Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I wanted to share some pics my good friend Mandy was kind enough to take for us.  one of them will be our Christmas card shot, I just can't decide which one!  Check out Mandy's blog here, she does amazing work!

Thanks Mandy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Waving and other cool tricks

Yes, that's right, Staci is WAVING! It's few and far between, and if you aren't me you might not *quite* believe it, but I SWEAR she is waving.  In the past few days, if she has been doing something else and I get her attention, she will wag her little arm at me and GRIN.  It just warms my heart!

Eating is getting better and better.  The second I put her in her high chair she starts banging on her tray as if to say, "WHERE is my food? How long do you expect me to wait?" Some of her recent favorites have included rice (not sure how she managed to get that in her mouth, wonders never cease), cucumber dipped in plain yogurt, and avacado spread on a rice cake. 

On the sleep front I'd love to say that things are fixed, but they aren't.  They ARE getting better and moving in the right direction I *think*.  Last night was awful and she was up almost every hour.  But, besides last night, we get at least one 4 hour stretch most nights and at least one nap every other day is longer than an hour.  It's a lot of back and forth right now, so I'm hopeful if we just stick with the program and keep doing what we're doing things will continue to get even better.

In other news, Staci discovered the add section of the paper this morning and it was so cute we had to film it.  I'm fairly certain it's one of the videos you only find cute when you're the parent, but if you have about a minute to spare, check it out! (see the sidebar at the right)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just had to share

I did not come up with this cartoon, but I wanted to share!  Before breasfeeding my daughter, I always thought I would be discreet while breastfeeding in public.  The more I have to hastle with the stupid cover, the more I feel the urge to ditch it and just not care.  It's just a boob people, seriously! If more women breastfeed without covers in public, it will become commonplace and not so taboo.  So, please, I urge you, if you are a breastfeeding mom, throw caution to the wind and feed your baby without a cover!  Breastfeeding truly is a beautiful thing.  It's not something to be shunned, breastfeeding should be celebrated.

So, what is it that you DO?

This is quite possibly one of the most difficult questions for me to answer.  I find myself saying things like, "oh, I'm JUST a mom" or "I stay at home with my kid".  The problem with statements like these is that unless you have been a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM)--and wife, you truly do not understand how difficult it can be.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE what I do.  I feel like all the schooling I've had and the life experiences I've been blessed with have prepared me for this moment. 

Without my undergraduate degree, I would not have a developmental psych, class under my belt, nor would I be able to help Staci learn musical instruments such as the piano and classical guitar--which I wouldn't have had the opportunity to learn had it not been for college.  Also, I'm quite versed in the theory of ballet--even if my technique is amateur at best, and can explain what terms (French terms) mean in English.  So, if she does decide she likes dance and sticks with it, I can explain that 'pique' means 'to prick' and 'port de bras' means 'carriage of the arms'. 

My graduate degree in social work has helped me in many areas of my life.  It has enhanced my interpersonal skills by making me more understanding and more open minded.  Most importantly, it taught me how to research.  I wrote lots of research papers in undergrad, but I truly learned the art of research in grad school.  As a mom, it has helped me research when the best time (and way) to introduce solids, find anwers to my breastfeeding questions, find answers to help us overcome our sleep deprivation, and has taught me that reaching out to others in a time of need is crucial. 

As Staci's mom, I'm her nurse. I'm her main source of food, fun, comfort, and care.  It's my job to ensure that, when the time comes, she's ready for kindergarten.  It's my job to make sure she feels loved.  It's my job to teach her how to eat food so that when she is three she's not still on puree's.  I'm her personal chef, her maid, and apparently responsible for helping her fall asleep (this I did not choose, but I will do it with pride). 

I write this because I often find myself frustrated that I spent (wasted) so much time, energy, and money on schooling.  Our society puts so much emphasis on going to college, yet most of the jobs you can get from a liberal arts degree don't pay a penny more than a job obtained with a high school diploma.  This is not true across the board obviously, but as a high school student I was led to believe that college would solve all my problems and not to worry about student loan debt because it would easily be paid off.  56k later I'm a SAHM who, many times, would gladly trade in my diplomas to have that debt erased.  This is when I must remind myself that without these experiences, I would not be who I am today.  And, to be honest, I like me!  So, in celebration of SAHM's everywhere, I wanted to leave you all with an email I received.  I did not write this but I think it is very accurate!

A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk 's office,

Was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation.

She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.
'What I mean is, ' explained the recorder,
'do you have a job or are you just a ...?'

'Of course I have a job,' snapped the woman.
'I'm a Mom.'

'We don't list 'Mom' as an occupation,
'housewife' covers it,'
Said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself
In the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall.
The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised,
Efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like,
'Official Interrogator' or 'Town Registrar.'
'What is your occupation?' she probed.

What made me say it? I do not know.
The words simply popped out.
'I'm a Research Associate in the field of
Child Development and Human Relations.'

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and
Looked up as though she had not heard right.

I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words..
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written,
In bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

'Might I ask,' said the clerk with new interest,
'just what you do in your field?'

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice,
I heard myself reply,
'I have a continuing program of research,
(what mother doesn't)
In the laboratory and in the field,
(normally I would have said indoors and out).
I'm working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family)
And already have four credits (all daughters).
Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities,
(any mother care to disagree?)
And I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it).
But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers
And the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.'

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she
Completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career,
I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3.
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model,
(a 6 month old baby) in the child development program,
Testing out a new vocal pattern.

I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!
And I had gone on the official records as someone more
Distinguished and indispensable to mankind than 'just another Mom.'
What a glorious career!

Especially when there's a title on the door.

--auther unknown

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

That is what we seem to be doing here!  We make progress, and then all of a sudden we are back to square one.  more on that in a moment!

NCSS Day 8 Update: implementing white noise in Staci's room was part of my original plan.  I finally took the humidifier we received as a baby shower gift out of the box, promptly neglected to read the instructions (as per my usual), set it up, filled it with water, and turned it on. It is not loud, but I was happy with the quiet hum it created and hoped it would do the trick for Staci.  After 6 nights, and at the recommendation of a friend, I turned on the radio in between stations just to listen to the fuzz.  It didn't seem to change anything last night, as she was up quite frequently.  Today, however, she took her very first multi-sleep cycle nap all on her own!  One hour and 40 minutes.  YAY! 

That success was oh-so-short-lived!  Nap number 2 was a measely 28 minutes.  This seems to be what we do.  Two nights ago, we got a 3.5 hour stretch and a 4 hour stretch.  Last night, nothing longer than 2 hours and quite a few stretches that fell far short of 2 hours.  Then, today, with the morning nap success and the afternoon nap giant failure I just don't know what to think!  Two more days and I will do the 10 day evaluation of NCSS. 

I have to be honest though.  I have been so tired I have not been able to implement the Pantley Removal Technique, so I fear there will still be frequent night nursings.  The thing is, I simply do not have the energy in the middle of the night to try to go to remove my breast from her mouth when she's not asleep, because I don't want to be up with her all the rest of the night.  I just want to do what is easy and get her to go to sleep, so I can go back to sleep! It does seem as if daytime naps are truly headed in the right direction, so I'm hopeful that once those are under control, the nighttime wakings will lighten a tad on their own, and I will be able to focus more on getting the night time wakings down.  There is just so much to fix I can't seem to focus on multiple avenues of 'treatment' all at once.  Maybe if more caffeine was an option I would be able to do that, but since Staci is nursing that is not really an option.  I have a favorite drink that I have cut way down on, and in fact haven't had any at all in 2 days.  I will be so pleased when I can have as much caffeine as I want!  I miss Starbucks...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day 4 of the NCSS

We are seeing some success!  It is definitely slow going but I *think* we are headed in the right direction.  On Monday night, evaluation night, Staci's longest sleep stretch was 1 hour and 54 minutes.  Last night, we got a 3 hour stretch and a 3.5 hour stretch.  There were lots of shorter stretches mixed in, but that is progress.  Also, we have more or less transitioned to getting Staci to fall asleep on her own in her crib.  She did it for the first time in a long time last night, and then for both naps today.  She wasn't able to make it through more than one sleep cycle either nap (one was 40 minutes and one was 50 minutes) and so after the second nap I rocked her for an hour to get some more sleep in her.  At this point, I'm not sure what the best thing to do is.  After she woke up from the first nap I tried to give her a bit of time to put herself back to sleep, but that made her extremely angry and we had to nurse in order for her to calm down.  Then, she messed her diaper and no amount of rocking or back rubbing (I tried for a half hour!) was going to get her to fall back to sleep.  The second nap, I didn't want to chance anything and just went ahead an rocked her until she woke up, because I knew she needed practice sleeping more than one sleep cycle at a time.

So this is my question to all of you.  I know Staci needs 3-4 (if not 5!) hours of sleep per day on top of 12 hours at night--not only from what I've read in sleep books (a few different ones all agree on the amount of sleep an infant needs) but also from when I've seen Staci get that much sleep, she is so much happier.  So, what do I do? is it more important for her to practice sleeping in her crib, or should I rock her to ensure she gets the sleep she needs?  Today I did a combo and it seemed to work out OK, but she still only got ~2.5 hours of sleep, falling a bit short of where she should be. 

Thanks for your help!

Monday, October 5, 2009

yeah. about that.

It really shows you how desperate we are for sleep around here when we resort to cry it out methods.  I know there are lots of kids who learned to put themselves to sleep that way and they turn out just fine, and that method works for lots of families.  It just doesn't work for ours.  At least not until I truly have tried EVERY other method available.  Yesterday was a terrible day, filled with barely any sleep and lots and lots of crying.  I realize it was only day 4.  I know that in order to see results, no matter which method we choose, we need to give it a full 2 weeks.  However, I could literally feel myself detatching from my baby, so that I didn't get so emotional when I heard her cries.  I could see the way she looked at me when I went into get her after a full hour scream-a-thon and I just knew she was wondering why on earth her mommy had abandoned her. 

Enter--Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution.  I haven't finished reading as of yet, but am far enough in (about half way) to at least get started.  Today was eval-day--and tonight will also be an eval-night.  I have kept track of when she fell asleep for each nap today, how she feel asleep, where she slept, and when she awoke.  Despite my best efforts to get her to sleep for 3-4 hours, I was only able to get her to sleep for 2 hours and 38 minutes total.  Guess how much time she spent in her crib? a whopping total of 55 minutes.  (the rest was spent in my arms in our glorious apholstered swivel glider).  Well, at least I was able to get some reading done. :-\ 

I did begin to implement some of her strategies and I really think this will work for us, as long as I have the energy and the PATIENCE to keep going.  It is so hard to do after MONTHS of sleep deprivation.  I don't think I've slept longer than a 5 hour stretch in, oh, say... 9 months or so.  I know Staci is only 6 months, but those last few months of pregnancy are so uncomfy sleeping long stretches was rare.

Some of the techniques I'm going to implement are the Pantley Removal Technique (a way to help Staci learn she doesn't have to suck to fall asleep), teaching Staci little by little how to fall asleep without me (or any other warm body), introduce a lovey, and getting her to sleep as much as possible (at least 3-4 hours) during the day.  I have to create a schedule and that is something I will most certainly struggle the most with, but I know it is very important so that Staci knows what to expect and when to expect it. 

Wish us luck!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day 3: gagging

Today Staci got to try sweet potatoes!  I cut them into small wedges, like french fries, tossed them with a little extra virgin olive oil and roasted them at 425 for ~30 minutes.  My oven cooks hot so this proved to be a bit too long and most of the pieces were too crunchy (i.e. burnt to a crisp... woops!) to give to Anastasia.  No problem, there were still a few and Mommy got to eat the rest! yum! 

Staci is such a fast learner, it totally blew my mind!  the second I put her down in her high chair she immediately started banging on her tray looking for a bit of food to taste.  I set a few fries in front of her and she grabbed one immediately and brought it straight to her mouth.  She was able to demolish 3-4 fries by gumming them and then sucking the sweet inside out. 

She had her first gag, which had me out of my seat in a flash to swipe her up and smack her back, but I didn't have a chance before she skillfully (and forcefully, might I add) threw it and a bit of milk from her prior feeding right up.  This and a bit of caughing happened 4-5 times today.  It is certainly a little nerve racking but I know how to deal with it if it becomes a true situation, so at least I am prepared.  From what I understand, this is very normal and expected for the first couple of months until they really learn how things work. 

All in all, I think she really liked the sweet potato!  Much less messy than the broccoli, as well.

Friday, October 2, 2009

6 month stats and BLW has begun!

At 6 months and 1 day old, Anastasia Kensington is 26 and 1/4 inches long (60th%), 15lbs 11oz(50th%), and her head size is at 41.5 cm (25th%).  Such a big girl!

Today is the second day of BLW and I'm really impressed at how quickly Staci is picking up on this whole eating thing!  We started with avacado yesterday, for no real reason other than I read about the health benefits of this fruit long ago and how wonderful it is as a 'first food' for a baby.  It proved to be a bit too slippery for Staci's taste and upon getting it into her mouth did one of those 'wtfrenchtoast' looks and set it right back down. LOL! Today went much better.  We gave her broccoli (no need to do the 4 day rule if you wait until 6 months to introduce solids, so long as there are no allergies in the family history) and I kinda think she liked it!  Well, she was interested at least. Check the side bar for a cute video.  Here are a couple pics for your viewing pleasure:

Isn't she the greatest? :) :) :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Half-birthday, my darling girl!

Dear Anastasia,

  You are six months old today.  When I look back on the day you were born, I marvel at how much you have grown in only half of a year!  I can't know for sure, but I'd guess you are in the 17ish pound range, nearly 3 times your birth weight!  Your little thighs are getting so chubby you're getting rolls on your knees, and your little wrists look as if you're wearing a hair tie around them.  It seriously is the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen!  You are still exclusively breastfed, but we will be starting solids today or tomorrow.  I can't wait!  You still love to blow raspberries at your dad and I, and you absolutely love your Jumpster. 

We've been having some sleep issues and neither your dad nor myself are getting much sleep because of it.  I am fearful I'm not being the kind of mommy you deserve due to my sleep deprivation, so we have started the cry it out method with you.  I know you won't remember it, but I want you to know I love you so much and hearing you cry makes me cry, too.  Nevertheless, getting sleep is very important for all of us as a family.  I wish I could bring you into bed with me for every nap time, but the fact of the matter is you don't sleep all that well there anyway, and it seemed that the more I did that, the less sleep you actually got. 

Onto the fun stuff!

-You are in 6-9 month clothes, and have already gotten too long for a few of those sleepers.  Crazy, isn't it?
-You are still on the middle snap of your one-size cloth diaper. 
-You are just learning to use a sippy cup
-You can sit up all by yourself!
-You used to hate tummy-time, but are really starting to love it now!  You scoot all around the house, but you have only managed to go backwards so you never know where you are going.
-You also love to scoot on your back, you get your little feet underneath you and kick off.  it's quite entertaining to witness!
-You are still enchanted by our animals, and have managed to get a few fistfuls of Rascal and Shania fur.  luckily they are good animals and have let you do your thing.and not showed any signs of retaliation.
-You are starting to teeth.  there is a lump on your lower left side.  Upon further investigation, I am pretty sure it's just a cyst--kinda like a pimple--but I'm certain teeth aren't far behind.
-You squeel and laugh in delight when we tickle your belly, kiss it, or blow raspberries on it. 
-Peekaboo is old hat now, I am pretty sure you learned object permanance a couple of weeks ago.  you used to love it, but now you look at me like, "Silly Mommy, hiding behind your hands!  I know you're there!"
-'This little Piggy' is a favorite of yours.  I think your toes are ticklish!

I'm floored at how much I can love a tiny little person.  Every laugh, smile, giggle, reach, every first fills my heart with joy.  I can't wait to see what you love to do as you get older!  Watching you grow is a true miracle.


Ok, I give

We started sleep training this morning.  I hate it. It's horrible; but here's the deal.  I've tried everything.  I've tried the go in every 5 minutes and paci pop, I've tried the rock to sleep, I've tried the co-sleeping, and nothing is working.  I cannot continue to nurse every 90 minutes to 2 hours at night.  Don't get me wrong, I love nursing Staci, and will do it when she's hungry and even for comfort if it's truly needed, but I'm starting to think it was more out of habit than anything. 

Even though I only started the new routine 2 days ago, b/c she was getting so much 'help' sleeping, she has refused to sleep until well after 10pm the past 2 nights in a row. (unless of course she's rocked constantly) That's just crazy.  A baby needs to sleep 12+hours at night (yes, every baby.  don't pull the whole 'some babies just don't need as much sleep' schtick with me b/c it just isn't true.  do your research!) Plus, Max really needs to start studying for his exam and hasn't been able to because I've needed him to take over with Staci after 7:30 so that I can have a much needed (and well deserved, IMO) mommy-break.  So, we will do what we have to do.  I feel terrible about it but I know it is the right thing at this point for us.  she needs to learn to sleep on her own!

This morning was insanely rough on me.  She really just fussed for the first 20 minutes or so, but then REALLY got going.  After 40 minutes more (so, an hour after I laid her down) I went to get her.  She was still pretty upset and awfully mad at me.  I would have been, too, if I'd been used to getting rocked to sleep and then all of a sudden have this rude awakening about naptime.  I had to nurse to calm her down, and then of course she barfed pretty much everythign up because she wasn't really hungry.  But you know what? She's currently down for nap number 2, and she fussed for 10 minutes and I haven't heard a peep since.  Amazing.  I know there will be more crying to come, but I'm so thrilled she is getting this nap!