Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year! (Replete with Links!)

My most fervent wish on this last day of 2005 is that Pearl gets her tooth in already because the poor girl's crankiness is driving me loopy. That's right, on top of Christmas insanity, dairy-induced reflux, and her first cold, this week Pearl is getting her first tooth. That means that is week is in the running for Worst Week of the Year, along with "The Week I Experienced Preterm Labor and Was Sentenced to Bedrest", and "The Week (Two Weeks Postpartum) That My Kittums Died, My Family Dog Died, and My Husband Cut Off His Long, Gorgeous Hair".

Other than those few bad weeks 2005 was a wonderful year for me. There was our honeymoon in Cozumel, the experience of carrying a big, active baby in the womb, becoming an aunt, and giving birth to my daughter, and the whirlwind of motherhood that followed.

Looking forward: I have a few resolutions for the coming year. Usually I don't "do" New Year's Resolutions but we have a few things we've decided to work on and it's the start of the new year, so why not?

  • Mostly Meatless, More Organic - We are making the move to eating less meat, for a variety of reasons. Pearl being a big one. It's easier to make healthy choices for yourself when you want to model those choices for your child, and give her the benefit of eating the healthiest food we can give her! We personally both love to eat meat, but we want to avoid the hormones and antibiotics as well as the nasty process of raising animals for slaughter so we're trying to cut back on our meat consumption and ideally eat only organic, preferably locally grown meat. Since that is so pricy we're going to be cutting back on how much we do eat, which brings us to the next resolution:

  • Finances, Finances, Finances - Oh, how we have struggled with finances. We must be the most irresponsible couple in regards to money. We moved into this rent-free home with the idea of saving and putting back money, but it has not worked out that way at all. Quite the opposite, some months. Of course there has been the switch from two incomes to one, but still! It hasn't gone well. We really, really, need to bite the bullet and go frugal. More frugal anyway, it's not like we're up to our ears in debt and things we don't need - we just don't have a lot of money to toss around and we're tossing it in the wrong direction. This is especially important now because:

  • Moving - We want to move. Mr. Peach especially wants to move out of here, and I want him to be happy, but I want to move too. I would like to own our own home but I don't think that's going to be possible any time soon, so we're going to look for for a duplex or apartment or house for rent back in town. I personally love living in the country... but where we are now, we are sandwiched between chicken houses and cow pastures, and in the vicinity of fields where farmers spread hog manure. It stinks. Literally. I grew up on a mountainside, in a forest. That's the kind of country I like. This is not it. Also, we want to homeschool Pearl, and I want to have quicker access to the library, and art classes and activities, and other homeschooling parents. Time is probably the biggest factor for me - I want to put to better use the time spent driving an hour any time I want to go anywhere, the time spent washing dishes by hands and arranging a trip out of the house to do laundry - when I was pregnant and unemployed I found it all charming and quaint but that is no longer the case. So, for several months we are going to put back the amount of money we would be spending on rent, to see how well we manage with that reduction. If it looks like we'll be okay, we'll move! I might even get a part-time evening job to help out, since I wouldn't worry about being so far away from Pearl if we lived in town.

So wish me luck with my resolutions! I'm gonna need it!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Seven Months Old

Today marks the end of Pearl's seventh month. She seems like such a big baby now... she's left the helpless, indecipherable baby behind and is starting to interact with us in more sophisticated ways.

She is poised on the edge of mobility, getting up and rocking back and forth on hands and knees, sometimes even moving one leg forward before collapsing onto her belly. When that fails her, she inches forward by rolling to one side, then rolling all the way back onto the other side, swinging her head first and using its momentum to steer her movement. It's pretty funny to watch.

She wants to practice crawling any time she is on the bed, and because I lay down in bed with her to nurse her to sleep at naptime, she thinks she should be able to try and crawl away while she's eating, which just doesn't work! Although she has mastered nursing while laying on her belly, up on her hands - it must be very enjoyable to nurse in that position because she gets the most blissed out look on her face.

Besides the sign for milk - which she abandoned a few days after learning, then resumed using after another week or so, as she does with most things she learns - she knows the sign for "pick me up", which I did not purposefully teach her but is a sign that most babies learn, arms stretched up towards mama. If I am on the floor with her and she wants to be held she turns towards me and tries to climb onto my lap. It is much easier to tell what she wants these days.

Pearl has begun to babble and I just love listening to her ramble on. She makes lots of 'b' sounds these days, as well as some astonishingly high-pitched squeaks. She loves to laugh. Seeing other people laughing makes her laugh. When I showed her the picture of her laughing below, she laughed at it too!

We have been trying to move away from bouncing her to sleep and were successful until the holidays, when our schedule was thrown for a week and I ate goodies that gave Pearl reflux. So for now we're back to bouncing - hopefully not for long, as my back is starting to tell me how heavy she's getting. Which is somewhere over 17 lbs... she had a well-baby checkup this month. I didn't get the measurement exactly, as she was sitting up on the scale and I was concentrating on catching her if she toppled over. But she didn't. She's getting very good at the whole sitting up thing. She was in the 95th percentile in height, 75th in weight, and 50th in head - she is a long, lean baby.

I took a thousand pictures of Pearl in her Christmas dress to give as gifts at the beginning of this month, and this is the one that turned out best:

It was very difficult to keep her upright in that slippery dress on my bed in my cramped room without any help, while trying to capture a smile and get the exposure just right. Here are a couple that didn't turn out so well, but I love nonetheless:

That silly face!

Falling over!

Poor little Pearl is ending her seventh month with a delayed Christmas gift from my family - her first cold. Her nose is runny and her eyes are watering and she has a fever that's been rising since this afternoon. She let me rock her for a long time, nestled in my arms, her small body curved around mine - usually she is far too busy for rocking.

Sometimes when she is asleep I put my hand on her chest just to feel the strong rise and fall of her breath and the quick, steady thump of her heart, to marvel at the miracle that is Life. Holding her when she is ill brings a similar sort of awe - a more solemn feeling, the newly remembered fact that our bodies can fail. That fact in this context is a hard one for me to deal with.

Because I don't know what I'd do without my sweet sunshiny girl!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Self Portrait Tuesday: Reflective Surfaces

Myself, reflected multiple times, warped in multiple ways, on the surface of my child's first Christmas ornament:

2005 was the year I became a mother. For the first half I carried my child in my womb and for the last half I cared for her in the outside world. It has redefined me, has touched and influenced all aspects of myself. Not without me struggling against it sometimes, but in most ways I believe it is for the better. I am different now.

So I found this to be an appropriate self portrait.

More self portraits can be found here.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Pearl's First Christmas

I'm glad Christmas is over! I know I said something similar about Thanksgiving... Take me, a holiday gathering, add a baby, and my stress level skyrockets. Other than the stress it was a wonderful Christmas. Click the picture below to see a slideshow of thousands more baby/Christmas pictures than anyone could want to see!

We spent Christmas Eve with my family. Poor Pearl was not happy to be somewhere other than home in the evening, and we had to leave right after present opening and miss the tradition of waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. Thankfully, Pearl was content on the ride home, and slept for a while - it does indeed seem that she has outgrown the screaming in the car.

Christmas morning we three got into our stockings and then opened what Santa had brought! He brought some good stuff - Mr. Peach got a case for a media-center PC and a book, I got two tripods - one standard size, one miniature and oh-so-cute! - and a gig of memory for my camera, and Pearl got stacking toys, a spinning toy, some books, and some non-toxic paints!

We went and opened presents at my in-laws'' and then went to Mr. Peach's grandma for Christmas dinner - and had to take our overwhelmed baby home early once again, but got to take some ham home with us.

I overindulged myself with Christmas goodies containing chocolate and milk, and as a result poor Pearl has been plagued with reflux for the past two days. I guess she hasn't outgrown that! She's been hard to get to sleep because of it, and quite grumpy when she's awake (understandably). Her schedule also got thrown way out of whack, which is probably contributing to her distress.

So, we're spending this week recovering. We should have done what my husband suggested, and gone to Mexico for Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Spicy Sweet Potatoes

and Fudge.

Spicy Sweet Potatoes - one of our favorite dishes around here, inspired by various other recipes. I cut the potatoes into about 1 1/3 inch chunks, leaving the skin on, then place them in a bowl and drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil. I stir them around until they're coated in olive oil, then add the spices. I use cayenne pepper, paprika, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper, and sometimes garlic powder. I add two or three of the seasonings at a time and then toss, add a few more and toss again. I usually roast them with chicken breasts (with bone and skin) for about forty minutes at 425 degrees. They turn out so good! They turn out soooo good. I use garnet sweet potatoes - generally a long, skinny variety that has a lovely smooth texture.

Fudge - I made to give out as Christmas gifts this year, along with toffee, which I'll be making later on. I used this recipe, doubled and with less sugar and butter. It turned out beautifully, some of the best fudge I've ever had. It didn't reach the temperature it was supposed to, so I boiled it for an extra minute or two, and thankfully it turned out fine. That would've been a lot of ingredients wasted had it not!

I have really been enjoying cooking lately as it is usually my one creative act of the day.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Night on the Town

Last night we went out to dinner with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend to celebrate his completion of college. We almost didn't go, as it was late in the day and Pearl screams in the car late in the day, and she hadn't had a good nap so we anticipated extra crankiness. But she surprised us by being a mellow and even somewhat cheerful baby all evening. She just kind of relaxed on the trip to town, and - this is so surprising I'm having a hard time typing it - slept on the way home! It was amazing!

We had Thai food, which I always enjoy, and afterwards we walked around the square, showing Pearl the millions of Christmas lights the city puts up every year. She took it in with wide eyes, but I didn't get any pictures, because I left my camera at home. I almost brought it, then I thought, nah, I won't need it. Everytime I do this I always later think, why didn't I bring my camera?

I don't know if the happiness in the car last evening was a fluke or if she's outgrown the screaming. I really, really hope it's the latter.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


This little guy has been hanging around the house so I thought I'd take his picture! He is sitting atop a draft stopper I recently sewed from my favorite blue jeans, never to be worn again, due to both a hole in the crotch and my new, post-giving-birth hips.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Communication (Not the Elimination Kind)

As fun as it is to see Pearl reach her physical milestones, I find it even more exciting and fascinating to see proof of her mental development.

For example, peekaboo. We used to play sitting on the couch, me slouched down with my knees in the air; her sitting on my tummy leaning against my legs. I would put my hands together in front of my face and say, "Where's Mama?" then either peek out to one side or open my hands and say, "Peekaboo!" But for a little while now, as soon as I put my hands up between us, before I can even ask her where I am, she grabs my hands and peers around their edge, with the most pleased little look on her face. It's horribly cute!

We've been signing with Pearl for about a month and a half now. I started with just two signs, bye-bye and milk. Last week I realized she understand what the sign for milk meant, for if she was hungry, she would stop fussing if I asked if she wanted milkies and made the sign.

Then the night before last, Mr. Peach was diapering her and dressing her in her pajamas for the night, and he called to me, "She made the sign for milkies!" I was skeptical, but she did indeed want milkies. Yesterday there were several instances where she made the sign - opening and closing her fingers several times, a la milking a cow - and followed it with accepting the breast, and she's been doing it this morning as well.

I'm still feeling slightly incredulous, because it's so amazing! She's scarcly six-and-a-half months old! When I first read Baby Signs, it said to be patient and not expect to see your baby begin to sign for a few months, and of course every baby is different and all that. Since I started when she was five months, I expected it to take longer than this. But she's doing it!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Project Complete: Charmingly Flawed Stockings


Mr. Peach's:

and mine:

They're all the same size, despite what my lack of product photography skill might lead you to believe. Now to find a place to hang them...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Not Ready Yet! (Now with Article!)

A few evenings ago I tried to give Pearl some mashed up bananas. She spit them out and gagged a little and shortly afterwards threw up what she had swallowed! So we're holding off on giving her more solids for a few weeks or so, and will be skipping the spoon altogether - except as a chew toy:

I read an interesting article on starting babies on solids via self-feeding rather than mush on a spoon but I can't find it and Pearl is fussing, so I'll try to find it later.

Okay, here is the article:

Guidelines for Implementing a Baby-Led Approach to the Introduction of Solid Foods written by Gill Rapley, Deputy Program Director of UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Bit of This, A Bit of That

This past weekend we had a second Thanksgiving - which means Mr. Peach roasted a turkey, and I baked some pumpkin pies. I found a recipe that called for milk rather than some form of canned milk so it was easy to use almond milk as a substitute. At the real Thanksgiving dinners I had lots of mashed potatoes made with butter and milk, and Pearl didn't have any sort of reaction to it - either I didn't consume enough dairy for it to affect her, or she's outgrown it. I'm too scared to experiment and see though!

We bought a little booster seat for Pearl so that she could join us at dinnertime, as she has started tasting food and becoming indignant about being excluded from the table. It's ugly as sin, but it was cheap and readily available at Target. I didn't want to buy a full-size high chair for two reasons: a) our house is tiny, and b) my parents are talking about making one for Pearl for Christmas. I didn't want to wait that long, and my parents can be a bit flaky. My mom said she was going to buy us some cloth diapers before Pearl was born, and she didn't. Then she said she'd buy some when Pearl outgrew the first size, and she didn't. Which is fine and all, I'm not particularly upset or anything, I'm just not going to depend on them for a high chair.

At any rate, this new booster seat is easy to use, easy to clean, and portable! Other than the ugly factor it's a great little chair. I learned the hard way about ugly/pretty vs. functionality in baby gear through my diaper bag. The only thing I like about it is its looks. Both its zippers have broken. I am now in the market for a small, sturdy, possibly ugly diaper bag.

This weekend I have been sewing stockings for my little family and other than the cuffs they turned out great. I'm going to sew new cuffs on them because I thought I'd be smart and clever and only stitch them down in a few places, and not close enough over the unfinished edge of the stocking fabric, and then realizing I needed to stitch them down completely, yeah, ugly mess. So, new cuffs, then the stockings will be complete and I will post pictures.

This will be our first year not only with a Christmas tree, but with stockings as well, so I'm really having fun picking up stocking stuffers.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

New Addiction: Amazing Circles

This is a fun, thrillingly easy way to play with my pictures in photoshop. A tutorial is here, and here are more amazing circles on flickr.