Friday, July 31, 2009

Words of Affirmation

So, I actually already knew this, having read The Five Love Languages (actually, I think Shrike read and summarized it for me, and I listened to the audiobook of The Five Love Languages of Children), but Dr. Facebook has confirmed that my "love language" is "Words of Affirmation:"

Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Verbal appreciation speaks powerfully to persons whose primary Love Language is “Words of Affirmation.” Simple statements, such as, “You look great in that suit,” or “You must be the best baker in the world! I love your oatmeal cookies,” are sometimes all a person needs to hear to feel loved. Aside from verbal compliments, another way to communicate through “Words of Affirmation” is to offer encouragement. Here are some examples: reinforcing a difficult decision; calling attention to progress made on a current project; acknowledging a person’s unique perspective on an important topic. If a loved one listens for “Words of Affirmation,” offering encouragement will help him or her to overcome insecurities and develop greater confidence.
I've never realized it before, but now that I think about it, one of the things I enjoy most about blogging is the affirmation that I get from my readers.

When I write about something I'm struggling with, everyone from Shrike and other family members to complete strangers leaves me comments of support, and I find that incredibly helpful.

As I said earlier, I also talked about this anemia thing on my baby lead weaning forum, and I wanted to share what some of the mummies there had to say - both in terms of support and advice. (I hope I'm not going to get in trouble for reposting these comments!)

Whozat, repeat after me 'I am a fantastic mother'. You only need to look at your FB pictures to see what a perfect little family you three are, and how loved Peeper is by both her Mummies.

Neither of my children have ever had their iron levels tested. I'm pretty sure that they'd both be on the low end, as non vegetable eating vegetarians The point I'm trying to make here is that you weren't worried about Peeper before you went to the docs and got the blood test, the levels are only slightly low, so really you shouldn't be worried about her now. Give her the nasty vitamins, I'm sure by the next blood test she'll be fine.

You are a great Mummy, so is Shrike, and Peeper is a very lucky girl to have you both. Don't beat yourself up about the iron thingy, there'll be plenty more things that make you feel like the worst mother in the world ever soon enough {{{{{hugs}}}}} from me.

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ok, first of all, back off yourself.

it is not true that all deficiencies are caused by a lack of nutrition. sometimes, it's caused by a lack of absorption. also, it could be caused by a max-use in the body, meaning that she may need more iron that usual.

your assumptions about breastmilk and even non-fortified foods are sound, and obviously she's just under or a little lower than they like, and it's not as if she's in a danger zone. so, you've done well.

but, to get things up higher, i would do a few things just to help out. i mean, it can't hurt to do these things

here is what i would do (instead of vitamins, personally, but with vitamins is ok too):

1. as a BFing mother, i would increase my iron.

BM does adapt to provide everything a baby needs (including increasing iron, and other nutrients as the child's need increases), but it can only give as much as *your* body can put in it. you may not be getting enough in your diet to pass along, particularly if you are menstruating again.

this leads to

2. i would begin to cook in an iron skillet ASAP.

this increases iron in everything that you eat. the iron (as ferrous salts) from the pan gets into your food and there you have it--instant vitamin enriched. it works wonders.

3. increase iron rich foods.

most fortified foods use ferrous salts which are very accessible. vitamins that we take often use this a swell. but in our foods, we have heme and non-heme iron that we're dealing with.

as a vegetarian, i know one can get more than enough iron without meat, but most of it is non-heme iron. this does require the vitamin c to help absorb it, and so you're doing right in that for sure. vegetarian sources of heme iron include dairy products and eggs. obviously, meat is rich in heme iron, so it wouldn't be a problem to increase this.

aside from this, i would increase the fat content of meals overall for myself (as a BFing mother, we need more fat than we often think we do), and i would also increase the fats for the baby. adding fatty foods like olives and avocados can do wonders for nutrient absorption in general.

good luck! soudns like she's doing great and will continue to thrive under your excellent love!

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aw man, now you've given it to me...

dd2 was prem, but i cannot make her take the vits. they STINK. based on this i might try to give her some iron, though, it's a bit nicer. called 'sytron' over here, maybe you could ask a pharmacist?
interestingly, dd LOVES red meat, absolutely goes mad for it, so i've always hoped she was taking care of her iron thing by herself.

sometimes i'm just glad we don't have the money in this country to go looking at babies' blood... my dh was prem nearly forty years ago, he never had any of this fussing and he's a fine specimen of manhood.

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STEP AWAY FROM THE MUMMY GUILT.

You have no way of knowing that things would have been any different had you chosen to wean with purees. I have bumped along borderline anaemic all my life - some people just are like that.

You sound like you have some good practical plans to ensure she gets more iron in her diet - and yes - she will very soon take off with the eating thing which will help. Lentils are also a great source of iron so crack out the lentil burgers and the Lentil Cheese wedges!

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I just looked at your blog and wanted to say how gorgeous and peachy she looks. She'll be fine. I'm sure it's really down to her birth circumstances and it's only on the low side and US paediatric system is known for running expensive tests which may flag up borderline cases. Good in some ways, but it unnecessarily fuels mothers' guilt.

I can only say I share some of your pain. My baby girl (incidentally born on the same day as yours, and my birthday too, and at 35/6 weeks) was tiny (5lbs) and although she put on a good amount of weight to start with that tailed off a bit and she's dropped two chart lines. I have persisted in ebf but deep down think to myself "if only you put her first instead of your ridiculous principles, you could have topped her up with formula and she'd have put on a decent amount of weight".

F*cked up logic, but I still think it.

She's lovely, ditch the guilt and enjoy her.

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And just to prove that I don't get all my advice from the interwebs, Dr T had this to say, when I directed her to my "Anemia" post:

Whozat!! I hope in the time since you wrote that post and read responses, etc., that you have release even more of this particular (irrational) mother guilt. Believe me, I get it. We're programmed (and reinforced) to feel that way, and it is healthy to ask those questions like is there anything I could have done differently. However, this is not worth ongoing obsessing over!! Thankfully the vitamins exist, she doesn't mind them, and the level at which she's low is marginal! SHE'S FINE!

There are so many issues in parenting, and certainly you could drive yourself absolutely nuts with *perseverating* over each decision ad nauseum. It's just so not necessary, and takes energy from other areas that are more important! WE've got to find a way for you to RELAX on some of this stuff.

LIsten to everyone around you who cares and respects your choices: You're a GREAT mom!!!

And while examining and making thoughtful choices is part of what makes you great, you can back off on the re-examination about 10-fold and still hit the "great mom"
mark!! ;-)

Take care.

Daily Peep: Sit and Spin

Peeper doesn't spend very much time on the floor in the kitchen, other than passing through to the dogs' room when she's taking us for a walk.

In fact, I've probably only put her down there a couple of times in her life, mostly because it's so much more (visibly) yucky than the carpet, no matter how often we sweep. (Thanks, pets.)

Today, though, she was finished with lunch and done with being "down on the farm" (in her Exersaucer) and I was still eating my lunch, so I decided it was time to try out a new game.

As soon as we get around to it, we plan to get all the heavy and breakable stuff out of a small lower cabinet, and move all the stupid, mismatched plastic crap into it, for her to play with.

To date, we've managed to stack some stupid, mismatched plastic crap on the counter.

So, I plopped her in the floor and tossed her some plastic stuff and let her play for a while.

This is where she started:




I put a few dishes in to wash, looked back over at her, and this is what I saw!



So, how did that happen?

Wobbling

Thanks, everyone.

Of course, as I said in that last comment, there's a good bit of hyperbole in yesterday's post and, of course, I am sort of making fun of myself because I know that I'm being irrational (so that's good, right) - but I obviously do feel more than a little guilty about it, or I wouldn't have come up with all that stuff to write.

Intellectually I know we're doing a good job, but it's so hard to not question or feel guilty about every little thing.

With this, it feels like I "got caught" because I wanted to do things differently and ignore the "rules" and then it turned out that it might have caused a problem.

Does that even make sense?

Blogging about it really does help - the introspection and the venting and especially the positive feedback from the the few people who actually read it. So thank you all for that.

I posted pretty much the same thing on the baby led weaning forum, and of course, got lots of support and suggestions there.

My new British friends have a great phrase (they have a lot of great phrases, actually) when they are feeling like this - often in reference to losing confidence specifically with BLW, but with anything really -

They say that they are "wobbling" or "having a bit of a mummy wobble."

The other phrase I like is "slummy mummy." That's what you are when you do things the lazy way, or the "easy" way or the "way that would shock and appall the 'proper' mummies," like picking food back up off the floor and giving it to the kid.

But I digress :-)

So, yes, I know in my head that I'm being silly and letting this (and many things) bother me too much, and questioning myself too much, but ...well, there's really no "but" is there? I just am.

Sigh.

Thanks for listening while I do it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Daily Peep: Pimping Iron

Here, Peeper is enjoying some beef, turkey and cantaloupe.



This afternoon, I opened a can of baked beans for the two of us.

I added a cut up hotdog to mine to make beenie-weenies, and she had hers smooshed onto a piece of toast.

(I learned that from my lovely British baby-feeding friends. They talk about having baked beans on toast for breakfast. I wonder if it's anything like what I fed her?O)

We had another round of the same later this evening.

Confidential to Shrike: You might want to stop at your sister's house on the way home and crash there. I'm not sure you will enjoy sharing a bed with us tonight.

Anemic.

The doctor's office called back, and Peeper is a little bit anemic.

The nurse said that, according to the full lab test her hemoglobin is 10.4 and they want it to be around 12, and her hematocrit is 31.6 and they want it to be around 35.5.

I asked about those numbers, "I thought the nurse told me yesterday that the hemoglobin should be between 10 and 12? Or was that for the screen, and it's a little different when the lab does it?"

(Sometimes these things change from lab to lab.)

She said that, "The in-office screen was right on, it was 10 and the lab said the same thing."

Um, no. Because I'm sure I didn't make up, "She needs to be at least 10 and she's 9.4" but whatever.

Point is, they say she's a little low and want us to give her 1 ml/day of PolyViSol with Iron.

As it turns out, we actually had an unopened bottle of that. I do not know why. Maybe we bought the wrong kind before?

Anyway, Shrike got the call from the nurse (and I called back later for details) while I was tutoring, so she found the vitamins and gave her a dose and it went down just fine.

She didn't fight it or complain or anything - although Shrike did bring her in for some goody right afterward, to wash the taste out of her mouth.

(Shrike tasted the vitamins before giving them to Peeper and confirmed that they are still nasty.)

So, sigh.

I supposed that, especially if she's not going to fight us and make a scene about it (or she might, now that she realizes what we're giving her!), we'll give her the damn vitamins.

The nurse said it can take a couple of months for the iron level to come up, so we'll just recheck it at her 12 month (!) well-baby appointment.

I really hate this.

It's not about giving her the vitamin drops - although I do hate that, too, because they taste so bad - but I hate that she needs them.

You know, just today, I was teaching a student about deductive reasoning and syllogisms.

Here's an example:

Given
All dogs bark.
Big Galoot is a dog.

Therefore

Big Galoot barks.

Easy enough, right?

Okay let's try another one:

Given
Nutritional deficiencies are caused by receiving inadequate nutrition.
Babies get all their nutrition from their parents.
I am Peeper's parent.
Peeper has a nutritional deficiency.

Therefore
It is all my fault and I am the Worst. Mother. Ever.

See how that works?

How about another:

Given
Premature and low-birth-weight babies are at increased risk for anemia.
Peeper was premature and low-birth weight.

Therefore
I should have seen this coming, so it is all my fault and I am the Worst. Mother. Ever.

And one more:

Given
Most people feed their babies iron-enriched rice cereal.
I decided that Peeper don't need no stinkin' rice cereal.
Therefore
Well, I think you know were I'm going with this one.

In my defense . . .

(I said that to Shrike earlier, and she said, "It's not a trial . . . I was going to say 'you're not a witch,' but I just couldn't get my tongue around that one.")

. . . Peeper's hematocrit was just fine when she was discharged from the hospital after her surgery, at 4.5 months old.

Immediately after surgery, it was low, but then they gave her back that was in the bypass machine when she came off of it.

(She'd already gotten a unit of donated blood to up the volume enough to fill the machine; that amount was then left over.)

So, whether she started off okay that morning, or if she was already a little depleted before surgery (possible, because she probably started with less of a reserve than normal) it seems like they got her spiffed up to normal before sending her home.

So, I guess I assumed that we were starting with an appropriately full iron-tank at that point, despite her prematurity and low birth weight.

Perhaps I was wrong.

I feel like we feed her iron-rich foods pretty often, as well as vitamin-C rich foods (which help the iron to absorb), but I guess we have been slacking a bit on the meat lately.

I suspect it has more to do, though, with how little of what we offer her actually ends up being swallowed.

Which, for the most part, is fine, because she gets (I thought) everything she needs from breastmilk and "food's for fun until they're one," but I suppose that doesn't apply to iron.

Especially if she was less tanked up than she ought to have been, from the get-go.

Looking at it objectively, I can see that it's really not that big of a deal. She's only a tiny bit low, and this is just when they start even checking it, so she's not likely to have been low for long, so it's doubtful that any actual damage has been done, and it's not a big deal to take some vitamins and make sure she's getting enough.

But, of course, it's hard to look at it objectively.

It's hard to look at it any other way than, "I decided to feed her this weird way, and now she's anemic and (all together now, kids) it's all my fault, and I am the Worst. Mother. Ever."

Shrike did her best to rein me in and make me stop making myself crazy about it.

She pointed out that "nobody eats like they should," and that we both take vitamins - including iron - so what's the big deal if Peeper needs to, as well.

In fact, back in January, when we were in Texas, we stumbled upon a Red Cross blood donation truck, and Shrike was going to make a donation, partly because she's just a good person but also to get us "blood insurance" in case Peeper needed some with surgery.

They wouldn't take her blood because the initial screen showed her to be a little anemic.

She was nice enough this afternoon to try to convince me that perhaps it's some sort of genetic malabsorption issue, and therefore all her fault, but I'm not really buying that.

(She is now taking a daily multivitamin which contains the full recommended daily allowance of iron for a woman her age.)

I, on the other hand, do malabsorb lots of stuff because of my gastric bypass surgery, but everytime I've been tested, I've got plenty of iron - sometimes it's even a little on the high side.

So, at least it's likely that I've been putting all that I can in my milk.

Well, I suppose that's something.

(Or, at least I was high on iron when I was very conscientious about my protein intake. I'm more willy-nilly with it now. Although I'm quite sure I was tested for anemia at some point during pregnancy and nobody ever told me there was a problem, so I suppose I was fine.)

(Interesting note, if you've not already read LadyKay's comments on my earlier post: Pregnant women need a lot of iron, but lactating women need much less - more like the levels required by men or post-menopausal women. I'm assuming it's actually matter of menstruating women needing more than everybody else in the world.)

So, I guess if we were introducing solids the way "everyone" else does (mumbling: and the way our doctor recommended) it's possible she wouldn't have this problem, and if she did, at least I would feel like "Well, watcha gonna do?"

On the other hand, as Shrike also pointed out, if we were to be shoveling a bunch of rice cereal down here, she might not be anemic - but would she be as happy as she is with picking up fruits and veggies and meat and gnawing on them?

She also pointed out that it's a lot easier to get a milliliter of nasty liquid down her than a bowl of blechy mush.

Also, LadyKay tells me that (25 years ago, at least) Cheerios have as much iron as the rice cereal does, anyway.

(Now, she just needs to perfect that pincer grasp so she can get more Cheerios into her mouth and less in her lap!)

So, I suppose it's nasty vitamin/iron drops for now and we'll see how she's looking when she's a year old.

At that point, she should be actually eating a lot more solid food, and taking in a lot more iron in her diet, so hopefully we can ditch the vitamins and she'll be able to hold her own.

But I'm still sure that it's somehow all my fault.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nine-Month Check Up: Two Foot Two* and Eyes of Blue

(*and a quarter)

Peeper had her nine-month checkup today, and she's looking good.

The tale of the tape:

Current (Birth) / Percentile / Adjusted Percentile
Height: 26.25 inches (18 inches) / 10th / 10th - 2oth
Weight: 16 lb 12 oz (4 lb 12 oz?) / 15th - 20 th / 10th - 2oth
Head Circumference: 17.7 inches (12 inches) / 25th / 75th - 90th

I'm wondering, though, if they measured her noggin a little loosely today, because that's a pretty big jump from the 8th percentile at 6 months to 25th now, especially when nothing else went up that much.

I said something about it to Shrike, "He didn't seem concerned about her head size, did he?" and she said, "It's fine honey. Some things just grow faster than others. Take my ass, for example."

Silly Mommy.

The doctor was happy with all our answers to the developmental questions, and was reassuring about my concerns regarding her language.

He said that, at nine months, some kids have consonants and are saying, "mama, dada, baba" type things, but not all of them, and that it's quite variable.

(Tell that to the milestone chart that told me "most" of them do that by six months!)

The conversation about her diet went something like this:


Doctor: Is she still getting any breastmilk?
Whozat: Oh yeah!
Doctor: How about other things? Have you started any . . .
Whozat: Oh, she's having a little of everything.
Doctor: Okay, good.
He said that the "only foods to avoid" are peanuts and seafood until she's two (Oops, she's had some fish, and gummed on a shrimp a bit the other night. Eh, she seemed fine.) and "raw honey" until she's one.

I asked about honey in commercial foods, and he said it's fine if it's been cooked. I've heard conflicting information on this, so I don't quite know what to think. Maybe we'll go ahead and hold off on the honey barbecue sauce for a bit longer.

There were no shots at this appointment, but since a baby's prenatal iron stores start running out around six months, they do a quicky hemoglobin check at nine months. Which turned out to be not-so-quicky.

On the first try, the nurse stuck her big toe (hmm, I guess she's graduated from heel sticks?) and wasn't real happy with the drop of blood she got, but said, "Well, this might be enough. I'll run it, and if it's low, we'll try again."

A few minutes later she was back saying, "Sorry, we have to do it again."

So, she stuck her other big toe and it registered higher this time, but still just a bit on the low side.

The normal range is 10 - 12.5, and hers was 9.4 - aargh!

The doctor had already left for lunch, so she said he'd probably want us to start her on Polyvisol with Iron, but they'd have to give us a call with the dosage.

Ugh ugh and ugh.

This same doctor told us to give her Polyvisol D when she was about two months old, and it did not go well.

It tastes awful, and she hated it, and it made her throw up her real medicine, so we blew it off and started taking her outside in the sun.

By the time the nurse called back, I'd researched high-iron foods (um, meat.) and foods that help to boost iron absorption (broccoli, strawberry, cantaloupe) and those that inhibit absorption (sweet potatoes) and Shrike and I had decided that we'd really prefer to avoid the iron supplement if at all possible.

What we'd like to do is just up those foods in her diet (she's not had a lot of meat lately, to be honest) and have her rechecked in, say, a month.

(As opposed to three months, at her next well-baby checkup.)

When the nurse called, she said that since her hemoglobin was so close to the normal range, the doctor wanted to get it tested "for real" before giving her anything for it.

When I told her what we'd like to do, she seemed supportive of that, but also rather noncommital, which is to be expected.

So, after Shrike left for work, Peeper and I went back to the doctor's office and picked up a lab slip, then over to the lab (same building) to have her blood drawn for a CBC and hemoglobin test. She handled that about as well as can be expected, considering that it was an arm stick.

Both the phlebotomist and one of the check-in ladies remembered us, and commented on how big she's gotten.

The one up front was telling another about how tiny Peeper was when we used to take her in for bilirubin checks as a newborn, and the phlebotomist commented that "Now that you're a little chubber, it's hard to find your veins!"

They did find a good one, and hit it right off the bat, and although she wasn't happy about it, she didn't fight them and she settled down pretty quickly afterward.

A little goody helped, but what really did the trick was that when they pulled the curtain around us while I was nursing her (Huh? What? Priva-who? Oh, ok.) she was just fascinated by it.

She stopped crying, stopped nursing, sat up and stared at it.

Well, hell, we could've done that five minutes ago and saved ourselves a lot of trouble!

I really couldn't blame her for complaining though, after all she started out this morning with no extra holes in here, and by afternoon she looked like this:



So, now we'll wait a couple of days to see what the blood work says and, in the meantime, I've got some ground beef thawing out to make her some meat sticks.

We might even get her some liver. As yucky and we both think it is, she might love it, and the iron would definitely be good for her.

The only downside is that I would have to cook it. Ew.

Anonymama ate liver every week when was a kid (Because Weight Watchers told her she had to. I never ate it, though.) and I just remember that it screamed when she cooked it.

She claimed it was air whistling through - I don't know, veins? - but I swear it was screaming.

Shudder.

But, other than the possibility of some very mild anemia, the doctor said that Peeper is fit as a fiddle, and he's very happy at how much she's caught up with her growth, and he doesn't see any need to follow that so closely anymore.

(Actually, I think they said that three months ago. I'm the one who asked for the weight checks at seven and eight months.)

On our way out, we scheduled her next appointment - for a few days after her birthday.

Which is just insane.

Daily Peep: Genius Baby

Okay, so maybe she had a little help.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Staying Focused

I just sent this email out to my county and state Democratic Parties.

Fellow Democrats:
I want to thank all of you for the overwhelming concern and support that I received back in February, when I announced that I was taking a break from my duties as MyPartyJob in order to concentrate on my family.

In case you haven't heard, Peeper's surgery went very well, her heart defects were successfully repaired, her recovery is complete and is she is now a happy, healthy, normal nine-month-old baby.

Although the surgery is now behind us, my energy and attention remain focused on my family, and as they are now my top priority, I've realized that it's not fair to the party for me to return to my duties as MyPartyJob when my heart is just no longer in it.

PersonCoveringMyJob and the rest of the executive committee have done an excellent job of continuing the work of the party over the past six months, but it is not fair of me to keep everyone "in limbo" any longer so, for the good of both the party and my family, I will be officially resigning from my position as MyPartyJob, effective as of the next committee meeting.

Our bylaws require that the committee elect a new MyPartyJob to serve the remainder of my term, and PersonCoveringMyJob has agreed to run for the position. Electing PersonCoveringMyJob as MyPartyJob will insure a seamless transition, and I hope that you will all give him your full support.

I will retain my position as a precinct committeewoman, and plan to continue to participate in party activities on a limited basis. As Peeper gets older, I hope to return to a more active role in the party.

Along with my MyPartyJob position, I will be resigning my membership in the BlueState Democratic State Committee, and all positions associated with that.

As you can imagine, this has not been an easy decision for me at all, but I do feel that it is best for everyone involved.

I want to take a moment to thank all of you - especially the executive committee and other committee members - for all your hard work during my tenure as MyPartyJob.

The time that I have spent with the RedCounty Democratic Party, and the friends I have made through the party will always be very special to me. We have accomplished much over the past five years, and I am very proud of the work that we have done together.

Peeper and I plan to attend the picnic on August 15, and I hope to see many of you there. If you've not reserved your ticket yet, please send your $12/person to PersonCoveringMyJob as soon as possible!

Please note that, as of the transition, (my party email address) will go to the new MyPartyJob. If you'd like to contact me, please use my personal email address or call me at home or on my cell phone.


Thank you again for your support,
Whozat

Daily Peep: Swimming With Mama

I ended up swimming with Peeper this evening, while Shrike took still and moving pictures from the sidelines.

There's nothing really spectactular happening here, just a rather long segment of the two of us playing in the water.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Daily Peep: Panda Pics - 9 Months (39 weeks)




Also:
I knew this thing had to be good for something.

Nine Months

Dear Peeper:

You are nine months (thirty-nine weeks) old today.

Lots of people with nine-month-olds are talking about the whole "You've been out as long as you were in" thing, but we actually hit that point several weeks ago (at 33 weeks 1 day), although I somehow missed noting the milestone when it happened.

I just looked back at what I wrote a month ago, and once again, I am amazed at how much you've changed in just a few weeks.

You are now just absolutely sitting up, with no problems. (Yes, you do still occasionally topple over, but it's pretty rare now.)

You still could not give two poops about crawling, and are still usually pretty pissed off when you find yourself on your tummy - but you are all over the pre-walking.

You don't pull yourself up yet, but once we stand you up next to something, you hold on and stay up and sometimes take a step or two along it.

You're more likely to keep your feet pretty much in place and switch your hands around, or hold on with one hand and turn around to grab us, or something like that, but your feet move a bit, and you're definitely working on figuring out how to get places.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if you were cruising by the time I write my next monthly letter.

(Note to self: Baby proof.)

And if you're holding on to a person, instead of an inanimate object, then look out, because we're headed to the other end of the house!

As soon as you're up and have a hold on us, you take off running - really, you are just going zoom zoom zoom - moving your little feet as fast as you can, leaning forward, and pulling us along.

Did you learn that from your big brother Galoot?

It's very exciting, of course, but oh our aching backs!

If we're on the carpet, I'll walk behind you on my knees sometimes, but that's no good once we get to the kitchen, or even the uncushioned carpet in the doggies' room.

We're seriously considering buying some of these to make things a little easier!

Your fine motor skills have really progressed a lot in the past few weeks, too, and you are thiiiiiis close to having your pincer grasp worked out.

You are at that point that I've noticed before with other jumps in manual dexterity - you know, in your mind, what you want to do, but your fingers aren't quite able to follow the instructions yet.

You approach a tiny piece of food (or a fluff of dog hair) with your thumb and forefinger, but then you can't quite get them to meet up right on the food.

You usually end up scooping it up with your thumb and the middle of the fore- and middle fingers, and then you do this back-and-forth thing from hand to hand, right in front of your mouth, trying to get it into a true pincer grasp, between your thumb and the tip of your forefinger, while also trying to scoop it into your mouth.

It's pretty much a crap shoot whether it ends up in your mouth or your lap, but it doesn't generally upset you too much.

We've been using some baby signs with you, and although you're not signing back at us yet, you are watching our hands, and I think you might be starting to catch on a bit.

So far, the signs that we've been introducing are:

Mama/Mommy, goody (nurse), eat/food, cup/drink (water in your sippy cup), diaper, all done, more, bath, cat, dog, hello, bye-bye

You are using some gestures of your own, though, like reaching toward people, and holding up your hands to be picked up.

When you are eating, and want something from my plate, you look at me and my food, and "thumb" your place mat, over in my direction.

I'm pretty sure that's what you mean, because it looks very intentional and very specific, and you don't stop until I've given you some of my food (or, shhhh, a cracker that's sitting beside my plate, if I'm eating something you can't have).

When you are finished eating, you start thumbing at the buckle of your highchair seat belt. I don't think that's so much a gesture, as you actually trying to unbuckle it, but it works.

I think we're going to try to start "molding" these gestures more toward the "real" signs for "please" and "all done," because that seems more appropriate.

Especially the "I want your food, Mama" thing. It just seems like it will be much nicer, when you are two, if you ask/sign "Please, Mama?" versus "Put that food right here, woman!"

(That said, when you bang your sippy cup on the place mat, Mommy tells you, "Say, 'More ale, wench!'")

Your actual verbal skills don't really seem to have changed a whole lot in the past few weeks.

You are very social, and smile and squeal and, I suppose, babble, alot, but the sounds you make are quite random, and mostly of the squealy variety. You've not yet started saying or imitating repetitive sounds, like "mama" or "lala" or "gaga" or, hell, I'd even settle for a "dada" at this point.

I'm going to ask about this when we see the doctor in a couple of days, because some things that I read suggest that most kids are doing that by now.

Last week you started taking swimming lessons at the YMCA, which is the first really organized activity that you've been involved in. You tolerated it pretty well, and I'm hoping that you'll like it even more now that we've got you a wetsuit that's supposed to keep you warmer. (Photos coming after tonight's class!)

During your baths, I've been lying you down in the water to rinse you off, and singing the "I'm a little pancake, flat, flat, flat / I'm a little pancake, on my back" song from class (for back "floating"), and you just love that.

I'm also singing some of the splashy songs when you're splashing in the tub of your own accord, and I'm hoping that will translate back to the pool.

Mommy, Eena and Papa are going to come watch us swim tonight, so you'll have your own paparazzi there this time!

You are still just charming the heck out of people everytime we take you in public. I had thought you might get less attention from strangers once you weren't soooo tiny, but nope. We still can't walk through Target or the grocery store or a restaurant - or PrideFest - without someone stopping to talk to you. They usually get a big ol' grin from you and of course, that just makes it all the more fun.

And speaking of big ol' grins. I think you save the biggest for Mommy when she comes home from work.

You're not quite at the point of recognizing the sound of the door opening, or the dogs getting excited, but I think you might recognize her voice or you sort of understand when I tell you, "Mommy's home!" because you start getting interested at that point, but then, when you actually see her, oh, there just aren't words to describe the look on your face.

I told her once, "You know, I never get that reception." She reminded me that, "Well, you have to go away, for her to miss you!"

Oh, yeah.

Nevermind.

I guess I will be happy to do without the "welcome home" grin for a while longer, because I really have no desire to be any farther away from you than, say, the other end of the house.

Yes, our days alone together get long, and yes, I am thrilled for you to spend some time with Mommy when she gets home from work - whether I'm soaking in a hot bath, or just playing on the interwebs, it's nice for her to be responsible for you for a little while, instead of me - but that's enough for me.

That's all the break I want, or need, right now. I don't want to "get away" for a little while, or for someone to "take you off my hands."

I don't know what to do with my hands, if you're not in them.

I don't know what to do with myself if I'm not with you.

And I don't particularly want to know.

There will be plenty of time for that later.

You are growing up so fast. On the one hand, I am so proud of you, of everything you've learned already, of everything you're trying so hard to learn, of everything that you've accomplished and overcome.

But, it seems like just yesterday that you were brand new, so I know that it will only seem like a few moments until you are walking, talking, and going off on your own.

So, I will cherish these moments while I can. While you still need me to hold your hand, and you still need me to hold you.

Because I sure do need it.

Happy 3/4 birthday, Big Girl!


Love,
Mama

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Daily Peep: Just Us, At Home

Nothing fancy, just Peeper and Shrike toddling around in the "dog's room" and me blabbing at them from behind the camera.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Daily Peep: Baby's First PrideFest

We had a great time at PrideFest today. The weather wasn't too warm - and a few sprinkles late in the day made it quite comfortable - and we got to see lots of people whom we only run into at Pride - or at Democratic Party events.

And, we might have made some new friends - two different sets.

Not long after we got there, we were walking along and I heard a woman say, "Hey - more baby wearers!"

She had her eight-month-old son in a ringsling, so we started talking about baby carriers, and ended up sitting with them while Peeper nursed and their little guy slept, and comparing parenting notes.

Their baby was born three weeks early and it sounds like he had a lot of the same issues Peeper did with breastfeeding. He never did start latching, so she's exclusively pumping. I told her how impressed I was that she'd been doing that for eight months, after having done it for "only" six weeks!

They seem to be very much on the same page as us, in terms of parenting style and - get this - they are even doing baby led weaning, so we swapped stories about scaring grandmothers with greenbeans and developing manual dexterity!

They live almost an hour from us, which is a bummer, but maybe we'll manage to meet up in the middle sometime.

Later, we met another couple who has a five-year-old, and would like to have another, but would need a gestational carrier (surrogate), so we told them about our friend who is a surrogate, and it turns out they live in the same town as her. (Shrike's work town.)

So, we're going to give their contact information to her, because she's mentioned that she'd like to carry one more (that will be all they'll allow, because then she'll have had four c-sections) - or she might know another surrogate who might be interested.

Here are some photos from our big day.

All dressed up and ready to go.


Just arrived at the park, ready to see the sites with Mommy. (The hat didn't last very long.)


Hairy legs? Check
Melissa Etheridge quote t-shirt? Check
Nursing gayby? Check

Lesbian Mama Pride WIN!





Rockin' out to Tiffany. (Yes, that Tiffany.)



Peeper and Mama at dinner after the festival. (We went to Applebee's with Shrike's cousin, her partner and BigBoy R).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Daily Peep: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose

Don't throw out those old electronics parts and beverage containers - give them to the baby to play with!


In The Dark of Night

I woke up this morning with a hickey on my right breast, about an inch, um, northeast, of my nipple. (From the viewer's perspective.)

That's the general region that ends up pointed toward Peeper when I'm lying down, she and I both let go of my breast, and gravity has its way with me.

I've no memory of anything untoward happening, so I can only assuming that she latched on unassisted in the night, and that's the best she could do.

I wonder how long it took her to figure it out and give up?

Long enough to leave a hickey, evidently.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Daily Peep: Mommy Time


Top Ten Reasons I Am Excited to Stay Home With My Family This Coming Weekend

If you read very many blogs written by women, you'll know that all the cool kids have packed up their little black dresses, kissed their spouses and kiddos goodbye and headed off to Chicago today for BlogHer '09.

I've never gone, but best I can tell, it's like the world's coolest, geekiest, three-day-long slumber party. With booze.

Of course, that's not something you can do with a nine-month-old nursing baby. Oh, but wait, Amalah and Ezra and Amalah's boobs are there. Well, shit.

Someday, after we win the Lottery (I've got high hopes for Saturday's Powerball) I'd love to go to BlogHer, but in the meantime, I'd love to be one of fifteen non-BlogHer-attending bloggers to win $100 Cozi.com for telling you why I'm happy to be staying home this weekend instead.

The winners will be the bloggers who have the most comments on their Top Ten Reasons post, so help me out here, folks!

Top Ten Reasons I Am Excited to Stay Home With My Family This Coming Weekend

  1. I could win $100 from Cozi.com - and I'll have all that free time to check out their website and learn more about how they're going to help me get my shit together.
  2. Shrike has five days off, which we get all get to spend together!
  3. CapitalCity PrideFest is Saturday. I've been every year since we've moved to BlueState, and this time we get to take Peeper!
  4. Even with a night-owl baby, I'd probably get more sleep at home.
  5. We finally have groceries in the house!
  6. We're planning to go out to dinner with our new friends - the ones we picked up in the grocery store a few weeks ago.
  7. It would be a shame to make all those other Mommy Bloggers feel bad because my kid is so much cuter than theirs.
  8. Saves me the humiliation of acting like / sounding like / proving myself to be a complete ass in front of my blog heroes.
  9. I just finished flying / traveling alone with Peeper. I am not up to doing it again so soon.
  10. Did I mention that I could win $100 if enough of you leave comments on this post?

A Suitable Suit

In case you weren't following the comment conversation about swimsuits on my previous post, I've found a baby wetsuit that is supposed to keep kids warm in the water.

I ordered one (in pink, of course) this evening and it should arrive in time for Peeper's next swimming lesson!

When I asked Shrike about it, she said "Would you feel silly taking her with that?"

Um, no. I'd feel like my baby isn't turning blue from the cold! And then I'd tell all the other parents where to buy them for their little blue swimmers.

When she's bigger, I like the idea of something like this.

I hope that we'll be able to do some outside swimming next year (you know, when she cares), so we'll definitely be going for sun protection.

(Specifically, we've been told that we should protect her scar from the sun for a few years. Also that whole skin cancer thing.)

I also like that it's modest, but in kind of a weird way.

She's a baby, so other than the sun issue, I would have no problem with her swimming in nothing but a diaper - or naked, for that matter - but I definitely do not want her wearing something like this little fishtit number here.

(Yes, that is an infant bathing suit.)

For myself, I'm thinking of going with one of these:

Yes, the one on the left is actually called a burqini.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daily Peep: Watched

Peeper's going to town on some greenbeans, while Galoot's hoping for a windfall.

Swimming Lesson Update

Peeper had her second swimming lesson tonight. It went well, and she seemed much more comfortable about things this time.

At one point, I noticed that she was distracted and kept looking at something on the deck. That's when I realized that one of her classmates had brought his grandparents along, and they were taking pictures.

I swear, that kid of mine can spot a camera a mile away!


She let me float her on her back (with her head on my chest) for quite a while, and she was very relaxed about it.

She didn't like it, though when I loosened my grip a bit to see if she could "really" float for a moment and her face went under.

She didn't cry, but was quite surprised, sputtered, etc.

Of course, it was right then that the teacher showed up to swim her around. She was, again, quite unsure about that, but didn't cry.

Overall, she was much less apprehesive about everything this time, and on occassion, she even splashed her hands and kicked her feet at the appropriate times.

At this age, I'm certainly not expecting much anything from her, in terms of following along with the class or actual swimming skills. It's just about getting used to being in the water, and playing around for a little while.

And, it gets us out of the house, and if I can get over being such a dork, maybe I'll talk to some other parents and who knows, maybe we'll make a friend or something.

She seems to enjoy being around the other babies, too.

(She really had her eye on that one little fellow who brough the paparazzi with him. On the other hand, maybe she was just wondering why her cameras were pointing at him.)

When swimming is over (there's only so many activities I can handle in a week), we should look into try to make it over to the library for story time. I hear that there's a Music Together class that meets right up the road from us, but it starts at eighteen months, so we'll have to wait for next summer to do that.

I'm still working out the warm/dry/dress routine. This time, I took two towels for each of us, which helped, and took a big open totebag instead of the diaper bag / back pack.

I'm thinking about ditching the t-shirt that I've been wearing over my suit, because it's soooo wet and makes it hard to get her dry/warm quickly.

I always swim with a t-shirt, because I'm really not comfortable being that naked in public, but on the other hand, what's really covered by the t-shirt?

Not my flabby arms or thighs. So what's the point?

And, really, with that many cute babies in one swimming pool (Of course we all know who's the cutest, but some of the others are okay, too.) do I really think anyone is going to be looking at me?

I am a bit concerned about Peeper deciding to help herself to some goody in the middle of the lesson, though.

In non-me-me-me related post-lesson-dressing news, I'm also thinking about taking footy, and possibly even fuzzy, jammies to put Peeper in afterward.

Shrike will be going along with us on Mondays for the next three weeks, so that will help. (She worked this Monday, and also works Monday of the final week of class.)

The original plan was for Shrike to take her on Mondays, and me to take her on Wednesdays, but after seeing how complicated it is for me - who is used to juggling her 24/7, I offered to go along with them, but let Shrike do the swimming on her nights.

She had no problem with that plan!

Speaking of Shrike's work schedule, it got a little wacky around our trip to Texas, and she's now on her night in a row at work - but starting tomorrow, she's off for five whole days!

I'm not quite sure how that happened, but I sure am looking forward to it!

If You're Trying to Comment

Anonymama mentioned a while back that she was having trouble posting comments on my blog, and perhaps others are as well.

I've noticed that I often get an error message when I try to comment, but if I click the button again (sometimes it takes three tries) it will go ahead and accept it.

I have no clue why.

So, if it's not taking your comments, give that a try and see if it works.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Daily Peep: Happy Girl


Huh?

Earlier this evening, a woman was goo-gooing at Peeper and asked, "Is she your youngest?"

It surprised me, because usually the question, "Is she your. . . " is followed by ". . . first?" but, eh, no big deal.

Then I thought about it a bit more. Let's do the math.

Peeper is thirty-eight weeks old.

And looks younger than that.

If I'd gotten pregnant the day she was born (and that shit's not even funny), I'd just now be full term.

So, did this woman think I was dragging Peeper around but had left a newborn at home?

Or did she think that I look like I might be pregnant?

Or did she expect me to say that, yes, Peeper is a "baby oops" who is waaaay younger than those other kids that I had a a more reasonable age?

Or that she's actually my granddaughter?

Or maybe it's just one of those things you ask and then realize, "Wow, that was a stupid thing to say!"

Yeah, let's go with that option, because otherwise, I can't figure how she wasn't calling me either old or fat.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A'Swimming We Will Go

Peeper had her first swimming lesson this evening - "Aquatots" at the local YMCA.

She seemed a bit apprehensive, and whined a little while we were in the water, but didn't really cry. I suspect it was more about being cold (I was cold, too!) than being scared.

The class is only thirty minutes long, and we basically just sang a few songs (most of which Peeper was already familiar with, so that was good) and swooshed the kids around in the water different ways ("...if they will let you...").

Then we had sort of a "free play" time - with toys! - while the teacher came around and met each kid individually and took them for a bit of a swim.

Peeper was quite apprehensive about that, but did okay, since they didn't get very far from me.

Although she was wearing a shirt, the instructor spotted her scar immediately, and asked about it, and specifically asked how her lungs are, and quizzed me on whether we had permission from her doctor for her to be swimming and going under water.

At first, I thought she was talking about getting the scar wet, and I told her that she'd been released for bathing as soon as the incision was healed, but then she said that she's had kids who've been told not to put their heads underwater "until they are a certain age."

Oh, hmm. I'd not even thought to ask about that.

We were told that she has no activity restrictions, but I guess it can't hurt to check specifically about swimming.

She's got her nine-month (!) check-up next week, so I figure we can ask about it then (not like she's planning to do any underwater swimming within the next couple of lessons - if at all), or we might just give her cardiologist a call, to be safe.

After the lesson, it was quite an adventure getting us both dry, warmed up, dry again (warming up required a shower) and dressed to come home.

Next time, I will put all our swimming stuff in one bag and just take that in, rather than the whole diaper bag, and I will leave it in the locker room, rather than lugging it to and from the pool.

I will also take at least three towels for each of us, because by the time we got to the locker room, our towels were soaked, and then we had no way to dry off after showering!

So, all in all, I'd say that I learned more at this lesson than she did.

Daily Peep: Cruising Toward Cruising

No, not yet, but she is all about standing while holding onto things, these days.

She's also starting to realize that she can take steps, and move her hands, and end up somewhere different from where she started.

Like this:


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Daily Peep: Something's Fishy

While we were away, Shrike found this fish "squirter" in a box of toys in the basement. It's hollow, so when you squeeze it, it puffs air (or water, if we were to put it in the tub) out its mouth. Peeper loooooves it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Daily Peep: Walking With Mommy

When we left for Texas, Peeper would occasionally move her feet a bit when standing up, holding onto an adult's hands.

By the time we came home, she was doing this:

Texas Trip Recap

I had the best intentions of blogging about our trip as it was happening, but we were generally busy visiting all day, and by the time Peeper was down for the night, I wasn't far behind, so I was doing good to manage to toss up a Daily Peep photo on my way to bed!

I must admit that I was more than a little apprehensive about making the trip on my own with Peeper, but it went really well, and she handled it great!

Negotiating the airports wasn't bad at all. I wore Peeper on my front, wore the backpack/diaper bag on my back, and carried the carseat (with the base tucked inside the bucket) over one elbow.

I got on the plane like that, got the seat installed, then put her in it. On both flights, she slept at the beginning and end, and was awake for most of the middle. She spent most of the flight in my lap, but got in the carseat for takeoff, landing, turbulence, and when she acted like she wanted to be in it. Oddly enough, she was more willing to nurse in the carseat than in my lap, which my back has not quite gotten over yet.

She enjoyed the "snacks" that they served in the plane - I got one ham and one turkey sandwich, so we could share some of each. We gave our M&Ms to our seatmates, which seemed the least we could do.

On the flight down, she completely crumbled a hard wheat roll all over me, but we had softer, more bun-type rolls on the way home, so less mess.

When we arrived in Houston, Frappa picked us up at the airport, then we picked up LadyKay when her class was over, and headed to hometown - with a stop for Italian food along the way. That evening and the next day, we mostly just hung out and visited.

On Friday, Peeper and I made a run to Target (Which is set up exactly mirror-image of ours. Very disconcerting.) and visited at the beauty shop while Anonymama was getting her hair done. Her beautician has been cutting our family's hair for, oh, close to thirty-five years, so she's definitely on our list of people to see while we're in town!

That evening, Peeper and I had dinner at LadyKay's house, and spent the evening visiting with her, Frappa and Kiddo1.

BabyBro and HisLovelyWife (and their feti) came into town Saturday and Sunday, and we had dinner on Saturday evening with everyone, then sat around talking with babies all evening and the next day.

They opened a big box of clothes (and bumbos) for the babies, which I'd shipped ahead. We'd somehow managed to find ourselves with a pink and a blue bumbo, so it seemed only fitting to pass those on, along with some hand-me-down, some regift, and some new clothes.

They had a couple of things for Peeper, too, including some new MaryJane socks (bigger! sparkley!), some MaryJane fuzzy slippers for later, and her Halloween costume!

On Monday, Peeper and I went to lunch with Frappa and a friend who has a four-month-old little girl. That's when Peeper sprouted her tooth!

That evening, my friends G and L came over with their son M, who just turned two. I've known G since kindergarten!

Tuesday was another round of visits with Anonymama - first up to her church to show off Peeper to the secretary and the preacher and several other folks who wandered in and out of the office (It was Vacation Bible School week, so there was a lot of action for a Tuesday.) and then up to Anonydaddy's office to visit him and show her off to everyone there.

After that, the three of us went to lunch, then back to the Anonyparents' house for a nap.

On Wednesday, we got up too early in the morning, and LadyKay took us back to Houston to catch our plane, before heading off to her class.

(It worked out great that she has a Wednesday afternoon class at University of Houston - where she's working on her MSW - and Wednesday is one of the cheapest days to fly!)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Shrike was busting her ass cleaning, organizing, and getting rid of crap. I know she missed us, but she also enjoyed the break.

Peeper and I missed her, too, of course, but really enjoyed our visit, and Peeper handled it all really well.

It took her a little while to warm up to all those "strangers," and she still wanted to know where the hell her Mama was at all times, but she was a real trooper, all things considered.

In fact, it went so well that we've decided to do it again sooner than we'd originally planned!

Of course, Shrike's vacation time is pretty limited, but since we've established that Peeper and I can handle the trip on our own, and since she and I don't have work schedules to worry about, the only thing stopping us, really, is the price of the plane tickets - and the Anonyparents have offered to help with that.

So, basically, they can see Peeper as often as they want to pay for! :-)

What we're tentatively planning is to visit more or less quarterly. We were already planning for all three of us to go around New Years, so we're adding another Mama/Peeper trip before then.

I would just split the difference, and go in mid-October, but that puts us right in the time frame when BabyBro's twins may or may not be born yet, and I'd hate to just barely miss them, so we're looking at the first week of November. That's technically when they are due, but I think it's a safe bet that they'll be here by then, and I don't want to wait much longer because we need a few weeks to recover before Christmas and our next trip down!

That will be right after Peeper's birthday, so it will be nice to celebrate with my family, and I've told Anonymama to consider the plane tickets to be her gift from them.

I'm really looking forward to it - especially the part about meeting our new niece and nephew - but in the meantime, I sure am glad to be home.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Daily Peep: Great Scot!

This outfit is Shrike's favorite of the ones Anonymama bought for Peeper as soon as we found out that she was a girl. (This is my favorite.)

This evening, it occurred to me that it's getting too small and we'd not gotten any photos of her in it.

So, here they are!



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Daily Peep: Standin' Box

While we were gone, Shrike got some file cabinets and other crap cleared out of our home office, and set up our Pack & Play in the corner.

I mostly wanted it up for when Peeper is crawling and cruising, and I'm trying to work, but when she tried one out at my mom's house, we saw that she could stand (if I put her there), leaning on the walls, and when she fell there was nothing hard to land on.

I like the idea of her learning about gravity in a conk-free environment!

Here, she's checking out ours. She's not too sure about it yet.




Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Daily Peep: Grandpa's Girl

Peeper with Anonydaddy on the night we arrived in Texas.


Did I mention this was after a spaghetti dinner?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Daily Peep: Stealth Tooth

Weeks ago, I predicted that Peeper would get her first tooth while she and I were in Texas, and it has come to pass.

Her two bottom first incisors have been threatening to come through for a while, and the one on the right side was feeling really swollen, so I was sure it would be first.

This morning, though, I thought I miiiiight feel something a little harder and maybe even sharper than usual on the left side, but I wasn't sure about it at all.

I went out to lunch this afternoon with Frappa and a friend of hers (and the friend's four-month-old), at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

(I love this place. I served chips, salsa and chili con queso from there at our wedding.)

Frappa's friend, Peeper and I shared fajitas, and I'm saying that Peeper took one bite and thought, "You know, what this needs is a tooth!"

Midway through the meal, I took her to the bathroom for a diaper change, and while I had her lying down, I inspected her mouth and was able to see a tiny line of something that was a slightly different color on her gum - which felt hard and sharp.

I had to look and feel several times to convince myself that I wasn't just imagining it, but finally decided that it was for real. Probably.

Before returning to our table, I texted Shrike: "Tooth!!!(?)"

She called back immediately and I told her all about it.

I've felt it several times over the course of the day, and it's still there, and maybe even a bit more prominent.

I suppose that makes sense. If it was inside her gum last night and aaaallllmost out this morning, and barely out this afternoon, it stands to reason that it would be a bit further out by this evening.

I am still the only one who has seen or felt it, but I swear it's there.

Here are a few of my attempts at getting photographic evidence:





Tooth!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009