Thursday, July 31, 2008

slap happy

My daughter wasn't calmly going down for a nap today, so I eventually went into her room to determine whether she was really ready to sleep yet. I picked her up, and she got so excited that she started waving her arms. This excitement reaction is typical for her (although not usually when I think she's ready to sleep). In moving her arms around, she kept hitting my arm, which made the gentle slap sound of skin to skin contact. That was very thrilling to her, so she moved her arm faster, because she was more excited, which made more a slapping sound, and it just built on itself. It didn't hurt, and in fact made me laugh, so she kept it up until I was tired of trying to hold on to her in her excitement.

Oh, and yes, her nap was seriously delayed today.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

would you put me down already?

My daughter has clear signals for when it's nap time. Or at least, they're clear to me, since I spend a lot of time with her.

Four months ago, when I was desperate for a good night's rest (and didn't get one for another three and a half months) I read a few books (and a few articles in magazines and an embarrassing amount of on-line articles and message boards) on baby sleep habits. [My favorite of these was the message board where mother after mother after mother told how great it was that their child slept through the night at two months, so it was easy to get kids to do this, until the one honest lady said: If your kid sleeps through the night that young it's the kid, not you the mother, you have done nothing, and you're just lucky. I wanted to be friends with her.]

Some advice made sense, some applied, some did not, the usual routine with parenting advice. The one message I got loud and clear, and felt made sense, (and probably believed because it was from the book that all the other books and articles cited) was that babies need a routine to help them calm down and realize its bed time. Everytime you put them down they should have this routine, although you can different routines for naptime and bedtime.

Our bedtime routine was officially instituted, and while I don't believe it settles her down, it is a nice family routine, including family prayer. As for a nap routine, I sing her a song and put her down. Until recently. Once she finally convinces me that she is ready to nap (often sooner than I am expecting) we go into her room, and I try to sing her a song. In the past few weeks she has gotten agitated at me, and starts to wiggle as if trying to get into her crib. She has no patience for the song because she wants to go to sleep. Today she actually started crying when I started singing. I think I'm dropping the song before the nap. She doesn't seem to care for it anyway.

It's a blessing to have a baby who goes down so easily for a nap. But, it has everything to do with our home and her crib. When we're out on church visits, or camp, or anywhere else, she just goes and goes until she collapses from exhaustion (sans melt-down, thank goodness), like last Sunday when she finally fell asleep sitting on my lap during a meeting. What a good sleeper.

Monday, July 28, 2008

trying out her agency

My daughter is figuring out that she can make choices. She has been making choices for a long time, but she seems to be figuring out that she doesn't have to go along with what I choose for her. This shows up in various ways.

She loves to be read to - but only the books she likes. My husband claims that I am projecting my own reading tastes, and she doesn't really have opinions. But, when we're reading a book she likes, she listens, kicks her legs, and occasionally makes happy noises. If she doesn't like the book, she keeps looking at the other things around her (most usually the pile of books nearby because it doesn't take long to get through her books) until I change books.

She also spits. She has figured out how to blow with her tongue, and make little spitting noises. She's been doing it for a few weeks now, and we thought it was cute, but has just learned to apply it eating. As the spoon approaches, she opens her mouth (you never know what I've put on it) to get the food. If she likes it, if it's what she wants, she swallows. If not, she immediately starts spitting, which means the bulk of it runs down her chin, but much gets on her tray and on me. She continues spitting until she gets what she wants. So, while butternut squash was good enough at lunch, it was a no go at dinner. Nor was her favorite rice cereal (which is clearly not so favorite any more).

I know that this is just the beginning, but it makes me think of when I was first trying to help her drink from a bottle. One morning as I was holding it for her, and she was gumming at it, and squeezing the nipple with her fist, I told her "I want you to feel control over drinking from this, but I want you to do it my way."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

camera hog

So my husband wanted a picture of him and our daughter yesterday. I prepard to take it, and as soon as she saw the camera, she lunged towards it. Thus the following shot:

She loves the camera, poses for the camera, smiles at the camera, and is quite sure she would like to eat the camera. We get one chance, sometimes less, to get her doing something picture worthy because our camera makes noises. And as soon as she's heard the "take a picture" sound, she turns towards the object of her desire. Sometimes she also hears the "turn on" noise, and then we miss the moment entirely. We also use it to take small videos, which have one of two action sequences. Either she is staring directly at the lens (in truth the small red light immediately next to the lens) with a constant banter of us, the parents, trying to get her attention back to what was worth recording in the first place ("baby girl, baby girl, look over here" - she ignores us), or it is the back of her head, with us carefully moving the camera so she won't realize she is being filmed.

Perhaps we have created this monster ourselves with our incessent first-time-parents photo taking... If our other kids have even half the pictures, they'll be swimming in photodocumentation for the rest of their lives.

Friday, July 25, 2008

lessons learned

Yesterday afternoon was way more intense than I had planned. Youth conference was the pioneer trek this year, and I had to give a message to the young women. I had thought it was on Friday, but then was corrected, it was on Thursday. Oops. Now my schedule looked like: visiting teaching, travel to trek, trek talk, travel home, visiting teaching - all with baby in tow. Of course, I got out of the house late to go visiting teaching, because it had started to rain hard, and I needed a change of clothes for my daughter in case she got wet, and so now I was going to be late for visiting teaching, and I would need to leave early for my trek experience.

The day before all this, I had noticed that the car seat was starting to tilt again. It slowly gets off center, and then my husband fixes it, and then it slowly starts to tilt again, and repeat. He had forgotten to fix it before he left the house that morning, so I assured him I could fix it - how hard could it be? So, I fiddled with the seat before we left the house (in the rain) and was on my way.

I was no more than 10 minutes down the road when I look in the rear view mirror, and notice that my daughter's chair is at least leaning at a 45 degree angle. I know this would be bad (very bad!) should we get into a car accident, so I find a place to pull over, and try to fix it AGAIN. By this point it is pouring rain, and I am really late, and I do my best to fix the problem, get us situated, and we're off again.

About five minutes later, we go around a curve, and I glance in my rear view mirror again, and this time there is no baby. Yes, her seat had completely tipped over and was lying on its side in the back seat. I cry out in horror, and pull over as soon as is humanly possible. My daughter is fine, still strapped in, although looking a little curious at this new side perspective. I right the car seat, and once again strap things in. I take a little more time, I think through all the steps a little more carefully, and then push the seat around a bunch to see how it will move (very little this time) before we go. And we finally get to my visiting teaching appointment, with nothing but some minor mental scars for me.

I told the story to my friends, and my visiting teaching companion says: you've got to pull the strap really tight! I replied, I know that. And in fact, I did know, I just didn't manage to do it that middle time. But my daughter is fine. The car seat is in more solidly again. And I will never make this particular mistake again.

Also, at trek, in order to be authentic, I didn't take any of my modern day baby carriers up to the talk, so I just held my baby on my hip for the hour or so I was up there. Pioneer women are tough - and stronger than I am. Thank goodness for their sacrifice. I probably could have done if I had to, I'm just that stubborn (and hopefully faithful) but I'm sure glad I don't have to. (Even if I do make an exodus somewhere with a baby - I'm taking my modern day carriers!) Oh - and my talk went well.

on a roll, part 3

I set my daughter down on the floor as I often do today, and went into the kitchen to wash a dish that was getting particularly fragrant. I checked in on her a few moments later, and realized that she was making progress.

She usually just rolls in order to reach for a toy, and often moves around her play space (the carpet/blanket in front of the TV) in a combination of rolls and inchworms. And I've been completely happy with that level of mobility. It means she can get the things she wants without actually getting into anything else.

But today she started rolling off her blanket, and kept going. I watched her more than I washed the pot (although it did get clean), fascinated by her new freedom. She stopped when she reached the kitchen. She had never experienced linoleum before, and this required an investigation. She scratched at, like she does on every new floor surface. And I am infinitely grateful that this investigation did not include a suck for good measure. I finally moved her when she started poking around under a shelf that we have. My kitchen is not clean enough for her wanderings, although I guess it needs to get that way soon.

The bright side to this new found mobility is that once she does a new trick, she usually won't repeat it for a few days (before it becomes standard operating procedure) so we have a few days to get the next areas prepped for our little explorer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

happy, happy, joy, joy

People say two things about my baby. One is they notice how cute she is (and they're right). The other is that she is a happy baby. Again, they're right. When I first noticed how happy she was I was grateful to have such joy in our home. Then I thought, well, aren't all babies happy? And while I believe many, if not most, of them are, I still think my daughter is particularly so.

People remark on this in various ways. Some just point out that she is happy. One said "your baby, she is always wearing a smile." My favorite was the lady in the engineering building, who when she received a smile from my daughter concluded "that is a well-loved baby." I liked the idea that she felt so secure in our love that she was overwhelmingly happy.

I don't know that all my kids will be like her - she is good natured in more ways that just her happiness, but I love that right now, happy is a good word to describe our home and family, but especially our daughter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

other dogs go BOW WOW WOW

This past weekend we visited my oldest friend (we've been friends since junior high - she is the only person pre-college I still talk to) and attended the wedding of two friends of ours, both in the state north of here. That meant some driving. Which means by the time we got there, our baby was hungry, hot, and tired. But, she is freakishly good natured, so as soon as we pulled her out of her car seat, she was smiling, and excited to explore (by looking around from her dad's arms) her new environment. And, despite the fact that it was an hour after her bedtime, she felt no need to sleep just yet.

But, at my friend's house is a St. Bernard (that is approximately 8 times the weight of my daughter). And Xena (the dog) was equally excited about having new things to explore. So it behaved in a very dog-like fashion, and barked for joy. Except her barks are loud and deep, and scared my daughter A LOT. So she cried. And we tried to get the dog to be quiet, so it barked more, and she cried some more. (Eventually the dog was quiet, and the baby did fall asleep, and then the dog could bark all it wanted, my daughter didn't care.)

The next morning though, everyone was better rested, and calmer, and Xena was still fascinated by my baby, and me for that matter. So she came up to me and sniffed, and wanted to be petted, which I was anxious to do to avoid another barking incident. I was so proud of my little girl, who was clearly still terrified, but still reached out to poke the dog's eyes and touch the nose (she really just reached out to touch it, but has the aim of your typical baby). It was a big dog. But my daughter took it on with style.

The rest of the weekend was calm in comparison. My daughter looked cute at the wedding, we got the man in charge mad because we moved some chairs so she didn't have to sit in the direct sun, my husband caught fireflies, and we generally enjoyed the beautiful countryside that is around us. It was nice to have a weekend without chores - except now we have to do them during the week. Plus, Sunday was a calling day - so my baby and I were out visiting the good young women of our stake that day. She is a trooper.

Monday, July 21, 2008

who's your daddy?

Here is a recent picture of our family for your enjoyment. While there are differing opinions as to who my daughter resembles more, the opinion of people who know us the least well (people we work with at church and only see every once in a while, a man we worked with for a computer assignment, etc.) put our daughter firmly in the dad column for looks.

I agree. Note their chins, cheeks, and eyebrows, just to start. Probably the nose (although that's hard to tell with an infant). And while you can't see this in the picture, her feet, more specifically her toes, were the first thing we identified as coming clearly from his side of the gene pool.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

it's about time

Last night makes the fourth night in a row that Leni has slept through the night. It's about time.

To her credit, since about 2 months old, she has only woken up for food. She would get up, eat, and be back asleep, sometimes even before she was done eating. Yes, yes, there were the odd nights that she got up and couldn't get back to sleep, but that happens to everyone sometimes, and they didn't happen to her often.

About three months ago we instituted the bed time routine, which after a bumpy start, has proven to be extremely effective (for us). Now she wants/needs to be put to bed at 7 pm. So we do. The last two nights that has meant she insists on being put to sleep without her second dinner, so she wakes up an hour later, remembers she hasn't eaten, and demands food. But since it happens around 8 (and she goes right back to sleep) and I am still awake, I don't count it against her ability to sleep until 7 in the morning, when we start our daily routine all over again.

She's such a good sleeper. Just one of the many things my daughter does really well.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

we interupt this activity for hand identification

My daughter has finally discovered her hands. Oh, she's been able to use them for months; they are her primary system for getting things in her mouth (like the carpet she was chewing on today, but that's another story). But in the last few days, while using her sippy cup, or manipulating the bottle, or picking up a toy, she suddenly stops whatever she is doing, and stares at one of her hands, watches it move a bit, opens and closes it, and seems utterly fascinated by the tiny, perfect movements they make.

I too am fascinated by the perfection that comes in such a small package.

She then remembers that she has things to do, and continues along in her pursuit of whatever. Soon, like most people, she'll take for granted that she has hands and all the amazing things they do, but right now, she notices, and is amazed - as she should be.

[As for the carpet, she rolled over to where the carpet meets the linoleum, and found a part where the connection is open, and picked at the carpet, and got some yarn in her hands, then her mouth. I wasn't fast enough to stop it, or even sure that it had happened (I caught her at the end of the carpet excursion). I swiped two or three times, found nothing, so let it be. But ten minutes later when she was still chewing, I looked a little deeper. To the dismay of both of us, I had to reach into the back corner of her mouth, deep in the cheeks, and pull out a wet slimy ball of carpet. But, in all honesty, I think she was happier once it was gone.]

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

being a girl OR it's always fun when grandma comes

When I was young, and thought about having kids, I wanted boys. This is to be expected, as I really only had experience with boys, because I have lots of brothers, and not so many sisters (which was even more true when I was little). As I got older I realized that I had a lot to offer girls in terms of being a role model, and it seemed to me that I would have girls. Then came the frightening moment when I realized I could teach little girls how to be smart, successful, spiritual, accomplished, and confident, but could teach them nothing of the finer girl arts of make-up, hair, accessories, etc. (And don't misunderstand, I recognize that these are truely important skills for a woman to have.)

My first plan to fix this was to move next door to either 1) my little sister, or 2) my sister-in-law. So far, this has not happened. But, Grandma came to visit this weekend (YAY!) and started the education.

She helped my little girl have an actual hair style.She helped her learn about accessories like hair bows and watches.
And the increasingly fashionable high ponytail. (I read about it online, so it must be in style.)
And that a lady should always have a good purse.
We're all better off for having this visit from Grandma!

And, in what can only be reported with joy, we, the parents, were actually able to leave two times without the child. Once while she was sleeping, and even once while she was awake. And she was still happy when we got home.

Grandma reports that she comes to see our daugher. Well, now we know she can see lots of her, and my husband and I can go off and see lots of each other - which is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

i miss her already

My daugher finally took a bottle for real yesterday. Instead of chewing on the nipple, she actually sucked, and took down 7 ounces. The plan is to slowly wean her. She seems less interested in eating from me any way, and well, it just seems like a good idea. But, until yesterday, this was a theoretical discussion, because she still wouldn't take a bottle. Now that she has, I feel an amazing sense of loss - and freedom - and loss - and freedom...

I spent the rest of the day feeling vaguely out of sorts, and finally in the evening realized it is because I miss her already. I miss the intimate connection, and the sense that I was doing something for her that only I can do. Now I feel replaceable - but my husband assures me I am not.
On the flip side - I was able to go to my stake meetings today without her, which made it a lot easier to pay attention. And, today she was completly not interested in the bottle, so I still have a job yet.

Friday, July 11, 2008

a mother's prayer

After waking up twice last night (which was particularly cruel, as she 1) usually only wakes up once now, 2) slept through the night the previous night and 3) woke up the first time just to play - which is not okay), Leni slept in a little this morning. So we got up at almost 8, instead of 6 - 6:30. That meant that dad was already off to work, and so we had some quiet time in my bed. Then I fed her. Just before we got up to attack the day (translation: move to another room), I thought, 'I should pray, as I will most likely forget otherwise.'

So I let my daughter lie on the bed watching the fan (6 1/2 mos later still one of her favorite pasttimes) and I knelt down near her to pray. Moments later I felt the first brush of tentative fingers reaching for my fly-away hairs. Then the pull became stronger, so I let my hair out of its clip so she could have something more substantial to grab at (the more hair in her hand, the less it hurts when she pulls). And then I continued praying, with my hair serving as my daughter's entertainment to keep her safe and content so I could talk to my Heavenly Father.

I know I accidently interrupted my mom's prayers many times over the years. I'm assuming the other six did as well. I knew that at some point my kids would interrupt mine; I just didn't expect it this soon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

my little grub

My daughter is super pleased to see my face when I come to pick her up out of her crib. No matter what position she slept in (side, back, front) she is usually on her back by this point, checking out the sights in her room. I will reach into her crib to pick her up, and she almost always rolls to her side and curls into a ball, and then, since I couldn't predict how this will shift her weight, I always have to juggle a bit to get a firm grip in order to pick her up.

Then she cuddles on my shoulder for a moment, until we reach the kitchen (which is about 8 feet away from her door - not far) when she jerks her head up, and looks around. 4 feet later we reach the front room, then she sees the computer, and is truely up and excited to see what the next few hours of life will bring her.

Monday, July 7, 2008

some good, some bad

This morning when my alarm went off, I was so tired still (perhaps because my child woke at 4:45 am for her morning time), so I hit the snooze button, while thinking 'I should really get up, because my baby is still quiet, which means I can get a shower in.' I didn't heed the voice of reason, and was woken up, not by my alarm 8 minutes later, but by a happy little voice in the next room. When my alarm did go off, I dragged myself out of the bed.

I had a doctor's appointment though, so I felt the shower was just basic decency, so put a couple toys in the crib and said "entertain yourself." She did. That was good.

One of the toys was a soft jingle ball that my friend sent me before Leni was born. Before she was old enough for it, I cut off the tag, thinking that I was doing the right thing. What I didn't know then is that my baby loves tags more than any other part of a toy. So when I see the little white remnant of the tag on the red ball, I am sad that I denied my child this extra joy. That is too bad.

On the other hand, she is ridiculously happy (thank goodness!) so I'm pretty sure she'll still be fine.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

recommendations for a good book

The experts say you should start to read to your child as soon as she is born, perhaps earlier. They did not take into account my daughter, who felt the need to stick every book (as well as everything else) into her mouth. While I am of course concerned about her development, I'm sure she'll be okay with a small delay in reading.

But, in the last few days, she has learned that books are for reading - or at least for hearing. You can tell what she thinks of a book by how she responds to it. If she tries to eat it, she is not impressed, but if she listens, breathes fast, and starts kicking her legs, then she loves it, and will listen to it again and again and again and again...

She likes books that are bright, colorful, and that rhyme. Currently we like - I mean, she likes - But Not the Hippopotamus; Ma, There's Nothing to Do Here!; The Wheels on the Bus; and Counting in Hawaii. You can borrow any of them but not for a few months, we're using them a lot right now.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

lunch time

There are now "solids" twice a day, at dinner and lunch. She has clearly inherited a sweet tooth from one (or both) of us, and firmly refuses vegtables (probably my fault) and loves rice cereal (my husband?). So it's usually rice and fruit. We're still working on the vegtables.

Today's lunch was sweet potatos and rice cereal. While trying to get her to eat the sweet potatos, Leni stole the spoon from me, and chewed on it determinedly. I retrieved a second spoon from the kitchen, managed to trick her into eating another spoonful or two of sweet potatos, (having to convince her to move the other spoon first) then gave up and moved on to the rice cereal.

Once she knew the vegtables were gone, she got down to the serious business of eating, and had all the rice I'd give her. [I should note here that we feed her in her swing. It means we don't have to set up a high chair, which would take up yet more room in our already cramped space, and it even has a little tray, so it's quite convenient. The wonders of the swing continue.] Then we drank from her sippy cup, which was a process in itself, as most of the water dribbles down her face and neck, so it takes a lot of monitoring to make sure she doesn't completely soak herself. Normally she wants to hold the cup, but today she seemed content at letting me control it.

She finally lost interest in the water, and I wanted her nap soon, so I thought I'd turn on the swing for a few minutes. As I started it up, she smiled, pulled her extra spoon out from hiding it under the tray (or so it seemed to me, as I had completely forgotten she had it) and started chewing away. She seemed so pleased to still have this lovely remnant of our time together, I let her play with it until nap time.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

she knows its food

We are attempting to increase my daughter's caloric intake in whatever ways we can find. This includes giving her some formula from a bottle. She is not good at using a bottle.

This is not terribly surprising, because it took us about a week to figure out nursing, and that was with feeding every two or three hours and a strong set of reflexes to guide the way. So thinking that she should immediately understand a bottle (especially given our lack of success with pacifiers and previous attempts at bottles, or any artificial nipple) was clearly wishful thinking. I had hoped since she was a little older it would be easier, it is not.

That being said, every day, around noon, we try again. She still won't latch on to it, instead she gums at it. But it brings her great joy. And I know that she recognizes that this is not a toy (although fun) but is actually food. This is how I know:

She hits the bottle with great enthusiasm. While attempting to suck/chew on it, her little open hand pounds at it with abandon. Which is exactly what she does to my arm and my chest as she nurses. It's good she recognizes the similarity in the two eating processes. It's also good that she only has a little arm.