Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Still Alive

Wowsers. Has it really been seven months since I last posted? Good Lord, I thought that I had written a post promising to write more posts sometime after the baby was born, but I guess not. So at least I don't have to feel guilty anymore about that.

Where to begin? So much has happened that I'm not even sure that I remember it all, but I'll try to condense that past half year into one neat and tidy, though definitely not short, post.

I cannot remember if I wrote much about my pregnancy in previous posts, and I'm too lazy to look, so I'll just say that I spent several months puking(ALL the time. Enough that I lost weight the first half of my pregnancy), and then spent the rest of the pregnancy dealing with and suffering from everything from ringworm(DON'T SCRATCH YOUR THIGHS, SWEATY PREGNANT PEOPLE) to sciatica to MAJOR cankles and horrible, horrible pelvic pains(a nine and a half pound baby will do that to you).

RIDICULOUS. I could hardly walk towards the end, I was retaining so much fluid in my feet, as you can see. EEK.

While all of that was going on, The Husband accepted another job in another town and we bought another house. A bigger house. Like twice the size of our old house bigger(Two stair cases, two fire places and two basements, as the house used to be a duplex). And older. Like, thirty years older. So, almost 140 years old. And needing a lot more work. Like, two months of painting(still more left to do), floor replacement(upstairs and down), and lead paint encapsulation on the upstairs window and door trim before we could even move in. The Husband was going straight from work to the house and then spending the nights at his parents' house, so I spent much of the last couple months of pregnancy alone with The Cupcake Kid.

After our last ultrasound. Heh heh.

We cut it super close on the time frame, too. I mean, we moved the basics into the new house and a few days later(maybe a week), the baby was here. We were lucky that he came a couple of days late. At one of my last OB appointments, my doc had a student with her. He asked when I would like the baby to come, ideally.

"About a week late", I replied.

His eyes about popped out of his head. "Well that is definitely the first time I've heard a woman say that! Most women want them to come early."

"Well, most women probably aren't taking bets as to which will be completed first-their baby or their house, " I joked. But I was dead serious. Thankfully, Baby Cakes waited. It was a super stressful time, to say the least.

And then he was born! My doctor and the nurses were all a little shocked when they pulled the baby out. I had been measuring a couple weeks smaller, so when they pulled him out after a slightly difficult and extremely tiring labor(he was also posterior, hurray! Not. Ha.) and exclaimed, "Oh! He's a big boy!" and "Yeah, he's the biggest baby we've had in a while," I was a bit shocked.

My mother was not. She had been telling me that she thought he would be big. I kept telling her that he would be smaller than his sister(she was almost nine pounds), because I hadn't gained that much weight and I was measuring smaller. Mom knows best.

We made it through the newborn phase, and now we're in a seemingly never ending three and four month growth spurt phase. There has not been much sleep going on for me these past few weeks, despite the fact that I spend almost twelve hours each day in bed because the little man won't sleep without me. I've read that once the growth spurt is over, they go back to sleeping in their own beds again like magic, so I'm hoping we'll be back to our old routine soon(him sleeping in his bed next to ours between feeds), because this mama is tired.

Does this exhaustion make me look fat?

Baby cakes has some trouble with bad spit up and gas when I eat dairy or soy(we're breastfeeding), so I've had to totally change my diet, which is reallllly hard when you are a stress eater like I am, and you're so busy with a clingy, cranky, fussy baby that you don't have a lot of time to cook. You don't know how hard it is to buy prepackaged food like bread and cereal at the grocery store when you are avoiding dairy AND soy until you actually have to do it. Thankfully our local Hy-Vee has a really nice health food section which has made it easier for me as I try to wait out the little bugger's super fussy phase. There are some really great products out there for those avoiding soy and dairy, but when you live in BFE Iowa, they can be difficult to locate. I'll be doing posts of products and recipes in the future, so as to help anybody else who may be making this leap.

Sanity saver.

Dairy, soy and egg free chocolate fig cake. DIVINE!!!

I have to say, since dropping soy and dairy, and adding a vitamin D3 supplement, I do feel better. I have more energy and clarity despite lack of sleep, most days.

In addition to the baby, the past few months have been consumed by trying to help the Kid adjust to the baby and continuing work on the house.

For the first two months of Baby Cakes' life, The Kid pretty much hated him. And me. There were many manic tantrums and cries of, "You hate me! You don't love me anymore!" I was surprised by how badly my four year old could hurt my feelings. It was a difficult transition to say the least. Lots of outings with Daddy and some good old fashioned spoiling have helped a lot and she quite likes baby today.

Her first trip to the comic book store and she made out like a darned bandit!
A matter of days(four I believe) after our baby was born, we had our first bat in the house. The husband, baby and I were asleep in our bedroom when I awoke suddenly to something swooping above. I instantly knew what it was, as we had a couple of encounters with bats at our old house. I frantically awoke the husband then covered the baby and I in a blanket as he set about trying to kill or capture the thing. As it happens, we captured it, but were then told to kill it.

This is how all bats now look to me-blood thirsty with huge fangs.

You see, if you awake to find a bat in your room, or you find a bat in the room of an unattended child, the proper protocol is to capture the bat and have it taken to the nearest lab to be tested for rabies, because bat bites are so tiny that many times people who have been bitten don't even know that they've been bitten. And the bat has to be dead to be tested because they test the little critters brain. This happened early morning Saturday morning, so we had to call an emergency number which put us in touch with a state trooper who then put us in touch with the on call person at the state hygienic lab. The hygienic lab is an hour and a half away, and wasn't open until eight, when The Husband would be at work, so I roped my poor dad into taking me, the four day old baby and the bat up to the lab in Coralville so we could get it tested right away.

You have to keep the bat cool, but not frozen, so the brain matter stays in tact, so four day old baby, way stressed/strung out/emotional mommy who had no sleep, Grandpa who I had probably woke up on a Saturday, and a bat wrapped in one of those plastic zip covers that come on sheets, pillow cases and the like(we had contained the bat then rolled out the air so the poor thing suffocated) and placed in a bucket of ice, made the trip to the lab and then began the wait for the results.

Rabies is a serious thing you don't wanna mess around with. By the time you realize you have it, you are basically given a death sentence. It is almost always fatal in humans if not treated right away. So if you find a bat and your house, and you aren't one hundred percent certain that it could not have or did not bite you, then you really should have it tested. Call animal control and have them catch it and take it for testing if you do not want to do it yourself. If you find the bat and it somehow gets away, call your doc right away because they may want you to go ahead and start the shots.

If you are totally awake and a bat swoops in, then you can usually open a window and the bat will fly right out. They are sensitive to/attracted to air currents and will typically be immediately drawn to the window.

We lucked out and the bat tested negative. What a relief! The Husband had noticed that he had left the attic entrance slightly ajar, so we figured the bat must have been in the attic and come down at night, looking for a way out to feed. Knew we wouldn't make that mistake again!

And then the HVAC guys finally came to install our new central air and replace our old furnace. It took a week and a half because there was no ductwork at all on the second floor. And they actually aren't really done yet, three months later, as the air upstairs isn't pushing strong enough, so they still need to come back and take care of that. At any rate, there were new holes for vents and duct work all over the house. I was a bit panicked. Sure enough, almost exactly two months to the day later, we ended up with ANOTHER FRACKING BAT! This time, I saw the cat playing with something around the living room fireplace and thought we had a mouse. Only, it sounded too loud to be a mouse. It was midnight, The Husband was working third shift, and I watched the shadowy thing hop as the cat tracked it and batted at it. I finally stood as my eyes were adjusted to the dark, and I noticed it swoop up into the air from straight off the ground. Lights went on all over the downstairs(baby and I were down there as it was HOT upstairs. Kid was upstairs because she wanted to sleep in her bed and didn't care that it was sweaty and uncomfortable up there).

I walked the house, hunting for the bat, but couldn't find it. So I woke The Kid up and made her go downstairs, and she, the baby and I slept on the couch(well, I didn't sleep), until the husband came home from work. He was understandably frustrated and angry and set off to search the house. Luckily, our formerly worthless fur ball saved him a lot of time and pointed him directly towards the bat. She sat in the doorway of our daughter's room and meowed at him, then looked to the wall where the bat was camped out. I heard a loud ruckus, thumping and some swearing, then a few minutes later The Husband appeared with one dead bat wrapped in an old Army hat. Into a plastic zipper bag, then a plastic shoebox it went. The shoebox then went into the refrigerator until a few hours later when we all piled into the car and headed back up to the state hygienic lab with another bat on ice.

NOT our cat. But might as well have been.

Lucky for us, this one came back negative for rabies as well. By this time, I was beside myself. I was not able to sleep upstairs and panicking over the kids every night. I was envisioning rabid, foaming mouthed bats attacking me, every time I closed my eyes! I blamed the holes for the bat, but I wondered why it had been on the floor in the first place, since I knew bats can have a hard time taking off from the ground. As luck had it , The Husband works with a guy who used to rent our house. His family too had had a bat(and possibly ghosts, but that's a whole nother story). He believed that it gained entrance through the fireplace, because when he poked his head up into it, he could see day light, straight up and out.

Now, since we have two fireplaces, you might think those would have been obvious first places for us to check, but we didn't because our home inspector had told us that they were well sealed off. Well let me tell you, he was WRONG buddy. They were not sealed off well. They weren't entirely open, but not closed off completely. Bats can fit through a hole the size of your thumb, so if you want to keep them out, you have to really and truly seal all crack, nooks, crannies and crevasses.

One of our fireplaces has an open hearth at the bottom, but since it is sealed off and painted, it's just decorative at this point. The other has a screen with glass doors attached to it, and you can tell when you peer in, that it had actually been used not too terribly long ago, because the hearth is dirty and sooty and scorched. I had not worried about that fireplace because it has the screen on it. Less than a week after the bat incident, I was sitting in the living room late at night when I heard scuffling in the dining room and the cat making a weird, low meowing noise.  I crept over to that side of the house and could tell something was in the fireplace. It was too darn loud to be a mouse. I turned on the light and all the noise and movement stopped. Pretty sure it was a damned bat.

And I had been so excited to have fireplaces!

"How romantic!" I had told myself.

We've also had a lot of basement trouble. When we first bought the house, there were some torrential rains going on, and the Northern basement of the house(remember, our house used to be a duplex, so there are two separate basements) flooded several times(A window in the kitchen also leaked and needed some emergency caulking). We soon came to realize that part of the problem was the flower bed along that side of the house. There was no down sloping away from the house, and in fact, the flowers actually made a sort of ditch next to the house which did nothing but draw water on down into the basement. Moisture in a basement is always bad, but when you're basement is partially soil, it makes for some serious musty basement stank. The ultimate goal is to pour concrete down there, over the soil patches, but that's gonna have to wait until next year, as we've blown our budget this year on the central air/furnace, new laminate and vinyl( I wasn't about to waste money on nice hardwood yet when The Sharpie Kid writes on anything and everything but paper) floors through most of the house, several hundreds of dollars on lead paint encapsulant for the upstairs and no VOC paint for the whole house, eight new wood core doors to replace all the truly unsalvageable lead paint covered doors upstairs, stain for the back deck, millions of curtain rods and curtains, roof coating for the porch roof, furniture(all used/vintage except for our mattresses), plus a plumber for the basement drain and a new windshield for the Jeep(got a crack somehow). We are tapped out at the moment, so despite still having a hundred projects that need completing, we're going to focus on some small things for now. Like cutting down dead trees in the yard and painting walls with paint we already have.

We did buy some 800 pounds of dirt to fill the "ditch" there on the side of the house. It hasn't really rained yet though, so we haven't been able to assess how much that one act has helped the flood prevention in the basement. We did, however, unearth this pretty little plate in the soil under the flowers!

Before we bought this house, we had planned on waiting a few years and buying a house out in the country so we could grow our own food and have plenty of space to grow our family/business. When we found out that we were expecting another kid, we knew we were going to need a bigger house a bit sooner than we planned. We never really thought we would be able to find one so quickly that would suit our needs, though. We had to make some compromises(we live in town so cannot have chickens and such), but just considered ourselves lucky to get what we could. Imagine our surprise when we discovered this summer, that we had a blackberry bush, a mulberry tree, and a peach, a plum and a cherry tree right on our little piece of property in town!

We didn't get a very big crop of blackberries, because I had no idea that's what they were and therefore didn't trim the bush the way you are supposed to, nor did I water it when I should have, and the birds ate most of our cherries and mulberries, because once again, we didn't know that's what they were, but we did get a freezer full of peaches and plums.

We also had a crop of oriental fruit moths, so the fruit crop wasn't as big as it could have been, but I was excited to get what we did. I have a whole new appreciation for pioneer women, and even women like my grandma, who still picks and cans during summer and fall, because let me tell you, growing your own food and then tending to it is hard work. I can't tell you how many times I got stabbed by the throns of the danged blackberry bush, and the picking/cleaning/cutting up takes forever. BUT, the rewards are worth it. Fresh peach and peach/plum crisp has been a staple at our house this year. Crisps are super easy to convert for dairy free diets. Just replace the butter with Earth Balance spread or coconut oil.

I haven't had a lot of time to sew or embroider, though I did make curtains for the kitchen out of this material.

Embroidering isn't particularly safe to do when you are nursing a squirmy, chunky baby, but I have indulged in a little bit of illustrating at times.

And there has been a little bit of time for thrifting as well.

Five bucks! Now holds throw blankets beside a fireplace.

Five and a half bucks! You may have noticed that I have an obsession...
I have wanted one of these since I was a teen! Now I have one!
So, I think that about sums it up. I'm probably forgetting something. Or forty somethings. That's the parent life for you, eh?
As I type this, The Cupcake Kid is sitting beside me, excitedly shrieking over every photo, "Hey! We have that! We have that!" as if we are looking at catalog pictures instead of pictures of our own stuff.
I just shake my head and laugh in my brain.
If you're still reading this, you deserve a reward. I'm about to go make some gluten free, dairy free banana bread(real bananas!). Want some?
Or, I have some of these left over from a Clever Container party I hosted night before last.

Chocolate dipped pretzels and animal crackers. I host decidedly grown up parties.
And now the baby is mad because he's rolled himself to his belly but cannot roll back to back, so I guess I'd better go help. 
See y'all 'round!
Hopefully before another seven months goes by...

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