Monday, August 28, 2006

Our moment of zen

About a week ago, Nate and I were playing in the basement. He has two bouncy balls - a football and a soccer ball and lately he loves to play catch with them. He went to pick up the soccer ball to throw it to me and out of the corner of his eye he noticed the football. He carried the soccer ball over and tried to pick up the football - no dice. Each time he picked up one, the other squirted out of his arms.

I had a moment, watching him, where I was talking to him in my mind: "You only need one, Nate. Please don't want both - you can't have both!" I can do a lot for Nate, but I can't do too much to change who he is deep down. And deep down, he's either going to be okay with only having one toy, or he's going to want to have them all. And however he is, it will make so much of a difference in his life. Please be happy with what you have, Nate. You have so much. This is my deep wish, for him and for us. We have so much.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Teaching the boy to play catch may have been an error in judgment. He throws everything now, gleefully. I'm taking a cue from the only "parenting" book I've read and saying "we don't throw hard/pointy/heavy things. But we can throw the soft ball!" and handing him the ball. Aren't I a superstar?

The book I've been reading, courtesy of sister Deborah, is How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk. I really love the techniques and ideas. I can see myself using a lot of them, especially the problem-solving bits.

As I was reading through their examples of how to talk to your kids, I could hear Fredi in every quote. They talk about praising with detail, so the kid will know you really saw/heard what they wanted you to. So when they give you a scarf, you don't say "I love it!" you say "I love these wide red stripes, and the fringe on the end. It's really going to keep me warm on that walk to the bus." That's Fredi, through and through. She was truly interested in everything her grandkids had to say. She listened attentively and heard just what they were trying to say. She did that with all of us. I miss her so much.

The boy is doing great. Careening through life with a big grin, as usual.

How are you?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Two milestones in one!

Two milestones in two days.

Yesterday (August 18th), I went in to get him from a nap. When he wakes up in a good mood, we play around for a while - he in his crib, and me on the floor. Peekaboo is a favorite, and singing. We have also started playing catch - I lay on the floor and toss a stuffed animal into the crib, he retrieves it and flings it down to me. We were playing with a duck yesterday, and before I'd toss it to him I'd say "duck, duck!" He looked right at it and said "Duh." Now I know it sounds like a regular baby noise, but his D sounds are always "Da da da da." This was a distinct "duh" and I know for sure it was him saying "duck." So he hath spoken, and the good word is "duck."

And today he got his first fat lip.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On parenting

So my friends are starting to get knocked-up, and I've been thinking a lot about what I would love to pass along to them. The first thought is how incredibly excited I am for them; I know what they're going to be experiencing, and it's better than anything.

So here, in no particular order, are some of the more important things I've been taught / experienced / figured out.

* Generic diapers are wonderful. Try them. Generic wipes, and generic forumla, are also great.

* Breastfeeding is really, really, really hard and often really, really, REALLY painful. Line up a Lactation Consultant before you go into labor. Line up a few. Everyone thought that Nate was latching beautifully, but it was so horribly painful that I knew something was wrong. The 4th L.C. that I saw adjusted his latch just a smidge, and the pain was gone that very day. Surround yourself with supportive people. If someone had said "Oh, just give him a bottle" I might have killed them, and then I would have had to deal with too many things at the same time.

* Do not stress about how often to change baby's diaper. If it's stinky, change it quickly. If they have diaper rash, change it often. Otherwise, change it when you get around to it. Trust me, they don't care either way. And at night, don't bother at all (unless you want to wake them up even more and hear more screaming). Again, change if they're stinky or rashy; otherwise, lube 'em up good with A&D or Desitin, and don't worry about it too much.

* Every baby is born with days and nights mixed up until they're about 6 weeks. To help the reversal along, try these ideas: During the day, lights are on, shades are open (even while they're napping), voices are at normal range. Around evening time, lights & voices dim. During nighttime feedings, keep the lights as low as possible, no talking or singing or playing, and no eye contact.

* If you want to co-sleep, there are other blogs with great advice. If you don't want to co-sleep, try to set ideas in place at the beginning to help get the baby into their own crib/room. When they fall asleep during the day, put them down in their crib (on their backs, of course, with no blanket) to sleep. If they wake up, just pick them back up until they fall asleep again. Then put them back down. It's not a hard and fast rule: sometimes you both will just need them to sleep, so let them sleep a while in your arms or in the swing. But try to put them down to sleep more often than not. A white-noise machine will help them feel more cozy, since it's such an odd feeling for them to be flat on their backs on an un-moving surface. Swadding is a great help in this; they'll feel so cozy and tucked-in.

* In all things, try to be mindful of the future. The same way that you don't want to let a Rottweiler puppy sit on your lap all the time (because soon it'll be 150 pounds and too damn heavy), try to think about the future implications of your actions. If baby sleeps in your arms all the time (which is tempting, because it feels so good and you need the sleep), baby will sleep best in your arms. If you tiptoe around and keep your voices low while baby sleeps, baby will not learn to sleep through noise. What you're doing now affects the future.

* On that note, read The Happiest Baby on the Block. Loved everything about that book. If you're tired and busy, rent the DVD.

* Also read The No Cry Sleep Solution. I don't agree with everything she says, but there is a lot of great advice there. I used a lot of it in sleep-training Nate.

* Don't sweat things too much. Yes, you need to be mindful. But you can fail to be perfect and everything will still be okay. Nate sometimes slept in his swing, but he turned into a wonderful sleeper anyway. You're all going to be fine.

* I promise you this: if you let your dogs bark and leave the radio on, your baby will learn to sleep through it. She'll learn almost immediately. Don't get stuck in the trap of tiptoe & whisper; it doesn't do any of you any good.

* Don't use fabric bibs; they need to be run through the laundry. Get some good wipe-off bibs like these ones which are also nice and wide. You just use the sponge on them and they're ready to go again. Fantastico.

* I washed all of Nate's clothing with ours, with regular-old detergent (dye-free, fragrance-free). No Dreft, and no separating his clothing. He's still alive.

* Your wife/husband/partner/significant other is going to do things differently. It's going to be really, really hard, but let them be. They'll forge their own way, and sometimes it'll even be better than your way. Give them a chance.

* If you're breastfeeding, you're going to spend the first two weeks petrified that they're not eating enough, since there's no way to tell how much they're eating. Also, they always fall asleep while they're eating so how can you tell? Here's how: if they're peeing a bunch and pooping some, they're fine. The hospital will tell you how many wet and how many dirty diapers you want to see in a day. They'll probably even give you a check-list so you can keep track. Use it to set your mind at ease.

* Also if you're breastfeeding: sometimes they're going to go 6 hours between feedings and get you all excited, and then they're going to spend 2 weeks eating every hour. They have very frequent growth-spurts, so just go with the flow. Frequent nursing is a way of increasing your supply; do not supplement with formula or your supply will never get to where it needs to be. Let your baby guide you in this area. Do as she says and nobody will get hurt. Much, anyway.

* If you have any worries at all, call the pediatrician. It doesn't matter if it's 2 a.m. Just call them. A good pediatrician is used to it, and won't resent it at all. If they're rude to you, find a new pediatrician.

* Have a stockpile of medications on-hand before baby comes home. You don't want to be running to the store at 3 am. Google will surely show you 100 articles on "things to have ready when baby comes home" so I won't waste time with my list. Except to say that it was especially nice to have the tummy-treatment stuff (gripe water and Mylecon).

* On that note, have a stockpile of EVERYTHING on-hand before baby comes home. Blankets, burp cloths, onesies / sleepers / baggies, swaddling blankets, etc. You just want to be able to focus on your baby; you don't want to be running around trying to find everything. Get it all washed and organized ahead of time. If you're Jewish, just wash and organize everything in big rubbermaid containers and store them at someone else's house. They can bring them over as soon as baby arrives safely.

* Set up a changing station wherever you're likely to spend the most time.

* Pretzel rods are an amazing finger-food around 8 or 9 months. It takes them forever to eat their way through one!

* I intentionally got Nate hooked on a "woobie." I held it between us when he nursed, and kept in the crib with him (once he could safely turn himself over, of course). I ONLY give it to him during sleepy times, so he's completely Pavloved to it. Now if I hand it to him in the middle of the day, he sticks his thumb in his mouth and puts his head on my shoulder. Sucker.

* I've never heard of a baby who actually got nipple confusion. If you think they need a pacifier, try one! In that vein, if you're breastfeeding but want them to be able to take a bottle with EBM (expressed breast milk) try giving them a bottle very early. I waited until the prescribed 5th week, and he was already very wedded to the boobies. Also make sure to heat up the EBM pretty warm - remember that it comes out of your body at 98.6 degrees. If you don't heat it up quite a bit, it'll be too cold for baby's tates.

* If you're storing breastmilk in the freezer, lay the bags flat to freeze. They'll defrost much more quickly (because of the extensive surface area) than if you stand them upright and it freezes in a big clump at the bottom of the bag.

* Trust yourself and your gut. Have some plans in mind, but remember to go with the flow. I remember one night Nate was about a week and a half old, and he was up in the middle of the night. I'll never forget being all alone with him while Stewart and my Mom slept. I watched a little TV (on mute to help with the whole "THIS IS NIGHTTIME" thing), cuddled him, and just relaxed with him. Your baby will be a baby for such a short time. Enjoy every second that you can.

Readers, chime in!

Friday, August 11, 2006


I think we're in really big trouble. He may be smarter than both of us, and he's certainly stronger. As soon as he figures that out, game OVER.

Nate has a little hairbrush that came in a kit we were given. Since he was mostly bald until a few months ago, it hasn't gotten much use. Except that it has a nice rubbery handle, and Nate loves to chew on it. Who doesn't like to chew on rubbery bristly things, right?

Now his hair is getting a little long, so I have used the brush 2 or 3 times after his bath. He smiles this really sweet smile while I brush his hair, and looks shyly upwards (this may portend an issue of a whole different sort, but we'll deal with that later). Anyway, tonight I gave it to him to chew on after I brushed his hair, and we went downstairs to make up a bottle. I put him down to toddle around, and as I'm shaking the bottle I glance over my shoulder to make sure he hasn't fallen down the stairs or stabbed himself with something, and I see him staggering around brushing his own hair.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Show off.

Remember that infurating expression about nothing being constant except change? I hate when those things are true. Just when I get into a good routine and start to count on it and make plans around it, Nate's gotta go and be an overachiever. It looks like he's already at the "one nap a day" point, and it's making me crazy. After about 3 hours of having him awake, I've run out of material: we've read books, played "gonna getcha", toddled around the basement, done our tickling, gone for a stroll, and what the heck else is there to do? I guess now that he's walking we can venture off to the playground, but it's so hot that it's hard to motivate to do that. Do you think he could walk there himself? It's only 3 blocks away. You can almost see it from the stoop! I mean, if I'm gonna have an over-achieving kid, I might as well get something out of it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Put your back into it!

Nate's newest love is pushing things around - the heavier the better. As I sat at the computer this morning, out of the corner of my eye I see the tiniest little moving crew bent over, pushing two boxes of clothes across the room. Eyes fixed across the room, back straight, arms out in front, pushing hard. It was a good day's work.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Monthly Newsletter, Month Eleven

Dear Nate,

You're 11 months old, and life is so very good. When I think about this past month, it's almost like you're a different child than you were last month.

I can't think of anything that I would change about you, Nate. You are a dream child. You're active and busy, and such a go-getter. Nothing scares you, except when I start talking after we've been quiet for a while. Then you scutter across the floor to me, pull up on my legs, and start crying. You're a funny baby.

Last month, I was so excited to catch a photo of you standing up. Now, you're walking. Granted, you're drunker than a drunken sailor, but you're definitely walking. Today I counted 14 stiff-legged, staggering steps across the room. You took your first step on July 14th, and you have never looked back. You crawl when you need to, but you walk as much as you can. If not for the diaper, your rear would be one big black-and-blue mark. But you walk, fall, and get right back up to walk more. And fall more. And more getting back up. And the falling.

You are still climbing stairs, but you've added in a Nate note: you slap each step a few times as you climb along. Just another happy-go-lucky move from my happy-go-lucky little kid.

We walk to Westminster Park at least twice a week so you can play in the fountains. You love it - flapping your arms, splashing in the puddles on the ground, and walking straight into the sprays, spluttering and grinning the whole time.

You are big into the interactive games now. Your favorite game is catch, and you started playing this game with your Grandpa. He rolls you the ball, you grab it (sometimes even bending down to grab it as it rolls at you, so needless to say we're already contacting scouts about your eye-hand coordination), and then you get it back to him. I say "get it back" because there's no set method - sometimes you fling it, sometimes you drop it and it accidentally gets back towards Grandpa, and sometimes you take the direct route and walk it back to him. You then hoot for him to roll it back to you, which is hard because you're standing 6 inches away. So he'll hand it to you, and you take great pleasure in delivering it back to him again. It's so precious I can hardly put down the video camera to play with you.

You had our first summer visit to Noconomo as a family. You swam in the lake, ate your body weight in food, and charmed the pants off of your family. It was such a dream to watch you playing with your cousins, and they were so sweet with you. Connor took special care with you, fetching balloons for you to pop and toys for you to chew on.

It took a few days for you to warm up to the cool lake water, but we got you there. I know that in a few years we're going to be fighting to get you out of the water.

I wish I was a funny, snarky, realistic blogger whose love seeps quietly through the writing. But my heart is an open gush since you've been born, and I can't pretend it isn't. You're my heart, Nate.


Friday, August 4, 2006

The post I NEVER thought I'd write

My baby sleeps all the time these days. Seriously.

Today he woke up at 6:30. Went down for his first nap at 8:30 and woke up at almost noon. This is about 2 hours longer than his normal nap.

Went out for a long walk, and then played in the fountains at the park. Went down for a nap at 3:30, and now it's almost 6. Still asleep.

My prediction is that he'll still go down for the night close to his normal time.

Is this normal? Growth spurt? Dealing with the heat? Is my baby broken?

What's next?!

The boy has leg hair. What's next? A wipsy moustache? Playboy under the bed?

Also, he's walking. It's the cutest thing in the world.

Longer update soon, I promise.