Water Baby

The first time Jason took Hazel in the pool, I admit I was nervous.

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She didn’t seem particularly psyched by the experience, either.

But as the weeks have gone by, she’s gotten more and more comfortable in the water, both in the pool and in the bath, and now some of her biggest smiles come while she’s immersed. She also prefers skinny-dipping to wearing a bathing suit.

I’ve even gotten comfortable holding her in the pool.

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Must run (as usual these days) – Hazel is napping, which means I have about 30 minutes to get a bunch of two-handed tasks done before she wakes up! GO!

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My Grandmother, Big Winkie

Ever since I stopped working a real job and became a full-time domestic engineer, I’ve thought often of my maternal grandmother. She was an expert home-keeper, and I aspire to have a living space as serene, clean, and organized as hers. She tried to teach me a million things – sewing, cooking, finances – but I resisted each lesson. And what happened? I ended up having to teach myself, from scratch, many years later. I wish (OH HOW I WISH) I had listened more. She died in June of 2008, at a time when my life looked messy and bleak, and I hope she knows somehow that things got better.

This is my grandmother, Winifred (original flavor), or if you prefer, “Big Winkie”:

Nena

And this is what I said at her funeral:

June 10, 2008

My grandmother believed in rules. Not just little rules, like no white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day, and the relative superiority of English antiques to French antiques, but big rules, important rules. Ideas. She believed in Travel, and Education, and Self-Discipline. She held everyone to a high and exacting standard, but held herself to that standard first. Her home was always immaculate – her sink clean, her carpet vacuumed, her counters uncluttered, the beds made, her Ferragamos lined up in the closet.

As a child, these rules seemed oppressive and old-fashioned. This impression was strengthened by the fact that she never let me win at cards.

This is not to say she was no fun at all. When I was in elementary school, she had surgery and spent some time at our house recovering. I came home from school one day to find her wearing pants, of all things, and riding my bicycle. I was sure it signaled the end of the world. Of course, the pants were fully-lined trousers with a smart little belt and a silk blouse, but I’d never seen her wear pants before.

She loved a dirty joke, especially the ones my father told. He always joked that this year, she’d put sparklers in her hair for the Fourth of July.

When my father died, people came to the house. My grandmother, who was 93 at the time, stayed every day until the last visitor had departed, sometimes at 11:00 at night. She was just as gracious to the last guest as she was to the first, and I never heard her complain. I never even saw her yawn.

After she died, my mother and I went to her apartment. It was, as always, perfect – her sink clean, her carpet vacuumed, her counters uncluttered, her bed made, her Ferragamos lined up in the closet. And I realized, standing in her living room, that she didn’t follow these rules because they made her life easy. She followed these rules to make other people’s lives easy. She followed these rules so that anyone could walk into her life and feel comfortable, so that she wouldn’t have to fuss with preparations, she could focus her attention on you.

The order she imposed on her own life was her way of trying to bring peace to those around her. She radiated calm control. Maybe that’s why her favorite prayer was that of St. Francis, which reads:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

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Father’s Day

Father’s Day! One of the few days I get to brag about Jason with impunity!

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Here’s to Jason….

….who insists on getting up to change Hazel’s diaper at 3:00 a.m., even though he works full-time.

….who takes his kids to school every day because he wants them to know that they are important to him.

….who has made countless PB&J or turkey-and-provolone sandwiches for school lunches over the years.

….who, two days after Hazel was born, left the hospital at 3:30 a.m. so he could wake Hollyn up and take her to school for her Six Flags field trip at o’dark thirty.

….who loves all our children with his whole heart.

….who has accepted Tyler as one of his own, DNA be damned.

….who (not so) secretly wants five more kids, just so we could get a 15-passenger kidnapper van.

….who prays with and for his kids every single night.

….who is always up for a game of Marco Polo.

….who may, in fact, be the silliest of all the children.

….who works incredibly hard to provide for our family, both at the office and at home.

….who fights with Tyler over whose turn it is to hold the baby.

….who loves me more than I deserve.

….whom I love more than he will ever know.

Happy Father’s Day, my friend.

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I’m not crunchy, I’m cheap. There’s a difference.

After Hazel’s umbilical stump fell off, we made the switch to cloth diapers. Because I am a total nerd, I had researched the topic pretty ruthlessly before deciding to pursue it.

I’m not here to write a Cloth Diapers 101 post – many other bloggers have done that better than I could. But I will share how our experience has gone so far.

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Miss Fluffy Buns 2014

We chose cloth diapers for several reasons:

1. The cost, or lack thereof. I spent $100 to buy a set of 20 (gently) used cloth diapers, and we received about 10 more as gifts. We are currently using disposable wipes, but are seriously considering making some cloth wipes, simply because throwing everything in the wash seems easier then separating diapers from wipes. We bought a pair of wet bags and a diaper pail with gift cards from various showers. We also bought a clothesline and a set of 50 clothespins, again with gift cards. This should last us until Hazel is potty trained.  By contrast, a bulk box of approximately 200 Target-brand diapers is $35. A baby goes through roughly 10 diapers a day (more as a newborn, fewer as a toddler). So that box of 200 will last you about 20 days. If your child potty-trains at 3, that’s 1,095 days, or 55 boxes of diapers. Total cost? Almost $2,000.

2. The time. Since I’m not working, it’s not a terrible burden to wash the cloth diapers every other day. If I was working, it would be much harder to find the time.

3. The climate. No, no, I’ve not turned into some eco-warrior. I live in Florida. We have abundant sunshine for drying and naturally bleaching the diaper liners and shells. Why not make use of it?

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So, here’s my method:

We collect our diapers in a diaper pail lined with a wet bag and wash them every other day. I rinse them on cold, wash them on hot, then rinse them on cold again, and out to the clothesline they go. If I start the rinse-wash-rinse as soon as I get up in the morning, they can be on the clothesline by 10:00 a.m., and off the clothesline before the set-your-watch-by-it Florida afternoon thunderstorms roll in. That’s it.

We opted not to put our clothesline in the ground, and instead filled a large flower pot with cement and rocks and put it next to the deck:

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Not only does this make the line easier to reach, the line can be folded and put away when we have company, and the pot can do double duty as a side table, like this (from Dukes & Duchesses):

Overall, I am pleasantly surprised by the cloth diaper process. It’s easier than I thought it would be, and works well for our situation. I certainly don’t think it’s for everyone, but if you can handle the time commitment it’s a great way to save money.

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Blog Hop!

Kat of the Walking Deadpan tagged me in this-here blog hop thing, so let’s play:

The Rules:

Answer the following questions, then tag someone else (or someones elses; up to 5).

What am I currently working on?

Nursing a 13-day-old infant while writing a blog post and drinking coffee. I like to live on the edge.

How do I write?

With all ten fingers, just like Mavis Beacon taught me.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My work has 40% more octopi than other bloggers.

Why do I write what I write?

Because raging alcoholism and homicidal ideations are considered lowbrow.

I’ve written all my life. When I was a kid on road trips, I would write travel logs. When I grew up, I was always on the staff of some school newspaper or magazine (or both). After college, I was a newspaper reporter. So this question is kind of like asking why I brush my teeth, or why I breathe.

How does my writing process work?

I seat myself in an ergonomic chair in my tastefully-decorated-yet-totally-organized writing sanctuary, light exactly two scented candles, and gaze out the window at the cheerful woodland creatures in the back yard, who are weaving flower crowns in my honor. Then I meditate on my writing for exactly 27 minutes, at which point my coffee minion brings me a Nespresso. At that point, I am mentally and spiritually prepared to give the world the gift of my words.

Wait. No. I just sit down and do it. There is no magic. My fingers don’t spark when I have a really good idea. (Although that would be awesome.)

So on to tagging! Who wants to take the Blog Hop baton and run with it?

1. The Word

2. White House Dinners

3. Oysters & Pearls

 

 

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‘Till There Was Chicken…..

On Wednesday, May 21, 2014, Kate the Chicken joined us in the world.

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My due date was May 19, and that day came and went with zero signs that I would ever go into labor. Like, ever. We decided to have an elective induction on May 21 – an auspicious birthday shared by Mr. T.

YES.

The first thing I noticed when we got into our L&D room was that there was a towel in the shape of a swan on the bed. Apparently the head of housekeeping used to work for Carnival Cruise Lines, and she’s been spreading the gospel of animal-towel-folding to the staff. It was unexpected and kind of delightful, and helped put us in a good frame of mind for the day ahead.

The induction proceeded like a heavy truck rolling downhill – almost imperceptible at first, but flying by the end of the day. In fact, the momentum built so much that my OB almost missed the delivery! The nurse came to check on me at 8:30, and as she was getting her gloves on, she said, “So, we’ll try some gentle pushes, just to see where you are, and we’ll call the doctor to keep him informed.” Then she checked me. Her face froze. “Don’t. Push. Baby is RIGHT. THERE.” She placed an urgent call to my OB…. who was out jogging. He arrived sweaty, with his running clothes on under his scrubs, but cheerful and calm as always. Two contractions later, she was out.

Hazel had a bit of jaundice, so she had to spend Friday night under the disco  lights to help get her bilirubin count down. Thankfully, they worked, and we were discharged on Saturday. Shortly before we left the hospital, we realized we had not decided by what name we would call her. Jason was calling her “Kate,” and I was calling her “Hazel.”

So let’s talk about her name.

Hazel was my great-grandmother (my mother’s father’s mother). Her daughter and her granddaughter were also named Hazel – much in the same way that me, my mother, and my grandmother are all Winifred. Original Flavor Hazel was blind, but my mom reports that she still went to my great-grandfather’s fiber plant and sat at a great big desk every day that she could. She also had an elevator installed in her house in Jacksonville. We have inherited a few pieces of furniture from her house, which are among my favorite pieces. Katherine is not a family name, per se, but my paternal grandmother was Mary Kate and Jason’s mom is Kathleen, so Katherine-with-a-K felt like a name that would honor both sides of our family.

As I said, my legal name is Winifred, but I’ve gone by Windy my entire life. It’s one thing to be called by one’s middle name (like Hollyn), but a slightly more difficult thing to be called by a name which is neither your first nor your middle name. And as much as we love “Kate the Chicken,” it’s not like she’s going to write that on her school papers. So we’re going to call her Hazel.

Since we got home, things have been relatively smooth sailing. She eats well, sleeps well, and generally goes with the flow. We switched over to cloth diapers after she finished getting rid of her meconium, and that’s been going swimmingly. I even bought a clothesline so I could dry those suckers outside. Who am I?

Our friends have overwhelmed us with love and food, bringing meals almost every day since we got home from the hospital. Jason’s parents came up to take care of Hollyn and Jensen last Wednesday, and my mom arrived Thursday and stayed through the following Wednesday to help. We have been humbled by the support we’ve received, and are immensely grateful for it.

Despite being a newborn, Hazel has shown a few distinct preferences. She H-A-T-E-S being swaddled, but loves being in the Baby Bjorn. She likes to poop at inopportune moments, such as fifteen seconds before the pediatrician enters the exam room (stay classy, Hazel!). She tolerates Boots’ kisses, but punches Lucius in the face when he sticks his nose in her ear. Ron does not understand her purpose, and therefore remains wary.

Jason has been an excellent partner throughout this process. He is happy to do whatever needs to be done so that we can all function. Because I’m breastfeeding, he generally takes on more of the diapers-and-burping duties, which I appreciate.

It took me nine days to write this update. One day I will learn to operate a laptop one-handed, but today is not that day.

Until then!

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Did I mention I find it hard to relax?

Because I needed one more thing to do, I decided to make duvet covers for the girls’ room.

Their comforters are in great shape, but they’re hot pink on one side and faded lime green on the other, and the girls wanted something that fit better with their room color (pale sea glass green), rug color (gray and off-white), and preferences (teal, purple).

I hit up JoAnn fabrics over Mother’s Day weekend and got to work. I selected a Waverly home decor fabric to be featured in both duvet covers. Jensen requested a gray and white chevron as the accent on her duvet cover, and I selected a pale aqua with white dots for Hollyn’s:

I measured the existing comforter and added seam allowances (one inch where the main fabric met the contrast fabric, one inch for the side edges, one inch for the top edge, and two inches for the bottom edge), then cut my main fabric to size.

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Then I laid the contrast fabric on top and cut it as well. Or rather, I would have, but I had some unintentional help.

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Thanks, Ron. Now move.

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After I got the pieces cut to size and pinned, the sewing (and seam pressing) part was easy. I made sure that the front totally covered the existing comforter, then repeated the procedure for the back.

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Boots! Move!

Finally, I sewed the sides and top, and hemmed the opening at the bottom. I finished by hand-sewing four snaps across the bottom to keep everything in place.

And that’s it. Here’s the duvet in its natural habitat, after it was released back into the wild.

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This project was large and therefore kind of difficult to wrangle, but the sewing part was easy – five straight seams and a hem. The covers are washable – hallelujah. And if they get bored of them in a few years, I’ll teach them to sew and they can make their own. Heh.

 

 

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