Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cara Mama - Walking and Climbing

Cara Mama,

This walking thing is fun! It's not quite as fast as crawling, but I can hold toys and clothes in each hand and still move across the room! I'm loving that. I'm still feeling a bit wobbly sometimes, but overall I think I'm doing well.

I also love climbing the stairs. I could do that all day. I especially like climbing the stairs up to the big bed*. Once I'm at the top, it's fun to play on the bed. I love to roll around and fall backward and climb on pillows. And it's so fun to look over the edge and try to slide face forward off of it. I don't know why you keep telling me to be careful and won't let me play up there alone. And what does "give you a heart attack" mean?

Tua bambina,
Pumpkin

*We have steps just like these that are against our bed. They are for the dog because she has had back problems and should not be jumping on and off our very tall bed. She sleeps on our bed and we really can't keep her off, so we got the steps for her... and apparently the baby.

Cara Figlia - You Were Great!

Cara figlia,

We had such a great day, and you were so good! First, you slept in until 7:20!!! That was so crazy, but that's the kind of insanity I hope will continue every morning. Then we had a great time going out to the diner for breakfast, where you ate the ham and cheddar omelete and fruit like a champ.

You slept for 45 minutes on the way to your godfather's house, which is a good nap for you. After everyone got there, you, your aunt and I had so much fun playing while the other people played cards. You ate a great lunch sitting on my lap, and then you took a nap for an hour and a half in my arms. Which gave me a great opportunity to also take an hour nap and get some reading in.

You woke up in a great mood and actually did really well on the hour drive home. You only fussed and cried for about 15 or 20 minutes total, which is a record for you! And you just came in the room with the sweetest smile on your face! Now, if you just go to bed for the night well, it'll be the perfect day.

Grazie,
Mama

Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow Day

Well, it's really an icy day. I hear the commute was horrible. So I emailed that I was staying home today. I'll try to do some work, but with the baby toddling around, it's hard to do anything but watch her--as I'm sure all parents know!

And actually, we are having so much fun today! I finally get why parents enjoy staying home with babies and kids. Especially because she didn't wake up until 6:30 and she went down for her morning nap pretty well. Also, at her current age, she is really developing into a little person. It's really amazing to watch.

I hope everyone out there is safe, warm and having fun.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Six Quirky Things Meme

One Tired Ema tagged me for my very first meme! I'm probably more excited about this than I should be.

Here are the rules:
1) Link to the person that tagged you.
2) Post the rules on your blog.
3) Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
4) Tag at least 3 people at the end of your post and link to their blogs.
5) Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
6) Let the fun begin!

Now, I take exception to the "non-important" part of this meme, as everything about me is important! But, I'll play anyway. ;-) Here are 6 quirks about me.

1. I never learned how to ride a bike. It's true. This is because I am more stubborn than my dad, and that's saying something. You see when I was younger, I had a really great Strawberry Shortcake bike, which a basket and a bell and training wheels. Well, I had a big fall and totally skinned my knee. My dad said that I needed to learn to ride without the training wheels so I would learn to balance on my own (and not depend on the training wheels). I insisted that I wasn't ready to go without them. He said the next time I got on that bike, it would be without training wheels. I never got on the bike again.

But there was this one time in 8th grade at a friends BBQ that I picked up a bike to see if I could ride it, and I did ride it around the cul-de-sac once, put it back down and never got on a bike again. So I probably could ride one, I just never really learned.

2. I don't pronounce double Ts. I was going to write that I don't pronounce them correctly, but really I don't pronounce them at all. For example, I pronounce the word "button" like "bu'on" and "mitten" like "mi'en." I say them fast, so most people don't even notice.

3. I don't believe things people tell me unless I have heard it from at least one other source, preferably two or more other sources. (I studied journalism and mass communication in grad school, and it was there I learned the term for what I do is triangulate, which is a good thing in journalism.) I don't know if this is why I'm an obsessive researcher or because of it. The thing is, if I'm not 100% sure of something, I will let people know that. But I find that a lot of people act like they are sure about something but either they aren't really sure or they are wrong. I'm not saying I'm never wrong, but when I'm wrong it's almost always when I've said I'm not 100% sure about something. BTW, this drives my husband crazy.

4. I find corny, kids jokes hysterical. You know the ones on candy wrappers or popsicle sticks or in joke books for 5 year olds. Want to know my favorite joke of all time? You really don't, but I'm going to tell you anyway: If you are an American when you go in the bathroom and you're an American when you come out of the bathroom, what are you while you are in the bathroom? European!!! I laugh every time I tell this joke. Literally. I just laughed to myself right now when I wrote it.

5. Speaking of laughing, I snort when I laugh. Not all the time, but it does sneak out, especially when I'm laughing really hard or if my nose is stuffy. Think Grace's laugh on Will and Grace. The Pumpkin snorts when she laughs too! Luckily, Londo thinks it's cute when we do it.

6. Apparently, I look remarkably similar to Melissa Gilbert. You know, Laura from Little House on the Prairie. I've been told this by complete strangers everywhere, from Tennessee to Florence, Italy. Randomly, people will stare at me and then feel the need to come up to me and say either that I look like Laura from Little House or that I look just like someone... someone famous... (to which I reply, "Laura from Little House?" or "Melissa Gilbert?" And they will say "that's it!"). Luckily, this doesn't bother me. I think she's quite lovely, so I consider it a compliment. If you click this link and scroll down, I probably look the most like her in the black and white picture under the Trivia secion or the last picture on the screen.

Oh, I've also been told I look like Renee Zellweger. It's the eyes and the smile, which are pretty similar to Melissa Gilbert's.

And there you have six non-important things/habits/quirks about me, which really were all quirks.

Now, I tag La Folle Maman at Cirque du Bebe, Becoming Mommy and Cloud from Wandering Scientist. I can't wait to read your six!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Feeding the Child

A few times recently (IRL) people have asked me about the Pumpkin's eating. Mostly it is to ask if she is on table food yet. There is not really a simple answer to that for me, so I end up telling people about our style of feeding and having to admit that I'm a bit of a hippie mom. Which I'm now going to admit to you all.
Did you all think I was just some normal mom? Nope, it turns out I'm a bit of a hippie in my parenting. I'm sure this will start to come out more and more as time goes by. But don't worry, I'll let the crazies out slowly so as not to scare you away. I hope.

When we got our highchair set up in our kitchen, Londo looked over at me one day, smiled and said how he couldn't wait until he could airplane in spoons of food to the baby's waiting mouth. It was then that I realized how little interest I had in feeding a baby solid foods. It just sounded like so much work and that it would require so much patience. And there was something about spoon feeding the baby that I just didn't like, but couldn't put my finger on. I was not looking forward to it at all.

But then, I learning about a style of feeding called baby-led weaning (BLW) (or baby-led feeding). I first heard about it on Ask Moxie, who has done multiple posts that touch on this method. Then, I read the article by Gill Rapley that Moxie mentioned. Gill Rapley did a study using baby-lead weaning, and she found that when babies were offered foods, they generally started trying to eat at 6 months of age, right when their digestive systems and their motor skills were developmentally ready for foods.

The BLW just clicked with me. This made sense to me. This seemed like it was what the human body was designed to do. You know, prior to the invention of purees by big corporations as another way to worry parents into spending more money and buying their products. In fact, did you know there is no research that supports introducing rice cereal or purees first? Sure babies do just fine starting that way, but they don't HAVE to (despite popular belief). In fact, when we brought up this style of feeding to the pediatrician to see what she thought, she said, "There are a million different babies and a million different ways to feed them. Find what works for you and your baby, and go for it." I just love that advice.

In this style of feeding, you cut pieces of regular food into fry-shaped sizes (not bite-sized pieces) and put it down in front of the baby on a tray or plate. The fry shape is so that the babies can pick up the pieces and hold them in their hand while they stick one end in their mouths. The theory behind it is basically to follow the baby's lead in eating, so when the baby is ready, he/she will pick up the food offered on the tray and try it out. Now, the baby probably won't eat it all right away, but the point is for the baby to get used to the taste and texture of regular solid foods.

A couple of concerns people always have over this method are that the baby will choke on the food, that the baby doesn't have teeth (or enough teeth) to eat/chew the pieces of food and that the baby won't eat enough. So let me address those issues.

It is actually believed by those who do this method that the risk of a baby-led weaned baby choking is less than those of a baby who is spoon feed. Because the baby's gag reflex is still pretty far forward in his/her mouth when starting on solids around 6 months, the baby will learn to manipulate the food in his/her mouth using this gag reflex as a guide to keep food from going too far back in the mouth and into the throat. But you have to understand the difference between gagging (which is a normal part of figuring out how to control the food in their mouths and how to get food out of their mouths) and actual choking. We had a couple of scares with the Pumpkin, where Londo and I were poised above her ready to get her out of the highchair if the gagging turned to choking, but it never did. It can be a bit scary, but she only did it a few times in the beginning and really seemed to catch on quickly. Just to be safe though, Londo and I took an infant CPR course before we started the solids--which helped our state of minds incredibly.

As for needing teeth, apparently babies' gums are strong enough to munch on a lot of the foods. I've heard a lot of people saying that their babies with no teeth or just a few teeth do great with this method by using their gums. Just because we adults can't imagine gumming foods, doesn't mean that it's not normal and natural for babies to do so. Since the Pumpkin got her teeth pretty early (I think she had 4-6 by 6 months), I don't have direct experience with this. But we started with softer foods anyway, like bananas, sweet potatoes, avocados and baked apples.

Now let me discuss whether or not they are eating enough. Since babies' primary nutrition for the first year is from breastmilk or formula, there is no need to worry that the baby is not ingesting enough. The theory is that the baby will know when they are ready to really ingest food, and they will lead the way. In our culture, there seems to be a push to get babies eating food and filling them up (I think it stems from the "clean your plate" mentality of previous generations). But for the first 12 months of life, babies really only need breastmilk or formula. Eating solid foods is not a must nutritionally or developmentally. Being introduced to foods around the 6 month mark seems to be a good idea and is generally recommended (I know some people believe there is a "window of opportunity" for introducing solids and if you miss it, the child will have problems with food and eating--I have no opinion on this, as I have not researched it at all).

In addition learning about the baby-lead weaning approach to feeding, I also have been reading a book by Ellyn Satter called Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense. In it, she says, "You can't control or dictate the quantity of food your child eats, and you shouldn't try. You also can't control or dictate the kind of body your child develops, and you shouldn't try. What you can do, and it is a great deal, is set things up for your child so she, herself, can regulate her food intake as well as possible, and so she can develop a healthy body that is constitutionally right for her." Basically, she says that too often there is a struggle between parents and children about food, which makes eating and meal times frustrating and can create issues with food. Instead, she tells people to relax and offer good foods to their children (in age-appropriate ways) but let their children decide what and how much to eat. A great point of this book is that each person's body has the ability to tell them when they are hungry and when they are full. So, if we force children to eat too little, they will either think that is normal and eat too little their whole lives or eat too much to compensate. If we force children to eat beyond when they are full, they will learn to ignore their their body's cue for feeling full and eat too much. This applies to spoon feeding as well as finger foods.

So, when we first started, I would nurse the Pumpkin before sitting her down for a meal and then just offer her foods. In the beginning, she would mostly just play with the food and try it in her mouth and squish it in her hands, not really ingesting anything. It was very messy, but she was having fun. We started with just dinners and would give her a bath right afterwards. But after a few weeks, she started ingesting some of the food. Shortly after, she really started eating and loving it, so I stopped nursing right before meals. In fact, I had to nurse an hour before or an hour after or else she wouldn't eat much/nurse much and would get so upset about it!

We don't worry about how much or how little the Pumpkin eats. We just keep offering her food until she is done, just as I would with nursing. (BTW, this is why I'm trying so hard to teach her the signs for More and All Done--so we can know what the reason for her fussing is at any given time, cause it could be either.) She now eats breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner. It seems like a lot for her age, but we let her lead how much or little she wants, and this is really working for her right now. And we basically just feed her what we are having for the meal. This makes meals so much easier and more fun for me. She just eats with us as part of the family (which works for us, because we eat an early dinner anyway). We do try to keep the food low in salt and sugar, but after reading a post by Cloud*, we no longer worry about avoiding foods. The exceptions are nuts and shellfish, because if she has allergies to either of those, we want her to be able to communicate with us better.

Having said all that, I do feel like I should mention that my mom was not comfortable with this style of feeding. Since she watches the Pumpkin during the days and would be feeding her lunch, we went ahead and bought purees so my mom could feed them to her. We also spoon feed her applesauce and yogurt. Because IMO, there is nothing wrong with purees or spoon feeding. It's just another way to feed the child, and another texture for them to discover.

For more information (in addition to the links above), check these out:
-Here's a babycentre (UK version) article about BLW.
-Here's a great article debunking myths about feeding kids.
-Here's an overview of the method.
-Here are some blogs devoted to BLW.
-Here's a link to the Yahoo Group for BLW.
-Here's an interesting discussion on a message board about this topic.
-And slightly off topic, here is information about the natural age of weaning from mother's milk (not weaning as in starting food).

*Cloud has another interesting post mostly related to feeding kids that people may be interested in, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Her Dog Days Are Numbered

I was going to post today about how we are feeding the Pumpkin, but something happened this morning that I'm quite upset about and I need ideas/advice. I'll post the one about feeding the baby tomorrow.

This morning, the Pumpkin climbed up onto the bed where the dog was lying, not asleep but resting. I was right there supervising the whole thing, and telling the baby to be "gentle." But either the baby wasn't gentle or she surprised the dog when she tried to pat her ribs. And the dog snapped in her face.

I have never been more mad at that dog, and that's saying something.

The dog didn't bite her, but when the dog is surprised or hurt, she snaps her jaws at the person/thing that did it, and it happened to be the baby's face that was there when she turned. She has never ever bitten anyone or thing, no matter how hurt or surprised, so I'm not worried about the dog truly hurting the baby. In fact, the dog puts up with a lot and is really extremely gentle in most cases.

But this is unacceptable. I will not let the dog snap in her face. But I don't believe in punishing the dog physically, especially in front of the baby who were are trying to teach to be gentle with the dog. I don't think it would teach the Pumpkin to be gentle with the dog if we are then rough with her for defending herself from the baby's rough handling (did that make sense?).

So, any advice? I actually know a lot about training dogs and understanding them, but I'm so upset about this I can't seem to recall much of my knowledge. Any ideas or advice would be appreciated! I don't want to have to kill her or sell her to the gypsies...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Question of the Week - Pregnancy Best and Worst

There seems to be a lot of people pregnant these days, and a lot of other people trying to conceive. Some mommy bloggers have just had babies, some are due very soon or in a few, and some have just announced their pregnancies. Of course, there are others who are not trying at all, and there are those who are having problems conceiving. It's weird for me to realize, I've been all of these.

This week's question of the week is to honor all those who have been, currently are, currently are trying or will some day be pregnant themselves, but especially it is for a good friend of mine who has just entered her second trimester.

Question of the Week:
In your opinion, what was the best and the worst part about being pregnant? For those are partners of someone who was/is pregnant, what was the best and worst part about your partner being pregnant?

For me, the best part was eating just about anything I wanted (except for sushi and soft cheeses and all that stuff), especially desserts! The worst part was the constipation and gas pains!

How about you?

Update to the links above: Wood and Jim of Sweet Juniper move from the category of due any day to having a newborn! Congrats to them!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cara Mama - Going to Sleep

Cara Mama,

Thanks for letting me play with your hair while I nurse and while I try to go to sleep. And thanks for singing to me to settle me down at night. I've just been so fidgety, but the singing and playing with your hair is really helping me settle down and actually fall asleep. I love you Mama, even if I don't yet say mama. Or I love you, for that matter.

Oh, and quit trying to make me give you kisses! I'm totally done with that game!

Ti amo,
Pumpkin