Friday, October 31, 2008

These Things are Good Things

They have come here to play.

They will give you some fun on this wet, wet, wet, day.

Or whatever kind of weather you're having . . . actually it's dry and warm here.

D1 and D2's costumes are confusing to illiterate people, but true Cat in the Hat afficionados will recognize them.

I am the mother, of course.

By the way, D3 and D4 do look awfully alike in these shirts. We had to switch D4 to a two-pom-pom hat so we could tell which baby we were holding at a glance.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things You Can Learn from YouTube

A couple of months ago DOB determined that his ankles had reached the point that riding an exercise bike was no longer possible. This meant it was time to bite the bullet and get a gym membership so he could swim. (Without some form of aerobic exercise his general health deteriorates very quickly.)

There was one problem with this: He didn't know how to swim. In fact, up until a few years ago, he didn't even have enough non-bone-mass in his body to float. Several years of diligent feeding on my part have helped him somewhat, but it's still not easy. And the gym doesn't offer lessons.

This, of course, is no barrier to DOB if he has it in mind to do something. We hunted up some YouTube videos and a Dorling Kindersley book. (You can find those on any topic.) The YouTube videos were not entirely clear, though--one had good photo quality but all the instructions were in Japanese, another one was evidently done in someone's backyard by a bunch of junior highers. And books don't make motion clear.

The library has some videos of a college swim coach giving instructions; the video quality is terrible but the swimming instruction is pretty clear. So with these and a lot of experimentation, he is finally able to move forward. Literally.

I've been trying to figure out something from online videos, too: how to wear a baby on my back. There's usually a couple of fifteen-minute segments in a day where one baby is happy sleeping, playing on the floor, or being held by someone else, but the other baby is antsy though not currently in need of food. If I can get them up on my back quickly, I can use those fifteen minutes to make some serious progress in the dishes/meals/laundry departments.

After not making progress for some time, I asked for a demonstration from the Nigerian lady at church. She grabbed the handiest baby and a blanket off the nursery floor and had him on her back in no time, the blanket tucked in casually in front. "Now you're ready to go search for water!" she said. (Actually she now works to dig wells so that Nigerian women don't have to walk miles to search for water.) I could see that my problem was not so much a lack of theoretical knowledge or proper materials as a lack of having done this regularly since the age of ten.

But with a little practice and finally finding a video of a method that seems to be within my mechanical abilities, I'm finally making it work.

And the ducklings should not have any difficulty when they have kids. They already have it down with any handy blanket:

Updated to add: I hope an old post is OK to enter the Adventures in Babywearing drawing for the Noony & Boo sling. This picture is just too perfect!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wearable Blankets

When our thermometer suddenly jumped into the fall zone, I realized the babies did not have warm enough sleeping arrangements. Tucking in a blanket was not going to work with two in the bed. They make these, of course, but I wasn't about to spend $40 on those when I can hardly take a step without tripping on a pile of blankets. (We used to go to a church where all the old ladies crocheted. D1 received a lot of blankets. And then D2 got some more. Mostly they have been used for dress-up.)

Instead, I figured out how to convert two of their existing blankets and some fleece scraps into homemade sleep sacks. Deducting the time for figuring out what I was doing, hunting up thread, oiling the sewing machine (which hadn't been done in years and I hope machine oil is all the same because all I could find was the oil for the hair clippers), and making mistakes, it's probably about a ten minute project.

One 36" square double-thickness cotton knit blanket
Two lengths of fleece, about 3" by 7". Make sure these are cut along the length of the fleece, so that the stretch is sideways--otherwise they'll stretch out of shape before you've got them on the baby. You might want to experiment to see how snug you want them to be.


Fold the blanket in half, right side out. Pin the right side of the fleece scraps to the wrong side of the blanket to form shoulder straps. Sew.

Turn the blanket inside out, and sew just up the side. The blanket is long enough and snug enough that they aren't able to kick out of it. (And D4 tries, oh, he tries.) But with the bottom open, you can slide it up to change the diaper if needed in the night.

To put it on the baby, just slide the baby in the top and slip the shoulder straps over their arms.

I put a zipper in the first model, and quickly realized it was completely unnecessary. If you do want a zipper, put the shoulder straps on either side of it so that it's down the middle where it might actually help.

We've been using these the rest of the week, and the babies have stayed nice and warm and sleepy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Random Pictures and Quotes

This is D2's first piano recital. I didn't know he knew how to play, but at a Suzuki recital I'm not sure you need to know anything more than how to bow. D1 has been going to them for a couple of years and you can see she has the bounce down. I'm still meaning to get to one someday . . . right now they go with Grandma and sometimes Papa.

D1 said on the way to church the other morning, "Today we are going to be very have in church."

We started Little House in the Big Woods last week and D1 and D2 were inspired to go chop down all the trees in our neighborhood.

D3 would like people to note that she can roll over, too, she just doesn't like to do it very often.

We are getting to wear those long-sleeved outfits after all. It was a high of 80 a week ago, a high of 57 today.


Ever had the sort of a day where you have fifteen things to do involving five different people and/or locations and some things have to happen before other things and some things take a long time to do and some are more important and you can't figure out which to start first? (For me, that's a trip to the back yard. Or fixing supper.)

Mathematicians have devoted some thought to this kind of a problem, asking, Is there a quick way to figure out the best way to arrange the tasks? For example, what if you always did the most important job first, or the one that took the longest, or the one with the most other things dependent on it?

So far, the answer has been there is no easy way to find the plan that will get you through all the tasks in the most efficient way. (And that's without adding the random-stinky-diaper variable.) You could, of course, write down all the different ways to do the jobs and then pick out which one worked the best, but that's not very fast.

Until the mathematicians figure it out, the moral is that it's probably faster to just start working on things in an inefficient order and get it done rather than sitting around pondering what order to do it in. Otherwise you'll end up like this.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Just what I need

Another blog! And a big new project! I can't help myself. I like big new projects. And new blogs.

Anyway, the time seems to have come to start taking seriously the prospect of growing food in our backyard. It saves money. It's educational. It gives us all something to do outside. It's fun. My Garden Grows will document our garden plans, problems, and produce, along with efforts to identify the plants in our backyard, book reviews of garden-related books, and whatever else seems to fit.

By the way, I'm getting addicted to Wordpress as a blog host. Who knew you could do all that stuff so easily? I hate changing addresses, though. Sigh.

Friday, October 17, 2008


D3 has, quite on her own, started sleeping 10 hours at night. D4 wakes up once in that time for a quick snack. Last night I set them both down in their bed at 9:30, and they smiled, looked around at the world, kicked each other happily for awhile, and fell asleep without a whimper. And they're still asleep.

(I have had enough children to know that this is no guarantee of all future nights being uninterrupted, but it is a pretty good start.)

So why do I sit here, bleary-eyed?

Because I don't know how to sleep through the night anymore. I still wake up at 2 a.m., and without nursing enough babies, I can't seem to get back to sleep. Ever.

This happened with D2, too, although he was 15 months before he started sleeping through the night. DOB suggests I could keep waking them up, but I have to go through this sooner or later and I might as well do it sooner if they want to sleep now.

I hope I don't have to cry it out. That always wakes up DOB . . .

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't Quote Me

The mental equivalent of an itch you can't scratch is a quote you can't place.

Worse yet, a quote you can't remember.

I had one of those running through my head on Sunday. Something about "though much is . . . something . . . much remains."

This is why Google was invented, of course. Only Google is not very helpful when you can't remember the quote. I turned up a handful of vague references of other people who couldn't quite remember the quote either. Just enough to learn that the quote was from a poem by Tennyson and the missing word was "taken."

Well, that ought to have helped, except that Tennyson wrote an awful lot of poems and I had to get lunch on and didn't have time to go through the Complete Works. A search of those complete works turned up nothing.

This suggested that I had the wrong words, but if I didn't have the right words, I couldn't well search for it, could I? The only word I was quite sure of was "much" and that doesn't narrow things down very far.

I kept muddling down for awhile until I discovered the poem was about Ulysses, and finally I found the poem itself. It wasn't remains, it was abides, and "though" isn't spelled out. And Ulysses is exhorting his comrades to achieve even in old age.

Come, my friends,
Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

These musings on age have, of course, absolutely nothing to do with turning thirty in six weeks. It was just a random quote.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I think I finally have gotten into poison ivy. (Poison ivy doesn't grow in the Puget Sound region, so I had no chance to be exposed in childhood.) The older ducklings and I walked right into it in our bare feet Saturday night. (And I had been watching, too! I just looked up for a second!) I wiped all our feet down as soon as I could with baby wipes, but I still have a spot on my big toe that I think I missed. At least, it itches differently than mosquito bites, and I have good standard of comparison, because I got four mosquito bites on the other foot.

I can't wait for first frost. The mosquitoes are plotting to take over.

You say "market volatility" I say, "DOB's going to be home late again." He's busy explaining to people that it's buy low, sell high, not the other way around, and if you're in for the long haul this doesn't matter unless you really think the entire US economic system is going to unravel, in which case you have much, much bigger worries than your 401(k), so stop calling him already. He probably doesn't say it quite like that, though.

We weighed the babies yesterday, so the official tally for 3 months is: D3, 15 lbs., D4 13.5 lbs. They're hardly even going to get to wear their long-sleeved 3-6 month outfits, which now barely snap. We shall have to lower the floor in the co-sleeper soon, as it has a weight limit of 30 lbs. on the bed-height level. And am I ever going to miss that. Unless D4 decides to start sleeping through the night . . . or at least until four in the morning when D3 wakes up . . . (hint, hint).

I guess he needs to keep well-stocked to maintain his level of activity. Yesterday he almost managed to squeeze through the bars on the patio and fall into the flowerbed. Thanks to D2's exclamation I fished him back out in the nick of time.

It ought to be a 50% chance. So why does it seem little kids always get their clothes on backwards?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Two Duckling Moments

I was in the middle of a writing lesson with the uncles this week, working on choosing thesis statements for a research paper.

Suddenly D2 marched into the living room carrying a plastic stool.

"I need to look at the sky," he said. He set the stool down, climbed on top, and stared upwards for a moment.

Then he climbed down. "I'm done now."

The older ducklings like to play Sunday School when we're outside. D1 was running through a list of simplified catechism questions: Who made you? Why did God make all things? etc. and supplying the answers.

Then she got to, "Who wrote the Bible?"

The answer: "Moses and History."

You know, because we have the books of Moses and then the books of History. Prolific writer, that History. Almost as busy as Anonymous.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Weekly Dose of Cute

We have all (except me, as far as I can tell) had bad colds this past week. If there's one thing more sleep-depriving than one sick baby, it's two sick babies. Fortunately they are past the stage of being unable to breathe at night and are just a little snuffly now. And just as wiggly as ever.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Things I Don't Get

Video clip help files. When I want help, I want to know the single answer to a single question. Words. Give me words. I don't want to watch a video of a cursor moseying around the screen.

The reverse-shotgun-wedding. I overheard a mother (very loudly) commenting that she and her husband were going to be incidentally announcing their marriage at their twins' first birthday party. Apparently they had been planning on getting married when she discovered she was pregnant, so they immediately scrapped all wedding plans (with their pastor's endorsement) and just went on living together until the babies had been around for awhile. Because somehow having a baby (or two) makes it NOT ok to get married anymore. At least not until you have proved you can do without it.

Naps. OK, sometimes I do. And that's where I should go now . . .