Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brown Widow: The Beige Menace

To preface my story, allow me to state that I took the below picture a few days ago just to show you all what terrible creature was setting up housekeeping right outside my kitchen window. Little did I know...

Alas, poor spider. It isn't your fault you got squashed in my sweater.

This morning began like any other. I woke up ungodly early and watched Jim toddle about for half an hour or so before convincing myself to get out of bed and crawl into a big fuzzy hoody to escape the ungodly cold that is our current Georgia weather. It gets down to 55 degrees at night now, you know, which is just awful, particularly since we haven't bothered to light the pilot light in our furnace yet.

Anyway, I donned my lovely warm sweater, found some breakfast for Jim, and then perched on the couch to read my book for a few minutes while I finished waking up. Before I was two pages in, my neck started to hurt. I couldn't figure out what it was. It didn't itch, although I could feel a couple of bug-bite-style bumps there. It didn't feel like I'd been cut or stabbed, even though I could feel something smearing around like blood. It just inexplicably hurt, and the longer I sat there, the worse it hurt. In fact, the mild stinging was turning rapidly into a major burning on the entire right side of my neck, accompanied by a throbbing ache from my ear to my elbow.

Well, I'm no fool, and since everyone knows that the best remedy for all ailments is a nice hot shower, I started disrobing at once. Lo and behold, the second I pulled my hoody off, out falls this big ugly spider - just like the one above, only now kind of smooshed. The poor thing had been squashed between my neck and the collar. Here, clearly, was my assailant. I was relieved to know it was just a spider bite, and so I resolved to carry on with my showering plans as soon as I looked up the venomous spiders in Georgia just to make sure that this wasn't one of them.

As you may be able to guess, it was. Look back at that picture, ladies and gents, and mark it well, for that is a brown widow. They're about the size of a quarter, including legs, and are typically beige-to-tan with dark leg joints and an orange-to-red hourglass on the abdomen. Apparently they used to be restricted just to southern Florida, but they've been spreading north and have become quite a problem in areas from Georgia over to Texas and even southern California. They don't inject quite as much venom as a black widow, for whatever reason, but they're still damned unpleasant and an actual danger to those with weaker immune systems (like, for example, toddlers - you would not believe how glad I am that the thing crawled into my sweater and not, say, Jim's shoe).

So, I called Noah, he ran home from work, and off we went to the emergency room, where I proceeded to gleefully text various relations in order that they might worry about me. Jim had a delightful time investigating every aspect of the room, dropping ice into the sink, trying to get into the sharps container, and reaching insistently for any button that was brightly colored and might be able to sound an alarm. They eventually let me go with some benadryl (for the swelling), a prescription for valium (for the eventual muscle spasms), and firm instructions to come back if the wound starts rotting or I start vomiting uncontrollably. So far I've been content to just sit around aching from ear to elbow and not turning my head too much, but we'll see what happens.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Can you believe how long his little legs are?

Just for posterity, that's the face I'm usually wearing when Jim looks like that.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Random tidbits.

Jim's reading nook in the living room. Sometimes the chair lives here, and sometimes it goes in his room. We need more baby chairs.

Jim knows how to give hugs on command now. Whether he'll actually DO it is questionable, but when he does it's adorable.

We have nowhere to put this permanently yet, but fortunately for Jim, Noah is pretty tree-like.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ahhh, the great outdoors.

Have I ever mentioned that we love Mistletoe State Park? Because we do. It's only about half an hour from us (20 minutes, once we move!), and it's basically the closest thing I can find down here to the woods I grew up with. It's not the biggest park in the world, but it's pretty and it's clean and I've never run into any other hikers there, so I like it. Lack of popularity is definitely a selling point in my book.

Jim strides boldly into the wild unknown.

Anyway, we took a hike there a couple weeks ago, and it was awesome. It was the first really good fall day we've had so far - about 60 degrees and cloudy, with that excellent dead-leaf smell that is so hard to find down here. For some reason Georgia trees just don't usually do much during the fall, so one of my priorities at our new place is planting some trees that will actually turn colors and smell like October at the appropriate time.

How to Turn a Baby* from Downcast to Overjoyed in Four Seconds.

Jim was overjoyed to find that there were quite a few leaves on the ground there, and he took great pleasure in bringing us the best ones he could find. At times this appeared to be all the ones he could find, so the walk took about three hours even though we only went 4-5 miles.

Jim's look-at-THIS face.

Presenting Noah with a particularly good specimen.

It's pretty great that Jim is now old enough to go on walks. He walked probably about two miles on his own, and rode more-or-less happily in the ergo for the rest of it. I look forward to many more family hikes in our future.

*I can't stop calling him a baby. He's still totally a baby, right, guys? Right? Guys?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

We took Jim to a field. We took a lot of pictures.

As you can see, Noah is determined to instill an early love of football.

Look at his hair blow. Awww.

This is how most of the afternoon was spent. Jim jettisons ball; Noah retrieves it.

Waving is serious business.

If you look verrrrrry closely, you'll see the main problem with going outside in Georgia ever. This particular nest was about twice the size of Jim.

An airplane! Jim is good at identifying airplanes.

Jim finds something...

...and by the look on his face, it's something awesome/gross.

Noah is obsessed with tying knots.

Jim clearly regrets volunteering to help with the knot-tying.

More airplanes? This is Jim's favorite place ever.

Stairs are pretty easy to climb, as long as you have a hand-hold.

Running down the hill to climb them again is the best part.

Aaaand again (and again, and again, and...).

Playing limbo with the rail on the bleachers.

Clearly, Jim was made for sporting paraphernalia.

And one bonus climbing picture, just to give the grandmothers heart palpitations. Did it work?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sandwich tantrums, chicken chasing, and general diabolical behavior.

He's practically a monkey these days.

So the other day Jim runs up to me, brandishing one of his books and pointing furiously at a large picture in the middle of it - a sandwich, rather sizable, bulging with various meats and cheeses. He looks at me and starts signing FOOD all serious-like. So I ask him:

"Do you want cheese?" NO! He gestures wildly at the picture.
"We don't have a sandwich. Do you want a banana?" NO NO NO, stabs at picture with his index finger.
"How about some grapes?" NOOOOOOOOO!
"Jim, we don't have a sandwich. No sandwich." Overcome by grief and despair, he hurls himself to the ground, completely despondent that he can't have his sandwich.

His sandwich-deprivation-tantrum lasted a good four or five minutes. Poor kid. I guess he gets full marks on picture recognition, though.

He's also not really into having his picture taken.

Speaking of food and communication, Jim has a couple new signs AND words (real spoken words, sort of!). He can do banana (rubbing his index fingers together, saying "buh-daaaah") quite well. He can do cheese, too, but it took me a little longer to recognize. It's supposed to look like this, but he just rubs his hands together, and he can't quite say the whole word so he just goes "zzzzzzzz" instead. So if Jim ever comes walking toward you rubbing his palms malevolently and hissing, don't be scared. He just wants cheese.

This is what happened last time he saw me get the camera out.

And in another brilliant seque, let me tell you more about Jim and cheese. Thursday afternoon we were hanging out outside (which is awesome, by the way - I read a book in the shade while he grubs in the dirt and chases chickens) when Jim comes up to me rubbing his hands and hissing, as described above. Naturally, I go inside and bring him a cheese stick. He's delighted to see it, of course, and proceeds to bring it to his mouth when, all of a sudden, out of nowhere Beatrice the chicken darts in, snatches it from his hand, and takes off across the yard. Jim is momentarily stunned, but recovers quickly enough to give chasing, laughing hysterically the whole time. Apparently he has never encountered anything quite as hilarious as a chicken taking his cheese.

It was pretty epic, actually, in the most literal possible sense of the word. The chase ranged from the shed to the garden, from the chicken coop to the garden hose. They went back and forth - Jim would tackle the chicken and snatch the cheese long enough to get a bite, then the chicken would reclaim it and gulp down a couple shreds before Jim could catch up to her and take it back. I know, I know, sitting in the shade watching your child compete for second-hand chicken cheese isn't exactly Mother-of-the-Year material, but seriously, would you have stopped it? It was just too good. I wish I'd had a video camera with me.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Am I seasonally appropriate or what?

The wild Jim spots its prey.

He moves in for the kill.

Don't know what it is, but this new fall weather (seriously, folks, it's been in the 70s this past week! It even hit 65 once!) has me in the mood to bake. Last week my sister Emmy and I made banana cream pie and bright blue merengues, over the weekend I made apple turnovers, and yesterday I baked up a big batch of these Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies. Good thing Noah already had his weigh-in for this quarter.

These whoopie pies are probably Jim's favorite out of everything I've made recently. I got the recipe here, but I had to edit it a little. I used a little more vanilla and regular sugar instead of Splenda (I've got this unreasonable paranoia about artificial sweeteners), and cut the sugar in the frosting by about a quarter. It was still a little too sweet, so if anybody out there decides to make it, I'd cut the sugar in the frosting fully in half. Or use more cream cheese, maybe. More cream cheese is always better.

Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
Makes 12 plus some cupcakes

3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat together brown sugar, sugar , oil and pumpkin. Add eggs one at time, followed by the vanilla. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet stuff until just combined. Using a big plastic bag (I used 1 gallon size, and it worked pretty well) with one corner snipped off, squeeze out circles of batter onto a cookie sheet, starting from the middle and working outward to make 2" circles (12 per cookie sheet). Bake for 11 minutes and cool on a rack.

Note - there will probably be some batter left over. Either make extra whoopie pies or do what I did and use the rest for pumpkin cupcakes. They take about 25 minutes in the oven.

Cream Cheese Filling
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
8 oz powdered sugar, or more or less to taste (original recipe called for 16oz, but it was way too sweet)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

When the cookie part is completely cool, assemble by spreading frosting on the flat side of one cookie then smooshing it together with another one to make a tasty sandwich. Easiest way I found was to just put a big glob of frosting in the middle with a knife and let the smooshing press it out to the sides.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Artiste

Jim's latest masterpiece. Pay special attention to the crayons...

Jim loves his crayons beyond life itself. Granted, he doesn't quite understand what life itself is, but he really is very fond of his crayons nonetheless. Unfortunately, he has very little patience for the finer points of their usage yet. I keep them on a shelf so that the house isn't entirely destroyed, so he stands under the shelf and points at them increasingly angrily until someone fetches them for him. Once he has them, though, he very rarely actually colors. He prefers to throw them at the cats, carefully break them into little pieces, smear them on the windowsills, laboriously peel off the wrappers, and so on and so forth. The only way to persuade him to actual use them for their intended purpose is to restrain him in his high chair with a couple crayons and a piece of paper, at which point he will perhaps deign to honor us with an artwork or two.

Jim post-art. Can you guess what color of crayon we found in his diaper later that afternoon?

Or he might just eat them instead. Close enough, if you're a toddler.

Bonus pictures: Jim concentrates VERY hard in order to smear crayon on the camera lens. That's why the rest of the pictures this month may or may not be kind of blurry.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The first time I tried to take pictures for yesterday's post...

Jim was REALLY excited to see me (and the camera), so he kind of rushed his dismount.

And all he wanted was to say hi. :(

Monday, October 15, 2012

He's on the right track.

Jim is not a quiet person to live with. He yells, and he screams (both happily and un-); he chases the cats, and he throws anything that will fit in his hands. But occasionally, everything will just fall silent for a suspiciously long period of time. And when that happens, you can generally find him like so:

Jim's favorite place.

This has been building up off and on. The first time it happened, I was washing dishes and realized I hadn't heard Jim for about three minutes. Naturally, I was certain he was dead. So I went off looking for him in a panic, and there he was, sitting in the corner of his room on his own little chair reading one of his picture books. Freakin' adorable, yes? Lately, he's been more suggestible about it. "Hey Jim, you should go sit in your chair and read a book," I say, and he looks like a cartoon light bulb just went off over his head before he races back to get his book out.

As you can see, he's already learning the value of healthy skepticism.

Usually he needs to be alone in his room for this to work (if he sees one of us, he wants us to read to him instead), but yesterday I got the bright idea of bringing his chair out to the living room. We had the life-changing experience (seriously, life-changing - I'm not even exaggerating) of all three of us sitting and reading books quietly in the same room for about half an hour. It was amazing. I remember doing that with my family when I was a kid, and I'm so excited about being able to do that with Jim. We still spend plenty (pleeeeenty) of time reading to him, but his new interest in looking quietly at his own books while we read grown-up books is an extremely welcome development.

The silence truly is great, but if you're really lucky, he may even make animal noises while reading.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The whole family, just not together.

Note Jim's hair being all float-y.

Post-shower. He loves being wrapped in a towel.

And he REALLY loves looking in the mirror. Budding narcissist, that one.

MySpace photo. Is that reference still usable?

Jim and I, we are of one mind.

And that, ladies and gents, is all of September. We're caught up! Huzzah!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jim's doctor visit

This was pretty uneventful, so I'm just going to mark down the stats before I forget.

Jim is now 23lb 7oz, which is 25th percentile (up from 21lb and 22nd percentile at his 12-month appointment). He's 31 inches tall, which is 32nd percentile (up from 29.125" and 30th percentile last time). His head is 19.5 inches around, which is around 95th percentile (19 inches and 98th percentile last time). So, he's more or less maintaining his little-guy-with-a-giant-head status. He's probably going to need custom-made hats when he's grown up. But hey, that's no big deal. My brother needs gigantic hats too, as I recall, so he won't be alone.

He got a couple shots, which he handled with aplomb. Noah came along just in case, since he's a lot better than I am at comforting a hysterical Jim, but it turned out he wasn't needed for that task. There was no crying at all, just a rather betrayed howl and an angry face for a couple seconds after the burn-y one.

Other than that, there's not much to remark on. His speaking skills are, as I suspected, a bit behind - most babies apparently have 5-10 words at this age, and Jim doesn't have any except for the occasional dada. His comprehension is great, though, and he knows a lot of signs and can follow instructions, so there's no real need for concern, especially since boys are apparently usually much slower to speak than girls are. The doctor said he'd refer us to a speech development expert if we wanted, but he didn't see any reason to worry unless he's still not speaking at 24 months. Physically and intellectually, though, he's in the normal-to-awesome range.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jim looks generally adorable.

How's this to start your day?

Hey! Hey! Hey! I'm eating an apple! Hey! Wanna watch me eat my apple?

There, aren't you glad you watched?

I don't even know.


Told you he looks adorable.

PS - Jim has a doctor's appointment today. Look for an update on that tomorrow.