Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Season

This year, Christmas has been pretty spread out. We've been celebrating since December 10 and will finally wrap it up New Year's Eve. Here are a few photos from our Texas Christmas.

Taking in some late lunch with the aunts and grandparents at Kerbey Lane SW.

Plotting trouble

E with Aunts M & C

Aunt C giving Ellie a tutorial on how to hack into the iPhone.

So glad to see Aunt C.

P and Grandpa ready to take on the best of TX BBQ in the Fiat (Dante). They took their own utensils since many BBQ joints don't offer any.

Placing the first order of the Crawl.

Holy Sausages!!!

Firewood is SERIOUS business.

Highlights of that trip were the traditional trip to Mighty Fine (Ellie will have a photo album of photos taken in front of the Diversacut Sprint there), P and Grandpa went on a BBQ Crawl (6 lbs of meat!), we got to see Aunt d and Aunt c as well as cousins and Great Grandma. And, my personal highlight was the thoughtfulness put into several gifts that were heavily inspired by Pinterest. Love that website! It was nice to just kick back and enjoy some family time. We did do a fair amount of running around, but Ellie managed to stay on her sleep schedule pretty well for most of the trip. Five days was about our limit though. I have never been so glad to see my own pillow.

Now, we have to get back in the regular routine. I'm slowly unpacking and trying to figure out where all these new things go. However, I need to get the kitchen counter cleared soon or I'm going to lose my mind. Nothing bugs me like a cluttered kitchen.
Reading a new Dr. Seuss upside down and backwards

Enjoying a plush reading chair from Santa and untying bows like a pro.

In other news, I briefly thought I was going to get a chance at a rebranding project, but that looks like it probably won't pan out. However, I have a lot on my plate getting the Gardening Show booklet ready for the January 21st date. And, once I get that taken care of, I need to clean the craft room so hopefully I can finish the painting I started a month ago. I recently cleared space for P to set up a computer gaming station next to my iMac, so we can spend some quality time together while I'm designing or painting or whatever and he's shooting aliens. I'm already coveting his cushy chair, so I may have to replace my current clean lined chair with a padded match from Staples. My back has been acting up for a few days, so the stylishly contemporary molded plywood version I've been using just isn't cutting the mustard anymore.

We're thinking of how we want to celebrate New Year's and what our resolutions will be. Currently, we're planning an afternoon with the family celebrating Christmas #6. After Ellie goes to bed, we may cuddle up to watch both parts of Harry Potter 7. The top resolution idea is to get our affairs in order and finally make our wills. We've only been talking about it for a year and a half.... We (meaning me) should probably also start curbing the sailor talk. Ellie is going to start repeating what I say before I know it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tis the Season

See previously unseen birthday photos!

Well, we're almost ready for E's second Christmas. All presents have been shipped that need to be. I'm done shopping and just have to get packed for our trip.

Wish us luck as we fly over the river and woods to Grandma's (and Grandpa's) house.

Here are a couple of videos to keep you entertained....

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

One Year Later...

Ellie on her birthday playing with her "big" toy. It makes a good island for getting across the room.

A flirty smile in the car captured by her number one paparazzi, Aunt C.

Another smile coaxed by Aunt C. She only had to take about 200 photos to get these two adorable smiles....

It's official. We have a one year old. We have been parents for a year. It was the fastest year EVER! Ellie had two little birthday celebrations. She had chocolate cake and presents after Thanksgiving dinner and nap. Grandma N was disappointed that she didn't get more cake in more orifices. She actually got messier the next day when we went out for lunch and we gave her black bean hummus. However, she did seem to enjoy unwrapping presents and she ate almost her entire slice of cake and her little birthday pumpkin pie on her actual birthday.

Presents ran the gamut from a Star Wars board book, toys that sing, Christmas books, pj's, a fancy Christmas dress, and a precious stuffed pull-lion on wheels. The unofficial theme for the gifts was lions. She got a cute jellycat lion from Aunt C, along with cute lion pj's. Great Aunt J and Uncle M sent a beautiful Caldecott award winning book about the Lion and the Mouse. And, Grandma N and Grandpa B provided the aforementioned pull-lion.

She is now cruising quite adeptly around the living room and once we (P) put together the Fisher Price "house" we've had for a year, she started crawling around. Not sure what the house did exactly, but that's when she started supplementing the cruising with crawling to get where there were no assists.

She had her 1 year check up on Tuesday. She is 18 pounds (7th percentile), 29.75" (71st percentile), and her head is tiny. Her hair is growing though. It's starting to look messy, but it's still straight, fine, and very blonde. Baby girl is a huge fan of peas. She will eat them any way they come. Her latest fave is freeze-dried. Dr. L recommended starting her on whole milk. I made it to my one year goal of nursing, but rather than cutting back, she seems to be "snacking" more. Throughout the day she points to, starts pulling at my shirt or pounds on my chest to make it clear that she wants what I've got. Then, she nurses for a minute, bites me, and pops off. The biting is getting really old. That, and the fact that all my nursing tanks are getting pretty ratty are my only real reasons for wanting to wean her. However, I still plan on letting her lead the way.

Potty-training is kind of stuck in semi-pro mode. She makes most bowel movements in the potty. But, every now and then, we just have an off day (like today) and she gets a few dirty diapers. Our best days are days we stay at home. I've decided to hold off on training pants until she is mobile enough to get to the potty. She's almost there.

Between the rash of vaccinations yesterday and the doctor ordered anemia test this morning, I've decided that the worst part of parenting (so far) is watching your child suffer. She's gotten to the point where she knows the shot routine and starts wailing before the needles go in. She is very aware of what being restrained by 3 people means. Today, they took a few ml of blood from her finger and that was utterly wretched for everyone involved. Including the kind older man in the waiting room.

In this video, I told Ellie, she had a minute to make it across the room to me. She did it in 40 seconds.

Ellie shows off some random crawling. No, we are not training her with a bell. The dog decided that was a good time to try to entice me to throw her ball (that has a bell in it). Maybe Isis is training her with a bell....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sick of Sickness

Wednesday, Ellie woke up with a sinus infection. She has been super snotty and a bit clingy since. She doesn't want to sit on the potty. She has had very little appetite for solids, and she's started snack-nursing. Combined with that, she's been more clumsy than usual as she tries to be more independent. She can crawl, although mostly she doesn't try. She did a couple face-plants this morning trying to get the dogs again. The second time was on a block, so she lost interest in crawling pretty fast after that. Now, she has an "L" shaped bruise on her cheek. It goes great with the scabs from her scraggly little nails rubbing her face in her sleep. (She has had a manicure–very much against her will–since.) She is also getting in a couple of molars, so she has been drooling pretty heavily at times. Our normally sunny child is frequently crabby and demanding now. She does well if I keep her in the sling, but my back really doesn't want to do that, so I keep it for when I'm at the end of my rope or when we have to run errands. To top it off, P developed a tickle on Wednesday and woke up with the flu on Thursday. So far, he's missed two days of work. I'm glad Ellie and I got flu vaccinations earlier this fall, because I don't know if I could keep sane if we were all sick at the same time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Up 3

And, a little game Dad and Ellie developed at, if I can just get her to do that with food.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Up 2

Here are a few videos and photos I meant to post previously.

The trio is finally complete. After 4 years Zeus doesn't have to hang alone anymore.

Halloween 2011 - Ellie doesn't like things on her head. Especially not her Ewok hood.

Later on Halloween - She is now hot AND still doesn't like her Ewok hood.

A week ago. Just standing around chit-chatting.


Today, Ellie mastered a new word. "Up". I'm not sure she's really clear on the meaning yet, but her pronunciation is fabulous. She has, "Mom", "Daddy", "doggy", "kitty", can sign "milk" and "bye-bye" (sometimes and with a delay), and now she has "up". She manages to communicate pretty well with that limited vocabulary and an imperious pointer finger. If she absolutely needs to, she uses fussing and alligator tears to make her displeasure known.

She's making rapid strides in all areas except crawling. Walking becomes more likely each day. She already pushes her seat around her activity table more than she sits/stands in it. She will walk (assisted) as far as about 5 feet before she lifts her arms to be carried. She stands for longer and longer amounts of time when she plays. Slowly, she is gaining confidence in standing and switching her supports from one object to another. If we rearrange the furniture, she could probably start cruising around the room. Falling is becoming less shocking and she barely makes a fuss about it anymore unless she was really engrossed in something up top and then the fuss is because she wants to get back to it, not because she hurts. Just because she doesn't crawl, doesn't mean she can't get around on the floor. She spins very cleverly and can push herself backwards until there is nowhere else to go. Ellie now finds it ridiculously easy to push herself into sitting from her belly. When I put her to bed now, she generally sits after I put her to bed and plays for up to a half hour until she literally falls over and passes out.

Wednesday, we saw a sudden change in her pottying. She kept her diaper dry the whole day except for naps. It kind of freaked me out because it was so sudden. She still sat and went in her potty, but she didn't wet her diaper between potty opportunities. Thursday and Friday weren't quite as stellar, but there were still a lot of dry diapers. We used about half as many as normal. So, I started using the cotton training pants with plastic covers between naps. I think she prefers those since they are probably more breathable. The other change in her pottying is that she can signal when we put her on the potty and she doesn't need to go. She simply stands up after 30 seconds or so. At first, I kept insisting that she sit back down and humor me. But, she's generally been peeing pretty soon after sitting when she does go. Poo can take a bit longer, but she seems to recognize when she needs to go because she'll sit and read and play for as long as it takes. So, I'm learning to trust her instincts and I put her pants back on when she "says" she's done. Now, we just need her to tell us when she has to go....

We've also seen a return of drooling. She has a whopper of a tooth coming in on her bottom right side. It may be her first molar. But sporadic drooling is really about the only symptom. Every now and then, she insists on Orajel (by biting Mom's hands and arms), but mostly, there is little indication that she has pain.

Mom and Dad are not making nearly as dramatic progress. I am reading, Dexter is Delicious (number 4 in Jeff Lindsay's series). I just finished Diaper Free Before 3, and am really crawling on my latest endeavors of a cross-stitch stocking for Ellie and a new portrait of her. I've started my Christmas shopping. I just finished some work for a Tri Kappa Convention logo and am also working on poker chip designs for P and selling ad space for the Gardening Show program I will also be putting together in December. P is working through another Star Wars Lego game and designing a bed frame for our Christmas gift. Tonight, P is trying a new ribs recipe and Ellie is taking her second long nap of the day. At this rate, she'll be going to bed at 8. Unless she thinks she has already gone to bed for the night...Damn Daylight Savings!!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Autumn in Indiana

Modeling her October outfit

This weekend, we went to a tailgate party for Purdue and had our first obligatory family portrait for the Christmas letter I intend to send this year. I've intended to do one every year since we got married, but it may actually happen this year (cross your fingers). Of course, if you are a regular reader here on the blog, you already know most of what's happening, so you don't need the letter. However, if you want to make sure you are on the list, drop me a line with your name and address. I honestly have no idea who reads this other than a couple of people who mention it from time to time. 

Saturday, Ellie comported herself well at the otherwise all adult party. She did slobber all over herself and watched more tv than she has up to now in her entire life. But, she enjoyed herself. There were plenty of people to flirt with, BIG dogs (greyhounds), and she got to spend lots of time with Dad.

Later Saturday, she semi-stood up by herself from the potty. Dad was blowing bubbles - which is her new favorite thing to do on the potty - and she wanted to "do it herself". She stood to reach for the bubbles, Dad reached for her, and half the bubbles ended up in the carpet. This further reinforces our idea that she'll walk before she crawls.

Another thing Ellie has started is a little recreational "drug" use. Part of the nursing routine now is that after she has sated her immediate hunger (about 4 minutes in), she pops off, sits up and points imperiously at the nightstand which holds her Vitamin D drops and her Orajel tube. After thinking she was a genius a couple times for recognizing what the Orajel is for, it has since become her first game of pretend. Instead of applying the gel, I simply hand her the tube and ask her if her teeth hurt. She then puts the pointed lid end in her mouth and gently "applies" it to the offending gums. She does this a couple times and I tell her that's great and her teeth must feel all better now. At that point, she generally loses interest and drops the tube on the floor. I hope this doesn't turn her into a hypochondriac....

Sunday, we went to the local arboretum to have our first family portrait. The photographers were a husband and wife team. I think they did a really great job. The husband showed us a few of the shots and they looked pretty nice without any editing. We'll see all of them Friday when we go to preview the shots at their studio. I'm hoping we have lots of great pictures to choose from.

Ellie can't take her eyes off the trains.

Although she was a little worn from an hour of posing and being adorable (it's harder than it looks),  we still swung by the railroad garden that we've been meaning to see all summer. I'm kicking myself for not trying harder, now. It is AMAZING! We did the whirlwind tour so we could get some lunch before nap time, but I plan on taking Ellie back another time this fall if the weather holds up. She was pretty interested in all the moving bits. I loved how carefully they scaled everything. The landscaping was incredible. Neither P or I were crazy about the tacky spiderwebs and random Halloween decor they junked it up with, but the underlying structure and vignettes were very well thought out and executed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Making a Move

Ellie is expressing an interest in mobility finally. She can't seem to get the hang of crawling although she can push herself backward until there is nowhere left to go (usually not more than 3 feet). Yesterday she pushed herself backward from her belly into a seated position, although I think it was more serendipitous than on purpose. However, she enjoys a nice superman ride on the rocking ottoman and she has been indicating that she wants to stand at her activity table and other places. She will sometimes cruise around the table to get from one activity to another, but she really pushes herself around when she's in the seat and has wheels to make it easier. She's slowly learning to fall from standing without hurting herself, and she can stand pretty well with a spotter for minutes at a time. Other times, not so much. Today, she almost did the splits. And, she had a minor setback when she fell backward from sitting and was very upset. I guess I've been protecting her from that and she forgot that it's not always soft behind her head. She's pretty limber on the ottoman ride too. She'll actually jump down and land on her feet (in her sleep sack, no less). I think she really likes that because it makes her feel very independent. Of course, there's not really a lot of room for error when there's about 12 inches between the chair and ottoman and Mom's legs are on either side. But, she thinks it's great.

So, we're taking bets. Will she walk before she crawls? Will she walk by Christmas?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mother and Child Reunion

I believe I can truly say the nursing strike has ended! Ellie nursed about 5 times today for a total of an hour and a half. It has been literally months since she nursed that long. I think some of it was comforting herself and some of it was trying to get my supply back to a good level for her. Regardless, I didn't pump at all and she barely touched her sippy cup of milk at meals. I think tomorrow we'll return to water with meals. I am soooooo relieved that we are past that particular trial.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Crossing the Picket Line

So, today on day 7 of the Nursing Strike, we made headway. I was somewhat disheartened when she broke her recent streak of 11-12 hour solid sleep nights. She woke at 3 am this morning. I saw an opportunity and hustled in there to try to slip her a boob before she woke up. Unfortunately, she wasn't ready to be fooled. She cried, mouthed a nipple and bit me lightly for my trouble. I wasn't quite sure what to do for second. Obviously, she's been sleeping through the night the last 3 nights, so I knew she didn't absolutely NEED a feeding, she just wanted some comfort. So, I got out of the chair, started humming "rockabye baby" and proceeded to rock her until she calmed down. Rejecting boob is very traumatic for her. After the second time through, she was very calm, so I laid her down and went through the routine, "I love you little bean. Here's Froggy. Here's Elephant. Kiss. Goodnight, sweetheart." And, amazingly, she stayed calm. It took her a while to get back to sleep still, but she didn't cry.

Then, for her first nap, I tried pumping to initiate let-down before nursing. The idea being that if the milk is easy to get, nursing is more appealing. It worked somewhat. She nursed for 3.5 minutes before she realized what she was doing and popped off. We finished with a bottle. Afternoon nap, that didn't work at all. We spent a little time playing topless and she did shyly investigate the nipples some.

However, the real breakthrough came at bedtime. She finished dinner about an hour before  bed and then played. I ran and pumped for a minute while Dad got her diaper changed and pj's on. I came in and bared the boobs, as I've been doing to give her options without forcing them on her. That way, she can access them if she wants to nurse or just wants to tweak the nipples (kick the tires, so to speak). Apparently, early in the strike I was further traumatizing her by trying to force her to nurse physically. So, I showed her the goods and the ball was in her court. After a few seconds of sitting in my lap, she made it clear with a little wailing that she wasn't in the mood. So, I broke out the back-up bottle and offered it to her. She took it cradled next to the breast and seemed comfortable. After the small bottle was gone, I sat her up to burp her but signed "milk" at her and offered her more. She thought about it and swung her head down. She's mouthed the nipples before during the strike, but usually just for a few seconds and then bites me. This time, she nursed. And nursed, and nursed! She took a few breaks, but all together, she went for about 12 minutes. Which, is really good! She still hasn't nursed from the traumatic "wounded" side, but this was an encouraging step. Cross your fingers that we're back to normal soon...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tooth Hurty and the STRIKE

E has been working on a few new teeth. Number 5 showed up to the left (Ellie's) of her existing bottom teeth. From brushing her teeth, I think she's got some molars not far behind. I knew the pain was bad when she didn't make a fuss over me putting on an application of Orajel. She practically asked for it, actually.

However, the next night (Sunday), she bit me while nursing. She's bitten before. In fact, with the teething, she'd been using a playful bite to signal that she was done. (Playful because she smiled and had a gleam in her eye afterwards. Not because it didn't hurt...) I didn't think much of it at the time. However, later I noticed that I was bleeding and discovered that I had about a quarter inch cut. So, the next time she went to nurse on that side, I was especially protective. She went to nurse as usual and because the cut was right where she puts her teeth (albeit under her tongue), the pressure felt like she was biting again. And, not wanting to make the injury any worse, I overreacted and pulled her off. This upset her and she's basically been on a nursing strike ever since.

She only nurses when she's half asleep in the wee hours of the morning. She now has 4 meals a day and I started offering milk in her sippy cup instead of water. She's been taking naps without nursing, but then I try to offer her a meal/snack when she wakes up. She'll drink about 4 oz. before bed from a bottle, but otherwise, she only drinks what she takes from a cup or nurses in less than 10 minutes at 3 am.

I've consulted a bunch of moms (including my own). I heard a couple stories of babies who "weaned" themselves at age 9-10 months. Other moms have mentioned nursing strikes caused by strong reactions to bites. A few chose to wean their babies at that time. I looked up nursing strikes and apparently the average is 2-4 days. We're on day 3. I saw one article about a 40 day nursing strike. I honestly don't have the guts to read that one. If this lasts over 2 weeks, I don't know if I can keep it up. So, we'll see. Wish us luck....

I LOVE meal times!

Ellie in Toyland:  She just got a bunch of toy hand-me-downs from cousins.
All but one has a switch and makes noise and/or flashes lights.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Now Showing On...

Yesterday, I finally joined Pinterest. It became kind of a mission to fill out some boards and go through other people's boards. I wasted all that valuable nap time. So, if you're on Pinterest or just want to see what I did yesterday, check it out.

And, like that stupid mouse and his cookie, I also ran into a site called A flurry of activity later and I have a page on that one too. Finally, I have a way to keep track of books I've read. Some of the series I've been reading lately blur together a bit. All those vampires and were-creatures....

So, if you have suggestions for my boards or books to read, holler....

Friday, September 16, 2011

Put Your Hands Together

Looking adorable as she considers climbing the chair...

Earlier today....
Currently, Ellie is fighting her afternoon nap. Apparently, she's had enough sleep for today. But, before we ran into this snag, the day was going swimmingly. She had two very productive sits on the potty this morning. No doubt helped by the copious amounts of prunes I've been serving her. She napped for an hour this morning, which she hasn't done in a few days. She ate pretty well at breakfast and lunch and she didn't feed the dog too much. The beagle and I had a serious discussion yesterday and determined that he can in fact sit and wait to clean the floor. He just needs to believe that I am serious about it.

So, the reason she took an especially long morning nap was because she was planning on skipping the post lunch nap. Can't wait till she can tell me these things ahead of time so I don't bother wasting time and energy fighting the inevitable ;). So, aside from a little time playing with Froggy and Elephant in the dark, she went about 7 hours without sleep this afternoon. Going to bed this evening was a struggle too. She didn't really want to nurse and then tried sticking my finger in her mouth (which usually ends with her trying to bite my index nail in two). And then, she became virtually inconsolable. So, I dug out the hated Orajel (apparently she's not a licorice fan either) and applied liberally since she rarely complains of tooth pain and I couldn't very well feel around her gums while trying my best not to lose the end of my pointer finger. It would make typing difficult to say the least. The Orajel made things much worse for a while and then it kicked in. My guess must have been correct, because she then finished nursing and went to sleep relatively quickly.

But, in other news, she woke up this morning and decided to clap. All day, she celebrated her various successes on the potty and some when she was done eating. I've also craftily adapted our eating style to make feeding the dog more difficult. She generally only has one or two pieces of food on the tray at any one time, so it's a lot easier to block attempted donations and with less excess, she tends to be a little stingier. Before, she figured she had 3 pieces of fruit, so she might as well flip one over the side to watch the dog hustle. There still ends up being quite a bit of food on the floor, but it's mostly smaller crumbs from my periodic tray sweeps. And, Zeus is allowed to make a couple of passes throughout the meal.
As you can see in the video, meal times are a slow affair. She has been discovering the upper reaches of her voice, imitating primates, and she feels the need to inspect all her prunes by unraveling them and looking for a golden ticket. We may have started that rumor. She's not allowed to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory until she's at least 2, so she won't know....

Tomorrow will be an interesting day. P will have Ellie for the afternoon. He always handles it like it's no big deal, but I tend to fuss a little about bottle/pumping logistics and worry about naps. But, since she's not napping for me, I guess it can't really get much worse for him. Plus, I'll really only be gone about 5 hours. Now that she's eating solids, that's really only one bottle and two little meals. Now, if I just repeat that a few times, maybe I'll stop worrying.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Good Job

Helping Dad make a dutch baby.

Enjoying the Popcorn Parade commentated by Uncle A.
So, among the other things I've been reading, I ran across this reference to how you shouldn't tell your kids, "good job!" I Googled it and there were quite a few hits. The one that I ended up reading was this blog by a woman named Jennifer Lehr. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to know her from somewhere, but she has some very definite opinions on things. Apparently, she's heavily influenced by Magda Gerber's RIE approach. The RIE approach has an interesting history and is basically about respecting children and not manipulating them or forcing them to do things before they're ready. For example, don't try to stimulate them to crawl or walk before they're ready, just let them work things out on their own. Don't hover over them saying, "be careful" every time they do something new or potentially dangerous (walking, stairs, etc). And, don't tell your child, "Good job". Taken out of context some of these "rules" sound a little over the top, but once the reasons are explained, they make pretty good sense. And, in my opinion, it seems like you have to pay a little more attention to what the child(ren) are doing and your reactions, which probably isn't a bad thing in most cases.

I find myself naturally doing some of the recommended things, like praising specific accomplishments. I found that I quickly got tired of saying, "good job" and felt "yay" and "hooray" were a bit excessive for repetitive things that I hope to make commonplace. So now I say in a moderately excited voice, "Hey, you went pee-pee in the potty!" Or, "Way to put that piece of chicken in your mouth!" We were trying to get Ellie to say, "Bye-bye", but now I've backed off so that I just model it. I don't tell her to say it, I just say it myself. And, half the time, she says it back. I've also been narrating what I'm doing, which I mostly started as a way to talk more around her to model speaking. Otherwise, we'd have some pretty quiet days at home.

This weekend our friends from Indy came up for the Popcorn Fest. P ran in the 5 mile Popcorn Panic (finishing at about 43 minutes) and Ellie and I went with him for support. I also got a sneak peek at some of the booths. If I was really thinking, I would have made some purchases then because later in the day, it was ridiculous. I ended up waiting forEVER to get two small slices of pizza from the Stonebaker food truck. I'd read an article about them ages ago, but this was the first opportunity I'd had to try it. The two girls working it were going full stop, but they could only go as fast as the pizza can cook, so I think I was standing in line first to order and then to get my food for probably 45 minutes. The pizza was tasty, but not that tasty and certainly not that filling. On the upside, Ellie really enjoyed the parade and didn't suffer too badly on the nap-front despite the long day.

I keep trying to motivate myself to take her to the YMCA to swim once or twice a week. Heck, I'd like to take myself. I need to get in some extra cardio and the elliptical is not real inspiring to me. But, the schedule for free swim is kind of erratic (as are her naps). So, we've gone for a couple of walks this week. The temperatures have really gotten pretty nice for a late afternoon/early evening walk. And, the dogs love it too. Yesterday, we went before her dinner and Dad expressed disappointment at missing it. So, today, we went after he got home and it was pretty nice. Hopefully, we can keep it up on a relatively regular basis.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Something to Talk About

I think we're on the verge of being verbal. Ellie has been saying "mama" more and more accurately lately. She's also working on "bye-bye" and I've gotten her to say an approximation of "milk" and "grandma". We've been working on waving "bye-bye", but then I also have been showing her the sign for "milk" (which is kind of a sideways bye-bye), so I think I've confused her. Maybe we'll work on the sign for "potty" a little more and just leave "milk" for later. She's adorable when she does it too. There's always a lot of wonder in her face and a hint of bashfulness and pride when she gets the encouragement. Most of the time there is a lot of hesitation, so if we're leaving the room, she usually waves after we've turned to go. And, she is still trying to figure out the wave, so she usually waves both hands kind of at herself as she inspects her hands.

In other news, I've been doing some research on homeschooling. It's something that seems like it could be really beneficial to Ellie. All these grandiose plans occur to me of having a super literate über-educated child. She could speak 7 languages, enter college at the tender age of 16, play several instruments and be a speaker at TED. I exaggerate a little, but not much. In theory, a stimulating child-led curriculum following her interests would be fabulous, but there's a lot of self doubt floating around too. Could I keep us on task? Could I raise pertinent questions to keep her searching for answers? Or, to take it down to the nitty gritty, could I learn the parts of a sentence enough to teach her? And then, what if she has a little sibling? How do I balance curriculum, naps, my fitness regime, assorted appointments, cooking balanced and nutritious meals, etc? It sounds like a lot. Then, I peruse homeschooling blogs and forums and it sounds like they play it pretty loose and easy. They wake up slowly, start school between 9 and 11, get in about 3-4 hours, and then the kids are on their own or doing chores and Mom gets dinner ready. How does anyone learn 7 languages on that kind of schedule? (jk) I've got a couple books coming to see if I can learn about the different styles and see a few more examples of schedules and curriculum. P is against this idea, for the record. But, I've asked him to keep an open mind and read "The Idle Parent". It's not a book about homeschooling, but it does encourage a home life where parents read real books instead of "Ten in the Bed" and there is stimulating discussion at the dinner table. And, if there's not, Dad reads poetry at the kids until they regurgitate it back. The author paints an idyllic picture (to me anyway).

I've started reading "Raising Freethinkers". It's not as pleasurable as "Idle Parent". Co-written by 4 people, the book is structured as a series of essay-chapters with Q & A, resources, and suggested activities at the end of each section. I've been reading it on Kindle for iPhone and decided it falls into the category of book you have to physically own. (I've just about decided all non-fiction books fit in this category.) It simply will require highlighter, dog-eared pages, notes, and lots of flipping pages to find certain passages or resources. And, I do anticipate using it quite a bit. The writing seems a little stiff and at a more collegiate level than most parenting books. So far the only thing that rubs me a bit funny is that the authors advocate a diverse religious literacy program and warn against indoctrination. Yet, they also suggest practicing answers with your kids to help protect them from religious kids trying to indoctrinate them. Isn't that just substituting one form of brainwashing for another? I understand why they do it. You can't just raise a kid in a minority and not prepare him for unpleasant possibilities the majority may inflict on him. However, it seems a bit hypocritical. Mostly, I just feel that the book is way above me and that I should read all the resources to begin to have a glimmer of preparation for guiding another human being through this journey. I've gone most of my life not really giving myself a label in terms of religion. When pressed, I'll cop to "agnostic", which P tells me is a misnomer. After some initial research, I'm beginning to think "humanist" would be a better description of my personal philosophy. The authors assume that the reader is quite literate and has done extensive research on religion. I feel like I forgot to do my homework.

I posted a question on a Mommy Facebook group I'm a part of (nearly 200 strong). Hoping to narrow my reading list a bit, I asked for people's favorite parenting books. I'm afraid I did myself a disservice. Instead of narrowing the field, I now have a LONGER reading list. Some of the titles and authors are; Dr. Sears Discipline Book, Dr. Brazelton's Touchpoints, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, and Parenting With Love and Logic. There were a few other titles, but these are ones I've heard about before and they all have pretty exceptional reviews on Amazon, so I'll start with these after my other books. Comment or shoot me an email if you have any advice or reading suggestions.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Parenting 101

P and I have both started reading parenting books now that Ellie is getting to be verbal. I swear I almost have her saying, "bye" (as in, "bye-bye pee pee, bye-bye poo  poo"). She's also been tossing around "mama" a lot the last couple days, but I don't think she's got the meaning locked in. She does tend to use "mamamama" when she needs comfort like food or nap. But, "dadada" is used mostly for when she's having fun and playing. As much as it pains me, it really isn't a surprise that Dad is the fun one in our family.

I just finished reading The Idle Parent, by Tom Hodgkinson. He's a Brit and to hear him tell it, he didn't want kids to get in the way of his drinking beer and reading. His family started with a pretty standard Western Civilization experience after their first child was born. They bought lots of stuff, he commuted a lot and ended up compensating for his absence with more stuff. Somewhere along the way, they realized that Son #1 was happier when they didn't fuss over him too much and let him make his own fun. So, through trial and error, he worked out his method of Idle Parenting. Some of his recommendations seem a little extreme to me, but most of them make a lot of sense. The general idea of letting the kids play on their own without undue parental influence was a key component of my upbringing. To this day, I'm never bored for long. There is always something to do. I particularly found his list of recommended reading  useful. I've started a reading library wish list on Amazon based on his list with just a few minor additions of my own if anyone wants to peruse the titles. He recommends liberal reading aloud of books above their level and lots of repeating poetry so that they can learn a few pieces by heart. I've never been much for poetry (other than Shel Silverstein), but I'm willing to take a look at his recommendations. He's even got me looking into home schooling although we have a few years to get to know our daughter before that becomes a decision we need to make.

P is reading one called Raising Freethinkers, by Dale McGowan and a couple other people. P has been exploring his atheist tendencies and ran across this book. It's supposedly a guide for raising an ethical and moral child in a secular home. It's next on my list to read, so I'll post a synopsis later.

On a less serious note, we took a jaunt over to Grandma's today to work on Ellie's wardrobe. I borrowed her fabric paints to make a little cheerleader shirt for E to wear supporting Dad in his 5K Popcorn Panic run next Saturday. I think it turned out pretty well.

We also solicited some advice and assistance from Grandma on Ellie's Christmas outfit. Ellie and I took a little Mother Daughter jaunt downtown on Thursday and found the cutest little Christmas tights on sale (she just HAD to have them ;)). Grandma's going to help us with a top of some sort. We'll post pics sometime in December.

Other books on the reading list include John Holt's, How Children Learn, Jane Healy's, Your Child's Growing Mind; Free-Range Kids; Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto; and a short book, Teaching Montessori in the Home. Please holler if you have any recommendations.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

9 Month Appointment

Well, it's official. Ellie is a shrimp. She's a whopping 16 pounds 4 ounces. She's grown an inch in three months. At this rate, she could stay in her infant carrier until she's 18 months. She doesn't crawl, but Dr. L wasn't concerned about that. She's a real chatterbox when we go to the doctor's office for some reason. She is healthy, alert, and LOVES the paper on the table. So, I think he was satisfied that she is mentally stimulated and well loved.

As usual, he gave us a laundry list of things to do; adjust the water heater to 120ºF, baby-proof the house, bolt all the tv's and shelves to the wall, secure blind cords, etc.... I thought for sure we'd get out of there for once without a shot, but I asked about the flu shot and so she got part 1 of 2. She almost didn't react to this one and recovered quickly. Maybe she's getting used to the pain. Or, maybe since it was just one she thought it was a cake walk.

We only had a couple of issues to ask the doc about. Grandma and Dad have noticed Ellie grinding her teeth. She really only has half of one on top, so I wonder if she's just getting used to it. Dr. L said his son used to do that too and there's really nothing you can do about it. A mouth guard would be more of a choking hazard than a help. The other issue had to do with a particularly painful poo-sperience this weekend where she actually cried as she was using the potty. She's been eating lots of fruit, but I picked up some prunes when we were out and have been trying to get her to eat one at each of her two meals. So far, she's still straining, but nothing nearly as bad as Saturday.

We've been doing more floor time trying to work on our crawling skills, and I've been throwing in a few more diaper free periods while I can before she starts crawling around. She seems to have the strength and mobility, she just isn't interested enough to go after anything yet. I try to put toys just out of reach, but she is a very easy-going child. She decides that her hands are suddenly fascinating or the people walking by are more fun to flirt with. I wonder what will finally inspire her.

Lovin' on her clouds 
Taking a bath in the BIG tub!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We're Having a Potty!

Potty time = Story time
Ellie has been practicing her potty skills for a while now. We started with a potty-tunity before bath once Dad mentioned that she wasn't peeing as soon as he put her in the tub. Turns out, she pees pretty reliably before bath. So, once she could sit unassisted, it occurred to me that we should try her on the potty other times we had her diaper off. She has taken to the potty very well. She's excited by the attention and the sense of accomplishment. And, it doesn't hurt that she gets a string of books read to her until she gets tired of it. Favorites include; Baby Giggles, Once Upon a Potty, Duck Goes Potty, and the simply titled, Potty. Mom has just about got them all memorized because we sometimes read them twice per potty. Luckily, Ellie is making herself useful and has started to help turn the pages.

While she doesn't go every time she sits on the potty, we do get lucky more often than not. And, we've been catching almost every poop for the last week. We've only had a couple poopy diapers, which, since she's started solids means that there is very little scraping of the diapers anymore (Yay!). The next step(s) are for Mom to get better at reading her body language to anticipate and for her to start signing when she realizes she needs to go. Easy, peazy....

She's still "sleeping through the night". At minimum, she'll go 6 hours altogether. Last night, she went 10. Generally, she gets about 11 total per night. Currently, we're still doing about 3 naps, usually about 2 hours apart. She gets 2-3 hours per day. We've got a regular babysitter, E, who comes in two afternoons a week so I can go work out. Ellie wouldn't nap for her the first time she sat, so we've moved her to a non-nap slot and now, they get to do supper time together. Since E is still in high school, I've got feelers out for supplementary sitters since I seem to have a lot of appointments/meetings that crop up. An old roommate recommended and I've started combing through the listings. I've got a short list started and may start contacting them here soon. Still, Grandma is our preferred sitter, so she gets first shot.

We're still not mobile. Baby Center indicates that she should be crawling by now, but then, she's never been on schedule for much so far....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

8 Months and Counting

We're through the busy busy travel month of July and finally getting back into a routine at home. Ellie now has 7 states down. We slipped in a day trip to St. Joseph, Michigan with Aunt Cat. I really liked it and am planning to go back next summer when Ellie can play on the beach. I also found a little pottery studio that has all sorts of artists I really like, so I might have to make a trip back before next summer ;)

It's been a while, so I'm not sure where to start really. Ellie is sitting unassisted. She (mostly) eats two meals a day, breakfast and dinner. She eats mostly purees and mashes, but we offer diced fruit and cheerios at every meal so she can practice feeding herself. I plan to start making some soups and casseroles so she can work with more diverse textures and foods. So far, no allergies, although she had a splotchy face tonight at dinner. It cleared up in about a half hour though, so we think it was probably just that she rubbed food in her eyes. 

She is sitting on the potty almost every time we change her diaper and today she peed three times in it. She always goes before her bath, so we just started offering more opportunities. I'll be working on getting her to sign potty so maybe we can start being a little proactive. 

So far, no crawling, but she is growing stronger daily, so I think some sort of movement is just around the corner. She certainly scooches all around the crib when she's trying to get to sleep, so she's mobile when she wants to be.

She hasn't been sleeping through the night. Generally, she wakes every 3-4 hours. However, last night, we tried an experiment and let her soothe herself back to sleep the first two wake-ups. She ended up sleeping from 7-5. I finally went in at 5, but she didn't nurse much and then went back to bed for another hour and a half. We're going to try it again tonight, so cross your fingers....

She is cutting another tooth (top center). She's been very secretive about it, so P had to hold her upside down (which she likes a lot) to be able to look along her upper jaw for a tooth bud. There is tooth visible, so hopefully her eating will get back on track here soon.

We have her 9 month wellness checkup in three weeks, so it'll be interesting to see where she is by then. I anticipate that we'll have to move up to the next size carseat and that she may weigh as much as 17 pounds.

She posed so pretty, it's just too bad my phone focused on her hands :(

She loves to watch the dogs...

Big blue eyes

Ellie with Aunt Cat at O'Hare

Ellie in her new favorite toy. I promise the house doesn't look this cluttered from most vantage points.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Home Again, Home Again

We are home again. Our guest room with the M family was very comfortable. But, you just can't beat your own bed. Ellie definitely subscribes to that school of thought because she has done little else but sleep since we got home about 6:30 last night. Her current nap is approaching the 90 minute mark.

She was a very good traveler for 5 days, but about the time we pulled into the gate at Midway, she reached her breaking point after 5 days of less than satisfactory sleep. She passed out at the baggage claim and woke up just outside the airport. Then, she screamed the rest of the way home. We stopped at one of the toll plazas, but she didn't want to nurse and being out of her seat for a few minutes gave her false hope that we were home. So, when I put her back in her seat, it seemed the screaming/crying got a touch more hysterical. We stopped to get pizza and true to form, she fell asleep about 4 minutes before. When I got out of the car, she woke up and commenced crying. I can honestly say, I have never been as glad to get home.

While we were in Reno, we took a daytrip to Lake Tahoe (sneaking in state #6, California). We took a gondola up to the top of Heavenly, took in the view, grabbed some lunch, P snapped some pics, then we came down and browsed through some shops before heading back to Reno. The Z's stocked up on hair bows and I bought Ellie some cute tights for fall. I also splurged on a fancy baby bag for Ellie and I. It'll probably do double duty as a Mom bag for years to come since it's not an obvious diaper bag.

Also, Ellie started using consonants Tuesday. She just kind of woke up with "D", "K", and "G" in her vocabulary. Needless to say, P is pleased as punch that she is saying "Dada". And, she can sit by herself for short periods.
I'm sitting all by myself.

Our next big excitement is when Aunt C visits next week. We're looking forward to it!
Our Hosts

Ellie with her BF Zaedin. He was very good with her and could always get a smile from her.

Our family.
Ellie in traveling clothes. Alicia FINALLY got to hold her some on the last day.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

On the Road Again

This weekend, we're in Nevada (state #5). We're staying with friends who have three young children. So far, Ellie is loving it. Everyone is competing for her attention. Naps have been irregular, with the majority of the day spent in cars, airports, and airplanes. Ellie was a good sport (as usual) throughout and flirted every chance she got. She took a short nap on the first flight but then didn't sleep until we reached Reno. Then, she went to bed around 5:30. Which, was fine, except she woke for good this morning at 4:30. So, we've been chasing sleep today. We'll probably get caught up with the time difference about the time we go home.

Today, we went to the Animal Ark, which is an animal sanctuary. The kids seemed to like it. Ellie just liked watching the kids and being outside. Most of the animals were sleeping in the shade since it was right about lunchtime, but we did get to see one of the coyotes get a beef bone. P took his camera and got a few photos.

Zamaeris, Alicia, Zaehrin, Pete, Zaedin, Erin, and Ellie.


Mountain lion

Unidentified flower with a really sweet smell.

Flower with a bee.

Coyote, Amelia Earhart, eying her meaty snack.

Fetching the meat bone.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Traveler in Pink

This weekend, Ellie went to her fourth state, Florida. Dad was in a wedding for his oldest friend. P bought 2 new suits for the occasion since he's lost 20-30 pounds and all his old suits hang off of him. The new suits look super nice on him. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures to prove it and he won't voluntarily wear one again until the company Christmas Party. You'll just have to take my word for it....

Ellie was a bit of a scene stealer at the wedding. She was very popular with ladies of all ages and grandpas. She did pretty well with a very erratic sleep schedule and tons of extra stimulation. Friday, we woke her at 4 am and left for the airport by 4:30. She didn't sleep again until takeoff (literally the second the wheels lifted off), and then only for 30 minutes. She took another nap at the hotel once we checked in, and then not until we left the rehearsal dinner around 9:30. Total sleep for the day, 8 hours and 22 minutes. The next day, we did much better. She slept till about 7 am, we went to breakfast, she took a nap, we ran to the mall since it was raining and we couldn't go swimming. Then, we slipped in two decent sized naps before the 6:30 wedding ceremony. She got 10 hours that day. Yesterday, coming home, she logged 15 hours, which put her on a better than normal schedule.

The wedding itself was lovely. Ellie and I spent it in the Cry Room. Not because she would cry, but because she tends to be very vocal when she is happy. And, she's a happy child. She especially likes to sing with other music, so I was afraid she might not be appropriately sedate during the soloists and the vows. And, she did sing along for a few of the hymns. Luckily, the only witnesses were a couple other parents and about 7 kids. Toward the end, I put her in her new sling to try to induce a nap. It didn't work, but she did calm down significantly for a while. She got a little feisty when the food came out at the reception. So, we took her out for a little while to eat. After dinner, P took a turn with the sling and she fell asleep.

I learned a few things about streamlining for air travel. We CAN fit nearly everything we need in one medium size bag. Our next trip doesn't require any formal wear, so we should be okay for sure. This trip, we took a garment bag. We don't need a stroller if we have a sling, which packs pretty small. However, I saw a nifty contraption at Midway that attaches to the carseat and gives it wheels and a handle. So long as Rick doesn't mind carrying the carseat, it's not strictly necessary, but would certainly be convenient. I also don't need as many diapers as I took.

So, now that we've got one commercial trip under our belt, we can start planning the next one to Nevada. One thing is for sure though. We all definitely prefer the TBM and would like to be able to fly that way down to Texas next time. Cross your fingers.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Asparagus Fiend

Last night, P and I went out for dinner for the first time in a few weeks. We've been taking swimming lessons on date night, so this was kind of a treat. I ordered asparagus and when it was my turn to hold her, Ellie reached out and snagged a spear for herself. I guess it just looked too irresistible. She proceeded to gnaw on and discard a few different spears. She didn't make too much headway, but she did make a decent mess considering that asparagus is a pretty neat food. I'm going to need to start wearing a smock and putting down a splash mat when we eat out.

Monday, June 20, 2011

In 'n Out

Just a couple days after we noticed the first tooth, a second one joined it. She keeps them hidden mostly, but every now and then you can keep her tongue back and take a peek. They are about half emerged from what I can tell. So far, she's been a trooper. Her head seemed a little warm this morning, but mostly, you can't tell she's teething. I was dreading days of crankiness and sleeplessness. But, she is sleeping better the last couple days. There were several where she was waking up every 2.5 hours, but now we seem to be back to 4-6 hour stretches (knock on wood). She has been a little off her feed, but today, she had a lot more appetite.

As far as solids go, I give her a few tidbits when she is around and we're eating. However, most of the time, I eat when she's asleep. So, she gets food only sporadically. And, since she hasn't shown a ton of interest, I'm not really sweating it. So far, she's tasted oatmeal, raspberries, mushrooms, potatoes, broccoli, peaches, avocado, dried apricot, and pie crust. She has taken everything except the peach and avocado, so far. I cut up some celery and cucumber sticks tonight so we might try those as more substantial grabbing food in the next couple days. I also steamed some veggies, so we might try those too. The broccoli especially seemed to fascinate her. We got to see her gag reflex in action as she moved the little blossom from the back of her throat back to her jaw for a little additional mastication.

I'm beginning to get a little anxious about our upcoming trip to Florida. Luckily, we only have a couple of events on the schedule. And, since we're nursing nakid'  boob style, nursing seems much more effortless. I've found a couple of suitable dressy outfits I can nurse in, which is harder than you'd think. Button up shirts are scarce these days. I even found "cute" shoes I think I can walk in while carrying a baby/baby carrier. Now, I'm just debating how many extra sleep sacks, outfits, etc to pack. We've been having severe night-time diaper leak issues.

Size-wise, she's still in size 2's, but when we ran out of our diaper cake stash, I bought 12-hour Pampers thinking they'd solve our occasional leak issues. Instead, they increased them. After giving them about a week, I had washed the sheets, sleep sacks, and clothes more times than I cared to. A load a day. The final straw was when she leaked through two sleep sacks in one day. I bought the Pampers Extra Protection diapers in the next size and after one night, they seem like they might do the trick. I changed her mid-way through the night and then her morning diaper was just enormous. But, leak free! I'm beginning to think we might could have solved the problem by just moving to regular size 3's. Which is weird because at 14 pounds, she's still under the 18 pound weight limit. And, under the 16 pound entry weight for size 3's. Maybe she just eliminates like a bigger baby....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cutting Up and Out

Ellie started cutting her first tooth yesterday (apparently I was mistaken before). It's a sharp little nub on her lower right center. She's handled it with no fuss except she seemed to have trouble sleeping last night. She woke up 90 minutes after going to bed – during which time there were several near wake-ups, and then 90 minutes again after that. The second time was mere seconds after I had laid my head down for the night. She does seem to have a 6th sense about these things.... The second time, I figured I'd try to be proactive and I grabbed the Orajel before I went in. She only nursed for 6 minutes and never opened her eyes, so when it seemed like she was really out, I jabbed some Orajel in her pie-hole to hopefully numb the nub. She didn't take the intrusion kindly and I suspect she doesn't like the flavor or possibly the numb tongue sensation. It's the "natural" Orajel with the main active ingredient being clove oil. I tasted it a little this morning after she fussed about it again. It tastes a little like licorice, which is one of my least favorite flavors. So, maybe she takes after me. Luckily, the flavor dissipates pretty quickly. And, after getting Orajel-ed last night, she slept for 4.5 hours and then another 3. Which was good, since Mom doesn't handle 90 minute intervals well. Hopefully the morning nap will be of the longer variety also...

We also have eliminated the nipple shield finally (I hope). We've only used it once in about 36 hours and that was because she was incredibly fussy. In that instance, she wasn't rejecting naked boob, she had some really stubborn gas that the magic baby hold got rid of. The timing is good though because we're supposed to fly to a wedding in a few weeks. And, while we've learned how to keep the nipple shields on hand and clean at home, traveling with them is a pain since they must be cleaned and packed away constantly. Naked boob is much much much easier. She was getting to the point where she was playing with it an awful lot. She'd blow into it and also peel it off and chew on it like a pacifier. As a matter of fact, I'll probably keep it in the diaper bag for a supervised diversion.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Little Swimmer

Yesterday, we went for our first swim class. Ellie was a little overwhelmed at first, but she got into it after I kept grinning like a fool and encouraging her. She finally took her hand out of her mouth and started reaching for the little bath toys we were supposed to toss for the kids. She even swallowed some water at one point and coughed it out like a trooper.

Before getting wet.

Toward the end of class. We LURVE Gator!!