Thursday, July 31, 2008

Frivolous Questions on My Mind

1) Was that horde of diminutive, brightly orange-clad individuals approaching a transport bus on the drive home actually a group of short prisoners on clean-up duty or a bunch of elementary school sports campers?

2) Does anyone else’s Bluetooth headset turn itself on and off at will? (Mine is a Jawbone, if that rings a bell.)

3) When needing to look up an author to a book, should I walk over to the bookshelf and pick up my copy or stay seated and search

4) Is that little six year old b-boy who rocked So You Think You Can Dance amazing or what?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Going TV-Free for a Week

Let’s just be clear here. We’re not giving up TV in our household. I’m talking about observing other people giving up TV, because there’s no way I’m going to skip the finale of So You Think You Can Dance next week.

A BlogHer editor linked to Mark and Angel Hack Life, where they posted a remarkable list of what they got done in a week with the time they would have otherwise spent watching television. Either they became time management champions or they used to spend 24/7 in front of the tube, because I don’t think I could get that much done even if I didn’t work a full time job.

Their activities included the following: doubling blog post entries from 2 to 4, going to the gym 5 times, reading the book Siddhartha, learning new recipes and cooking 5 dinners, trimming the hedges, cleaning out the garage, playing sports, watching a “quality” movie and 32 other items. Wow!

Right now, my weekly TV consumption includes So You Think You Can Dance, plus America’s Best Dance Crew, which works out to about three and a half hours when you fast forward through commercials and the typical foot-dragging on results shows. Both those programs will wrap next week, so I suppose it’ll be back to the occasional Food Network show (like Ace of Cakes) or better yet, additional napping, until Dancing with the Stars comes back on. I imagine most people have more diversity in their television habits.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Of Breasts and BlogHer

In middle and high school, I never gave much thought to my breasts. I wasn’t one of those girls anxiously watching the mirror to see when I’d develop a chest or how it filled out.

I have totally made up all boob-introspection time in this month alone.

After various misadventures that I just deleted because no one really wants to know that much detail, I’ve grown accustomed to minute by minute status checks on how the ladies are feeling – engorged, painful, or acceptable. Finally, they’ve reached a comfortable state that I hope lasts until I’m through nursing.

When planning for the weekend of BlogHer, I was nervous that Buster would forget me after three days away and refuse to breastfeed when I returned. Or what if the opposite happened and he rejected the bottle while I was gone and starved?

Of course, neither ended up being the issue. He did just fine. I was the problem. Due to the dreaded but not altogether surprising breast pumping debacle, I made the hundred mile round trip home each day to nurse him. And got some quality snuggling time in as well.

So, as far as the pumping goes, it’s over for me. I’m done.

If I need to go away overnight, the micro dude will go with me. This is the last time I walk down this path, the last time I have a baby. So I’m going to treasure this time.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Payback in Play-Doh

If your child wants to dig into Play-Doh, and you don’t like Play-Doh, and your husband was the one who got the Play-Doh, and he’s taking a nap, do you tell your child to wake him up? Or grit your teeth and get squishy?

Then I remembered that SwingDaddy was subjected to an endless loop of High School Musical against his will one afternoon when I had to go out and figured it was payback, since I’d introduced HSM to the little dude.

For the record, I ended up having fun too, especially with the spaghetti-making device.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Why I’m Never Having Caffeine Ever Again

Me, looking into alarmingly bright, perky, cheerful eyes of infant after bedtime feeding: It was that half glass of Coke I had at dinner, wasn’t it?

Baby: Coos, gurgles

Me: Sigh.

And with that, I’m back to work tomorrow. More reflections about that as the week progresses, but I have so enjoyed this time bonding with my boys, the big one and two little ones.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Title Temporarily Changed Because of Stupidity

Spoiler alert! I usually watch So You Think You Can Dance so many days delayed that I don't worry about spoilers, but we actually watched the show last night. Sorry - that's what I get for posting after a 3am feeding.


Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way . . . Home

OK, So You Think You Can Dance fans – were you totally surprised that Will went home? We certainly were. I completely expected Mark and Comfort to be eliminated, but she was and he wasn’t. I figured that Will’s technical abilities and Joshua and Twitch’s charm would leave them as the final three guys. Instead, Mark was in the top two! What happened?

The tour schedule was just announced and they will be coming to San Jose! I think a little babysitting might need to be arranged . . .

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Hostile Makeover

I’ve never been skilled with cosmetics on the best of days, but I never knew how many ways I could be wrong about make-up that I wear, I mean, in which I “invest.”

The Silicon Valley Moms organized a cool make-over and photo session for headshots last weekend, and what a brilliant idea that was! I’m sure that many moms are in the exact same position of having approximately 95% of their photos feature their children, 4% showing their husband with the children, and 1% containing blurry images of themselves chasing the children. When a website or social media site requires a picture, there’s not much to use.

I arrived at Fancy Department Store and mingled with fellow bloggers, admiring the fine view onto Union Square and listening to the happy buzz. Soon it was my turn. A make-up artist sat me down and began working on my face. I should have been warned by her complicated blue eye makeup that this wasn’t going to be the usual friendly experience.

She systematically inquired about each product I used and insulted it.

I invest in Clinique moisturizer? Tragic.
M.A.C. foundation? Very bad for my skin.
More Clinique for eyeliner? A very poor choice.

Makeup Lady played up the merits of the Big Italian Designer makeup line she used and how investing in a better skin care regime would keep me from looking old. As she finished, she asked which items she could ring up for me immediately.

I usually like to purchase at least a small item when I get a makeover, since the artist has spent that time with me. The moisturizer seemed pretty good, so I inquired how much it cost. She looked askance at me – needing to know a price? How pathetic!


For a small container of cream? No wonder she considers it an investment. This line was out of my league. I have to pay for preschool, after all. When I told her I would need to think about it, she huffed and sent me on my way.

Fortunately, it sounds like the other makeup artists didn’t give the hard sell to my compatriots, and the photographer was a fun, friendly fellow. Here’s one of the better shots.

It’s time to think about whether to keep using my orange Japanese Fruit Friend, the dancing Lady M logo, or the new headshot for my Blogger icon. Or maybe a photo of that moisturizer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mommy Cocktail Indeed

Companies are apparently rabid in their attempts to attract the attention of women and mommybloggers in particular, plus the sponsor wranglers have mad skilz, so there were some pretty spectacular gifties in the BlogHer and Silicon Valley Moms Blog swag bags. A pretty sling and a canvas bag from Lands End, for starters.

I pulled out a plush elephant for Q-ster, thinking he’d like the zippers and buttons and general huggability, and he received it politely before gently placing it in Buster’s crib. “This is for the baby,” he informed me. There were many other small items he liked, but none so much as the granola bar he found in my purse. “Can we SHARE this?” he asked. Just a reminder to not worry about last minute airport gifts on future travels, because stuff from Safeway is still pretty exciting.

I’m fond on the new form that USB memory sticks have taken. They’re now USB memory bracelets, with the “cap” on the end of a flexible tube connecting to the memory itself. Simple freebies from PBS kids and iRobot, but very pleasing.

There’s one item that I didn’t pick up, since I’m not much of a drinker, but it’s so funny that I wish I had in retrospect. Check this out:

It’s a tester strip so that you can see if your breast milk has too much alcohol. Wow. Talk about specialized markets.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Now We All Know What 'Buck' Means

Recovering from BlogHer, snuggling with the boys, happy to no longer be engorged, and looking forward to receiving the feedback card from the hotel. Until there's time to reflect and write about the weekend, here's an explanation of 'buck' from the krump man himself, Lil C:

Buck is when internal artistry meets physical expression.

Q works on his buckness.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Westin St. Francis Learns All About Household Appliances

BlogHer has been great with the exception of some personal lactation issues that I won’t go into right now, and having the meeting rooms in the same building as the hotel rooms has been a tremendous improvement over last year’s arrangements. The Westin is a gorgeous vintage building with friendly staff. Which makes this next incident all the more amusing.

Due to said lactation issues, I’d brought a microwavable heat pack with me, and my sister (and roommate) called the hotel “service express” concierge to request a microwave. A while later, they called back to ask, “Are you the room that requested a baby crib?”

Um no, a microwave.

About two hours later, I got back to the room after meeting friends and saw a distinct lack of microwave. I called the hotel desk. “Hi, I was wondering if someone was on the way with a microwave.”

A voice on the other side said, “How long ago did you call?”

“About two, maybe three hours ago.”

He snapped, “I can’t be held accountable for that. I just got here.”

I got a little snippy in return. “I’m not asking you to be accountable. I’m asking you for a microwave.”

“Hey I was just trying to apologize.”

A little sarcasm was in store. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t recognize that as an apology. Could you please send the microwave?”

Forty-five minutes later, there was a knock on the door, and it was a uniformed man pushing a handcart bearing . . . a refrigerator.

Is it really that hard? The word “microwave” doesn’t sound anything like “refrigerator” or “baby crib.” I felt badly for having to tell him that it wasn’t what we’d requested after he wheeled it all the way to the room, but a fridge really wasn’t going to help.

Half an hour later, we finally received a microwave. Our hard won microwave. And the nice warm heat pack made my aches feel much, much better.

Now I’m tempted to order a room service salad to see if I’ll get an air conditioner or washing machine instead.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What I'm Bringing to BlogHer and What I'm Leaving Behind

I splurged on a cute new Roxy purse: black and white and red, of course, and half price!

I've always wanted my own power squid. No device shall be uncharged.

I hope that the Westin has good vacuum cleaners, because my post-partum hair shedding has begun and I'll be trying not to leave a trail of hair behind me.

Can't wait to see y'all!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Preggo and New Mom Product Winners and Losers

I’ve been meaning to do this forever. For the expectant mother:

Winner: Candied Ginger from Trader Joe’s
Kept my nausea in check through many a meeting.

Winner: Topless Undershirt
A kind of tube top worn underneath regular shirts as they “grew shorter.” Kept my growing tummy warm!

Ambivalent: Snoogle Maternity Pillow
Helped position my body more comfortably, but also almost strangled me a few times. Probably better for those who like firm pillows.

Loser: What To Eat When You’re Expecting
Tried one recipe (bran muffins) when pregnant with Q – whole wheat flour, wheat germ, sweetened with applesauce, the whole nine healthy yards. Absolutely disgusting. Threw them out and never opened the book again.

For the new parent:

Winner: Miracle Blanket
Added an hour of sleep each night. Yay!

Winner: AmbyBaby Hammock
Cozy and cradling. Baby’s motions set the hammock into a gentle rocking.

Winner: My Brest Friend
Wonderful nursing pillow with truly awful name. More supportive than the Boppy.

Loser: Baby clothes with complicated snaps and buttons up the back. Unless they have extraordinarily cute sealife decorations.

No disclosures to make, since these are just my opinions. No company gave any freebies.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jumping on the BlogHer Bandwagon

Everyone’s getting tired of pre-BlogHer posts, but here’s one more anyway.

I’m not panicked over what to wear because my wardrobe is so small right now, that there are only about three items that fit. So, I guess that’s what I’m bringing. I just found out that I’m having dinner at a place that was once a 1920’s speakeasy, so I’m a little bummed to not break out one of my two dozen flapper dresses, but that’d probably be too wacky anyway.

Instead, I’m packing Cheerios (which I eat when I’m not with SwingDaddy, since he’s not crazy about the oat smell), lots of snacks, and some empty space to bring home cool swag. Hopefully, I will be more restrained in what comes back with me, since I still have some items from last year that are being redeployed to better uses now that I realize they’ve been sitting around for twelve months.

I’ll bring my orange Japanese Fruit Friend so that it’ll be easy to spot me. Here we are at BlogHer 06 with Mayberry Mom and MotherGooseMouse. Mayberry’s daughter just had an appendectomy, poor kid, so here’s wishing for her smooth recovery and getting to see her mom at the Westin.

In case of catastrophic breast pump failure, I’ll also be accessorized with a cute baby.

Looking forward to seeing lots of you at BlogHer! Or reading you online, if you’re at home this weekend.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Smile, Baby, Smile - Mommy Needs a Hit

Buster’s gummy smiles make me melt, and a recent study sheds light on that effect:

When new mothers were shown photographs of smiling infants, the picture of their own smiling baby triggered a surge of dopamine in their brain, the same chemical the body produces when a person uses drugs, alcohol, or nicotine.

Fascinating. Healthier too.

In unrelated news, I’ve signed up for Twitter, as LadyMRules. Does that make me a Twit? Expressing one’s current actions in 140 characters or less and following everyone else’s current happenings seems a little time consuming, but it’s such a phenomenon that I want to try it out. And what better week to explore a new (to me) technology than during the BlogHer conference?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So Dope, So Buck, Ya Feelin’ It?

We love us some TV dance contests around here, and critiquing the judges is as much a part of the fun as watching the dancers.

Bruno, the excitable Italian judge from Dancing with the Stars, is always good for a florid mixed metaphor, occasionally featuring poorly veiled innuendo. “Last week you were the proud rooster and now you are merely a feather duster!”

From Lil’ Mama of America’s Best Dance Crew, we learn that no dance is good if it’s not “keepin’ it real.” We ask ourselves, of course, how the highly artificial TV environment with contrived, rule-bound weekly challenges could be in any way construed as “real,” but whatever, we’re “feelin’ it.” It does make us want to teach our next Victorian era class with an emphasis on keepin’ it real while executing a precise varsouvienne in mazurka waltz.

Lil’ C’s described his krump number on So You Think You Can Dance as “buck!” Great dance, but he lost us on the slang trail. Perhaps it means cool? Hot? Aggressive? Flashy?

Shortly after, we heard Shane Sparks evaluate a dance crew’s effort with “that’s good, but it ain’t dope.”

I looked at SwingDaddy, and we said simultaneously, “But is it buck??

Not that we would be able to agree or disagree, even if we got an answer.

For other dance junkies who are feeling a little behind the times in terminology, Television Without Pity posted a great interview of Shane Sparks. Among other things, he describes the origin of the term “B-Boy,” which was cool (and dope) to learn, and also a description of popping that doesn’t help me at all.

“And poppers, that's a whole 'nother world. Poppers are the ones that are upstairs. It's upstairs and downstairs. Downstairs are the breakers and upstairs are the poppers.”

He’s planning some project that will bring clarity to all the kinds of hip hop dancing, and I’ll be first in line to hear it. If it’s buck, that is.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Post That Won’t Get Written

I've been scrawling my grievances on delicate matters involving breastfeeding and pain, but I think I’m not ever going to get it into publishable form. Most of the nursing has gone well, but lately I’ve had a series of plugged ducts. Buster has cleared those up, but enduring excruciating latches on the collateral damage has not been entertaining. HBM would take it beyond whining and make it a meaningful story involving quotes from the Greek and Latin, but I have another issue.

I don’t think I really want to remember it that well. I think I’d rather let it slip into a faded, sleep-deprived memory.

Tonight though, this I want to remember well. The micro dude snuggled against my tummy and gently nursed, both sides. I held him and we smiled at each other. Low on pain, high on cuteness. And then he drifted off to a dreamy sleep.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Baby Triage as Defined by Toddlers

Updated: To include a sister-approved nom-de-blog for the babe.

My sister had her baby two and a half weeks before Buster was born, and we’re having a blast being moms together. She and little Remy come over to hang out, and Q-ster gets to imagine how he’ll order them around as soon as they’re mobile. He used to be quite alarmed by their crying, but we explained that’s how babies communicate, since they can’t talk yet. He’s gotten a bit blasé about the whole thing.

The other day, Q-ster was in the kitchen having a snack, when I walked into the room and noticed a baby crying.

Q looked up and waved a hand to tell me not to worry. “It’s not ours, Mama. It’s Baby Remy.”

I suppose it’s a good start that he feels responsible for Buster. We’ll have to work on empathy for the extended family too.

Hey Sis – he turned down my dinner the other day in order to specifically request another helping of your casserole, the “slimy yet satisfying” one.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Kitchen Gadget Line After My Heart

Because no one wants to read about my breasts two days in a row, we have a change of topic. First, you might want to wander over to Silicon Valley Moms Blog, where I have a new post titled One Handed Computer Users – the PG Rated Kind. I’ve been doing a lot of odd pecking at the keyboard with whatever digits aren’t holding Buster, and I’m realizing that I might just need to relax my grammar and capitalization to keep sane.

On to the main topic, a discovery made while on a Target run this afternoon. I was pretty well behaved – everything that I brought home was on my shopping list. Well, mostly. We’ve just switched to Seventh Generation dishwashing soap, in an effort to be more green, but the bottle is just a bit too large to leave in the sink. So, I needed a small container to use as the active soap holder.

This Octopus Soap and Scrubber certainly looks up to the task!

I did an online search, and there’s an entire Boston Warehouse collection of kitchen gadgets that’s sublime.

Mouse Cheese Grater

Monkey Peeler

Toucan Can Opener

Porcupine Brush

And Jenny, if you’re reading this, stop right now. It’s not a giant one, but I don’t want you to be startled.

The Squid Baster

So fun!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Lady and the Pump

Yeah, we’re on that topic again. One of my motivations to becoming proficient with the pump is being able to go to BlogHer solo. Not that I don’t adore the micro dude, but I’m looking forward to a few days off duty.

We did a practice run over the weekend, where I fed Buster from a bottle in the evening and pumped, and it was not a raving success. I got a steady but tiny stream of milk, gathering a measly two ounces, and ended the night engorged and tense, waiting for Buster to wake up in the early morning and nurse.

For a recovering control freak, the whole breastfeeding thing is a little alarming. I don’t know how much milk I produce and have no idea how much the baby’s consuming. All that I can measure is the end result - he’s healthy, fed, and our doctor is pleased with his weight gain. When I grasp for a silver lining, I suppose it’s good for me in a Zen, personal growth sort of way, to just trust that my body and his are working.

Anyhow, during the trial run, I was surprised how much formula he consumed in one evening. Either an ounce of breastmilk has the same nutritional value as about a gallon of formula, or I’m producing a LOT of milk. Maybe I can use the milk factory as the excuse for the dozen extra pounds I’m carrying. Moo.

I talked to a lactation consultant over the phone, and she diagnosed my pumping problem as not letting down when I use the pump. (For those of you who not familiar with the term, “let down” is when the baby begins to nurse and triggers hormones that cause milk to flow. Or something like that.) The nurse suggested a few ideas to assist with pumping:

Think about the baby and visualize him nursing
Look at a picture of the baby
Think about the baby some more

Basically, it’s an emotional state that I need to reach.

Great. Exactly what I need to hear. Not a step by step procedure, but a “feeling.” It makes me think of how Harry Potter tried and tried to cast the Patronus charm. He needed to have the confidence, the heart, in him to make it succeed, because merely saying the words – going through the motions – wasn’t enough.

So, I’ve made myself a slideshow of pweshus babee photos, and I’ll let you know how it goes. If Harry Potter could conjure the Patronus, then I can do this.

Monday, July 07, 2008

That Job, It is Not What You Think It Is

Q-ster often asks to be carried lately, probably because he sees us holding the baby all the time. Just to liven things up, SwingDaddy added the fireman’s carry to the usual repertoire of piggyback and shoulder-ride, and the little dude loves it.

“Pick me up! I’m a fireman!”

SwingDaddy pointed out that actually, it’s the person doing the carrying who is the firefighter. Q-ster seemed quite disappointed. He hoped that firefighters just got to be carried around like that all the time.

Note: Thanks to Education by Wikipedia, I’ve just learned that the so-called fireman’s carry is no longer the recommended way to bring an unconscious or wounded person out of a burning building, because holding them at such an elevation would expose the airway to higher and more dangerous heat levels. You’re supposed to drag them instead – more here.

Totally unrelated picture, just because I like the micro dude’s octopus socks.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

State of the Mama

When I checked my calendar this weekend, I realized that at this point after Q-ster’s birth, I’d already been back at work for two weeks.

In spite of evacuating two screaming children from Johnny Rocket’s this afternoon, (Shortly after receiving menus and just prior to ordering. There’s that electric moment when your eyes meet your mate’s and you acknowledge that the only solution is, “Retreat! Retreat! Save yourselves!” and figure that this will be the best lesson in birth control ever for the trio of teen-aged girls sitting at the next table. Ok, back to the primary story . . . in spite of the ruckus), I’m really glad to have a little more time.

I’m a lot comfortable in my own skin this time around. I am a mother, and I can say that without looking over my shoulder to see if anyone is checking my credentials. I’m loving the time spent with Q-ster, delighting in the leaps and bounds of his learning and his “hip hop” dancing. His use of language has grown dramatically more complex in the last months, and I think having so many adults at home constantly conversing has helped that acceleration. I fear the day when he allies with his little brother to hack our firewall or otherwise deftly manipulate the world around him. Hopefully, he will use his powers for good.

I’ve spent hours and hours contentedly rocking and holding Buster, watching as his eyes first grew responsive and later as he began to smile. Now he chortles and babbles, demanding that his attendants come running to admire yet more chubby, gummy grins. He’ll raise his head to look around, valiantly working on neck control, and then collapse to my chest, to nestle and recover.

SwingDaddy is now on leave from work as well, and we’re enjoying our overlap weeks as a family before I head back to the office. I love seeing my man and my boys together. SwingDaddy is endlessly patient as Q-ster “helps” with bicycle repair. (Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? What’s that for? What’s that for? How do you fix it? How do you fix it? Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? . . . .) He also spells me when I’m too exhausted to rock a highly alert Buster back to sleep. (Micro dude, 2am is for partying when you’re old enough to hold your own glass.) We’re a lucky family.

I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend the summer.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Pee Detective

What do you do when you find your small child in the hallway outside his room, completely naked except for one sock?

A couple of weeks ago, I heard SwingDaddy and Q-ster arrive home from an outing, yelled out a hello, and emerged from the baby’s room after I finished feeding him. There was the little dude, saying, “I can’t get my sock off.”

Ummm. I started quizzing him. “Were your clothes wet?”
“Did you pee on them?”
No answer, just a request to remove his sock.

I picked up his clothes and sniffed gingerly. They didn’t smell funny. I helped him get into a fresh diaper, shorts and t-shirt, and he went on his merry way.

Later I pieced together the story with SwingDaddy. Q-ster had gotten sweaty, sleeping in his car seat, so he must have wanted to change clothes while his dad was still in the garage, putting away toys.

Well, now we know that he's perfectly capable of removing his clothes and diaper, even though he always claims he needs help.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Family Band Membership Grows by One

This morning, the little dude and I were playing drums together while Buster watched from his perch in the bouncer.

Q-ster: Buster wants to play an instrument too!
Me: When he grows up, he can plan in the band with you. It’ll be lots of fun.
Q-ster: No, he wants to play now.

He watches how the baby waves his arms together and apart.

Q-ster: He plays accordion!

The micro dude had been inadvertently scratching his face a lot, and while I tried to convince myself that it was giving him a rakish, adventurous, Indiana Jones-style look, I dug out the mitts. He’s mostly past that stage now, but I still mitt him when nursing, so that he doesn’t get a handful of what he shouldn’t. Ouch.

I have a whole post worth of bo0b stories that probably shouldn’t be publically shared, except the distressing thought that I’m sufficiently buxom that I think I need a sports bra to drive my car now.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Why We Will Be Eating Chef Boyardee for the Next Four Days, Or Weird Side Effects of Emergency Preparedness

It's time for another quarterly emergency readiness check! ! (Yes, it’s a little later than the target summer solstice date, but better than never.)

Sometimes emergency plans look so daunting that it's easier to do nothing. So, my goals are modest. I'm going to do a few small things each season to put us in better shape to handle an emergency.

The challenge for this quarter in improving the emergency kit was to FIND the emergency kit, which has been somewhere unknown since we moved. Happily, I located both Go Bags inside a cabinet in the laundry room, and we unearthed the house kits under some boxes in the garage. I was a little nervous opening the big plastic bins, since it had been at least six months or more since I checked them. I’ve found unhappy surprises in the past, like leaking water stores that caused mildew to grow on some of the other supplies.

This time, everything looked great. It even smelled great, thanks to a huge pillar candle I’d stuck in the box. It’s been lit a few times - no longer be pretty enough to display at dinner parties, but still has a good 4 or 5 inches left in each wick. The wide base makes it almost untippable, and as a bonus, our safety gloves and can opener have picked up a nifty Luxe Jasmine scent.

I checked the date on all the canned goods, and the vegetables were fine, but the ravioli has a best-by date coming up in a few weeks. I pulled those out to eat this week and we replaced them with new cans that will expire in 2010. I also added some small size diapers for Buster and swapped out the package of baby wipes. I didn’t get around to adding baby supplies to our car kits, so that stays on the to-do list.

I was pleased to find all sorts of useful things I’d forgotten I’d packed, ranging from thermal blankets to energy tablets, along with the ubiquitous jugs of water. It showed me that doing just a few small things at each resupply really does add up.

Of course, now we have to eat Chef Boyardee ravioli all week, but that’s a small price to pay to have fresh supplies. Just in case.

Call to action: Do one thing improve your emergency readiness. Buy a few cans of food (and have a can opener nearby). Store some extra water. Or get a crank-powered flashlight and radio.