Thursday, February 24, 2011

the science of multitasking

when i was an insurance agent i was praised on my ability to multitask extremely well. now as a mom and house'wife,' i am learning i still have quiet a knack. with c happily following a loose routine of playtime, feedings, and naps i find that, where i was first feeling i would never get things done, i am able to bust out my chores quiet well. of course not every day pans out the same, but i do my best to complete a few things just the same.

yesterday i talked to e while he was at work and mentioned how cranky and needy our child had been all day. he's in full growth spurt swing and was resisting being put down in between his frequent feedings and the three naps he took. when e came home he walked around the whole house, stopped and said 'i thought you said he was really needy and fussy today? this house looks immaculate! how did you do it?' it felt so so good to hear him say that and i had to stop and think for a moment... how did i do it?? cleaning and playing and nap times and feedings are becoming so second nature to me that i don't even notice that my free time is spent tidying and cleaning. i even clean one handed with baby wrapped happily in my other arm and on those days when he's demanding i be close to him, the moby wrap has been a saint to allow me to strap him to me while i go about things like folding laundry (c really likes this chore as i face him out and show him how i do each piece of clothing). being that i do not have 'work goals' any longer, i find that my daily goals are varied but just as satisfying upon completion. hey, we should remember to take any and all satisfaction we can get out of life! even the small mountains we climb are accomplishments to smile about.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

lessons in lullaby pt. 2

another update on our attempts at getting our little boy to willingly go to bed at night...

while trial and error is as much a part of parenting as knowledge and skill, we have been proven wrong in our various efforts with putting baby c to sleep lately. but, as i mentioned in my last post, we threw out our old ideas and read up on some new ones as well as put our feelers out for other suggestions. our newest attempts are to put c to bed awake and let him put himself to sleep. no, it's not as 'hands off!' as it sounds. the suggestion originated with my friend arinn's success with her son, so we did some reading up on the idea. i have yet to pick up the book she recommended but we have been implementing some of the actions of this routine. after a few failed attempts, we made a solid effort yesterday to make this work. e was home on a work holiday and we thought we would first use this tactic for nap time.. good idea in theory but it was an epic flop. our little guy screamed and carried on for almost an hour and only wanted me to pick him up and nurse and rock him to sleep. though i resisted, following the suggested method of comforting him by showing him we did not abandon him but not taking him out of his crib.. it was hopeless and nap time was abandoned after almost two hours of trial and one short 10 minute snooze.

fast forward to bedtime. with a nap missing in the day, we noticed little c tiring around 7:00 p.m. and decided to start preparing him for bed with a goal of sleep by 8:00 p.m. i prepared him a bottle for this trial run (8 oz of previously frozen breast milk), and brought him upstairs to begin our nightly routine. now, normally i breast feed him but i wanted to exclude that last night just to see if he would not fall asleep while eating. the idea is to put him to bed awake but drowsy enough to sleep. so e fed him (c ate the whole bottle.. growth spurt much??) while i prepared his bed and room for sleep. changing out the crib sheet, which our cat likes to cover in hair when the crib is unoccupied, filling his humidifier, turning on his night light and so forth. once he was fed and full, e burped him, lotioned him up, and put him in some new super soft jammies. c was still awake and in a good mood (which we've learned is the key) so we carried him into his room and put him in his crib. after handing him his ring toy, which he loves to grasp, and turning on his mobile, we talked to him for a minute, bid him goodnight and lots of love, and then left his room to see what would happen next. after about 10 minutes of him cooing and shimmying around he fell sound asleep. success! the clock read 8:04 p.m. and our child slumbered soundly.

fast forward once more to 9:00 p.m... and a stirring and fussing baby. c woke and began to fuss a bit, but we waited to see what would come of it. after about ten minutes he seemed to have convinced himself to fall back asleep. then the screaming began. this is not unusual for him, truth be told. he's been waking after thirty to sixty minutes lately after falling into what seems to be sound snoozing and refusing to fall back asleep. once the screaming began i went into his room and gave him his favorite 'pucky' (pacifier), patted his stomach softly, and turned his mobile back on. from what we read we were to let him know we were still there for him without taking him out of his crib. after a minute he calmed down, spit out the pucky, and closed his eyes. just when i thought he has dozed off he woke and began to cry again. i put the pucky back in his mouth, patted his belly again, and handed him his ring toy to hold. he calmed and began to focus on his mobile, so i slowly backed out of him room. ten minutes later the crying began once more. i repeated my actions and left the room.. ::duplicate the crying and calming for the next hour:: finally i decided that he must be upset over something more than being in the crib. i lifted a sobbing baby from the crib and he instantly began to rub his face against my neck and mumble his hungry sounds. go figure that i had pumped already and hadn't managed to fill back up on milk. to the kitchen we went to grab the freshly expressed milk and made a bottle. i carried my hungry baby to my bed and snuggled him in to eat. and boy did he eat! five ounces went down in a matter of moments leaving me shocked at the empty bottle in my hand. with the eight ounces he devoured earlier and the ravenous way he sucked down the five ounce bottle i knew we had reached the peak of his three month growth spurt right on schedule. after burping him and changing out his diaper, i tucked my drowsy babe back into his crib, popped the pucky into a greedy mouth, and set the mobile spinning and singing. bidding my sweet boy goodnight, i left his room and waited.. while sitting in bed listening for cries of distress i began to notice a very different sound.. THUMP, THUMP, THUMP! confused, i raced to his room prepared for something shocking to reveal itself. i stopped at the cracked door, pushing it open a bit more only to find my happy child kicking his legs in delight at his mobile and slamming them back onto his mattress. over and over and over he kicked and cooed. e came to find me standing in front of c's door with my hands braced on the frame, smiling. he asked what that sound was and i just chuckled and whispered 'he's banging his feet on his bed while he talks to his mobile.' we laughed and listened and finally the thumping slowed and then halted as a sleepy boy finally made his way into dreamland.

so, all needs met, this new method seems to have merit and i am confident that with more practice, along with consistency, that nap time and bedtime will no longer be a battle. when baby is happy, mommy is happy, too.

*edit* i employed our new method to nap time today and within 15 minutes had a baby catching some zzz's.  a little fussing, some momma reassurance, and the crib became a nice place for c's afternoon nap.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

lessons in lullaby

little c will reach three months old on friday and i find myself thinking that it is nearly impossible for this to be so. along with the smiling, cooing, holding rattles and other toys, tummy time routine, and sleeping in his crib, he is now trying to sit up on his own and nearly succeeding!

after staying with my parents on saturday night so that e and i could have some free time to ourselves (falling asleep on the couch together by 10:00!), we went to my nana's for a delicious dinner and to introduce caleb to his cousin dylan for the first time. dylan is six months old and i was shocked to find how big my child was next to this handsome little peanut! little c is not so little when standing next to his big cousin.. in fact, they are the same height! with only about three pounds difference in weight it seems that we are raising a very big three month old. it just goes to show that all babies grow and develop on their own schedule and it's just a mama's job to help give them what they need to do so.

i felt a little sad today as i finally took down my babe's bassinet. being that he hasn't used it in a month i thought it was time to take it apart and pack it away. as i unscrewed the parts and zip-tied them together for safe keeping it was just a reminder that children grow much faster than we expect or wish. i held on to the mothering desire to keep my child close as long as possible, only to learn that he sleeps best on his own. but getting to sleep is becoming an increasing battle royale! though, once asleep, my wee wren sleeps through the night.. he's decided lately to fight going to sleep like i am trying to force him to walk on broken glass! he's not hungry, not wet, not gassy, and not sick.. but boy oh boy can this child scream! he has started a habit of screaming and crying for an extended period of time before falling off to sleep. normally i nurse him to sleep, but it's become his little crutch and he's starting to only want to nurse himself to sleep. this is usually fine except that when he's full he doesn't want to nurse he wants to yell at me. and kick. and flail his arms. he fights falling asleep so hard that i am often bewildered by his reaction. i was told that i should try to let him "cry it out" in his crib but we don't have success with that, ever. the one night i really tried it not only did i feel physically ill, and though e kept telling me that he was fed, burped, changed, and safe.. he only got more and more upset and the crying and shrieking went on for almost an hour before i couldn't sit back anymore.

so ferberizing is going to be cast aside at this stage as i would rather develop a comfortable sleeping habit for him so that he enjoys falling asleep. so tonight i will employ a new method and see how it works. i would like to try putting him in his crib once the necessities have been taken care of and he's sleep-ready, and, if fussing begins, not taking him out but talking to him and trying to soothe him while he's in his crib. if this works, i think giving him the positive associations with being in his crib will help him fall asleep more easily instead of wanting me to nurse or rock him to sleep. the mobile has been wonderful, but even that is not able to keep him happy enough to fall asleep all of the time. i think this will just have to be a trial and error experience where we teach each other what works best. i don't want to be a parent that let's my child call all of the shots, but sometimes you have to learn from each other so you can find the best possible solution.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

winter morning routine

now the e has gone back to work, i have been able to retake my morning routines quite happily. the lazy morning habits of vacationers is over as i wake each morning to make coffee, do the dishes & tidy the kitchen, give the floors a sweep and check on the sleeping baby. yes, you read right-- "check on the sleeping baby." for the past few weeks we have been putting little c to sleep in his own crib in his own room under his own mobile. now it's become normal and we have established a fairly good sleeping schedule for him. he likes to resist falling asleep each night, but is getting better at it despite the fussing. once asleep, he's been known to not wake for 10-12 hours at a time! incredibly he's skipped night feedings for about a week and usually out-sleeps me in the mornings. so i have time to get up and do a few things before he wakes (or if it is getting too late, i wake him).

i know what some people must think of this: "you wake your sleeping baby!?" but it's true, i do. seems outrageous and i often hear things like "we would never do that, it's a miracle to get our baby to sleep so we take what we can get!" but truth is... my baby sleeps! and to ensure he sleeps, i regulate his sleep schedule. if he begins sleeping in too late, i wake him. i keep him up for a feeding and some playing, then it's an early morning nap around 10:00. once he wakes from that, usually by 11/12:00, it's another feeding and some play time. we don't have a definite scheduled day, but after playing a few hours it normally time for a feeding and a late afternoon nap around 2 or 3:00. if no sleep happens, we do our best to keep him awake until bedtime (if no nap has happened it's 8 or 9:00 bedtime, if a nap happens it's 10:00). the tricky part is still bedtime. he likes to be close to us and even when he's perfectly happy, putting him in his crib usually makes him a bit mad. but i'm learning. i make sure he's hungry before bed and i nurse him until he's full and has either fallen asleep or is almost there. i then place him in his crib under his lights & sounds mobile (which i never imagined would be so crucial in our bedtime routine), and he will do one of three things: continue sleeping, happily "talk" to his mobile animals, or fuss. knowing that he is nursed and full, his diaper is clean and dry, and he's been burped... there is no reason for his objection other than i put him down. if i pick him back up it's all smiles and "talking" again. so i am learning that it's okay, as long as he is not crying, to put him in the crib and let him fuss it out. which he does and usually falls asleep within 10 minutes. if more than 10 minutes have gone by and the fussing is still pretty adamant, i will pluck him from his crib to nurse him once more to calm him and coax his slumber.

funny, though, that i have also been told that nursing my child to sleep each night is wrong and only provokes his dependence on nursing to be able to fall asleep. this i know to be false in my child's case, but i do get a chuckle out of other people's insistence on what's best for my child. though i resist, i often think "you really think you know my child better than i do?" just for that, i always try to be conscious of other parents and their choices in parenting their children. unless advice or opinion is asked of me, i do my best to keep my thoughts or judgments to myself. let's face it, there is enough judgment in the world without adding mine to it. and, as long as what a parent is doing is not hazardous to the child's well-being, who am i to say they are wrong? the same goes for people's judgment of what we do with our child. now, if i were doing something potentially detrimental i would of course want someone to say something to me, but, as it stands, i need no coaching from others when it comes to my baby. if i ask advice, i welcome response and suggestion openly. i am not against a candid conversation about parenting. i am against someone claiming there is one and only one way to skin a cat (in this case the cat is a baby, and i am not encouraging skinning of a child so rest assured). as if they are the one person who figured out the trick that works for all babies..

but i have digressed.. far, far from my intention in this post.

so my mornings have been reclaimed and i am loving being back to the natural flow of things. it's as though all things are right in the world.. well, in MY word at least. we all know that there are plenty of things not right in OUR world. again, i digress.

this morning i am going to take another running leap at my valentine's day projects that i have been royally fudging for three days. the initial idea was well executed, followed closely by a sewing disaster that only left my machine jammed more than once and miles of broken thread trailing onto my dining room floor.. but today i am shaking off my previous failures in valentine-creations and attempting a new strategy and some new ideas. here's hoping this works! i happen to be one who falls in love with each holiday and sees it as a reason to celebrate, decorate, and eat.. so i cannot resist the chance to handmake some valentines for our beloved family members now that little c is in our lives. though i should have been doing them all along as i once did, i will renew my passions and dive back into my project with vigor. well, perhaps after this cup of coffee has kicked in...

Friday, February 4, 2011

a nanny with fur

yesterday i spent a good hour or more on the floor with little c. i set up his activity mat and let him smack his toys around for a while before i took another run at 'tummy time.' usually it's received pretty poorly with screaming and grunting and blatant disgust, but today i was feeling brave. i set up his boppy pillow in front of his activity mat arch and placed him on his belly on top of it and waited. after a moment of bewildered silence.. SUCCESS! he was cooing and reaching for his hanging animals and seemed to actually be enjoying it. but of course, why didn't i think of this sooner? what child, who can't raise his head higher than 45 degrees from the floor, wants to be flat on his tummy with nothing to look at?? the solution was worth it. once tummy time had reached the peak and fall of toleration, i rotated the boppy and sat c in the middle of it to work on this sitting up thing he's been so desperate to do. while setting up, our 100lbs american staffordshire terrier, isa, came moseying in to check out the scene. after sniffing and attempting to carry off some of c's toys, i talked her out of her mission and she settled on the other side of the arch facing c and stuck her face through the arch. c got a kick out of this and kept falling forward in attempt to touch her face, most likely in shock that his dog now lived in his activity mat. she would just gently lick him as i righted his sitting position and then bury her head in his lap. now, normally, this dog is pushy, nosy, and in everyone's business in the most obtrusive way possible... and i would have shooed her away if it weren't for the fact that she seems to understand the gentle nature in which a baby must be handled. i just sat back and watched as she nosed him, licked him, and settled in to snooze at his feet. when she got too lickey-- which she often does with her giant tongue-- i would just quietly tell her 'isa, enough.' and she would put her head down in his lap again. and i have to admit, as often as i get annoyed with her constant need to be in everyone's business, i was impressed with her restraint when it came to my babe. it called to mind more confidence in her ability to comprehend the differences in people and how to interact with them. she is honestly one of the sweetest beasts on the planet even when you include her contempt for authority... and when i say authority i mean 'isa, i asked you to get out of the kitchen while i'm cooking.' but, rolling my eyes, i admit that even that isn't enough to condemn her. too many people condemn her breed anyway, so why add to their reasoning just because she's a bit underfoot while i am navigating my kitchen?

bottom line is that history writes these dogs as 'nanny dogs.' in england, where my grandmother is from, these powerful dogs were ferocious on the job and gentle in the home. often allowed to ride in the pram with infants, they were revered as one of the most usual family dogs with a passionate love and devotion to their children. my grandmother recanted to me her love for the breed and their common place in her country. she told me that my dogs are very sweet and incredibly well behaved and i think she held a little fondness for my isa-macgoo, being that she exhibits the breed she's quite familiar with.

so, i sat and watched and laughed at my darling gentle giant loving my darling and dearest little boy and thought 'yeah, this is just fine.' i know that i cannot trust her to like other dogs, even now as i see her cuddled against her companion, uzi, spooning him with one leg over his back, but i can trust her to love my child. we've even gone so far as to give her some ownership in loving baby c by saying he's 'her' baby, too. not that we were looking for one, but it seems that we've found a nanny for our child after all... albeit a furry one.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


it's been a transitioning couple of weeks for wee baby c. vaccination shots nightmare aside, he's been doing many new things and i find myself amazed as well as slightly sad that my baby is no longer a newborn. we spent an afternoon last week with a rad momma and her twin *almost one year old* girls which was more for me than for my little one. it's was wonderful to talk mom-things and find myself aligned with a lot of things another mom has already experienced in her child raising. of course i must admire her as she and her beloved have been raising not one, but two little girls. she's been a breastfeeding mom of twins, which let's just say right now is amazing, and also has been on an organic solid food regimen. the girls eat a lot of home grown veggies and all organically raised foods instead of store brand baby food. this power couple prepares the meals themselves and sends the girls off to daycare with healthy meals in tow. this helps me feel confident in my aspirations to do the same for little c as i plot and plan my garden for this year. i am hoping by the time he turns six months old and is ready to eat solid foods that we will have a bountiful garden feast to begin preparing our own baby food with.

other things our growing boy had been up to include using both hands to grab and hold rings and rattles, sleeping more and more soundly in his own crib and room, trying to sit up and being able to hold himself sitting alone for a few seconds at a time, and standing up while balanced by myself or e. though i do not feel that i am ready for him to grow up so quickly, i am amazed at his progress in these areas. while he's been on track with much of his development, some things he's just hurtling headlong into! his biggest objection in our daily activities is to 'tummy time.' he resists being on his belly like he's fighting an epic battle. it's all grunting and squealing in distaste until finally collapsing and refusing to pick his head up while crying. it seems a bit mean, but i always get a good chuckle out of his adamant disdain. it's like a mini-tantrum over something that he will eventually (i'm told) come to enjoy as a natural process of learning to crawl. though we often joke he's determined to skip crawling and go straight to walking...