Monday, December 28, 2009

A cow says Moo

The transition to milk is complete.

It really was not a big deal at all, minus the delivery system. We have not yet accomplished the bottle to sippy cup transition, but are making some (tiny) progress.

I polled my mom friends and it seemed most people did some version of mixing formula and milk to get babe used to the taste. We did the same thing ... within a week we went from all formula to all milk. I actually had enough breast milk in my freezer to make it just past one year, mixing her bottles half-breast milk and half-formula. I was shocked that it lasted so long and thought we would have run out months ago, but I was happy that we were able to use every last drop.

I had been advised to only give milk in a sippy cup, because if you give it in bottles it will be that much harder to transition to the cup. This may be true, and may be contributing to our s-l-o-w progress on that front, but I just wasn't ready to tackle both at the same time. I need fewer variables in my life.

She was still getting bottles 4 times a day, so we did 3/4 formula and 1/4 milk for a few days, then half and half, then 3/4 milk and 1/4 formula, then all milk. There was little to no protest from her and within a week she would have taken all milk. I actually kept adding a little formula to every bottle to just finish out the can, and now we are completely done.

I have made a half-hearted attempt to warm her bottles less and less over time. We always warmed her formula in a mug with hot water. She would take it at most temperatures, but better if it wasn't straight out of the fridge (I prepped all her bottles the night before). We are still warming the milk briefly, and will continue to work on cutting this out.

(When she will drink milk out of the sippy cup, she prefers it straight from the fridge, so that is promising).

Also, Santa brought a toothbrush and toothpaste for Christmas. We hadn't really been brushing because she had only 2 bottom teeth, but she is sprouting lots more and it is time to start that habit. I'm not really sure about the rules on toothpaste - I think you are supposed to wait until after age 2 for the fluoridated stuff? Starting around a year, though, the mouth doesn't "self-clean" as well (according to our pediatrician), and the milk sugars can be bad for those teensie weensie toofers.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Worth noting

Just a few things that I thought were worth mentioning, in case I haven't yet ...

1. Our Girl loves her pacifier. It will be a sad day for all involved when it comes time to get rid of it, which is really any day now. I may have mentioned way back that I had read about a perfect window of time where it is (relatively) easy to get rid of the pacifier, sometime around 6-9 months. I will say, in retrospect, that this was definitely true. She had a very "take it or leave it" attitude about the whole thing. We persisted, and now she is addicted. Oh well.

Another tip from a very wise Mom friend ... at bedtime, Girly gets one pacifier. We tried really hard not to play the "replace the pacifier" game, but until your baby has the searching skills to find a pacifier in bed and put it back in their mouth, you have somewhat of a dilemma. Once she could do it herself, we would load up the crib with tons of pacifiers, and she would proceed to throw on the floor. Then scream. So, now she gets just one at bedtime. Later in the night, I go in her room to check on her and put several more in her bed. That is it until morning, when she throws on the floor, as if to say "come and get me!".

2. We moved up to Overnight diapers a month ago or so. We never really had a problem with soaking through, but when it happened 2 nights in a row, I knew we needed a change. Cold, wet PJs and sheets don't make anyone happy. We are using the Huggies Overnights on a recommendation from a friend, but I know there are other types. She is usually in size 3 diapers, but these are size 4 because that is all they had at Target. I don't know if they make them smaller or not. It has worked like a charm! I have also known babies who wet through the Overnight diapers. If this is the case, I guess the next bigger size diaper might work, or I think you can also buy diaper liners that go inside the diaper for some more absorbency power.

3. Sippy cups. We are struggling with the milk-in-a-sippy-cup transition. I'll report back on my trials and tribulations, but in retrospect I might have done things a little differently. There are so many kinds of sippy cups and I think a lot of kids will have a preference for one or another. I started her on the Tilty cup at 6 months, and now she does very well with it. I picked this cup because it doesn't have a valve, so fewer parts to keep track of and more like drinking from a normal cup. We also use the Take and Toss cups because that is what she uses at school, and they are very similar. (Note: if your daycare uses one particular kind of sippy cup for all the kids, ask about that earlier rather than later. I had no idea until recently. It wasn't a big deal, but might have been nice to know). My point: Girly does great with these cups if the liquid inside is clear or purple. Not white. I know this really isn't because of the cup design, but I wish I would have worked harder with her on a straw, at a minimum, so we would have more options to try at this point. She won't drink from a sippy cup with a valve or one with a soft spout. In the long run, I think this will help her drink from a real cup, but in the short run it is driving me crazy.

The end.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The 1-year mark is quite the milestone, for both baby and parents. And, as if the first 12 months weren't full of enough change, a few more come on the radar screen about this time.

Breast milk or formula to Milk.

Weaning from boob or bottle to Cup.

Paci to No Paci. (Um, thanks, but no thanks. We'll be hanging on to this one a bit longer).

I have a plan for these changes (kind of) and will report back on my success, or lack there of, when we've made the transition.

For now, I'm focusing on the Bunnies to Bears transition.

Our Girly has been in the Bunnies room at school from March until now, and we are working on moving up to the Bears room. I thought it would be breezy since we were already familiar with the daycare process, BUT? Not so much.

This one took me a bit by surprise. I was excited for her to move rooms because she really liked being with the bigger kids and watching them play. I love the teachers in her current room, though, so it was a bit bittersweet. What I didn't anticipate, though, was the lack of control I would feel in the process.

Maybe we have been spoiled by her teachers, but we got a report card everyday with her naps, diapers, and meals. I always felt that I had a good handle on what happened during the day, and even if it wasn't what we would have done at home, I felt involved.

Now, in the interim, she starts her day with the Bunnies and ends her day with the Bears, so there is very little information about what happens during the day. I might pick her up with different clothes on, one full bottle leftover and someone else's sheets and no one can tell me exactly why. I understand that these are tiny issues in the grand scheme of things, but it is an adjustment.

Overall, I am still happy with our daycare and I think these are universal issues, not just at our place. Lord knows, 8 or 10 toddlers will mess a bit with organization. I finally let go of sending her to school with homemade breakfast and lunch because I just couldn't be the mom who sent her kid with lentils when everyone else got fish sticks. And, you know what? It makes our school prep much simpler.

I think this is a healthy transition, both for our Girl and for us. (Really, who am I kidding ... the Huz doesn't care. It's ME.) I don't want to be a "helicopter" parent. I trust the people who take care of her and she is happy when I pick her up. I want to know every little thing about her day, but the reality is that it isn't essential. I can't go back and fix the fact that she only slept 45 minutes, or didn't finish her bottle. We proceed with our evening routine just as we normally would.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Enough with the sentimental stuff. Sniff, Sniff.

Let's talk birthday parties! Specifically, planning a birthday party.

In all of my blog-reading and magazine-reading, I came across some sort of "Mom List" this year. You know the ones ... Top Ten Things I Wish I Knew, or Eighteen Ways To Be A Good Parent, or Thirty-Seven Things To Help You Be Less Crazy. The one thing that stuck with me was this: Don't make birthday parties a huge deal.

This isn't to say that birthdays aren't special, because they are, but do yourself a favor and don't create a lifetime of crazy birthday expectations.

Maybe this is easy for me to say as a person who doesn't care much about my own birthday. My birthday is only 4 days before Christmas, so it always felt like a bundled holiday. Not in a bad way, but just in a reality way. I was usually home for winter break on my birthday, so no school celebrations. I had some really wonderful parties as a child, and did a lot of special things, but I am also just as happy with a family dinner and a cake. (Just to be clear: cake=birthday). It is nice when people tell me Happy Birthday, and it is lovely when people are so generous and buy gifts, but I don't expect them and I don't mandate days of celebration in honor of my birth.

I recall one of my favorite parent-isms: start as you mean to go. If you start with a blow-out birthday bash for a toddler, you are going to end up on My Super Sweet 16 and then you are going to end up in a mental institution. I don't mean to say that birthday splurges are bad, but in my opinion, part of what makes them special is that the don't happen every year.

I think a child's first birthday is a great time to start some sweet, simple, family traditions. We had a special birthday plate as kids, and now my Girly has one. The Huz had a special spoon. (Strange, I know, but it was special). I have friends who decorate the door to their child's bedroom on their birthday, and that seems really fun.

In the blogs I read, I occasionally come across pictures and planning for kiddo birthday parties. A lot of it is sweet and creative and well-intentioned, but some is just Like a Frida Kahlo birthday party for an 8-year-old? I guess I'm not a California hipster, but seriously, you must be freaking kidding.

If you are a designer or crafty person by trade, by all means make some darling invitations and decorations for your child's party. But, please realize that you are doing those things for yourself. Your child does not feel more loved because of their party decorations. (If they do, well ... that is a different issue). I feel I can say this as someone who occasionally (ok, frequently) spends too much time and effort on tiny details that don't really matter. It was easier before I had a kid, and now I just have to let a lot of that go because there just aren't enough minutes in the day. I still worked on a few little details for our party because I wanted to, fully knowing that I was the only one who would really appreciate them. If you enjoy it, then great. If it causes stress and marital strife, forget it!

We had a nice little party with grandparents, aunts and uncles. I am ALL FOR the family party (or surrogate family if your family is out of town) for as long as you can get away with it. I also like the "number of years = number of friends" rule, again, as long as you can get away with it.

As for thank you notes, I try to be timely with the thanks yous. Our Girly clearly has no idea that a 'thank you' is in order, but I would like to get in the habit because someday she will understand. I have seen the idea to take a picture of your child with the toy and include it with the note. Or take a picture of your child standing by a chalkboard or wipe-off board with a note and the toy. Cute.

I attempted this very thing with our Girly. Attempted is the operative word. I chased her around most of the morning following her party trying to get pictures with her new loot. We eventually got passable pictures, but it wasn't easy.

Does this fall under the "making birthday parties a huge deal" category?

Probably. Damn.

This is a fun way to decorate. Upload any picture to The Rasterbator and you can print it out in any size you want, for free. It prints in little dots and you piece the papers together like a big puzzle. Use smaller dots for a more realistic picture and larger dots for more abstract.

This is a good birthday cake, and slightly healthier than the average.

I got a custom birthday shirt on Etsy. Couldn't resist. And, we were gifted a birthday hat. It is so cute and I think I'll take her picture in it every year. (As long as she lets me, I guess).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My darling Girl

To my darling Girl,

To say that I am proud of what you have accomplished in your first year of life would be an understatement. To say that I am proud of your father and I for our accomplishments would also be an understatement. We certainly hoped that we would meet the challenges of parenting and tackle them head-on. While you presented few true challenges, we have collectively learned a lot.

It is a fleeting memory: the rolling belly, the jabs, the kicks. I remember the first few foggy weeks of your life - I would steal naps here and there and wake up thinking that I felt you moving inside me once more. I missed it then and I miss it now. What is better, though, is the way you climb all over us in the morning as if you are reaching the summit of Everest, the way you tug on the back of my pants while I am standing at the sink, and the way you tug at my heart with every giggle, sly smile, and crocodile tear.

I remember how extremely cautious I was with you in those early days - up and down the stairs so many times, so fearful of missing a step. Today, I followed you up those stairs, equally cautious, as you climbed them on your own.

I remember worrying about what I ate during my pregnancy with you, and then what I ate while nursing you, and now you delight in feeding yourself every meal and drinking from a cup all on your own.

I slept well, and then not well, during my pregnancy. While you were a wonderfully sleepy baby, we still woke up and ate, and played, and slept again so many, many, many times. Now, you nuzzle your lovey and curl up in the corner of your crib with your bootie in the air as if there has never been another way. Just before I go to sleep every night, I sneak in to your room and watch you sleeping and breathing so peacefully.

I read so many books during my pregnancy, hoping to figure out the "right" way to do this. Your Dad read books to you before you were born. Now, you spend part of every day pulling all of your books out and flipping through the pages. As a family, at the end of each day, we read books before you go to bed. I hope you always love it as much as you do now.

Your sounds .... the initial faint beating of your heart, the un-reassuring monitors, the wailing newborn in the operating room, the coos and squeaks, the giggle, the dada's and the mama's ... I hope those things are engraved in my mind forever.

The reality of my life is completely different now - in the best possible way. I start each day and end each day with you. Your grin, your crazy hair, your tears - I've loved (most) every minute. The joy on your face when we meet after being apart warms my heart, and I hope you feel the same from me.

We are starting to see the person you are becoming, and not just the baby you are. I think your Dad would agree that this year has passed faster than any other, but we would not trade a single second. You are the perfect addition to our family and we can't imagine anyone else fitting as well.

I hope you always appreciate the wonder and joy in simple things, just as you do now.

I love you.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mission (not) accomplished

Earlier in the month, I posted about starting a new nap regime to match the program at school.

I would like to issue a retraction.

Our Girl is NOT ready for 1 nap, nor are her parents.

I pretty blindly jumped in to the one-nap routine - thought it would take a few days / weeks to get her used to the new plan. She; however, did not agree. Our first weekend was actually quite promising - by the 3rd day on the new schedule, she took one good long nap - equal to or longer than her previous 2 naps combined. We've been on a downhill slope since then, though.

Many days at school she would sleep only 30 or 45 minutes for the whole day. You can imagine how nice our evenings were. When she was home with me, it was almost impossible to keep her entertained from 6 am to noon by myself, and errands were out of the question because she would briefly fall asleep in the car and then refuse to nap in her crib.

I was pretty exasperated after two weeks of this, and expressed my concern to my super-mom friends. They asked why I didn't have her on different school and home schedules?


Well, because it never occurred to me!

I have read so much about schedules and how children thrive on consistency. I believe it whole-heartedly. I thought I was doing the best thing for her by keeping her on the same schedule all the time.

You know what is better for her? SLEEP. (And a happy mom).

In further discussions, I've found that many of my friends, whose kids are in all kinds of different daycare situations, have different school and home schedules. And beyond that, many kiddos kept 2 naps well past their first birthday.

So, back to the drawing board. We switched back to our 2 nap schedule on Friday and we were all happier. She took 2 good naps, went to bed on time and slept LATE all weekend. Guess we've (you've) solved the early waking problem, too!

Just confirms that sleep is a fickle bitch. When you think you've got it right, think again. Also, goes to show you that your friends often have a lot better perspective on a situation looking in from the outside - listen to them!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I have a Master's degree

I don't write this to say that I am smart.

Rather, to note that I have attended a number of years of school, feel that I have decent skills of logic and reasoning, and should really be able to evaluate a situation thoughtfully and come up with solutions.

My daughter must have a PhD then, because I am beyond bamboozled in trying to elucidate the nuances of her morning wake time.

As I have lamented before, she is an early riser. As in the 5's. We had finally worked through our night waking issue and she was pretty consistently sleeping into the early 6's, which I thought was as much as we could hope for until she was a surly teenager.


She stayed at Grammy's while we were in Hawaii. I was fearful that she would wake up early for the grandparents, but NOOOOO, she slept late! Several days in a row! And would then go down and take a 2 hour nap! What the what? Who is this clone baby and where is my real baby?

I was pleased, of course, that she was a good girl. I also felt that if she did it there, she could do it at home. Ha. Not long after we got home I began to tinker with her nap schedule (more on that debacle later) and she did extend her wake time until 6:30ish on most days, probably out of sheer exhaustion.

Then, we went to Texas to visit friends. She slept in a pack n' play, in a strange place, and slept late both mornings. Like past 7:15am. I had to check and make sure she wasn't dead. And, of course when we returned home, right back to the 5's. Grrrrr.

The variables, as I see them:
Grammy's room has a crib, is carpeted and very dark. I think it is probably a similar temperature to our home room, and I don't think she runs a humidifier like we do at home.

Friend's room was a pack n' play in an office, not especially dark, carpeted and no humidifier.

Our room has a crib, wood blinds that are closed, hardwood floors and a humidifier set on high.

(Doesn't this sound like some algebra problem? If Tom is older than Annie, and Betty is younger than Steve, what are their ages? GAH!!)

So, short of carpeting our second floor and installing black-out shades, I am at a loss. I can't for the life of me figure out why the humidifier would wake her up since it has been on every day of her life, but I did turn it down last night and she woke at 5:15am.

I do understand that babies aren't like algebra and there isn't always (or never is) an x+y = z solution.


The 7:15am wake time is now like some tantalizing fruit hanging low on a branch that I just can't reach. Who can help me?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Have Baby, Will Travel: Take 2

I have a good little girl.

She was very cooperative on our solo flight to Texas to visit friends and she may have just earned herself a few extra gifts from Santa.

I scheduled a short weekend trip to visit college girlfriends and to celebrate a new little Girly. I initially was going to leave our Girly at home, but my girlfriends brainwashed me to think it would be a good idea to bring her. In truth, I did think it would be easier to travel with her now versus in July because we could use the pop-up stroller and would have a car seat waiting on the other end.

I tried to pack very strategically - one carry on, one checked bag, the Maclaren umbrella stroller and ourselves. I remember a friend saying a while back that you wanted to bring the minimum necessary in your carry on so you had full use of your hands. My normal "diaper bag" is a small, open top canvas bag from Lands End, which wouldn't work for this trip. I brought a real diaper bag, with all the pockets, and it worked well. Something that you can carry like a messenger bag, or even a backpack, would be great.

In the carry on: diapers, wipes, spare outfit, snacks, 2 bottles with formula powder (one more than I anticipated needing), 2 small bottles of water, ziploc bags, one toy and one book, food, small disposable plate and plastic knife, itinerary, copy of baby's birth certificate, my wallet and phone.

We were super fortunate to have a spare seat next to us on the way down, but still did OK on the way home with a full flight. Our flights happened to line up pretty well with nap time and she slept almost the whole way each time. We sat on the aisle in case of an emergency diaper change and it gave me a little more elbow room to maneuver.

Security was the only challenging part, and it really wasn't too bad. It does amaze me how little most people offer to help a mom with full hands. The last thing I wanted to do is sit her on the floor, so I juggled pretty well. (Don't we get so good at that?) Dress strategically - slip off shoes for mom and baby, or even better, pack baby's shoes in your carry on. No sweater or jacket unless easy to remove. Declare all liquids so they can inspect them separately. We gate-checked our stroller and had no issues. Remove all cup holders or doo dads from your stroller first - the other couple waiting lost some of their things in the luggage bay abyss under the plane.

I would definitely attempt this again, although clearly it will all be different next time!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What's for dinner? Food.

As I mentioned, Girly decided to go on a spoon/fork strike right after we left for Hawaii. I called my Mom to check in and she said that Girly didn't like any of the food I made for her.

Umm, thanks.

More like she didn't like them served on a spoon. I had an inkling this was coming - we were having a lot of food spitting and batting at the spoon.

So, now I've gone to almost exclusively finger foods and I use a spoon only very occasionally to feed her. I should have her start to practice feeding herself with a spoon, but I'm not quite ready for that level of mess.

Breakfast has been the bigger challenge for me - I used to feed her plain yogurt and a fruit puree every morning. It was fast, easy, and she gobbled it up. I had a recipe for some pretty healthy oatmeal pancakes, so now she gets one of those in the morning, all chopped up. I made a double batch, froze them and can zap one at a time in the microwave - super easy.

Oatmeal Pancakes - 1 recipe, makes 10-12 small pancakes
1 1/2 cups whole oats
1 cup whole milk cottage cheese (small curd)
2 eggs, lightly beaten, or 1 cup Egg Beaters
splash of milk
1-2 Tbs sugar (less for baby)
1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
2 tsp baking powder

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add in wet ingredients and stir together. Puree with a stick blender / immersion blender / blender. It will be very thick and unappetizing looking - can thin a little bit with milk, but it doesn't have to be too thin. I cook them on an electric griddle at about 250 degrees. Use lower heat because they are thick and take longer to cook than your average pancake. Use about 1/4 cup per pancake. Also good with sliced bananas/apples/pears added after the first flip. Cool on a cooling rack, then stack between wax paper in a tupperware container to freeze. This is a version of a Weight Watchers recipe - can make them very low fat for yourself with fat free cottage cheese, egg beaters and Splenda for Baking. Good and filling!
(Note - I'm not really sure about the rule with baked goods and eggs. I know egg whites should be put off until after 12 months, but our Girl has had them before in other foods and was fine. If you are concerned, ask your doctor, of course!)

I don't know if it is good or bad timing to start the finger food phase at the start of Fall/Winter. On the one hand, there are very few fresh/seasonal fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, it is probably easier to pull stuff out of cans and the freezer. And, the seasonal stuff now, like pears, have to be really ripe before she can eat it - takes quite a bit of pre-planning.

I've got cans of peaches, pears, tropical fruit and fruit cocktail in my pantry - all packed in juice. It is surprisingly hard to find fruit packed in juice and not syrup. I just chop up a can or two at a time and leave in the fridge. I also have frozen mangoes in the freezer, which thaw quickly in the microwave and have a good texture. Bananas, of course, always work. Did you know that you can put bananas in the fridge when they get to the perfect eating texture and they will stay that way? The skins get super brown, but the fruit stays good.

As for veggies, frozen peas work great - just thaw a few at a time in the micro. I think only certain veggies taste good frozen - if I'll eat them, I'll make them for her. I have also been chopping up squash and sweet potatoes in a small dice, roasting it, flash freezing it and storing in the freezer. It is a bit tedious, but if you take an hour or so to make a bunch, it lasts forever. Butternut squash seems to be the easiest to chop. I just pull out frozen veggies, cover in water in a ramekin and zap for a minute.

Girly really likes beans - canned black beans, white beans, garbanzo beans, refried beans. I just rinse the beans and store them in a plastic container in the fridge. She eats them cold, cut up if big/firm, and it's easy protein. She also really likes a quesadilla with a whole wheat tortilla, refried beans and shredded cheese. She'll eat half of a small tortilla, all cut up, and I can save the other half for the next day.

As for other dairy, I've stayed away from yogurt and cottage cheese because it is so messy for now with the spitting. Fresh mozzarella is a good option, but goes bad quickly. She also likes string cheese chopped up, or shredded cheese. Whole milk ricotta is good mixed with pasta.

Mixed up pasta with some combination of veggies / cheese / meat / sauce is also good and freezes great.

As for gear, we're starting to use plates - for learning and because the lip of the plate is good leverage for picking up foods. And, good for throwing! The one drawback of the Fast Chair is that it is hard to use a place mat. We are fully past the cute little baby bibs and on to bibs that catch things. So far, I really like the Bumkins and the DexBaby brands. I plan to use one of those easy 3M hooks to hang the bibs up to dry on the side of the cabinet by my sink. If you have a nice kitchen, you may not like the look. Me? With all the bottle paraphernalia and pacifiers, I don't think anyone will notice! The bibs have really helped with the splatter on the floor, but I know you can get cute splat mats. I've also read a tip to use one of those plastic pads that go under office chairs from Office Max, or just plastic sheeting that you can buy by the yard at JoAnn.

More than anything, I strive to get my act together to plan meals that we can eat and that will also provide leftovers for Girly. Alas, the biggest challenge of them all ....

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bracing myself

A new nap regime starts today.

Not really by my choosing - more that she needs to be on a different schedule when she moves up to the Bears room at school. They worked with her the last two days, so I feel obligated to follow through.

In contrast to my prior obsessive planning, I am flying by the seat of my pants on this one. A bit of denial, I think.

And a bit of perspective on the whole thing, I think, as we round the corner on a year of this parenting business. I will read, and tinker with our schedule, and perseverate some, but I now realize it just happens. It's part of the process. It's OK.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

We don't live in Arizona

Daylight savings time is upon us.

I heard that this could be a challenge for quite a few of the wee ones. In the spring, our Girl was too little to give a hoot about the whole thing. This time, I thought we might have an issue. I actually considered it about a month ago, and thought I could gradually ease her into the new time. Then, I promptly moved on to other more important things and forgot all about it.

Saturday evening rolled around and I crossed my fingers, hoping for the best. She went down at about her normal time, maybe 15-30 minutes later. She woke up at 5:02am, so really the new shiny time of 4:02am. I gave her a bottle of 3 ounces and put her back in bed. She slept about 2 more hours, so about an hour past her normal. She napped fine that first day at her "normal" times, despite being an hour off.

I had grand plans of using the time change to coerce her into a later bedtime, but that really didn't work. We tried keeping her up about 30 minutes later, and she tolerated it decently, but still got up at the same time in the morning, so was really just missing out on sleep. Punt.

And, two nights later, all is on track. She even slept until 7:15 this morning for no apparent reason.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


We had a great trip to Hawaii.

Really, though, how could we not?

Sun, sand, no diapers and SOUND sleeping. Sign me up!

We missed our Girl terribly. Thank goodness for blogs - I would watch videos of her new tricks. It was really very strange to be without her. Then we got home and I remembered ... oh yeah ... I'm responsible for all of this!

I packed up almost everything we own to take to one grandmother's house and then the other - they were so, so nice to split the childcare duties. I tried to plan for every contingency. (Ha). I typed up A LOT of notes and my mom and mother-in-law were even nice enough to humor me and save any eye-rolling until I left!

I packed up tons of frozen baby food and then Girly promptly decided that she wouldn't eat anything off a spoon or fork. So much for that.

I highly recommend getting away for a trip with your significant other. You'll find yourself in a rut where you only talk about baby stuff and daily life stuff ... it's nice to just remember what it was like to be un-scheduled, do whatever you want and enjoy being together! As I heard once before, having children does not make your life better. It does make your life richer in so many ways, but not easier, or cheaper or less stressful. Take a little break and go back to those days!

Here is what I don't recommend: buying a swimsuit when you are still breastfeeding, planning to wean, and then have totally weaned when that swimsuit needs to be used. I stared forever at the J.Crew sale swimsuits trying to figure out which bikini would work. And then I realized ... bikini? What the hell for? I don't care AT ALL if my stomach is tan. So ... I own the first one piece I've had since summer camp. J.Crew has some really cute ones and they hide a NUMBER of sins.

We also finally got our will, trust, advanced directives, and medical power of attorney for our parents taken care of the day before we left town. It's quite a feeling getting on a plane for 8 hours thinking ....1) thank goodness everything is taken care of in case we die in a crash, and 2) did we jinx this in some way?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This is it - I swear

Are you tired of the breastfeeding and weaning talk? ME TOO.

Just to wrap it all up, I thought I would note those things that I really couldn't have lived without for the last 10 months.

- Medela Freestyle pump, as I've gushed over before
- Extra pump parts and breast shields - makes life so much easier
- Lansinoh milk storage bags. As I've mentioned before, these are less expensive than the Medela bags. Also, now that I am using up my frozen milk, these are for sure the easiest to thaw and transfer to bottles.
- Lilypadz! A little pricey, but SO worth it in my opinion. I've been through 5 sets! I found out pretty quickly that it was annoying to wash and dry one set every day. Two sets work much better - wash and dry one set while you are wearing the other. I just kept a bottle of dish soap by my bathroom sink and scrubbed them up before I showered.
- Gilligan & O'Malley nursing tanks from Target. I liked these the best and they are much less expensive than a lot of others. I have about 8 and I wore them almost every day for months and months and months.

Also ... a few things I've learned or would do differently.
- Weaning was sad in some ways, but the freedom is great. I scheduled a full day of fun shortly after I weaned the Girl and it was the first time I could be away from her all day without pumping. Heaven! Do something special for yourself - you deserve it, whether you breastfed for days, weeks or months.

- Our Girl will eat virtually anything and didn't bat an eye at formula, despite the fact that she hadn't had any from the time we got home from the hospital until about 10 months. I worried about it and wished I would have introduced it earlier. She didn't care, but another babe might.

- Next time, I won't be so crazy about the pumping schedule. I CLEARLY had a good enough milk supply to make it through. It is nice to use up the frozen milk to cut down the formula bill, but was it really worth all that time pumping? Not sure ... and, now I feel obligated to use up all that frozen milk, so it really isn't as simple as scooping powder into a bottle. I'm digging through frozen bricks of breast milk, thawing it the night before, mixing it with formula, on and on. The things we do for our kids ...

- My extended weaning schedule worked really well. I had little to no discomfort with dropping feedings. I thought the first feeding would be easiest to drop and the last ones harder, when it was actually the reverse. I had a lot of fullness and leaking the day or two after I dropped the late afternoon feeding, then never again. My milk supply dropped very quickly and I even moved up our schedule without any issues.

- And, my public service announcement. In my line of work I meet a lot of women who have a family history of breast cancer. If they are of childbearing age, I always tell them to be mindful of any breast lumps or changes while breastfeeding - don't chalk it up to breastfeeding when it might be something else. If a lump or change persists for several weeks, be sure to see your doctor - better safe than sorry. I have noticed several hard lumps since I've weaned the Girl - very likely blocked ducts. I worried a bit and asked my lactation consultant, and have been working them out in the shower under hot water, which is helping. The point is - pay attention to the girls, not just the Girl.

Most importantly - ask questions of anyone you can find! Lactation consultants for the technical stuff, but friends, too. I always marvel that my friends are basically raising my kid, in the sense that I would know NOTHING without them. Use the people who have gone before you - they are the BEST resource!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


And .... we're done.

This morning was officially (I think) the last time I'll nurse my first baby. I hope there will be others (another) but you never quite know. The experience has been very meaningful, very educational, very frustrating, and very special.

I had planned on yesterday being the last time, but decided on just one more day. Honestly, I think I could continue with "just one more day" for a long time, but all things come to an end. A stuffy nose on her part and a Hawaiian vacation on my part lead me to believe it is the right time. A weekend morning so I could savor our restful time, in bed, in the wee hours of the morning - not the rushed impatience of a work day.

Our Girl is growing up, in some sad ways and in mostly wonderful ways. I delight in her independence and her personality and her assertion of both. There are many things her family provides for her, but there is one thing that only I could provide for her and I'm grateful for the opportunity.

Like a hand and a glove, a sweet baby foot and the crook of a mother's arm often fit so well together ...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Loving These

These are a couple of blogs I've stumbled across recently. They aren't explicitly related to parenting. But, if you consider them in the vein of "making mommy happy", then I think they are.

Ain't No Mom Jeans

Little Green Notebook


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Our Girl is really eating up a storm these days! Despite a little hesitation on her part initially, she now whole-heartedly devours her meals. It brings us both great joy.

She has been eating 3 meals a day since about 7 months of age - now about half a cup of food per meal. I still have trouble finding guidelines about how much she "should" be getting, but she seems satisfied.

We are on to almost all finger foods, although she still gets fruit purees mixed in with her morning yogurt. Mainly because it is much easier for me to thaw 2 cubes of fruit and mix it with yogurt than to chop up a bunch of stuff for her to eat. I'm trying to store up some frozen plums and peaches/nectarines for the Winter months, since apples and pears and bananas get kind of boring.

I really waited to introduce meats until after 9 months, mainly because I thought it would be annoying to prepare and I thought she might not like it. I was wrong on both points.

My first meat attempt was to broil a chicken thigh and shred it very small for her. While it was very simple to cook, the shredding was irritating. I have a major fear of her choking and stringy meat was just too much.

So ... on to other recipes. I found some great ones at Nurture Baby that she really likes. I had a whirlwind weekend of cooking and made the Baby Bolognese, the Gobble Me Up Turkey, Lovely Lentils, Pork Chops and Applesauce and Vegetable Lasagna. She loves it all! And, it truly all tastes good - I would eat any of it.

Since she eats larger portions now, I froze everything in muffin tins. She can eat a whole portion of pasta for a meal, or I'll split the meat between two meals. My mother-in-law gave me a VeggiChop and it works GREAT for meat. I had used it some for fruits when she would eat them a little chunkier, but it shreds meat perfectly in small bites. A blender or cuisinart would puree the food too finely, I think, and she isn't quite ready for very small cubes.

On a related note, I am becoming much more aware of food issues as they relate to children. I love food, I love cooking and it is becoming increasingly important to me to pay attention to what I am eating and where it is coming from. I try to buy local or organic when possible, especially for Girly, and I really try to buy seasonal food (so, sniff sniff, then end of tomatoes and corn and all manners of tasty fruit is right around the corner).

The idea of "school food programs" is especially worrisome to me and something I am learning more about. They aren't all bad, but GOOD is also not a word I would use.

Here are some resources and websites that I find helpful / interesting:
Eat Well Guide: search for local farmers markets and sustainable food resources
Raising Foodies: this is a fun blog from a Dallas-based mom who is trying to get her girls to eat foods that don't come from boxes
School Lunch Talk: good updates on the status of school lunch and related legislation around the country
The Lunch Box: resources for healthy lunches - aiming to create a "tool box" for schools
Slow Food in Schools
Better School Food

Also, if you are at ALL interested in food and/or the environment, you should read The Omnivore's Dilemma. I am way late to the game on this one, but I had been reading about the book forever and finally picked it up. Truly eye-opening. I am by no means perfect when it comes to eating and the food we bring into our home. I have a serious weakness for fast food and french fries. BUT, I am paying attention and that is a good start.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Check it out

The nicest friend volunteered to lend us her daughter's old crib so our Girl would have a place to sleep at Grandmother's house while we are in Hawaii.

(Yes, Hawaii! I know I already gloated, but I'm doing it again. HAWAII!)

There weren't any instructions to put it together, and because I am anal and OCD, I needed some type of picture to show me where the 6 bolts went.

I googled the make and model to find an instruction book, and low and behold, the crib had been recalled this year.

It never would have occurred to me to check for that.

While it probably would have been fine, you just never know. And now, through a pretty simple process, I can get a brand new crib for FREE!

Something ridiculous like only 15-30% of recalled items are ever actually returned/fixed. The system to notify parents is not at all straightforward or comprehensive. YOU are the one who must be vigilant and pay attention.

Especially for the bigger baby gear that gets shared among friends, just do a quick search when the item rotates to your house. You will be protecting your baby and the ones down the line ...

US Consumer Product Safety Commission

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The world according to me

My current philosophy of parenting is as follows ....

Equal parts:
1. You are growing up too fast! What happened to my baby?
2. I love this age more than the one before! I am so proud of you!
3. This? What is this? I'll tell you what ... THIS is a pain in my ass.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Perfect Storm

Weaning + Development + ?Growth Spurt + Poor Naps = WHOA.

I'm finding 9 months to be a challenge. I think it is really the first glimpse into the rest of our lives - "constant vigilance" appears to be the theme. Those babies are full of trickery - just when you get past the sleep deprived stumbling and reach a place of relative calm, everything changes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm obviously thrilled that she is exploring and moving as expected, but it does take some getting used to. We finally rearranged all the furniture to make things more Girly-friendly. I'm happier not to have a running dialogue of "No. No. Don't touch that. On your bottom please. No Ma'am. You'll hit your head. That's not for you. Please don't touch that. No."

The weaning is going well. Really, better than expected. I'm also feeling fewer pangs of sadness that breastfeeding is coming to an end, and more excitement that the baby acrobatics, nose-grabbing and hitting me in the face while nursing is coming to an end. She is showing me that she is ready. I am, too.

I set up this prolonged weaning schedule, which has been fine, but may need to be expedited. On the days that I've dropped a feeding, I've usually had to pump once just a little bit for relief, and then the next day has been OK without pumping, and by the third day everything seems normal. One factor that I hadn't considered is that my milk supply also seems to be lower for the remaining feedings. So, this coupled with the baby distraction and acrobatics, makes me really question whether Girly is eating enough.

Exhibit A: Our Gal is waking up early. Early. I think it really started before I was full-on weaning, but she is routinely up in the 4's or 5's, which is just not tolerable. It's not everyday, but more days than not. And, she is screaming and mad, not her happy normal self. This usually indicates hunger, and when I've fed her, she will often go back to sleep, but not always. So, I don't know if this is a growth spurt, or that she isn't getting enough milk, or a sinister combination of both. I do know that I want it to be fixed.

Exhibit B: Naps are sucky these days. My former excellent napper has been ruined by daycare, I think. While she has always napped poorly at school (at least 1-2 hours less than at home), it never affected her home napping schedule. Now, it has. She is too young to go to 1 nap, but some days only takes two 30 minute naps. Not enough for me or her. I really feel that her explosion of developmental milestones is playing a role here: when she used to wake early, she might lay there and talk to herself and fall back asleep. Now, it becomes sitting up and crawling around and general "get me out of here-ness". I'll ride out the storm and hope it passes soon.

I hadn't mentioned the biting before, but should. Yes, biting. She bit me while nursing about a month ago for the first time. YEOWCH! After I hollered out in pain, I gave her a firm "NO!" and smacked her arm. I sat her up and she cried big, fat crocodile tears. Then smiled and giggled. Stink-er! It has happened fewer than 5 times, none of which were pleasant. I watch her mouth really closely and can see when she is about to bite me and I pull her off. I think it is boredom on her part.

Again, not something I'll miss.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Praise, Lying and other stuff

One of the benefits of traveling for my job (2 1/2 hours in the car, 2 days per week) is that I am now a fully certified, card-carrying, lover of NPR.

There is really only so much "morning DJ" one can listen to.

Now, I feel a lot more informed about a lot more things. I used to have time to read both Time and Newsweek every week, and now? Not so much.

So ... the latest ... I heard this interesting interview last week:
Parenting Tips: Praise Can Be Bad; Lying is Normal

The author, Po Bronson, wrote NurtureShock, the title of which refers (in a nutshell) to the shock a new parent receives when they realize that knowing how to raise a child isn't totally innate.

I rushed out to get a copy of the book and finished it this weekend. (As framework: I love to read and I have completed about 2 non-baby books since the Girl was born. Sad, but true).

I really recommend this book. The science geek in me found the research fascinating, but it is written very well - very readable and not too science-y. I am the first to acknowledge that authors can bend research studies to fit their point of view, but I thought the general themes of this book made a lot of practical sense. More that that, while it is based in science, there are definitely usable points scattered throughout.

I read tons of baby books before and immediately after Girly began living in our guest room. They focused on sleeping and eating and schedules primarily. Now that I feel we are more comfortable with this parenting thing (mind you, comfortable, not experts - far from it), the books are gathering dust.

I found that NurtureShock addressed some of the new fears of parenthood that are lurking on the horizon - discipline, language development, schooling, and raising a generally well-adjusted, happy and non-sociopathic member of society.

Give it a whirl.

I even got out my highlighter and everything.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Project Waikiki

Waikiki = Weaning

We are lucky enough to have a HAWAIIAN VACATION planned for October! A professional meeting, combined with free flights and hotel leftover from Huz's traveling days, was just too good to pass up.

And, the Girl is not coming. (Thank you, grandparents!)

This is sad and exciting and sad and exciting, all at the same time. In many ways, I'm glad the timing was already established, because I don't know that we would have gone on a trip so soon. I do think it is healthy for new parents to get away for a vacation at some point, but it is always easier said than done. I'm sure I'll miss her like crazy, and the OCD that will rear it's head whilst planning for her care for 8 days will be a wonder to see.

When the trip was planned, I wasn't sure if I would still be breastfeeding or not. I am, though, and the thought of pumping on my vacation just seemed ridiculous. Plus, the timing is really about perfect - she'll be 10+ months old when we leave. I'm not sure she would have been interested in nursing after 8 days of all bottles, and it seemed like a logical break.

Sniff, sniff.

It does make me sad to think about. I haven't enjoyed every aspect of breastfeeding, but I do like the cuddle time and, more than that, it is now so fast and easy. Five minutes each side and she is done - no warming of bottles or anything else. She is quite the distractible child, though, and now with her mobility I can only imagine that she'll be a progressively squirmy eater.

So ... the process begins.

If you have learned anything about me, it is that I am a Planner. With a capital P. I also have the luxury of doing this on my own time, so I have chosen a lengthy weaning schedule. There is no rush or deadline, other than mid-October hula time!

Girly has been at 4 feedings a day for quite a while now, but I added an "artificial feeding" first thing in the morning, so my body really thought it was more like 5 feedings. I would nurse her first thing in the morning on one side, then pump both sides. I truly feel that this helped keep up my milk supply while working, but it also added complications in the mornings when I needed to get out of the house to work (took too long to feed AND pump). This also significantly added to the milk stash in the freezer.

So, starting this month, I began weaning myself off that first morning pumping. I have always pumped for 15 minutes, so over about 2-3 weeks time I just slowly cut that back to 12 minutes, then 10, 7 and 5 until I just quit all together. Tuesday of this week was the day I stopped. I had Girly nurse on both sides at 6am (which she hasn't done since she was about 8 -10 weeks old) and that was it. I was more "full" than normal for about 2 days, and now I pump more at the 10am feeding time if I am at work, but I think things adjusted themselves well.

Also, starting this month, I cut back all of my pumping times from 15 minutes to 12 and to 10. I haven't noticed that it makes much of a difference, maybe an ounce or so less, but it is faster (yeah!) and I thought it would be helpful for the eventual dropping of feedings.

With my work schedule, I plan to drop feedings on Fridays, every 1-2 weeks, which will give my body about 3 days to adjust until I am back at work again. I'll drop her 2:00pm feeding next Friday, which will be the easiest because my supply is lowest at that point. Then, a week later, I plan to drop the 10:00am feeding, which will be a little harder. This will make for only a 6:00am and a 6:00pm feeding. It also means the end of pumping at work - can you say HALLELUJAH?!?

I plan to wait 2 weeks before dropping the 6:00pm bedtime feeding, but in the meantime, will slowly start to introduce formula. I plan to use every bit of frozen breastmilk (800 oz. and counting!), but will start to introduce 1 bottle a day of half formula and half breastmilk and work up from there.

When I drop the 6:00pm feeding, I'll add 2 bottles a day of half formula, half breastmilk. So, she'll nurse first thing, and have 3 bottles for the rest of her feedings. Some people I know have dropped the bedtime feeding last, but Girly is used to getting a bottle at that time of day, and she is often so tired that she doesn't nurse well anyway. Her morning feeding is the best and it is nice to cuddle in bed - I'll definitely miss it.

About 10 days later, I plan to drop the first morning feeding and be finished. This will be about 2 weeks before we leave for vacation. By the end of that week, all of her bottles will be half breastmilk and half formula. It would certainly be easier to use all formula, but I worked hard for that breastmilk, so we are using it! Plus, it is free!

If I have calculated correctly, I have enough breastmilk to get us through this transition over 2 months, and then I will just use up whatever is left, adding more formula as needed. Just in time for the transition to real milk, dontcha know ...

So, I've penciled in Saturday October 3rd as the last time I'll nurse her. Teary, even now. I think I will really enjoy the freedom, though, and I will feel proud of what I accomplished in 10 months.

And, shortly after, I will be tan and drinking girly drinks by the pool. And I'll be glad Mr. Medela is nowhere in sight.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Making my life easier

Our girl has skills. (Or is it skillz? I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be using words that end in Z).

She has achieved quite a few new things in just the last 2 weeks or so ... some of which I am loving, and some of which I am tolerating until they pass.

Under the "why didn't I think of this sooner?" category ... Girly will now lay on the floor, propped in her Boppy, and feed herself her entire bottle. I had seen a triplet mother I know (can you even imagine?!) do this with her trio, but it never occurred to me to do it with my singleton. I just attempted it one morning out of desperation - Dad out of town, Mom has to be somewhere, Baby won't nurse and now Mom has to pump. I sat by her on the floor pumping while she was thrilled to be feeding herself. I sat her up to burp half-way through, then she finished. I am telling you - this is GREAT.

She is also on the move. Not full-on crawling yet, but definitely scooting backwards, rolling all directions, up and down to sit, and more than anything else, totally motivated to get to things. Like hangers and remotes and plastic bags. Literally, on a Monday morning we sat her in the middle of our bed with toys while we got ready for work, as we had for months, and by Friday this was no longer a safe option. So, now we have the Pack n'Play in our room (Dad calls it "her house") so she can play with toys. While confined. Plus, it is so cute when she scratches her fingers on the mesh siding and presses her face into it to see us better. Maybe not so much "house" and more like "jail". Whatever.

While all the moving has taken some getting used to (I know, I know - it only gets more challenging), it has also affected her sleeping in good and bad ways. On the bad side, she practices moving in her crib. So, she'll be quiet for a while, then scream out because she is stuck on all fours, or crammed into the bars at the bottom of her bed. She settles quickly once we move her and I know that soon she will be fine on her own. I am certainly willing to tolerate this because of one SUPER unexpected side effect of all the moving. Our former "I'll-start-crying-at-5:15am-until-they-get-me" daughter has slept late for the last FIVE mornings. Before you get too excited, by late I mean somewhere between 6:15-6:50am, but this is still a major accomplishment. I can only conclude that she much prefers sleeping on her side or belly. The lovey also helps, which she now truly cuddles in the most adorable way. I can also conclude that I am happy.

Finally, a new entry into the "clearly I am a Mom now" category: scraping off cradle cap with oil and a comb. Eeewww. Our Gal has had cradle cap pretty much since birth. She was born with a mop of hair, though, so it was kind of hard to see and even harder to get at to remove. When she was brand new, she had it in her eyebrows and it looked sad, but as she got older, it just didn't seem to matter. While I still don't think it matters or bothers her, fast forward to 8 months when you pick up your daughter at daycare and they have been playing beauty parlor and her hair is up in a pony. AND she has yellow waxy scales all over her head and looks like a creature from some alien movie.

I had read that baby oil or olive oil would do the trick, but it just seemed to be a Challenge with a FULL head of hair. I bit the bullet today, though, because it was driving me crazy. I loaded the Girl in her highchair with graham crackers, poured grapeseed oil (so she doesn't smell like a salad) on her head and scratched away with a comb until she wouldn't tolerate it anymore. Then, I took the greaser straight to the tub and, while The Fonz look was cute, I am happy to report that her scalp is MUCH improved.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Current Approach

I am really having a good time planning the Girl's menu these days. Making our own baby food has been pretty simple with a little planning and I think the cost is about the same (or less) as if I was buying the organic stuff in jars.

The gear:
- Baby Cubes
- ice cube trays
- Magic Bullet
- immersion blender
I've mentioned all these before, but they really are essentials at our house.

The "recipes":
- Baby and Toddler cookbook
- Cooking for Baby
- Babyfood 101
- Nurture Baby
You don't really need "recipes", but more for inspiration. Also, we were lucky enough to get a few cookbooks as gifts. You don't need to buy them, though - there is tons of stuff on the internets.

The process:
If I spend a few hours on a weekend, I can easily make enough food cubes to last the Girl for 2-4 weeks (depends if it is a FAVORITE food or merely a TOLERATED food).

I do buy organic produce when it is "recommended". Usually this is at a farmer's market (makes me feel better about spending the money) or at Whole Foods. Our farmer's markets in the Midwest rarely have a lot of fruit, but do have tons of veggies. (I also shop at our local Price Chopper and on Tuesdays they have 10% off organic produce - ask at your store!). Also, I use some frozen foods (mangos and peas at this time, but probably more during the winter).

I bake in the oven (potatoes, butternut squash), microwave steam (carrots, peas, zucchini) and cook on the stove top (most fruits).

I fill the Baby Cubes or ice cube trays with the pureed food, lay plastic wrap over the top and stack in the freezer for a day or 2 before removing. (Last time I didn't wait long enough and the center cubes weren't totally frozen - a mess!) Then, transfer each food to separate ziploc bags and I stash all of it in the bin in the bottom of my freezer.

I really like the Baby Cubes for the convenience of sending food to school, but if I were home all the time, I think ice cube trays (1 oz. cubes) would work better. A Baby Cube holds a 2oz. portion, and I generally give her about 3oz. of food per meal (3 times a day). It is my preference to mix up the foods - generally giving 2-3 different foods (1oz. each) per meal. I don't think she really cares ...

I find that the Ziploc Snap n'Seal 1 cup containers work great for transport- hold 3 ice cubes of food for a meal. At home, I just pull out the ice cubes and microwave them for about a minute in a ceramic ramekin. Easy!

We stopped rice cereal pretty quickly - too constipating. The Girl now gets 1oz. of juice (prune apple!) each day and 1 oz. of plums each day, which seems to help move things along. Ahem. We do use the oatmeal cereal to thicken fruits and veggies now that she will take more texture.

We added plain whole milk yogurt a few weeks ago and she loves it! I was getting a little lax on introducing foods every 3 days to watch for allergies ... I was vigilant at first, but after she didn't have any issues, I loosened up a bit. (As my pediatrician said - if you wait 3-5 days for every new food, she'll be 3 years old and you will still be checking things off the list!). That being said, I was cautious with things like milk and wheat, just in case. (No problems so far). I like the little portions of yogurt - she only eats about a tablespoon at a time, so it is less wasteful to use a tiny container for a few days than to open one large container and throw it out due to spoilage.

She started eating Ritz crackers at school, so I promptly went and bought the "healthy" version of Ritz in the health food section of our store. I know, I know - my mother thinks I am crazy. Makes me feel better, though. I find that half a graham cracker is easier for her to manage and she doesn't bite off such a large chunk. Puffs and Cheerios are fine, too, but she can't quite get them to her mouth yet, so for now, just pincer practice. Big sticks of cucumber are good for chewing, but certainly require supervision if she bites off a big chunk.

On the horizon ... I am holding off on meats, mainly because I don't want to deal with it yet. I got some quinoa and lentils that I will start adding, along with some whole wheat rotini noodles. I think whole wheat couscous would work well, too. I am loading up on fruits now while they are in season.

While you may be tempted to go hog-wild and fill your freezer with purees, I would advise making smaller batches. I have lots of purees still frozen and she can definitely take chunkier texture, so I am mixing cereal with everything to thicken it up. Also, be wary of freezing larger portions of certain fruits - like plums and blueberries - that might cause a poopy nightmare. I like to mix just 1 oz. of these fruits with a couple of ounces of apples or peaches, you know, just to balance things out!


I'm off ... my blender calls!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Convertible time!

Ahh, remember the days when this meant a sunny day, top down, wind in your hair?

Now, it means ... BIG GIRL CAR SEAT!

We are officially in the market for the next car seat. Girly hasn't outgrown her bucket, but I almost have! There are only so many more times that I can hoist that thing into the center of my back seat before I throw out my back. It's funny that I picked her infant bucket because it went up to 30 pounds / 30 inches. (Most of them do these days, but not all). There is NO WAY that I could haul her around in that thing when she weighs 30 pounds!!

Our experience with the rental convertible car seat gave me a few insights, and I've picked up a few other tips along the way ....

- We have smallish, 4-door cars. The convertible seat in the rental was placed in the center, which is ideal, but this necessitated moving up the passenger front seat so far that it was almost not usable. (And my legs are short). This simply would NOT do for our cars that we use all the time.

- The harness-tightener-apparatus is my nemesis. I never feel like it is tight enough. Britax (and maybe other companies) offer a "Click and Safe" feature on their seats where there is an audible click when the harness is tight enough. Sold!! Unfortunately, I have heard from a friend and read online that this could give false reassurance - it clicks before it is really tight enough. So, I don't think I'll opt for the $20 upcharge.

- Consumer Reports is your friend. I bought an online membership when I was registering and I just renewed. The Britax Diplomat is their top-rated car seat for 40lbs and under at this time. It seems to offer some of the best features of the Britax Roundabout (smaller / lighter weight) and Britax Boulevard (true side impact protection, easy adjustable harness).

- Britax has a new seat - the Advocate. (Seriously ... who names these things?) I have read good things online, but it hasn't been tested by CR because it is too new. It has a new-fangled side impact protection device. I, of course, want the safest car seat for my child, but this seat is $100+ more than the already expensive Britax convertible seats. Is it really justified? At this time, without more evidence, I'll say no ...

- Ask around! I polled my friends about their car seats and (shocker) read tons online. (The Huz is about to throw up his hands and buy me every car seat on the market just to get me to shut up!). Amazon, Baby Bargains, and Consumer Search have good reviews. They all are user-opinions, but I think you can get a good general overview.

- There are also sites, like Car Seat Data , that gives user opinions about the fit of a specific car seat in a specific car.

Also, worth noting, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends keeping your toddler rear-facing as long as possible - up to 2 years old. Our Girl has short legs, so we'll try to make it work.

The Britax Diplomat only goes up to 40lbs, while the Boulevard goes up to 65lbs. I think this will be OK ... most 3-year-olds are around 40lbs, so I think we'll be OK buying a new car seat at that point if needed. Plus, if we have a second child (!), we would need two car seats anyway.

Finally .... SALE! Many of the Britax car seats are on sale at Amazon through tomorrow. I encourage you to visit Hip Monkey to buy your seats - free shipping, no tax and they price match any deal on the internet. This organization donates proceeds from car seat sales to buy safe car seats for needy families. And, if you live near a USA Baby store, they will also price-match.

Safe travels!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Have Baby, Will Travel

We did it.

Survived the first plane trip with the Girl.

I know a lot of people do this sooner, or with more frequency, but it is an accomplishment none the less.

It really wasn't too bad. The Huz gave the trip down a 7.5 on a scale of 10, which I will say is optimistic. The trip home was much better (primarily due to less crying and no rental car seat).

Some tips/thoughts, in no particular order ....

- I typed up a list before I went of what needed to be packed. A) because I'm a list-maker, and 2) because packing a baby is a last-minute ordeal and I couldn't be racing around the house checking things for the third time.

- For the 3 of us, we packed two carry-ons and two checked bags. I am a notorious over-packer and it hard for me to balance all the baby contingencies without packing her whole room. Also, gotta love Southwest for no checked bag fee!

- One carry-on was solely for baby flight essentials: blanket, burp cloths, bottles, pacifiers, book, toy, diapers, wipes. Our other carry on was for items that could go overhead, but we couldn't risk losing in lost luggage (meds, BREAST PUMP, etc.)

- I gave her a half-dose of Tylenol a little before take-off. Not so much for a sleepy effect, but just in case her ears hurt.

- Pack one more bottle than you think you will need, just in case of delays. If you are breastfeeding you have a back-up, but I'm not really a public nurser and Girly is so distractible that the airport was like Disneyland.

- We didn't have any issues with airport security and bottles. I just told them I had milk and it went right through the x-ray - no questions. On that note; beware when you open your bottles in the plane. Your bag gets jostled so much that milk can spill into the cap of your bottles, and/or the milk can expand due to the pressurized cabin. Either way - we had major spillage on landing which resulted in a wet, crying mess. (Me and her).

- Use a bottle / pacifier / boob on take-off and landing to help with the ears. I'm not sure that it makes a difference which one - just sucking is good. Huz thought a bottle would be better because Girly would have a motivation to suck (FOOD), but she generally takes her pacifier, too. Our rookie mistake was giving her the bottle as we taxied out to the runway. It was half a bottle and she usually doesn't eat that fast, but she sucked it down and then we just SAT THERE. Don't give them the bottle until you are going.

- Also, warming the bottle can be a bit of an issue. Breastmilk, at least, needs to be packed in a cooler bag. Girly won't take a cold bottle, but lukewarm is OK. The first flight attendant was nasty and told us they didn't have any way to warm a bottle, so Huz stood in the airplane lav trying to warm it in the sink until the second nice flight attendant offered to get him some hot water from the instant hot tap in the back. Thanks. On the way home, Huz stopped at an airport restaurant and got hot water to-go in a styrofoam coffee cup with a lid. That worked great (be sure to pour half out before you get on). Plus, then we already had the cup to warm the other half-bottle on the plane.

- Car seat debacle! We debated what to do about the car seat ... we didn't buy Girly a seat on the plane and knew there would be almost no chance of an open seat on a Southwest flight. We had a rental car waiting for us on the other end and needed a car seat. We thought it would be a nightmare to deal with checking the car seat and picking it up on the other end and getting it installed in the rental car, so we elected to rent a car seat and Bjorn/carry her through the airports. The carrying worked fine, but the rental seat? Not so much. The manager at the car rental place was nice and helped to install the seat, but it took FOREVER and they really are not experts at car seat installation (and neither are we). It was an older model seat and we just could not get it as tight as I thought it should be. We had no choice but to go with it, but I won't do it again. For an older child with a forward-facing seat it might be ok, but I won't do it with an infant.

- The better solution would have been to buy a car seat bag and to have checked the car seat right away at the curb or airline desk (not gate check). You aren't charged to check a car seat and if you bring your own fabric bag, you can stuff a bunch of other things in there, as well.

- My last tip is to travel to a place where there are babies, because that cuts down on what you need to bring!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wah Wah

(You know ... the Debbie Downer sound .... wah wah).

It's a topic that no one wants to think about, but really should. Really. Really.

A will. A guardian. Life insurance. Disability insurance. Nothing makes you feel more like a grown up than talking about this stuff. Even more than having the kid in the first place!

We're still working on getting these details accomplished and I came across a good post on Parent Hacks the other day about this very thing.

Six Steps to Financially Prepare for the Unexpected

While you're at it, get yourself a living will. Your family will thank you for it.

Now, go have some ice cream. We're done with the serious stuff for today!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Reason #2 for making your own babyfood

A good friend gave me a subscription to Cookie magazine and I love reading it. Lots of cute / clever / modern ideas for kids and families. Further, a lot of blogs I read have recently been linking to items on their website, which is also great!

Last night I came across a great tip .... make peach puree for your baby, and then use some for yourself to make bellinis!

Just so happens that I have 6 organic peaches waiting in my fridge for the Gal ... do you think she'll mind if I borrow one?

YUM, mommy juice!

Friday, July 3, 2009

7 month itch

Not much to report these days ... life has settled into a rather predictable schedule. (Which will certainly change now that I've typed those words out loud).

Feeding time is much better and not so irritating. It does mess with our schedule some, but in truth, we are homebodies most of the time.

I wonder if the Girl's non-interest in eating had something to do with me. She ate great at daycare from the start, and even ate very well for her Aunt. She has never been one to be finicky about eating - she nurses and takes a bottle from me equally well. Perhaps the fact that the colored food didn't come from a boob bothered her. Who knows?

I am loving the Baby Cubes. It is perfect to pop a container out of the freezer the night before, put it in her cooler bag with bottles and send it all off to school. I am finding, though, that just one batch of food can fill up most of your cubes. I'm currently using a combo-approach of Baby Cubes and ice cube trays. One smallish butternut squash or about 3 sweet potatoes will fill up an entire ice cube tray. I pop the cubes out into plastic bags in the freezer and I can still put the cube of food into the Baby Cube container for school.

My immersion blender works best for anything I cook on the stove top, like apples or pears, or something I baked in the oven, like squash or potatoes. The Magic Bullet worked great for mangoes. (Buy frozen chopped mangoes in the freezer section instead of fresh - thaw them in the fridge and they are a much better consistency for blending). I really like to cook and all of this has been super easy and convenient thus far.

Our doorway jumper (similar to this) is proving to be nice. Girly shouts when we leave the room, especially during cranky evening time, so it is nice for her to hang out in the doorway to the kitchen while we are getting things done. She also really likes to sit in her hook on high chair and watch us - I'm loving that, too.

The next task to obsess over: Traveling With Baby. I know we are very lucky that this will be our first trip with baby in tow - many people don't have family close by and do this earlier or much more frequently. Still, lots of details to ponder ... advice???

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Teacher, Teacher!

New resource: You Tube!

I have been thinking that I really need to start using baby signs with the Girl now that she spends time in her high chair everyday. I know some of the signs and have been around kids that have used them, but it is always nice to have a visual and a little tutorial.

There are local baby sing and sign classes, but it has been down on the list of priorities and, at this rate, she'll be putting on the cap and gown before I get around to signing her up.

So, just search "teaching your baby sign language" on YouTube and there are a ton of videos! (I also used this to figure out how to prune my lavendar plants in the yard. Turns out I should have started 3 years ago. Oops.)

On a related note, You know that ugly monster that rears its head when you start comparing your baby with other babies? When you think they should be doing something that they aren't? That you aren't teaching them enough new things? That you have ruined their chance to get a college scholarship?

As I watched the little baby on YouTube pick out "corn" and "cat" and "baby", I got the urge to get crafty and make flashcards and start Baby Summer School.

Put down the scissors and step away from the construction paper.

I will resist the craziness.

At least for a little while.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Approach

I'm taking a new approach to feeding the Girl.

My Parents as Teachers person suggested a good website - Ellyn Satter. I admittedly haven't read all her books, but I like what I see so far and her philosophy makes sense to me. In a nutshell, her advice focuses on helping you to raise your child to be just the person they were meant to be (which may or may not fit the "ideal" that you have in your mind). A lot of this has to do with a division of responsibility - there are factors you are responsible for as a parent, and there are also factors your child is responsible for. Each of you has to do your part. At the very basic level, there are feeding responsibilities and activity responsibilities. Trust your child to do their part with eating and moving and they will grow up to be healthy.

For us, for now, this means that I am responsible for the what and when of feeding, and the Girl is responsible for whether and how much. If she only takes a few bites and then doesn't act interested, we are done. I put the spoon just in front of her mouth and wait for her to open her mouth to show me she is hungry - I'm not chasing her mouth around trying to shove food in.

She eats great at daycare - TONS more than she eats for me at home. I don't know why, but really it isn't important. She is learning to eat and practicing a new skill. If they can help us with that, so much the better. I am not battling with Girly to eat - we are still having fun. And, I always want mealtime to be fun, family time - NOT a struggle.

For the first meal of the day today, she gets an "A".

Also, worth noting, is that you should seek out your local Parents as Teachers - type group in your local school district. I think most districts around the country have a similar program. They start home visits around 5-6 months of age and come every other month until age 3. It is a free program and I see it as a great resource. Some people may think that the service only benefits inexperienced or low income families, but that just isn't true. While I may know more about child development than the average bear, I most definitely do NOT know it all and I like having an objective assessment of how the Gal is doing. Plus, at least in our school district, you need to start the service with your first child if you want to participate with subsequent children (not that there are any of those on the horizon). Finally - call early to get on the waiting list. I called at about 8 months pregnant and it took until she was 6 months old to get a visit.

A few more gear tips:
- We are practicing more and more with the Tilty cup and I think we both like it.
- Get a stack of baby washcloths or small kitchen towels dedicated to wiping baby's hands and face while feeding. Going through paper towels is wasteful and the bib just doesn't cut it. Colored is even better because those sweet potato puffs stain.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Target Practice

Savor the simplicity.

Let me say it again - savor.the.simplicity.

The Huz and I were just talking about how exciting it is to introduce new foods to our Gal and how much we want her to love food and cooking. It is an important part of our lives and I hope it will be an important part of hers.

That being said, feeding her is a pain in my ass.

That may not be politically correct, but it is the way I feel. Until she really gets the hang of it, it is an exercise in futility. I know I need to expose her to food textures and tastes - she needs practice just like with any other new skill. Let's just say, though, that this must be some karmic reminder from the universe for me to work on my patience.

Plus, I felt so great about our transition to 4 feedings and now we are back to 7 - nursing 4 times and eating some sort of solids in the high chair 3 times. This is how often she ate when she first came home from the hospital. See what I mean?

It seems you have to hit the perfect sweet spot for her to be receptive to food: not too hungry and not too full. So, for now, we usually attempt solids about an hour after she nurses. So, yes, it is like she is eating all day long.

I know this is a small speed bump and we'll be past this transition before I know it. Just sayin' though ... savor the simplicity.

(And regarding the title - I mean target practice as in trying to get to her mouth, not that I'm shooting a gun. It isn't that bad.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I cheated Target!

Well, not really, but it feels that way.

I was due for the regular diaper stock-up and had read this morning on Baby Cheapskate that both Pampers and Huggies are changing their packaging to put fewer diapers in each pack.

Sure enough, the Pampers Swaddlers #2 used to have 40 diapers per jumbo pack, and now have 36. I dug to the back of the stack, though, and found four of the old packages. So, I see that as 16 free diapers!

Also, I do now pay attention to the "unit price" of diapers. Turns out that the per-diaper price is often less expensive in smaller packages. Go figure.

This won't last long - the Target guy was re-stocking as a I shopped. Go get some while you can!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Things we're loving these days

We have lots of favorites now at 6 months ....

We've just started with the eating and it is going well. I actually found that it is a great advantage to have a daycare kid when it comes to this - the Girl's teachers have fed hundreds of kids and really helped get her going on the cereal and got to a pretty thick texture pretty quickly.

I think we'll move past the cereal pretty soon, or at least cut way back. That is another nice thing about waiting to start solids until 6 months - she mainly needs the cereal to practice with texture and once she tolerates thicker cereal, fun foods here we come!

I signed up for a great baby food email at Baby Food 101. It is free - you just tell them the date that you will start cereal and they send you a weekly email with a baby food recipe and an adult recipe to use the leftover food!

She is loving the Gerber Puffs! I wouldn't have really thought to add these so soon, but our pediatrician said that about half of kids will tolerate some dissolveable snacks at 6 months and to give it a shot. These dissolve so quickly and it is a fun game to fill cranky time.

The Bumbo is finally serving a purpose! It is great for feeding right now - quicker and cleaner than the high chair.

I did order the Inglesina Fast Chair and am quite happy with it. Also worth noting, I ordered it from Chit Chat Baby. I initially ordered it from another company and went back and forth because it was back-ordered in most colors. I wanted to get it quickly and randomly found this company through Amazon. The customer service was great and I got the chair in about 3 days and no tax and free shipping!

I bought a big pack of Munchkin Spoons at Target. Of course any spoon will do, but the point is to buy several. They are great for baby to hold while you are feeding them!

I am, unfortunately, not loving the Boon Squirt. I had such high hopes for this little thing, but when I took it out of the package it had the worst, god-awful, diarrhea plastic smell. Do you know what I'm talking about? I washed all the pieces in the dishwasher and left them out to air day for days. It still smells and I can't even consider putting food in it.

We got an Aden and Anais sleep sack and it is great! A good friend gave us the Aden and Anais swaddle blankets, which work so well and are super soft. This is the perfect, lightest weight sleep sack for those warm months.

Also, just a simple thing, I really like the inexpensive 5-pack Gerber short sleeve onesies for jammies. Our Girl is just outgrowing the 12 month size and the 18 month size is still a little big. They are lightweight and don't have any snaps or uncomfortable zippers. She always wore footie sleepers when it was cold, but her room is too warm for that now and this has been a good, cheap solution.

I also love "the bubble". I didn't even know this type of romper had a name, but it is great for the Gal. Little baby dresses are so cute, but they end up over her head and in general disarray. This is like a dress with leg holes!

Our favorite toys are still Sophie the Giraffe and the ever-popular Exersaucer. The rings are also great fun!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

While I love the idea of a sun tan, in reality, I'm not much of the pool type. When I worked full time I only rarely spent a weekend day at the pool - too much to do. I also don't really tolerate the heat, and because I am so pale I can't stay long - it is a vicious cycle.

Now that I am home a few days during the week, though, and I have a little baby dolphin, I'm sure we will be off to splish splash around in the near future.

I'd heard a general rule about not applying sunscreen to little babies until after 6 months, but the American Academy of Pediatrics does say to use it if there is no other option. I think it is just common sense - a new baby probably shouldn't be in the sun long enough to think about needing sunscreen.

I asked our pediatrician at our 6 month visit - he recommended at least SPF 30, broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) and PABA-free. His feeling was that a lot of "baby sunscreens" are just marketing tools and that there was nothing special about them, but some babies will have sensitive skin and need a special formula.

I found a great sunscreen review at Safe Mama. Their list is extensive and products must be free of parabens, phthalates, and other stuff that is hard to spell. TruKid was their favorite product. It looks like TruKid has lots of great natural skin care products for kids, but I think you can only order through their website.

Being outside also means BUGS. Here is the Safe Mama list for bug repellents. I found the Burt's Bees one at our local HyVee in the health food section.

Safe Mama also has other lists about safe baby wipes, and dishes and stuff. I believe in safe products for my child and safe products for our environment, but sometimes it is a little much (even for me) and I start to go crazy. I currently operate under the philosophy of, "if it is a similar/reasonable price and I can find it without much hassle, I'll get it." Baby steps ...

Don't forget about eye protection! These Frubi Shades are pretty cute and functional.

Sun clothes can be a good option, too: Baby Sunwear

I also worked with a pediatric dermatologist who recommended a product you can wash into your regular clothes that makes them sun protective - Rit SunGuard.

I'm just trying to do what I can to protect her skin while I'm in charge. Before she becomes a teenager and runs around in a bikini with boys. Ugh.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June Bargains!

Baby Cheapskate is a great website - I check it often to make sure I'm not missing out on great deals!

I had an AHA! moment while shopping at Marshall's this weekend - I can buy that cute dress in next summer's size! It is kind of a change in thinking - I rarely, if ever, buy seasonal clothes on sale for myself to save for the following year. (By the way - our Marshall's has darling Ralph Lauren kid's clothes that are very reasonable. Pink baby tennis dress, anyone?)

I am learning to stalk sales. Why pay full price for anything? Further, in this economy, I feel I am entitled to good deals if I am out shopping.

Here is what Baby Cheapskate has to say about June: get the hammer out for the piggy bank!

Here are some of the bargains I expect to see this June:

June Britax Sale was 22nd - 28th last year.

Yard sales continue, peaking in many areas when the temp hits about 80 degrees.

Last-minute Father's Day Deals. You've still got a few weeks! Expect some great in-store sales on all those typical "man gifts": ties, sports equipment, etc.

Clearance on outdoor and pool toys begins in earnest as retailers itch to make room for the back-to-school stuff. Look for 50% off and more, with the best deals showing up as we near July.

Clearance begins mid-month on summer clothing and sandals. This is a great time to stock up for next year.
• The Children's Place Monster Sale starts up somewhere around week 2.
• You'll find 30% to 50% off in Target's kids apparel department throughout the month, with the best bargains toward the end of June.
• Expect 50% off at Kohl's around the 20th of the month.
• Look for 50% off clearance apparel at Toys R Us during the last week of the month.
• Old Navy starts clearancing their summer clothes in week three, with deeper discounts during the last week of the month.
• Kmart summer apparel was 50% off during the last week of June in 2008.
• Sears' 50% off sale began during week four as well.
• Vincent Shoes and Gymboree start their clearance sales around the third week of the month. Savings of up to 75%.

Expect shoe markdowns at Amazon early this month--Stride Rite deals, anyone?

Amazon also held a summer toys savings event mid-month last year.

Look for fall apparel to arrive in stores after July 4. That means summer clearance in earnest with discounts above 50%.