Saturday, November 28, 2009

A night away?

Brian, Ellie and I are up in Rockford (at my mom's house) for Thanksgiving and my 10-year high school reunion. Brian and I are going to the reunion tonight and my mom is going to babysit. One of my brothers, Dan, lives out near where the reunion is being held and suggested we stay overnight there. Right now that's the plan, but I'll admit I'm nervous about being away from Ellie for a whole night. Brian took a business trip in October, but I've never been away from her for a night. But I'm trying to remind myself that, as with day care, it will probably be more stressful for me than for her. I just hope she's good for her grandma and doesn't cry too much overnight. She's had a couple rough nights this week.... but maybe she's gotten it out of her system :)
We'll see how this goes...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Four years

On Thanksgiving Day this year Brian and I will celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary.
When we were married, on Nov. 26, 2005, it was hard for me to imagine that I could ever be any happier. In Brian I found my best friend and true love.
We knew we were going to get married after we'd only been dating for a few months — though Brian waited more than a year to propose!
And we took a leap-of-faith together moving halfway across the country to New England when we graduated from our master's program in Springfield, Ill. We grew even closer in the years we spent living in Massachusetts and Connecticut, probably because we were the only family either of us had around out there. Well, besides the mangy dog (Radar) we adopted in 2005.
Since we moved back to the Midwest a couple years ago, our family has grown again. Not only did we adopt another dog, Muzzy, at the start of 2008, but Ellie joined us in August.
On our wedding day four years ago, I thought my heart would burst with happiness. But having Ellie has introduced Brian and me to a whole new level of joy. We're no Grinches, but on the day she was born I think our hearts grew four sizes!
We are so thankful to have her, and we count our blessings every day. There's no one else I'd rather share this journey of life and parenting with than Brian. Here's to hoping we have another 44 years (and more) together!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thumb v. binky

We've been caught up this past week in a major struggle that Ellie is having.
I wrote some time ago about her love of her thumb, but she lost it a couple weeks back. We're not sure why, but think it has to do with using a pacifier (binky) during her days at school. Whatever the cause, Ellie lost her instinct to suck her thumb... and thus, lost her key method of soothing herself in the middle of the night.
This has meant some long nights for all of us.
One night last week we got Ellie to bed at 8 p.m., she woke up at 10 pm and again at 1 am and then again at 4 am! This was one of the nights when Brian was really sick, so I was the only one responding. The next morning was not a cheerful one in our house.
We didn't realize what the problem was until Friday night when I thought to give Ellie her binky. I gave it to her around 2 a.m. and she was thrilled... until 2:15 a.m. when she dropped it from her mouth. Four trips to her room and one hour later, I decided that the binky at night was NOT going to work for Ellie.
So we made the tough decision on Saturday to start some sleep training for Ellie. The book we have suggests doing it between four and six months of age, and Ellie is 16 weeks (turning four months next week). The technique we decided on is called the Ferber Method.
Here's how it works:
When Ellie wakes up in the middle of the night, as long as it hasn't been more than four or five hours (so we know she's not hungry), we let her cry for a few minutes.
We then go into her room but don't pick her up. We can stand by her crib and stroke her chest or face, tell her that we love her and are there for her. We're only supposed to stay in about a minute and then say, "We love you. Good night. Sweet dreams" and leave.
Then we have to wait five minutes before going back in.
After the next visit we have to wait 10 minutes. Then we wait 15 minutes, and so on.

This is SOOO much harder than I ever thought it would be. It's painful to listen to Ellie cry for so long and not go in to pick her up and soothe her. But this way we're supposed to be teaching her to soothe herself. And it does seem to be working.
The first night we did it there were two wakeful periods of Ellie screaming for about 15-20 minutes. The next night it was more like 10 minutes each time. And last night Ellie woke up once and was back to sleep after crying for only about five minutes.

I have to keep reminding myself that we're doing it for her own good — and for our own sanity, so we can be good parents. But the first night we did it, Brian and I were laying in bed holding each other because we were so upset hearing her sad, exhausted cries.
We've seen Ellie re-discovering her thumb a few times now. So hopefully the nights continue to get a little easier. And, in the meantime, we've told the daycare workers that her binky is off limits!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some talking

Here's Ellie showing off some of her talking, but not showing off her wealth of clothes :) She had a string of diaper incidents this week that have led to total outfit changes. More days than not, she's wearing a different outfit at the end of the day when we get her from daycare. But she likes being a naked baby!

Ellie's ups and downs

Ellie is a getting so good at tummy time. And we're even starting to see some signs that she might roll over soon. She is going through a tough phase right now, though, where she's very clingy in the morning. It makes it very tough for us to get ready for work... since she never wants to be set down. While I rushed through a shower the other morning, Brian improvised keeping her entertained and getting some breakfast.

P.S. It turns out Brian has strep throat and he's on antibiotics. Two days into the Z-pac and he's already feeling better!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sick daddy

Just a quick post because things are a little crazy around here today. Brian came down with something and is pretty sick today. He started showing symptoms late yesterday and had a bad fever all Wednesday night. He got into the doctor today and was told it's probably strep. So at least now he's on antibiotics.
But sadly he's still going to have to limit his contact with Ellie for the time being. I know he's very sad about it, but also terrified of getting her sick. He'd rather not hold her for a day or two than pass on germs.
I hate the whole situation because I feel like I can't stretch myself far enough to take care of both of them. Sometimes Ellie is a handful when we're both going full-steam, but now with Brian on the DL it's all on me. I can handle it, but there's not much time/energy left to be there for Brian.
I don't like it. I want us all healthy again, soon!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The sound of her own voice

Ellie is her own best entertainment these days. She's exploring the sounds of her voice and loving it. (We're big fans, too!) And I can't resist making the observation that Ellie, by all accounts, should become a big talker at some point. Just look at her parents.
Last night Ellie woke me up around 4 a.m. I fed her until she fell asleep in my arms about 45 minutes later. I put her back in her crib, but as soon as she hit the mattress her eyes shot open. She was awake and unhappy that mom wasn't holding her anymore. After 5 minutes of listening to her cry, I picked her up again and nursed her some more. But she fell back asleep. So I put her down again and it seemed OK... for a few minutes.
I crawled back into bed hoping she would find her thumb and fall back to sleep on her own. She didn't fall back asleep, but her cries turned into other sounds. We could hear her making all sorts of noise, ahhhhhs and awwmmmsss and ohhhhhs. It was pretty hilarious, even at 5 a.m. Ellie doesn't have much volume control, a trait I'm guessing she inherited from her dad ;)
We heard her entertaining herself for a good 20 minutes.
Then she started crying again. But it was a good run. And we're happy to hear Ellie making her "thoughts" known.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My pants...

... don't fit!
If I announced this to Brian, he would wait for more information before reacting. In this case, it's good news (but it isn't always...)
I should preface this post with the fact that Ellie reverted to being more of a "normal" baby last night and woke up hungry twice during the overnight hours. Without wanting to jinx it, Brian and I had still been counting the number of nights in a row that she slept straight through for nine hours or more. She'd done it for more than 10 days straight! Ellie is our little wunderkind. So I couldn't be mad last night when she woke me up at 3 a.m. or again at 5:20 a.m. Ellie was due for some nighttime fussing. And I was happy to love on her and feed her.
It still meant I was tired this morning. Very tired. And the cold, rainy weather didn't help my mood. Then my coffee cup spilled in my car on the way to work. And work stuff started piling up on me as soon as I walked in the door. I was getting a little cranky, to say the least.
But then I had to walk somewhere and I noticed I had to hike my pants up... a lot. I saw in a mirror a short time later that they're baggy in the butt. In fact, I don't look all that great today at all. And I'm thrilled!
You see, these aren't just any too-big pants. These are pants I had to make a special trip out to buy before returning to work. I had to spend good money on pants the next size up because almost none of my old ones fit.
They are my post-baby pants — and they're too big :)
The day is looking up!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weekend fun

We have been having SO much fun with Ellie on the weekends. While she sometimes makes it hard to get chores (or much of anything else) done, it's great to catch up on the play time we miss during the week with Ellie.
Today we tried out her jump-a-roo. She's still a little small for it, but she seemed to have fun scooting around in it a little. Ellie held her head up great the whole time and the tray in the front served a purpose — catching all her slobber.
Radar liked having Ellie near the ground so he could give her some kisses.

I thought this picture of her eating her hand was hilarious. She looks so concerned, but she was in a really happy mood!
And here's Ellie catching a nap on dad during a recent Packers game.

I took a self-portrait of us last week, since I'm usually the one taking the pictures and don't end up in a lot of them these days. I sure love my Ellie!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More babies!

No, I'm not pregnant again. And there are no plans for the immediate future.
But the latest development from Ellie today made me think about all of the reasons that I'm excited to have baby #2... at some point.
Ellie laughed! The three of us were sitting in our bed this morning and the dogs jumped up (since there was so much extra room) and started play-fighting. They were growling and making all sorts of weird noises, and I guess Ellie thought it was funny because she let out a laugh! It was short and sweet. After it happened I turned to Brian and asked, "did she just laugh?" But we agreed, it was a laugh. Amazing. It was one of those perfect moments.

In the three months we've had Ellie, I've gone from one extreme to the other in thinking about having another baby. And either thought pattern usually leads me to the same question: How did my mom handle having five of us??
Near the beginning, on some of the sleepless nights... when breastfeeding seemed like it was never going to work... when Ellie was crying for no apparent reason... I wondered how anyone would decide to have another baby. How, I thought, would I be able to handle this 24/7-needy-child if I had a toddler running around, too? And how did my mom handle me as a baby when she had three others — ages 3, 5 and 7. Amazing.
But as many people told me, it's got easier over time. We're only three months in, but I already feel like we're off the lifeboat. We're not in danger of drowning, we're actually doing a good job with Ellie. She must be happy... she IS laughing!
So I find myself going to the other extreme and wanting another one, as I guess my mom and dad did four times after my oldest brother was born. As much as I love to see Ellie hit milestones and grow, I'm already missing her as a tiny baby. There's something addictive about babies — the smell, the sweetness, the cuddles. It is awesome.
So, I'm writing this as I'm stuck at work on a Saturday night. Maybe I've just been away from Ellie for too long and need my baby "high" when I get home... but there's a big part of me that can't wait for her to get a little brother or sister.

p.s. I found out later that while I was writing this, Brian was home with a very fussy Ellie. He had a pretty long day watching her all by himself... so it might take some convincing for #2...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ellie loves her thumb

Ellie's favorite thing these days is definitely her thumb. She uses it to help put herself to sleep at night, and to stay asleep when she wakes up in the middle of the night. Brian and I are huge fans of it, too, because it's helped her sleep straight through the nights for more than a week now!
We've been warned by some people that thumb-sucking can lead to problems down the road... but for now we're just happy that Ellie is happy. I don't really see how we could stop a three-month-old from sucking her thumb anyway :) So we give two thumbs up to Ellie's new favorite activity!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Visit to the St. Louis family

As promised, here are some pictures from our visit south this past weekend.
Here was our first four-generation picture of the weekend. Ellie with mom and dad, Grandma and Grandpa Colombara-Buffo and Great-grandma and Great-grandpa Colombara.
Ellie: "I love my grandma, but why are so many people loving on me and taking my picture? It's so hard to be me!"

Enjoying the beautiful weather outside with grandpa

Ellie and her friend Muzzy enjoying some time on the floor.

Great-grandma Eleanor playing on the floor with Ellie

Great-grandpa Joe playing with Ellie. She loved it!

Proud great-grandpa :)

Two Eleanors!

Ellie meeting Grandpa Wallheimer.

Ellie and great-grandma Ruth Greathouse

Brian and his sister, Sarah. Ellie with Aunt Sarah.

Another four-generations shot

What a great trip!

Are we there yet?

I'll get new pictures up soon, but we're still playing catch-up after being out of town over the weekend.
We had such a great trip down to the St. Louis area, where Brian's family lives. Ellie got some quality time with her grandparents and great-grandparents. And she did great during the car rides.

Brian and I had a little added stress during the drive time, though, because we brought both dogs along on this trip. It was the first time we've traveled with all three of our "babies," and it felt a little bit like a circus. Muzzy was more than happy to ride up front in my lap and she was thrilled my belly is no longer too big to accommodate her :) But Radar was riding in the back with Ellie.
We started the trips in the usual manner, giving each dog half of a Benadryl to ease the canine carsickness... which Radar is very prone to have. With the pups getting their medicine, we at least weren't worried about one of them barfing on Ellie.
But that didn't stop them from climbing on her! Despite the comforter we laid out for Radar across 2/3s of the back seat, he decided the baby blanket laying across Ellie in her car seat looked much more comfortable. I looked back a couple times and found him circling ("nesting") on top of the car seat — and Ellie! We both yelled at him and shoo-ed him away. And things were good for a little bit. But then we went through the McDonalds drive-thru... a very dangerous venture in the minds of our pups. And, unfortunately, Ellie's car seat was on the side by the food pick-up window. So once again she had some dogs stepping on top of her car seat, as they barked at the very threatening fast food worker trying to give us the food we had just paid for. Amazingly, both incidents didn't bother our little girl at all. She didn't even wake up.
I think the dogs did better on our return trip... though Radar did try to ride in the car seat again with Ellie at one point. It's just going to take a little time for them to get used to this new arrangement. The "practice babies" have to make room now for our real baby. This family is a little insane sometimes, but I wouldn't trade it :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sweet, sleeping baby

A couple nights ago, Ellie woke up at about 5 a.m., a little later than usual, but still about right. As Dorothy wrote later that day, Ellie started sucking her own thumb and fell back asleep, staying out for a total of 9.5 hours.
A fluke, we thought.
Maybe not.
The next night, Ellie needed to eat in the middle of the night, but last night, she didn't wake up. (She eventually woke up. It's not a sad post.)
Dorothy tells me she had to wake Ellie up just before 7 a.m. She surpassed her 9.5-hour sleep.
If this is a sign of things to come, I'm all for it. I used my lack of sleep to justify not going to the gym the last several months. But if Ellie keeps sleeping like this, I'll have no excuses.
I know she'll wake up from time to time. Sleeping through every night is likely a distant memory. But if she did this every other night, it would be awesome.
It's funny how I used to expect a good night's sleep each night. Now, I'd be glad with one every other night.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fun baby

Just because Halloween has passed doesn't mean I will stop dressing Ellie up in fun outfits. Here she is in her "lazy Sunday" robe and slippers. If she's waiting for one of the dogs to fetch the paper, it's going to be a while...
And Ellie is such a big girl these days when we put her down for tummy time. Is it a bird? A plane? Nope, it's Ellie.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy 3 months, Ellie!

Our baby girl is a quarter of a year old today! I don't know where the time has gone.
She must be confused about the whole "birthday" concept, though, because she gave us a present today (instead of vice-versa).... Ellie slept for 9.5 hours straight last night!
I heard her fussing at 5 a.m., which was still after an impressive 8 hour stretch. But by the time I got into her room she was sucking on her thumb with her eyes closed. I laid down on the futon in her room, thinking she would be awake again in a few minutes. But the next time I heard her cry was at 6:30 a.m. Amazing!

I saw on a friend's baby blog a list of 10 accomplishments by month, so I'm going to start doing that for Ellie. Here's what she's up to at month 3:

1. Smiles when she sees mom or dad!
2. "Talking" or cooing, especially during bath time.
3. Stands up like a big girl on our laps, when we're holding her sides or arms...
4. Holds her head up high when we put her down for tummy time.
5. Keeps toys in her hand for a short while after we get her to grab onto them.
6. Entertains herself for short bursts of time.
7. Painting! (with some help from the day care staff)
8. Sucking her thumb or on a pacifier.
9. Watching everything. Her favorites are ceiling fans and her mobile at school.
10. Making mom and dad happier than they ever thought possible!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

First Halloween

The happy devil on her first Halloween!

We went over to Ben and Janet's house to pass out candy, trick-or-treat and carve pumpkins. We definitely had the cutest lion and devil around!
Ben and Brian were master pumpkin designers.
I shamelessly took Ellie to a few houses for candy. She was a hit!

And here she is with all her loot. We didn't let her eat all of it, but she sure looks like she got the Schneider candy-lovin' gene :)