O Tannenbaum, Day 0.5

Well, Murray and I got the Christmas tree up yesterday during Gulliver's periods of wakefulness. I loved all the good advice I got, so this is where I'm at so far:

We put up the tree not in the place where the image from the last post showed, but in the place where we put it a year ago---it's kindof in a corner between the couches. So already, the tree is 80% protected.

I did not put ornaments on the lower 1/4 of the tree (although some beaded garland may be hanging a little low currently) except for some nice fabric ones that will come off the the tree easily and will not break.

I loved Azucar's advice of wrapping very heavy boxes. So I figure that will become my primary line of defense if Gulliver becomes interested in the tree. I even thought that I could wrap them in nice FABRIC, which Gulliver won't be able to tear. Smart, huh? And then, I can bring out these "box barrier bags" every year as part of the whole Christmas decoration, because guess what--we're going to keep having children, so I need to keep worrying about this problem for the next decade.

So then this morning I put Gulliver down in the living room and let him explore. No interest at all in the tree. I brought out the vacuum (gasp! on the Sabbath!---I know, I know) to make sure I got all the little pieces of crud on my carpet that were left over from putting up the tree, because having a self feeder means that he feeds himself carpet crud. He was very interested in the vacuum, and when the skinny nose attachment fell off of it, it was even more exciting because that became a weapon of assault that he could use to attack the vacuum as I tried to work around him.

But even after I put away the vacuum and Gulliver was ready to play again, he still wasn't interested in the tree. He ventured over because he is now much closer to being able to access Kermit, who is sitting happily near the tree. But he didn't grab the tree.

So. Day 0.5 has been a success! (And he is currently playing happily in the kitchen where he has taken everything out of the bottom drawer, but don't worry! I moved all the blades to very safe places and filled the accessible drawers with linens.)

Calling All Mothers: Advice!

All right, mothers. The Christmas season is in full swing tomorrow and I have a question! How do I have both a baby and a Christmas tree? Appropriate answers do not include having a tree on a table because I'm not going to do that for ten years and because we have a tree that we bought last year. So please share with me your collective experience and advice!

-- Posted from my iPhone, with apologies for any typos.


I thought I'd mention another thing about what Gulliver does. I don't know if every baby does this, or just our Gulliver. I think it might be every baby but here goes.

Gulliver loves when there's one spot of something different. Like if I'm feeding him, and ONE drop of food spills onto his plate, he'll go after that one thing. It's very entertaining until he's spread it all over his tray and thus taken care of. This is the same for if there's one spot anywhere else. Like on the floor. He always finds the one spot of dirt, or the one nut that I've spilled.

Well, now combine this with his tendency to smash things with blocks. At this point in his life, that's what blocks are for. Smashing things. Now that he's a self feeder, all of a sudden I'm much more accountable for keeping my floors clean. So yesterday I was doing a thorough vacuuming and sweeping and mopping. I found a collection of blocks near a forgotten area of tile floor. And you know what I found? I found nuts and food debris encrusted on every single one of those blocks. Obviously he was chasing around misplaced food crumbs and obliterating them with his blocks!

Last week, Gulliver couldn't play on his own at all. It got to the point where I wondered if he had ever really played on his own before, or if it had just been a figment of my imagination. This week, he's back to his normal busy (and independent) self, and it's so much fun to watch. I feel like I'm able to see his imagination develop.

Here are some shots of Gulliver playing. In this first series, you can see a stick amongst his toys. This is a push-along duck that he loves. Of course he's not old enough to push it along yet, but he will grab it and then travel with it around the entire house. It's ball top is especially good for smashing things. 

Here Gulliver is inside one of his boxes. I have two toy boxes for Gulliver. In addition to organizing his toys, they have the added benefit of being places that he can crawl into and out of, much to my amusement. I've got to admit it. I think there are few things cuter than seeing a pair of legs sticking out the top of a box as Gulliver dives to the bottom to find a toy.


Gulliver's New Trick

Still really busy with stuff, but I thought I'd take a moment to share a big milestone that Gulliver reached this week. Gulliver up until now has not fed himself. I think that he's a little late, but I attribute his lateness to:

1) He's a first child, so his parents can give him all the attention he needs.
2) He's never been an oral baby. He just doesn't stick things in his mouth (except for his stuffed Ernie's nose, which coincidentally looks like a bright red nipple)---and didn't really love the whole pacifier thing, either.
3) He's too busy crawling around the house and walking along furniture (and getting into kitchen drawers) to take the time to figure out self feeding.

But the other day, we went to a Mexican restaurant. At restaurants, I'll give Gulliver large pieces of food so that he can have something to play with (and the restaurant staff can have something to clean up) while we eat. Well, I gave him a tortilla chip to play with at the restaurant, and like a little chipmunk, Gulliver took a bite out of it. Then another bite. And another. It was the cutest thing in the world. He ate that chip right up!

This morning, he gobbled down his food and my yogurt, so I grabbed a few of his dad's Cinnamon Toasters, and Gulliver bit into those, too! He even found one on the floor later and I didn't realize it until I heard him crunching and smacking his lips.

In other news related to Gulliver's development, here's how he's driving us bonkers these days. Gulliver has a sense of what is OFF LIMITS. And that means that it's especially ON limits. So for example, we have an air intake vent on the main floor that we can't do ANYTHING about. It's just there. And Gulliver loves to strum it. BUT it cuts his fingers. Drives me CRAZY. So in the beginning, I had the idea that if I just ran and picked up Gulliver every time he strummed the vent, he'd just learn that it was a reliable way to get mom to come! So I tried to sit down on the floor with him and hold his hands to the ground for a minute, immobilizing him. I thought maybe that would be a negative consequence associated with the strumming. Of course, that was more annoying (to me) than having to just get up and grab him every time, so I didn't stick with the plan. Well, surprise surprise, but now Gulliver has REALLY learned to associate strumming with parents' attention. He does one big strum and then turns around to see who's going to run after him. When he's especially playful, he'll start laughing and crawling away from you as fast as possible to make you chase him. When he's feeling especially musical, he'll just keep strumming as much as he possibly can before we get to him and stop him.

Gulliver also loves drawers and cupboards. If we're into this whole negative consequences association thing, you'd think that he'd learn from the times he's smashed or pinched his fingers that playing in the cupboards and drawers isn't a good idea. Or like the time he broke one of my bowls in the 0.5 seconds that it took him to get into the cupboard, right when we were madly trying to pack and leave the house for a few days. He also has blade radar, meaning that he KNOWS where my handheld blender blade is. It was previously in the bottom drawer, which he accessed very easily. I moved it up one drawer, since he never opens that drawer. The next day, he graduated to that very drawer. So I moved it up one more drawer, and, you guessed it, he's now capable of opening the THIRD drawer up. I currently have rubber bands on my cupboards. I have those plastic latches somewhere in this house, so I'll have to hunt them down and start using them on the drawers. And maybe consider moving all my rags and towels to the bottom drawers...

The fridge and the dishwasher are Gulliver's ultimate destinations, though. If he sees into the kitchen when I have the dishwasher open, he kicks the crawling into turbo speed, making really excited noises as he charges into the kitchen. Then he tries as hard as he can to get into these places while I try my hardest to keep him out. (The other day, I found a tupperware of mashed potatoes on the ground outside the fridge, evidence that Gulliver was able to get in while I wasn't looking and sneak something out without my noticing.)

So that is the Gulliver update. He's been pretty high maintenance for about a week, but today he seems to be back to his playful, low-maintenance self. Now if only we could get him a little brudder to play with...

Productivity Report

Today was supposed to be a very productive day for me and Murray. To begin the day's production, I needed to print off a sheet to test the resolution of screen shots for my up and coming book. (I know: I will soon be a [self] published author! The book is about the riveting world of Illustrator.)

I couldn't print it. (Have I ever mentioned how vehemently I hate home printers? Because they NEVER work. Not ever. Not even after you pay $300 for a brand new one that's supposed to be good for graphic art. Epsonality, my @$$.) We recently switched internet providers and set up a new wireless network for the home, but forgot to have the installer set up our printer on the new network.

So most of the morning was spent with Murray on the phone with Epson trying to figure out how to set up our printer on the new network. Eventually he just got disconnected, which was fine because it was time for a Costco run anyway.

At Costco we purchased toilet paper, diapers, bacon bits, and chicken nuggets. Emphasis on the toilet paper; the rest of those items could have waited for another day.

Then we went to Target, where I felt it was a good idea to stay in the car (to avoid spending money) but ventured into the store anyway, where I found my dream chairs on sale for $55 for a set of two. (We've already been through two sets of dining room chairs in our home, before I really learned that we'd do better with chairs that don't have arm rests. So now I have these sleek, fantastic, green chairs. And what a price!!)

We came home, put Gulliver down for his nap, and Murray got on the phone again with Epson. And then with Quest. Two hours later, we had answers, but no solutions. It turns out, our Epson printer isn't made to work with the type of network we have set up here, and ultimately, Quest is going to have to send out a technician to solve the problem.

So with our printer hard-wired to my computer (it's currently sitting on our leather reading chair---not the best place for a printer), I was able to finally print the page I was needing. At 8:00 at night.

The GOOD NEWS is that the screen shots print just fine.

The bad news is that I should have been able to find that out 12 hours ago.

(The GOOD news is I have new chairs!)

Rite of Passage

-- Posted from my iPhone, with apologies for any typos.

Hand-Delivered Turkeys

I want you to close your eyes and imagine something very, very special.

Except don't really close your eyes, because you need to read this. Unless you can get someone else to read it to you while your eyes are closed. In which case, close your eyes.

[To the reader: Please read all of this in a very positive, enticing voice. Because it is positive and enticing.]

Imagine a world in which turkey came delivered right to your door, by the farmer's wife. Imagine a world in which you didn't have to speed-thaw your Thanksgiving turkey in the bathtub because you can just stick it straight in the oven, frozen. Imagine a world in which your turkey came out perfect with absolutely no effort on your part. Perfect succulence! Perfect flavor! Perfect turkey! Imagine all your Thanksgiving guests adoring you for the perfect turkey that you have prepared. Oh, and imagine yourself not being exhausted because you didn't have to go to as much effort this year.

Now open your eyes and get this: My adorable sister-in-law is a turkey farmer's wife. And she will deliver your turkey to your door the week of Thanksgiving if you live in Utah or Salt Lake County. And you can put it frozen into the oven, and your guests will love you and you will enjoy Thanksgiving because you won't be exhausted! Does anything sound more wonderful?

Oh yes, something does sound more wonderful! You will get good karma for supporting Utah turkey farmers! (Whereas if you buy Butterball, you can count on the Mormon cricket breaking into your house and eating your young because that is basically what you deserve.)

Here's the info on all the turkey products available (for delivery to your door!!):

Sweetheart Breast Roast $3.75 lb
Turkey Pot Roast $ 2.75 lb
Turkey Burger $ 1.50 lb (these come in 1-lb pkgs)
Sanpete BBQ $ 4.50 lb
SWEETHEART BREAST is a Boneless Turkey Breast Roast that comes in a cooking bag ready for the oven. This makes a very moist turkey! They are sold in 2 different sizes. They come in a 5-6 lb range or 10- 12 lb range. This is a perfect Sunday dinner choice. This product does not need to be thawed. It can be put in the oven frozen. It takes about 35 minutes to pound to cook. This is our family favorite.
TURKEY POT ROAST weighs about 6 1/2 - 7 lbs. It tastes very similar to a beef roast. It is very easy to cook. I usually just thaw it and cook it in my slow cooker. This product is fully cooked and just needs to be warmed. I love to serve this product at a family party. We make warm BBQ sandwiches or I use it a lot to make Tacos. Our family really likes to make the Cafe Rio Salads and Burritos with this. I usually just flavor the meat with a BBQ sauce and some honey to make it sweet.
TURKEY BURGER comes in 1-lb packages. It makes it very convenient for dinners. I use Turkey burger in replacement of Hamburger in most recipes. It is a healthy choice.
SANPETE BBQ weighs about 9-10 lbs. Pieces of breast meat are already marinated in soy sauce and 7-up. (Shut up: Did she just give away the secret recipe?) Ready for the grill. This is the product that they serve during the Manti Pageant. It is very Yummy!
Please email me if you have any questions:
Melanie Blackham
weloveturkey [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wrong search terms

As I was trying to google "what to feed baby with diarrhea" I was filled with joy as I could hear and watch my precious baby boy playing independently with his toys. What a cutie!

What I should have been googling was "how stupid do you have to be to let your diarrhea baby play around on the floor wearing only a onesie."

For those who Google these words in the future and find this post, the answer is "Very."


My mom said recently that she sees it as a personal failure that only 2 of her 5 children made it out of her home with their front adult teeth intact. I don't remember what happened to Captain Fabuloso's front tooth. I know that I chipped Richie's by swinging my lunchbox in his face somewhere around the third grade. As for mine, when I was about 9, my dad needed to do some work up at the church one night while my mom was busy, so he took all us kids with him. The church was deserted and the five of us decided to play tag in the dark of the cultural hall (gym). I was "it" and I was sure I was hot on Captain Fabuloso's trail, so I was laughing. And running. In the pitch dark. With my mouth agape. (Note: Laughing loudly is probably not the best strategy when you're "it" during dark tag.) Instead of getting Fabuloso, I ended up running right into a wall, front tooth first.

I chipped the tooth and we never did find the missing piece. I remember going through what seemed like days with half of a front tooth, which even in 4th grade is pretty humiliating. When I got into the dentist, he was able to put a cap on it. I was told not to do things like eat corn on the cob.

I wasn't told not to chase after El Senor up a slide, playing park tag. After a few months of a successful tooth cap, that's what I found myself doing. Laughing again. That is until I slipped and fell tooth-first into the slide. And out popped my cap.

The next time I lost my cap was ridiculous. Remember that "no corn on the cob" thing? Well, I was served corn on the cob, and like an obedient little girl, I cut all the corn off of the cob. Then, I put my first fork full into my mouth and... the cap just fell off! How insulting!

This all eventually led to a root canal, and for the past two decades of my life, I have lived with half of a dead front tooth. It hasn't bothered me at all, except that I started noticing it in pictures and wondering if other people noticed it, too. It was just one of those things about myself that I took for granted and therefore never actually noticed when I looked in the mirror. But recently I started wondering if this is what people noticed when they looked at me. To that end, I have created a poll on my blog and I would love for you to participate! It's totally anonymous, and I guarantee you that my feelings are not wrapped up in this at all. I really do want to know how much people have noticed my tooth over the past few years. Because, you see, I just paid for a crown!

Now, don't judge. The crown is not coming from a superficial standpoint at all. If it were up to me, I'd just go through life with the half-tooth showing because sometimes I have to show people that I'm not all perfect. And when people look at me and my perfect husband, child, and my perfect life, it probably helps to show them that I don't have everything. I don't have two front teeth! But dentists over the years have kept telling me that it was time to put a crown on it, which insurance would pay for, because it needed to be strengthened. And if I didn't put a crown on it, the tooth would eventually just fall out, or something awful like that. But I've been really afraid to do this because the known evil was much better than the unknown evil. What if they shaved down what was left of my real tooth and then replaced it with a bubble tooth that was way more obvious?

Currently I have a temporary crown, and I have to say, even the temporary one is better than what I had. So I guess this isn't all bad. In a couple weeks, I'll get my real crown and this will be the end of my front tooth woes.

Or will it? Check back in two more decades to find out!

(Seriously, respond to the poll! I'm dying to know!)

Oh! The Cuddles!

After our big art weekend last week, I promised myself (and Murray) that we'd take Monday and Tuesday off. It was going to be wonderful. We were going to go see Harry Potter at the dollar movie for a matinee. We were going to lounge around in our pjs doing nothing. And I wasn't going to touch a computer or my cell phone.

Things didn't exactly turn out that way. Gulliver got sick (for the first time in his baby life) by the end of the Art Weekend. We got home, and found a black widow hanging out right outside Gulliver's room. Murray's friend called him up and invited him on a spur-of-the-moment trip to San Diego. We found out that our backyard has a mouse problem. I had a crown put on my bad tooth. So things haven't all be pajamas and parties. But good things have come out of it, I'm sure!

1) Gulliver being sick means that he is more cuddly than normal. Monday we couldn't put him down at all and he slept most of the day in our arms. (That at least helped with the "slowing down" aspect of taking a couple days off.) He seems to be doing a lot better, but even still, this morning he woke up at 7:30. I got up with him, played a little, and changed his diaper, but when I put him down to play, he just cried and reached up for me. So I picked him up and he snuggled right into my neck and hummed himself back to sleep, less than 30 minutes after waking up. I put him back down to sleep in our bed, so now I'll be hanging out here with him and the laptop till he wakes up.

2) Murray, like the very brave soul that he is, killed the black widow. Then we were able to get the pest control guy to come out the very next day. And that is when he pointed out our mouse problem, and set the needed traps to take care of it. So we should have no mice and no more deadly spiders in our home!

3) Murray is long overdue for a fun boy's trip (or man's trip) so it's fun to see him get to do something like this. And since it's his friend's business trip, pretty much everything is paid for.

4) I will blog about my tooth separately.

5) Things may not be all pajamas and parties, but Jenny came over last night and we were both kindof in pajamas, and I made her do some work with me. Because that's the kind of friend that I am.


As part of our anniversary this year, Murray took us to the zoo. Because I had to do a little work in the morning, we didn't make it to the zoo till 4:04. Exactly. In fact we may have pulled up to the parkinglot at 3:59 but unpacking Gulliver takes up to 5 minutes.

When we got to the ticket counter they were CLOSED. They closed at 4; the park was open till 5:30. Sad!!

We talked to the zoo gate keeper and said we'd just driven up from springville--was there any way we might still purchase tickets?

And you know what? She let us IN!!! YAY!

And then we had the place almost to ourselves for the next 90 minutes. Perfect crisp weather. I love the fall outdoors!

BELOW: what's Gulliver looking at?


-- Posted from my iPhone, with apologies for any typos.

Magic Mouse: A Review

Glad to see all the interest in my Magic Mouse! Let me tell you what I think, even though I risk severe marital problems by publicly saying that anything Apple creates is less than perfect. My thought process is like this:

If it works correctly, the Mighty Mouse is capable of the following:
1. Scrolling up, down, sideways, and 360 degrees.
2. Middle clicking, which you can assign a function to. My middle click function was to reveal my desktop.
3. Sqeeze clicking (genius!!), which you can assign a function to. My squeeze click was to show all open applications. Loved it and relied on it!

The new "improved" magic mouse is capable of the following:
1. Scrolling up, down, sideways, and 360 degrees, with enhanced scrolling capabilities like momentum scrolling. And no breakable scroll wheel.
2. ?
3. ?

Where did my other buttons go?

So to me, the mouse is currently slightly disappointing. I say slightly because I do love the design and I love the scrolling features. I say slightly because I have the hope that through a software update, my beloved features can be restored.

Some people who I am married yo might point out that I can use the keyboard or hot corners to use my beloved features. But these are the same insane people who don't see the need for a right click. A right click!!

I might also point out using the same logic that you don't need a mouse to scroll either. You can use the scroll bars on the windows or the up and down cursor keys. So what if Apple introduced a new, beautifully designed mouse that was capable of only one click. No scrolling. But it uses touch technology! Wouldn't that be wonderful?

So. To boil it down again. I really do love this mouse. And I would rather be able to reliably scroll than to reveal my desktop or see all windows. But I wish I could have it all, like I should have had if the Mighty Mouse had been able to do its job for more than a year.

Will you still love me Murray?

-- Posted from my iPhone, with apologies for any typos.