Thursday, January 28, 2010

Charlotte's Weekday!

She's eight weeks old today! Well, at 6:26pm. At this exact time eight weeks ago I was still in labor, sleeping, to be exact. I slept a solid four hours during labor and woke up just a few hours from being fully dilated. It was so easy, the labor. I guess it was easy and then all the pain paid in full during delivery. Completely worth it though and I'd do it again. In fact, if we miraculously spontaneously conceive, which is the only way we decided to have another, we'd have another unmedicated home birth.

I'll save the reminiscing for her second monthday next week.

I've decided to add a new section to my site, baby blankets made from silk and other natural fibers with 100% of the net proceeds going to the birthing center our beloved midwife owns via Mother's Choice Foundation. Good idea, I think. Will also make a section in my etsy store for this. MCF is very important to me. I really want to help enable other mothers to be able to have homebirths and birth center births rather than be forced into hospitals because their insurance won't cover anything else.

Charlotte's twin

Sometimes, out of the blue, I suddenly feel a clenching around my heart and feel very sad about losing Charlotte's twin. It's quite something to see two heartbeats on an ultrasound, and then to only see one living baby heartbeat and one dead baby without one, and then to worry about losing the living one. I'm grateful to have Charlotte. So many people never succeed in having one. But I can't help but wish her sister survived. She was the fifth on a string of losses (plus another one a decade ago). I don't know why this one loss hits me harder than the rest.

Charlotte is the one on the right. This was the only time both were visible on the probe at the same time. Other than this, it's separate pictures of each. Her sister is on the left.



I'm just e-screaming from the rooftops right now to try getting it out of my system so I can sleep.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The iPad

I have decided the 16GB is the light pad, the 32GB is the regular pad, and the 64GB is the overnight pad. The one with wifi is without wings, and the one with 3G is with wings. :-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LOLCats

Some really cute LOLCats, and a very touching one at the end.



















Monday, January 25, 2010

*happy dance*

We got W-2s!! I get excited over tax-time. I itemize the hell out of taxes. Can I give a plug to TurboTax? That program walks you through everything and holds your hand, then checks for errors and potential audit-trippers, and then files for you How many people know that you can deduct either sales tax or state and local taxes from your federal return? Yup. It's awesome.

We're getting back almost 3x what we were expecting. Wow, babies are worth a LOT on taxes. Kind of sad that she's worth the same on taxes as a baby born the 1st of January that the parents had to pay for all year. But them's the breaks, and I'm not going to not claim her what with all the medical expenses (also worth something as write-offs) that we had last year. Insurance only covered a third of the IVF stuff by all was said and done. That Follistim was $270 per vial, and a dose per vial. So yes, we're writing her off, writing everything off. Don't tell me you wouldn't do the same.

Part's going into savings, part's going to a second car. We're looking at getting a BMW, paying in full. Homey don't do debt.

I loved my BMW and would really love another one. My stupid fault forgetting the serpentine belt needing replacing until it snapped and I tried hobbling the car home, warping the head in the process. Ouch...bye-bye to the engine and car. A 4dr vehicle would e nice again, a lot easier to get the carseat into and out of than a 2dr. We love the convertible, but I'd feel safer driving Charlotte in a hard-top car. We'll probably sell the convertible (anyone want a Sebring?) and put that money toward a small SUV that can also fit the dogs since we love taking them places with us.

Regardless, half the refund is being saved, and what car we'll get exactly will depend on what we can do on the other half, and the car after will depend on what we get for the Sebring plus whatever cash we have left at the end of each month after rent, bills, etc.. I really hate debt and refuse to use it.

I'm so relieved to finally be in a better position than we were in August and September when things were so tight that we weren't sure how to go about making sure we had enough to eat (I'm still bitter about Cody's old managers fucking us over as hard as they did). It's nice not worrying so much (I'll worry no matter what), and actually having money in savings, even before this. With how much more will be coming in every month now, 20% more, that will ALL be going into savings, as well as all money made from sewing (just got another wedding gown order for a bride currently in Israel). I can't wait ti be moved and have my sewing room back together. I've got two dresses I will have done by the middle of February (well, I'll make sure it's not too early since they're dresses for a little girl for spring), and then start the mock-up of the corset for the wedding gown. Plenty of time. Baby-grandma wll probably be over daily to give me a bit of a reprieve too.

Life's definitely getting better and lighter. This tax stuff just helps.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I've got the song Comedy Tonight in my head for some reason.

Read this!

Cody's going to write a book about us, and this is about a dream he had the other night. When he was recounting it to me I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes.

I remember which night this dream was too!

Now off to make a peanut butter and honey sandwich for a late night snack and then to sleep. We're finishing up moving my sewing room to the new place and painting Charlotte's room tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bad day :( I'm the worst mom ever too.

You know that quick blindness you get when you stand up too fast and get light-headed, how things go dark, then clear right back up? I was emptying the dishwasher (I'm actually glad our new place doesn't have one - dishwashers make me lazy whereas hand-washing happens right away, so thing stay neater) and stood up and my left eye, only my left eye, did that, but I wasn't light-headed. And the darkness didn't clear up for a while. So I spent half my day half-blind, and it distracted me. Then my vision came back. Perfect timing...

Just as vision was returning, I noticed Charlotte flailing her right arm on the bed beside me, in a semi-distressed fashion. I saw an iPhone cable (same color as the sheets beneath her) on her neck and went to pull it off and it was AROUND her neck!! Cables are never allowed near her unless it's something like I'm holding her and the computer is propped on my knees plugged in. And yet one ended up around her neck. I don't know how the cable got on the bed near her, but it did, and I was the one home, so I nearly killed her. So I'm extremely upset still and will be beating myself up probably forever. Thankfully it wasn't tight at all, but that doesn't matter. It was there. Period.

We got her social security card in the mail today too. It's funny that her name is long enough to not fit on one line. So now we have her birth certificate and her social security card. I have two birth certificates with different names on them. I don't know which is the truly valid one. Only one is actually signed by my mom and the doctor. The other has the signature part typed in. So who knows. I wonder if that has something to do with why I was denied twice for a passport. One of these days I'll head to Sacramento and get it figured out presuming I don't go insane for accidentally killing my baby. :(

She is so precious to me, and it's excruciating being away from her for more than a few minutes. I've been away from her once for a little over three hours, while waiting for my wisdom teeth to come out, once for an hour and a half or so when I went to get Cody's prescription filled after his tonsillectomy (Charlotte was frantic while I was gone), and otherwise, she took a bath with her daddy a couple times, and he's held her while I drew baths to take with her, and I've quickly showered alone to wash my hair, and I checked the mail once. Aside from these times, I've been right by her every moment of her life. She's laying against my chest right now the computer on my lap.

We worked too hard and hoped so much for her that I can't stand the thought of letting any time go by without her. I'm okay with her in her bouncer while I'm doing stuff since I can see her and she can see me and knows I'm there. Already I feel like each day is a day lost that I can't get back, another day older. She'll be seven whole weeks old in 48 more hours.

Something she does that's just adorable, aside from everything (she looks so proud of herself when she poos and so surprised when she spits up that the looks on her face make those times cute too) is, sometimes when she's nursing, she'll stop, look at me, pull back a little bit, and give me a great big gummy grin. Then she'll put her mouth back on Le Boob, but still be smiling. Well she can't quite get any suction when her mouth is open smiling, so it looks very much like her face is saying, "This? It's mine. Not yours. And this is the proof it's mine, Woman!"

What I hate are the three times she's cried and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. She'll be fed, clean, dry diaper, no hairs wrapped around her fingers, not cold or hot, nothing that can be figured out. But she'll cry and cry and have tears in her eyes and I feel like I'm failing her because she depends on us, but more on me since I'm home with her and nurse her, and I can't figure out what's wrong. Babies don't cry to be annoying little manipulative shits the way older kids sometimes do. They cry because something's wrong, they hurt or feel uncomfortable or something. And I don't want her to feel hurt or uncomfortable.

When she's older she'll benefit from experiencing not always having her own way, or from knowing what discomfort is (it's easier to appreciate having things and comfort when knowing what the opposite is like), but she's too little to understand that. All she knows is that Mommy's not making it better. I want her to trust that I can, and will, but how can she learn that when she has times when I can't? It's heartbreaking knowing I'm failing her at those times and teaching her she can't always trust me, and then I hate myself, though I've never hated myself more than when I realized that the cable was wrapped around her neck.

I can't imagine not having this little sweet pea, this little booger. Something would be missing. She's everything.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Am I the only one...

...pissed that we (the US) supposedly can't afford to spend ANY money making sure our poor and sick can see doctors when desperately needed, yet we can pull millions upon millions out of the budget to send to Haiti? Don't get me wrong, the Haitians didn't deserve this quake and everything that's happening now, and I'm glad that people are voluntarily giving (as we are), and I'd be on the first plane there if I could be to help in what ways I could in person, even if it was just to hug someone who was crying (the car was packed for me and mom - she's a nurse - to drive to help during Katrina until the government issued a statement for people not to do that), but I've got a big problem with politicians claiming we can afford money where when there was supposedly none to spare just days ago, and that even our poorest citizens are having to pay for it.

It seems very cruel to tell someone who is hungry, sick, and cold, "We won't help you see a doctor so you can get better so you can work full-time and even get a better job, and we won't help you get food so you can eat once a day, but we're going to make you give money to help others get medical care and have food, even though you can't afford to eat something every day yourself." Taking the food money from one starving person to give to someone else is just plain mean.

I know it's hard for some to believe that there can be such poverty in America, but there is. People on TV and online, the people who make up the vast majority of those that we (meaning me and anyone who has an ability - the internet and a computer - encounter, really are privileged. There are millions upon millions of people in this country who are basically invisible, many because they are too poor to have a way to get online, and so their voices aren't heard on the internet, others because they are too ashamed to admit to being so poor. Yet the working among them have to pay taxes just like everyone else with jobs, and so have to pay for others to have what they can't.

Not every poor person qualifies for any aid either. If you're not disabled and are over 18 and under senior age, you're not going to qualify for Medi-Cal/Medicaid. You're not going to qualify or housing unless you've got a child, and even then the list is so long that it only opens for a week or two per year, literally, and having your name finally top the list can take years. There are working families and working adults without kids who live in tents and eat whatever they can get from a church or food kitchen, when there's food to be had, and the extent of their medical care is being stabilized in an ER and sent on their way with a prescription thy can't afford to have filled and no access to follow-up care. Yet these people pay for others to have aid.

I know what it's like to be homeless and hungry and to have nothing to eat for days on end, and to be so cold I'm worried I'm going to lose some toes. Just remembering the latter half of 2005 makes me feel sick and panic that it's going to happen again tomorrow. I hid how bad it really was from my friends out of shame and not wanting pity. Christmas is actually a reminder because it's still so vivid in my mind remembering saving up so I could get something to eat that day, only to find that the Jack in the Box that was supposed to be open was instead closed, so I had to still be hungry that day. It hurt knowing that there was no help available to me, yet knowing the taxes I'd paid went to others, and knowing I was invisible as far as the government was concerned. This is why I panic when money gets tight now, and why the first months after moving here were so hard for me (we were so tight on money that we couldn't afford food without Cody's parents help, and were trying to decide which utilities to cut to avoid asking for more help, stupid fucking Palo Alto Apple screwing us over...I'll never forgive his old managers for what they did and what their actions, or inactions, as the case was, put us through, though I am extremely grateful to his current managers for going to bat for him to try righting the wrongs and salary loss caused by the Palo Alto fuckers, which is why we're financially all right now). The memories of this.

There are many people right now in that position, and many more who have jobs and pay taxes, yet are still homeless, hungry, and won't get help. They still have to pay to help others. And we're telling those people that we don't have the money to help them. We don't have the money for health care so the sick among them can get well and strong again so that they can better their own lives, which would actually enable them to work more and have better-paying jobs which would result in more taxes being paid by these people. Win-win! But no, there's no money to help them while there is somehow money, being paid in part by these people, to help others.

I'm in favor of aid going to Haiti and other countries who need it, but I'm in favor of that aid coming from people who can afford to give it. As disasters have shown time and again, Americans who have something to give dig deep to give it. When people don't have to give, they give more than would have been taken via taxes if it weren't required. Taking from those who are already doing without basics to give to others is just wrong and hurtful to them. And it's even worse to claim that there is absolutely no money to help them, yet to turn around and have there magically be money, from their pockets, to help others.

If there is money to help Haiti and other countries when disaster strikes, then there fucking damned well is money for things like universal health care. Ironically I'm seeing a lot of people who are against universal health care ("it's not a right," "it'll raise taxes," etc) who are 100% in support of our government sending money to other countries (because it somehow is now a right and who care about the taxes and in fact, here's some more money voluntarily given!). I don't get this.

Money should first go to help those who pay it have their basic needs met, and what's left over s what should go to help others. Money that is voluntarily given should go to help whoever the money was given to help (remember Katrina, and people gave so much money to the Red Cross to help Katrina victims, and then the RC turned around and said it was going to be spent how on on whom they decided it should be spent on, regardless of who it was given to help?).

I'm very sad for the Haitians who are suffering right now, but I'm sadder for the Americans who are suffering in the same way, who are cold and starving and sick, but are told that, as a bit of salt on their own wounds, that they have to pay to help the Haitians when they need the money they have to pay. It's that little extra kick to people who are down to tell them they don't matter when it comes to getting help, but they have to pay.

Cody and I do what we can. We donate money to the Red Cross (despite Katrina) and other causes and organizations, and Haiti gets our help to, but we are in a position where a few bucks isn't going to make us have to go without dinner tonight. There are people who have to go without, and I'm livid on their behalf that there's supposedly no money to help them.

Also all those countries that claim that the US never does anything can shut the fuck right up. As always, the majority of the up front cost will be borne by America, and the long-term costs will be entirely on us. Our up-front "contribution" is $100mil to China's paltry $1mil (they've got countless trillions in reserves and somehow can't afford to treat the workers there with any decency). We're the ones spearheading the relief efforts. We always are. The worst reason I've read today that we should be the ones to supply most of the aid to Haiti is that we're the closest country. No we aren't, but that's beside the point.

I don't care if this post makes me sound heartless. Naturally someone will read this and will overlook that I'm in full favor of aid to Haiti from those who can afford to give it and choose to do so. I just strongly believe that, if we can afford money for Haiti like it's pocket change, then we can afford money for universal health care. And I strongly believe that those who have to do without basics should absolutely not be forced to buy those basics for anyone else. Just the thought of someone telling me I had to give that $6 on Christmas 2005 to feed someone else when I literally hadn't had a single bite to eat, and nothing more than water to drink, in a few days, makes me want to cry and smash a chair through the window. I just can't believe we do that in this country. We tell starving people just that. And we're doing it again under the guise of "charity."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One of those anxiety days

I haven't been so successful at distracting myself today from an anxiety attack. I'm still feeling it pretty bad. Often I try to ignore them, but a not usually so successful.

What they feel like for me is the world is closing in and collapsing around me, like I'm in a room with the walls and ceiling all coming closer to crush me and nothing good will ever happen again. It's hard, physically, to breathe, and all I want to do is curl up into a ball in a corner and cry. I don't feel safe during these attacks. I feel like he world is going to take away anything that means anything to me, and then crush me to death. When it gets severe enough, I start having seizures, but at least they're not grand mals, and I usually have cues that they're coming on. The seizures last from minutes to an hour or more. Only one has been life-threatening. That one was in 2005, and I stopped breathing and had to go to the ER via ambulance.

Sometimes this lasts a day, sometimes a few days, and it happens anywhere from once a week to once a month, and it makes me feel so weak and powerless and ashamed at not being able to handle even minor things. Therapy hasn't helped. Medication hasn't helped. The only thing I've found since this has started is Cody and/or the dogs being with me. Even if I'm not aware, though sometimes I am, just a soothing voice or the dogs laying next to me help pull me out of them. If caught early enough, then Cody holding me or the dogs cuddling next to me can sometimes relax me enough to stop it.

This is part of why I really prefer not to travel, or to have a place to "escape" when I do. Last April, when we came down here to visit I had an attack bad enough that we had to stay an extra day (and Cody's dad awesomely bought our plane tickets for the next day). I feel safest in a dark room that's quiet when this happens.

It's really a miserable feeling, and can be debilitating at times.

Today, when this was happening while Cody was at work, it helped when Charlotte looked up at me with big ol' baby grins and bright blue eyes. I don't doubt that yet another move is probably contributing to my anxiety right now. It would probably help a lot to move stuff ahead of the 1st in stages. We've got access to the house right now, and I'd like to head over there Saturday to paint Charlotte's room (not like we'll be putting her in there for a while!). Just small baby-steps.

A lil'bit of everything!

Yesterday my cousin was induced, and ended up in an emergency c-section. With each contraction the baby's heart stopped. Not so good. But all ended up fine. :) I'm so thrilled for Amanda I can't stand it.

So there are not 10 in this generation of babies. Hard to believe I'm the oldest grandchild and my baby is the ninth great-grandchild. Makes me feel kind of old. but I'm thrilled Amanda's baby has an obscure Star Wars name. Heh, out dog, Luthien, has an obscure Lord of the Rings name. Geek-love!!

So here is little Alema, weighing in at 6lb13oz and 21"!



(I specifically asked Amanda if I could post Alema's picture to my blog, and she gave permission - I won't post pics of other people's kids that aren't already publicly posted without permission.)

I'm going to make Alema a dress, though not newborn size. Everyone under the sun buys babies newborn and 0-3mo stuff. How do I know? I was gifted so much newborn and 0-3 stuff that Charlotte outgrew the newborn sizes without getting to wear everything even once, and is on the way to doing the same thing with the 0-3mo. She can still wear a few things that don't have feet, but anything footed, and even some other things, she just can't wear anymore. So something purple, and probably for closer to a year. And a stocking. In purple for both, since that's Amanda's favorite color (mine too, woot!). Purple velvet for the stocking with rabbit fur trim, maybe purple velvet for the dress too, I haven't decided. So a couple more things to add to my agenda, which can be seen here.

We've decided we're going to Disneyland for Charlotte's 3rd-month birthday...if we can find one other person (or more!) to go with us. Even if we can't, we may still go. An awesome thing about living in Southern California is that the cost of yearly passes s broken down into 12 monthly payments, so as little as $8 a month, which is pretty damned awesome, especially considering Disneyland is something like 45 minutes away. Charlotte needs to meet Mickey and all of the Disney characters, or at least people dressed like them. :)

Monday Charlotte and I modeled for the strap-thing I mentioned. Modeling doesn't equal a guarantee of being in ads, but still, it was fun. She's very photogenic.

Yesterday I picked out my glasses. They're just for driving. There's a range where things are slightly blurry, before and after which my vision is sharp. It's odd. So I'll be a four-eyes again for a while. Haven't been since I was in sixth grade. I'll have to get pictures, if I ever get around to it. I still need to get pictures of my hair. Last week I had it done, so now it's shorter. First time in almost three full years I've let scissors near my hair.

Last night I had a consultation wit a couple getting married in July regarding her wedding dress. I'm about 95% certain I've got the order. I love making wedding dresses so much! This one would be a combination of two dresses from the film version of Phantom of the Opera. I hate that film with a passion and am squicked that they cast a teenager in the role of Christine having her be rather intimate with an almost-middle-aged man (if they weren't on a set, that would be illegal), and the acting sucked, and the singing left much to be desired, but the costumes were beautiful. Now the stage version of Phantom I love, have seen multiple times, and have listened to the soundtrack enough times to have every single line in the entire thing memorized.

I'm getting off topic in a post that pretty much has no topic. Anyway this may bring my total of wedding dresses this year to three. I love sewing, and I love sewing things for special events even more, and I love sewing for weddings most of all! It's such an honor to sew or what is planned to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, to have something I made take such an important role in that day. It's a wonderful feeling.

Also am I the only one bothered that this country supposedly can't spare any money to make sure all our citizens have access to basic health care, yet we can spare at least $100mil to send to Haiti? What really burns me is how many people here in the US can't afford to see a doctor, yet have to pay taxes so other people can. I can't stand forcing people to pay for others to have the basics they can't even afford for themselves. I'm still pretty pissed that the public option was struck down. Anyone who says it would drive up costs in the private sector is parroting right-wing agenda. A lower-priced option would force the private sector to lower costs to compete, and force hospitals to lower some of its insane rates. I still remember a hospital bill of mine from 2000 showing the price of a Tylenol, a regular ol' Tylenol, at $7. So...$7,000 for a bottle of 100 Tylenol. I understand there are costs for paying the nurses who administer it and other hospital overhead, but $7,000 is what a bottle of Tylenol costs? No frakking way.

Oh, and Pat Robertson is an f'ing moron. Yeah, Haiti really had a pact with Satan earning them this earthquake just like Fred Phelps' claim that "god hates fags".

Sometimes I hate people, but them I think about Cody's hugs and Charlotte's toothless grins, and all's somehow right in my world again. You know, if I could wave a magic wand and made it so that Charlotte never had to experience anything bad or see anything awful in the world, I wouldn't do it. It's impossible to appreciate what one has if one doesn't have the opposite experiences and observations for comparison. Nick taught me that, and he is right.

Six weeks!

In about 17 hours Charlotte will be a full six weeks old. I can't believe it's been so long. These last six weeks have been the best of my life. There's been a couple sleepless nights, but only a couple. Every other night has been surprisingly restful. I sleep well not so deeply though that I don't hear her stir at night. I'm aware of where she is, and so don't worry about her suffocating. When she's hungry, her smacky sounds wake me and I pull her to me and help her find a nipple and she nurses and we both fall asleep. The last few nights she's started finding one on her own, and I only wake up if her nails poke me. When she needs a diaper change, Cody gets up and does that, acknowledging that it's enough for me to be up to nurse.

There've been I think three times now when she's had days that she's cried for what seems like no reason, or at least no reason we could find. Hours of crying. I suspect one of those times was due to her wanting to nurse for comfort and becoming painfully full, then wanting to nurse to feel better, making it all worse. One of the times was when I went to the store to get Cody's pain med filled after his surgery, and Charlotte went crazy without me there. The other time I recall she was beside herself all day, and we were starting to worry something was wrong, seriously wrong. Just as we were getting ready to take her to the ER, after literally a solid 12 hours (she also hadn't had a pooey diaper in over two days, and my nightmare is something happening to her large intestine like how mine went bad and had to be taken out), she suddenly stopped. We decided we'd wait and go the second she started again. She didn't.

Otherwise she doesn't even cry every day. Some days there's not a single cry or whine. We do our best to notice the cues that she needs to eat or has a wet or dirty diaper. Some days she'll let out the beginning of a wail, then stop as soon as she sees us going to her. Many days though there's nothing. She's almost always attached to one of us, so we notice right away and tend to her needs.

She's incredibly alert. That's something almost everyone who's met her, even strangers, have commented on. She doesn't just randomly look unseeingly. She focuses on people near and far, and will watch the object of her attention move about. She'll watch herself in the mirror, even if we turn with her. She'll turn her head and eyes to watch herself and give a huge baby grin. I swear she tries talking to us sometimes. She's vocalize sometimes when she needs her diaper changed or is hungry. She'll open her mouth and move it like she's trying to form words, and use her voice. If it weren't for a couple strangers commenting on how it seems like she's trying to talk, I'd wonder if it wasn't just me and her family seeing something that's not happening. She's blasting through milestones at an alarming rate, not only the mental ones and ones like vocalizing as she is, but physically.

She's able to hold her head up very well and turn it side to side. When held above out heads, she can hold her own head up and turn it. When aid on her stomach, she can push up with her arms and s starting to do the same a little with her legs. When held up and her feet are on a surface, like out legs or the carpet, she is starting to be able to support herself slightly, though I don't know if this is good for her just yet or if her bones need to solidify some more.

One the one hand, it would be nice to brag about a child being so gifted, if she is. On the other hand, we don't want her to be one of those children so ahead of the curve that she has a hard time making friends. I was that child in school, and I hated it with a fierce passion and was certifiably depressed by third grade and responded partly by taking it out on my body and by throwing my grades. We want her to get to be a normal, happy child, not one who sticks out in a way she may not want. But we're also trying to not overthink this. Sometimes children who start out behind the average milestones end up the smartest, and sometimes those ahead end up the slowest. Regardless, we'll love her more than anything.

It's an incredible feeling to lay in bed holding this tiny little body and know she's my daughter, to know she was created between us out of love. Sure, we didn't get to conceive her the usual way, as a physical act of love-making. But the lengths we went through to create her can leave no doubt that she was wanted so very much from before the start of the first round of IVF. Even before I had the first shot, we loved our future child(ren). And to hold her now still seems unreal. She is literally half of each of us. Even if we never ave another child, she is all we need.

I was sitting on the couch last night, leaning back with her on my chest, patting her back with my right hand, holding her head with my left. I can't begin to explain how amazing it is to hold this little head and know it's my daughter. I still can't believe it. Every time she spits up on an angora sweater, ever poo-filled diaper, every time she cries - these downsides to parenthood don't feel like downsides. I'd rather have them and have her than to not have them and not have her.

When she looks so intently into my eyes and then her face breaks out into a huge toothless grin, my heart melts a little more. Every time she is nursing and looks at me out of the corner of her eyes and reached for one of my fingers with her itty bitty hands I feel my heart ache from even more love filling it. I have the man I love. We have our animals. Charlotte is the element that completes life and completes me.

Even a little time away from her right now feels odd. All it takes is minutes without her and I want to cry and rush to her to hold her and kiss her. When I was in the chair waiting to have my wisdom teeth pulled, that entire three-hour ordeal was the longest I've been without her, and I wanted to cry. How Cody manages to go ten hours while he's at work, I don't know, even though he says it's hard and he has to find ways to distract himself. I'd go bonkers. When I was having a consultation tonight with a couple regarding the bride's wedding gown, this was the second-longest without Charlotte, just a couple hours, and I wanted to kick them out so I could go hug my baby. She's a part of me, even if we are no longer physically connected. She is still a part of me, and always will be.

I am still the same passionate seamstress at heart, still the ballet dancer (and I'll be returning to classes probably next month). My homemaking skills have been sacrificed to some extent as I no longer care about every single tiny thing being in its exact place, the kitchen sponges parallel to the sink and whatnot. But I'm a mom now too, Mom to a precious little princess, our incredible little miracle-child. And today is the day our little miracle turns six weeks old.



Our, uh, promotion of the day. Or something:

We love the cloth diapers we use. We're using the BumGenius All-in-One diapers. Amazing things. They look like disposables and go on as easily, and are leak-proof like disposables, but are in all kinds of cute colors! They're size-adjustable, so will take her from now until, well, hopefully she's toilet-trained as soon as I was (11 months, though my mom's goal was actually just to distract me when she was in the bathroom by sitting me on my kid-potty while she was on the adult one), but at least until age 2. We also use cloth wipes! Sure, there's still an eco-impact to washing them but it's much smaller than the energy it takes to make the thousands of disposables a baby goes through, all the gas to transport them, all the gas to run to the store to buy them, all the plastic and chemicals in the landfills! This is much less than the water and slight amount of power to wash them. And about washing - it's a minute to throw them in the washer, a minute to move them to the dryer, and a minute to toss them into a basket. It takes much longer to go to the store. And if you breastfeed, then you don't even have to scrape them. Just throw in the wash. Breast-milk poo breaks down so easily in the washer that no scraping ahead of time is necessary. If you do formula-feed, well, there are inserts you can put in the diapers that allow liquid through, but not solids, so you just shake that thing into the toilet and the solids flush away. And the cost! It was $406 plus shipping for the diapers and additional inserts to absorb more. And I think it was another $36 or so for the wipes. A baby goes through this much in diapers in a few months. Add a few bucks for detergent and power and water to wash, and you still come out ahead. Not to mention these things can be resold for about 75% of their cost!!

And there was my attempt to turn anyone reading this who uses disposables onto cloth instead. They're no longer the rectangle cloth things of yesteryear.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Just stuff and more stuff

I've got three dry sockets now and want to bang my head into a wall. Actually I have done just that a few times I'm in such pain.

I'm very close to closing my order schedule for 2009. I've got quite a bit on my plate, as outlined in the newest post on my Aria Couture blog. Tomorrow night I'm meeting with a July bride regarding her dress.

Tomorrow we're picking up Cody's new glasses and picking out my own frames. Joy.

Not much else is up. Just listening to NPR and trying to not be pissed off at stuff in the news and I'm oddly emotionally unaffected by the earthquake in Haiti, probably because I'm realizing it's too easy to be dragged down by things I can't change and very hard to get back up, and this effects my own life negatively, so my life > the lives of strangers. May sound heartless, but I've got to take care of me so I can take care of Charlotte. She matters more to me than everyone else in the world combined.

I love being a mom. I love the little attempts she makes at taking, and the greedy look on her face when she nurses, and the cooing, and the smiles. Even the poops because I know that when she's older, I'll miss these days, the days when she was young enough to need her bum wiped. And only a couple nights have been sleepless. Otherwise she's a good sleeper. She makes the smacky sound, I pull her to the boob, back to sleep. When she makes a certain cry, Cody changes her diaper on the changing table here in our room, back to sleep. It works out well. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

FUCK CHINA!!

I've mentioned before about the CPSIA rules that would, and have, put many small businesses out of business due to not being able to afford to comply. It also extends to all library, school, and used booksore books printed before 1985 under the guise of safety, though there is currently a stay that expires in another month. If there are no changes, these books will have to be thrown away or kids banned from libraries and schools (yeah, try figuring out how well that would work). Not pulled and given away, but tossed, as "distributing" them is also illegal. Obviously schools can't afford this. (another article)

The CPSIA rules apply to ALL items intended for use by children under 12, including clothing, toys, toothbrushes, etc.. I've followed this act because I make and sell children's clothing, so would be operating illegally by not paying thousands to have each dress third-party tested (testing also ruins the item, so I'd have to make two using the exact same bolt of fabric, thread from the same lots, etc.). At least there is now an exemption for fabrics and non-metallic notions, as mentioned in the first link above. Fabrics stores can sell me this stuff legally without third-party testing if the exemption listed holds.

Companies that operate on a large scale, producing thousands of items per batch, can spread the cost over a larger number. This is where small-scale businesses are hurt so bad - smaller production batches and one-of-a-kind items are far fewer items to spread the testing cost.

Let's just ignore for now that Mattel was given an exemption to third-party testing. Apparently those in charge don't care that millions upon millions of toys a year distributed by Mattel that were made in China have been recalled (nine million toys in one day alone).

The act still effects ALL sellers of children's items. Even though most recalls are Chinese imports, and not only in the US. Even though many of the recalls were for lead in paint. Even though lead in paint has been banned in the US since 1977.

So, rather than enforce the lead-paint ban and reject products from companies known to use lead paint, the US government decided to make NEW laws that punish small sellers. Um, how about not making new laws until learning to enforce the laws already in place. What are they trying to do, force people to have their items manufactured in China, where production costs are cheap enough that formerly quality items can be made en mass and sold for pennies on the dollar of their quality price so that the third-party testing can be afforded? You know, forcing people to have no choice but to have their items made by the companies that are the biggest cause of the problem so that more leaded items are shipped here? Why not, these companies are rarely fined.


BUT WAIT! What's this? China is replacing lead in children's charms and other jewelry and consumer items? YES!

BUT WAIT AGAIN! They are replacing it with cadmium.

On the CDC's priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7.


Further:

A patchwork of federal consumer protection regulations does nothing to keep these nuggets of cadmium from U.S. store shelves. If the products were painted toys, they would face a recall. If they were industrial garbage, they could qualify as hazardous waste. But since there are no cadmium restrictions on jewelry, such items are sold legally.


Yeah, there are laws regarding cadmium in other items, including painted toys, but not to other items children use, even though it qualifies as "hazardous waste".

That law set a new, stringent standard for lead in children's products: Only the very smallest amount is permissible — no more than 0.0003 percent of the total content. The statute has led manufacturers to drastically reduce lead in toys and jewelry.

The law also contained the first explicit regulation of cadmium, though the standards are significantly less strict than lead and apply only to painted toys, not jewelry.


Some of the items tested for cadmium, including a really cute Rudolph charm, showed to be made of 95% cadmium. So lead is being replaced with something far more dangerous. We small-business people are going to end up screwed even more.

Therefore FUCK CHINA. If Charlotte is ever given a toy made in China, we're not keeping it. I wish it were possible for us to avoid all items made in China. Too bad it would cost more than we could afford for the better items made in America and other countries that don't deny people the most basic of rights while flouncing the laws of other countries to hurt their small businesses to make a bigger profit for greedy CEOs who are fine killing people as long as there's money to be made.

Entertaining myself

So Charlotte's sleeping on my tummy, so I can't do much. I don't really want to move her. It's really not that much time that she's small enough to sleep like this on me. So what better way to spend the day than a combination of sleeping (I got two dry sockets, and it hurts to close my mouth, hurts to open my mouth, etc.) and bs'ing around on youtube. I discovered someone named Sandra Lee!

What the hell is this? Sandra Lee, just because you're related somehow to Sarah Lee, or something like that, doesn't mean you can make anything. Corn nuts and pumpkin seeds don't go on an angel food cake! Yeah those "acorns" are corn nuts.




I am embarrassed for both Sandra and Mario Lopez here. Sandra claims she's done this cake for weddings and all kinds of events. She claims that this method "makes a $40-cake look like a $500-cake." It...looks like someone threw together whatever was around. You'd have to PAY ME $500 to even have this cake in the same building as my wedding reception. I can't tell if Mario is really impressed, or if he's only pretending to be because how do you tell someone that the cake is hideous? "Priceless" is right. There is no price you can put on this cake that anyone would pay.




She starts off here with an interesting idea, but her "attention to detail," something she's mentioned n almost every one of the several videos I've wasted time watching today, is, well, how do I say it...butt-ugly and awful.




Sloppy job, Sandra. Your grandma Lorraine might have put icing at the bottom of a tin, but she probably did it neatly.




This s the trashiest "wedding" cake I've ever seen.




This...ugh.




If you have a cooking show, you better know how to do more than start with pre-made cake and frosting! The closest she got to making anything was a box mix and pre-made frosting. Nothing you can do with that stuff will make it taste homemade.

Here are a few cakes, well, a cake and a giant brownie with a felonious amount of weed, that I made from scratch. Better than the crap that that "professional" above makes.

This is said-brownie. Three layers of milk chocolate brownie with dark chocolate icing between the layers and on top, dusted with Ghirardeli cocoa powder, drizzled with caramel and then the pecans.





This cake, if I recall correctly, had seven layers, raspberry preserves between the layers and on top, dark chocolate cake and icing, hand-etched scrolly design, fresh raspberry and mint leaves, sliced almonds.





Then I made it again, but a couple fewer layers and in milk chocolate.





Actually the first time I made this cake was for my brother's 21st birthday, December 31st, 2003. That one was eight layers. It was monstrously huge, and that was okay, what with a bunch of boys booze, and bowling happening that night.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A bunch more pictures!

I was going to post some pictures of a grumpy Charlotte since her daddy loves the grumpy pictures, but then I started getting sentimental.

December 21, 2009


December 23, 2009


December 27, 2009


December 29, 2009


January 1, 2010


January 3, 2010 - ONE MONTH OLD!!!









January 5, 2010 - Grandpa's 60th birthday!
Grandpa is smitten!


Three generations of Clementses!


Wisdom teeth

There went all my wisdom! At least it was quick. The oral surgeon started out with 11 vials of anesthetic since that stuff wears off fast. To get the top two, the two broken to the gum line, there was this weird curved tool that had to be jabbed under my gum to get them out. The bottom ones were easier, like shaking them loose and pulling them out. Pretty much brute strength, and for this reason, I'd recommend a male doc. Before getting in a tizzy, it's a physiological fact that men tend to have more upper body strength than women, and when it comes to something like this, I don't care what sounds sexist as long as it benefits me in this way. Hell, I posted to Twitter that I got the anesthetic, while I was waiting a few minutes for it to take full effect. Just 14 minutes later, by the time stamp, I was walking out the door finished.

Fast forward a couple hours and the anesthetic wore off. OUCH. I didn't even feel tempted to take Tylenol post-birth, but I downed two Vicodin. Then threw up. So it halfway counts. I have milk pumped and stored in the freezer, so we gave Lottie that milk.

And I'll be hating life soon. The damned clots aren't in the bottom holes and I saw something white (bone?), so hello, dry sockets. *whines*

Friday, January 8, 2010

I can't think of a title, so this is the title

I've got a beautiful little girl sleeping next to me and some dress-order inquiries that could be rather lucrative, though first up post-move s some little girl regency dresses. Charlotte will be getting one too that will fit her this spring. An order for another little girl's lead me to finding some absolutely adorable ribbon.

My oldest friend, as in the friend I've had the longest not oldest in age, had her baby yesterday naturally 3 days past her due date, and one of my cousins was supposed to have her baby today via c-section a few weeks early, but things improved, so they're waiting, and this makes me very happy. Baby was transverse, but it sounds like she's now head-down, which can be challenging for women with bicornuate uteri. Look at what Charlotte did! Flip-flopping everywhichway until the 39th week. Most women with this condition just have c-sections early to get it out of the way. But wait. Just wait. A baby may go head-down, and better to have the much shorter recovery of a more painful vaginal delivery than the months-long recovery of a c-section, and better for the baby too!

I do hope we have another. We'll be perfectly happy if Charlotte is the one child we have, but we'd both welcome another. If we have another, that one would be a spontaneous conception, no IVF cycle #4 planned. And yes, it would be another natural home birth in the water, though hopefully that one wouldn't be another face-presentation! A c-section would be a higher chance. But I would only have a c-section if a baby was transverse or mal-presenting in a way other than breech or some direction of head-down.

I might be posing for some Target and Babies R Us ads for some sort of strap used when discretely breast-feeding. I'm the type though who will walk through the mall baring all when nursing, no blanket or anything. See, I have this idea that by treating breast-feeding as the normal, natural thing it is, that more people will come to see it that way. It's when it's treated as something unnatural and wrong that more people jump on the bandwagon and don't want to risk standing out. And anyone who doesn't want to see it can look in another direction. I'll only cover at a dinner table, like when we went to dinner with Cody's dad on Tuesday (in a case like that, it's not so easy as "just look away"), when it's cold outside, or when there's too much going on that would distract Charlotte at a time when she needs to eat. So I don't know if I'm really compromising my morals by posing for this product or not. I'm planning to do it anyway since I can see some times (cold weather, etc.) when I might use it myself. Now f I'd never, under any circumstances, use it, then no, I wouldn't.

Ugh, wisdom teeth coming out tomorrow. I've got milk pumped in case I decide life sucks and I have to take come Vicodin. I'd just pump while taking Vicodin and toss that milk. Hopefully it won't be so bad. I'm not looking forward to it. Especially after not feeling well today, though poor Cody was down wit a fever from last night through today and had to call in to work.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pictures of Charlotte smiling!

I'm so in love with our little girl. It's just not possible to not love her! She's such a good baby, and doesn't cry very often. Sure, she has her moments, but not often at all. As soon as she makes a smacky sound, she gets fed. As soon as she makes a certain whine, she gets changed. Of course she also has those times when I want to rip my hair our because I can't figure out what's wrong and I want to cry because I feel like I'm failing my little girl, but not often. She just gets prettier and sweeter with each passing day.







LALALA, I can't hear the buzz of busy-ness!!

We are officially moving again. AGAIN!! Hello, Santa Barbara!! This time it's to a house a few blocks from the beach. It fell into our laps. Cody's mom ran into an old friend who mentioned she'd remarried since they last saw each other, Cody's mom mentioned we had a new baby and were looking for a house that allowed dogs nearer to where she and other family are (even though we're not too far as it is, we'd like to live closer), and lo and behold, Kathy's husband had inherited a house a few months ago they were going to rent. It's got three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a good-sized yard, 16 fruit-bearing avocado trees (simply planting a pit actually will not make an avocado tree that grows avocados, tricky buggers), the most incredible stone fireplace and indoor wood bbq. We can paint and do whatever the hell we want with the place. And it costs slightly less than we're paying for this apartment. We'll even have a garden!

We move first weekend in February. I hate the process of moving with a passion and always feel depressed for a month or two after moving because I have to get used to a new place. For a while, I don't feel at home, and I don't feel comfortable. This is why I severely dislike traveling at all. My grandparents' old house and Cody's mom's house are the two places that come to mind where I feel comfortable enough sleeping without getting a migraine. I'm somewhat agoraphobic most comfortable at home, can suck it up to be in public for a while, but too long and I get anxiety. Moving is like this.

We may also have a venue for our wedding reception. It's a gorgeous restaurant (I won't share the name or city right now to block you stalkers who are addicted to my life from crashing my day) that Cody's dad built. The lighting is all soft blue and purple, no harsh white, and it's set up in a way that makes me think of jazz. There's a lot of 30's inspiration there, and the crab cakes are to die for. We had dinner there with Cody's dad, his dad's girlfriend, and the owner of the place. Helps that Cody's dad and the owner are really good friends.

A funny moment was when Doug requested two shots of Don Julio Real for him and Cody (this stuff is $50 per shot), and Dave, the owner, told the waiter to just bring the entire bottle. When that stuff finally hit Cody, he pulled his keys out of his pocket and silently handed them to me. Get Cody and Doug tipsy and it's the most hilarious thing.

It was tons of fun getting dressed up, having excellent food and wine (I had a teeny tiny glass of some amazing cab, best kind on the wine menu), with even better company.

It would be amazingly perfect having our wedding there. We'd been talking about something 30's/40's inspired, down to lots of blue, kind of artsy, elegant, and this place may as well have been custom-built for it.

I'm also stuck in a dental nightmare. When you're deathly ill, teeth-care falls by the wayside, so yeah, I got some cavities. Let me list this out:

-Last Tuesday I went in to have fillings done on my right side (and I had to be renumbed EIGHT times since it kept wearing off).

-Wednesday the ones for my left. All composite rather than that mercury stuff. On Wednesday the dentist noticed that the metal stuff was used on my right side instead of composite, so I had to go back in to have them redone. Of course this didn't make me happy, but what could I do.

-A couple of the teeth on my left side still hurt, so I went back in Thursday to find out that the fillings were too high and had to be polished down. Not that it helped. Those two teeth still hurt.

-I went in on this past Monday to have the right side redone, and the dentist got my cheek with the drill. Joy of joys, I got stitches. And they hurt like a motherfucking bitch, and that doesn't begin to cover it. I'd have been downing Vicodin and vodka if I weren't nursing it hurt that bad and I didn't even request Tylenol after birth. I'm pretty pissed that I got injured when they were repairing their own mistake from a few days earlier. Redoing fillings like this, drilling out old ones to put in new ones weakens the integrity of the remaining tooth. Also since then, I'd have a weird feeling in my lower lip that started when I got the numbing stuff. I think they got a nerve.

-One of the fillings on my right side isn't there anymore, so it's back in this afternoon to have it redone, and I've got to make them do something about those two on my left side that still hurt. One of the painful ones is a bicuspid, so I can't even bit into anything right now without sharp pain.

-Presuming nothing else goes wrong, I'm getting my wisdom teeth all removed on Saturday by the oral surgeon.

If I was sue-happy, I'd be suing for error on top of error that has caused me a lot of pain, and still has me in pain. Wrong filling material, getting me with the drill, filling coming out, etc.. And each time I have to go in it takes time and money, and with the hours Cody works and the dentist's office hours, I have to have his mom drive to Oxnard to watch Charlotte while I'm in the back. So this is a lot of inconvenience on top of pain. I can hardly eat right now either.

Of course Cody lucked out, and the fillings he got all went without a hitch, no errors by the dentist or anything.

I've got several bottles of milk pumped (I can't speak highly enough about the Medela Advanced double-pump) so that I can take Vicodin or whatever I may need on Saturday without Charlotte having to have contaminated milk or formula. I'll jump pump that day and throw out the narcotic-milk.

I'm exhausted just thinking about everything to do in the next few weeks. Thank the gods that we have a ton of moving help. It's not like I'll be moving anything myself, what with someone needing to stay with Charlotte, and who better than her food, I mean, her mom, but it will be a lot quicker with more bodies moving stuff. We can also get into the house earlier to paint and do whatever we want, so we may move a few things earlier just to that, the night of the move, we don't have to worry about rushing to get necessities unpacked and can just enjoy the bbq we're having that night with everyone who is there.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wow, I've been BUSY

Things just haven't slowed down. I can't even get to my e-mail every few days reliably right now!!

Charlotte had her first Christmas, of course. The tree is still up and she is fascinated by it. Her grandpa brought her her daddy's first guitar. Grandpa got it cleaned up, restrung, entirely restored. This was awesome.

When she was born, she fit preemie things. When she was 18 days, our midwife measured her at 21 1/2" and 8lb4oz, meaning 2" and 12 ounces gained! She's now laying beside me in a romper that's 3-6mo. Long little thing! Though she still fits some of her 0-3mo sleepers and onesies, the longer ones.

She's developing fast. She's been lifting her head for weeks and is turning it side to side to look at stuff already. Call her name or make a sound and she'll look at you. Everything around her interests her. She's pushing herself up on her arms momentarily and can halfway roll over. Sometimes she tries "talking" and will imitate simple sounds and facial expressions. She'll grab things and take them to her mouth. Maybe development isn't fast and time is what's going fast. I just want time to halt for a while.

She's almost big around in the tummy to fit her Bun Genius diapers. Right now she's still wearing Seventh Generation disposables (chlorine-free, biodegradable!). She hates being wet with a passion. As soon as she even starts to pee, she screams for changing. She did this when we had her in Pampers too. Hopefully this means she'll be easy to toilet-train. I was day-trained at 11 months.

She's got quite an appetite sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. But fenugreek in both caplet form and tea helps tremendously. And the Medela Advanced pump is a godsend.

So far she has her daddy's curly hair and the dip in his tongue. She's got my lips, chin, ears, nose, and long toes. She's got both of our long fingers and blue eyes. We can't tell whose eye shape she has yet. But I think she's going to have the stubbornness from my dad's side of the family. As we are insanely stubborn, I don't consider this to be a very good thing. Hopefully she'll turn around and get her daddy's easy-going temperament instead.

Nicely, I'm back in my pre-pregnancy clothes and have been since immediately after birth. I've gained a few pounds since then though. But nothing too bad.

Cody's back at work now, which sucks. But it has to be done.

Our household income just went up 20% post-tax, so we're moving. A Santa Barbara house not even a mile from the beach fell into our laps. And it's slightly less in cost as this apartment. And had 16 fruit-bearing avocado trees!! Cody's mom ran into an old friend at the store, and in catching up, mentioned us wanting to move. Said-friend's husband just inherited a house. I saw it yesterday, and am 95% certain we'll be moving first weekend in February. Finally the girls will have a yard to run in! And we can do anything to the house we want, so we're going to paint! I'll be sad about leaving this place only because Charlotte was born here and I always have a hard time adjusting to a new place and get depressed. Since I'm already fighting against postpartum depression, this sucks. But hey, I don't have to move stuff!

I've had some dress-inquiries I've hard to turn down due to time, ones I would have loved, but just not enough time. I've got a couple for the next couple months to work on right now, and this will be enough.

All in all, things are looking up!

Here's a picture of our little Lottie taken the 29th:



More update will be posted as soon as I have time!!