April 24, 2012

One Year

The petite miss turned one on Sunday. Although she's been more clingy the last month and starting to throw fits when she doesn't get what she wants, she is a ball of joy. She laughs and will initiate games (chase and push mom off the bed are her two favorties). She points at everything and is fascinated by the world. She's walking and climbing the stairs.
It is absolutely amazing to see her personality develop and to teach her new tricks (high five!).
Overall, she is healthy and on track.

I try not to pay too much attention to milestones and growth charts, but every time a well baby appoitment rolls around, I kind of have to and then start to hyperventilate a little.
It seems like every chart is different and if you've filled out the ASQ for your pediatrician's office, you know that not all of the activities are expected at that age, but where do you draw the line for concern?
Her motor skills, problem solving and social skills are all right where they should be or ahead. Her communication may be a little behind (according to many sources, she should be saying at least "mama" and maybe one other word) or it might not (our doctor says she wouldn't even mean "mama" at this age). So far, none of our development fears related to her being SGA have materialized.

But her growth is another issue. She's fallen off the curve and we have a referral to a nutritionist.
There are a lot of issues tangled up here. One is our pediatrician. I like her, but she's older and I don't know how current she is on some matters. It's hard to get much of a read since the appoitments feel so rushed and it mostly feels like she's simply hitting the talking points. It's hard to tell if she's giving us the official hospital line because she has to (no cosleeping) or because she genuinely believes it's wrong. (Tangent? She did ask if the babe was sleeping in her crib and my reply of mostly, about half the time, yeah seemed to give her pause until I clarified that she went down in her crib, but then after the second wake up at 2 am, I'd be too tired and take her into bed and she said, oh, that's fine. Also, I know it's common for breastfed babies to still be waking at night and it was nice to see her similarly dismiss that instead of insisting she should be sleeping 10 hours at a time.)
Knowing that the doctors see so many patients, I can be understanding, but I do worry that she's not well versed with SGA babies, since it's not the norm. (Preemies and IUGR babies are more common and though we share some of the same concerns, so far the kiddo seems to just be small for no discernible reason.)
I can't find good information on this, so I don't know what's available to the doctors.
What it boils down to is that the wee one was in the 5th percentile for weight at birth through about 6 or 7 months, then fell off the chart. We weigh her on our Wii Fit and she went through about 3 months with no gain, then starting gaining again and then stopped again the last month. Her head size (5th %) and length (5% at birth to almost 20% currently) have stayed steady, but her weight is down to 0.55%.  So the question is is there a problem or is this just her growth pattern?
I have read about the problems with comparing breastfed babies to formula fed (and even the updated charts include formula fed, so skew the charts slightly but not as bad as the old charts). I have read that IUGR babies (again, not a whole lot of information relating to strictly SGA babies) have higher rates of obesity as adults, possibly related to overfeeding in an attempt to get them to "catch up" on the growth curve.
I also know that malnutrition, especially at this age when her brain is making and pruning connections can have life long implications.
So what does one do? I just try to make sure she's happy and healthy. I think we're doing a great job. My inclination is that this is just the way she is, but we'll know a little more after we meet with the nutritionist. In the meantime, I'm following my instincts. I'm trying to offer her more snacks (there are not enough hours in the day) and I continue to breastfeed on demand, which means every 2-3 hours. (I've gotten conflicting info regarding content of breastmilk at this age, with some saying it's not as nutritionally significant now and less fatty and some saying it's the same, especially since she's still feeding so often. Again, my instinct says evolution blah blah blah, so boob it is.) We do the best we have with what we've got. (I feel a little like Donald Rumsfeld right now.)

I worry that maybe I'm not worrying enough, but then I'm too busy and happy to care.

April 1, 2012

In which I talk about poop

I know it's a parenting cliche, but honestly, I've never been poop obsessed. The only reason we paid much attention in the early days was because we knew the pediatrician would ask us. I have always been surprised at how often other parents ask about my child's bowel movements.
Other cloth diapering moms will understand my elation at our first solid poop. (Our, as if I had anything to do with it.)

The combination of BLW and cloth diapers has been a little gross, I'll admit. At first, we had essentially breastmilk poop with chunks of food, which was still easy to handle. Then the stink and sticky came, and boy am I tired of scraping.
So I did an internal dance of joy and wished I had someone to call when I could actually just shake it right off, like all the cloth diapering forums claim.

I feel like we've now passed the worst and I can definitively claim that I love cloth diapering. That's right, love. I have to do extra laundry, yes, but it really is just dump and go and if I can't run down to the basement for 30 seconds, we've got much bigger problems on our hands.
I can't say that it's responsible for our lack of diaper rash or blowouts, but we've had very few of the former and none of the latter.
It's extremely easy on the pocketbook, especially considering we received most of our stash as shower gifts.
The only issue we've had has been related to the kiddo's small stature. The size one covers we use go up to 18 pounds, but I had to switch her over to the size twos at about 15 pounds because she'd outgrown the rise. Before we switched her over, we had a few leak issues with the infant prefolds. They just weren't absorbent enough to go all night after she started waking up to nurse again. We experimented with doublers, which were mostly successful and changing her very early in the morning, but since we've moved up to the premium prefolds, we haven't had another leak. (And she's still waking up two or three times a night.)

It's so easy, I'm not even really dreading having two kids in diapers at the same time.
(No, no, that wasn't a pregnancy announcement, but we'd like one or two more and when you wait until after 30 for your first, you can't space them too far apart.)

March 30, 2012

Suzy Homemaker

This whole being home thing has really allowed me to step up my homemaker cred. I'm baking all of our bread. Multigrain for sandwiches, toast and whatnot and lately lots and lots of English muffins. I've always made spaghetti sauce and stock, but now I've added beans to the freezer stash. Black beans, white beans and refried pinto beans.
I recently read An Everlasting Meal and while it wasn't particularly revalatory for me, it has added to my mindfulness. The flipside is the recent Yahoo column a friend posted for ridicule, wherein the thing that I found most outrageous was the $1000 monthly food bill. (The rest of it is really a whole 'nother topic.) I suppose if you don't cook, or don't like to, it can really add up, even if you're not eating out. I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around that figure.

You can eat well (in all senses) inexpensively with just a bit of planning. Try not to buy things that will spoil willy nilly. I definitely still struggle with this, because I hit the produce section and IT ALL LOOKS SO GOOD. So I come home with a bit too much, and don't get to the pear or the kiwi before it goes to the dark side.
Know what you have in your pantry and freezer to work with. Throw out your recipes (for the most part).
For example, I made our monthly shopping trip to Costco Wednesday and came home with a rotisserie chicken because I hadn't made a plan for dinner. (Super tasty, $5. That's how much raw chicken costs.)
I threw together a warm potato and arugula salad (impulse bought the arugula at Trader Joe's) and some green beans and we had a lovely dinner. The leftover salad was FANTASTIC scrambled with eggs for breakfast in the morning.
I made red beans and rice to go with the rest of the chicken last night. I hadn't planned on it, so instead of soaking the beans, I simmered them for about an hour. Then I strained them (saving the liquid to make soup later) and added them to sauted bacon, onions, and celery with some chicken stock and spices. I used the cooking liquid from that round to make a baked rice pilaf, sauted some kale (in more bacon) and heated up frozen corn. The chicken carcass will go into the freezer until I have enough to make a giant pot of stock. And there's still an entire breast left, which is going on barbecue chicken pizza tonight.
That's the kind of day that makes me feel good. And it's totally a bonus if I've had time to clean the bathrooms.

February 21, 2012

Girls who like boys

Can I tell you something? Though I had best friends growing up and hung out with groups of girls up to my sophomore year in high school, I've always preferred hanging out with guys.
My first best friend was a bit of a tomboy too and we spent more days playing softball and war than playing Barbies. The first inkling I had that there might have been something wrong with this, I was six years old. We had moved a few months before and I was playing with a gang of kids when the boys wanted to go off and play football, while the girls were headed back somewhere to play house. I headed off with the boys. I do remember the ringleader of the girls saying something, but clearly it wasn't enough to penetrate. I'd rather run around outside and thought it was no big deal. After the game was over and we met back up, I was snubbed. All the girls were in on it now, saying mean things. I still couldn't figure out what the problem was, but went home to play by myself the rest of the afternoon.
Fast forward through more moves, more friends, awful middle school behavior (including my group of friends turning on me before throwing me over and another girl harassing me to the point of police involvement because someone said the boy she liked liked me) and all the awkwardness that comes with it to high school, where I finally started to gain some confidence and be myself. A handful of us girls usually had lunch with a handful of guys, playing silent football or Egyptian rat screw in the hall near our lockers. One day, the girls were all headed off somewhere before the lunch period was over. I elected to stay where I was. Again, I didn't think there was anything abnormal in this. I still didn't, until several days later, when the guys were missing during lunch and I was pounced on. Who did I like? Um, what? Which one of the guys did I have a crush on? Was is this one or that one? This other guy? None. Seriously, none. (Okay, I did end up briefly dating one of them later. But that didn't play into it here.) None of them believed me, of course. But there was no nice way to tell the truth: I simply preferred the company of the guys over theirs.
I have made some women friends over the years, but for the most part, my female friends are the wives and girlfriends of friends. I like them, I really do. And some of them I might even be friends with if they weren't dating/married to someone I've known for 15 years. But the only reason I don't slink off with the guys now is that I can't play an instrument. And the ladies will play Scrabble with me.

February 17, 2012

You give Jane a bad name

When I mention Jane Austen, what comes to mind? Maybe sweeping, period romances? Perhaps zombies, or cross stitch, or English class memories?
When I mention Jane Austen fans, what comes to mind? Unmarried ladies who baby talk to their cats? Young girls swooning or grandmas in cardigans?

I love Jane Austen, and even I've fallen prey to the generalization. She's used as shorthand, to mean a certain type of fiction, but it does a great disservice, because it tends to leave out all of her subversive, satiric humor.

While browsing the library last week for fluff, I picked up a book whose jacket proclaimed "For fans of Jane Austen and mysteries!" I love both of those things, so what the hell. I'll give it a shot. I did not bother to read the inside of the jacket, so made the assumption it was a mystery set in the Regency. Instead, it turned out to be yet another retelling of Pride and Prejudice, crossed with a plot practically stolen from Agatha Christie's A Murder Is Announced. That in and of itself was not the problem.
The heroine grated on my nerves. She quoted Austen lines, from the books or movies, at the drop of a hat. The author seemed to have spent more time figuring out how to work these in than craft realistic characters or a compelling story. The girl was supposed to be in her mid-twenties, yet she referenced childhood crushes on Corey Haim, Peter Gabriel and Jake Ryan. (The book was published in 2009.)
From the Harlequin romance school of writing, I was treated to detailed descriptions of practically everyone we met and their outfits, even store clerks who had absolutely no bearing on anything. Even for a founding member of The Society for the Preservation of the Adverb, there were far, far too many "colorful" descriptions.
Every time I'd turn the page, something would make my head want to explode. An example? Our heroine is of course (of course!) on a diet and grabs a package of Oreos, only to think better of it, so she "flung the package back untouched." Or another character "grabbed a large piece of bread and popped it in his mouth."
Naturally, I finished the book and because I am a glutton for punishment, read the sequel, which I had also picked up.
Moral of the story: browsing the library instead of just grabbing your books on hold is akin to grocery shopping while hungry.

January 31, 2012

Still kickin'

So, no excuses, huh? Nope. Wasn't feeling it, now it seems I am.
The cold, dark, dark, dreary, dark winter days make me just want to curl up on the couch under a blanket.
Comfort food? Check. We had a second Thanksgiving, prompted by the lack of leftovers from Thanksgiving proper and a killer deal on turkeys. Like a madwoman, I cooked the entire meal from scratch, by myself. I did not lose my damn mind. I reasoned that on any random Sunday, I might roast a chicken, make mashed potatoes and gravy and sauteed kale. So I made a pumpkin cheesecake and whole wheat rolls the day before, and stuffing from half of the rolls. And an exra vegetable. And we got to see some friends before the holidays. It was awesome.
Also, chocolate dipped salted caramels as gifts. Need more for me.
Knitting? Check. Still haven't made the cardigan for the baby, but we'll aim for next winter, shall we?
Reading? Check. I'd only read a couple of books since last spring, but went through one every few days for December and early January. Finally read The Hunger Games. (I'm still waiting on Catching Fire from the library, so hush.)
Movies? Eh. It takes 3 hours to watch a 90 minute film these days, as the baby is only just easing out of waking every hour. I have totally given up on her having a normal sleeping pattern, punctuated by periods of wonkiness due to teething or developmental spurts. It's all wonky, all the time here. Which makes watching anything take forever.
Learning how to use my new sewing machine, baking my own bread in earnest, snuggling with a baby.
Nope, no excuses. Winter's been pretty fine this year.

December 5, 2011

Nothing like a tiny finger jammed up your nose at 4 am

Back when I said we didn't cosleep? Spoke too soon, apparently.

I don't have a problem with the concept, I just didn't think it would be for us.

When the babe stopped sleeping through the night, she wouldn't go back down alone. In the interest of us all getting sleep, she stayed in bed.
Then she started fighting sleep and it took a dark room and cuddling to get her down.

I figured it was just a phase. Too much fun to be had to take naps. I asked the pediatrician at her check up when I should start being concerned, but I think she misunderstood my question. She uttered the words "sleep training" and I pretty much tuned out the rest of what she said.
I don't care for cry it out methods, period. I think if she's crying, it's because she needs something, even if that something is just to be held. Since I don't have another job at this point, that's what I do.
Also, if a baby previously slept through the night just fine and has always been a good self-soother, what exactly am I trying to teach her?

It occured to me this week that I never asked my husband how he felt about the arrangement. We didn't intend to cosleep, though we were both smart enough to not rule anything out. It just kind of happened. Luckily, he doesn't mind right now either. But we'd both like the bed back sooner rather than later.

For someone who doesn't have strong feelings about it one way or the other, I'm amazed at how vehemently I've been defending our sleeping arrangement, even when gently prodded. Granted, the one doing most of the prodding is my mother. She thinks if the baby is sleeping on her own, she'll get overnight visits. And history leaves me much more likely to react to an "innocent" remark from my mom than from a friend or random stranger.

Like all of the other choices we've made or fallen into, we're doing what works for us as a family. And that's what counts. Last night, when the babe was almost asleep, she opened her eyes, rolled back over and reached out with both arms to touch my face. I wouldn't have had that moment if we were doing things differently. And I wouldn't trade it for an extra 20 minutes in the evening.