Friday, October 31, 2014

Sweet Georgie Girl

Dearest Georgie ...

It's the eve of your 2nd birthday and I've been mulling this post around in my mind for days, yet I find the nature of two children ... in the fall ... preparing for a holiday ... there just aren't enough minutes in the day. In many ways, I feel that this is your life - I very much underestimated the level of "busy" that two children bring. Much of it is a joyful kind of busy, and quite a bit of it is a necessary kind of busy, and some if it is the tear-your-hair-out kind of busy. I feel guilt that your first 2 years have been different in many ways than Ellen's, but in the face of it, you are thriving. You are happy. You are funny. You are increasingly chatty. You are stubborn. You are determined. I feel that you and Ellen are both pretty independent girls, which I need and want you to be.

You and I had a bit of an adjustment period when Ellen started school. You missed her and I missed her and I missed her playing with you. I feel like we were finally given the one-on-one time you deserved and, while it took some time to adapt, I've loved to watch all those little intricate, hilarious parts of your personality. Your speech has exploded and you surprise me every day with things you say. You love your sister fiercely and it doesn't hurt my feelings that I wake you from your nap early every time to pick her up from school, but you couldn't be happier to hop in your stroller and head to get your favorite person. You miss her more than anyone.

At the same time, I feel like you have finally opened yourself up and recognized that you are part of a family and, even better, a family of people that you enjoy! You were kind of a reserved little gal - didn't laugh easily or hug easily and just kind of took it all in. Lately I've noticed that you ask about everyone's whereabouts - even if someone is just around the corner - and especially if it's time for bed, just checking to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be. You are a mama's girl AND a daddy's girl - the best kind. You shriek with delight and pride when one of us picks you up from school ... MY mama, MY dada. And even to Ellen, just reminding her - these are my folks, too.

I used to think that you were more "me" and Ellen was more "dad". In many ways that is still true, but I've heard more and more comments lately that,"Oh! Georgia does have a little bit of Ellen in her!". Your like to assess situations (me) and then tonight fought me to get out of my arms just so you could dance to the background music while we were trick or treating (ellen and dad). You are funny and charming and obviously use your charm to get what you want. You have the sweetest "NOOOOOO" I've ever heard. Mostly I laugh and give in to your whims because, this is 2.

You have a determination that I'm simultaneously proud of and fearful of. Ellen certainly always had a plan, but would mostly verbalize it. You just formulate a plan in your head, proceed with exactly what you want to do, and don't feel any need to involve others. If we attempt to divert you? No good. As your communication skills continue to improve I think we will be able to navigate the world together.

It's amazing to reflect back on life 2 years ago - I remember vividly the Halloween eve of your birth. I remember the scurrying and double checking and waiting and wondering. I remember (most) of our stay in the hospital with you. We watched videos tonight from the time Ellen met you in the hospital and she still had her almost-4-year-old baby face and you were the tiniest, dark-haired peanut. Neither of you look the same and it is a tiny bit heartbreaking, but mostly wonderful. I remember the hours I sat on the couch with my feet up and watched the colors on the leaves change to a flaming yellow, and then you helped Dad and Ellen rake those leaves last week and jump in the piles.

We love you. We are proud of you. Your crinkly nose when you ask a question delights me every time. You've brought more laughter and joy to our family than we could have ever hoped. Happiest Second Birthday to you, sweet girl.

Mom

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On the eve of Kindergarten ...

Sweet, sweet Ellen -
Here we are. The night before this huge, huge change. So big, in fact, that I really can't wrap my mind around it. I've been "nesting" for weeks: organizing, and purging, and sorting, and sharpening pencils, and planning for lunches, and buying hooks for things that need hanging. She who controls the clutter, controls the world! If only that were true.

Such a milestone: we have successfully cared for a child for 5 3/4 years! Said child is bright and eager and funny and raring to go! We couldn't ask for more. In many ways it feels that our whole world is being turned upside down, yet really, you will only be 8 houses away from us. Probably a 4.2 minute walk, yet might as well be hours. The number of items I've added to my calendar in the last several weeks, before you've even set foot in the school, confirms my suspicions that the planets of this household will revolve around you, the sun, for quite some time.

I'm thrilled for you and this experience. As your principal said this evening, reflecting on his experience raising 5 daughters (bless him), he saw the most marked change in his girls in the first semester of Kindergarten and not again until their first semester of College. My greatest hope is that you make friends, fall in love with learning and feel that you find your place. Really, I think most adults would say that those three things make for a satisfying life.

I'm happy for Georgia to finally have time for the one-on-one attention she deserves, yet I know she will miss you like crazy. Her language and personality have been in over-drive lately and I will miss you, my pal, who I can always count on to laugh at her antics with me.

You seem so grown up to me at times and it's easy to forget that you have the normal fears and worries of any child going through a transition. As much as we can talk and talk and talk about all of this - there are just a lot of feelings, too. You charged through the halls at Village today boasting, "I'm not nervous! Not one tiny bit!", yet you've cried each day on the way home about missing your sweet friends. You crawled in bed tonight and expressed that you WERE nervous and worried. About what? I asked. "Oh, just everything, I guess." Me, too, babe.

Last Sunday morning I suggested you spend time playing with Georgia because it would be your last time home together for awhile. As much as we've talked about this, I think it finally sunk in. You cried and cried and cried - couldn't understand how the day came so soon. "Usually in preschool, if you need a hug, you can just go get one from your sister, but in Kindergarten she won't be there!" (tears tears tears) I suggested she could get a hug from her classmate and friend, Addie, or her teacher. "I know, but it's just not the same!"

No, it really isn't. I promise to give lots of hugs every morning so you can store them up for the day. I will do my best not to be frustrated with the bad/unusual behavior I expect out of you the next few weeks during this transition (I learned from the Emerging Vegetarian Experience of 2013). We are so proud of you and so happy to embark on this adventure with our very favorite 5-year-old.

Love, love, love -
M&D

Friday, January 10, 2014

Been awhile ...

Long time, no blog!

Hope all of you survived the holidays. Well, in fact, I hope you did more than survive - ate, drank, laughed, enjoyed, relaxed - but I will settle for survived. Two-fourths of our household (the adult half, thanksverymuch) was stricken by a GI bug and we limped through the end of December and into the New Year. I will say, however, that an unplanned (and not wholly enjoyable) lack of eating for 5 days sure kicks off the 2014 weight loss plan. And, I didn't have a drop of alcohol on New Year's Eve and finally woke up hungry and clear-headed. If that isn't the best way to start fresh, then I don't know what is.

This will be a notation of my random thought patterns, as most things are these days.

A few Christmas notes: we have joined the land of American Girl Doll. It's an OK place to be, but I'm still reserving final judgement. Interestingly, while Ellen was THRILLED to get Saige from Santa, she doesn't play with her much. I don't think she knows HOW, which sounds weird, but I think is true. Dolls really aren't my thing, so I don't quite get it either. Also, Santa just brought Saige and nothing else, so again, she didn't know what to do with her. Thankfully our wiser family members gifted Ellen a doll bed and some gift certificates for accessorizing, but I think some doll playdates are in our future. Santa also brought a DVD set of 'Where On Earth Is Carmen San Diego?' that has been a big hit, along with a really cool Atlas from Grammy. Ellen's stocking had a wireless mouse and mouse pad so she could start learning how to use a mouse on my laptop as we don't have a standard desk top computer at our house. I'm glad someone mentioned it because it is a skill she will need in school and she is having great fun with it. Santa brought Georgia a new table, a little bigger than our old one, with 4 chairs for dining with friends. He was even more clever and got one that was a gray-brown color that wouldn't show every pencil and crayon mark. They were both gifted many more great things - maybe I will get my act together and post about some of them.

On occasion I will wake up during the night and not be able to fall back asleep and then my mom-xiety sneaks in. I don't really have generalized anxiety, but I think all moms (parents) have those things they worry about at the most random times. Recently, it was fire safety and escaping our home. The next morning I marched Ellen around the house and made sure she knew how to open all of the doors and the garage door and how to use the cordless phone to dial 911. I feel (mildly) better.

A few things I've saved to share:
Two posts from Girl's Gone Child on teaching your kids about strangers, something I still struggle to do well. The Mother Co and Staying Safe Without Fear and Talking To Strangers.

A(nother) article on car seat safety from the New York Times: Strapped In But Still At Risk. Georgia finally moved up from her bucket to a convertible, rear-facing, seat and Ellen is still in a 5-point harness, but is probably at the weight limit for kid + seat under the new LATCH guidelines, so I think we need to re-install her seat with the belt. Ugh.

And just something interesting about Music Education: Is Music the Key to Success?

I am finally weaning Georgia now at 14 months. We are leaving town at the end of the month and it just needs to happen. She has only been nursing in the morning and before bed for months now and I haven't pumped in many months, so it is just so easy. She enjoys it - smiles and claps her hands before she nurses! - and I honestly could just keep going. It's sad as she is my last, but all good things come to an end. She didn't really bat an eye when I dropped the before-bed feeding - we just replaced it with extra books and cuddles and teethbrushing. We'll see how the morning goes ... I'm sure it will bother me more than her.

And, on a related note, I feel very fortunate that weight loss has not been an issue after having Georgia. I actually weigh less now than at any point since I had Ellen. I attribute this some to nursing, mostly to my near-constant activity level on my 4 days at home, and the fact that we never eat out and I take my lunch to work to save money. Also, I never ate tons of fast food, but I almost never do now because there isn't time or I have the kids with me. I do need to replace the calorie burn from nursing, though, and am trying to wrap my brain around some form of exercise. I am not athletic and have never formally exercised. I know I need to do it for my health, as well as to firm up some post-baby areas. I'm thinking one of these 7-minute Apps is a good place to start and Ellen might even join me!





Tuesday, December 3, 2013

On your birthday

My dearest Ellen,

What. A. Year. You are a real, live, kid. Not a baby, not a toddler, but a KID. The kind that will go to Kindergarten. And grow up. And move away. Yes, I'm getting ahead of myself, but I recently I told you that I wanted you to live here forever and never move away because I would miss you too much and you said, "But, Mom. I have to go to college and grow up." I guess we are doing something right around here.

I think year 4 to 5 was quite a bit easier than the previous years. You had your moments, of course. I guess we all did. But we have watched you grow so much and it just amazing to be a part of it. This was your first year having the job of Big Sister and it is a job you take seriously and are so good at. You are sweet to Georgia, always trying to take care of her and keep her safe. You almost always help me when asked and often help on your own. Many, many times I think how much harder it would be to have two children if you weren't the first and I feel so very lucky.

You continue to surprise us with new things you've learned, concepts you understand, words you use correctly. You love the process of learning and are so inquisitive and you soak things up like a sponge (many times when we aren't paying attention). I think you will love school and can't wait to see it.

We can usually talk our way through "disagreements" and there are far fewer lost privileges and pout-a-thons. On occasion, though, we will have an issue and I am often surprised by your response: true tears and sadness, I think because you are taken off-guard and disappointed in yourself and disappointed in making us angry or upset. It makes me sad, but is a sign of your maturity and developing empathy and we can usually hug it out.

You love to watch videos of yourself as a baby, and we often compare what Georgia is doing now to what you were doing then. I love to go back and see that baby version of you - things I couldn't see or didn't appreciate at the time, but now cherish. Your little voices and funny faces - things that are so "Ellen" - that I still see glimpses of now and then. I check on you every night before I go to bed - generally tucking your legs and arms under the covers, or moving one of the seven different things in your bed to give you more space. You are usually snuggled up in your Boppy, arms clenched around the animal of choice. One night recently I came in and you were sleeping on a real pillow, all tucked in, no friends or blankets in bed. It almost made me cry to see your wild head of hair spread over that pillowcase.

Turning 5 seems monumental: this next year will really change everything that we've known and how we've adapted to work as a family. It is a challenge I know you will help us meet. We couldn't be more proud of you. We love you so much and genuinely like you, too. You make us laugh, you challenge us, you sometimes make us crazy, but at the end of the day, it's all worth it. A million times over.

Love you, my favorite Big Girl,
Mom

Friday, November 1, 2013

One

Sweetest Georgia -
I still see you and think of you as the baby, and perhaps always will (apologies in advance). I find it impossible to believe that you have been part of our lives for a full year, though the idea of you had been present for much longer. I won't say that you completed our family, because I feel our family was very special before, but you have added a certain something that makes everything, well, better.

You are, mostly, a delightful little girl. You were a terrific baby and, while I have only fleeting memories of your early days, I guess that is in part due to the fact that you weren't all that demanding. (Also certainly due to the sleep deprivation, however brief it was). I think you liked to snuggle more than your big sister did and, in fact, are coming around to it again - you know that we think it's cute, so you snuggle with us to get a big show of affection. Smart.

You are not very communicative with words - grunting of varying tones is your preference - but you are nonetheless quite expressive and can certainly get your point across. You do this snorty pig nose thing that is impossibly cute and it seems to mean "look at me and/or I like that". You sign "all done" (quite forcefully at times) and even use it when I ask you if it's time for night-night ... yes, darling, I too feel that way at the end of the day. You have started to sign "milk" and "more" and "please" and there is nothing greater than the big smile on your face when I cheer you on for doing it correctly. You use a "thhhh" sound for "paci" and I watched you this morning with not one, but TWO, pacifiers in your bed and your excitement could hardly be contained. I hope you are always as easy to please.

On the whole, I think you are a better sleeper than Ellen ways, or perhaps I just worry about it less. You do tend to sleep later in the morning (hallelujah) and I love coming to get you in the morning: I turn on the light in your room, you squint your eyes through your mop of hair, adjusting to light from darkness. You then generally proceed to roll around in your bed with your dee-dee and animal friends, if Ellen has thrown them in. So happy. I pick you up and typically you stretch your arms to the ceiling and try to shimmy out of my arms, ready to start your day.

You are easily amused, but do not laugh at just anything. Kind of like me. It takes serious tickles or roughhousing (flopping on pillows is your favorite) to get a cute little laugh, or, really, any goofy thing that Ellen does. You can generally keep yourself busy with something, but from the time you could really crawl, you flock to some loose cords that you know you aren't supposed to touch. (Yes, we should just cover them up). You do it Every.Single.Day. You get close to them, catch my attention, and look at me with the most ornery grin. I worry about you as a teenager.

Though we spend more time with each other than anyone else, it warms my heart to see that Ellen is probably your favorite person. You can hear her from a mile away and you twist and contort your body in the most uncomfortable-appearing ways, just to get a peek at what she is up to. You like to play with her toys more than your own, of course, and she is kind and generous with you. I hope you are always so sweet to each other.

More and more you are at the age where I can see the wheels turning in your head as you figure things out. We have been going back and watching old videos of Ellen at your age and I just can't believe the changes that seem to happen so fast. I am eager for the next year - to learn more about your personality, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. What a gift to the three of us - to watch you grow up - we are so lucky.

I love you, sweet girl -
MaMa

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Links to stuff

As Georgia approaches her first birthday, I think I am having flashback nesting or something. I cleaned and purged all the cabinets in our bathrooms last week and re-folded all the towels in our linen closets. Wha?!?

And, I also purged my Inbox again - feels so good. :)

Ellen started soccer this Fall - not because she asked to, but because there was a Pre-K team for our local school and we thought it would be good to meet some people. Nice folks, Ellen couldn't care less about it. Oh well. This article has been making the rounds and I thought it was perfect: Best Parenting Tip Ever. I didn't play sports growing up, yet I still find myself talking through her games with her on the ride home. No more.

Your Kids and Money: Teaching the Value of a Dollar - this is from NPR, had a few good pointers I thought. We really don't have a formal system at our house, though Ellen has been more interested in helping with extra chores (folding laundry mostly) and she gets paid a bit for that.

You Should Make Your Own Baby Food - I hesitate to link to this because GUILT, but I think she has some good points. I must say that I find the ease of baby food pouches SOO nice for when we are out and about, or when we are rushing back to the house from errands or something and Georgia is due to eat lunch, like, 12 minutes ago. I otherwise make all of her food, yet I find the older she gets the more complicated it becomes, when it seems like it should be the opposite. I want to make sure she is getting a good balanced diet and, while we eat mostly very healthy meals around here, it's not always easy to have the right mix of leftovers in the fridge for her. So, more cooking and freezing it is (I am still loving the Nurture Baby recipes - most recently lentils, baby lasagna, chicken florentine and southwestern beans and rice).

Caught my eye: Kid Edition - some parenting links on 320*Sycamore's blog

The six ways we talk about a teenage girl's age - not news, per se, but still an interesting approach to this topic and scares the bejeezus out of me, of course.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Have Baby, Will Travel - the beach edition

This makes it sound like we just got back from the beach when it was, in fact, 1 month ago. In some ways I feel like I'm just finally recovering and in other ways it feels like forever ago. In my head I was mentally packing and preparing for that trip from the moment we booked it until the night before we left, which was probably like 10 weeks, and it takes awhile for that mental energy to drain away. Just me?

A few things I thought may be helpful:

We rented a house in Watercolor, Florida through VRBO and it was just perfect for our group of 3 families with 5 young children. Our friends are very familiar with the resort and pushed hard to get us close to the beach and pool, which was KEY. I didn't anticipate how many trips I would make back and forth in the stroller with Georgia, but it was a lot. The older kids rode in trailers on bikes with the adults after the first day of everyone walking wasn't super pleasant / efficient, but I couldn't really do that with her.

We were so lucky that the house had 4 bedrooms and 4 full bathrooms, giving everyone as much privacy as you can get on a beach vacation. In retrospect, the only thing that would have put the house over the top would have been an extra room / nook for alternate child sleeping arrangements. We put the 3 bigger kids in a bunk room together and figured the first night would be rough and then they would settle in. Not so much. Would have been nice to have an air mattress and a separate place to put someone. Next time. (The closets were big enough for babies in pack n' plays - hooray!)

Speaking of Pack n' Plays, I didn't want to travel with ours and looked into renting one through a local baby gear rental place, but it was actually cheaper to buy the bare bones version at Walmart and pick it up when we got there. I had it shipped to the store for free and the Walmart was like 10 miles away. Perfect.

We ended up booking a shuttle from the airport to our house as we were leaving a day earlier than the rest of the bunch and there really wasn't a car big enough for 4 adults / 4 kids in car seats anyway. It was a little cheaper than a rental and (mostly) more convenient. I hemmed and hawed about the car seat situation and, in the end, rented seats from the shuttle service since it was just the trips to and from the airport. Again, similar to my previous experience with renting car seats, it was mostly a shit show. The drivers, though nice as could be, had no idea how to properly install a car seat, which left me fumbling with a strange car seat and installing it rear-facing for Georgia. Ugh. And, though I requested a high-back booster for Ellen, she had just a regular booster, which made me nervous as she is still in a 5-point harness in our cars. I just held my breath and thought lots of good thoughts while we were in transit, but it wasn't great.

We booked the trip in June, but didn't travel until Labor Day, so I watched Target and such for sales on their pool and sand toys and bought some cheapie things, along with some $1 activities and mailed a big box ahead of our trip for pick up at the local UPS store. It had pool/sand toys (I didn't know what would be at the house, but there were quite a few things when we got there), a box of crayons, a big roll of coloring pages that was a big hit, glow sticks, a few card games, and food for Georgia. I also picked up a cheap mesh laundry bag at the dollar store to hold all the beach toys, an inflatable pool that I thought G could sit in on the beach (never opened) and a floaty pool thing for G (which she did use).

I was trying to avoid getting to Florida and spending our first day (or days) at Walmart and the grocery store, though turns out we pretty much did that anyways. We talked about planning meals ahead of time, though I guess had too much other stuff to think about, so we just did it when we got there and also had some aimless wandering at a strange Walmart. If we go again, I will try to plan a little better in advance, though you are always at the mercy of a strange kitchen and that can make cooking your "go to" easy meals kind of tough. Of note, I did intend to take a Sharpie to put names on plastic cups, but forgot it and we scrounged one up half-way through the weekend.

We packed pretty compactly, but still brought too much. We had laundry at the house (again, KEY) and multiple loads ran everyday. The kids just pretty much rotated between swimsuits/cover-ups and PJs, so didn't even make it through the limited number of outfits we brought. Also, that tip about rolling clothes really is a space-saver!

As for the beach, neither of our girls were into it. Georgia was newly crawling - no bueno in sand - and Ellen didn't like the feel of the sand very much and far preferred the pool. Huh. I did get some pictures of them (most expensive pictures of 2 girls in swimsuits of all times), but we hardly spent any time there. Also, this particular beach is white sand and gorgeous, but almost no shells - I think that would have entertained the older kids a bit more.

Speaking of pictures, if you intend to get some family pictures on vacation, try to do it earlier in your trip. I kind of realized the day before we left that we really didn't have a good sibling pic of the girls or any documentation of the 4 of us together. Tried to squeeze that in with showers / cooking dinner / fantasy football drafts and, well, you can see all of that in our faces.

The flights were actually great. We had a short-ish layover on the way down and little longer on the way home, but I think I almost prefer that to a 2-3 hour continuous flight with small children. The older kids were entertained by coloring and electronics and Georgia didn't sleep at all, but ate for entertainment (unlike our trip to Austin). I had read a tip to bring blue painters tape on the plane for entertainment and the older kids didn't care, but surprisingly Georgia was really into it. And, could be used for baby-proofing at your destination!

All in all, it was so fun to see the girls have so much fun. This was not a "vacation", but rather a "trip" as our friends said. It was not relaxing for us, but I'm glad we did it. I think we may even attempt it again someday??? And, next time, we are instituting the "buffer day" when we get home - one more day off at home to get your bearings. Jumping right back into work /school is tough.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Purge

My Inbox is swallowing me alive. I used to pride myself on having no more emails in my Inbox than I could see on one screen. In the last few weeks, however, it has gotten completely out of control for reasons that are still unclear. I've been filing things away in my "blog to do" folder for that elusive day when I have time to blog. So, I'm just going to purge and link to a lot of things here that you may or may not find interesting. Or may or may not have time to read (I'm voting on "may not" - you won't hurt my feelings). Is it bad that cleaning out my Inbox feels like cleaning up my  house?

So, some reading for your relaxing Labor Day weekend plans at the pool. Wait ... are you doing that? Take me along.

What Should a 4-Year-Old Know: I think this is kind of viral on the Facebook, but was timely for me as I'm trying to restrain myself from worrying about Kindergarten ONE YEAR AWAY. (And also, a few concrete guidelines that help reign in my craziness).

Why I Am The Perfect Mother. God bless "average".

Child Safety: Stranger Danger Warning Needs Updating - I know I've posted about this before, but it is a conversation I need to keep having with Ellen. I like the ideas about teaching safety as a value, just like kindness and honesty and whatever else. Also, adding "Did anything happen today to make you feel uncomfortable?" to your standard questions about the day. And teaching about acceptable strangers.

"If my son wanted to dance, I would kill myself" - can't remember where I came across this, but nice story about celebrating the interests of your children.

Similarly, How Do You Teach The Beauty of Different - good tips.

The Last Time - also went kind of viral, but sweet and tear-inducing. I find myself compulsively documenting Georgia's sweet quirks these days, knowing that in the midst of all these developmental milestones, so many things will fall by the wayside.

How To Teach Kids To Say Sorry - We haven't really used "time out" for Ellen in years. On rare occasion when she is out of control, I do ask her to sit in a chair and calm down before coming back to talk with me. Most of the time, though, we talk things through and I explain why I am upset or frustrated with her behavior and I ask her how she could make a better choice next time. It works pretty well for us. The biggest AHA! I had lately, though, is that for your children to really learn the importance of apologizing, you need to apologize to them when appropriate. Not long ago, I lost my temper with Ellen during crazy-after-work-dinner-hour. I raised my voice and I don't think she expected it and she sulked away to the couch and cried quietly. I felt, in a word, terrible. I sat down for a snuggle and really apologized to her and explained why I had acted that way. Made us both feel better.

My Daughter Went Away to Camp and Changed - I've been very nostalgic for my days at Summer Camp lately. This was a nice article about the importance of activities that belong solely to your children and the happiness that comes with that freedom.

We Need To Talk About Race and How Do You Talk To Kids About Race? - I think a lot of good points here. This is something I fumble through with Ellen in our very homogeneous community. I mostly remember a part of the Nurture Shock book that  talks about the "being blind to color" approach and how it doesn't really work. You need to talk with your children about race and not let them draw their own conclusions. Another area in which I feel ill-equipped to be raising a responsible human being, but I will try my hardest.

Raising Safe Swimmers and Here Comes the Sunscreen (gallery of pics of parents putting sunscreen on kids). Summer's over? How? When?

Well, if you have a kid who started back to school, check this out: Crayola Starts a new Recycling Program

This Morning I Yelled - I've linked to Dash and Bella before, good recipes, great writing

 Great Artist Mom - fun blog by a gal who developed an art program for elementary students. She has good ideas for encouraging artistic behavior, and practical tips on supplies, and nice videos here and there on drawing. A little advanced for Ellen, but she likes to watch me and then color in my drawings. One big take away that we use: "You are the artist of your own paper". I'm trying to get Ellen to not be such a perfectionist with her art ... wonder where she gets that?

Three Huge Mistakes We Make in Leading Kids - Again, I see this so many places, the importance of specific praise for children, not just platitudes.

A reminder to Get In The Picture With Your Kids! We just had our latest round of family pics with our favorite photographer. I wanted to document Georgia as she has changed so much from December, but also to have pictures of me with the girls. I spend most of my days with them, yet have little documentation of that.

I bet you do this anyway - narrate your day to your baby - but this reinforces the importance! The Power of Talking to Your Baby.

Nice series on Slate: How Babies Work - lots of interesting articles on babies, American vs. other, and some science behind infant development and such.




Friday, August 23, 2013

12 times a day

On my days at home, I calculated that I am feeding myself or someone else 12 separate times a day. What the what. Georgia is still nursing 4 times a day and then eats solids 3 times a day, though her "dinner" really stretches from 5-6:30 in spurts to keep her happy while the rest of us eat. Ellen eats the typical 3 meals, and generally 1-2 snacks which I didn't even count. I eat breakfast and lunch somewhere after I've fed both girls, then prep dinner so we can all sit down together for 9 minutes. I need roller skates.

Speaking of roller skates, my "advanced" age and the last pregnancy really did a number on my feet. I feel like a seriously old lady hobbling around all day. I haven't worn heels in almost 5 years and my feet still groan. I finally got some silver Gizeh Birkenstocks because I was trying to avoid a specialist visit and orthotics (told ya - that's an old lady word). I think they are working and - BONUS - it appears that Birkenstocks are all the rage in Paris this summer. Trend. Setter.

Georgia finally dropped her 3rd nap just past 9 months. It makes bedtime much more predictable - she is generally so exhausted she goes straight to sleep - but it also means that her last feeding needs to start at about 6:32pm. If it's 6:40pm she might start melting. It also means that the witching hour of 5:00-6:00pm really requires lots of song and dance to keep G happy. As I tell Ellen (frequently) - "The name of the game is Keep Georgia Happy". It's not that she isn't happy ... in fact, she is generally very happy, but I like to keep the status quo.

And, speaking of beds, one Sunday night I sat Georgia in her bed while I was picking up some things in her room and I just thought, "Huh. She looks like she could just throw herself out of bed, if only she could sit up on her own." I told Erik we needed to move her mattress lower and put it on the to-do list. The next morning I found her sitting up in bed. Mommy instinct. We moved her mattress down that night, and then she was clapping and crawling within 2 days. Spurts in development are amazing.

Back to food, we are on a good mix of spoon foods (fruit and yogurt for breakfast, some kind of veggie for lunch or lentils or cottage cheese, and usually a meat of some kind for dinner) and finger foods. The latest finger foods are string cheese cut up into tiny cubes, frozen mixed veggies or broccoli that I chop up, and random veggies or leftover eggs from our meals during the week. I also got frozen organic blueberries at Whole Foods and they are the little tiny wild blueberries - perfect size for G. Admittedly, I'm a little too OCD to let her mash them all over the place, but she loves them straight out of the freezer and still a little slushy. Also, I got a pack of small whole wheat tortillas at Whole Foods that don't have a lot of weird ingredients and I cut them in fourths and spread them out on a sheet to freeze them individually. I can pull one out, zap it for 10 seconds in the microwave, and then tear it up for her. She eats an unreal amount of food. I also got her to start drinking from a straw. I thought it would be easier for our upcoming trip and just got a Playtex sippy cup with a straw lid. We practiced for a day or two and I could squeeze the cup to get the water to come up through the straw so she knew what was happening. In contrast, it took Ellen a long time to figure out the straw - I think she was older.

And, back to nursing. (My thought patterns are like this all day - scattered scattered scattered). My milk supply continues to drop, but I want to keep nursing G through our vacation as it's just so much easier. I finally had a lightbulb moment and switched the breast shields on my pump back to the smaller size and it has increased my supply - maybe an extra 1-2 ounces each time I pump, which isn't a ton, but certainly something. I gave G her first bottle of formula today at home just as a test to make sure we had a back up for vacation and she sucked it right down - no problem. In fact, she looked so proud of herself laying down and drinking the bottle all by herself. Thanks a lot.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Feeding, Breast and Otherwise

I feel like if I had a third baby (not in the plan) I would really get this nursing / pumping thing down. I'm like the Goldilocks of breastfeeding - too much, too little - and I haven't quite gotten to the juussstt riigghhttt part.

With Ellen, I've come to the realization that I had a SERIOUS oversupply of milk. When you see how much milk was in my freezer, I think you would agree, but it didn't occur to me at the time how unusual it was. I started to wean her at 9 months, she was fully weaned at 10 months, and she still had breast milk through 12 months. Not exclusively, but most of her feedings each day were breast milk. Crazy. And, that was after I had purged about 600oz of milk shortly after I went back to work for lack of freezer space. That's all fine and good, except it also reflects the fact that I pumped every morning after I nursed her (literal time suck), and many times during the day if she didn't nurse well, and I leaked when she was due for a feeding almost every time for 9 months. No bueno.

So, with Georgia I was trying to reach a happy medium. I ordered 6 boxes of freezer storage bags before she was born and have barely cracked the second box. I have a little bit of milk in the freezer, but probably only a week's worth, and I find myself thawing some each week to make up the balance of her bottles and not putting any back. I think any time spent breastfeeding is worthwhile and I know 9 months is an accomplishment, but I have an unrealistic standard for myself based on the first go-round and I'm a little stressed about my supply.

I stopped pumping after the first morning feeding around the time I went back to work because I just couldn't make it fit with the morning (harried) routine. But, I think most breastfeeding moms will say that they can pump the most milk in the morning and sometimes relatively little late in the day. I would always pump if Erik gave her a bottle, but if that was the last feeding of the day, I wouldn't always pump an equivalent amount. So, it's kind of a vicious cycle of chasing your tail. I was pumping enough at work to make her bottles, but that has slowly tapered down (and probably accelerated when she was sick for 2 weeks and feeding poorly) and now I'm not. I know it's not a big deal to give her formula, but I would like to avoid the cost if I can. Also, if I'm being really honest, I'm just not ready to wean her. She isn't disinterested in nursing at this age like Ellen was. It's fast and easy. It burns calories! So, we'll see how much longer we can hang on ...

Finally, in reading about pumping and supply and such, I've come across a few things about the motor on your breast pump wearing out. I'm not sure what Medela would say, but I've seen a few posts from moms who exclusively pumped about their motor wearing down. Not that it would quit, but was just less effective. I didn't exclusively pump the first time, but sure pumped A LOT, and I wonder if that may be contributing? Too late for me to get another pump, but might be worth investigating for someone else and I think many insurance companies cover the cost of pumps under the Affordable Care Act.

So, moving on to solids. Again, unrealistic standards I set for myself. I've decided that part of the reason I cook most of the food for my babies is because that is one of the ways I show people I love them. I like to cook, and generally find it kind of relaxing, but also I think I'm good at it. Not gourmet and not an expert, but cooking doesn't scare me. I'm not the best mom at taking my kids on adventures or reading all day long or playing sports with them, but cooking I can handle.

That being said, I spent 6 hours in the kitchen last Saturday (Ellen was gone which is the only reason it was possible) cooking for Georgia and I wondered at the end of it What.The.Hell.I.Was.Doing. I used to make the argument that it was cheaper to make your own baby food and I think it can be if you are strategic, but for me it always involves a trip to Whole Foods (with some extra things thrown in the cart, OF COURSE) and then 1+ hours cooking. Maybe (maaayyybbee) I break even if compared to organic food pouches.

But, I like knowing exactly what goes in her mouth and I love that she eats it up. Seriously - this girl can EAT. Hasn't turned her nose up at a single thing! We are venturing into meat and chunkier textured foods and I still find that the recipes on Nurture Baby are some of my favorite. I made the pork with apples and sweet potatoes last weekend in the crockpot, and the chicken soup (minus pasta, stirred cooked brown rice in after I pulsed it up), and the turkey and white beans. For all the recipes I strained the solids out and pulsed in the Cuisinart until tiny chunks, but not smooth.  I figured out the easiest way to freeze it is to use a small ice cream scoop and freeze single scoops on a foil-lined baking sheet, then move to a plastic freezer bag. We are stocked for 1-2 months and maybe then she'll be on mostly finger foods. Phew.

Finally, on the feeding front, I've wised up and realized that baby puffs are just an expensive thing to sweep up from the floor. Georgia really wants to have some kind of food to eat while we have dinner, so puffs kept her happy, but I've switched to puffed brown rice from Whole Foods. It comes in a plastic bag in the cereal aisle and is about $2 and lasts forever. They have all kinds of puffed grains, but rice seemed about the right size to start with.

And, just a health note of sorts. In the midst of Georgia's two week respiratory junky awful-ness, she was found to have an ear infection and we started amoxicillin. About a week later I noticed she had a little rash on her back, which progressively worsened over about 5 days. It conveniently started the day she first had wheat (pasta) and was worse the next day when she had wheat again. So, I took all wheat out of her diet, stressed about a wheat allergy, and racked my brain about what she could possibly be eating that would make her rash worsen. I took all sorts of stuff out of her diet (I had really just been giving her anything and not keeping track of what/when) and it was super annoying. We've come to the conclusion that she has the relatively common amoxicillin-associated rash, which I guess isn't a true allergy. It just didn't occur to me that the medicine would be the culprit because the rash started about a week after we started the medicine, but I guess that is how it typically starts. Sooo ... if your kid starts a new medicine, maybe be more mindful of what they are eating and not starting any new foods to save yourself a lot of time Googling "nightshade family allergies".

Friday, July 5, 2013

Summer schedule?

Guess I'm taking a not-planned, but clearly obvious break from this here blog. I find that the recovery from all things involving two small children takes, like, weeks. I wouldn't say we've been all that busy, but we were out of town for a long weekend, followed by a week of swimming lessons every evening, followed by a sick baby and, well, I know you get it. Harried is an understatement.

A couple of updates:

One, Ellen's bedtime had degenerated into a mess. Georgia is so easy these days, but Ellen's bedtime routine just required so.much.energy from both Erik and me at the time of day it was hardest to muster. So - new plan. We have two "tokens" (random pieces of wood I dug out of her treasure box and labeled 1 and 2). We do the regular brush teeth / potty / PJs / book / bed and try to move it along. She has 2 tokens to start the night. She can leave her room for "free" to potty as long as she gets back in bed by herself. If she needs to talk to me or Erik she can spend a token to do so, but only has 2 passes. If she keeps her tokens, though, in the morning she gets 1 or 2 stars on her ice cream chart. (I drew a picture of ice cream and filled it with little circles where the stars go). When her chart is full, ICE CREAM! I do randomly give her a star during the day if she does something especially good without prompting, but it's mostly a bedtime thing. I've also taken away stars for especially bad behavior. One time I was going to take away a star and forgot and I told her later she was lucky. "Well, too late now, Mom. HA HA!!" So, I then I erased one for sass. It has actually worked pretty well - we will see for how long. She did ask Erik to come up and scratch her back the other night - "It was worth a token, Dad."

Georgia was sicky, sick this week - same usual respiratory crap. Pro tip for the future: if you own a nebulizer machine and have the meds at home, take it all with you to the doctor's office visit. You can use all your own stuff and save yourself the $$ of getting it there. DUH. I'm sure we will be back ...

And, some stuff I've come across:
Good Guard, Bad Guard - how to know if your lifeguard is doing a good job. Ellen took swimming lessons for a full week and made great progress, but is still not swimming. She is almost LESS safe in the water because she feels confidant, but doesn't yet understand about quickly going into deep water and such. I was watching her and within seconds she took a few steps into the deeper end and was underwater and panicking and my friend had to jump in and pull her out. Not good times.

Similar to the emergency link last time, tips on packing a Go Bag. We haven't done this and, truthfully, I kind of glaze over when I think about it because it seems so monumental. I have a goal of becoming much more paper-less with our important things, which fits nicely with this. A high school acquaintance recently had a bad house fire, which makes all of this feel more important. And, makes me feel that Ellen really is old enough to start talking about this stuff. Again, glazing over ...

Some of my best friends are germs - really interesting article in the New York Times about the microbiome. Well, interesting for you science-y folk. Most fascinating part to me? There are compounds in breastmilk that babies can't digest, but they are specifically intended to nourish good bacteria in the baby's gut. Amazing.

Why Women Aren't Crazy - interesting article, with a take-away message of using caution in how you address your children, girls in particular. I find myself often telling Ellen - "you are so dramatic!" and over time, I think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm trying to be more aware of what I say to her or how I describe her actions.

Finally, there was a nice article in Parents magazine this month about encouraging kindness in your children - teaching it as a skill, just as you would responsibility and independence and such. For those of you who have time to read, it lists two interesting-sounding books: Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, and Becoming the Parent You Want to Be. It basically talks about listening to your kids - is their complaint about a tummy ache or hurt toe masking their desire for an extra snuggle or some special attention? Also, cultivating a culture of cooperation - helping your kids pick-up. Essentially, if there is a situation where you would normally like some help for yourself, do the same for your children. I must say that I'm probably not good at this - it would be kinder of me to offer to help Ellen at times, and then hope my example encouraged her to do the same for others. And, being kind to yourself - taking time to do nice things for yourself is part of taking care of your family.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer safety

I feel like every time it gets warm I put something on here about water and sun safety. So, consider me a broken record and settle in for a similar read. I am hyper about water safety - it is probably one of my most anxious-making kid tasks. We are FINALLY getting some real swim lessons this summer and I have high hopes. I also have terrible guilt about the sun exposure I had myself as a child / teen - how could I have been so stupid? By the time you are old enough to realize the error of your ways, TOO LATE. So - trying to start my girls off on the right foot.

The New York Times - The New Rules for Sunscreen

And, this article has been everywhere,  but it's a good one, so just in case: Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

And, while we're at it, from Rookie Moms - Safety Tips I Learned From My Village.  Do you have a family disaster plan? A fire escape plan? Do you practice? These are other things that keep me up at night.

Also, sort of related, a random tip to get in the habit of smelling your child's liquid medicine when you pick it up from the pharmacy. Especially if it's something given for a long period of time, like Georgia's Zantac. It is flavored with a peppermint flavor and smells kind of minty / medicine-y, but she really hasn't made any faces about it since she was bitty. She gets it twice a day and it is no issue now. Well, one day recently she flat out REFUSED to take it. Like, after 5 attempts - no go. I had recently refilled the bottle, so I smelled it and it smelled horrible - like minty, rotten food. I called the pharmacy to make sure it wasn't expired or anything and it wasn't, but they checked the bottle and agreed something was "off". They replaced it with a different brand and there hasn't been an issue since. So strange and NEVER would have occurred to me.




Saturday, May 18, 2013

Feeding the girl, take two

Well, gosh, nice to see you again. Been awhile. Sorry about that.

We're elbow-deep in baby food over here, so thought I would just note what we are doing this time, though it's basically what we did last time. I started to explore Baby-Led Weaning, and actually really like and agree with the concept, but in the end, I feel like I don't have the time and patience to devote to it right now. Is that terrible? It also sounds counter-intuitive, as baby-led weaning seems like it should be easier, but I have to wrap my head around a whole new idea and way of planning our meals and I just don't have the mental energy right now.

So, purees it is, at least for a little while. I'm making them and am relying on my microwave, toaster oven, Magic Bullet Blender, ice cube trays and Baby Cubes, just like last time. In a moment of weakness, I bought the Magic Bullet Baby Steamer on a whim from the clearance end cap at Target. The jury is still out. I generally don't agree with appliances that are solely for feeding babies, but I thought it might be helpful to steam a little bit of our dinner to make it more Georgia-friendly. We'll see.

I'm concerned about Georgia being a more allergy-prone kid because she has the most sensitive skin, though I don't know that there is any true correlation. Our pediatrician advised starting with rice cereal, which we did, but that requires extra breast milk for mixing and, frankly, I don't have a whole abundance. Plus, Georgia didn't seem all that enthused with it, so we went right to apples. Then, peas, butternut squash, avocado, banana, pears, peaches and sweet potato. I started to wait the 3 days for each, then just moved ahead. I feel like I wanted her to have some variety? I guess I'll be a little more cautious with the more allergy-type foods. Our pediatrician advised waiting till a year or after for the really allergenic foods, but there is some new data about introducing them quickly after starting solids, which I think we will do.

And, as has become custom, a few recent articles / posts I've come across on the topic:
This Just In - Babies Eat Food from Dinner: A Love Story
And, as linked to, Our Take on Baby-Led Weaning by YoungHouseLove (read this blog all the time!)
Cooking for Hugo: A French Food Education by The Wednesday Chef - she has several posts on cooking for her young son. I think I'm late to this food blog, but I really like it in general
Feeding Baby by Bluejean Gourmet - came across this on Twitter in response to the above post. Love the innernets! This is a great hybrid version of purees and baby-led weaning, I think. She also links to a few other great posts at the bottom - Getting Started by Hellobee, and the series Cooking for Clara on Food52.

And, not food related, but kind of a nice belated Mother's Day post - from the New York Times, Baby Face.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Have Baby, Will Travel - the infant edition

Welp. We're home from my girls (plus one breastfed baby) weekend. Though there were quite a few pitfalls, the excellent catching-up-with-friends times resulted in a net success over all.

I had to be hands free, so I looked much like a sherpa climbing a mountain with someone's gear: Baby in Bjorn, backpack full of baby essentials, diaper bag with carry on items that weren't quite as essential, and one roller bag stuffed to the gills. All of this for what ended up being 3 nights and 2 full days. I am a chronic over-packer and, while I can reduce my own stuff to mostly essentials, there are just a lot of baby contingencies. (AND my friends brought a car seat, pack n'play and stroller. Can you even imagine if they didn't? Guess G wouldn't have gone on vaca).

I picked up Georgia from daycare on the day before our trip and her sweet teacher, who can cuddle babies with the best of them but speaks relatively limited English, greeted me with a, "Oh, sweetie girl Georgia. Lots of diarrhea." AWESOME. This prompted some texts with her regular teacher to get some clarity on the actual poop situation that day. Again, AWESOME. Miss G has been blowing out her diapers everyday - I think due to new diapers - so we reverted to the good ol' Pampers Swaddlers for the trip, a size bigger, and she was fine all weekend. Phew.

I did read a tip about traveling with baby that I thought was helpful ... I packed 4 quart-size ziploc bags with a diaper and disposable changing pad in each, plus accessible wipes. This allowed for one quick grab when it was time to change a diaper (plus a bag to dispose it in) instead of shuffling all through the baby bag. I packed lots of sanitizer wipes and such but the reality is that Georgia isn't really touching anything and I didn't have any free hands once on the plane to wipe things down. Oh well.

Otherwise the essential carry-on bag had a change of clothes for G, a few burp cloths (she is a spitty baby), one quiet-ish toy, dipes/wipes, a bottle of milk with a gel freezer pack in a neoprene wine cooler bag, a bottle of water for me, and my phone/wallet/chapstick. The non-essential carry-on bag had a change of clothes for me and an extra outfit for G, a few more dipes, medicine, breast pump and parts, nursing cover and light blanket for emergency feedings (I'm not a public nurser). My system worked pretty well - stashed the essential bag in front of my seat, non-essential overhead with Bjorn. You can't wear a baby in a Bjorn for take-off or landing, so might as well not use it at all. I also grabbed an extra cup at Starbucks so I could give it to the flight attendant with the bottle to add some warm water. Worked great.

Not much to add other than the expected difficulty napping in a strange place and strange bed. I called ahead to inquire about an iPod dock for white noise, but ended up using a fan in our room and it was perfect (we all stayed in a rented house). Georgia just really only sleeps well at home, which is good for 95% of our life. 

Oh, and a word about pumping. I took a bottle of milk with us on the plane, but didn't really have a way to bring more milk. I had arranged for a sitter for Friday night and Saturday afternoon and all of a sudden it got kind of stressful to make sure I was pumping enough to have bottles for her when I left. I was pumping after each feeding and before bed and barely had enough. I'm not sure how I would have remedied this as Georgia hasn't ever had formula, but I might have packed an emergency single serving or two, just in case.

The trip stress was mostly related to flight cancellations / stuck jetways / delays and layovers in airports. Not much you can do to control that, though it is 10X more stressful with a baby. We were initially flying American who specifically said I didn't need any identification documents for Georgia, though we switched to Southwest at the last minute and they require a birth certificate or immunization record. I never ordered a copy of G's birth certificate (terrible!), so I fortunately had access to her shot record. Plan ahead on that one. Also, Southwest was great so I could board with "family boarding" and get an aisle seat. Seems to me that aisle is best if traveling alone with a small child for easy in and out. I think a window is great with a young toddler and/or if you are flying with another adult.

I took a picture with my iPhone of G in the airport and a quick pic the morning we left just to document that she was there, but otherwise no time/hands for pictures. Here are a few non-travel-related kid/media things I've come across lately:
The Kids Should See This - videos that kids will love, but not specifically made for kids
The Stories Objects Hold at Sesame Ellis 
And, as she links to, Kids Were Here
And an inspiring photo blog of kid pictures - You Are My Wild


Friday, April 12, 2013

At it again ...

I have little of consequence to report; just been the typical routine around here. I'm the sick one this time and - newsflash - your kids are happy to bring home germs AND they don't give two shits that you are sick. I'm wearing my OLD glasses this weekend because I have pinkeye and Georgia can't seem to figure out who I am. Ellen, on the other hand, thinks I look like a newscaster.

I moved Georgia to a four schedule, which is really so great. I remember dreaming of this when I was up so frequently with her during the night when she was a newborn. Following the trend, I worried about it much less this go round ... just casually moved her evening feedings closer together and added some more milk to her school bottles, then just dropped a feeding and she was fine. No biggie. I think she is seriously the most flexible child of all times. I kept pumping before I went to bed to maintain a 5th "feeding", but wasn't getting much milk for the effort. I had such a crazy milk supply with Ellen that my benchmark is skewed and I feel like I don't have enough, yet I'm still putting a little milk in the freezer at the end of each week. I decided to stop with the pumping on most nights and we'll see how it goes.

Her napping is generally quite good. Not at school, mind you, but her Thursdays and Fridays are usually great when she is home. Then Saturdays and Sundays are a little less predictable because she is well-rested, then the process starts all over. The new 4-hour schedule has messed with our dinnertime a bit, as she is zombie-like after school and requires a lot of attention right when we need to get dinner on the table. When Ellen was a baby, I would just put her down and then Erik and I would eat later. Now, we need to feed Ellen and then start the bedtime charade, so there is no time to eat later. Oh well - just another transition. When she is really sitting up and eating some finger foods in a few months, I think we'll be good.

Speaking of finger foods - I'm flying with Georgia next week solo on a trip to visit my girlfriends. I've flown with Ellen solo, but always had food and toys to keep her entertained. Not this time ... send your happy-flying-baby vibes this way, s'il vous plait.

And, per usual, a few more things I've been reading. Do you like this and/or find it interesting?
The Ringya App via Cool Mom Tech - organize groups of school/sports contacts easily
Helicopter Parents are Everywhere, Except Where They're Needed Most - an interesting column on child and car seat safety in response to a viral kid video
A good response to the Victoria's Secret tween-undie scandal via Mom101 -  and, can I say, SOOO not looking forward to the teenage girl years
Why Suckable Fruit Sucks - interesting commentary on a generation of children who eat much of their food from pouches
Related, from Dinner: A Love Story - How to talk to your kids about healthy eating -  I like the "sometimes food" description
And another from them, Dinner: A Love Story - 100 Rules of Dinner

And, finally, I liked this column by Erin Loechner on being a first time mom and creating a baby registry. I have a similar feeling when I read back through early entries on this blog looking to see how I did things the first time. I hope it didn't come across as preachy and know-it-all, but maybe it did. It seems that way to me, at least, a lot of the time. I just think there is something about being a first-time parent and trying to figure it all out (as if it's even realistic to think you can) and for me it was  helpful to process things by writing. If anyone else benefited, even better. So ... thanks for "listening" back then. And still.




Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Some more stuff

Georgia is totally entering the stage of being distracted while eating, which means we are getting back to 'all hands on deck' for feedings. I bet she popped on and off about 25 times last night, just checking if I was still there. Yep, still here. Before she started with this, I came across a few snippets here and there I thought were worth sharing ...

Rage Against the Minivan: Let's Bring Holidays Down a Notch - I came across this on Facebook and completely agree. The holiday celebrating, and especially the situations requiring candy, are way way over the top. I admit I felt a twinge of guilt about not doing anything for St. Patrick's Day since it was on a weekend this year, then I quickly got over it. We didn't even wear green! We have had some big Easter gifts the past few years, mostly as compensation for a too-close birthday and Christmas, but this year will be much more low key. I finally wised up and got some little tiny toys / play food to go in the easter eggs instead of all candy. Coins are also especially motivating this year.

New York Times: The Stories that Bind Us - Interesting read about how children cope better if they feel that they know and are part of a family narrative. I think a daily family meal is a good time to share some of these things, though we really aren't there yet. We are still mostly in the "sit still and face your plate and stop talking so much" phase of family dinner. Also, on a related/unrelated note, Ellen's teachers tell me it is hysterical to watch her talk about food with her classmates. As I put on Facebook, she asked recently if they were having an arugula salad for lunch. She was inquiring last night about the differences between quinoa and polenta. Love my good little eater!

And, related to eating, Wall Street Journal: Food Allergy Advice for Kids, Don't Delay Peanuts, Eggs. I found the journal article this was based on (nerd) and talked it over with my pediatrician brother-in-law. I wasn't too hyper with this kind of thing with Ellen, but I probably did wait close to 12 months for those "target foods". I will introduce them earlier with Georgia, I think. I really don't think she is ready for solids yet - not showing interest, not sitting up really strongly - and it's a total pain in the ass to start on solids, if I'm being honest. I think we will do a little bit more of the "baby-led weaning" idea of feeding baby what the rest of the family is eating, as her dinner time will be the same as ours! I'm also kind of excited about the reusable pouches they have now - it's amazing how much has changed with baby feeding in just 4 years (most of which I think is a gimmick, actually, but there are a few handy inventions).

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gear, take two

It's probably quite obvious that I don't have much time to write here. Or, really, not much of use to write about! The novelty of being a first-time mom has worn off, so I feel that much of what we are up to is familiar. I tried to keep the new baby purchases to a minimum - even easier since we can re-use all the "girl" things, but there are a few new things I'm loving that I thought I would share.

I ordered this Baby Cargo Georgi Stroller Bag not long after we got home from the hospital. (Could the name be more perfect?) I got mine at Diapers.com, but seems that it is cheapest at Target right now. It is a good size and has plenty of pockets. Doesn't hold a ton of stuff (not as much as the backpack I used with Ellen), but works as a messenger-style purse and I think will be great on the MacLaren when we get to using it. I even saw that the gals at Ain't No Mom Jeans use it from time to time, so then I felt reasonably stylish. :)

This Conair Sound Therapy and Relaxation Clock Radio kills two birds with one stone - noise machine and clock for nursing. In Ellen's room we had a digital clock plus used our iPod and docking station for ocean noise (ridiculously expensive noise machine). This isn't the greatest clock ever, but is fine for the price.

The Nose Frida snot sucker is flat out amazing. Get it, along with extra filters.

I already told you that I like the Rumina Full Coverage pumping / nursing tank, but I continue to really like it. It has more support than my previous favorite tanks, the Gilligan O'Malley Target ones. I still like the Target ones for sleeping and hanging around the house - more comfy, and cheaper!

We added a few of these Halo Sleepsack Swaddles in cotton to our pile of swaddling items. Last time we used the Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe with good success, but I think this go-round their velcro was kind of worn out and Georgia could bust out of them pretty easily. I found that the cotton ones worked best - most stretchy and tight, but had to be washed frequently to keep their tightness. This sleepsack swaddle was kind of easy for Georgia to get out of in full swaddle mode, but the ability to swaddle one arm or no arms seemed to work great for us. We used it to wean from the swaddling with no issues. The newborn size is pretty short and she grew out of it rather quickly and isn't all that long of a baby, so now we use the small size.

This Fisher Price Cradle n' Swing was borrowed from a friend both times - different friends, same swing. It was a lifesaver both times. I guess you'll never know if your baby will like it, but it would have been a worthwhile investment. Hooray for generous friends! This version also plugs in, which is nice.
 And a few other things ...
- Some kind of bouncy chair, just very basic. We were gifted a MacLaren version that isn't made anymore, but it is similar to the Baby Bjorn Babysitter, just much less expensive. I just wanted a seat that would prop Georgia up while we were eating or whatever, and it has worked great for that purpose.We never had one with Ellen for some reason.
- Georgia practically lives in these Tea Collection Footies. They are a great weight for cold weather babies and wash and wear so well. I got several on major sale -they have great sales if you subscribe to their emails.
- I've commented on this before, but we opted to purchase a nebulizer machine through our pediatrician after Ellen needed it for the second time with a wheezing respiratory illness as a toddler. It has turned out to be so useful - we have albuterol on hand and can use it for both girls. We've unfortunately needed it a lot, but it saves us an urgent trip to the doctor on a weekend or whatever. So, if you need it once, buy one!
- Not to toot my own horn, but this blog has been so useful for me. I'm not saying it will be so useful for you, but the ability to look back at what I did with the first child has been great. I invariably find myself saying, "Ellen never did this!" (yes she did), or "how did we ever make this work?". It's so nice to see what we did. Not that Georgia is the same child, of course, but it's a good record. If you have your first child, I encourage you to take notes about those mundane things - it might come in handy!

And, some good old favorites that are worth their weight in gold: Medela Freestyle Pump (did you know that breastpumps are now covered under the Affordable Care Act?), Boppy, Gerber Nuk pacifiers, and Exersaucer (equivalent of this Triple Fun version - love the removable toy bar for younger babies).

Anything I'm missing?

By the by, I think there are more than 3 people who read this (my sister, mother and mother-in-law), so if you do, say hello!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Confidence

There were so many questions I had about how our life would change with child #2. Most of my friends with more than one kid would say that, yes, many things were more challenging, but also many things were more enjoyable because you had confidence in your parenting skills. I am finding that to be true, thankfully.

Not that we haven't had our struggles. We have, and continue to. (Example: up 4 times last night with a 4:45am feeding - ugh). In some ways, I also think parental confidence contributes to my frustration, mostly in the middle of the night. I'm anxious to get past this phase as I know the sweetness that is a child who sleeps for 11-12 hours. The first go round I didn't know any better!

I can read Georgia's cues better that I could with Ellen and I have the confidence to make more decisions on my own that seem right for our family rather than doing everything by the book. Our first week back to school/work was a crappy one due to a nasty viral illness, but before that I really thought Georgia was showing signs of dropping a feeding. I was generally waking her for all her feedings and she was starting to eat poorly at her last feeding because I think we were disrupting her sleep. Also, I wanted her to get in bed sooner so everyone else could go to sleep. Some of my books say that kids will start to go to 5 feedings around 13-14 weeks, though I don't think we did it with Ellen until like 18 weeks. Georgia's sickness derailed my plan in some ways, but also her appetite was poor and she was refusing to eat, thus dropping a feeding on her own. Instead of forcing the issue, I decided to go with it. The first couple of days were kind of rough and I emailed a friend for support to make sure I wasn't being crazy, but then it all just sorted itself out. I just kept telling myself - what is the WORST thing that could happen? Feeding her during the night? That's not so bad. (I did do that for 2 nights, then that was it). Also, if all else fails, you can revert to the old schedule. Her new schedule is much better for our school/work days, so I just made it work. There will come a time when our schedule as parents must revolve around the kid schedule, but now is not that time.

I've also been emailing with my cousin who is expecting her first child in the very near future. I generally walk a fine line between providing a lot of information about my experience and scaring the bejeezus out of people. I was telling her all about pumping, thus prompting me to look back at what I did with Ellen. I pumped WAY more with Ellen, mostly because I was afraid to stop for fear of a plummeting milk supply. I find that there just isn't a ton of info about how to fit pumping into your breastfeeding life if you are working full or part-time. I threw away tons and tons of milk with Ellen and still had like a 2 month supply in my freezer after I weaned her. I felt like I spent all of my time on "milk maintenance". This time, I clearly had the benefit of knowing that I would more than likely have a generous milk supply, so I've tried to do things to make sure I have adequate, but not excessive, milk for Georgia. With Ellen, I would feed her on one side and then pump - every morning for 9 months. I could have been sleeping!! I did this for awhile with Georgia, then just decided to feed her on both sides and I weaned off that morning pumping recently. Saves probably 10 minutes each morning, which is precious. Also, since I dropped a feeding, I only have to pump twice at work, another big time saver. I nurse her when she wakes up and pretty soon after we get home, then again before bed. She rarely refuses to eat on a side, but if she does I don't worry about it. With Ellen, I would have pumped. I've saved a lot of time and frustration ... and freezer space.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

All good things must come to an end

I was thinking about that quote yesterday ... and why, really, must all good things come to an end? So you can appreciate the next good thing? I'm pretty happy with what I've got going on right now, alas, can't hold on any longer. Today is my last solo day home with Georgia for, oh, the rest of my life. I love this quiet baby time. She is such a sweet, good baby and SO easy now. (Well, now that she is sleeping). I know that this, too, will end and she will become more energetic and opinionated and fun - and I look forward to that for sure - but this sweet sleepy baby stage is just awesome. (Not the newborn stage, just to make the distinction).

Georgia's school bag is packed and all of the "camp list" of items has been shipped off to a box under her crib at school. They can't swaddle babies any longer, so I'm also sending her teachers good wishes because it's going to be rough. Little G hasn't napped or slept un-swaddled in probably 2 months. If you look at the bright side, it appears we are farming out the "break the swaddle" training, which is nice. If you look on the dark side, though, I am pretty certain I will be picking up an exhausted baby from daycare all next week who won't eat and will be sleeping like a crazy person at home. In fact, send some good wishes our way, too, if you don't mind.

I'm remembering how un-fun it is to pump at work all day, but I've got all my supplies prepped and ready. I'm currently trying to formulate the best way for me to wake / shower / feed / do hair / do make-up / get dressed / pump / grab coffee / grab breakfast / kiss my loved ones goodbye every morning. I'm tempted to use a stop watch to see just how long each task takes, but I will try to resist. I did order the Rumina Hands-Free Pump&Nurse tank and so far really like it. It's an investment, for sure, but they do have a sale right now and free shipping through the end of the month. I ordered the full-coverage version so I could wear it solo under a cardigan or something and I think it covers enough to be work appropriate. I used their measuring guidelines and the size on the corresponding chart was just right. It is kind of cumbersome to get your pump parts to fit in the tank, or at least takes a little practice, but I did it one morning while brushing my teeth and putting on make-up and it worked perfectly. Huge time saver for me. Will be ordering two more ...

Sweet G also has a cold this week, shared by her loving sister, so I'm hopeful she won't get hit AGAIN when she starts school next week. Yeah, right. She is incredibly snorty and stuffy, but no fever and otherwise happy. I forgot that I had purchased the Nosefrida Snotsucker in a fit of nesting several months ago. Pulled it out today and it is AWESOME. So much more effective than the bulb syringe.

And, finally, came across this article last night while perusing my phone and pumping ... That Baby Wants to Break You Up. I can't say that I ever felt things were this extreme in our household, but the newborn stage is no joke and this summed up some of my feelings. Sleep deprivation is terrible and I can now look back and see that I've been pretty freaking tired for the last 4-5 months, with a several week period of serious lack of sleep thrown in the middle just for kicks. It is hard and makes me a difficult person to be around. Our mornings and evenings are finally pretty pleasant again and I seem to be hitting my stride during my days home with both girls. I'm much more patient and Ellen seems more calm. I will say that the silver lining of having a non-napping older child is that I can dictate when her "quiet time" begins - i.e. it starts the minute I put Georgia down for her nap. Now that Georgia's schedule is pretty predictable I have finally figured this out and it gets me (most of) an hour to myself each afternoon. Essential.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Wah wah

We went through the exercise of setting up our will / trust / power of attorney documents when Ellen was about 10 months old and we were about to (both) leave on a plane to Hawaii. On our list of things to do is updating those documents to reflect the addition of Georgia (something I don't think my parents did until my younger sister was, oh, about 21-years-old). In a "the truth really is stranger than fiction" kind of way, our original lawyer is not currently practicing due to a murder charge, so we are looking for a new lawyer. Suggestions?

I came across this blog on Twitter and thought it was worth passing along. I haven't explored it all, but seems worthwhile and a good reminder if nothing else.

Get Your Shit Together - written by a woman whose husband died suddenly detailing the documents she wished she had