Better Ask A Breeder!

We are a one-car family. We have a Honda Fit that we call Jumba and the rest of the time we rely on the free shuttle bus to base provided by Tom’s employer and our own feet. Because the shuttle only runs hourly or so, Tom gets to drive the car in these last few weeks of pregnancy so he can leave at a moment’s notice if I go into labor. Anyway, he went to an office lunch off-campus yesterday and offered the extra seat to any coworker who wanted to carpool. A childless coworker took the offer, but had a question:

“You only have one seat?”

“Yes. There are car seats in the two back seats.”

“But you haven’t had the other kid yet.”

“No, but it’s a good idea to have it installed in case we need to transfer to the hospital quickly or whatever.”

“Don’t they just pop in?”

“…Not exactly. At least, not quick enough to make my wife happy if we’re in an emergency situation.”

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa, but not even Santa’s magic can instantly install a brand new car seat. Have your chosen car seat purchased and installed (if you’ve never done it before, preferably with the help of your local certified seat tech so you get the best fit) BEFORE you go into labor. Even those of you who plan to have a homebirth like us should plan ahead in case of…whatever.

And here’s where I get a little ranty: I do not understand people who get snotty about the guidelines for car seat fit and use. The current recommendations are:

Kids under 2 or under the car seat weight/height rear-facing limit should face backwards

Kids under 4 or under 40 pounds should be in a 5-point harness

That…really isn’t that hard to do. “But their legs don’t fit!” Do too. Little kids can sit cross-legged for a lot longer than adults. Just take their shoes off. Maggie is in the 70th percentile for height and is still sitting comfortably rear-facing in our subcompact. She is 2.5 and not quite 30 pounds, so she has another 5 to go before she maxes out of her seat’s rear-facing limit. “But aren’t their legs more likely to break that way?” The reason that it’s better to have them rear-facing is to prevent neck injury because their little spines and muscles are immature; the more time you give them facing backward, the better off they’ll be. Lot easier to fix a broken leg than a broken neck, y’all.

“But those seats are so expensive!” Bullshit. There was a time, yes, where companies like Britax had the extended weight limit market sewn up, and those seats cost more than my first iPod. But there are tons of competitively priced, under $100 car seats for kids who have outgrown the infant bucket carrier but are under 35-40lbs. So if comfort isn’t an issue…and price isn’t an issue…why not listen to the recommendations? Your kid is safer facing backward. I promise.

Not that it matters if you have them buckled incorrectly, by the way. So make sure the shoulder straps are AT or BELOW their shoulders if they are rear-facing or just above if they are forward-facing. The chest clip should be NO LOWER than armpit-level. You should not be able to pinch any slack on the harness straps. And yes, your kid is probably too young for a backless booster or belt-positioning booster. Four or 40lbs is the recommendation, but your kid has to be mature enough to handle not being harnessed. If your kid tends to fall asleep and slump out of correct position, yanks the belt behind their shoulders, or submarines down to the floor during tantrums, you had better get them back into a 5-point harness. Seeing photos on Facebook or Twitter or whatever of 3 and 4 year olds in backless boosters that only position the car’s seatbelt makes me twitch. It just isn’t a good idea.

And people get pissed if you follow these guidelines and they don’t. I have been lectured and mocked for keeping Maggie turned backward even though she is well under the seat’s weight limit, and not by uneducated bumpkins either: these are coming from parents who freak about dyes or chemicals in foods or have their house practically bubble-wrapped in their childproofing efforts. I don’t have gates on my stairs; I let Maggie watch TV occasionally and I have been known to feed her cotton candy at fairs. She climbs fifteen feet in the air on playground structures and hangs there. But she’s more likely to be hurt or killed in the car than anything else she does, and it will likely be someone else’s fault. Why wouldn’t I meet and exceed the current minimum recommendations for her car seat?

/soapbox rant over. Anyway, this breeder says to install a car seat in advance and use it correctly. I hope you’ll never have to thank yourself for doing it. And if you come back to me with “Well we traveled without car seats/on the top of cars/on our parents’ laps and WE turned out fine!” I will run you over myself. You were lucky. That’s all. And now you know better. Willful ignorance is the most unattractive quality someone can possess. Just look at Michele Bachmann.

Still Here

37 weeks and some, with very little to report. The baby is posterior (note: facing outward, spine to mine, but not breech) so I’m spending a lot of time positioning myself in such a way as to encourage the baby to flip to face the correct way. Most babies do that on their own but this makes me feel useful and not so fat-cow. As per our family tradition–when you have more than one child you can call it a pregnancy tradition, right?–we also put in 2.0′s car seat.

It’s a child safety device AND it’s very useful for keeping one’s decorative gourds from rolling all over the car.

What else…Maggie’s been spunky lately.

Maggie: Play with the iPad?

Me: Not today.

Maggie: Don’t be rude.

The nerve! And then this exchange:

Me: The rice in your rice table is for playing with, not for eating.

Maggie: Well…close your eyes!

Dratted child. At least she’s wonderfully adorable, right?

 

I think that’s all that’s on my mind. There was a minor incident last week but I’m not going to write about it now so I’ll have a topic for our next “Better Ask A Breeder.” Any questions for that?

Better Ask A Breeder!

Adrianna writes: “How horribly or wonderfully has having a baby(ies) affected your marriage? Do you lovingly look at your baby and then look at your husband and think “We made that beautiful creature” or do you look at your husband while he sleeps and you are awake with the newborn and want to smother him? Or both? I’m nervous!”

…Yes!

Okay, so are you all familiar with the movie Jaws? Particularly the end where Richard Dreyfuss and Sheriff Brody have just fought off the clutches of the insane killer shark and amidst the carnage they cleave together despite not really liking each other much to kick their tiny-ass flotation device back to shore because without each other they’ll drown?

It’s a little like that.

Well, not really. I actually don’t know what it’s like because I don’t remember much. Sleeplessness will do that to a person. Like any forever-life-altering bomb you drop into your life, there’s going to be an adjustment period. I do remember a few incidents that may help put it into perspective:

1. The week after Maggie was born, Tom heard her cry in the night. While I nursed, he picked up a pillow, gently cradled it to his chest, and patted the pillow’s feathery bottom and sleep-walked all over the room whispering comforting nothings.

2. There was one point where I was so toasted and felt so awful about my ability to be a patient mother and Tom’s ability to be the partner I needed–I hasten to emphasize that it was not him but that it was because I didn’t know WHAT I needed at that point or even which end was up–that I spent about an hour at 3am mentally concocting a plan to drain half of our savings and fly to Bismark, North Dakota (which I had just read was experiencing an employment boom) and abandon them both without a forwarding address. That isn’t a joke. For that hour, I was absolutely dead serious. I’ve only told one other person that. But now you know.

3. Sharing a look of horror with Tom over the doctor’s exam table as the pediatrician fixed the results of a bottle of formula administered at the hospital that caused Maggie a bout of constipation. Have you ever seen the Play-Doh Factory in use? *shudder* But that’s the kind of crap (erm, literally) that you bond over in those first weeks. Nobody is going to discuss your baby’s crap quite as enthusiastically as the person from whom your child received half its genes.

4. And the most important memory, a moment that if I am lucid when I approach death I will reach for and hold onto as hard as I can: lying on my side in bed in a little pool of sunshine, nursing a perfectly content newborn baby on one side with my husband asleep and spooning me on the other.

So…you’re going to laugh AT your partner. You are going to hate them and yourself and wish you could run away. You are going to laugh WITH your partner. But in the end, if you work together, you’re going to get the sunshine. And probably a good dose of Play-Doh crap.

One very important note to add: remember that you trust your partner. You trust and love your friends. If you are truly despairing, REACH OUT TO THEM and let them help you through it. Post-partum depression is nothing to fool with. Conversely, if you feel like everyone else has changed and you’re the only normal one but everyone else is worried about you…remember that you trust them. Listen to what they say. Take their concerns seriously. The only thing worse than knowing you need help and not getting it is ignoring everyone who cares enough about you to say “We love you and you need help.”

Errata

A few random things on my mind from here and there…

1. I updated the “Writing” page. Lo and behold, I have done something besides ruminate on my waistline expansion and my toddler this past summer. Not much, but there you go. I have a weekly thing at Tripwolf where I do talk about family travel quite a bit. Gotta go with what you know. So that’s where a lot of the travel content has ended up; my brain is slow and sludgy recently and I need to save the good stuff for paid gigs. (I detest the term “mommy-blogger”; I find it a reductionist and insulting term invented by marketers who want to sell paper towels without paying writers for their content and it literally makes me want to throw things and become violent…but I seem to have pigeonholed myself. Alas.)

2. Google+ may not be used by many people, but I find it awesome for one specific purpose: I’m re-watching “The Sopranos” with a friend as a sort of video analysis club. We plan to do the same thing with “Mad Men” when we finish the series this week but with more people, and the Circles feature will make it possible for us to have discussions about the show that are dictated on our own time and aren’t in our inboxes. So Google+ is useful. You heard it here first. (Not really.) I do think that like an in-person book club it’s best suited to no more than four people; otherwise someone’s rushing ahead or not keeping up with the episodes. Also, “The Sopranos” is much better the second time. The first time I was so distracted by the fact that not a single one of the characters was sympathetic or likable (except for maybe Bobby and Dr. Melfi) and couldn’t get past the moral revulsion. This time I can focus on the stories, the crafting of the episodes, and the genuinely comedic scenes and details. It’s much, much better…though I don’t think I need to see it a third time.

3. Speaking of second-time-around media, Tina Fey’s Bossypants continues to be excellent and amazing and I’m really sad that it isn’t several hundred pages longer. Like, something on the scope of The Stand. That would make me happy.

4. I need to see more of England. By the weekend I’m so wiped out that Tom takes Maggie on solo outings so I can recover and they’ve seen some really gorgeous things. All of his photo albums read like I stayed back in America, which I might as well have for all the getting-out-and-sightseeing I’m doing. But those naps! Ohhh, the naps. They do call to me more than the heathered moors do.

5. The military mail system absolutely, unequivocally sucks. You hear that, Frankfort?! I want all the stuff I ordered at the end of bloody August delivered. You used to do so well. And now you’re horrible. I had assumed it was the summer holidays and being short-staffed, but you’ve continued to be terrible long into the fall. And for someone who had no prior experience or interest in the logistics of military life and who is married to someone who’s not technically in the service, I am learning way more about the inconveniences of military life than I ever thought I would. Thankfully–and no sarcasm intended here–Tom doesn’t have to go anywhere that he doesn’t want to go. Like a war zone. That part is very nice. Not getting my mail? Well, if you’ve seen Bad Boys 2…. “This is a stupid fucking problem to be having, but it is a problem nonetheless.”

New Feature: Better Ask A Breeder!

Somehow Tom has found himself embroiled in several conversations over the past two weeks with childless folks who are curious about the logistics of family and life with kids. We’re not sure if this curiosity stems from the desire to become parents themselves or if it’s the same instinct that draws people to the circus freakshow, but the questions led me to ask Tom: “What is this? ‘Better ask a breeder’ week?”

Another friend suggested that might be good blog fodder, so here we are! Submit your questions in the comments and as a breeder of one-and-some, I can try to answer.

This week’s question comes from one of Tom’s coworkers: “Just what do you get a family for a second baby, anyway? They already have everything, right?”

The answer to this one depends. If you’re local, the answer is food. The answer is ALWAYS food. Ask if the family has any dietary restrictions or favorite freezable recipes and hook their shit up with a few frozen lasagnas. Use disposable pans from the grocery store so they don’t have to clean or return anything. They’re going to be up to their ears in navigating laundry, feedings, sleeplessness, sibling whatever, and the idea of going to the stove for yet another frozen pizza just might make them cry. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, FEED THEM. It will save them from killing each other in a fit of hateful exhaustion and feeding off the bodies.

If you aren’t local, start with clothes. When was their first child born? If you have a family where the older child was a girl born in the winter and they’re due to have a son in mid-June, boyfriend is going to need some 0-3 month shorts and a festive Hawaiian shirt or two. Likewise, the best gifts I’ve received for 2.0 are hand-me-downs from friends and family who’ve had winter babies so Ninja Baby The Second won’t freeze to death wearing its Hawaiian-born sister’s sunsuits.

Or, y’know, you could ask if they have an Amazon wishlist or if they need anything specific. Breeders may have taken leave of their senses but we do usually speak with our human tongues.

Without Which

2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, which explains why roughly 1/4-1/3 of the people on my Facebook friends list have spawned or announced a pregnancy since February. In case you happen to be pregnant or know someone who is or who is trying to get themselves up the stick (and best of luck to you! I wish you expediently expanding embryos), here’s the list of things that have made the last 35 weeks bearable for me. We’ll see how they hold up during the last five.

1. Lush massage bars in Therapy and Mange Too

When I was pregnant with Maggie I used some special pregnant-lady skin cream for the first half on my belly, then relied on genetics and luck to spare myself of the bane of stretch marks. This plan was…not successful.

Those slashes that are meant to be a 3? Yeah. I looked like I had been touched by a raptor underneath my belly button. Fortunately they’ve faded over time but they’ll never really go away, meaning that even though I dropped the baby weight quite quickly I’m going to be shopping for high-cut bikini bottoms or Land’s End tankinis until I die. This time around? Thrice-daily applications from either of these massage bars–the ingredients in Therapy are supposed to help skin elasticity and Tom just likes the smell of the Mange Too bar–and a stockpile of $2 Old Navy camisoles to layer under my shirts to keep the oils from staining my good clothes have kept me mark-free this time around. No new taxes marks!

It could also just be that my skin has given up and is permanently loosened from the last time, but do give me my dreams, will you?

2. L’Occitane Immortelle Eye Balm

I found myself with an empty house and nothing to do one Saturday, so I went wandering downtown to the newly opened L’Occitane store where I told the clerk “I’m seven months pregnant, I have a two year old, and I look it.” She hooked me up with this eye cream and even though most days I feel like I’ve programmed my brain to autopilot, I don’t look like it. At least, not nearly as much.

3. Peppermint tea

The nausea. Dear God, the nausea. The morning sickness (that and the crippling expense of raising a child in the first world) is what is going to keep me off the baby-go-round for a third time. (Probably.) (Note from Tom: “Definitely.”) Mint tea did help on the mild-to-moderate days; it also helped as an after-meal digestive aid to make sure what I ate actually stayed down. Most importantly, the mere belief that drinking tea would help caused me to drink several mugs a day even on the worst days when it was clear that nothing short of a .375 Magnum was going to touch my misery. This occasionally misguided faith is probably what kept my gray-faced, nauseous ass from needing to be hospitalized for dehydration. Seriously. I was that sick (and then I got heartburn). Even if it didn’t always help the nausea, at least I was keeping down liquid. I’m told mint tea is also a diuretic, so it helped with the early bloat of the first weeks, which is nice. Nothing worse than not being able to eat anything and still not being able to put on your pants.

4. Vitamin D

I thought in Hawaii that I was just fantastically in love with life and my family and the beauty of the world. Turns out that’s how high on life you get when you’re getting several hours of vitamin D from the equatorial sun every day (coupled with balmy breezes and low humidity). I’m still happy and appreciative of my life, but without a vitamin D supplement I’m not quite so obnoxiously Pollyanna about it.

So that’s what I needed to get me by for the last eight and a half or so months. Sneak any of these to a pregnant woman and you’ll be totally popular, I swear. Sometime this week I’ll come back with baby shower gifts that will get you loved/respected/gifted with muffins. Promise.

 

 

 

 

The GEP

Autumn Nature Table or, "Maggie's Chestnut Hoard"

Chris Rock calls his GED the “Good Enough Diploma.” I like that. It sort of sums up what we’re doing with Maggie’s “homeschooling” these days. I call it “Good Enough Preschooling.”

The problem with moving to an entirely new country at the beginning of a pregnancy is that you don’t have much time to build a network. Sure, you’ll make friends you’ll have over for dinner or movie nights, but building the sort of relationship where you can ask “Hey, can I dump my toddler on you for an indeterminate period of time so I can have a baby and then do it a few more times in the following weeks so I can recover a little?” takes more time than I feel I have. While I don’t doubt the friends that we have made would probably do that for us and may yet offer, I don’t feel comfortable asking.

In order to make sure Maggie stays happy, engaged, and occupied I have, like a Dell customer service center, outsourced.

First up: preschool. We found a lovely center about fifteen minutes away. Now, in Northern England any time you drive fifteen minutes away from a town center you’re going to find yourself knee-deep in farm animals. This school is no exception. It’s a Montessori school with heavy Reggio Emilia influence (their new atelier is lovely) and maintains several animals for the children to help with: pigs, goats, and chickens.

My little introvert attends twice a week and will up to three times a week next school year or as space allows, and I’m thrilled to report that after a few days of releasing siren-like wails before I even turned the car engine off she’s started walking in without so much as a backward glance to say goodbye. This completely cracks me up, though: she has a small knitted blanket that’s 1/3 the size of her beloved Blankie that she takes with her into the classroom. She retires directly to the reading corner and listens to the teachers telling stories…with the blanket over her head. When she feels comfortable (after 5-10 minutes) she is willing to remove the blanket and join in. I’m told a little boy named Felix would desperately love to be Maggie’s friend, but thus far she has only opened up to the teachers. Maybe he’ll have better luck in a few weeks. Keep at it, little Felix.

The only issue so far is that the parent car pool consists of BMWs (sedans and SUVs), Audis, Range Rovers, and Volvo SUVs and I feel a little self-conscious driving my wee orange Honda Fit. We ballin’.

So…that still leaves three days a week. Drat. On to the next phase of my plan: childcare guides from Little Acorn Learning. Now, with so many free idea resources on the internet, why pay for a pre-planned curriculum? Because you’re about six weeks away from delivering your second blessed bundle of screams and sometimes you need to go on autopilot, that’s why. I find the key here is don’t do everything. Seriously. Get the three-day guide, commit to doing two days’ worth of activities, and forgive yourself if you only manage one. These are ideas that someone else laid out for me so on days when my brain isn’t functioning I can open my guide and carry on until all the synapses are firing. The colors and activities of the day are really helpful (particularly when I sit down on Sunday to write out my weekly plan, which is absolutely as far in advance as I ever plan anything) in this regard. Tom jumps in as often as he’s able.

Tom: "I never get to paint! We're going to paint! Leaf printing time!"

We round out the week with a Spanish playgroup class and library time afterward (let’s read someone ELSE’S books! I fell asleep there today. The chairs are really comfy) and a field trip day. Our field trips are almost always to Brimham Rocks, because it takes 45 minutes of meandering to get to the lunch kiosk, half an hour to eat lunch, and 45 minutes of meandering back and that, if you’re curious, is the perfect amount of time to totally wear a toddler out on Nature’s Playground. Tom has his time with Maggie in the late afternoons–usually nature walks where they collect things they find (blackberries until not too long ago and now chestnuts–and enlists her help with dinner prep. Probably one of the highlights of Maggie’s day is pushing the buttons on our front-loading washing machine and explaining to Blankie that the clothes are getting a bath.

So that’s five days down where you know your kid will be doing something mentally enriching and/or fun. The end goal of the Good Enough Preschool program is fun and limited organized activity. Though it sounds like there’s a lot of scheduling going on here, we do organized and thematic activities for maybe an hour a day. The rest is all free for Maggie’s open-ended free play time (with or without me), walks to the playground up the street, and our personal favorite: reading books under a fleece blanket. You can invoke John Holt, father of unschooling, or all those “experts” who agree that open free play is the best for preschoolers if you want to justify doing “nothing” but I just think it’s awesome to see what Maggie comes up with on her own. Doing “nothing” for a significant portion of the day is good for Maggie’s little brain and good for her hormonal mess of a mother, too. And the times that we’re doing “something” are not so stressful–I HOPE–that we won’t be able to continue after the baby comes (PLEASE LET THIS CHILD NOT BLOW UP OUR LIVES TOO DRASTICALLY OR FOR TOO LONG) because it’s fairly routine and autopilot.

So…that’s how we do it, Good Enough Preschool style. The most important thing is that we’re all enjoying ourselves as a family, it’s low-stress, we’re making memories, blah blah blah and Maggie might even be learning things, which is a cool benefit. But fun. We have fun. That’s all that matters.

The Midwife Is In

I sent these pics via email to family because I didn’t want to flash my bare belly all over Facebook. So obviously, I’ll post them here, too. There’s a difference, right? Y’all choose to be here whereas you are at the mercy of whatever pops up as a top story in your Facebook feed, and I know you don’t want to see Shamu’s pale whale underbelly.

That seems reasonable, right?

Anyway, you were warned. Maggie enjoys playing “midwife” and listening for the baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler she made from the handle of her toy rolling pin. I love that kid.

 

She also gives it a try with just her ears. Apparently that’s hilarious.

 

Oh yes. We’re having funsies now.

Preservation

It’s been a solid two weeks since I sat down to post. It’s not that things aren’t happening or that I don’t have a lot on my mind, but that I don’t have much to say. The last few weeks have brought me closer to full term–three weeks to 37 weeks as of this weekend and safe to go any time after that–and I’ve been acutely feeling the inward pull of preparation. Despite depositing much of my thought-vomit here, I’m a relatively private person and birth is a very private process. For me I think that’s the most appealing part about giving birth at home: though the epidural was spiffy and I’d like to gift-wrap a few to pass out to friends, I’ll happily trade that option for the ability to stay far away from strangers and have this baby in my own little nest. I am not nervous about this as long as I can preserve that feeling of sanctuary.

So in the meantime, I’ve been nesting. With Maggie it was a desire to redecorate the entire house in fresh, bright colors and we ended up doing some significant painting. I assume that’s because I gave birth in the spring. But this time around I’m having a mid-November baby and the pull of millions of years of evolution is undeniable: we must stock up food for winter or we will diiiiiiiiie aaaaaargh!

The baby totally doesn’t care that we live less than a mile from a shopping strip with no fewer than three grocery stores and bakeries, a pizza place and Indian takeout. Oh no. Exhibit A:

 

This, friends, is the result of two weekend jam canning sessions. The final yield: fifty jars. Strawberry, strawberry vanilla, strawberry black pepper, raspberry vanilla, blackberry, and “summer berry” (a.k.a. the leftover dregs from all three types of berries that we couldn’t make into full batches). Assuming our normal pace–a jar of jam per week–this is just shy of a year’s worth of jam. We’ll have guests and give a few jars away but this should take us straight to next year’s berry season.

And it doesn’t stop there! Oh no! Thanks to the wonders of Pinterest (my God, how I love Pinterest) I’ve marked several make-ahead crock pot recipe sites. They require about three hours to dice, chop, and season in large freezer-safe Ziplocs but the yield is 10-20 large freezable crock pot meals, from which we should get at least a supper and a lunch for all of us. I’ve also been furiously making applesauce for Maggie and saving every last piece of bone and cartilage from the weekly roasts for soup stock.

Would it surprise you to know that I’ve also been haranguing Tom night and day for a separate chest freezer? It wouldn’t? Good. Because this baby thinks it’s being born into the Donner Party in a mountainous deep freeze and it wants to make sure we aren’t eyeing it for an entree.

(Cannibalism jokes about new babies = magically delicious)

The other big nesting project is getting mentally and physically prepped for the birth itself. Since my pantry is pretty well stocked–although that chest freezer wouldn’t go unused, TOM–I’ve been walking more and started seeing a chiropractor. Since I am very observant [cough] I finally noticed one of my legs is demonstrably shorter than the other, suggesting my hips were misaligned. “Self,” I thought. “You maaaaay want to get those hips right before you have this kid.”

Much like Shakira, my hips (and legs!) do not lie: they had become so torqued around that they were starting to look like a Mobius strip rather than a proper pelvic floor. The shortness of breath and feeling like the baby thought it was going to be born via my esophagus? It was because the poor kiddo literally had nowhere to go–the head couldn’t drop any further than it already had.

Imagine trying to give birth to a baby that can’t drop. Yeah. I made that face too. Within 24 hours of my first adjustment–after I relearned to walk on legs that were the same length, having nearly pitched over on my right side after hopping off the table–the baby settled right down low and got out of my ribs. Where before I couldn’t walk up the stairs without gasping, now I can walk 4-5 miles in a day of sightseeing without issue. So! Weekly chiropractor adjustments for me with a doctor who specializes in maternal and pediatric adjustments until the birth and since the office is literally at the end of our block, I’m going to talk to her about popping in for a quick adjustment during labor if I can manage to get there and back.

The other half of this is a mental game; now that I am feeling invincible about my new Hips ‘O Magic, I can get my head around the rest. For me, that means checklists for Tom. “At 5 minutes apart, please make up our bed with the plastic mattress cover and an old fitted sheet” and things of that nature. I decided not to pack an “in case of hospital transfer” bag but I am organizing piles of things I know I’ll want at home all in one spot because I know I won’t want to get up to get them myself and it’s easier to keep directing Tom back to the same few piles. My mental game isn’t totally spot on–I wore my house slippers to preschool pickup just this week. But I try to laugh at stuff like that as much as I can. I laugh at a lot of other things too. Today it’s Maggie modeling her new hat, made by my mom out of fun fur stretchy yarn.

You go ahead and tell me that doesn’t crack you up. Then I’ll tell you you’re a soulless bastard. We’re calling her the Psychedelic Bolshevik.

This week marks 34 weeks. There’s always more that can be done, but I’m just about ready. My pantry, my body, and my brain are locked into self-preservation mode and ready to roll.

Six weeks left. Let’s do this.