Monday, September 29, 2014

what Charlotte eats, 1

We usually give Charlotte solids at least an hour after nursing. We don't want her to be starving, but if she's full she won't really eat much so it can be a tricky balance. At dinner time she's usually pretty hungry and she ALWAYS nurses well even if she's just had a "meal" of solids with us.

A couple of weeks ago was Charlotte's first experience with peanut butter. After reading a little about allergies and consulting our pediatrician, we decided to give Charlotte a tiny bit of peanut butter in isolation (which we haven't done with any other food except eggs). For dinner that night, we only offered foods we already knew she wasn't allergic to, so we could identify any reaction as a result of the peanut butter. Fortunately, Charlotte loved peanut butter and didn't react negatively at all. I will offer it again in a small amount sometime in the near future.

And now, a rough list of some things Charlotte has been eating lately, for my own record-keeping, and in case anyone else is interested (doubtful).

Monday- chicken sausage with skin removed (not a big hit- made her gag multiple times), grilled potato wedge, green beans
Tuesday- butternut squash soup (with cumin and garam masala)-- HUGE hit!, biscuits
Wednesday- cucumber, 1/2 french fry, meatballs with sauce
Thursday- more meatballs, green beans, mandarin slices
Friday- fried egg w/ mozzarella cheese,
Saturday- (out to dinner) black beans, radish, grilled onion slice

Sunday- pizza slice, cucumber, tomato, chicken and rice soup
Monday- orange wedges, French fries (2), taco meat with homemade seasoning, black beans, spinach, avocado 
Tuesday- apple slice with peanut butter, leftover pizza slice, spinach, cucumber slice
Wednesday- roasted sweet potato, chunks of chicken (didn't eat- too small to hold), broccoli; hamburger chunks, corn on the cob, apple slice
Thursday- baked oatmeal, apple chunk, plain Greek yogurt, cucumber slice; roasted chicken slices, mashed potatoes

Also delicious-- the entire mandarin you find laying on the couch. Peel and all...

So far the only items receiving less than enthusiastic reviews from the youngest member of the Alberts family are baked oatmeal (makes me sad because I love it!) and plain Greek yogurt (though when I offered it again the next week, she ate it without any resistance...).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

we're famous!

Charlotte and I were featured on The Wise Baby blog this week!

Check out our list of favorite baby products!
What would you add to our list?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sleeping tricks (that worked for us)

I don't consider myself a baby sleep expert.

No way. Let's not even go there. I have written plenty of posts about the crying and the stress and the short naps and the trial and error for it to be obvious that the whole sleep thing is kind of a crap shoot.

BUT. Charlotte is a good sleeper. That can't be denied. And we have taken specific steps to help her sleep well. Mostly based on other people's experiences and wisdom gleaned from the inter webs. But regardless of where the tricks came from, I'm happy to share. 

1. Swaddle swaddle swaddle. Even if your baby hates it. Even if she wants her hands out or near her face or whatever. Just swaddle. Newborn babies are not the boss. Swaddling is a very good thing; it helps prevent babies from startling themselves awake & it gives them the feeling of the good old days (you know, being squished up in mom's womb again).  If a regular swaddle blanket doesn't work, spend some money on a swaddle sleep sack. (We like Halo brand and the Miracle Blanket- just FYI) Don't just swaddle at night, either. Nap time is sleep time, too, and swaddling helps with sleep.

2. Once you are done with the swaddle (in our experience we had to be done once Charlotte started rolling over onto her tummy.) try to introduce a "lovie". We bought Charlotte her "Screech" when she was about four months old and started having her snuggle it while she was nursing. We incorporated her Screech into our sleep time routine and now she knows it's time to rest when I put Screech into her arms. Technically safety professionals recommend having nothing loose in the baby's crib before one year, but one year is likely too late for a baby to become attached to a lovie, and it won't work as a soother. You be the judge. 

3. Make the room dark and use white noise. All summer we have kept Charlotte's window unit air conditioner running while she sleeps. Before that we used a box fan. I considered buying a small white noise machine but we already had a fan so we just used that and it works for us. Granted, it's a little inconvenient because we have to use white noise wherever she sleeps, but most places we go will have a fan (grandparents' houses, vacation rentals, etc.) 

4. Beware the 45 minute intruder. Seriously, Google it. If Charlotte wakes up 45 minutes into a nap, I don't go get her immediately. I wait to see if she will fall asleep and usually she will. If she's crying or fussing for longer than 5 minutes I go in and pick her up because she's probably fully awake.

5. Put the baby to bed as soon as you see the sleep cues. For Charlotte, her sleep cues are yawns (sometimes), rubbing her eyes, and pulling on her ear. I used to count "three yawns and some fuss" and immediately start the nap process. Now I wait for a couple yawns, some ear pulling, and then we head upstairs to get ready for bed. 

6. Have a consistent routine. This one is super hard and I remember feeling so frustrated when Charlotte was about 2-3 months old and no routine or consistency seemed to work. But we kept doing the routine and now it really really works. Our routine involves a diaper change, sleep sack on, read a book quietly, sing a song quietly (sometimes two songs), then into bed. Depending on the time of day Charlotte may nurse after she gets her diaper changed. But nursing isn't the last thing we do. She almost always goes into her crib awake, having read a book and listened to a song.

What about you? What sleep tricks do you  swear by?

Monday, September 22, 2014

teething today // 2

Teething today is you sitting on my lap while you play. When I put you down and sneak away to grab a drink or fix lunch or use the bathroom, you play for a few short minutes before whining and looking around for me again.

Teething today is bringing back the infant pacifier. The one you used for about a month but haven't touched in a long, long time. Teething today means you want it to hold and chew and move around in your little mouth. 

Teething today is some tears at nap time. And a middle of the night wake up where only nursing would suffice. 

Teething today is some extra snuggles and a few more rides in the ring sling. 

That was teething yesterday. This is teething today.

Friday, September 19, 2014

teething today // 1

The teething times have begun, folks, so I'm documenting our experience. 
Here's what teething today looked like...

To Charlotte,

I've eaten a quick lunch and just barely started writing some work emails when I hear you wake up crying 35 minutes after you finally put yourself to sleep. I know it's teething because you can usually nap for at least an hour, and I know you're still tired because you normally wake up cooing, smiling like a Cheshire cat.

The tears are streaming down your face and your nose is dripping buckets. You've gotten onto your belly and are just too tired and sad to roll yourself back. Pushed up onto your hands, you lock eyes with me the second I open your door. I decide (for once) to try nursing you back to sleep again. You cry and writhe until you're latched on, then drink quietly and quickly fall asleep in my arms.

This never happens; you haven't taken a nap on me in months. You are a mover and a shaker. Not a snuggler. We've taught you to sleep in your crib and you do it well (except when growing new teeth, apparently). Nursing is my only chance to hold you close while you're relaxed and still, and even then you are ready to rock'n'roll as soon as you finish eating. So I decide to relish this opportunity; you're snuggled up peacefully, getting the rest you need, and your room is cool and dark.

I'm not comfortable as we sit. The thrift store rocking chair we have in your room isn't great for longer than the time it takes to read a few short books. My tailbone is falling asleep and my right arm aches. You weigh at least 17 pounds now and I'm not used to holding you in one position for long periods of time.

I mentally commit to letting you sleep on me until you wake up by yourself. Or until 3pm. Whichever comes first. "I love you but an hour of this holding thing might make me a little crazy," I think.

But then I start to watch you. The flutter of your feathery, dark, mascara-commercial lashes. The twitch of your little hand. The way your eyelids flicker; I wonder what you are dreaming. The purse of your lips and the arch of your s-shaped brows. Tears prick my eyes as I see your face contort with pain or fear or sadness (I'll never know which). But then I almost laugh aloud as your perfect mouth turns into a grin. My heart aches with love.

Eventually you're sleeping deeply. I can feel you relax and your body becomes heavier. I adjust you slightly in an attempt to be more comfortable, but still you rest on my right arm and you're cuddled up close to my chest. My arm is still aching and I'm tired. But so happy. So content.

At 2:58pm your eyes open.

You wiggle to sit up and begin to look around. We make eye contact. You sit quietly on my lap, checking out your room as if you're in it for the first time. Then you start kicking happily, cooing, and smiling like a Cheshire cat.

It's worth it, little one. My aching arm. The emails that never got written. The unfinished load of laundry, still sitting in the washer at 8pm. You're worth it. I thank God for giving me you and for giving me the chance to hold you while you sleep.

Teething today was holding you, feeding you, comforting you, and helping you sleep. Teething today was maddening and confusing and precious and life-giving.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

love, Charlotte

Ex x qawvaa cqwaQ. V.   CZ. AA xxheltenham. AA b6.5hj nb tvz.  Egged awum
Ldcc    Toll,lo old,,omji,, m.

 Somebody has been busy playing with plants and writing blog posts. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Post-partum tips

If you are squeamish (or a man) I highly suggest you stop reading right now and check back in a few days for less personal content (and maybe a few cute pictures of Charlotte!).

In the shower this morning, I was reflecting on the early days after Charlotte was born and mentally listing a few things I learned. Some were tips from other first-time moms, some were things I read online, and some were trial-by-error ideas that came from my own experience. 

Feel free to chime in and add any of your own great post-partum tips, but here are a few of mine, in no particular order: 

1. Take a shower every day (or more than once per day, if you choose). Having a baby is messy. The days/weeks afterward can be messy, too. I felt a million times better after my daily shower, even though I was exhausted and emotionally shaky. Hand the baby off to your husband, mom, or dad and jump in the shower even for 3 minutes. Or, if nobody is around, get in the shower the second your baby falls soundly asleep in his/her preferred safe location. I am so serious about this one. So serious that I made it my number one tip. That's serious. 

2. Encourage your husband in his new role. This is HARD but so, so life-changing. I did not do this well at first, so please hear me out. Postpartum hormones are crippling. Sleep deprivation is brutal. Screaming babies are soul-crushing. But your husband is on your side and he needs your support, too. Give him a chance to do things for your baby, even if you think your way is better. Let him change some diapers and have some snuggles. Try to carve out quiet time for just the two of you to snuggle and talk together when the baby is sleeping. Try to apologize quickly if you yell at him for something inconsequential. Try to explain your flow of tears, but also help him to know that sometimes tears (especially post-partum) have no logical explanation and that's normal. Try to ask how he is doing and try to listen well, even if your beautiful, perfect, amazing baby is there distracting you both. 

3. Ask for help, but set some limits. I really wanted my parents to come as soon as possible after Charlotte was born but I couldn't handle the idea of a crying newborn interrupting their sleep. I asked them to come and they (very graciously) agreed to stay somewhere else at night for three nights. Their help and presence during the day was invaluable, but I think it really helped us unite as a little family to be without them during the long, hard nights. Joel, Charlotte, and I figured things out on our own and I'm so grateful for that time. 

4. If you really want to breastfeed, don't give up. Our first three days were soooo rocky. They were probably the hardest days of my life. But now that we are past them, breastfeeding is easy and awesome. I got great support from some local lactation consultants, as well as my midwife, which made a big difference. I also bought a nipple shield, which saved my butt. I also knew Joel was on my team and he did whatever he could to be encouraging and helpful- total game changer. (Also- if you don't breastfeed, that's fine, and you need to give yourself some grace about it.)
5. Get some post-partum necessities. You can check out my pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding board on Pinterest, or just Google what to have at home after delivering a baby, but there are some drugstore-type things that will make recovery a lot smoother and more comfortable. Email me if you want specifics but there are lots of good lists online so I will spare you the details here.

6. Rest. Sleep. Stay in bed for 2 days, only getting up to shower, use the bathroom, and change your baby. I know, I know, I know... Everyone says to rest but how can you rest when there is so much to be done? I am telling you that nothing needs to be done except caring for yourself, your husband, and your baby (and other children, if you have them!). The dishes and laundry and cleaning can wait, or they can be done by someone else. As soon as you come home, take a nap and lay around and gaze at your baby and revel in the newness. Just rest. Trust me- you will not regret it.

BONUS: a few great reads on this subject...
Own the Night
It's Their Day, Too
Infancy, Again.
Ten True Things
Things for Dads to Know about Birth
Things for Dads to Know about the First Few Weeks

What tips helped you make it through those early, hazy, newborn days? 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fall bucket list

It was great fun to make a list of ideas at the beginning of the summer, then to reference it as the hot days went flew by.

I'm making a new list for fall, in hopes that it will hold me accountable to teach my daughter new things and give her unique experiences. It's easy to stay at home all day, every day, protecting the naps and falling into lazy habits. Some quiet, home days are great, but I also want to take advantage of the cooler temps in the fall and show Charlotte some sights.

Here's my fall bucket list: 
  • Go apple picking
  • Bake with Charlotte
  • Let her try eating an apple
  • Sit in a leaf pile
  • Visit Longwood Gardens
  • Take early evening walks together when it's cool and crisp
  • Look at the stars (all summer it's been broad daylight when Charlotte goes to bed, so this hasn't been possible yet!) 
  • Make new crock pot meals
  • Celebrate turning 30 with my little family
  • Baby-proof (this needs to be done STAT! Charlotte can roll all over the place now!)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dear Charlotte, 8

Dear little worm,

I have tried to marvel lately at your sassy little self. The way your toes point when you kick them in the air. How your eyelashes flutter when you are drowsy. The feel of your hands on my arm, or my shoulder, or my knee. Your uncanny ability to turn your neck incredibly far in both directions so you can see whatever is outside your peripheral vision. The way you giggle when I tickle your cheeks or your feet. How you roll and roll and roll and squirm and roll some more, to get the toy that has caught your attention. Your ability to play quietly and happily while I work. Your toothy grin greeting us after naps. The way you smile at strangers and wave your hands excitedly.

Your personality is really starting to shine. I can see some independence and some sass and some tenderness, all mixed up.

One funny story- yesterday you were ready to nurse before I had eaten lunch so I was super hungry myself. I grabbed a cheese stick to eat while I fed you, but you were distracted by me having it so nearby. I set you on the bed to grab a burp cloth and half a second later you were reaching for my cheese stick and putting it into your mouth. Like, "Oh, Mom, you aren't feeding me fast enough so I'll just take matters into my own hands." Ha!

I love you, Charlotte,

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

solids are messy!

Let's talk about the mess of BLW.

Basically, there's a lot of mess. Like, a whole lot of mess. 

I told Joel yesterday that I wonder how much time we're saving by doing BLW... because even though I'm not spending hours blending up baby food, I'm doing a lot of wiping and scrubbing and picking food out of a million crevices... He pointed out that purees are messy, too. Good point, husband. Very good point.

Anyway, after about a month of solids we have a pretty good system and some helpful gear that makes this process great. Here's our routine:
  • Charlotte usually eats solids for dinner, so while Joel is playing with her, I'm prepping the meal. Since she eats whatever we're eating, I often take a couple pieces out of the hot dish and let them cool on her tray. We got this chair which has an easily removable (and dishwasher safe!) tray that pops right on/off. It's the right height for Charlotte to sit at the table with us (we just move the seat away from the table enough that she can't grab onto the table cloth :) ) and is very easy to clean. She can also entertain herself by carefully examining the straps when she is done eating, so that's a nice bonus. I am a HUGE fan of this chair and highly recommend it!
  • I get her tray ready with 2-3 different foods, Joel buckles her into the chair, we pray together, then we pop the tray on and let her begin. She drops a lot of food, so we put an old twin sized sheet under her chair before she sits down. Depending on the meal, we sometimes take off her clothes. If it's not terribly messy, we just put on a big bib that will cover most of her body. Her hands, lower arms, and face get COVERED with food. When dinner is close to being over, I grab a burp cloth (not so often used for spit up anymore!) and put some soap on it, then get it wet. One of us removes the tray while the other wrangles the baby and gets her as clean as possible with the wet, soapy cloth. Sometimes a bath has to happen right after dinner, but usually the wet cloth is enough. 
  • We pick up the chunks of food that fell onto the sheet, throw them away with whatever was left on her tray, then shake out the sheet. It goes back in a cupboard until dinner the next day. So far we have only washed the sheet a couple of times... definitely not after every meal. Aint nobody got time for that.
I'm trying to make sure Charlotte eats a wide variety of foods each week, and that her diet is balanced with all kinds of delicious (mostly healthy!) stuff. Here's a sample of what she has eaten lately:

Sunday - waffles, raspberry, blueberry (smashed)
Monday- mashed potatoes
Tuesday- broccoli, sweet potatoes 
Thursday- corn on the cob, two blueberries, mashed potatoes
Friday- asparagus, lasagna

Monday-  cheese stick, mango slices, broccoli
Tuesday- strawberries, chicken sausage (skin removed), green pepper
Wednesday- colby jack cheese stick, sandwich crusts
Thursday- pesto rotini, strawberries, spinach, shredded carrots
Friday- Rotini with no-salt-added sauce and ground beef, asparagus
Saturday- pear, green pepper, roasted sweet potatoes, tiny tastes of Rita's water ice/soft serve:)

Friday, September 5, 2014

the baby pool

This lucky little lady got an inflatable swimming pool from her grandparents last month. Joel filled it up for the first time this week and right before dinner one night, he came into the kitchen with Charlotte and said, "Hey Mom! Mom! Do we have time to go swimming before dinner?!"

Dinner was basically ready but how could I refuse her adorable face? #makememelt

Charlotte had SO much fun splashing, playing with her duck, smiling at us, and even lounging back with her head on the edge of the pool and her feet kicking away. We had SO much fun watching her.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

beach, beach baby

A few weeks ago Charlotte visited the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

I knew from previous experience that she would be all about the water, but I wasn't sure how the sand and waves and hot sun would go.

It went great!

Our dear friends let us borrow their beach umbrella and it was AWESOME for keeping Charlotte cool and safe from the sun. I also read that baby powder removes sand from skin, so I took some along... amazing!

Charlotte played in the shallow water with me and with one of the junior high girls. She grabbed for the sand and rolled around on a big blanket under the umbrella. She also took a nap in the car both going to and coming from the beach, in addition to a short cozy nap in the ring sling after lunch.

I accidentally left my camera in my car at church (sad face!) but here are a few pictures from someone's iPod: