Monday 24 August 2015

A Wednesday in Summer

I've wanted to write an updated Day in the Life post for a while. Finally, with the help of a new iPhone (yes, the dumbPhone has been retired) I have managed it without giving up in the middle. Since life is going to change again soon, I thought it would be nice to have a snapshot of a Summer Day when AJ was 9 months old. This entry feels like history already: as I edit it I'm seeing everything in sepia with nostalgic music playing in the background.

A Wednesday In Summer 

9:30: AJ and I wake up. I'm up first today. While she is still drowsy I make the bed, brush my teeth etc. When I go in to check on her she is smiling and excited to see me, which means she's well rested. We had a pretty good night. She didn't settle easily so wasn't asleep till 10pm. She woke up and wanted to feed at about 12:00am. Then woke up at around 2:00 and I figured she did not need to feed again. I put on the sleep sheep, picked her up, and paced up and down the room a couple of times - and she was asleep. OK then. Next woke up at around 5:20am, and I fed her. Mr. Turtle left at about 7.

We slept in a little late today, but I feel so much better rested than yesterday.

Change a diaper. Take AJ to the living room where she plays on the floor while I figure out what's for breakfast.  I chop up the last peach: it looks ripe and juicy so I put AJ in her high chair and give her a slice. She loves it! She picks it up with one hand and eats it, chewing the fruit off the peeling. I also give her a couple of blueberries and she eats one.

I decide I'll try banana and egg pancakes again. I do OK, but they still stick to my greased non-stick frying pan, so I end up with several pieces of pancake.  Maybe there's a trick to this I'm not getting.

After I get my breakfast together (cottage cheese with blueberries and raspberries, instant coffee, and the peach I'm sharing) I roll AJ over to the dining room table. (side note: I love having a high chair with wheels. Best thing ever!) I offer AJ a bit of pancake and she seems to like it, so I leave some on her table. She feeds herself several bites of pancakes and about 3 more slices of peach.

10:30, I change AJ out of her now very dirty PJs, wipe her down and dress her in the tie-dyed jumpsuit that always makes me wish I had one too. I sit her in the crib with some toys and throw in a load of laundry, and then have a shower.

At 11:30 I feel like right boob is a bit too full, and AJ is fussing a bit, so she has some boob milk.

For the next two hours we play, cuddle and putter around the house. I do more laundry, and pack for the trip we are taking on Friday to my parents' vacation home. I worry that I haven't heard back from the daycare for September and wonder if our child care plans are going to fall through.  (Update: AJ does have a daycare spot - I found out as our plane was getting ready to taxi hahaha.)

I remember that we need to buy a zip up diaper bag for the trip. I email Mr. Turtle suggesting we do that this evening, then decide that I should make sure that I have dinner ready early. It's also time for lunch so I tackle both at once.

AJ sits in her highchair and I give her some chunks of watermelon, which she happily shoves into her mouth. I decide to make a tuna casserole. After AJ finishes her watermelon I spoon feed her yoghurt and prune puree while making cheese sauce, boiling the macaroni, and making every dish in the house dirty, or so it feels. When the casserole is ready I set it aside (it will go in the oven later) and throw some frozen veg and leftover chicken into the microwave for myself.

Meanwhile I offer AJ sips of water and then let her pick up her glass. She doesn't manage to drink any water on her own today, but spills most of it on her table, down her lap, etc. She screeches and growls the whole time. The cup finally ends up on the floor, where I leave it. AJ proceeds to entertain herself by slapping her hands on her tray and splashing water all over the kitchen. My lunch is ready so I sashay over to the microwave, using one foot and a rag to wipe the water off the floor. I saved a couple tablespoons of cheese sauce, which I pour over the chicken and vegetables: good to go! I take one last glance around the kitchen: just an Average Mess, nothing to worry about.

AJ and I sit at the table. She is interested in my food (of course) so I feed her bits of corn and carrots with a spoon. When we are done, at about 3:00, I take her back to the nursery to investigate. She is not too dirty but very wet from pouring water on herself. I wipe her down and change her into a dry onesie (s'long cute outfit.) I put AJ in the crib, where she seems happy for the moment, so I go to see what I can do about the Average Mess. Barely have time to look at it when I hear urgent crying! Investigation reveals large poop, leading to another change. I hear thunder, and figure we've probably missed our chance to take a walk. Oh well. Seems like a good time for a nap, and AJ is fussing again, so she is probably tired.

3:10, breastfeed. Ten minutes later AJ is comfort sucking so I gently take her off the breast, place her in the crib. She rolls onto her side, as she always does, and falls asleep.

A downpour with thunder and lightning hits. I decide to ignore the Average Mess a bit longer and write this blog. I need validation that way I guess.

4:00, crying! Crying after waking up usually means AJ is still tired. I pick her up and bounce her gently on the ball chair for about 5 minutes. She blinks and yawns several times and then closes her eyes. Place her in crib, hover with hand on her while she opens and closes eyes, and finally dozes off. Back to blog.

4:25: all caught up with writing; guess I'll check out the Average Mess again.  But first I look up a couple of blogs on the Archipelago.  Oh look it's 4:40 now.  (This happens a lot.) I heat up the oven and put the casserole in, then start washing dishes.

4:55 I hear squeaks from the nursery. AJ is awake again, but not cranky this time. I put a blanket on the kitchen floor and sit her down with some Tupperware. She happily plays with this and the fringe on the blanket. (Fringe!)

More thunder and lightning, and a hailstorm hits. I quickly finish the dishes. Last year, Mr. Turtle was washing the dishes and lighting struck the house, or somewhere close. He saw an arc of lightning come out of the faucet. Luckily he wasn't touching it at the time. Lightning finds this family in more ways than one. Since then we avoid doing dishes during a thunderstorm.

AJ seems happy on the floor so instead of moving her I look for more things to do in the kitchen. I boil the bottles and breast pump parts. I need to produce a bottle of milk for AJ to drink on the plane on Friday, hopefully during take off. Pumping is a slow tedious business so I really should have started earlier in the week, but I didn't. I won't get to it today either. Thursday. I set the table and clean some more. Thanks to AJ even the floor got mopped.

5:30, Mr. Turtle is home. AJ peeks around the corner of the kitchen to see him with a big grin on her face. She plays peekabo while he takes off his shoes. We greet each other, give updates on our day, etc. A few minutes later we all sit down to dinner together.

Mr. Turtle and I have casserole and salad, and I give AJ some squished blueberries to start. Today she loves them and pops them into her mouth one after the other. She also eats about half of a lentil and vegetable puree serving which I pre-prepared and froze. (We haven't yet worked up the nerve to offer AJ fish. My brother has a severe fish allergy and every time we make a fish dish, we end up looking at each other and asking: "Do we feel like rushing to emergency today? Nooooo." ) Mr. Turtle always feeds her dinner when he is home.

Since we need to make it to the crunchy baby store before 8, we hustle a bit to get ready. Mr. Turtle wipes down AJ and does some clean up while I pack the diaper bag. It's rainy and chilly outside so we put socks on AJ, but they don't stay on longer than 2 seconds.

At 6:30 we all get in the car; Mr. Turtle driving.  It is raining when we get to the store. Mr. Turtle wears AJ in the mei tai. He has done this a few times and I find it so sweet. At the store we find everything we need, and happen to notice sock-ons, which claim to keep socks on baby's feet. I buy a pair. (Edit: the sock-ons do keep socks on AJ's feet longer, but she can still pull them off if she makes her mind to do so.) We leave leave the store by 7:20.

At about 7:50 Mr. Turtle offers AJ the rest of her dinner, while I do a few chores.  She gobbles it up.  I hear him laughing and cheering. AJ has grabbed her cup in both hands and is drinking out of it. This is the first time Mr. Turtle has seen her do this and he is delighted. The minute I walk over however she pours it down her front and claps her hands. Mr. Turtle comments that he is so in love with everything AJ does. Sweet family moments.

Mr. Turtle cleans AJ up again and changes her into pyjamas. They hang out in the basement while I finish tidying up.

8:40, AJ is in her sleep sack and Mr. Turtle tells her a bedtime story. He makes these up and the only thing they have in common is that they are all extremely silly.  Today's story is about lightning and thunder. At 8:45, I put on sleep sheep and breastfeed. AJ is asleep by 9:20. And awake by 9:45. I rock and cuddle her. I don't plan on feeding her more but she gets hiccups so I offer her the breast again to help stop them. She stays asleep this time.

I didn't take notes on the night, but I think it was pretty typical: One more night feeding, and then a couple of wake ups that I soothed her through.

Good times. I loved our first summer together as a family.

Monday 17 August 2015

#Microblog Mondays: The Winds of Change

I have most of a "day in the life" post written from last week. I wanted to capture a bit of our lazy (by comparison) summer life before it was time to go back to work (next week! Whaaaaaat!) and so many things change. I'll try to post that entry this week.

Meanwhile it's already feeling out of date. Sigh. AJ and I are trying out a new routine today. It wasn't entirely my idea. Oh, I knew we have to make some changes, but I probably would have put it off until tomorrow, or some other day. But at 6:00am AJ decided that she wasn't going back to sleep, and no boob or bouncy ball chair was going to change her mind. It occurred to my befuddled mind that hey, we're going to have to learn to start our day at 6:00am anyway, so why not begin now. So we got up and made some breakfast with whatever food is left in the house after a week away (not much). AJ of course turned out to be not interested in anything except being cuddled by mom and walked around the house, which is a perfectly logical thing to want at 6am, although not perhaps entirely amenable to our new schedule.

Stuff I've already learned: I need to find some way to have breakfast ready for us in the morning, with minimal (very minimal) preparation.  The majority of my "get ready" time is taken up with food preparation, and even a simple breakfast seems to have too many steps involved. But not eating breakfast is a recipe for disaster. I've been making freezer breakfasts for Mr. Turtle to take to work (that was his birthday present) but I'm not sure I'm into that. I think I would like to try slow cooker breakfast. I love the idea of something cooking all night and being ready and tasty in the morning.

I actually haven't been too sad or worried in the past couple of months about going back to work. There's a few reasons for this, I think. One, since I'm changing jobs I have a vaguer idea of how my first few weeks will look. Probably it will be quite similar to what it has been in the past (I hope so, actually) but still I can't imagine everything as concretely, which makes it all a little less real. Right now I just know I have an empty classroom with whatever stuff my new colleague saw fit to order for me or put in my room (everything she didn't want anymore, presumably). This week I will take a few hours to sort through it and make a list of a few other things I need to pick up. I will not be starting the year with a perfectly decorated classroom, but I'm OK with that. I'm not a classroom decorator anyway; I personally never put anything up that isn't student work or an educational tool. My old room had bulletin board borders and motivational posters and a paint job because the educational assistants at the time liked to do that sort of thing. (I find motivational posters annoying.) Also, I know very little so far about my new students, but apparently one of them likes to rip things off the wall when he gets angry at the world. So, minimal prettyfication. But still, there are little things that make the day go easier that it's good to have ready in advance: stuff like cleaning supplies, fidgety toys (for teacher as well as students) and easy activities such as playing cards, small jigsaw puzzles, etc.

I am also So. Freaking. Relieved. that AJ has a daycare spot for September. We didn't know if she would until the beginning of August. I am not looking forward to being away from her but I was so worried that our childcare plans would fall through, which would have just made everything more stressful and hassled. We went on the wait list for one daycare centre in January. It seems to be common practice now to go on a wait list when you are pregnant, but that was not where my mind was during pregnancy.  Some people even go on the wait list before they conceive. Of course if we had done that (four years ago) we would have been top of the list for sure (insert eye roll and sarcastic laugh here). We really liked this daycare, and although we meant to research a Plan B it somehow never happened. But we got lucky and despite not being the best planners ever, AJ has a spot.  My relief about this has made me feel better about the whole transition. What does feel weird is that the daycare reminds me so much of a school. How can I be sending my baby off to school already?! But I'm hoping that she will (mostly) enjoy the stimulating environment and being around other babies. AJ hasn't spent much time around other babies but she loves it when she does.

Well, so far I have managed to keep AJ awake for almost 3 hours, and put her down for a nap without breastfeeding her. Score. (She still gets bouncy ball chair and sleep sheep. Bouncy ball chair is the closest thing I have to a workout. Snort laugh.) As I work through my day I'm creating a parallel "ideal" schedule, not that I expect us to be on it right away, but I'll need something to give to Mr. Turtle next week when he starts parental leave, and to the daycare centre. Another way I'm coping with the transition is by focusing on minutiae. I have two sides to my personality; one is intuitive, spontaneous, dreamy (the abstract side of the abstract-concrete binary). The other side is the opposite: I organize, schedule, plan, and contingency-plan almost obsessively. I can stress myself out doing this but sometimes it's kind of soothing. Focusing on details allows me to sidestep my anxiety and sometimes over-active imagination and feel some personal control.

On with my day now! I'm caught up with my comment replies (see previous entries) and will try to find some time to read everyone else's updates. Because that's part of my routine too and I don't want everything to change!

More at Microblog Mondays

Wednesday 5 August 2015

the ninth month

Let's see if I can get every amazing thing down about this baby before she wakes up. Maybe I'll even have time to sort the laundry afterwards.

Emotions and social interaction:
  • I feel like AJ expanded her range of emotions this month and how she expresses them. She gives baby hugs and now kisses too (she puts her mouth on us and blows a raspberry). AJ still does head bumps, which are awesome unless she head bumps your nose. Ouch. 
  • Giggles and belly laughs. She mostly does this at home because she needs to be very relaxed.
  • Communication: Tons of babbling, vocalizations. Not sure if she knows words for things yet. She might know the word for water. Once when we were giving her a bath, she said "wah-wah" and turned the faucet on (it's the kind that you push up). We hear a lot of things that sound like words. It even sounded like she said her name the other day.
  • When AJ is very happy or excited about something, she talks in a whisper voice, that sounds almost like a hiss. We call it "happy hiss." I often hear this as she's reaching for my earrings.
  • AJ insists on being acknowledged and on certain social interactions. Before we leave the room we must give her a cuddle, explain what we are doing, say bye-bye and I'll be back. Or she's very offended. No more plunking her down and rushing off to do something. That's rude!
  • She's more likely to get frustrated if she can't complete a task or if get what she wants: e.g. an object slips out of reach, she can't take something out of a container. Angry cry, flails arms, glares at parent. Before she would just give up and move on to the next thing. However, she still makes judgments about how important things are to her and how much she cares. The toy that's out of reach is worth some effort, but if the effort doesn't pay off quickly, perhaps the ones within reach are a better deal. She may resemble her mother in this regard ;-)
  • AJ expresses definite preferences. She swats away things she doesn't like. She enjoys her baby toys a lot, but she is also interested in adult toys like phones, computers, TV remote. So it's best to keep them out of her way and be aware of how much we are playing with them, if we're not willing to share the fun.
  • Plays peek-a-boo by hiding herself: pulls a blanket over her face, then pulls it away and giggles. She also played with Mr. Turtle the other day by peeking around a corner, pulling back and peeking again. That was too, too cute.
Eating and drinking:
  • I offered AJ big portions of food (slice of beat, entire apricot or peach, big slice of watermelon) to encourage her to pick up food and feed herself. Large pieces seemed to be easier for her to grasp than "finger foods." After a few days she got quite adept with smaller pieces too: peach slice, squished blueberries, watermelon (a favourite) and pear slices. AJ is still hot and cold about feeding herself, however. Sometimes she will happily pick up food, bite and chew like a pro, and other times she completely ignores everything unless we spoon feed her. I think it's mostly a matter of how much she likes it. The effort she puts out is directly proportionate to how much she cares about the result.
  • For several weeks AJ has liked to grab her water glass and spill the water. She enjoys having a puddle of water on her highchair table to splash in. After a few weeks she started acting like she was trying to hold and drink from the glass, however. And this week she was actually able to hold the cup and take a few sips, which was very exciting. She's still working on the technique and spills ten times as much water as she drinks, but it's so fun!
  • I breastfeed about 5-6 times in 24 hours, sometimes more. I try to always offer solid food before breastfeeding now, with the exception of the last feed before she goes to sleep. It doesn't always work out as sometimes AJ is just too tired or fussy to eat solids and it's better to breastfeed first so she's relaxed. After we get back from our little trip to see my parents this month, I will try to wean her to formula during the day. Not sure how that will work out; I guess we'll see. I am not going to attempt to pump; I know I don't have it in me and pumping at school? No, just no.  But I am hoping that I can continue to breastfeed early mornings, evenings and weekends, and at night if AJ insists. I know people who have done this and people who couldn't do it, so I won't know which I am until I try. The thought of stopping breastfeeding makes me sad. I haven't blogged much about breastfeeding, which is mainly because it has worked out really well and there's nothing much to say. So I hope I can continue part time.
The other end:
  • Much less constipation this month, yay! Pooping doesn't seem to be too traumatic anymore. AJ did try to eat some of her poop when she was having naked time the other day. Nooooooooooo that did not just happen.
Large motor:
  • AJ stands and holds herself up. She likes to stand on the couch and look out the window (with us spotting for her of course). I also found a plastic bin that is the perfect height for her to stand by and support herself by pushing down. She sometimes lets go and supports herself with one hand, or tries to take a step. She does not pull up yet.
  • She scoots around on her bottom, although not very far. She reaches in all directions, including behind her, rotates herself, and can touch her nose to her toes. I think she will probably start crawling from this position, well assuming that she crawls at all.
  • Less rolling to her belly this month. Again, I think she figured out that she didn't like rolling to her belly, so why should she bother. She still does it sometimes and I can see that she is getting stronger all the time. 
  • Back crawling: lifting bum off floor, pushing forward with feet. First 2 weeks of the month: she could move about a metre this way.
  • Swim lessons this month. AJ actives relaxed in the pool. She never seemed unhappy or afraid. She wasn't ecstatic about it either, but was open to the experience
Fine motor:
  • AJ's pincer grip is developed. She can do some very delicate things with her fingers now. She loves to untie things. Strings and fringes are her favourites.
  • Sometimes in the middle of doing something she will stop and stare at her hands, as if to say: "Wow, these are cool."
  • When put down sleepy in her crib, will curl up and grab her feet (as if to make sure they don't get away)
  • She starting clapping her hands a bit. But her favourite is to grab our hands and clap them.
  • Varies. She can sleep six hour stretches: awesome! Other nights, she wakes 2-3 times. Usually she goes back to sleep easily but there are exceptions. I honestly don't know what makes the difference, because we have the same routines every day. We haven't ever tried to sleep train, although I will encourage AJ to put herself back to sleep and sometimes she can. I can pretty much tell by the sounds she is making if she will or not. It doesn't really bother me at present, especially since the "bad" nights are not too frequent. But I do wonder how we'll transition when I have to go back to work.
Growth and development:
  • Two bottom teeth visible, on more possibly coming in on the bottom, two top teeth coming in. Hear teeth grinding sometimes. Aaaargh.
  • Torso not growing as fast - AJ wore her 9 month size onesies until she was almost 9 months!! That's a first. Arms and legs grew however: I'm still astonished at how long they look. She's wearing 12 month sizes now. AJ was 17 pounds when we weighed her for her passport application. 
Oh yeah, AJ has now been on the outside as long as she was on the inside. Yay! I don't know the exact number of weeks because I lost track of how many weeks she is at about 20. We are so lucky to be here. When I was pregnant I didn't dare try to imagine myself with a healthy, happy 9 month old. Newborn was as far as I could go. So not only is it better than I imagined, it's completely out of the realm of what I imagined. 

I haven't organized the 9 month pictures yet, so I might add a collage later. Also running out of time here so I'll leave the post-partum update for another time.

Life is beautiful.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Late MicroBlog: I don't leave home without it

I missed MicroBlog Mondays, but for a good reason at least: we went Saskatoon berry picking. It was a very hot day so we didn't stay out long, but AJ seemed to like it well enough. We took her stroller and when we found a good patch we just put her on the ground to look around and play with grass.

Our outing yesterday made me think of things I don't use anymore and things I don't leave home without. Before having a baby I'd accumulated various collections of girly things. A lot of them are collecting dust or abandoned in boxes these days.

Purse collection: Unless it's a special occasion (e.g. wedding) I can't be bothered to coordinate my bag with my outfit. Actually can't imagine anymore why I ever wanted to do this in the first place.

Heeled shoes. Never wore them much anyway, but now almost never. Falling during pregnancy put me off heels, even low ones.

Dresses. Most of them, even the ones that fit, don't work with breastfeeding. So until AJ is weaned and/or I'm back at work, no dresses.

On the other hand?

Scarves. Scarves are the best. Some of the things I use scarves for:

  • Tie my water bottle around my waist when out walking.
  • Sun protection for AJ on a hot day
  • Throw it down on the ground to sit
  • Wear it if the weather gets chilly
But the best reason to have one around is that AJ loves to play with them, especially if they have fringe. If she's at the point where she's had enough of everything, but we are not quite home and need to hold out a little longer, I just hand her a scarf and she's happy for several minutes. It's awesome.

I don't leave home without it!