baptism day

We got our little babe baptized this morning, and the service was wonderful. Harvey was quiet as a lamb the whole time—in fact, he fell asleep right before the sermon (good timing, my boy!) and only woke up to get anointed and to meet the congregation before going back to sleep. Yes, we do have a good baby.

Of course, we also had a party to celebrate the event. The invitations (featuring this adorable photo) indicated that no RSVP was necessary, and we sent them out to a large number of people. So we weren't sure how many folks we were going to get, or whether we would have enough food. In the event, we did. We won't be needing to cook for several weeks. Also, we've ordered a new freezer. That's not true, but in all seriousness, three dozen bagels and four dozen muffins is clearly more than enough for any party. At least I didn't cook the bagels myself.

The only distressing moment to the entire day was realizing I had left my camera case, containing not only my camera but my wallet as well, on the back of the car as we left for church. I wasn't in the best mood when I realized its absence; even after driving all the way home and back to look for it, though, I still got there in time for the service. Nelly suggest that it was the work of Satan trying to get me to be sad for the baptism, and that very well may be true, but it didn't work: my lovely wife made sure I had a good time, and felt the full measure of joy in the occasion. Which it was indeed very joyful. And a neighbor found the camera in the street and returned it shortly thereafter, so all was as perfect as could be.

So Harvey's now a fully paid-up member of the Christian faith. Does that mean he won't be fussy any more?

[photo credit Seddon Beaty]

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white in the fleece of the lamb

I had so much success making the halloween lamb hat for Harvey, that I thought why not try my hand at sewing him an outfit for his baptism? I already had some white fleece lying around the sewing room, and I figured why not reinforce our family values of simplicity and craftsmanship as a way to further celebrate this sacramental rite of renewal.

I lie. What really happened was I googled "christening outfit" on the internet and the cheapest one was like fifty bucks. And I was all, WTF? No WAY am I paying that much money for a dorky elf tux that he's going to wear one time! I'm going to sew that effing baptism suit if its the last thing I do!

All this decision making happened on Monday, when I had a full week in front of me to dream big crafters dreams and poo-poo the christening industrial complex. Unfortunately, it was also a week full of a big conference at work, which meant that I got all the way to Friday (two days before the big event) with narry a stitch done sewn. So Friday afternoon as soon as the work whistle blew I threw the baby at his father and locked myself in the craft room. Which is a lie too, actually. The craft room is really just Harvey's room with a sewing machine in the corner, so there's no locking myself in there unless I want to cut off access to the changing table, which oh I DO NOT want to do.

Anyway... the outfit. It came together in about 5 hours, with extra minutes thrown in on saturday and sunday to add buttons and make slight adjustments. It's a one-piece sailor suit made entirely out of fleece. The pants are pleated at the waste and flounced at the bottom; two flourishes that took a long time to do for not really coming across in any of the photo. The top has a bow-tie sort of thing that I threw together without bothering to look at the directions or even any picture of what a sailor suit should look like, so I take full responsibility if you (like my mother) think it looks ridiculous.

The hat I didn't make. It, like our bagels, is used, or as I prefer to say "vintage" from our local consignment store down the street. I hadn't planned to pair the fleece suit with the silk hat, but Dan put them together this morning and marveled that we had a budding french chef on our hands.

Harvey performed admirably in his holy spotlight today. He slept through the church service until it was time for the baptism, and didn't make a peep when the water hit his head or when the priest carried him down the isle to the congregation. He suffered being passed from hand to hand at the big brunch we threw for him, and generally showed off what a good baby he was. Although when I took him upstairs for his nursing it was clear he was exhausted from the social effort. He fell asleep after just a few bites.

But our little guy is a party trouper! After a brief nap, he joined the crowds again, who in their brew-filled merriment insisted on seeing Harvey in his halloween hat. At the same time folks were passing around some hand-made lollypops that our neighbor Jen had made, and one made it into Harvey's hand, which is how we got this photo:

Sailor suit, sheepy hat, cross-shaped lollypop, and brown winter boots. It's a confusing world we live in, Harvey. That's why Christ walks it with us. Happy baptism!

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a morning mishap

As someone who likes to be prepared for any eventuality, I like to carry a pump in amongst the gear I drag back and forth with me to work every day. Today, however, I didn't. So guess what happened? Yes indeed, a flat tire, about half way along the journey.

Initially I thought it would be no trouble just to walk the rest of the way to the school, but that notion failed to take into account the fact that walking is remarkably slower than cycling. Remarkably. I am not capable of calculating the percentage difference in the respective rates, but suffice it to say I would not have been able to make it on time on foot. (Fun fact: did you know that bicycles were once the fastest form of human transport? I thought of that as I trudged along.)

My next idea was to stop at a gas station and use their air. I had everything I needed to change the tire, after all, except the pump. Unfortunately, gas stations are not what they once were, and no longer provide inflation to customers: both places I managed to reach on foot had the pumps up there on an outside wall, but in both cases they were out of order. You know, what I call gas stations used to be known as service stations... and this isn't the first time were I've felt I know the reason for the change in terminology.

In any case, out of options for getting myself out of my predicament in time for work, I called, first, my wife—not home—and then my mother. The latter very kindly agreed to come and pick me up and bring me and my bike to work, and then even more kindly stopped by the school to drop of my pump, enabling me later to get home under my own power. So. I learned my lesson, and will never leave home without the pump again. Only problem is, I'm now out of spare inner tubes and the bike store doesn't open until after I start work tomorrow. I might leave an hour early tomorrow, just in case lightning strikes twice.

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excuses

I tend to be a pretty health person; last year, for example, I didn't miss a single day of work due to illness. Yesterday I perhaps found out the reason why.

I hadn't been feeling well all week, thanks to the big events last weekend preventing any rest Saturday or Sunday. By Thursday afternoon, I was just all the way worn out, so when on Friday morning I woke up still feeling poorly I went so far as to contemplate calling in sick.

Which of course filled me with guilt as soon as I had the though: after all, I'm up and walking around, and don't feel that bad, right? Also, I can't—ever—seem to get my temperature up to 98°, so there's no chance of the thermometer telling me I have to stay home on account of fever. But Leah told me it wouldn't be the end of the world, and the folks at work are (especially this year) encouraging us to err on the side of caution, health-wise. So I called in, and went back to bed.

And as soon as I did, I really felt sick. It turns out I can do a pretty good job convincing the body that we need to keep going—a relic from my days outrunning lions on the plains, I guess. Watch out when I tell myself that there's time for a rest, though! In bed most of yesterday, and still not allowed out to walk the babies this morning. So that's where I was yesterday.

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comment upgrade

If April and Sarah can do it, than so can we!

We love getting comments on posts—it's that precious validation that keeps us going, I suppose. And now the squibix family blog, already much easier to comment on than most others, is even more user-friendly! Yes, I have finally put in a checkbox that will let the machine remember your name and website so you don't have to type it in every time. This way you won't have to leave off your website link due to time pressures, or worry about mistyping your name like poor Oonams, our all-time greatest commenter, did recently. I did it for you, Oona!

So go ahead, try it out!

8:00 is the new 10:00

We've managed to get our early-to-bed kick on, and it didn't even take 30 years. For the first time ever, vows to use the time change to get on a nicer schedule have led to an actual change in habits; for the first week of the new time, at least. Knock on wood.

Suffice it to say that for now, in any case, staying up much past 8:00 pm is now a struggle, just like it used to be for our pioneer forebearers. We can get up early, too, which means we are among the elite few who manage to save daylight (by the ridiculous definition of the federal bureaucrats who shove the "savings" scheme down the throats of honest Americans) during Standard Time. Yes, we're still taking full advantage of all of our daylight hours! To do so, of course, means sleeping some when it's dark, so we do that too. Like last night we went out to a show (Harvey's second time seeing Southern Rail), and, even though we were enjoying it, we staggered back home in time to be in bed before 9:00. Yes, life is good.

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recycling comes last

I usually try to be funny with my posts but this one is serious business. A metafilter thread (why do I persist in reading that site?) brought to my attention once again that recycling is too often just a public-relations hoax, something that does no more than make us feel better about all the plastic water bottles we're using and tossing. "They'll be recycled! Hooray! Where's the bin?" That is, when we manage to recycle them at all, which the kids at school could sure use some practice on.

Even if the bottles do make it into the bin, and then the bin makes it to an actual recycling center—and Washington isn't the only place with that problem, I've worked at schools where the custodians toss everything in the dumpster because they "don't get paid" to do anything else—it still takes energy to turn old stuff into new stuff. It's not magic.

Which is why, of course, that recycling is the last of the three environmental "R"s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. So why do we hear so much about it? Because it's super easy, comparably! First, use fewer bottles. Then, put new water back into the bottles (for plant-watering only, if you worry about the plastic). Recycling is the last option: practically a failure, really. But of course, you all know all that. I just had to get it off my chest. Back to talking about the weather and cute babies and puppies tomorrow!

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like riding a bike

I was sick Friday, and didn't go to work. Saturday, still pretty woozy—not up to biking certainly. Sunday I was pretty much better but we went into the city to visit a great-grandmother after church, so that took all my energy for the day. Yesterday I took the car to work because I had to pick up Harvey on my way home. So today was the first biking day in a while, and I wondered how I'd manage it: would I forget how it's done?!

No, it turns out it's the kind of thing you lose; is there a saying to that effect?

The creative material bubbles forth from me, but the flow is diverted into marketing emails

Some noteworthy things happened over the weekend, things that normally would have been wellsprings of hilarious material. Unfortunately I've been so swamped with work overtime this week that I haven't had a moment to write. So you'll have to image in your own mind the wisecracks. Here's what's been going on lately:

1) Harvey got his first tooth
2) I tried and failed again to get interested in sex
3) I purchased a pair of "mom" jeans

Imagine for yourself, if you will, the possible jokes. I apologize for the poor substitute for self mockery. I'll get back into the swing of things when either my work schedule calms down or I get laid off.

broadening of culinary horizons

Cleaning the kitchen this morning, I noticed tell-tale signs of sandwich-making that went on yesterday. "Did you make a sandwich with gouda and relish?" I asked Leah pointedly. She had to admit that, yes, she did: meaning of course that I got to gloat about the fact that she would never have been exposed to either of those foods if I hadn't strongly encouraged (read: forced) her to try them. Since everyone knows that you win marriage by changing the other person more than they change you, that's two points for me!

(Admittedly, the gouda consumption may have been primarily due to the lack of other cheese alternatives. Having tried it at my prompting, Leah now believes the favorite cheese of the Dutch is edible; when it's available, though, I bet she'll still go for good honest American.)

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a saucy pictorial

We made applesauce yesterday. It involved quartering and coring about 30 apples, and tossing them in a pot with some water.

They cooked down for a while, until they got all mushy.

Leah ran them through our awesome food mill, a very thoughtful gift from Cara and Alan.

Rascal thought the process was taking a little too long, so he cuddled with a toy on the couch. Harvey missed the whole thing, having been sent up to bed before we got started.

We put the sauce in pint jars and processed them in the canning kettle, so they should be shelf-stable for a year or two. All those apples only made five pints, so we may have to do it again soon!

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A week of firsts

On last Sunday Harvey's first tooth broke through the skin - his bottom front left. Then mid this week we noticed its neighbor peeking through too, and now they're both officially in, two bottom teeth for my little reverse rabbit. It was quite a physical feet for the four-and-a-half-month-old, and so Harvey also caught his first cold, opening the door to a bunch of other firsts. His first stuffy nose. His first bad cough. His first stretch of really sleepless sicky nights.

I thought I had gotten a lot of mothering under my belt in these past four-and-a-half months, and it's true that I've come a long way when it comes to changing diapers and soothing cries. But I was completely unprepared for my emotional response to a very sick baby. My very sick baby. I wanted to crumple in a heap and die because I couldn't make him better.

I reached a turningpoint in my parenting this weekend. Covered in snot and milk and vomit, I realized: Woah... this is going to take a long time. I mean, parenting. It's going to take a lot. Not just joyful mornings hung like beads on a string of family cuddles and trips to the zoo.... sleepless nights through every kind of illness when the night is lived out in every hour of its darkness because every hour is made up of 60 full minutes fully witnessed in moaning and sneezing and rocking a hot-headed baby against your chest.

I wanted to write more, but it's time to go back to rocking the baby, so please send well wishes to our little guy and sanity wishes to his mommy.

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making up for lost tv time

Since Harvey was getting over his sickness today (knock on wood) we hung around home all day. We even skipped church! As scandalous as that sounds, it was probably necessary, considering how destroyed we were after a very tough night. Especially Leah, who did most of the night work.

So what to do all day? Happily, the baby was better enough that he could get outside a little bit, to take a walk with me and Rascal and then help me and Leah with some leaf raking. But that was only a couple hours; the rest of the time he and I were in front of the tv watching the football. Which takes alot of time, it turns out. Combine the two games I already watched today with the fragments of college games I took in yesterday, and I've probably watched more tv this weekend than I did over the last two or three months. And that's not all! The Patriots play the Colts this evening (starting in mere moments, in fact!) and despite my tiredness I'm going to try and take in at least some of it.

Then we can cancel the tv service.

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tv is dead to me now. again.

I said it before, but this time it's for real. I very much enjoy the game of football, and any other sport you care to name, but the televised version takes up entirely too much time. I have many other more fun options for wasting my days away, thank you; as of now I will refrain from spending so much of any one of them in front of the television. The seven or eight hours yesterday made me feel distinctly stupider today. Then again, some of that could have been the sleep deprivation. Either way.

The Lord detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him*

*Proverbs 20:23

It has been a VERY long weekend in our house. Harvey took ill on Friday, which makes Thursday the last time that I slept for longer than an hour at a stretch. It goes without saying that the baby cold has been pretty hard on me, emotionally speaking. When I got in the rocking chair for the third time last night I was all out of sentences to pray. I was down to fragments. "Hey God.... help! make better! fix!"

There have been some scattered moments of grace over the weekend, moments which renewed my faith that I am not alone in the creation, redemption, and sustainment of the little Harvester. On Saturday Harvey spiked a fever, and I gave him tylenol but he threw it up thirty minutes later, and then I took his temp and it was 102, but I couldn't give more tylenol, could I? How much absorbs in 30 minutes? I felt certain I would make the wrong decision and that I was completely helpless. So I ran a baby bath and plopped Harvey in it and said on his behalf, "Jesus, take my fever away." Harvey flushed for a second and the next moment he was cool to the touch. I took him out of the bath and his fever was down to 100.5

Then on Sunday, lest I start to develop a magical belief in water, the miracle repeated itself in a slightly different manner. I measured a temp of 102 with Harvey on the changing table, and because of my newfound faith I put my hand on his head and said "Jesus, lower the temperature." I shook the thermometer and took another reading. It was 99.9 "Harvey" I said, "You don't know it yet, but we have an awesome God."

Today Harvey was feeling fairly cool but I wanted to check his temp just to be sure. I took off his diaper, gave him a wipe, and stuck the thermometer in. 102. 102? But that doesn't make sense! He's barely warm. I shook the thing like a Polaroid and took another reading. 99.5. Wait, what? What the hell? Who makes a thermometer with a confidence level of plus or minus two degrees???

Oh wait, here's something. We have an electric wipes warmer, and I've been using the hot wipes to clean the thermometer before putting it in. Do you think that maybe could have had an effect on the reading? Do you think that putting a hot wipe on the tip of the thermometer right before sticking it in his butt could maybe, just maybe, affect the accuracy of a digital thermometer?

So maybe Harvey wasn't really in that much danger after all. But of course, that's what Satan would have you believe.

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Update

It's been a very long week for us here. Harvey's cold got a little scary, escalating into medical devises and chest x-rays and the kind of amphetamines that a high school kid would LOVE to get his hands on. There were a couple of days there where I didn't sleep for longer than a half hour at a stretch, and my brain turned all survival mode and my eyes had a glint of a wild animal. But it seems like we've turned the corner now (or the overly-interventionist pediatricians have gone into a waning moon, one or the other) and Harvey's getting back to his normal self again. He's still all snot and phlegm of course, but at least he can breath confidently now and he's regaining that sunny disposition we expect from him.

In the midst of the stress and sickness of the past seven days I managed to lose another four pounds. That brings the grand total to 47 pounds lost, three pounds away form my pre-pregnancy weight. I can't say the same for my pre-pregnancy shape however, that may be lost forever. I now understand why mom jeans are so high. And why Eddie Bauer sells puffy vests so successfully. And why one-piece bathing suits exist.

On the plus side, I don't same to have the same, um, concern for my physical appearance as I did before motherhood. I just want my kid to be healthy, even if that means skipping spin class for a week to stay home in sweat pants covered in vomit. They're so roomy that you don't feel the wet touch your skin. My top coult use some added protection, though. Maybe a puffy vest...

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Rollin with the punches

On the mend and ever moving forward, Harvey perfected a new skill yesterday: turning over from tummy to back. Please to enjoy the future olympian caught on tape. The voices that you hear are those of Grandma Judy and me. I'm the one that sounds like there's a muppet up my nose.

normalizing cycling

I rode to work in the pouring rain again yesterday. In my defense, it wasn't pouring when I started out—just drizzling. Then again, I knew it was going to pour, so I think the prosecutions wins that one. Two people commented that I was hard-core, but I really don't see what the big deal is. I mean, I wore my waterproof gear and it was a warm day, so there was really very little discomfort involved.

But then, there are people who are surprised I ride my bike even in the nicest of weather. One of the fourth graders was shocked, shocked! to hear that I had stopped by the grocery store to pick up straws (to make pyramids for math!). She remained incredulous even after I told her it was on the way: "it's not on the way from my house!" she said. Nope, I'm not coming from around the corner, even if I do arrive under my own power!

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another milestone

We had a little dinner party this evening in honor of Harvey getting his first taste of real food. Well, relatively real anyways: does room temperature rice-cereal-and-breast-milk gruel count? Don't worry, that's not what we served to the other guests. In any case, regardless of the palatability of his dinner to anyone over the age of eight months Harvey took to it with delight. We didn't see a single one of the confused disgusted faces we were led to expect would be normal for a baby getting his first "solid" food, and when Harvey got his hands on the magic spoon that the food came from he held onto it for dear life. Perhaps ten percent of the gruel even made it down his throat!

Pictures and/or video later, natch, if any of it comes out any good.

they used to be as crappy as they are now

When we got a catalog the other day from "Back to Basics Toys" (tag line: "They Do Make Them Like They Used To!") I was a little excited to see what was on offer. After all, we're old-school here at the squibix household: I think the best things we've gotten for Harvey so far are a set of little wooden cars and airplanes with an undeniable rugged appeal. More appealing in theory at this point, true, than in practice when I give him one and after chewing on it for a bit he drops it onto his forehead and cries, but still.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when I paged through the book and found it was actually nothing more than the Greatest Hits of the 60s and 70s, toy style. It's not aimed at parents who want real, well-made toys, in other words, but at those who want to exercise their nostalgia by inflicting upon their offspring a variety of awful plastic crap from their own childhoods. I mean, Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robots? Fisher Price pull-along Chatter Telephone?! ("I had that one!" says Leah. It was already nostalgic then, having come out originally in 1962.) Plus some random Sharper Image-esque junk like a plastic piggy bank with an LED display of the balance. Needless to say we will not be placing any orders.

One wonders, though, what the response will be of the little tykes who do get something from Back to Basics on Christmas morning. The little girl on the cover (pictured above) seems, on the surface, happy enough with her matching set of dead-eyed Raggedy Anne and Andy dolls, but look a little closer and you can see the desperation... I bet she asked for a Bratz doll. Don't worry little girl, in thirty years you'll be able to get one for your own daughter from the Back to Basics catalog!

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Homemade Christmas 2008

We're making initial preparations for homemade Christmas 2009, so it seems like a good time to take a look back at the exciting projects we worked up for homemade Christmas 2008. I never managed to post those pictures last year on account of a camera battery that flickered out like a chanukah candle. What made me think of them now was an email I just got from church about the Advent Conspiracy and un-shopping and other exciting things that hippy Christians do around this time of year. With one knit sweater 99% completed and jams and pickles already stocking our pantry, it's easy to get overconfident with our one-month time frame. But this photoseries rams it home just HOW MANY homemade gifts we'll need to make 2009 match up with precedent.


Knitted felt bag for Rebecca, the midwife of a million bags:


Napkin and coaster set for Judy, embroidery on linen.


Embroidery for Tom, my favorite brother-in-law.


Jams and pickles.


This cabled hat was the big project of 2008. In the process of perfecting the pattern for Dan I knocked off similar hats for Merideth, Ashley, and Jake.


Not pictured here I also sewed a hat for Nelly, a purse for my mom, a sleep cap for Alan, a coaster for my grandma, and pillows for Margaret street. I'd better get crankin!


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happy Thanksgiving!

And of course no Thanksgiving is complete without a hand turkey:

This one is courtesy of a student at Harrington Elementary in Lexington, MA.

the gormand in action

Harvey very much enjoyed being the center of attention at his first high-chair-and-food feeding.

Although there were moments when he just wanted to be left alone to savor the sensation.

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leftovers

I know that I claimed to have eaten the last tomato some time ago, but it turns out that when I was clearing out the vines I found one more little Early Girl on the ground, green and hard as a rock. I brought it in and it's been on the counter since, taking almost a full two months to ripen. But ripen it did, so when Leah was feeling tired yesterday and wanted a special sandwich to get her going, I was able to provide!

Honey wheat bread just out of the oven, leftover turkey, mayo, homemade zucchini relish, salt, and pepper. And tomato, of course. Good stuff for November 27th!

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put up or shut up

My stomach hurts and my mouth is sticky: evidence of another afternoon and evening spent making jam. Today I was successful with apple-cranberry jam and not entirely so with apple butter. It's still not quite buttery enough, even after nine hours in the slow cooker; we'll see what happens after some more cooking tomorrow.

I also re-cooked some peach jam that I made a couple months ago, because it was actually more like peach sauce, rather than anything that you would want to put on bread. So cooked down some more, with more liquid pectin. This jam stuff is more an art than a science hear at the squibix home, and I'm afraid I'm still drawing with crayons.

However, at least we're managing to put up some reasonable quantities of preserves. To date we have the equivalent of five gallons of jam, relish, and pickles, not counting the stuff in the freezer (which wouldn't stay good following a power loss due to nuclear war or global economic meltdown). Most of that is shown in that picture up at the top of this post. Not that we're planning to eat it all ourselves, of course. If you're on our Christmas list, look forward to delicious local, home-canned produce! Place your orders today.

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