Thursday, April 25, 2013

13 months

Our pediatrician was out of town for a while, so we just got Malcolm in for his year visit earlier this week, at almost 13 months. His infection from the previous week is pretty much gone, and he is feeling better after having a fever for much of last week as well, though he's still quite congested. The doctor did check out his chest, but said his lungs sounded clear so the congestion is respiratory even though it may not sound like it is and we just have to wait for it to go away. I've been waiting for almost two months now for that to happen, so hopefully it will actually happen at some point.

Because he'd been so sick the previous week, I asked to make a separate, later appointment for his immunizations. I remember that Gareth was pretty miserable after the MMR shot and I really couldn't deal with that again after having just made it through all the sickness of the previous week. So, we'll head back in next week for those.

Malcolm's apparently grown quite a lot in the last few months, and is now 30 inches. This puts him in the 50%, but since he was measured at 13 months, and I'd guess that's a 12 month average, the percentiles are probably a bit skewed this month. He weighed in at 18 pounds, 9 ounces, still in the 10% and had a head circumference of 47.25, which is in the 75%.

He still isn't walking, but he's getting there. He finally started cruising occasionally a few days ago, so maybe in a couple months he'll decide that walking could be fun. Gareth was so interested in doing all those "grown up" things, but Malcolm seems much less so. He's waved a couple of times, but seems to have forgotten how to do this. But he definitely has figured out clapping, which is always a fun stage.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sixth Birthday Celebrations

I'm a little awed by all the changes that happen between five and six. At five, Gareth seemed such a little kid still, fitting in more with the three to four year old interests and behavior and all that. I look at him now, and he seems to have suddenly turned into a big kid, who doesn't seem at all out of place around older nine or ten year olds. Weird. I'm sure some of this has to do with being in school, and of course there are still some little kid behaviors that I hope he'll outgrow in the next few years.

Gareth, once again, had spring break the week of his birthday. He still wanted to celebrate with his class, and had requested brownies. So the last day of school before break we brought in some brownies for the class. They do their birthday celebrations at the end of the day, so Malcolm and I headed up to the school a little earlier than usual so we could be there while they sang "Happy Birthday". It was fun to watch Gareth so excited to pass out brownies to his classmates (something I was always sad I never got to do, having a summer birthday).

Spring break week was not the greatest for us this year, but Gareth seemed to have a mostly happy day on his birthday. We got his hair trimmed a bit so it's a little more even now. The bangs probably ended up too short because Gareth kept complaining about them in his face. But they'll grow again, and who knows, maybe we'll go back to a longish classic cut in a few months if he keeps complaining about the hair in his face. When we got home from the haircut he helped me put together his favorite meal ever - pasta salad. We'd also purchased some fruit and a loaf of bread to go with dinner. I also took him to Larsen's and let him choose a cookie for each of us, since we wouldn't be having cake that night (elephant for Malcolm, dinosaurs for himself and me, and a meringue cookie for Ryan). During dinner he started complaining of being really cold, so he ate with a blanket on his lap. Even after quite some time under the blanket he was still shivering. And then, after only a second helping of pasta salad (he usually asks for at least three), he leaned back and closed his eyes and I noticed that he really didn't look so great. He had a fever and ended up laying down on the couch to rest while the rest of us finished dinner. He did rally a bit later to eat his cookie, but went to bed shortly after that.

Thankfully Gareth got over his illness pretty quickly. He's still coughing (this is nothing new; he's been coughing since he got a cold at the beginning of March), but the fever was gone by the next morning. I got to work Thursday evening on his cake, staying up late to bake it. I stayed up late Friday night to frost it, and Gareth helped me finish the final touches Saturday morning. I was really worried that he was going to want something that I just couldn't do, but I lucked out this year when he hit upon the idea of Angry Birds. I was about to laugh and say that might be a bit difficult and then I thought about it for a second and realized that it'd be perfect because the artwork in that game is actually very simplistic.

I ordered a 12-inch round cake pan from Amazon, large enough to fit the same amount of batter as a 9x13 at least. A few years ago my mom and I made a cake at Easter, the cake part of which was one of the most delicious we'd ever tasted. I decided I'd use that recipe, which would leave enough batter to make a few cupcakes as well. The eyebrows were easy to figure out - licorice. And, after a few other suggestions, my mom came up with the brilliant idea to use those candy melt things for the beak. I was worried when I bought them that they'd be too runny when they melted, but they worked perfectly.

Before baking the cake, I traced the pan on some paper so I could make a rough sketch to help me with the decorating.

The cupcakes overflowed a little bit, which actually worked out perfectly for the shape I needed them to be for the bird's little tufts:

And here you can see the beak, before it was added to the cake. I melted the candy melts in the microwave, spread some of the melted stuff in a circle on some parchment paper and then cut out the shape once it was almost hardened again.

Here's the cake as it was late Friday night. I used a recipe from the back of the cocoa powder tin for the buttercream frosting. I used it as a guide when I made the chocolate frosting for the brownies and realized that it used about half as much powdered sugar as the recipe I usually use does, which makes for a delicious but much less sweet frosting. I did a thin crumb coat to connect the tufts and keep crumbs from the sides in place. Let that dry for a bit then spread on the plain frosting. Then I used some of the paste food coloring to color my remaining frosting red. Then pressed on the beak while those were still wet and left it to dry overnight.

Saturday morning Gareth helped me whip up a smaller batch of frosting so we could finish the cake. I cut a piece of round licorice in half for the eyebrows and used a couple of chocolate chips turned upside down for the center of the eyes.

The kids who came to the party all seemed sufficiently impressed/excited about it. What really mattered was how excited Gareth was about it, which was extremely. We had six kids over for the party, which is really pushing it for me. Malcolm thankfully slept through the whole thing. We pulled out the marble run and the legos and had some snacks out for them to munch on. Most of the kids participated in a rousing game of duck-duck-goose and several of them spent a good chunk of the play time wrestling one another. They all spent a lot of time shouting (I had a headache for a couple hours after it was all over, though that was probably partly due to my lack of sleep that week). Gareth received some pretty awesome gifts, all of which he's been having a ton of fun playing with ever since. We sent all of the kids home with a small goodie bag and a red or green balloon (we ended up with just enough - started out with twelve, but they were popping like crazy). Gareth was very happy with how his birthday celebration turned out, saying it was super-awesome, double good or something to that effect. I actually do have some pictures of him, and not just the cake, but they're all on the camera, so they'll have to get uploaded another day. Overall, it turned out to be a lot less work and stress than I'd anticipated to put this together this year. And how happy it made Gareth definitely made it worth it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Well, the little Malcolm boy has been one for a few weeks now. The day before his birthday we got some snow (none stuck where we are) in the morning, hail in the early afternoon, and sunshine in the late afternoon. But, like the day he was born, his birthday was beautiful and sunny all day. He even got to enjoy our outing to the toy store and market sans jacket.

Gareth was extremely excited for Malcolm's birthday. I heard him tell Malcolm "happy birthday" twice before I was out of bed. And he wished him a happy birthday a couple more times through the day. Our outing to the toy store was for Gareth to select a gift for Malcolm which, aside from wanting items for himself and being distracted by toys not suitable for Malcolm, he did very eagerly.

We had Smoked Gouda mac 'n cheese for dinner, since he had seemed to enjoy that before, as well as peas, which are a favorite of his. I made brownies instead of cake (I learned with Gareth's first birthday that putting lots of effort and time into a one year old's birthday cake is not worth it). Malcolm discovered that brownies are delicious and happily dug into what looked like a huge piece of brownie once it was in his hands.

Digging in
Realizing brownie makes for sticky hands
Just stuff it all in there
Making sure there's no brownie hiding in that hand
Sucking on your fingers is the best way to cope with your brownie being all gone

After dinner, we opened presents. Malcolm seemed to get the hang of it quickly, tearing off strips of paper. Initially he wanted to eat the paper, but quickly learned that after he tore off a strip, it went to Daddy, so he started handing the strips to Ryan instead of trying to eat them. He loves stuffed animals, so Gareth's selection was a big hit. Since Malcolm is a destroyer of board books, we purchased him an indestructible book and some stacking cups, since that's one basic toy we don't have. And he got an awesome dump truck and a book from Grandma and Grandpa. He received a duplo block train as well from Gram, which was a big hit with Gareth. I had to remind Gareth several times that the train was actually Malcolm's toy and so he needed to let Malcolm play with it, even if that meant that Gareth's perfect train would be destroyed.

Figuring out this unwrapping thing
Best toy ever

"Hey! I was going to eat that!"

Malcolm also got to enjoy, as much as a one year old can, video chats with his Gram and Grandma and Grandpa (as well as some aunts and uncles).

We won't have his one year checkup until next week, so no growth stats yet. But he does a lot of typical one-year-old things. He babbles a lot and is finally starting to brave crawling with his tummy off of the ground (if only for short periods of time, because it's usually just way too hard and why would he want to put that much effort into moving from one place to another?). He pulls up on just about everything he can, but is not at all eager to try and take steps anywhere. He loves flinging his sippy cup down to the floor after he takes a drink, much to the growing annoyance of his parents. He's starting to understand "no" and occasionally listens and complies when we say it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Back to School

I started classes this past week at the nearby community college. This means that blogging will probably be rather hit and miss for the next possibly long while. I do have posts about Malcolm's birthday and Easter ready to go, just awaiting pictures, so hopefully those will go up soon. And Gareth's birthday is fast approaching, so hopefully a post about that will go up in a somewhat timely manner.

It's been very interesting to take classes again, at a different point in my life. The whole school thing feels a bit rusty, since it's been a few years. Having kids while going to school is definitely more difficult than not, the reasons for which should be pretty obvious to most people. The house is certainly messier now than it was a couple weeks ago (not that it was anywhere near pristine then - we were laughing just before Easter about how we need to invite people over for dinner more often as that's the only way to ensure the bathroom gets cleaned). But so far things seem to be going pretty well.

I'm taking two classes this quarter: general chemistry (online) and psychology 100. I've never taken a psychology class before, so that is proving quite interesting. I'm actually familiar with a lot of the terminology and ideas, I just don't have much deep knowledge of them. Chemistry so far is all stuff I've learned before, but way back in high school. I was pretty proud of myself for remembering the Fe is iron and Cu is copper.

What are these classes for? Well, I've decided that I want to get a MS in Nutrition and become a registered dietician. It's taken me several years to settle on this area. My first interest occurred while Gareth was still very young and I had lost a ton of weight while nursing and depressed. Everyone kept telling me to eat more pie or ice cream or [insert your favorite dessert here]. The doctor told me I needed more calories. I wanted to know how to gain the weight back in a healthy way and so sprouted my interest in nutrition. Through the years I've also considered doing degrees in musicology and library science and in accounting. Ryan tried to convince me that programming was the way to go. While I agree that it'd be a great field to get into I'm simply not all that interested and have a hard time imagining looking at code all day. Accounting seemed very practical and with good job guarantees. I wouldn't love it, but I didn't think I'd absolutely hate it either. Library science/musicology stayed within my original field and would act on interests I didn't fully realize I had until I was about to graduate. But I knew a couple of librarians who advised me that it wasn't exactly a great time to do library science, that jobs were going to be scarce. I had, for a while, put my interest in nutrition aside because it would be a switch to the science side of things, which would mean a lot more work than sticking to something in the humanities or even accounting. But when we moved here I became friends with a dietician and talking with her renewed my interest in the field. It is a field that is expected to grow quite a bit over the next couple decades, due to aging population and a generally heightened interest in food and nutrition. So hopefully that should mean a greater job availability.

Why do I want to get another degree/work outside the home? For me, it primarily comes down to vulnerability. I am incredibly vulnerable right now and I hate that. If Ryan were to die right now, we'd be in big trouble (though the life insurance would last a few years probably). Or if our relationship were to disintegrate and we separated, I would not be in a good place to support myself or our kids. Some might see this perspective as rather pessimistic. On the contrary, I hold an extremely optimistic view of our marriage relationship; I think we'll be together until we die. But to refuse to acknowledge the possibilities or to prepare for the worst of them leaves me uncomfortable. I feel I have a responsibility to myself and especially to our children to be capable of providing for them. Aside from limiting vulnerability, I love getting outside of the house to work. I love the opportunity it provides to interact with others in a different capacity than I normally do at home or with other parents at school and I love contributing to our household in a very concrete, tangible way. I'm hopeful that whatever job I find after I finish all this schooling will be flexible enough that between Ryan and myself one of us will always be able to be home when the boys get out of school.

Right now I'm working on prerequisites. Well, prerequisites to the prerequisites. I have a lot of science classes to take, so it'll probably take me a couple of years to finish all of these. And then I guess I'll have to take the GRE. Blergh. I have not yet decided where I'll apply for the MS program, but almost certainly to UW. I hear a lot of good things about Bastyr, but their high concentration of pseudo-scientific programs worries me. I'd like more than one school to apply to though, so we'll have to do some searching and seriously consider what will be the best route for us as that time approaches. Anyway, that's the basic plan for now, and probably why blogging will be sporadic for a while, not that I was all that prolific to begin with.