Friday, February 26, 2010

A budding fan


video
With the help of her cow bell rattle, Ellie is learning how to cheer for the U.S.A.
We've been watching bits and pieces of the Winter Olympics (though I'm frustrated that it's usually only curling or hockey on when we're sitting down to watch!) Ellie has seen a few Olympic moments, but not many since we try to keep the TV off when we're playing with her. However, I know she's hoping the Olympic committee considers adding "puppy romping" to the next games. It's her favorite sport to watch! And Radar and Muzzy would be serious contenders.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ferberizing

A friend recently posed the question to me and Brian: "Which of you is the fat, gay guy?"
A strange inquiry, maybe. But we immediately understood the reference to one of our new favorite shows, Modern Family on ABC. The gay couple on the show, Cam and Mitchell, have an adopted baby girl that they were trying to sleep train on a recent episode. Like us, they were using the Ferber method
The hardest thing when "ferberizing" a baby is for the parents to resist going in to offer comfort. On the show, Cam (the fat one) was very bad about letting his daughter cry-it-out, while Mitchell was much more strict. While I don't think Brian and I fall into either extreme category all the time, I tend to be more of a "Cam" ... but Brian has his moments, too. It's not easy for either of us to listen to Ellie cry and not jump into action.

I have noticed that Brian's strict adherence to the Ferber rules seems to lessen in the middle of the night. I'm not being mean, honey, but at 4 a.m. you're more likely to advocate a quick fix to quiet Ellie and try to get everyone back to sleep. Unfortunately, the only way to really satisfy Ellie in the middle of the night is for me to nurse her... so I'm not as likely to get any more sleep. Probably because of this, I develop a thicker skin when we hear Ellie screaming in the early A.M. I can't see the clock without my contacts in, but I'll usually mumble something about letting her go for a few more minutes in the hope that she'll get back to sleep. As her cries get louder and angrier, Brian is quick to let me know it's been 15 minutes or whatever the number is.
As we discovered the other night, tired parents + baby screaming = argument between mom and dad... and no more sleep the rest of the night for anyone. Not a pretty picture.

By this age, Ellie is supposed to sleep around 12 hours at night. (One of the main reasons for accomplishing this is not a selfish desire for uninterrupted sleep, but so she's not used to a middle-of-the-night feeding that will hurt her teeth when they come in. And it's just not a good routine for her to be in.)
We know she can go that long between feedings because she does it sometimes. And on those days I feel like we've made progress in sleep training. "By George, I think she's got it!" I think. ... But then she'll wake up the next night (at least a couple times each week still) after 9 or 10 hours. Obviously that's still pretty good. And three months ago I would have declared a national holiday after such a feat. But when Ellie refuses to stay awake past 7 p.m. ... it's tough for us to start our day with her after "only" 9 or 10 hours. And I know she's still tired, even when she wakes up at 5 a.m., because after I nurse her she will go back to bed for at least an hour.
So, we will continue working on it. Probably not this weekend because we're going to visit family down in St. Louis. I don't think grandma and grandpa want to hear Ellie crying it out. And we have to offer a little leeway when we monkey with her schedule on the road. But hopefully we can really get down to business next week. That is, if we can overcome our inner "fat, gay guy."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hair did


Ellie wore a clip in her hair to school today. I found some that are small enough for her crazy fine hair!
Here she is showing it off because a) it's cute and b) it's still on her head and hasn't been removed or swallowed.... I am a bit worried about this fashion piece, but the ladies at school kept an eye on her. What a sweetpie!
Following a couple rough days at school, I was glad to see how happy Ellie was when I visited at lunch today. Though she's the only one in the family not bleary-eyed today following her 4:45 a.m. wake-up call. Sleep training continues....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some interesting parenting methods

This is Brian, to lessen any confusion. I'm going to try to get on here more often.
Just wanted to send up some interesting parenting stories as of late. Neither of these will qualify us for parents of the year, but they were effective.
This morning I got ready while Dorothy was nursing Ellie and I headed down to make coffee, pack our lunches and get our breakfasts ready. I know, I'm a saint. Tell Dorothy.
When I'd finished, I headed back up the stairs to spend a little time with Ellie before I had to go to work. As I often find, Dorothy had sat her near the bathroom door so that Ellie could watch her mom get ready (and not fuss because she's alone). Everything was normal, except for the fact that Ellie had a new toy - a used toilet paper roll.
Now, I'd expect as much out of Muzzy or even Radar, but Ellie was chomping on this thing like someone was going to take it from her. Dorothy's response: "What? She likes it?"
Yes, she did.
When I threatened to put this up on the blog, Dorothy made me promise to put up my experience from the day before.
One of the most stressful things about my Mondays is that Dorothy has to leave for work early, leaving me with Ellie by myself. I can handle the extra work and getting her to school, but the hard part is dressing her. I've been made fun of more than enough for the mismatched outfits, shirts that don't cover her belly anymore and many other outfit fiascoes.
This past Monday, I grabbed a shirt, pair of pants and socks, and thought that I'd done a good job matching. But this shirt (which I couldn't recall Ellie having worn before) gave me some trouble. Instead of a snap in the back to close up the neck, this had a button with the smallest loop of stretchy cord to go around the button that I'd ever seen. As much as I tried, I couldn't get that darn cord around the button.
Fearing the ridicule I'd surely hear if she didn't have it closed, I did what all industrious men do: I found a tool and made it work. I grabbed Ellie's nasal bulb aspirator, pushed it through the opening in the cord and looped it over the button. Yes, I used a snot sucker to dress our daughter.
Hey, it worked. And Ellie likes cardboard toilet paper rolls. Don't judge us.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fasting?

After Ellie had a major blow-out on Saturday, I decided to delay putting on a new outfit until she'd had her lunch. The result: She looks a little like a hillrod wearing just her bib (and a rice cereal goatee...) But it's cute!
On a related note (to eating, not being a 'hill person' — thank you Modern Family for introducing us to that new term!)... but on the subject of eating, Ellie is having some serious issues with it the past few days.
For some reason, she does not want to eat solid foods anymore. And she doesn't even finish her bottle most of the time. I'm sure she's not wasting away, but it's frustrating that she refuses to open her mouth every time we put her in the highchair. Any one have thoughts on this? When we first started solids, she was eating like a champ. And Ellie seemed to like the veggies that she's now refusing to eat, i.e. sweet potatoes and squash. She's not even tasting them, just keeping her mouth clamped shut. And if I pry it open, she just spits the food back out. Is this just a phase, maybe? Is she fasting for Lent?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jumping machine

video

The other day Ellie spent more than half-hour in her jump-a-roo. She loves the thing! We made sure it was before dinner, but I think her stomach must have still been "jumping" when she ate because Ellie did a little upchucking in the bathtub later. But she sure did have fun jumping!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My personal trainer

In addition to showing off her "yoga" skills recently, Ellie appears to have taken on the role of my personal trainer. Case in point: My 5:30 a.m. wake up call today, courtesy of one Eleanor Anne.
I had my alarm set for 6:30 a.m. with at least 95% intentions to make it to the gym... but that wasn't good enough for Ellie. She started hollering shortly after 5 a.m. and didn't give in until I got up about 30 minutes later.
Once I got Ellie fed and back to bed close to 6 a.m., it didn't make sense for me to do the same.... So I headed to the Y for an extended workout: a few quick miles on the treadmill and weight training.
I can't say I'm disappointed, though I may be dragging from the missed sleep this afternoon. My body doesn't know what to expect anymore, but I am starting to readjust from having to function on only a few hours of sleep at a time. Most nights Ellie is sleeping for 10-12 hours at a time. (But more on our adventures with sleep-training later.)
I'm hoping to keep up a good gym and running routine over the next few months. Brian and I are aiming for the half marathon in Green Bay on May 16. The race ends at Lambeau Field! It will be my first pilgrimage to the home of the Packers, and I'm very excited.
Now I just need to train for the 13.1 miles of running. I'm hoping it's a little easier to do this spring, when hopefully the weight will be dropping off. Last year I trained for and ran in the Illinois half marathon in April, while growing Ellie inside me and putting on the pounds. I'm looking forward to the scale going in the opposite direction this time around! So far I hit my goal of being able to run six miles by Valentine's Day weekend. Now we're officially 12 weeks out from the Green Bay race, so Brian and I are hoping to stick to a training program that dictates 2-3 short runs and a longer run each week. I'm looking forward to taking Ellie along with me (in the jogging stroller) as the weather warms up. Then we'll see how gung-ho she is about waking before the sun comes up...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Toes!

Ellie sure is flexible! She loves to get her toes these days, especially when they're exposed because I'm changing her diaper or her outfit. It's very cute.
Brian got up and went to the gym this morning and I got up, too, and did a yoga workout at home.
After struggling through the stretches and feeling very un-bendy compared to the instructor on the video... I came upstairs and was further shamed by my six-month-old. She was wide awake and was holding one foot in either hand, smiling away.
I don't know if I could get in that position to begin with, but I certainly wouldn't be smiling about it.
Watching her experience such joy at the mere discovery of her feet every day, though, definitely makes me smile! :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

New fave

Here is my new favorite picture of Ellie.
This little girl is starting to show a whole lot of personality and this picture says it all!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

From Ellie

We all had a great Valentine's Day... but ...Brian and I agreed on no presents this holiday. We're still figuring out how to pay off our December credit card bill, so it made sense. So you can imagine my surprise when Brian snuck out to the car on Sunday morning to get this box of chocolates and a card. He's done this to me before. And while it's partly "cute" for him to surprise me with a gift, I always end up feeling bad for not doing the same for him!
He tried to justify it this time by claiming that Ellie got the chocolates for both of us... This was a brilliant plan because 1) It gets him off the hook and makes him look like a sweet dad :) and 2) It gives him equal access to the box of chocolates because apparently they are for both of us!
Good thing I love him because I do NOT share candy very often!
Hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day weekend! xoxo

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Our valentine



Be mine! Ellie was definitely the most valentines-y of all the kids at day care this week, thanks to all the fun outfits given to her by grandmas and aunts. Thanks everyone!

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's not easy...


bein' green? Well, Ellie doesn't seem to mind :)
She is a solid-foods eating machine these days. So far Ellie has had carrots, peas (some even got in her mouth!) and sweet potato. We've started giving her rice cereal along with a veggie for dinner, so that she has a little more in her belly to sustain her overnight. We called her peas and rice "stir-fry," but I'm not sure what to call rice cereal mixed with sweet potato...
The hardest part of feeding her solid foods, especially the colorful ones, is that she keeps trying to put her thumb or fingers in her mouth during the meal. It makes for quite a mess. We've definitely had to wipe food out of Ellie's nose on more than one occasion. And spray-n-wash is my new best friend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Learned from the best

There are a few things I'm trying to focus on today, as I'm having a sad day and am missing my dad more than usual. He taught me a lot about being a good parent, even if I didn't recognize most of the "lessons" at the time. Here are some of those little and big things I hope to do for Ellie and any other children I have:

  • Ride in the sled with her. It makes the ride down the hill so much faster!
  • Stay up late rubbing her back if she's in pain from breaking her wrist — or any other body part (though hopefully that won't happen). I remember thinking my dad stayed up all night with me, but I think I fell asleep eventually and he probably went to bed.
  • Insist on attendance at the father/daughter (or mother/son) dances and get excited about them... even if it's not "cool" at the time.
  • Teach the value of a dollar. I suppose this is the nice way of remembering how cheap my dad was, but what else was he supposed to do with five kids? I'm still a huge bargain-hunter, and I learned all the tricks from both of my parents.
  • At the same time, make sure she knows that we'll figure out a way to pay for college no matter where she wants to go or what she wants to study. Of course, I'll remind her what a great deal the state schools are. Go Illini!
  • Make a big deal out of her birthdays, maybe even remind Brian to pick up a cheap bouquet of carnations as a surprise. Those carnations will seem like a dozen, long-stemmed roses to an eight-year-old.
  • Always make her feel special, even if she's just "one of the pack" of kids. Yes, there are days when I'm still crazy enough to think it would be fun to have lots of kids.
  • Forgive her when she messes up.
  • And make sure she knows — always — how much I love her.
R.I.P.
James Carl Schneider

Jan. 26, 1947-Feb. 11, 2000
Beloved husband, father and grandfather

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

By the numbers

Here are some figures from Ellie's 6-month checkup yesterday:

18+3 — pounds and ounces = her new weight!
27 — inches long
86 — the percentile she's in (roughly) for height and weight
2 — the number of ear infections she has :(

Besides the news of Ellie's ear infections, the doctor said she's doing great. She's staying on track for growth — even if it is an advanced/hefty track! I've started noticing that her hands and feet look less like those of a tiny baby. I'm sure you're sick of hearing this from me, but I just can't believe how fast she's growing...
I had to miss this trip to the doctor because of a meeting for work. I hate to miss a chance to ask the doctor questions and hear what she thinks about Ellie's development. But I sent Brian with a list. And I wasn't sorry to miss the shots part of the appointment. Ellie had to get four yesterday, including her seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines. Hopefully these will help keep her healthy but dad said there were some very loud screams.
Even though Ellie's not due for another checkup until she 9 months old, the doctor wants to see her back in a month to check on her ear infections and give her the booster flu shots. I'm glad to get her again. As with her first ear infection, Brian and I didn't know this time that she was suffering. I guess she's been a little fussier in recent days, but mostly she's a happy baby. I wish she would say something so we'd know to get her medicine! I'm sure Ellie's not a fan of these visits, and all the pokes, but mom likes the reassurance.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Honk, honk

I've got one to add to the list of things you never want to hear through the baby monitor: The honking of your car alarm going off.
That's what happened to me last night. Five times.
The problem actually started Sunday night, when we heard my car alarm going off spontaneously. We can't figure out the trigger, but I think a call to the dealer/mechanic is in order. (Sigh.)
Last night when I first heard the car alarm going off, Brian and I were sitting in the front room of the house (far from the driveway in the back of the house). Ellie was in much better earshot from her bedroom, but luckily she did not wake up. After realizing what that obnoxious noise was coming from through the monitor, I ran to get my keys, went to the back window and frantically pressed the alarm button to make it stop.
I was much less amused the second time it happened... and by the fifth time, approaching midnight and much past my bedtime, I was downright mad.
As I trudged down the stairs to press the button again, with no contacts in my eyes or socks on my feet, I was not thinking happy thoughts. I lifted the key remote up to the window and pressed the button. Nothing happened, so I pressed it again. Still nothing. Holding the keys about three inches from my face, I suddenly realized I'd been pressing the trunk release button. S*&!#
I decided that sleep was more important at that point than whatever was in my trunk... turned off the alarm and went back to bed.
Good thing there wasn't a snowstorm here over night... oh wait.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pretty girl

Ellie went to Sears this weekend to get some new pictures (because we really don't take enough of her...) But these are more professional and turned out great! Here are my favorites: Big girl sitting up all by herself!
And even smiling on her tummy!
If anyone wants the online link to order prints, just let me know and I'll send it out.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Biker baby

Now that she's six months, we decided Ellie's old enough to be a tough biker girl. Doesn't she look it? Here's dad showing her how to put on her rough and tough face. Grrr!
This was her best one... can't tell if she's going for "filling my pants" or "My dad is sooo weird"...

Thanks for the fun biker jammies Mike and Barbara!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rocking out

On a lighter note (from my last post).... Here's Ellie having way too much fun in her exersaucer the other morning:
video

Exceeding expectations

While Ellie celebrated her big 6-month milestone yesterday, it felt pretty momentous for me, too.
I made it to six months breastfeeding Ellie!
I think most other new moms will understand where I'm coming from when I say: There were more days than not during the past six months when I thought about giving up on nursing. But I think those that make it to this point would also agree that a) it gets easier, and b) it's soooo worth it.

My love-hate relationship with breastfeeding is complicated. My frustration started when I couldn't produce enough to solely nurse, so Ellie's been supplemented with formula since the first week. Ironically this hasn't made my job any easier. If anything, I think it makes things harder. Yes, during the first few months of numerous nighttime feedings, Brian could help by giving her a bottle. But most of the time I was just stressed about how much she was getting from me and whether I was really doing as much as I could to make nursing work. Somewhere between the vitamins and oatmeal I ate in the first few months, along with the stubbornness I maintained in the process — Ellie and I finally found a rhythm for these feedings.

I'd like to say that we're pros, but the truth is that there are still some painful feedings. Everything I read about breastfeeding issues working out after the first 4-6 weeks was either wrong or just not applicable to me.

Still, Ellie and I are so much better at it than we used to be. And it feels easy 99 percent of the time! Sometime in December, I think, we got into a routine where I could feed her all she needed in the middle of the night. I don't think I've posted about this before because I'm a big believer in "the jinx"... Hopefully talking about it now won't screw things up! But it's really been great knowing that I can get up with her at night (usually sometime between 3-5 a.m.) and nurse and then put her down satisfied. It helps her and it really helps me be able to fall back asleep! Something about knowing my work for the night/morning is done :)

After having so many issues with breastfeeding, I find myself asking the new moms I know about it right away. I hope they're not wanting me to butt out... but I remember being so grateful for the support and tips and friendly ears I got during those first couple months.

So, what's my advice for moms trying to breastfeed (especially those not having a great experience with it)? Just do what works best for you and your baby. I know the answer isn't always clear. There were plenty of times I thought about giving up, but I decided that the guilt/disappointment I would feel about abandoning nursing outweighed my own discomfort... I understand that that's not the case for everyone. And Brian can attest that there were times when it was driving me batty, and the scales were tipping much further in favor of me dropping it. I'm glad I pushed through. But I can totally understand why many moms don't.

There are people I love who sit on either end of the breastfeeding v. formula feeding spectrum. I don't see how either extreme view can apply to every mom. And one good friend of mine didn't even have the option, because her milk just never came in after her son was born. I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all approach for feeding babies. I'm just grateful that Ellie and I have made something work — and that she's still growing like a weed!

All along I've been setting mini-goals for myself. First I just wanted to keep breastfeeding until I went back to work, then I set the goal of until Christmas, then it was until Ellie's 6-month birthday. With things going so well right now, I don't plan to stop. I guess my next goal is nine months, but maybe we'll even make it to a year! Now there I go again trying to jinx things....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

6 months

Happy half-birthday, Ellie!!


I can't believe Ellie is six months old. She's officially growing too fast, getting too big and toddler-like every day. But I'm trying to make peace with it.
In so many ways, these first six months have flown by. She is the absolute highlight of my mornings, noons and nights. I can't help smiling when I come in her room in the morning and she grins really big. And I SO look forward to my standing lunch dates with Ellie. I sneak away from work for about 30 minutes every day to go feed Ellie (and play a little) at her school. Knowing I get to see her mid-day helps me tremendously, especially when I'm super stressed on the job. And going home at night to Ellie and Brian is awesome! I love that I have a reason, a requirement, really, to schedule playtime every day.

Here's Ellie top 10 at six months:
1. Sitting up! I was calling it her "new trick," but she's doing it so regularly now that it doesn't seem like a trick anymore. Yes, she's still tippy at times, but that girl has some serious sitting skills.
2. Rolling over. This one is a little more dicey. But if there were a competition that only required babies to roll to the right, with a little help from mom or dad to get started, I would definitely enter Ellie. She's getting there.
3. Talking! Ellie is much more vocal nowadays. I'm sure she's trying to tell us all sorts of important things, but right now it sounds more like "eeee-eeak!"
4. Watching the dogs. Ellie thinks Radar and Muzzy are the best show in town. And they are happy to entertain, i.e. have an excuse to roughhouse in the living room... One of the biggest causes of "tipping" for Ellie is when she turns too quickly to watch one of the dogs zoom by.
5. Her thumb. She's a big fan of that little thing, even though dad tried to cut it off — just kidding, Brian! Ellie's finger is fine :)
6. Batting at/throwing toys. We can't figure out if she's doing it on purpose, but the toys she picks up usually go flying withing a few seconds. Something about the flailing arms and lack of grip...
7. Eating solid foods. She's a champ, most days, at chowing down on her rice cereal and carrots. My favorite part: She chews it.
8. Getting play-dropped or flown through the air by mom and dad. We've had to limit this recently after a few projectile vomit incidents. Ellie didn't seem to mind, but we were pretty grossed out.
9. Rocking out in the exersaucer. She loves that thing, and it's a lifesaver for when I'm getting ready for work in the morning.
10. Snuggling in mom's or dad's arms.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Block-hand

It is really fun watching Ellie play with more and more of her toys. Daddy discovered the other day that these soft blocks fit over her hands, like boxing gloves.

She looks pretty concerned about it here, but quickly realized she could fling them off with some arm flailing :)
Also, a quick update on Ellie's growth. At school all of the babies get weighed on the first day of each month. According to their scale, she weighed 17 lbs, 13 ounces yesterday! We'll get a more official weight when she goes in for her 6-month doctor's appointment next week. But it's clear that she's growing!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Horse: Cart, wait up!

I was organizing some of Ellie's stuff yesterday and came across a rubber ducky. She has a half dozen of these — pink, yellow, big and small. I'm not sure if the ducks are mating or what... but we're not going to run out any time soon.
I decided that the time had come for her to make use of at least one! At bath time, I got her in the infant tub and started washing. After the work was done, I excitedly handed over her pink duck.
Ellie grabbed it with both hands. She held it looked up at me, as if asking: "Now, what?" She looked at it again briefly, then set the duck down on her belly and went back to trying to eat the washcloth.
I realized then that there was no extra room in the tub for her toy! Our chunky girl fills that infant tub pretty full, but isn't quite ready for bathing in regular tub yet. She'll get there soon, and no doubt be demanding a tub full of toys before long.
To follow up on my jumping of the gun, I had a dream last night that I was waiting in line to rent skis for Ellie. I finally got to the front of the line and was handed a leash (which parents use for young skiers to help them on the slopes)... the leash they gave me for my almost-6-month-old daughter though, was more of a puppy muzzle. Crazy dream. And, don't worry, Ellie won't be hitting the slopes for a while :)