Tag: baby

Friday tidbits

I haven’t felt the need to post weekly reviews. Things are going well. So here’s a random mix of tidbits.

Photo of Steve’s friend fly-fishing on the American river this past weekend:

Fly-fishing photo

Soil Interactions LaboratoryOne of the sites I worked on this year was for Jason DeJong’s research group at UC Davis where they “solve soil interaction problems” at sil.ucdavis.edu. Jason picked one of my web templates to start with, then provided the content for me to initially build the site. I then took him through a day of intense Dreamweaver training so that he could learn how to update the content himself with minimal guidance from me. An exciting moment came recently when part of Jason’s research was featured in Time Magazine as one of the Best Inventions of 2007! And also exciting to me, Jason ventured forth to use Dreamweaver to clean up the content on the site and add a note about the Time Magazine mention on the home page himself. I was so proud.

Of course I have to post another photo of Nutmeg sleeping. She was actually partially reclining on a puffed-up pile of blankets which made her look like a floppy-head baby in a carseat.

Nutmeg sleeping.

One of my goals this month has been to keep consistent track of my pregnancy weight. During the first trimester, I gained a normal/healthy amount of 4 lbs. Last month, I gained a normal/healthy amount of 1 lb. per week, putting me up another 4.5 lbs.

Now that I’m actually keeping daily track of my weight, it’s only natural that my weight gain would go weird! At least it gives me something to talk to the doctor about when she asks if I have any questions.

  • Week 1 (of this month): Gained 4 lbs.
  • Week 2: Gained 0 lbs.
  • 5 days into week 3: Gained 2 lbs.

It could be partially a growth spurt and partially becoming more lax about how many starches I’m eating throughout the day. Time to tighten up the latter!

That’s all for today… have a great weekend!

Reading: Back to Bujold, Plenty, more baby

Finished reading:

The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, and The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold – Without any library books, I turned to one of my favorite authors. These three books are set in the same “world.” The Curse of Chalion follows Cazaril, who becomes the tutor of a royal princess but finds himself caught up in physical, spiritual, and magical danger as he tries to break a curse that is on the royal family. The book is heavily “theological” in the sense that themes of free will, predestination, and supernatural interaction between humans and the five gods are explored through this fantasy. Paladin of Souls is a sequel, this time following Ista (the mother of the princess) on a spiritual pilgrimage that also ends up being very fantastically magical and spiritual. The Hallowed Hunt is set in a different country in the same world with completely different characters; Ingrey, sent to investigate the murder of a prince and to bring the murderess, Ijada, back for trial, also finds himself in the middle of something supernatural.

I love, love, love Bujold’s books for their depth and layers. Unlike the Vorkosigan books which have plenty of comedy thrown in, these three books are more somber in tone, but have the same wonderful “real” characterization and layer upon layer of plot that I love in all of her books. I enjoyed reading these again.

Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon – Remember how I’m a sucker for food books? I’m also a sucker for books about extreme life experiments (reference Not Buying It and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). In this book, Alisa and James go on a year-long experiment to see if they can live on food that has been produced within 100 miles of their Vancouver-area apartment (and thus become the unwitting creators of the “100 mile diet”). Their ground rules include relaxing their diet when invited to friends’ houses or when traveling, but as the book progresses, they find that their experiment is becoming a lifestyle, and that their meals are more filling and taste better.

I’d categorize this along with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but it’s more of a memoir and less of an informative “sell” the way Kingsolver’s book was.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg – This was in a short stack of books my friend handed over to me and came highly recommended. I mostly skimmed this book to get an overall idea of her approach and to see what things Steve and I could discuss. Tracy’s philosophy is in between the attachment parenting folks (pick up and soothe your baby at every cry or else you’re inflicting emotional damage on them, sleep with your baby, etc.) and the strict schedule parenting folks (make the baby fit into your life, live by the clock). She advocates having a basic routine of eat (feeding the baby), activity (time for the baby to stare at stuff, get changed, get a bath, etc.), sleep (putting the baby to sleep in their own bed), and you (time for you to take care of yourself) but encourages you to be flexible about when these things happen depending on the baby’s development.

Her main underlying philosophy is to respect the baby by treating it as a person — some specific examples are calling the baby by its name instead of referring to it as “the baby” and talking “with” the baby as you perform tasks like changing its diaper. Tracy also encourages that you really try to listen to your baby before reacting so that you get to understand the different types of cries and body language, which I also think is helpful advice. She gets quite specific in her book both with examples of how you can implement her suggestions and with plenty of real-life stories, all in a very British conversational tone with lots of “luvs” and “ducky” which makes the book fun to read.

Not having a real baby to try to practice these things on, I can’t tell you yet if her philosophy will work for us, but it’s definitely a good thing to talk to Steve and other parents about in the meantime!

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott – This memoir is in journal form, covering Anne’s first year as a single mother raising her son, Samuel. Anne is both religious and irreverent (I don’t recommend this book to nephews and nieces because of profanity) and always brutally honest about her feelings, thoughts, and reactions as she struggles to take care of her often colicky baby. There are some priceless quotes:

…I just can’t get over how much babies cry. I really had no idea what I was getting into. To tell you the truth, I thought it would be more like getting a cat…

…He falls asleep and I feel I could die of love when I watch him, and think to myself that he is what angels look like. Then I doze off, too, and it’s like heaven, but sometimes only twenty minutes later he wakes up and begins to make his gritchy rodent noises, scanning the room wildly. I look blearily over at him in the bassinet, and think, with great hostility, Oh, God, he’s raising his loathsome reptilian head again…

With a bookmark:

(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • Sacred Attitudes by Erica Ross-Krieger
  • Body, Soul, and Baby by Tracy Gaudet
  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway
  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

In the library book box:

  • The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.
  • So That’s What They’re For! by Janet Tamero

Reading: Dragonhaven, Baby, Evolution…, Princess and the Hound, Organized

Finished reading:

Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy – Very short chapters, easy to read, about different aspects of pregnancy in a funny, frank, and sometimes embarrassingly frank format. Not recommended for my nieces and nephews.

Dragonhaven by Patricia McKinley – I’d been waiting for our local Borders to stock this book for weeks and weeks; after realizing they were never going to, I special-ordered it so that I could use the remainder of my gift card, a 30% off coupon, and $5 of rewards money to get the book for less than $4! Apart from being excited about being frugal, I was excited to read McKinley’s newest book because I love all of her other books. This was no exception. It’s her first book to with a male first-person narrator — for that matter, a teenage-boy narrator named Jake — who lives on a government nature preserve where there are real dragons hidden in the forests that no one has seen in years. However, Jake happens upon a dying dragon and saves a baby dragon. Unfortunately, this happens to be Highly Illegal.

The book started out slowly for me but became a riveting read.

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande – I saw this book mentioned on Shannon Hale’s blog. Mena is just starting high school but is already ostracized by her church friends for doing “the right thing” (you find out later in the book what she did). A miserable start, but she’s assigned a biology lab partner who is a cute — although somewhat geeky — boy. Mena has been raised as a very conservative Christian, but begins to question her faith/culture as the other Christians continue to behave hypocritically and as her Very Cool Biology teacher starts a segment on evolution.

As a somewhat conservative Christian myself, I found it interesting that most of the conservative Christians in the book were very negative characters, while the non-conservative or non-Christian characters were cool people that I’d like to get to know. The conservative Christians were also linked with the intelligent design movement, which Robin seems to come down pretty strongly on via the cool biology teacher’s comments.

I thought Mena was a very “real” girl with mixed motives who sometimes makes poor decisions — hey, kind of like me! However, I don’t join the other rave reviews that call this a “thinking book.” It’s a bit too one-sided and the ending was fluffy (of course the boy and girl get together). Nonetheless I think the science vs. faith bits would be useful for discussion for youth and adults.

I’m Not Neat But I’m Organized by Angela Yee – You may find my review suspect because my sister wrote and published this book, but my expectations were surpassed — and I learned some new tips! And even though her book is targeted at the Christian market, I found her approach unique enough that I would recommend this to anyone. (The “Christian bits” show up mainly near the beginning, mainly regarding your life purpose.)

So what makes her book different? This is the first organizing book I’ve read that actually takes into account the fact that people have different personalities and styles. What works for one person wouldn’t necessarily work for another, and Angela takes this into account, naming the different “styles” or tendencies with animal names (and cute icons) that show up throughout the book with specific tips for different styles and suggestions on what tools would work or wouldn’t work for each style. For example, maybe you’re a visual person and need things in front of you (a “bowerbird”); or maybe you hate clutter and want things put away (a “turtle”). A literature organizer (those shelves/cubbies with lots and lots of paper-sized slots) would be perfect for a bowerbird, as they can see all the different compartments and remember what’s going on. However, that would drive a turtle crazy because they could see all the stacks of papers!

Angela also notes that you don’t have to “neat” in order to be “organized.” She defines time organization/management (“adjusting events to help you focus on what is more valuable”) and space organization (“being able to find what you need — when you need it”) and then covers both aspects to help you develop a workflow organization that works for you. The workflow bits are very GTD-ish minus the perceived rigidity (scheduling weekly review times, having a tickler file, etc.). I found tons of excellent tips on storage, workflow, and more, even though I’m one of the people that she describes (p.73) who “doesn’t need to read this book but reads it anyway just for fun.” Organizer junkies like me will find the sections on project management and organizing tools inspiring.

Other organizing books I’ve read tend to have a “do it my way” style where you feel pressure to adapt to their complete system; I appreciated the “take what works for you” style that Angela uses in her book. She even has prompts throughout the book to help you figure out what it is you really want to work on and then points you to the chapter or section that addresses it. Most of the chapters have a quickstart box that summarize the main points (with page numbers) so you can jump to the part that you’re interested in. This makes the book very readable — especially if you’re reading this because you really do feel disorganized and feel that you don’t have time to read the whole book!

Apart from three minor typos I found, the only other suggestion I’m going to offer to my sister is that she put up some of the worksheets and forms for customers to download online — just for people like me who don’t like writing in books.🙂

I’m going to skim the book again to write down other tips I want to implement or try, but I already had a short list of a few things I want to address after going through a “how is your workspace working for you” exercise. Things I want to change:

  • I used to have a messy-looking basket of small bits of scratch paper that I used for writing down notes. We got rid of it when we moved, but I’m finding that I need something to replace it. Action: Find a small notepaper solution for jotting stuff down.
  • The office is too dark; there is one standing lamp in the corner which barely affects my desk. Action: Find a [energy-efficient] desk lamp.
  • I use plastic folders for my projects, but since moving to my project list organizer I’ve found that I barely touch them. Action: Think about whether or not I really need plastic project folders, or how I can use them better.
  • I have an “inbox” surface but no “outgoing” area. Action: Designate a place for my “outgoing” stuff that I can remember to check.

The Princess and the Hound by Mette Harrison – A beautiful, quiet book that reminded me a lot of Robin McKinley’s style. Prince George has “animal magic,” the ability to speak to animals, which has long been illegal in his land (people with animal magic, when ousted, are burned). He is betrothed to Princess Beatrice, inseparable from a wild hound, who has a deep secret of her own. I highly recommend this book, although my nephew may find it on the boring side because there isn’t much “action.”

I’ve only read one other of Mette’s books, Mira, Mirror, an interesting spin on the Snow White story, and while I found it enjoyable I probably wouldn’t re-read it anytime soon. I’m adding The Princess and the Hound on my books-to-own list, however.

Raising Baby Green by Alan Greene – Dr. Alan Greene is a pediatrician and offers up a very useful guide for being environmentally conscious and “more green” through pregnancy, delivery, and setting up a home for a baby. From the beginning, he stresses that any small change you make is good; he encourages you to pick and choose sections of the book to read that you feel ready to attempt. (As I tend to read from cover-to-cover, however, it does get a bit overwhelming!) Lots of links to online resources, product recommendations, and informative sidebars make this a good resource — or at least introduction — for overall greener living whether or not you’re pregnant, in my opinion!

We can’t afford to go completely “green,” so Steve and I will have to talk about which things we think are most important. (Just as an example — maybe we spend the money on a high quality organic baby mattress, but don’t sweat about baby clothing.) In any case, I’m glad our library happened to have this book on the New Books shelf and that I came across it!

With a bookmark:

(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • Body, Soul, and Baby by Tracy Gaudet
  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway
  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

In the library book box:

Didn’t get to go to the library this weekend. Already experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

What to discuss when you’re expecting

My husband and I went through pre-marital counseling with a couple from our church before we got married. There were lots of books available with questions and topics to discuss before tying the knot, helpful tools to get you talking about important things and expectations so you have less unpleasant surprises after marriage.

I made some weak attempts to see if there were similar books for expectant parents, but an interaction with a client helped me to realize that I could try to tap into my reader base.

So, gentle readers: What are important things that Steve and I should discuss before the baby arrives?

You can answer this whether or not you have personal experience being a parent. After all, I certainly don’t have any parenting experience, but I’ve already put together a short list of topics which is by NO means exhaustive:

  • Estate/will-type topics: When should we go about making wills? Who should be the child’s guardian if we die?
  • Responsibilities: Do I expect Steve to get up in the middle of the night? How often and in what ways will Steve help?
  • Gear: Disposable or cloth diapers; if cloth, wash them ourselves or use a service? What gear do we think is essential? Heck, what gear do parents need?
  • Sleeping philosophies: Swaddle or no? Schedule or no?

I understand that some of these things we can’t answer until we are actually parents and get to know the unique personality of our baby, but we can at least clear the air and get some expectations out there… or at least see the extent of our ignorance and make some moves towards becoming more knowledgeable.

Thanks in advance for your help! Please feel free to include both general topics as well as specific questions.

And if you’ve read a good parenting/newborn-related book and would like to recommend it, please provide a mini-review/summary as well!

Do-it-yourself Pregnancy and Baby Journal

One of my quirks: I usually dislike lined journals. I especially dislike the kind that have “prompts” for you to fill out, such as most of the pregnancy journals and baby books on the market.

So, I decided to make my own.

I used a coupon to get a nice discount on an expensive Italian leather journal and started writing, leaving room for photos that I’m getting developed (of the pregnancy test, for example). Below is an outline of what I’ve done so far, and I also posted a few photos of some of the spreads.

Page 1: Space for pregnancy test photo.

Pages 2-3: A few “journal entries” about finding out and telling people, and a quick “life snapshot” of what our lives were like at that moment. I printed out my announcement blog post (from my private friends/family blog) and stuck it on page 3. There is a small watercolor and ink drawing of the sparkling grape juice, nausea bands, and chips that our friends brought over to celebrate with us.

Pages 2 and 3 of pregnancy journal

Pages 4-5: A printout of the comments from the blog post and more watercolors of gifts from our good friends — a Veggie Tales Christmas ornament where they wrote “Steve,” “Corrie,” and “Baby Haffly” on the three peas, and our first item of baby clothing. The next page has the first ultrasound printout and a journal entry about the appointment.

Pages 4 and 5 of pregnancy journal

Pages 6-7: Two page spread reserved for a list of “trips to the hospital.” So far I have gone five time for various appointments and lab tests.

Pages 8-9: I listed other various events from August and September, then filled a page with a journal entry about impaired glucose tolerance, hearing the baby’s heartbeat, and a sample menu.

Page 10: First trimester summary: Beginning and ending weight, symptoms, and journaling about my emotions during the first three months.

Other ideas I have for additional pages that I can be working on:

  • Family tree with photos
  • Photos and descriptions of our house
  • Photos of our current circle of good friends
  • “Life in Davis” – photos from around town, a printout of a map with locations marked
  • Biographical info/background info on me, Steve, and how we got together
  • Current events, prices of basic things like gas, milk, etc., and other things like that
  • Letters/notes from family members to the baby (I’m thinking of doing this Jolly Postman style with envelopes stuck onto the pages and letters that can be taken out of the envelopes!)
  • Name ideas

And of course, the typical “baby book” pages such as:

  • Baby shower attendees, gifts, summary
  • “Firsts”
  • Birth stats
  • Hand and foot prints
  • Monthly summaries, milestones

Can you think of anything else that would be cool to include? Leave a comment!