Sunday, July 22, 2007

To Serve Baby

Here are some of my favorite recipes for "baby food"! Enjoy.

Tasty Toasty Baby Roasty

Preheat a queen or king size bed by having two parents sleep in it overnight. Place a cleaned, dressed baby between the parents, and cover. Snuggle for 2 minutes per pound or until baby is toasty warm. Tickle baby and serve immediately.

Tiny Tasty Baby Pastry

Place a baby on a pillow, and place another pillow across the baby's body. Gently squish the baby repeatedly until the baby laughs. Remove upper pillow and munch the baby.

Yummy Yummy Baby Tummy

With baby on his back, peel back clothing until the tender tummy is exposed. Placing lips on tummy, blow gently until a "zerbert" sound emerges. When baby laughs, munch the tummy.

Baby Nicey Stuffed With Ricey

Feed a baby rice or rice cereal until his tummy is full. Wait 30 minutes to 1 hour. Munch the tummy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Deep Thought For The Day

Once I had some pet fish that mated and had a LOT of little baby fish. We were not expecting them to mate, so we didn't put a net under their nesting spot, and some of the eggs were sucked down into the undergravel filter and hatched down there. When we took the tank apart when we moved, we found several little fishes under the filter. They were all very long and skinny and stunted compared to their brothers and sisters, because that was the space they were born in and grew in, a long and skinny space.

If something is misshapen, it's because it is the negative space of other things that are out of whack. If you want to not have misshapen things, instead of just removing the misshapen things, fix the things that are out of whack, or the new thing that grows back will also be misshapen.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Latch The Fridge?

As we all know, fridges can be dangerous. Kids who get inside a fridge can be stuck there. It's dark in there, and they may not be able to kick the door open when they want to get out. Bagel, in particular, was constantly getting into the fridge and leaving it open, so we thought it prudent and responsible to get a fridge latch to prevent him opening it. I shopped around and found a very nice one that had the option to disable the latch if, say, you were doing a lot of cooking and needed to open the fridge without operating the latch every time. It was sturdy and durable and was easily operable by an adult, but not by a child. It latched automatically when you closed the fridge, so that we could always be confident the fridge was secure and wouldn't have to rely on my notorious memory to remember to latch the fridge. We taught the older kids, who were more responsible, how to open it.

So yesterday we caught Sonshine (yes, 7 year old Sonshine) trying to climb up inside the fridge and shut the door. He's never done anything like this before yesterday. And like I said, he already knew how to open the fridge with the latch on it, and has known for over a year.

So when I confide in people (including relatives and the doctor) that we caught Sonshine trying to climb into the fridge and it scared the crap out of us, why is the near-universal reaction to this "what the hell were you thinking, having a latch on your fridge? He would have been stuck inside!" Because, you know, I'm supposed to be clairvoyant and be able to predict that Sonshine might, after seven years of not trying to climb onto the top shelf of the fridge, suddenly try it. And I'm supposed to have a magical fridge latch that appears only when kids are on the outside. This isn't just some yahoo off the street saying this. These are people who know me, who know that I'm trying my best to keep my kids safe. One person self-righteously said, "We have a fridge latch that doesn't lock automatically," as if a fridge latch that locks without having to constantly remember to lock it was self-evidently a death trap.

So, safety police, which is it? Should I latch my fridge to keep my kids out of it, or unlatch my fridge so my kids can get out of it once they're in?

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Underwear Contributes To Literacy

No, really.

Link via Chequer-Board.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Starting Meds

Sonshine's anxiety has been just overwhelming the last couple of days. Ever since I started back to work, he's stepped up his handwashing, to the point that I have to clean soap off the bathroom and kitchen floors just about every day. There have been a rash of restroom accidents, and I've had to get up several times in the middle of the night to rescue him from where he was standing at the bathroom door, overwhelmed with anxiety that kept him from going in. One night he made it onto the toilet, but wouldn't get off because prior to getting on he had knocked the soap pump into the toilet. He'd bravely retrieved it before using the toilet, thank goodness, but he was overcome with distress thinking about how he now had nothing clean with which to clean his hands.

On Saturday it reached an apex; Sonshine crossed the line from merely having to be rescued all the time to being a danger to himself and others. He became hyper and then manic. He constantly sought sensory input, ran his feet all over everything, jumped off anything more than a foot off the ground (and more often the higher it was), crashed into the childproofing gates, and spent the entire day alternating between whining and making anxious little sounds that he thought were words (and which might have been understood only by Curious George), which are like trying to talk without moving his lips, teeth, or tongue. Finally, unable to keep him safe in the house, I put him in his room, where he promptly pulled over a dresser on top of his little brother.

Sunday I kept him home from church. I let him writhe around in a puddle of fabric. We talked about the medieval campout and what it would be like. He was difficult to handle, but not impossible.

This morning I made him an appointment with the doctor. As all trips to the doctor are, this one was hellaciously draining. Sonshine didn't want to go to the doctor, so there was a lot of prep work involved in just getting him into the door. By the time the doctor came in to see him, Sonshine was acting like a chimpanzee on crack. He was climbing the walls with his feet, hiding in the corner behind the exam table, pulling the cords out of the wall sockets by using them as footholds to climb, shredding exam table paper, jumping off the biohazard hamper, switching the lights on and off... and that's just the bits I remember; the rest I've already blocked out of my mind and will remember later only in flashbacks.

The doc prescribed Adderall, an ADHD drug. We are supposed to try it for a few days and stop it if we notice any of his problems increasing or his appetite disappears. He starts tomorrow and has a follow-up appointment for Friday.

Here we go.....

Baron's War Logistics

Sometimes it seems like getting anything done with my family is as logistically complicated as Hannibal crossing the alps. Preparing for the Baron's War is no exception.

Costumes (aka "garb" in the SCA world): Well, everybody's gotta have some, and most of the kids will need at least two outfits. Knuckles can't go anywhere there'll be food served without three outfits, because he'll toss his cookies if somebody leaves a stray bread crust lying about. (See food below.) Bagel is liable to throw himself into a muddy ditch for fun. Sonshine is very sensitive to clothing textures and needs to be desensitized to the medieval clothing style, or else the act of wearing something that different will use up all his mental flexibility. And of course Princess is my little dress-up doll (and she loves it). We can borrow some from my brother's knight, but I just know that won't be enough for my kids. They'll need at least one outfit to wash and another to wear. So I'm making some basic tunics for everyone. I made a little leather belt pouch for Sonshine out of a pair of suede elbow patches and some fine hemp twine. He adores the pouch and wears it every day now.

Food: The big issue here, of course, is Knuckles' food allergies. Surprisingly, medieval cooking is proving to be adaptable. There are lots of common, period-correct foods he can't have, but there are also many he can, or that we can easily make a simple ingredient substitution in. A nice pottage of lentils will be an excellent food for him. Also, since a lot of period breads are made of low-gluten barley, I could probably get away with subbing brown rice flour plus a bit of xanthan gum. I've had trouble duplicating the high-gluten wheat bread texture, but how hard can it be to duplicate the rock-hard-lump texture of barley bread, especially when I've had such success with it already? Plus I can always bring boxes of his favorite gluten-free cookies. He never fails to eat several (dozen) of those. Knuckles can spot a box of GF cookies from about 100 yards.

For the family, the menu plan currently includes not just pottage of lentils, but also gluten-free oatmeal and chicken vinha d'alhos. Stuff I can make with just one pot, since space for cooking gear will be at a premium.

Merchandise: This is actually the only area I have pretty well in hand already. The ointments are done, and my brother's blending the strewing herbs, but even if he forgets to do it, we can do it on-site. The silk cloth arrived today and the hemp belts should be here next week.

Gear: This is going to be one of the hardest areas, since we have (A) limited vehicle space and (B) limited funds with which to buy gear. We have a (modern) tent and sleeping bags, although we could probably do with a few more since a couple of them now have broken zippers. My parents have some we could borrow, and there are always bedrolls. Some bedding items from home are de rigueur when traveling with Aspies. We can't go anywhere without Sonshine's special blanket and pillow and toy armadillo, and we'll want Knuckles' weighted blanket and Bagel's new weighted vest. If I have time, I will need to design a weighted tabard or vest for Sonshine to wear. I think it might help him. And you can never have enough rope when you're camping.

We also need a camp stove, which I will have to sit down and discuss with FH. He loves propane so I might want to get one that's propane powered. On the other hand there are just so many medieval propane tanks to choose from, that I can't make up my mind. [/sarcasm] I think this is where we might have to invoke the "anachronism" clause. We also need mess gear. We had a nice set of camping pots and plates and cups and such, but it was only for four, and that was before everybody kicked it over, dragged the cups upstairs for bathroom water experiments, and took the pots outside and stepped on them. I want to get everyone a little tin cup, of a size suitable to hang on a belt. We can bring our own silverware, but I don't think Corelle plates emblazoned with gaily colored fruits are "period", so I may have to buy some inexpensive plates. D.I., here I come!

Finally, there will have to be a handwashing station. There's no compromising on that one; Sonshine is already stretched to his limit by the mere contemplation of a porta-john. The idea of a chamber pot blows his little mind. We bought him a bottle of hand sanitizer to keep in his little belt pouch.

Going Medieval

I really like making and selling crafts. I enjoy having a booth at craft fairs and watching the kids run around the fair, buying little trinkets. But I am really, really sick of making booties. Sales of the dish scrubbers and other things I invented are flagging, and I really had wanted to get into making something more "scalable", something that I could make in batches. I started making the booties to cross-sell with the tie-dyed onesies, and while they have boosted onesie sales, they're now my most popular product, and I'm just so sick of making them. I get so many wholesale inquiries that I have to turn them down. I've raised my prices and the orders keep on coming in. This wouldn't be a bad thing, except that it causes so much stress for me. I really don't like being tied down to these booties, having production schedules for them, etc. because they're really the only product I have that makes money.

If I had more time, I could do something about this. I could market the onesies in the way I had originally planned, which was to seek wholesale customers for them at hospital gift shops, doctor's offices, etc. and making periodic trips to the West Coast where people have more money and a taste for tie-dye. But that kind of thing is not something you can do with a baby on each arm while you try to get your 7 year old Aspie to take his feet off the wall. And it's finally sinking in that my life is going to be like this for at least the next 5 years, if not more, especially with Sonshine showing signs of possible OCD. I simply won't have time to market my stuff properly. So I think I'd like to take the business in a little bit different direction, at least for the next little while.

My brother Little D is a medieval re-enactor, and he also wants to make some money (and who doesn't!) so we are going into business together to make some medieval stuff and sell it at SCA events. We haven't really found a focus for our products yet, so we're pretty much just running stuff up the flagpole to see who salutes. Since that's kind of how medieval commerce worked anyway, we can point to our lack of focus and proudly say it's period-authentic! :)

We thought we might start with herbs, because they're cheap and easy to get and repackage. For the upcoming Baron's War we have made some ointments, bags of strewing herbs (medieval potpourri), and masculine-smelling armor bag scenters. We used medieval recipes for the ointments and did some research into the period uses of the strewing herbs. I eventually want to do some culinary herb blends, but that will require us to rent the Health Department-approved kitchen and get food handler's permits. To make that worth our while we would need to have a lot of herbs to blend, and we just don't have the capital for that at the moment. We also figured on buying and reselling some items here and there, as we find unusual things. I ordered some simple and plausibly medieval looking belts from my hemp supplier, and some raw silk from another supplier. And I also, inexplicably, am interested in antique medieval rosaries (paternosters). I would like to make some of those as well.

I can apply for a business line of credit, but only after we finish our refinance deal this fall (long, complicated story). So until then it'll be a small-time affair.

Catching Up

My apologies for not having blogged in a while. If I had had time to post about everything that has happened, I certainly would have, as it is a LOT! A quick summary of the highlights:

  • The knee injury I sustained this past winter suddenly decided it was time to hurt again, and this threw off my back, putting me in such pain that I was literally rolling on the floor in agony. A very nice chiropractor, and an orthopedist with a syringe full of steroids, fixed all that up.
  • I started work at SLCC. They don't pay very well, I have to commute in twice a week, and I have to wear the "monkey suit" to work. But other than that, it's OK. I don't like having to learn a new college's system, but overall they're treating me well. One day the whiteboard marker in my room died so I went down to the receptionist to get a new whiteboard marker, and they grudgingly gave me a marker but told me I had to bring it back after class (!) because they were having problems with faculty taking the markers home (!!). So when I called the Math Department later to ask where I would get an overhead projector for an upcoming lesson, I asked "What's up with that??" The next day, not only was the overhead projector waiting in my room, but so was the guy in charge of the marker-stingy receptionist. He supplied me with my very own stack of markers, a xerox copier code, and his phone number to call him if I needed the slightest bit of anything or had any more trouble from the receptionist. Now THAT's service! Also, they have a testing center where I can send all my makeup tests for proctoring. VERY, very nice!
  • We acquired two pet rabbits. They are quite fuzzy and cute. Lisa is a brown and white lop and Emily is a gray and white regular rabbit. They are both female, about 5 years old. Emily has been spayed and Lisa hasn't, but I think she's too old to get the operation now. Lisa is the dominant, fiery-spirited one, and Emily is very passive and loves to be petted. The kids take them out in the yard every day, where the rabbits have made themselves a little scrape in the high grass next to the poppy plant.
  • Bagel turned three and had his birthday party. Since he wanted to invite his little friends from his special-needs playgroup, and most of those are on the autism spectrum, we decided to not get any party favors and just blow the whole party budget on renting a bouncy castle. As soon as we got it up, Bagel said "I hate the bouncy castle!" and wouldn't go near it. I think it was too loud for him. By the end of the four-hour rental, he had relented enough to sit on the slide that was the entrance, and even stick his head inside. But although everyone else enjoyed it immensely, Bagel never bounced inside it at all.
  • It is my birthday today. I am now 25 years old! ;)