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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Poop Rating Scale

Upon my return home from work one day recently, our nanny casually mentioned that Miri had pooped that day.  Yet it wasn't until after she left for home that I read in her log:

It left me wondering, just how extensive were these poops?  You see, Miri has the unfortunate habit of storing up poop for eight, nine, ten days or more and then detonating, and pity the soul who happens to be there when she blows.  I searched the house for signs of an epic blowout, but there were no dirty diapers in the trash, soiled outfits soaking in the laundry room, or empty cases of wipes.  Nothing but a smug-looking baby and a roll of paper towels that was suspiciously thinner than what I remembered leaving.  But our nanny is notoriously good at cleaning up her (really the kids') tracks and downplaying any trouble they caused her.  If only there were an objective way to record the magnitude of these poops . . .

But wait.

Then I recalled the poop rating scale, born in our early days of this parenting adventure.  What is this rating scale, you ask?  Let me explain.

You've all seen this, the ubiquitous pain scale used in the medical world to rate the severity of pain.  At my job in the hospital, the majority of my day revolves around pain, whether it's evaluating pain, treating pain, or preventing recurrence of pain.  We discuss pain extensively, in terms of its location, its quality, its exacerbating and alleviating factors, and its severity.

In contrast, when I am at home the majority of my day centers not around pain, but around poop.  Yet the parallels are endless.  We discuss poop in terms of its location ("Mom, Tess got poop on the floor!"), its quality ("Mama, why is Miri's poo poo yellow?"), its exacerbating and alleviating factors ("Mama, I need more fruit."), and it's severity ("Mama, I have a code brown!").

Similar to the pain scale, the poop scale ranges from one to ten, with one being barely a hint of a stain on the diaper to ten, a full-scale explosion soiling not only diaper and baby, but all surrounding surfaces including changing mat, caretaker, and any pieces of furniture unlucky enough to be within a 4-foot radius.

The poop scale accomplishes three main goals:

1. Brevity.  In the heat of the moment, with poop cascading down a screaming baby's legs, words can escape you aside from "level nine, need backup!" (see photo above)

2. Forecasting.  In our first couple months as new parents, we maintained a ridiculously detailed and painstaking log of Anna's every feeding, nap, pee and poop.

Cut us some slack; we were rookie parents and had no idea what we were doing.  Anyway, this extensive record keeping brought one benefit: pattern recognition.  Similar to analyzing the Farmer's almanac to predict rain, noting elimination patterns can help predict future events (i.e. "Last poop was 7 days ago and only a level 3.  Time to batten down the hatches, people, a big one is on its way.")

3. Objectivity.  Just as with pain, one's perception of the quantity and destructiveness of a baby poop can be influenced by emotional factors.  The poop scale seeks to reduce the subjectivity of the whole deal, so that a level five is a level five for everyone.  This eliminates the "the fish was THIS big" phenomenon so commonly seen with baby poop explosions.  All this to say, if you're not wiping poop off the TV (true story) or rinsing it out of your hair in the shower, that ain't no level 10, friend.

For more on our family's poop-related adventures, see here and here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mel's Baby Shower (and Planning a Party for Someone Who Can Hardly Eat Anything)

Confession: In the past, I always thought of people with food allergies as being kind of high-maintenance-types, akin to picky eaters.  (Yes, I recognize that this was terribly judgmental of me.)  Then my beloved sister developed intolerances to dairy, gluten, soy, peanuts, sunflower seeds, most tree nuts, and shellfish.  Most of the time, I'm able to alter recipes so that I don't poison her, but this became even more challenging when I wanted to throw her a baby shower.  Given her allergies plus the added food restrictions of pregnancy (no deli meats, sushi, alcohol, raw sprouts, etc.) and I stepped into a veritable culinary minefield.

After an undue amount of recipe searching and deliberation, my mom, sisters and I pieced together this menu that is friendly to the majority of food allergies.

Cowboy Caviar and tortilla chips
Zeek's Wild Green Salad with Balsamic Dressing - cashews and gorgonzola (aka poisons) on the side
Veggie platter and hummus

Lumpia with sweet chili sauce - this is just an example of a recipe, not the actual recipe.  In fact, there is no recipe.  Mom is just magical like that.
Mom's pancit - Again, I won't even bother with a recipe because NOBODY can make pancit like my mom.

Gluten and Dairy-Free Chocolate Layer Cake - I skipped the coffee and instead made the frosting chocolate, then garnished with toasted coconut, which covered a multitude of frosting sins.  I'm really bad at frosting cakes.

Spa Water
Seahawks Punch in honor of the Superbowl, which immediately followed the baby shower (Yes, there was Hawaiian Punch in it. Don't judge.)

Party Favors
Coconut Macaroons - I substituted all-purpose gluten-free flour for the white flour and vanilla extract for the almond extract.

Lucky for me, the mom-to-be's friend also named Mel handled decorations with the theme of kites and clouds in teal and orange.

I spent way too much time searching for ideas on Pinterest but eventually settled on two games.  One, based loosely off the Newlywed game, I entitled "What Would Nathan Say?"  This is where we learned that Nathan thinks newborns use an average of 3 diapers a day, and yet he still thinks Mel will change most of them.  The next game I entitled "Mel or Nathan," where guests had to guess who played with toilet water at 10 months, who hit his/her baby sister, and who ate a jade plant, requiring a call to poison control (Mel, Mel, and Mel).  Yup, that's my sister!

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Starting Lineup (with yet more crocheted Seahawks hats)

Last week I introduced you to my favorite superfan, Mom, and today I'd like to introduce you to the rest of team Chow and our Seahawks hats.  That's right, we sported a team uniform to watch the Superbowl.  After seeing my mom's hat and the girls' hats, the rest of the family wanted in on the action, too.  So I whipped together a few more beanies so we could watch the game in style.  Chow-style, that is.

Announcing the starting lineup:

Dad: The Psychic Swearing Superfan
In addition to knowing the minutiae of every rule in every sport, Dad possesses the uncanny knack of predicting exactly what is going to happen in each play.  Before the ball is even snapped, he can call an interception, a fumble, or a play-action fake.  This skill is countered only by his inability to hold back expletives in the presence of children.  Final Superbowl tally: accurate predictions 6, swear words 4.  Good thing the Seahawks won, or his stats would've been much, much worse.

For the big game, Dad sported a double crochet beanie based off this pattern.

Mom: The Dancing Superfan
True to form, Mom led the family in a rousing half-time dance party.

See the making of Mom's hat here.

Ata: The Pregnant Superfan

Ata didn't let her bun-in-the-oven status keep her from busting a move during the half-time dance party, nor did it keep her from walking 3 miles and standing 4 hours in 20 degree weather to watch the Seahawks parade three days later.  Now that's one tough cookie.  Pass the woman some chips, please.

Ata & Nathan's baby: The Superfan-to-be
He got his own little hat, too.  Gotta train them up early.

Becky: The Superfan to Rule All Superfans
This girl knows the players, the rules, the stats, and the standings.  She even knows the refs by name.  And let me tell you, she puts the heck in heckle.

Since Becky has enough gear to put a team store to shame, she required something a little different for gameday and sported a  newsboy-style hat in Seahawks blue and green.

Jenny: The Softer-Side Superfan
Her job as a Nike engineer wins her insider knowledge of the players' gear, but her true strength lies in her knowledge of players' lives off the field, especially those traits that endear them to sentimental folk like us.  Because we don't cheer for mean people.  Jenny fills us in on details crucial to our enjoyment of the game, such as who collects teddy bears and who establishes a foundation to rescue sick kitties in developing nations.

Like Becky, she donned a newsboy-style hat to cheer on the Hawks.

Rob & Jeff: The Keep-Em-Laughing Superfans
If these superfans were to have a superpower, it would be their ability to keep my family cheerful in any sporting circumstance.  That's no easy feat considering how the rest of us are all terrible losers.  In fact, Jeff once made us sign a "sportsmanship agreement" before he would play board games with us.

In lieu of a superhero cape, I crocheted like a crazy person to finish Rob's hat during the Superbowl, leading to more than one remark: "Sew, very old one.  Sew like the wind!" (Mega bonus points for recognizing that movie reference)

Poor Jeff didn't get a picture.  Or a hat.  Sorry, babe, you're up next.

Anna: The Sensitive Superfan
The first time I watched a football game with Anna, I kept scaring her with my yelling, so I had to come up with new ways to, how shall we say, express disappointment when the opponents make a good play.  Apparently I didn't tone it down quite enough, when on the day after the 49ers game, Anna looked up with a troubled expression from her smiley-face pancake and asked, "Mama, why didn't you want that guy to be happy?"  Confused, I asked her what she meant.  She explained, "You know, when you said you wanted to wipe that smile off his (Kaepernick's) face?"

Tess: The Fashionista Superfan
Regarding all of our hats: "They would be nicer with a pom pom."

Miri: The Hungry Superfan
Enough said.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top 10 Reasons to Watch Sports with My Mom (and her crocheted Seahawks Beanie)

Many adjectives might spring to mind when looking at this picture of my mom.  Super cute- yes!  Warm and hospitable- better believe it!  Gourmet chef- you betcha!  But crazy, die-hard sports fan?  Perhaps not the first thing to come to mind.  But let me tell you, she's more than meets the eye.  Under her warm and fuzzy exterior lies an ultra-competitive, raging, veritable sports fanatic.

She may not know all the stats, standings, or heck, even all the rules, but she definitely wins the award for most entertaining fan.

So in honor of this wonderful woman, here are the top ten reasons to watch sports with my mom.

10. She makes great grub.  Did I mention she's a Filipino grandmother?  'Nuff said.

9. She sometimes forgets which team is which and cheers for the wrong team.

8. When the game gets too intense, rather than freaking out like the rest of us, she goes into the kitchen and cooks (hence reason #10).  In the 1998 NBA championship nailbiter, Bulls v. Jazz, Michael Jordan hit a clutch jump shot with 5 seconds to go, giving the Bulls the lead and clinching the title.  Where was Mom?  In the kitchen, chopping vegetables.

7. She knows the height of all major sports figures and preferentially cheers for the short ones.

6. When the Mariners blow a big play (which is often), she yells what we can only presume to be expletives in Tagalog.

5. She never cheers for mean sports stars.

4. She gets up at 3AM to check the Australian Open matches because she just can't wait until morning. On a similar note, she has to play tennis matches against people half her age, since the "old people" are too easy to beat.

3. She practices Zumba and Tae Bo moves during particularly slow or boring games.

2. After good games, she leaves noteworthy voicemails.  My all time favorite, in its entirety: "Yankees lost!  Yankees lost!  Love you.  Mom."

1. She makes great grub.  Yes, I mentioned this already, but if you know my mom and have eaten her food, you know this bears repeating.

So when my sweet mom saw the girls' new Seahawks hats and asked for one for herself, how could I say no?  This is the woman who taught us to yell "sack him!" right around the time we were learning to say "mama" and "dada".  Mom requested a hat with a folding brim and no earflaps, so I threw together a a quick double-crochet beanie in Seahawks blue and green, roughly based off this pattern.  With a pom pom, of course.

The best part?  I get to watch the Superbowl with this cute superfan!  Go Hawks!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Raising Sports Fanatics: Crocheted Seahawks Beanies

Sports fanaticism runs deep in my family's heritage.  It's right up there with the love of a good bargain, a predilection to eat anything made of shrimp, and a genetic mis-wiring of the brain's signals for feeling hungry and feeling angry (aka "hangry").  Let's just say you don't want to be in the car with my family on the way TO a restaurant, but that's a discussion for another time.

Anyway, back to sport fanaticism.  You might wonder how a family of four girls inherited such a love of sports.  Well, it wasn't from my dad.  My sisters and I were lucky enough to grow up in Chicago in the era of the Bears, and one of my earliest memories is of my petite mother pounding the ground in front of the TV yelling, "Sack him!  Sack him!"  As toddler girls in 1985, we danced the Superbowl Shuffle right alongside Jim McMahon and Refrigerator Perry (on VHS, of course).

Fast forward a few years, and we reveled in the era of Da Bulls and Michael Jordan's dynasty.  Over the years we found other teams to love: our own high school Bears, the Mariners, Huskies, Storm, Seahawks.

As fans, we were no strangers to body paint.

cheering on a high school basketball game

Or electrical tape.

My big sis is the U; I'm the apostrophe

My little sister even once made a sign protesting the sale of the Seattle Storm and Sonics to Oklahoma, landing herself on the front page of the Seattle Times and every other major paper in Western Washington.  She also achieved the highest level of superfan-dom: making it on ESPN.  Now THAT's a fan.

Now I have the high calling of grooming my own three girls into proper sports fans.  Like any other parent, I want to raise them to recognize good and evil, to root for the right team and boo for the Yankees of the world.  Or in this particular case, to cheer for the Seahawks and cry out for the downfall of the 49ers.  For my girls who unfortunately love dress-up and tutus more than TV and sports, the initiation into becoming a fan requires more than a bowl of chips and a TV remote.  For them, the road to fan-dom requires froofy clothes.  So I picked up some yarn and went to town with this earflap hat pattern.  After their initial rejection of the hats, we went into fierce contract negotiation, eventually coming to a deal:  they would wear the hats, give up all photo rights and royalties, not to mention a future first-round draft pick, if, and only if, I added a pom pom.  Done.

Go Seahawks!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Room of Her Own: Painting

How embarrassing, only one blog post for the entire year so far.  It's true, there hasn't been much in the way of projects this year, aside from one big one (born in October):

Between hyperemesis gravidarum and a couple other pregnancy ailments, growing her pretty much took up all my time and energy this past year, leaving little space for creativity.  Now that she's out, we have some catching up to do!  But first, a few old projects that I never got around to posting.

First, Tess' room.

Why is it that some major life decisions can come so easily while seemingly minor decisions can be agonizing?  For both of the houses we purchased, we literally walked in, looked around, and put an offer within 24 hours of laying eyes on them.  Sometimes you just know.  I also choose my medical school in the span of the five minutes it took to drive through the beautiful forest surrounding campus.  So why oh why did it take three months to settle on the right paint color for Tess' room?  (Not to mention the four years it took for us to select couches for the family room, but that's another story.)

Some of the deliberating stemmed from the fact that my beloved second-born would finally have a room of her own.  She might have her older sister's hand-me-down crib and hand-me-down clothes, but the room decor would be 100% chosen for her.  It was my tangible way of saying to her, "You are important!  You are loved!  We made this room just for you!"

Anyway, after dozens of paint swatches and several trips to various hardware stores, we took the plunge on a light but warm shade of gray.

My super-talented graphic designer and artist sister assisted in painting a flowering branch design using painters' tape to make the freeform branches and a stencil for the flowers.

I added a few splashes of pink and some finishing touches.

And the nursery is complete.  Alas, just in time for her to turn two and a half, graduate to a big-girl bed, and be displaced by her baby sister.