Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why Didn't I Think of That Earlier?

It is looking like Pumpkin will get to move up to the bigger babies room in mid-June. She is now "visiting" that room quite often. Her daily reports from the bigger babies room are cute- they have a bunch of words to describe possible moods, and they underline the words that describe her day. Yesterday, she was busy, friendly, and happy. Today, she was adventurous and busy. I suspect "busy" will show up a lot on her reports, because that is a very apt description of her right now.

Today, I opened the fridge in the bigger baby room to collect her milk and had to laugh. At least three-quarters of the sippy cups in the fridge were Nubys, just like the sippy cup that finally won Pumpkin over. Then I thought, why didn't I think to check out the bigger babies' fridge earlier, to see what cups they were drinking from?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Zenbit: Postcard Perfect

In some locations, almost every picture you take looks like a postcard.

Location: Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Date: April 26, 2005

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dinner Dilemma

We're fairly certain that Pumpkin's eating would improve if we could all eat dinner together. We're up for the challenge of making Pumpkin-friendly meals- she has enough teeth now that she can eat most things, even if she chooses not to. Our problem is one of timing. Pumpkin's dinner time has been 6 p.m., and some days, she is clearly ready even earlier. Unfortunately, Hubby doesn't get home from work until 6 p.m. most days. Since our current system of me feeding Pumpkin dinner at 6 and then Hubby and me eating dinner at 6:30 is clearly not working well, we need to change. Our options are:

  1. Hubby comes home earlier
  2. I do all of the dinner cooking during the week
  3. We move Pumpkin's dinner time to 6:30
Option 1 won't work- Hubby can't leave work earlier. Option 2 is possible, but suboptimal, because Hubby is actually the better cook (although a bit prone to making dishes too spicy for me- something he'll have to work on if he's cooking for Pumpkin, too). That leaves option 3. This is a long weekend, so we'll move her dinner time by 10-15 minutes every night. We've also decided that I will either nurse Pumpkin when we get home from day care or give her a substantial snack. We feel comfortable making these changes because Pumpkin has already moved her bedtime to 8:30 (from 8), and has also changed her nursing schedule to include nursing after her bath as well as before. We suspect she may drop the before bath nursing once we get her dinner time moved.

We've seen some progress on the eating front recently, which is why we're feeling energized to try to improve things further. Pumpkin ate a chicken nugget for lunch yesterday when Hubby ate lunch with her (she was sent home from day care with a fever we never observed once we got her home). Tonight, she ate a chicken nugget and tried a slice of polenta with a little tomato sauce on it. We weren't eating chicken nuggets, but the polenta was part of our meal. My plan is to give her some of our dinner, perhaps supplemented with things we know she'll eat, like chicken nuggets and peas. We'll let her eat however much of that she wants, and then offer her things like graham crackers and sweet potato puffs as dessert, which will help ensure she gets some calories even on nights when she turns down our dinner.

People who have read Child of Mine, by Ellyn Satter, will probably recognize some of her ideas in this plan. I've been meaning to read this book for awhile, and finally checked it out from the library today. I haven't gotten far enough in yet to know what her specific recommendations are, but my plans are guided by her philosophy that parents are responsible for deciding what and when a child eats, and the child is responsible for deciding how much, and in fact whether, she eats. We'll see what Pumpkin thinks of that philosophy!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Beginning of the End

I can no longer ignore the obvious- Pumpkin is starting to wean herself. Luckily, it is a slow process, which is what I want. For once, she and I agree on something! She used to drink 15 ounces of breastmilk during the day, and now she is only drinking 5-8 ounces. She still nurses before bed (in fact, she added a second before bed nursing when we gave in and moved her bedtime back a half hour- which is a topic for another post). She also nurses once in the middle of the night and once first thing in the morning. Guess which one she has dropped the last two days? I'll give you a hint: I'm still getting up in the middle of the night. I'm hoping that we can convince her to drop the middle of the night nursing and resume the morning nursing. She still wakes up and points to her boppy (her way of telling me that it is time to nurse), but when I lay her down and get ready to nurse, she just pushes me away, rolls off the boppy, and starts to run around. However, she is getting over a cold, so perhaps she just is too stuffy first thing in the morning to nurse. Time will tell.

I've already dropped one pumping session- I no longer pump before bed most nights. If she truly goes down to 5 ounces of breastmilk during the day, I'll drop one of my two day time sessions, too. I won't miss pumping, but I am a little conflicted about the obvious trend towards weaning. Of course, I know that she needs to wean some time, and I look forward to the day when I can enjoy a couple of beers without thinking about when the next nursing will be. But I know I will be sad when she gives up that last nursing session, even if the last one to go is the one in the middle of the night (apparently, that is the last one I dropped as a baby). Also, as long as she is nursing, I don't have to stress about her eating habits. OK, I don't have to stress about the nutritional impact of her poor eating habits. I will continue to stress about her eating habits, because that's what mothers do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We Have a Winner

Despite my attempt to jinx it, Pumpkin drank her breastmilk from her new sippy cup again today. Maybe I'm being a bit premature, but I'm declaring success. She's clearly demonstrated that she will drink her breastmilk from a sippy cup.

The cup that finally won her over is a lot like a bottle. The cup, a Nuby, is on the left in the picture. Her old bottle is on the right.
The sippy top is soft, and seems to be made out of the same plastic as the nipple on the old bottle. Again the sippy top is on the left and the nipple is on the right.

The small differences between the forbidden bottle and the allowed sippy cup beg the question- why was it so important that Pumpkin be off the bottle? I have heard that dentists prefer babies to stop using a bottle by about one year old, but there are no dentists at the day care center. If anyone out there knows why her day care center would care about this, please post the answer in the comments. I'd ask, but I'm afraid of being labeled a trouble maker and getting Pumpkin's advancement postponed!

The other thing that bugs me about all of this is that when I saw the assistant director (the woman who makes the advancement decisions) on the day that Pumpkin first drank a significant amount of milk from her sippy cup, she nodded knowingly and said something about how it was because the new cup had a soft spout. If this was such an obvious solution to her, why didn't she tell me???? I was unaware that sippy cups with soft spouts even existed, and just stumbled on this one, thinking I might as well try it since I had already tried all of the other cups at the store. I understand that she may be reluctant to say anything that would imply a judgment on my parenting skills, but I was practically begging for advice last week.

I actually really like the assistant director, and think she does a great job. However, in this case, I suspect that some of the strictness in the criteria for advancement had more to do with the need to pick between 6 babies for 4 open slots than any hard and fast rules about what would be OK in the next room. Pumpkin missed out on those 4 slots (which are opening on June 1), but is still in the running for the next slot (which opens mid-June). I refuse to seriously entertain the idea that the assistant director didn't give me advice on the sippy cup transition as part of some nefarious plan to make the decision about the next slot easier. Sleep deprivation has not yet made me that crazy! In fact, I think the day care workers are eager to get my baby (who is not just walking, but running now) out of that little baby room and into the bigger room for toddlers. I am therefore choosing to believe that they all thought Pumpkin would refuse any cup offered, because she is stubborn. They certainly have ample evidence of her stubbornness in other situations.

Regardless of why the sippy cup transition had to occur, I'm glad it is done. Pumpkin is still not eating much finger food that isn't carbohydrate-based, preferring goldfish, graham crackers, and sweet potato puffs to anything with actual nutritional value, but I don't care about that as long as she can keep having her breastmilk at day care. She'll start eating more things when she is ready. Heck, I didn't really eat carrots until college, so she certainly comes by her distrust of healthy food naturally. I know that some people are more sensitive to the bitter taste of vegetables due to variations in the bitter taste receptors, and have often wondered if I am one of those people. I really don't like vegetables much. I make myself eat them, but can't say that I have ever thought "what I want right now is a nice carrot". Perhaps Pumpkin inherited her bitter taste receptors from me. This doesn't explain why she won't consistently eat chicken nuggets, though.

Even though Pumpkin' seating habits make me feel bad when I'm talking to mothers of babies who eat well, I am going to try to stop worrying about them. I am tired of focusing so much on the things Pumpkin won't do, and want to focus instead on all of the amazing things she is doing. As I mentioned above, she runs now. She seems to have four words: Mama, Da-dee (Daddy), buh (bird), and hah (hat). She says hat because we make her wear a hat to go outside, and she really likes to go outside to see her beloved birds. She loves to play a hide-and-seek/extended peekaboo game where she runs away from me when we're in the kitchen, and then sneaks back in, peaking her head around the corner. She has started pulling funny faces, including one that looks like she is doing a weight-lifter's pose (heaven knows where she learned that one). She likes to be read to, and will bring us her favorite books (except for the big animal book, which is too big for her to carry, so she just points at it). She climbs into my lap, opens the book up, and if it is upside down, she turns it around. She gives big hugs, and sometimes will consent to hold my hand while walking. These are good times, even if she won't eat her veggies!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sippy Cup Showdown

My excitement last week was premature. The day after she drank 4 ounces of breastmilk from her bottle with a sippy top, she spilled an entire bottle by throwing it from her highchair in a fit of pique, presumably due to her displeasure with said sippy top. So I went back to the store and bought yet another type of cup. This one (the Nuby) has a soft sippy spout. I sent her first "bottle" in it today, and she drank it all. And then she drank another couple of ounces from the cup later in the day. I was pretty excited when I saw that on our daily report, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up. We'll see what she does tomorrow. I'm not sure there are any other types of cups that we can try if this one falls out of favor, though.

She continues to frustrate us on the eating front, too. This afternoon, she wanted me to hand over anything I was eating, but mostly she just played with it once I handed it over. She did take a couple little bites of cheese before crumbling the slice up into little pieces, though. I spend most of the time she is "eating" crawling around on the floor picking up the food she has dropped or tossed aside.

To be fair, she has two molars coming through right now, and is getting over a truly horrible cold that gives her dramatic coughing fits. I had the cold, too, and know that it was no fun. She has been in a much better mood than I have been though the cold. Tonight, she amused us through dinner by going over to the glass door that looks into our backyard and holding an animated conversation with the birds outside. Of course, the only "word" that was even close to recognizable was "buh" (for bird), but I could have sworn I heard her mimicking the sound the doves we get in our backyard make. She made her mouth into an "O" and drew air in to make a soft "oooo" sound. I wouldn't swear that she realized what she was doing, but I was still impressed. However, that might just be because I needed something to cheer me up after failing to get her to eat anything except for sweet potato puffs, freeze-dried yogurt bites, and goldfish for dinner.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Zenbit: Flip-Flop Christmas

Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Date: December 26, 2005

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Parents: 3, Pumpkin: 5362 (approx.)

Hubby and I finally have some successes to report in the great day care advancement campaign of 2008.

Pumpkin has never seemed to like her high chair. In fact, at times she seemed to downright hate it- she'd squirm and fight getting in, and she delighted in kicking the tray and sending it flying across the room. I have long argued that we should try a different chair, but Hubby has resisted on the grounds that she might hate the new one just as much as the original one. However, her reaction to her original booster seat (a shower gift) gave me more data from which to argue: I think the problem with both the high chair and the original booster seat is that she is too small for them. She is small for her age, and neither chair gave her much support. Hubby finally caved, and we bought a new booster seat. I thought $20 was not too much to pay for the chance of easier meal times, and it turns out that I was right. Pumpkin doesn't fight going into her new chair, and she seems much happier in it. She has even been more willing to try new foods in it. Of course, this could be a coincidence, and she is still not tearing through the new finger foods. However, the new arrangement makes it easier to pull her up to the table, where she can see what we are eating, and (we hope) point at my plate and demand some of the food on it.

Whatever the reason, she is now eating mac and cheese (or, more specifically Annie's Peace Pasta and Parmesan- hubby hates orange cheese, and I had to buy something we would both be willing to model eating for Pumpkin). I send a little tub of it to day care every day for lunch, and already feel less like a loser.

I've also got Pumpkin drinking a little bit of cow's milk every day. I poured some in a fancy SIGG cup we'd bought Pumpkin for Christmas (displayed on the not so fancy new high chair in the picture above). I was planning to drink from the cup to get Pumpkin interested, but it turns out there was no need. She saw the new cup and immediately started pointing and saying "a-a-a-a", which is her way of letting us know that she wants that, thank you very much. Apparently, she just didn't approve of the cup in which we were serving her the milk. The plastic sippy cups are only for water. How could I not have known that?

This experience made us wonder if we needed a breastmilk-specific cup, too. We were looking through the cup options on Amazon last Friday night when we saw the perfect thing to try. We use Avent bottles for her breastmilk. They sell a "training kit" for training babies to use a sippy cup, which consists of little plastic handles to go on the bottle and the sippy part of an Avent sippy cup, which you use in place of the nipple. Well, Pumpkin doesn't care much for sippy cup handles, and can in fact already hold her own bottles. And we have a couple Avent sippy cups (which Pumpkin never much liked), so we could steal the sippy tops from those. Yesterday, Hubby asked if the bottle + sippy top would meet the requirements for moving Pumpkin to the next room, and was told that it would. So today, we sent one of her bottles with the sippy top. If I'm reading the notes from the day care teacher correctly, Pumpkin happily drank four ounces of breastmilk from that bottle with the sippy top. Could it really be that easy?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Zenbit: Sunset, Home

It is easy to forget that people come to my home city to watch sunsets, too.

Location: Tourmaline Beach, San Diego, California
Date: July 30, 2006

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Balancing Acts

Thank you all for your encouraging comments on Pumpkin's eating issues. It is so good to hear that she is not the only stubborn baby out there! However, even I am getting a bit bored with all the food talk, so tonight I'm going to post on something different.

I just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I had been told that I would either love it or hate it. I must be an outlier, because I did neither. Like many people, I found her annoying at times. But I was also struck by how each section of her book made me miss something. (For those who haven't heard of the book, it is a memoir written by a woman who spends four months each in Italy, India, and Indonesia, searching for balance in her life and healing after a messy divorce and a bad love affair.) She spends her four months in Italy mainly in Rome, and her stories of her time there made me want to go back, mostly to eat. (Surely Italian babies never have eating issues- the food on offer is all so good!) Her stories of four months spent on a spiritual retreat in India made me miss my yoga and meditation practice. People who know me and hyper tendencies may not believe it, but there was a time around our big trip when I either meditated or did yoga every day, and I miss the relaxed state in which these practices left me. Her four months in Bali made me miss our time in Southeast Asia, surely one of the most pleasant places in the world to be a tourist.

The book also made me think about the balance in my life. I have written before about my need to find a new normal way of life. I'm not making much outward progress on that, but I am feeling more grounded in my status of "mommy" now. I also think I am close to figuring out what I need to add back in to feel like my life is properly balanced between work, mommying, marriage, and me. I definitely need to add yoga back in, if only because my back is killing me now that I'm lifting almost twenty pounds of baby in and out of her crib!

Speaking of marriage, Ask Moxie's post today got me thinking about balance in marriage, too. One of the questions she posted was from someone whose husband wouldn't help out on the research about child-rearing or participate in making decisions, but then criticized her decisions. I've noted Hubby's lack of interest in baby research before, but he will read things I point out to him, listen to me summarize research, and participate in decision making. For awhile, this bothered me. But then I remembered some relationship advice someone once gave me: a good relationship isn't 50-50 all of the time, for every task. It just needs to average out over the long term, and I think ours does. I may do more baby-related research, but Hubby does far more yard work (I do almost none because of my allergies), and has quite a lead in the laundry and garbage-emptying departments, too. He also does most of the research about large purchases (like cars, TVs, computers...) I think the overall breakdown is probably close to 50-50, but we're not really keeping score- we just trust that it all balances out.

I've actually been thinking a bit about marriage, lately, too, ever since Moxie announced that she is getting a divorce. It definitely requires some conscious effort to keep a marriage strong through these early days of parenting. We've both undergone a lot of changes, and so has our relationship. So much change would be hard on its own, but adding in long term sleep deprivation and dealing with the demanding little bundle of joy who wants what she wants and doesn't care if Mommy and Daddy were having a quiet drink and snuggle... well, I can see why a lot of relationships founder. Of course, I don't know what happened in Moxie's marriage, and that is not really the point- her announcement was just the event that triggered these thoughts. So far, Hubby and I are doing well. We've had a couple of brief (one night) getaways without Pumpkin, thanks to my parents, and have had a lot of help from all of our family as we've adjusted to our new lives. I can't help but think about one of the songs we chose to have playing at our wedding rehearsal BBQ, called Won't Give In, by the Finn Brothers. The pertinent lyrics are:

What does it mean when you promise someone
That no matter how hard and
Whatever may come

It means that I won't give in
Won't give in, won't give in.

Of course, no one could hear this lovely song, since, as I recently posted on Cara Mama's QOTW about wedding memories, we had our rehearsal BBQ during a mild cyclone.

Cyclone Sheila brushed past Rarotonga on the night before our wedding. The wedding itself was beautiful, and in retrospect, the BBQ was pretty special too- all of our friends stood out in the wind and rain and ate and drank with us, which brings to mind another part of the refrain from that song: "Everyone I love is here". Of course, everyone we loved wasn't there, since we chose to have our wedding in the middle of the South Pacific, but the people who were there definitely made us feel loved.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Over the weekend, we had two birthday parties to go to- one for a one year old and one for a 40 year old. Pumpkin did great at both, charming strangers and exhausting her parents with her walking skills. Since she is small for her age, people tend to be very impressed by her walking- she is pretty steady on her feet now, and can maneuver small steps up and down.

The babies/toddlers at the one year old's party on Saturday were all from day care, so I was telling them about my finger food woes. Just as I was saying that I could only get Pumpkin to eat chicken except for at restaurants, she toddled past with a partially eaten chicken nugget grasped in her little hand. Needless to say, we bought her some nuggets for at home the next day. Those didn't go over so well. She ate a bit Sunday night, and wanted nothing to do with them tonight. I think (hope) that this is because they are too round, and have to be cut so that she can eat them. I will go out and buy the "right" shaped nuggets soon.

Saturday was apparently a good day for her to experiment with new foods, because she ate some sausage from the lasagna on my plate at dinner, and kept pointing at my plate wanting more. She showed no interest in the toddler ravioli we'd bought for her to try, though. We suspect that it is too slimy.

She will also play with, and think about eating, peas. She likes to pick them out of the bowl and will even occasionally put one in her mouth. She gums it for a while and then spits it out.

Tonight, I tried mac and cheese (well, Annie's Peace Pasta and Parmesan) on her, with some success. Again, she liked to pick the pasta up out of the bowl, or even off of her tray, and would occasionally eat one. She also drank a bit of cow's milk, but it had to be out of my glass, not her cup.

So we've had some progress, and then lost some of it. But I have some ideas about what to try next (straw cups for milk- for me and her!) and for me, that is what I need to stay sane. Similar to when we were working hard on her sleep issues, it helps me to have a plan, even though I sort of suspect that any changes in Pumpkin's behavior will happen according to her plan, and not mine.


In other Pumpkin news: she stood up on her own for the first time tonight. Up until now, she has needed something (or someone) to lean on to stand up. Tonight, she stood up all by herself. And she thought she was pretty hot stuff when she did this, too.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Zenbit: The King

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Date: October 4, 2004