry bags in the same aisle for $5.99 each. This way, I can wash the bag with the diapers and have a fresh one ready to go. I decided to go with plain cotton rather than getting any special (expensive) PUL pail liners. I’ll let you know if they get too gross and I change my mind.

Cloth Diaper Pail Liner

I put some Mike Mignola Hellboy art in the background for you.

Putting it together was simple. I set the can where I needed it, and removed the lid. Then I shook some lavender essential oil onto one of my cloth wipes and draped it over the edge–most of it is in the can, but a little is outside (stink blocker).

Then I placed the bag inside, snapped the lid on, and voila! Done. It’s super easy to use, and smell free. A little stink escapes each time I open it, of course, but I’ve learned to be fast–and the bit of oil-infused cloth wipe that’s outside the can helps cover it up.

Inexpensive Cloth Diaper Pail

You can see the cloth wipe on the left!

Hope this isn’t TMI, but this is exactly the kind of post I went looking for when I began this important life journey.

Got any other tips? Post them below!

I Get Mad Sometimes

Is this really productive?

Is this really productive?

For someone who says they have a near-perfect life, I get mad a lot. At my husband. At myself. At my friends. At my kids. Why aren’t they giving me what I want and need? Don’t they love me? Have I, after all, gone down the wrong path, and now I’m surrounded by people who don’t really care about me, and now I’m destined to be taken for granted, an afterthought, mindlessly serving food for an eternity? Who really cares about what I have to say? Geez, do I even have anything to say anymore?

So let’s talk about what we give to others, and what we ask for ourselves. Because when I really think about it, after my brave words yesterday, I realize that I still don’t really ask for what I need, on a day to day basis–instead, I expect that others should “just know” what I need, and instinctively give it to me because I’ve worked hard enough to deserve it, dammit!

And if they’re not magic mind readers? Well, clearly they never loved me anyway and this was all a tragic mistake and fuck those jerks!

Let me say this: I love, love, love staying home with Sarah and Sid. This is a treasured time that is once in a lifetime. But my grownup time is severely limited, and I’m spending the bulk of my time giving to children who are not equipped–and cannot be expected–to take care of my emotional needs.

And that is hard. Not earning money is hard. Having a husband who works a lot is hard. Asking him to take time away from work to tend to me (when my own sense of self-worth is steadily diminishing), when he’s the only wage earner, is extremely hard. Also, I made a pie yesterday that kind of sucked. Pie is hard!

But I’ve come to the realization that my anger and frustration aren’t really helping the issue–letting things build up leads to venting, which leads to guilt, which causes me to shove my needs aside, which then resets the cycle anew.

So. On top of meal planning, and breastfeeding, and diaper changing, and listening to 2.5 hours of talk about Minecraft every day, I’m going to think about one concrete, sustainable thing I need every day. And I’m going to ask for it in a calm, reasonable manner. Hopefully.

What do you need today?