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.