Minas Nindalf

Very loosely translated from the Elvish, that means "tower of the marshy bottom"--for some reason much more entertaining to me than "Diaper Tower" as I was crowing yesterday after its construction. Behold:

For the last two years, our diapers have been jumbled on and about our dining room changing table in various cardboard boxes and fabric bins and unrestrained nothingness. After completing the acquisition of the long-desired newborn Kissaluvs this weekend (thanks, Craigslist!), I knew it had to stop. Two trips to Target later (one today after realizing I really wanted a fifth box to contain everything) and I have this tidy collection of stacking drawers. Trust me, you're glad there isn't a "before" picture.

The drawers contain:

Daily use one-size
cloth diapers
(Kawaii and
Charlie Banana)
(Target size 6)

More cloth diapers
(M prefolds w/ Flip
covers, Kawaii,
Newborn diapers!
(Target teensies,
Thirsties covers,
S prefolds)
Extra stuff
(7th Gen night
diapers, training
pants, underwear,
wipes, powder)
In case you couldn't tell, I'm inordinately happy with this development. Nesting, methinks.


The triple crown of room posts

A while back I dangled the tantalizing idea that you would one day get three posts about the couple hundred square feet in my house that make up the kids' rooms. So as not to disappoint the multitudes, here's that post, a brief summary of toddler-spot-#1, formerly nursery #1.

It turns out I actually covered much of it already either in the first nursery post or in the one where I talked about moving the kid into a twin bed. For completeness, though, I'll offer the panorama and just point out a couple of major items (left to right) so you can see how it all fits together. (Yes, it's edited, but I only alien-blocked the backward-facing kid because he looked super-distorted and creepy from my poor panorama skills, and I took out the name for privacy-principles' sake.)

  • Wall map with stars/dots for places we've been (needs updating... note to self)
  • Futon that got swapped for the crib, mainly in use as a staging area for pajamas and a resting place for the crib-bumper-turned-rocker-cover-turned-thing-that-sits-there
  • Expedit shelf with bins of books and toys, also home to the sound machine, new monitor, and assorted goo-containers
  • Day bed where he now sleeps along with a giant pile of stuff that needs to be there (multitudes of stuffed animals and books; a couple of blankets; a pillow; a teether; a Duplo gentleman; half an envelope; etc.)
  • Table and chairs, home to quite a few tea parties
So far he hasn't gotten injured by or climbed precariously on any of these things, which is excellent. For some strange and wonderful reason, it doesn't occur to him to get out of bed either at night or for naps. Sure, he flops around for ages before falling asleep, but he stays there (at least after a couple nights of talkings-to about not getting up to turn on the light) and when he wakes up he just hangs out with stuff from his warren of books and toys. We also use the room for time-outs (per 1-2-3 Magic, food for another post) so it has to be safe for him to be in there alone when awake and grumpy as well. This combo of stuff appears to be just right for all that.

That's the short-for-me version. Ask if you want any more details/sources!


Nursery Part Deux

I wrote before about our first child's room, and now that I'm putting the finishing touches on Baby Room Revisited I figured it was time to post about it. Some things are more complicated, some less so, but I'm pretty proud of it all the same.

Here's the panorama (thanks, iPhone!), and then I'll explain what's what from left to right.

  1. Walls in a slightly muddy gray (Mink by Sherwin-Williams); I'd been sweating gray ever since some Pinterest bingeing early in the pregnancy.
  2. Mirror that used to be in our bathroom, with gold-ish metal frame repainted over in a few coats of white tempera paint (matte finish, looks decent, even better from far away).
  3. Leftover framed photo that hasn't ended up on the wall just yet.
  4. The same cheap-o bookshelf that was in the first room, now moved out because of potential tipping hazards, even though our toddler has no inclination to climb up or pull things over. There are a few books on there right now, but not too much, as the rest are either in bed with him or strewn on a floor somewhere.
  5. Closet where the main clothes dresser (an old one of my husband's, non-matching but fine while hidden) lives, along with several clear storage boxes and these hanging shelf thingies from Ikea for more storage space.
  6. Hamper from Ikea.
  7. Curtains made even more easily from last time:  fabric from Ikea hemmed on all sides, then clipped to curtain rings and strung on a rod. Behind them is a matching-ish gray roller blind.
  8. A duplicate standing lamp from the other room. The LED bulbs cost twice what the lamp did.
  9. Our old friend the rocking chair, with and ottoman cushions recovered in the same fabric as the curtains. I traced the cushions onto newsprint and used that as a pattern, then sewed inside out, turned right-side out, and sewed on strips of Velcro to close the covers and to fasten the ottoman cushion to the ottoman (same locations as before). The arms are still in the same blue, which would bother me if I decided to care, but I didn't, and the baby blanket that I intend to finish in the next two months will go right over it (it's an orange/white/gray version of this one).
  10. A simple blue-and-white clock from Target.
  11. The crowning achievement:  the wall decal. This is why I had to paint scary early (zero VOC, yay!), because the paint has to cure 6-12 weeks (I could only handle waiting 6, though I'd intended to do at least 8) before applying the decals. Application was about a 5-hour process to complete carefully, since all of the branches, leaves, birds, and trees are separate pieces, but it was totally worth it. I am obsessed with how great it looks. Yes, there's another little branch peeking out from behind the curtain. Aww.
  12. Same crib (Graco Sarah) from before, with our mobile installed.
  13. Several things you can't see, though the light is shining up for a partial indicator: a Lack table with a cute table lamp, the new sound machine I bought on our trip, and the second camera from the video monitor I bought a few months ago. I couldn't find a two-transmitter audio-only system; I've learned to love video.
  14. This room's version of name-on-the-wall. Yes, I blurred the name out, and there are more letters than pictured. You'll have to wait. For this go-round, I stenciled the letters in blue tempera paint onto nice wooden squares that I'd painted in white tempera paint with orange edges. I hung photos in bright blue Ikea frames under each letter.
  15. Same dresser from before, onto which the changing pad will go and into which diapers and assorted stuff will go.
There you have it. I even got the tiny-person clothes into the dresser, so we're pretty good to go at this point. I think the changing pad and the baby blanket--when I finish it--will be the last things to move in. Bearing in mind that the child will probably sleep in a pack-n-play in our room for a couple of months, one does wonder why I'm bothering at this point, but it looks cute, so who cares.


These spaceships have tractor beams

So I took the plunge:
Please be advised that my reflection is distorted by
both the curvature of the car and the odd surface of the taillight.
Shockingly, it wasn't all that stressful, or even that much of an adjustment. Therefore, I thought I'd write a post about how to succumb to the world of minivans in 10 easy steps.
  1. Think about it silently, stewingly, in the manner of a wizard plotting revenge over centuries, except it's a nice car choice and not a blood feud against some sort of orc. This is key to understanding the rest, because though I moved at lightning speed to buy the thing once the idea came out, it was springing fully formed from my head after a long gestation. (I feel I am mixing metaphors here.) Things that triggered the desire for the minivan included the general smallness of my Jetta (husband wouldn't be able to drive it once we re-installed a rear-facing carseat), the similar lack of seating in our much larger Highlander (see you, third-row seat, once two carseats are installed to block the way), the potential to at some point wish another adult or child to ride in the car with us rather than make a procession of things, the excitement of lugging minivan quantities of things (sheets of plywood!), and (let's be honest here) the overarching love of Researching and Buying New Things.
  2. Do some light research. For me, this was asking other moms who also own a Highlander whether there was a way to slide the seat to access the third row with just a Chicco base installed, since that's less bulky than a full carseat. That would have bought us another year, probably, but no dice. I also looked into the other option of putting a carseat in the third row, but there aren't any tether anchors and the manual doesn't mention it as a viable option, so that was nixed as well. Another component of this was the experience I've had with minivans in the past, checking out a few back when we bought the Highlander (some were way small) and seeing those owned by friends or tried on rental trips. So I had some idea of what was out there, as well as which ones I liked better. [Saturday and Sunday]
  3. Do some heavier research. Although I'd looked in previous years, I re-checked Consumer Reports for every type of minivan (as well as other options like larger three-row SUVs and station wagons--if they still call them that). The Honda Odyssey looked very persuasive, for reasons that I'll leave to those with CR subscriptions (or libraries--I think it's usually in the April issue). I also looked at other review sites and the Honda website to learn more about the vehicle. [Sunday and Monday]
  4. Start looking at prices, options, etc. Clearly, I'm not going to wander into a dealership without knowing the model and trim level I'm interested in, and at what price. This entailed a trip to cars.com to look at local dealers (only some of which post "internet" prices), a request for several quotes through Honda, and examining the "fair prices" postulated by Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds. I settled on the EX-L, since I've become spoiled by leather and heated seats and sunroofs, and got a sense of the price point. [early Monday morning, mostly]
  5. Go drive one. I waltzed into the nearest dealership between work and yoga with an appropriately chilly just-researching attitude. They pulled up an EX-L, I drove it, I got a brochure, and I rolled out. It was nice. It drove like a car. I wanted it. I didn't tell them that. [Monday afternoon]
  6. Get the intel on your old car. I like to get the CarMax appraisal before seeing what a dealer would give me, as it may be a lot higher. Maybe the dealer can match it and do a trade-in; if not, then CarMax is there for you. So, I got my estimate for the Jetta on the way home from yoga. They said it showed well. I was proud. [Monday night]
  7. Involve others. At this point, I started publicizing what was going on in my head, foisting brochures on my husband and keeping him up with recitations of the Consumer Reports page. Then, we had a little time in the morning to "go look" at the car, which turned into another test drive and an appraisal of both cars (nope, they couldn't touch CarMax). Turns out the baby was the best audience, because he learned in about 0.001 seconds how to work all of the buttons, particularly the sliding doors', and had a grand old time pushing them for more than half an hour while we were waiting for various things. [Tuesday]
  8. Calculate costs and develop price strategy. Based on the research in #4, what the guy had said about how low they usually go below MSRP, and my account balances, I knew what seemed to be a reasonable price. Then I adjusted to get a starting point and a maximum. Then--and I think this was the master stroke of the experience--I called the manager and told him I didn't have time to sit around in the dealership and haggle, so I wanted to see what price he could get to on the phone. Maybe my starting price wasn't aggressive enough (though it seemed pretty good from my research), but he whined some and then came almost immediately to something about $150 higher (still lower than the main range for KBB and Edmunds)--at which point I stopped talking and said I'd think about it. From this point on, if I wanted the car, it was available to me at a price that felt fair. [Wednesday]
  9. Think, stew, make lists, bore others with lists until 2am. This is what I did for several days. Did I want to trade my car? Did I want to trick my husband into trading his car? Did I want to bag the whole idea? Did I want to wait a few more months while we saved a bit more money? Blah blah blah. You know how all that turned out already. But I felt like I'd thought through the options thoroughly. [through Thursday]
  10. Shut up and go do it, since you wanted to do it all along. I cleaned my car out in advance. I called and told them I was coming during a long lunch, as long as they could give me stock number X at price Y, and I wouldn't have much time so they could go ahead and spare me the discussions of cargo nets and such. I went up there and signed a truly minimal number of forms, listened to the warranty spiel (I did go for the extended free maintenance, since that's seemed to pay off in the past), paid, and was all done in about an hour. Then I drove over to CarMax, sold my old car in about 15 minutes, got picked up by the Honda salesman, and drove away in the Odyssey. The only thing remaining was turning in the old plates and depositing the CarMax check, which took about 5 minutes each the next day. [Friday, mainly]
And I'm happy. I'm poorer, yeah, but not in a way I can't handle. I feel slightly bad for my perfectly good old car, but there were no tears and someone will enjoy it. I'm a little bummed about the lower gas mileage, but so excited about the space, cameras, seating options, baby pushing buttons adorably, new warranty, and so on that I'm essentially over that. I've driven it for hours at a time and short trips, with and without passengers, and possibly with Ke$ha very loud on the radio at one point, and basically enjoyed myself for the last several days. And I can even back it into parking spots with minimal trouble!

Don't you want one toooooo?


Yes, Virginia, there are doors in the midwest

This week I had to travel for some work training, so my husband and son came along to entertain themselves with relatives and sightseeing while I learny-learn-learned. In addition to being productive for work and fun for them, it was an opportunity to see what had changed in travel-with-kids-land since our last plane and overnight trips.

As with anything, your mileage may vary, but the kid in general did GREAT, typical for him after I spend a good amount of time worrying about things. This was a much lower-key trip than the Out West trip since we stayed in one city and had our relatives ferrying us around, and there were plenty of kid-friendly activities.

Things that were super useful:

  • Inflatable toddler bed, which I put on the floor next to our bed. It takes a crib sheet and has a bumper-like thing around the mattress that sort of keeps the kid from moving around too much. More importantly, the crack between the mattress and bumpers can hold some board books and toys for both easy access and relieving your mind of the all-night fear that he'll suffocate against the bumper thing. I had debated about crib (which he isn't in any more at home and might feel weirdly huge in these days) versus roll-away (maybe too high) versus our bed (high, and annoying) versus something like this. Luckily, he stayed put after storytime and seemed pretty comfortable, so I'm glad I went with this.
  • Parking that bed in a suite hotel (Residence Inn this time), which enables the adults to go to bed after 7pm. We decided to keep the toddler bed in the room with ours in case he woke up and started wandering around, a good call since he woke up relatively early (for him), so we just had to sneak around to get ready for bed. Brushing teeth in the kitchen sink helped, as did having PJs in the living room. It ain't fancy, but it worked. Plus, they had breakfast and internet. What more could you want?
  • Boba 4G carrier, which I impulse-bought a few months ago (Beco Butterfly II was feeling a little small) and which was essential for getting him through the airport along with the rest of our luggage. There's whining about getting in every time, but then it works fine, and I can't imagine any other way to go through security (they just check your hands afterward). We didn't bring a stroller at all, though we rented one in a few large places like mall and zoo--much easier.
  • Cosco carseat, our travel standby, for use both on the plane and in our relatives' car. It's really simple to get on/off the seats (once you figure out the locking clip), slim enough for the airline, and pretty light (since you're going to be lugging it through the airport). Also, on one flight Delta was only doing priority boarding for families using carseats (not just any old family) so this helped as well. Getting it back off the seat at the end of the flight isn't instantaneous, so it's easiest to send someone off with the kid for a diaper change while the other person wrangles it.
  • HoMedics MyBaby SoundSpa portable sound machine, which I bought at Target half an hour into night one when I realized that the big plan of space-economy-by-using-iPhone-as-sound-machine meant my phone would be trapped in the bedroom all evening. Luckily we were wanting a second sound machine for the new baby's room, and this one is more packable than the one we already had and pretty inexpensive, so I didn't feel that bad about the impulse buy.
  • Jelly beans. I can't claim any credit for this--it was all my genius husband--but these chewy things were key to getting through the ascent and descent on the plane with a kid who doesn't understand popping his ears yet. Thank you, conveniently placed Easter season. The only time we had trouble on the flights (which were right during naptime, luckily, and yielded 1-2 hours of sleep each) was when he woke up with what we think were ouchy ears and took a while to agree to eat something to pop them. A leftover half of a pretzel roll (since he freaking LOVES rolls) was the key temptation there.

Other good stuff I packed:

  • Spare pair of PJs for the little guy. We ended up needing them because of leaks, though luckily not extra blanket/sheet/pillow/pillowcase/sleep sack (for naps) because I only bothered with one of each of those.
  • A pack of daytime disposable diapers (30ish) and enough nighttime diapers for each night. No cloth diapers this trip because I didn't want to mess with them. I had a few too many diapers, but better that than the other thing.
  • A couple of new books for bedtime diversion.
  • Milk and water cups (one of each, washed nightly). I carried milk through on one flight and bought a little bit in the airport after security on the other flight. Both worked fine, though buying was a little faster. We also asked our relatives to pick up a gallon of milk so we didn't have to go out and find any right away when we got there.

Things I packed and didn't need (not much, luckily, though it felt like we brought the whole house):

  • Extra shirts for me and the little guy. Leftover idea from last trip, I guess, but unnecessary as we aren't that messy any more.
  • Sunscreen, which I mention only because it RAINED THE WHOLE TIME. Sigh. But sunscreen in general is good to pack.
  • More than two books and more than one stuffed animal/doll. We didn't really do much with them, and I could have saved the space.
  • Teether. Though I think he's sprouted multiple two-year molars in the last couple of weeks, it never came out.
  • ID for the baby. Turns out you don't need it under 18, unless you're substantiating that a lap-child is under two. But his passport card was too cute not to bring, even if nobody cared to look at it.

Other than that, the main tip from the trip was to know your kid. Yours may need more diversions on the plane or in the room, or different flight times, or specific activities planned, or whatever. Ours mostly napped on the plane and has basically zero interest in toys other than the iPad, books, and the occasional little car (which we didn't bring, deciding they were too easy to throw at people on the plane). His confirmed interests are as follows: shutting doors, opening doors, going in, going out, putting on shoes and leaving, pushing elevator buttons, going in bathrooms and flushing the toilet, and talking about all of those things repeatedly. Therefore, we were able to structure the trip mostly around (a) taking the elevator to our room, (b) leaving the room to go somewhere/anywhere, and (c) opening and shutting doors at our relatives' house for hours at a time. Perfect!


Stop the presses--I finished a book

It had been way too long. My Hypnobirthing book doesn't count (more on that later). I finally, finally finished a book that I could write about on my other blog, AND it is super relevant to this one. So trot on over to Through Books and see what I thought about Expecting Better (hint: loved it!).


Ticked off

Note: The following is not medical advice, just my experience. See your own professionals as appropriate.

This isn't kid-related, and only tangentially pregnancy-related, but it fits in the category of "things I researched a bunch that might benefit others":  what to do if you're bitten by a tick while pregnant.

Last Sunday, I tromped around a trail in the woods in shorts and unsuitable shoes. Whoops. Considering I'd never had a tick in however many decades I've been on the planet, caution wasn't the first thing on my mind. So when, still blurry-eyed and -brained from sleep, I saw something on my thigh on Monday morning in the shower, I thought "ummmm, shaving scab?" and went to picking at it. After a little tugging, it came off. Then I thought "hmmm, maybe not" and saved it on the shower ledge till I was done. Nope! Buggy thing! Little! Possible deer tick, though I have no idea what those are! I promptly captured it in my contact case (later with a little moistened TP added).

The next step was NOT TO PANIC. Visions of Lyme disease danced in my head. What would it do to my little inside-baby? Time for calm breathing and non-frantic internet searching. Useless. Conflicting. But enough to know that there was something potentially harmful that I should follow up on.

I happened to have my regular midwife appointment that afternoon, so in the morning, I called to see if they thought it was an Emergency. Nope. As long as I didn't have a rash (the distinctive bullseye) or any symptoms, I could wait till the afternoon, and bring along my friend the tick in case anyone wanted to see.

It turns out midwives are not also tick experts. They told me to chill, essentially (though I already had), and that I could go to (a) the fire department for some critter-ID service, (b) my regular primary care doctor for an exam/test, and (c) an infectious disease specialist if it came to that.

I commenced with item (a) that afternoon on the way home from work, knocking on the door of my nearest fire station and inquiring of the well muscled gentlemen which of them might be a tick-identification expert, because I have a contact case full of tick. Let me now disabuse you of any notion that the random firefighters at your local station are infectious-insect experts. They said "um, yeah, looks like a tick" and that they had no special training, and that I should probably go see my doctor if I wanted some real advice. I trotted away (in my yoga outfit, of course), living-tick-in-contact-case still in hand.

Now we come to Tuesday morning, when I had to call for an appointment with my primary care doctor. They said I should definitely come in and bring my little friend. I hemmed and hawed about that day's inconvenient times, but when they said they had availability Thursday afternoon but a few hours later on Friday would be TOO LATE (huh?) I took the Tuesday appointment and rearranged my schedule.

The doctor (a fill-in for my regular one, by which I mean Dr. I've Seen You Once) was actually really cool. I was nervous when she opened up Google on the computer, but it was just to show me a picture to compare to my real thing. She then proceeded to tell me several calming things:
  1. It was on me for only about 13 hours, max, based on my woods time. Seems like 24+ is when it gets serious(er).
  2. It came off intact.
  3. It's a brown thing rather than a gray thing.
  4. I don't have any rash or symptoms yet.
  5. [not from her but from the internet] It's awfully early in the year, so ticks that are out may not be disease-carriers.
Then I got two further calming items:
  1. A prescription for just two capsules of 500 mg amoxicillin. I weighed risk vs. benefit fairly carefully since I usually don't like taking anything while pregnant, but it seemed like the prophylaxis was worth whatever side effects the relatively safe antibiotic might have. She said I could wait till I saw a rash (which is totally what I would do if not pregnant) but I was too nervous since there appears to be a magical 72-hour window where prophylactic antibiotics works pretty well. (There is, of course, weak data on amoxicillin and good data only on doxycycline which pregnant people are cautioned against, but oh well.)
  2. A lab order for a Lyme titer to take in three weeks to see if anything shows up. I'm 99% sure nothing will based on a-e plus 1 above, but I was already going to be in for some pregnancy-related tests so it's no extra inconvenience.
Oh, and she disposed of my tick. And that was that. I took the antibiotics at lunch the next day, chased them with some probiotics that I'll take for a while to get my friendly bacteria back, and there we are. For now, at least. Some mild worry, about 50 bucks, and fodder for a blog post. I wouldn't wish it on any of you, but it could have been WAY worse.

Just look at the little monster!

P.S. We checked my kid all over--no ticks. Only Mommy is so lucky.