blogging Kids Totally Random


I have 19 pictures queued of Henry… just from the latest set off the camera. So much for his being neglected compared to the girls, if I post all those. I’m debating whether to just post them normally, split them into multiple posts (I’ll already be doing multiples as I am working backward through the last few sets and won’t put them all up together), or make a big post with an extended entry. I’ll just have to emphasize the need to click to expand the post.

Anyway, stay tuned for that in somewhere between a little while and a day. Meanwhile, perhaps I’ll start with a few I have starring Henry and Valerie together.


Val Pic I Missed

Again, one from earlier in the month.


Henry and Cousin

Had this queued and never posted, from earlier this month.


Seriously Sadie and Henry


Valerie Collection


Sadie Collection

These are pictures focused on Sadie from the last couple sets off the camera. I’ll try to do something similar for the other kids, prehaps one each of the next couple days or perhaps sooner. Or later. I might even skip the big production and do some standalones. As usual, click for bigger versions.


Home After Playing Hard

Sadie had to fight not to make this three of a kind. It’s not even usual for Valerie to fall asleep, certainly not in such a short distance and so solidly she barely woke when moved. If I’d not had to carry both little ones, they would both have made it up the stairs asleep. Impressive enough Henry did.


Sadie and Grandma

First of a bunch of accumulated pictures I’ll be trying to post in the near future. This is Sadie with my mother, at my grandmother’s house, this past Sunday. As usual, click the picture for one double the width (they are almost always 400 pixels wide for the one inline and 800 pixels wide for the larger one in a new window). I was up for a little while between sleep sessions and thought I’d start this, thus the odd timing.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical Totally Random

Pictures, Henry, Etc.

I have about a gazillion pictures and even some videos of the kids being insanely cute, at the playground, in the car, at grandma’s, and even at home. I really need to pack up a bunch for the California grandparents and post some. Seriously, I could post a couple “ohmygodsocute” pictures a day and go weeks before I’m stretching or going back that far to get good ones.

I keep starting posts and not finishing them, to the point where I am tempted to write snippets on the fly, no longer than what you see to this point, and just do them when they come to mind and I have time.

Henry waves and says “bye bye” now and it’s the cutest thing. He also progressed almost instantly from walking to running and even climbing. With a bit of support from me, he climbed up a large slide yesterday. See pictures, if I get them posted.

We’re a bit mystified by the whole allergy thing, specifically with regard to dairy, as it seems to be more about contact than ingesting it. The slightest trace of dairy, and apparently certain other things, makes his skin break out. However, he has eaten tiny amounts of dairy in dry foods and not been affected. My grandmother gave him a lemon cookie and I decided to let it go, then read the ingredients and sure enough, milk. Which was also in the oatmeal raisin cookies the girls had. So next time he was there, two days later, he ate two of them. Most flavored potato chips have milk. Who knew? He recently tried one Utz salt & pepper chip and loved it. The test was reaction to the black pepper, which in that amount he didn’t, which was the expected result. Turns out they have buttermilk, yet don’t conform with standard allergen labeling so I’d missed that before.

He can apparently eat eggs.

And mayonaise, but one of the times he had mayo, it inflamed his skin where it got on his belly and chest, or it did in combo with something else, anyway. He was eating a particularly safe meal. He loved potato salad, and it didn’t affect him.

He can eat fresh tomatoes. Thinks they are wonderful. That should be nothing more than the concern one might have for a food moderate to low in salicylates (looking, it’s apparently in the same class as carrots, cauliflower (which he’s had but is meh about), parsnip (ditto), onion, sweet potato (which either bothers him if there is enough or is a red herring or mixed in with the contact problem substances), some squash, etc. Anyway, he is not allergic to them. Yay!

Any non-spiced meat should be fine, and he had a taste of Kahn’s beef hot dogs recently, no problem. No milk in those, which would be the other hot dog concern.

He has had two extremely small tastes incorporating cooked blueberry, no apparent problem.

He has had canned pineapple in heavy syrup, no apparent problem. Small amounts. Not a surprise, as he did OK with even smaller amounts of dried pineapple.

I forget what else he’s had that might be new. Well, besides his birthday cake! Wal-Mart’s brand white cake mix has no milk. Ditto for Wal-Mart’s brand of chocolate fudge frosting (as opposed to milk chocolate), which I ended up using only for accent. The rest got eaten on spoons over the course of a few days, including by Henry, who traditionally doesn’t get sweets because so many are off-limits or uncertain yet. I made homemade lime frosting using powdered sugar, shortening, water, lime juice (a tablespoon or so squeezed from half a lime), and so grated lime skin. The cake was unusually good. The fudge frosting was exceptionally good for canned, to the point of being good as frosting goes, and the lime I made was one of the best frostings I have ever had. It was awesome, and now we know that with the right mix or recipe, cake will be something he can indeed have.

Anything I’ve forgotten will have to wait. I’ve taken hours to write all this, off and on, and that about covers or more what I’d intended.

Birthdays Kids

Henry Is One Today!

And if the kids stop being absolute monsters long enough, I might be able to turn this into a real post, with pictures and memories and stuff. I may even be able to make a cake!

But first I need to see if the two brats in the tub have flooded the bathroom with water that’s at least clean, mop as needed again, hop in the shower, dress everyone, and get to the store to replace the toilet paper. Yay.


3 Completely Unrelated Kids

As usual, click for larger version…

blogging Business Geekery Health Care Job Hunting Kids Medical Money Quiz or Meme Totally Random

Life Gives Us Deadlines

This is an updated and abbreviated version of a post I have been meaning to write and have a couple times had partially written for weeks, and relates to mentions here (linked by Sarah in this awesome post), and over here, and perhaps elsewhere, like this, and on Twitter.

As you may know, we’ve been financially challenged. Things have become almost but not quite stable on the way to the end of the tunnel. We’re not in immediate danger of eviction for being behind on rent. We can eat. The phone and internet – vital to modern life and in our case making a chunk of money and seeking more – are being kept on. The kids have health coverage and Henry will get his one year checkup and shots – albeit not until almost 13 months old due to doctor vacation scheduling – and that’ll set us on the road to getting an even better handle on the allergy/sensitivity problems, which may also become less critical as he ages. It’s actually been I have no idea what I was about to type a little while ago when I stopped in mid-sentence. I think I was going to say it’s been good I’ve been so available, and that will make working from home a Good Thing, except I must be able to work for that to work which is a matter of some juggling and changes. But I digress.

Have to stop and try to remember where I was going with this in the broader sense. I load my thoughts in my head and risk losing them if they don’t spew right out the keyboard.


There’s been one big deadline coming at us. The gas & electric can’t be turned off if you have a baby under a year and financial hardship. Henry turns 1 on the 20th. We’ve accumulated most of a year’s worth of balance. In fact, it’s apparently a couple months more than I thought, and the peak bills in the winter weren’t much more than the bills have been this summer. Odd.

We assumed, not unreasonably, that I would get enough work before now to straighten that out and take us the rest of the way out of the basics. As it is, we should be able to cover the current utilities in the future, so it’s mainly about the arrears.

The bottom line is we have to pay at least $1425 by August 22nd to keep the gas and electricity on, and then the other half will be in six installments.

That means needing to come up with about $1000 above what we can otherwise manage.

I have an offer of $150 toward the second installment from a local charitable agency, but not the first, as they have to know the power will stay on and it won’t be wasted dropping in the bucket. That would effectively give me until sometime in October to have gotten the prospective job, or other work sufficient to keep it all rolling.

Someone finally expressed interest in buying the domain I’ve had for sale for several months, so I thought that might do it, but I haven’t heard back. I just replied a third time, from a different address, making a time-sensitive offer to sell it at the lowest price I can reasonably accept. I’ll probably list it again in a formal service to expedite the possibility and give others a chance if the warm prospect bails. That would help some, if it could happen soon enough. We’re looking at what else we can sell in the next week, focusing heavily on my comic book collection from years past.

For the most part, family isn’t a viable source of help, so I won’t go asking them unless it comes down to, say, the last $100 or so between us and darkness.

At any rate, whatever we could say about how we got here, miscalculating and all that, it’s not as important as moving forward. The consequences, if we can’t keep the utilities on, will be the same as eviction. There are contingency plans for Deb and the kids to stay with a friend of hers. I have no such plans, beyond being acutely aware I still own a tent. That just sets up a much harder scenario to escape, makes it hard to make the money we now make online, makes it hard to get work, makes it hard to take care of the kids, makes it hard to keep Henry’s sensitivities watched and controlled.

I haven’t been eager to say anything by way of asking for donations, as we already got helped once beyond all conceivable generosity. We wouldn’t be so stable now, otherwise. I’m itching to get on the other side of the PayPal button and be able to do the same for others. Surely that’ll come, but isn’t here yet.

This was why I planned to do a fundraising edition of CotC, since that was a different audience and reason – appreciation of the carnival in the past or expression of a desire to have it happen in the future – it didn’t feel inappropriate. My spare time for that never became copious, even though the fundraising aspect made it paying work of sorts. Again, not to reflect on where and why but to resolve and proceed.

So. Anything I receive in PayPal (button at top of right sidebar) will go to the gas and electric arrears until that is paid up or something else is a more immediate threat. I’ll add to this if I see later I forgot something, or will post status updates as appropriate.

The other part of the plan, besides maybe mentioning this in a less frantic way, was a post soliciting micro-work of the sort I can actually do while taking care of the kids and having to fit it into minute or few bursts or sleepy midnight interludes. Ironically, planning that, composing it and so forth didn’t lend themselves to my time and circumstances. While that might not raise what a full-fledged getababysitternow job would, it would have helped. I still plan something along those lines, which was not going to be a mere post, but also a mass e-mail to contacts, some of whom might not even realize I am looking. Even some people I expected were aware things were grim had no idea, so on the periphery, who knows.

Oddly, everyone has left me alone long enough to ramble at length. This is as much as I wrote over the course of a couple weeks in an unfinished post on the topic that reached the point where I wasn’t sure what I’d said and needed almost a rewrite of an edit. However, it’s time to make supper before the kids mutiny.

We’re down to about $650 $600 $200 needed to make the deadline. Not there yet, but it’s progress. Almost there! Thank you all so much for your links, donations and purchases.

Update on August 19. 2008:

I’ve removed the sticky status from this post and am updating this one accordingly. While things won’t exactly be rosy and we still could use assistance if anyone feels generous (this big push was for half the arrears; it’ll be hard to pay both the installments on the other half and the current bills, if nothing else), with some juggling and astonishing generosity from several people, we’ve reached the immediate goal. Thanks!!

If you do still want to help out, the PayPal button on the top right remains. Deb’s shop still has a few physical items, though it is going largely virtual. We still have books for sale, and may add more along the line. Some have had to be removed after Henry damaged them, which is helpful.

You’re welcome to use the info in the sidebar where it says “Light the power!” to go directly to the gas & electric on our behalf. That’s going to be over $200 a month to catch up, after all, on to of an average of probably $300 a month over the year, with the big ones coming all too soon. That’s anonymous, unless you tell us you’ve done it. We’ll just see that part of the bill has already been paid.

I didn’t end up selling off some of my comics for this emergency, but I’m not attached to most of them, and will probably put many of them up for sale. Possibly right on one of the blogs, or possibly other places. Stay tuned.

I still am trying to sell, though perhaps I should use that as the domain for selling comics. It has a higher Page Rank now than we do here. Anyway, the auction expires tomorrow, but until then I will accept a bargain reserve price ($500) for the thing. That’s somewhere between 1/2 and 1/20 of what it should bring. I’ll probably put it on longer term offer at a higher price, whether I also sell stuff on it or not. I also have potentially available, but haven’t really thought about price.

At any rate, thanks to everyone who donated, linked, and made a point of buying stuff. It was a big help.

Humor Kids

Eek! A Kitty!

Yesterday I took the kids to a birthday party at a house with a pool, so Henry got hist first swim, however brief. With me alone with the three kids, and fewer people than might normally have been around to help keep them from drowning or exploring the woods, it was interesting.

Valerie, for instance, took off into the woods, followed by Sadie, to explore, and I became aware of this in “but they were nearby a minute ago” fashion when one of the other adults went chasing after them. No sign of poison ivy yet. I ended up down in a hollow, carrying Henry in one arm, fetching Valerie and carrying her out in the other arm, while cautioning Sadie not to come down there after us. Valerie is our naturalist, totally drawn to vegetation and woods, and even things like rocks and bugs.

Sadie starred in one of the most comical scenes I have ever seen. She wanted to use the bathroom, so we dried off and went into the house. In the kitchen, near the bathroom, there was a big gray cat. She shrieked and yelled “a kitty!” Before you could blink she was standing on a chair, cowering in fear and screaming. I told her it was just a cat, quite amused, and said “see, hi kitty” bending down to offer my hand to the cat, who decided it was time to leave the room.

That was probably an expectations and startlement thing as much as, say, fear of cats. She then couldn’t bring herself to go, especially given it was a regular toilet with no insert, since I forgot to bring it. Which didn’t stop Valerie in the least, when we were in there to get suits on. On the way out, I pointed to Sadie the cat’s food dishes that were a sign of, you know, a cat living in the house.

It was just so funny.


Walking Boy

I believe I meant to post about Henry walking and didn’t.

After teasing us for an extended time, he took clear and unambiguous single steps a couple times recently. He could race around the place holding something, going way back, either crusing or pushing a walker toy or making a walker out of a box. He had excellent balance. He grew into a shape and stance made more for walking. He could rise to standing at will, unsupported, and had such good balance he could flail around wildly without falling.

Finally Sunday he walked four steps. Then he did it again. He loves praise and positive feedback, and learned to clap and say “yay” a while back, so he claps for himself along with us.

Monday he went on ahead and did it some more, almost as if he’s starting to decide that this will be a more efficient form of locomotion. He’s nothing if not analytical, after all.

At any rate, he’s on his way. It’s so cool! And a little bit sad, since he’s the last baby.


Teen Practice


Sad Act

Valerie was posing, intentionally looking various degrees of sad, rather than happy as might be more traditional. The first was her saddest version.


Charisma Boy Brushing Teeth

Food & Cooking Kids Medical Pictures

Dairy Rash on Back

Here are a couple pictures of the rash on Henry’s back that resulted from contact with two small dabs of organic plain baby yogurt, proving beyond any remaining doubt his dairy allergy. As usual, click for a larger version.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical

It’s Annoying

Some of the finer points of the thing with Henry are, that is. Tonight Last night he ate summer squash for the first time. A lot of it. With relish. He thought it was one of the Best Things Ever.

It was crookneck, to be exact.

The main list I always consult for relative levels of salicylates mentions butternut and pumpkin. Pumpkin is, from what I understood from having read about it in the past couple years, very closely related to zucchini. And the summer squashes are kind of related, right? So if pumpkin was reasonable, probably summer squash was fine. I also know crookneck was rather distinct from straight yellow summer squash.

Anyway, he ate a pile of crookneck squash, loved it, and later this evening last night got a little itchier than we might expect or prefer, if not full blown bad. Could be the heat. Could be the levels in the squash. Could be something else. All complicated by Valerie being sweet and wanting to share a cashew. However, he’d started itching before that, cashews are super low in salicylates, and a full-fledged allergy would presumably show a more spectacular result. So he got to eat maybe half of a cashew and thought it was the best thing he’d ever had. In fact, the itching could have been heightened simply by his level of sadness over cashew being removed from his mouth and the bowl being empty when he looked in it after following Val around until she set it down.

Still, the itching and slight redness above the usual made me go poking around, and I found a better site for salicylate levels, except it’s laid out badly.

That says “summer squash” is in the very lowest levels. Except… by “summer squash” they mean something also known as chayote, which is completely unfamiliar. Scientifically it is Sechium edule.

That same site says zucchini is one of the worst handful of veggies. It’s grouped with things like peppers, radishes and concentrated tomato products. In fact, the only things that aren’t herbs, spices and miscellany that fall higher are raisins, prunes and raspberries. Seems odd, but I guess he will not be trying the zucchini that’s in the fridge.

But… what about other summer squashes, including crookneck?

Zucchini is apparently part of Cucurbita pepo, along with some types of pumpkin, yellow summer and crookneck squashes, acorn, pattypan and spaghetti squashes.

So why would it be so high? And the others not? They’re not, right?

The site places pumpkin (but which variant?) and marrow squash into the second lowest category.

In the third it places “squash.” Just squash.

So helpful. So descriptive.

A bit more looking things up and I learn that “marrow” is simply a word for squash, in some countries. So saying “marrow squash” is like saying “squash squash.”

I also learn that, in the strictest sense, “marrow squash” is a large, straight green squash that resembles a zucchini, but is often grown to huge sizes and stuffed. I think I’ve seen marrow squash. I think we’ve always called it zucchini and it’s just been that zucchini don’t all look exactly the same.

But wait! If it’s a straight squash, why do I find pictures online of it looking like a green crookneck? Along with southern recipes.

Bottom line, apparently if you seen a reference to marrow squashes, it’s more likely to mean the various summer squashes as to mean the big green or crookneck green ones. Which leads me to that original salicylates list, the one I usually use for handy reference.

Voila! There’s “marrow,” in the moderate column for vegetables, along with pumpkin, parsnips, fresh tomato, carrots, and some other stuff. That fits.

What’s missing from both is a specific reference to butternut squash. I believe we may have developed the impression of butternut as okay by direct experimentation, or by seeing it elsewhere, since we’ve looked at many of these lists or sets of recommendations. They do mostly agree, fortunately.

That leaves me thinking that the reference to “squash” without any further distinction covers butternut and the general winter squashes. Then again, butternut is Cucurbita moschata, which also includes some pumpkin varieties, including one used for commercial canned pumpkin. What I think of as the main winter squash is Cucurbita maxima, which includes hubbard and buttercup.

You have to become an expert just to feed the kid safely. Well, it’s not unsafe for him to get a bit itchy, just uncomfortable. I’d say he clearly reacted mildly to summer squash or to something else, but there was a lack of “something else.” Maybe the charring on the steak? Bottom line, besides that this is confusing, and beware of naming conventions, is moderate amounts rule.

The other day, I gave him peach. No peal, just the inner part, after it had sat on the counter to ripen a few days. I meant only to give him a sliver, but he ate several. Thought it was awesome. And didn’t react at all. Check off peaches as a food he “can have.” But… not in large amounts. Or maybe not so much? I see the lists disagree. The new one has peaches in the second lowest class, along with things like lemon. And apple juice, which he can’t have, at least very much. And light grape joice, which he can’t have. At least not much. The other list has peaches in the second highest class. Along with some of the other stuff the alternate list has in the second lowest class. Wild.

This is why he becomes a science experiment. It’s the only way we learn for sure what he can have without becoming an itch factory or breaking out.


Just Remembered

Henry is 11 months old today. We have one month to deal with the arrears to the gas & electric and be making enough to keep current henceforth. I also need to try to make a 1 year checkup and vaccination appointment for him, now that we have him covered.