Two Great Baby Tips

I had a great idea for a blog: write about three of my best baby tips. But there was a problem, I could only think of two tips. So I didn’t write the blog. But these two tips are too great to keep to myself. Two never-fail, good-advice-in-any-situation tips! Seriously, everybody in the universe who takes care of a baby should use this advice!

Three months old!

Three months old!

1. I remember my mom pinching my tummy in the zipper of my footie pajamas. In high school a friend caught my lip in the zipper of my coat collar. Perilous things these zippers. Here is a way to never zip your baby’s skin in their footie pajamas.

Pinch the zipper handle between your thumb and index finger, thumb on the bottom. Bend your middle finger around the front of the slider. Plant your middle finger pad firmly on the base of the slider. As you slide the zipper up or down, the first joint of your middle finger stays between the zipper and baby’s skin.

I used to only follow this trick while zipping up and I thought my kids would grow to a ripe old age without me ever having zipped them. But just this morning my wiggly toddler got pinched as I was unzipping him. So from now on I’ll be holding the middle finger guide in place both up and down.

2. I was having trouble finding the diaper rash ointment, we call it booty medicine, in my diaper bag and also in the basket where I keep diaper supplies all together in one spot Hint; do this if you haven’t already!). I didn’t want to root around for it, so I’d start the changing without it then when it turned out I did need it, ugh, it was somewhere at the bottom. So eventually I thought, “Why can’t I just keep the wipes and the booty medicine together?”

AHA! I taped the ointment tube to the side of the pack of wipes! It has been working great. Be sure to tape it so the ointment lid opens away from the wipes (mine is a flip top). My wipes got gone faster so I pulled them apart and taped the tube to the new package.

There you go. Actual fantastic ideas. Now go enjoy a slobbery baby kiss! Live is good.

Large Family Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

We all love chocolate chip cookies, but a double batch is too much. Not that we couldn’t put some in the freezer, but that we can’t seem to leave off them till they’re gone. So I decided 50% larger than a typical batch should suit us well. Also my girls prefer the variations written out. I keep them in my head, but they need that space for actors’ bios and Disney lyrics.

My cookie helpers are the greatest!

My cookie helpers are the greatest!

DS21 thinks I suffer from a rare form of ADD that (I’d say enables) me to remember what kind of toothpaste and deodorant each of them prefers, the sizes of their shoes and underwear, you know-“the basics”. He obviously isn’t a parent yet. At any rate, I have a standard chocolate chip recipe in my head, and I modify it to suit most cookie occasions instead of looking up something new. It makes very tasty peanut butter and/or chocolate chocolate chip cookies. (Another variation-leave out the chips. A travesty, I know, but we run out of chips a lot around here, because the *ahem* woman in charge of shopping never buys more than two bags a month and that only when she’s feeling splurgey.)

Larger Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream together 3 cubes soft butter (or 2 cubes butter and 1 cup peanut butter)
3 eggs
3 cups white sugar
½ Tbl vanilla
1 tsp molasses is optional.

Mix together 3 ½ cups flour (or 3 cups flour and 1.2 cup cocoa)
½ Tbl each salt and baking soda

Stir wet and dry ingredients together with a bag of chocolate chips (12oz size or 1 ½ cups if you’re blessed to buy them in bulk.

This recipe has fewer chips than the recipe on the bag. But we usually make a double batch with on e bag of chips-I’m frugal like that. I guess the chocolate chip makers and I have differing motives, hmm? Oh and the baking instructions! I can hear my girls asking already. As, almost, always 350 degrees till done which is approximately 11 minutes for a tablespoon-sized cookie. Enjoy!

Recipe for Tea Cakes

I made these with DS10. My kids love to make roll and cut type of cookies, but I think most sugar cookies taste terrible. These, however were simple, tasted great, and most important for him—they could be shaped. He chose heart-shaped cookie cutters, because “the secret ingredient is always ‘love’, Mom.” These tea cakes had a great texture, too.

The original recipe came from Southern Living 1984. I changed milk to lemon juice and omitted the vanilla. Also, the recipe says chill for hours or overnight. We didn’t do that, because that’s not how we roll, literally. We just squashed the dough flat with our hands and baked them right away. Good times.

    Tea Cakes

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
additional sugar

Cream the top four. Stir in the next two. Use sugar instead of flour when you roll (or flatten) it. Be sure you put them on the baking sheet sugar side up! 350 degrees till edges are golden.

Sharing a Memory

There is a backyard in California where time stands still. I lay down across a giant tractor inner tube and squint up at the bright sunlight shining dappled through the leaves. The grass is green and a bit too long. Odd fences crisscross the yard, remnants of dog breeding attempts. But right now I’m all alone, eating a hot dog with mustard, kicking my bare feet, and channeling my mother.

This yard is the only place she and I have shared, the same place, the same ages. Generations melt away, and I know that we are for once sharing the exact same experience. I hear the traffic driving by that she heard, the same frog sounds in the pond across the narrow dirt lane. I smell the grass and blackberries she smelled, and taste he same French’s mustard. I cold hot dog leaves the same greasy coating on the roofs of our mouths. We feel the sunburn on small spots of our skin where branches let the molten sunlight through. We both avoid scorching hotspots on the dull black tube.

Nothing in my mother’s life paralleled my own except this one summer afternoon in this yard on La Barr Meadows Road. She who married at 16 and finished high school, GED, at 35. Six older siblings and no dad, living always in California with rain and plants growing wild. Me a mom at 30, college graduate, oldest of four, and boy did I have a father in my life. Growing up in deserts, nothing grows by accident or of its own volition. Rain is still a fascination to me now, I’m 41.

And her life wasn’t sunshine, but I got to see her carefree and happy when we shared a sunny afternoon when we were both 12.

Words from the Wise

The wisest eighteen year old I’ve ever known once told a group of rapt listeners, sitting at his feet Socrates style, that being eighteen was a lot like being . . . thirteen. I’d expected him to say seventeen. We anticipate the wisdom which reminds of that we’ve actually only aged another day, not the year children picture passing in the time from midnight till they wake up on their birthday. The disappointment and bewilderment was palpable as the seventeen years olds grappled with the loss of the magical transition they’d anticipated.

My surprise turned to wonder and joy. “He gets it.” I love when they (teenagers) get it, when they get anything. But that was when I was 29. And now I revisit the wisdom to share that 41 is a lot like thirteen too. And I’m a little disappointed and bewildered at the lack of the mysterious transformation I’d been looking forward to.

We gain guru status slowly, haltingly, and sometimes we lose our followers. It’s pretty difficult to be wise enough that everything we say sounds profound all the time. And if the wisdom we spout is tinged with disillusionment, well I don’t blame them for going—it’s a bummer.

But I remember wise people who’ve participated in my life. I have my favorites depending on my moods and my circumstances. I reflect on what they’ve taught me. Once in a while. Today I’ll think of them more and appreciate thinking of them more. I’ve had wisdom shared in my life. Praise the Lord for the good people he’s sent to fascinate me and to impart a bit of what they’ve learned.

When it’s my turn to share a bit with someone, will I have it ready? Will I be in the right place in my mind to dispense the nugget they’ll remember? Or will I be worrying about the way the seam in my sock is rubbing against my toes?

Bedtime Blessings

Baby sleeps in his own bed 2014I have a deep dark secret.

My two youngest kids sleep with me.  Now, I love sleeping with a newborn baby. Is there anything more luxurious than to cuddle up to that soft warmth and that clean baby smell? Listening to their quick steady breath simultaneously relaxes and revitalizes. There is just nothing better.

But. Yes here is the but. Things get problematic as this bundle of joy grows into a cyclone of tossing arms and legs and demands for midnight drinks. And I wake up immobilized in a sweatbox of my own making. DD5 sneaks in every night. Sometimes she doesn’t even wait till I’m in bed. And DS2 has slept with me since he was born. And I still might not mind, but Darling Baby is due in May, and I need space, mobility, and air circulation. I need to make a change.

I’m also hoping that DS2 already having his own bed will lessen any resentment he might feel. So we’ve started rearranging sleeping situations. And tonight is night one of operation Empty My Bed Before the New Baby Comes. So far, as you can see from the picture, so good.

I’m cautiously optimistic. DD8 and DD5 are crashed downstairs in the “girls’ room.” I’m not taking wagers on them making it through the night. But sometimes we moms have to take the win that we get. I’m off now to celebrate my roomy bed with some much-needed sleep. Good night.

What’s Stopping You?

Our little local museum has a fun "please touch" table. That and the caboose are always highlights.

Our little local museum has a fun “please touch” table. That and the caboose are always highlights.

Sometimes I don’t do things I should. Now that I’m an adult I report to myself quite a bit of the time. This makes it easy to slack off. So what’s a woman to do when she’d like get back on track? Stand by for truly profound and life-altering advice:
Do a little bit.
I know. It’s astonishing. But it really can be that simple if you let it.
I have fallen into a trap of indecision paralysis. You might be familiar, you can’t quite decide what would be best so you do nothing. I’m also prone to over-whelmed paralysis: where a task seems so daunting that I plain flat don’t start it.
And once you procrastinate something, it becomes a big, fat, hairy deal. But the opposite is also true. Take your first bite out of the task before and you’ll likely discover it wasn’t as bad as you’d told yourself on the sleepless, worried nights.
Take our family for example: We’ve got the homeschool year underway, I’ve done some of the “get ready for winter” list, mostly wardrobe related, and I am sort of semi-prepared for this month’s pack meeting tomorrow. Yay, me! What was I worried about?

Alright, next time we feel our steps slow with dread, we’ll take heart. Remember (Mary Poppins was it?) “well-begun is half done.” And half-way done is a good start on any project!