Archives For On a Personal Note…

Y’ALL. My sister got a pet goat.

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His name is Jeffrey, and he’s 9 weeks old. He’ll grow to be 60-70 pounds, but right now he’s only about 15. I love him.

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Shannon was a little sad the day we went to see them because she had actually started out with two goats, but poor Douglas passed away the night before. They’d rushed him to the LSU vet school with a case of bloat, perhaps from eating too many clovers, and he died from a seizure during the night. She’s not sure what to do now because goats get depressed living alone but the goat lady doesn’t have any more kids available. I suggested getting a pig to keep Jeffrey company but Shannon said she thinks he really needs another goat around.

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Between the loss of Douglas and all the new people around Jeffrey was a little skittish. I didn’t get to fulfill my dream of wrapping him in a warm embrace, but he did come over to check us out once or twice. Those are animal crackers I’m offering in my hand. Turns out they’re called animal crackers for a reason. Animals love them.

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How. Cute. Is. He.

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This is Shannon’s husband, Josh. I love how Cajun he looks here.¬†Jeffrey was much more friendly with him and Shannon.

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I wanted to show y’all this project Shannon and Josh have been working on in their yard. There used to be a small area off to the side of the house enclosed by a picket fence. All that’s left of it in the photo below are the posts (including the ones that they cut down in length to be footers for a new deck). Their house is on a highway and before it seemed like this little fenced area was their yard (which they never used) and the wide expanse to the right was just an empty lot.

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But they took all the money they received as wedding gifts and put it towards a new fence surrounding their entire property. Now you can really appreciate the space! It also feels much more peaceful now that you can’t see the road. They built a goat pen that is just over to the left of this picture and next they want to put in a vegetable garden (with a fence to keep Jeffrey from snacking).

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Isn’t that just so great? We live on a tiny lot in a pretty urban area so it’s nice to drive out to my sister’s house in the country once in a while. Nick and I joke about it being the zoo, since she also has a dog, a gaggle of cats, and a ferret. I’m lobbying for them to get chickens next. I really want to get chickens myself but I feel a little overwhelmed by the prospect. If they got chickens I could visit them and collect eggs without actually having to take care of them, haha. It’s a win win.

My house is in a really sorry state right now. I’ve been gone for a week and when I walked in yesterday the first thing I noticed was a strange and unpleasant smell that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I need to do some serious cleaning but it will have to wait because I’ve got things to do today.

The thing is, that I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment before inviting somebody over, even with the funny smell and the luggage still cluttering the entryway and the floors that haven’t been vacuumed in weeks. But I wouldn’t forget the mess. I’d catch myself saying over and over, “Oh, don’t mind the mess,” and “It’s so messy right now, I haven’t had time to clean!” etc etc etc. It seems if your house is in desperate need of some attention you should at least acknowledge it, right?

This is a habit I’m trying to break. Because if my guest is living in the midst of imperfection herself (and aren’t we all?) what kind of message does that send? I feel like it tells her (or him) that if I come to her house I will be assessing its state of cleanliness, perhaps clicking my tongue in disapproval if it’s in worse condition than my own, and maybe even judging her on any number of attributes at this very moment. Is there cat hair on her clothes? Dirt under her nails? A distinct lacking of that freshly-showered look? That’s pretty much me on a daily basis, so I would never judge. But by apologizing for my own chaos I’m sending an implicit message that she should be sorry too. And that’s just not the case.

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Curly Girl Design

I’m constantly working towards the goal of accepting myself and others as we are. My house is dirty because I often choose to visit with friends instead of staying home to clean, and that’s a wonderful thing. There’s nothing to apologize for! Today I’ll run errands, hang out with a friend, go pick up Juliet, visit my mother in law, and get my things together for work tomorrow. At this rate I don’t think I’ll get to do much housework until at least Thursday. And that’s okay! I had a wonderful weekend, and I hope you all did too. May this Monday bring some self-acceptance into your heart!

I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to move to Austin. Not really, of course. Jack’s grandparents would flip out, but it’s tempting. I am just so impressed with this city full of character, beauty, and the kind of urban planning you just don’t see in Louisiana.

Nick is here with us now, but for the first leg of our trip on Tuesday and Wednesday it was just Jack and me. We flew from Baton Rouge to Dallas to Amarillo, where we met up with my parents, sister, brother in law, and cousin to celebrate my Pawpaw’s 90th birthday. It was Pawpaw’s first time to meet Jack (his namesake and only great grandchild). Here they are together with my dad.

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Jack was such a great little traveler. He slept through most of the flights, but even when he was awake he mostly sat and played peacefully on my lap.

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We had layovers in Dallas for both trips, plus a two hour delay before boarding in Baton Rouge. I had a blanket in my bag so I just spread it out on the ground and let Jack sit and play. He was very popular with our fellow travelers.

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Here's a blurry bathroom pic of us in travel mode. Baby in the ring sling, diaper bag stuffed to the brim slung across my body. The only hitch in my plan was that the rings set off the metal detector at security (you can't see them in this pic, but the fabric in the sling is woven through them to adjust the tension and hold it tight).

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This is my second time flying with a baby in tow, but I was a little nervous this time about A) doing it solo, and B) bringing along food and entertainment. Here’s what I did:

  • Borrowed a carseat travel bag from a friend and checked our carseat for free. I used the extra space in the bag to pack diapers and wipes. We usually use cloth diapers but I bought disposables for the trip.
  • Packed all of our clothes and accoutrements (including some simple baby-friendly foods, like bananas and string cheese) in one big suitcase and checked it. I used an insulated lunch bag and ice pack to keep the string cheese cold.
  • Recruited Nick and my parents to help me with checking our luggage and picking it up from baggage claim.
  • Stayed calm when our luggage was delayed by six hours in Amarillo, and politely requested that they reimburse me for the diapers and warm clothes I’d have to buy (it was super cold there and our jackets were in the suitcase). They loaned me a carseat to use until ours arrived.
  • Packed plenty of snacks in the diaper bag, like string cheese, teething crackers (a special treat because they taste like cookies), and string cheese. I tucked Jack’s arms into the ring sling and tightened it at the top to turn it into a baby straightjacket for feeding him banana without it ending up all over both of us. He loves banana so much he didn’t mind. At security I just put the food in the bin with my phone, baggie of liquids (including baby Tylenol + dropper just in case!) and nobody even asked me about it.
  • Packed a small, see-through bag of favorite small toys plus a new one he’d never seen before. The see-through bag doubled as a toy itself because he could turn it around and look at all the stuff inside. I saved the brand-new toy for a time when I needed to bring out the big guns and I haven’t had to use it yet. This little bag-o-fun has also come in handy for the many restaurant meals we’ve been eating.
  • Dressed Jack in legwarmers instead of pants for easy diaper changes. I also stuffed a complete change of clothes way down in the bottom of the diaper bag just in case.
  • Wore slip-on shoes to make getting through security easier and dressed in layers for discreet nursing.
  • Nursed on take-off and landing and encouraged pacifier use anytime we were in the air to help his ears pop. I usually try to only give him the pacifier for sleep or when he’s stressed out but there have been so many new settings and changes to our routine on this trip that I basically just let him have it whenever he wants. Calm baby = happy mama.
  • The whole trip has gone so much more smoothly than I expected, even with the delayed flight and lost bags. Everyone we’ve encountered has been so sweet and helpful and it was so worth it to get to visit with family. I really wanted to introduce Jack to my Pawpaw and since we shared a hotel suite with my parents we got in some nice bonding time with them as well. Now we’re in Austin and off for a day of family fun today! The weather is gorgeous and I can’t wait to check out more of this weirdly lovely city.

    People are always really impressed when they find out that I don’t feed Jack baby food from the store. They’re usually a bit incredulous when they say, “You make your own baby food?!?!” Like it’s the height of overachievement in parenting. To be honest, I’m not trying to win any mother of the year awards, I’m just cheap. And all those little jars are expensive! So from the time Jack started solids at six months old I’ve just given him modified versions of the same ‘ol food us full-grown humans eat. His first food was carrots that I mashed with a fork and spoon-fed him, but pretty soon we moved on to allowing him to feed himself. And feed himself he does! It’s amazing to watch a little nine month old shovel food into his mouth. He loves loves loves to eat.

    Carrots are still one of my go-to foods for him. They’re only 99 cents a pound! I usually just take 1-2 carrots and quickly wash, peel, and cut into sticks. It takes like a minute. Then I put them in a bowl, cover with water, and microwave them for three minutes. If I need them cool enough to eat right away I just run them under some cold water before dumping them onto his high-chair tray. Easy peasy. These are also great for taking to restaurants in a small tupperware (I got some bpa-free ones for a few bucks at the grocery store).

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    Bread in all forms is a big hit. He’s eating french toast in this picture, but he also does really well with grilled cheese sandwiches, lightly toasted bread, rolls (at restaurants), and even tortillas.

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    I’ve doubted the practicality of the white curtains right behind him on more than one occasion, but he loves playing with them and his version of peekaboo is pretty much the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.

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    Here he is eating some quinoa with chicken and spinach. Quinoa sounds really fancy but it’s basically like rice. I might do a post about cooking with it soon. I shred the chicken up for him since he only has two teeth.

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    He loves whole wheat rotini pasta with ground beef and tomato sauce. Red beans and rice are a big hit as well. We season everything the same as we normally do, we just try to limit the salt. Nick likes his food extra salty so he just adds more to his dish at the table, but when we’re cooking we mostly use lots of garlic. Jack loves it!

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    I keep string cheese on hand as an easy, portable, and not-too-messy option for bringing with us to restaurants and play dates. I just pull it apart into stringy pieces and either hand him one piece at a time or put it onto his portable placemat to feed himself. Bananas are another favorite and easy to transport, but they are super messy to eat. I also will often order him some steamed veggies or fresh avocado at restaurants, but that gets pricey. A waitress at a Tex-Mex restaurant suggested giving him a tortilla to gnaw on and he loved it, so when we get home from our trip I’ll be stocking up on some whole wheat tortillas to add to my repertoire of good foods for on-the-go.

    We were doing oatmeal for breakfast every day for a while. I just buy the store brand plain rolled oats and microwave it with water. I make it a little thick so he can pick it up in clumps. But I think he’s getting a little tired of oatmeal. I can tell because he looks at it, then looks over at what I’m eating (usually not oatmeal), and then yells and gestures towards my food. So lately I’ve been making him a one-egg omelet and tossing in some frozen spinach. Or I might give him a banana or avocado and some toast. I used to feed him yogurt with a spoon but that’s a lot of work. Once you get accustomed to the luxury of eating your own breakfast in peace while your baby happily feeds himself it seems awfully inconvenient to go back to spoon feeding.

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    It’s worth mentioning that both bananas and avocados were not instant favorites. He rejected both the first few times, but I kept offering it every few days and now he loves them. I also didn’t follow the recommendation to wait four days between introducing every new food. We don’t have any family history of food allergies so the only foods I was more careful about were the most common allergens (eggs, strawberries, seafood, dairy, etc.). I’m still waiting until his birthday for nuts, honey, and milk (he can have other dairy products since they’re easier to digest, and foods cooked with milk, just not straight milk).

    He eats three hearty meals a day and nurses a lot and he’s still on the skinny side! I’m starting to wonder whether he’s got a tapeworm or something, haha. It really is fun to see him enjoying food so much and eating such a wide variety. I know kids are unpredictable and he could decide tomorrow that he only likes teething crackers (essentially glorified cookies), but for now I’m pleased.

    I hope that this post has inspired those of you with littles or who may be becoming parents soon to think outside the baby food aisle without slaving over a food processor. It really is so much cheaper and so so easy.

    Sorry for the late post today! Jack and I have been traveling and now we’re in Austin with Nick! It’s my first time visiting Austin and I’m pretty excited. Any suggestions for what to see and do with a baby in tow? I’ve heard Zilker park is pretty great.