Friday, April 30, 2010

Maybe My Next Post Should Be About How Much I Want to Win a Million Dollars

Petunia hasn't even touched her third bottle for the past couple of days. (I usually send four bottles, of which she usually drinks three.)

She has been eating solid foods for about a month, and she has recently really ramped up her intake. So maybe she will drop down to drinking less milk consistently, and I won't have anything to worry about.

Or maybe the last couple of days were just a fluke, and next week she'll be back to sucking down three or four bottles a day.

So thanks for all the great tips in the comments to the last post, but maybe I won't be needing them, after all.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Time in a Bottle

Someday, in the not too distant future, I won't spend any time getting anyone else to sleep. And I suspect that this will make me sad.

In the meantime, my evenings are punctuated by seemingly non-negotiable sleep needs and chores (oh, the never-ending chores), leaving little time for anything else. I am stealing a few minutes between Petunia's bedtime and Pumpkin's bathtime to write this post.

Given the paucity of free time in my life, I am loathe to add another non-negotiable task to my evenings. So I am trying very hard to avoid adding an evening pumping session back into my schedule.

However, I am not keeping up with what Petunia is drinking at day care, and I am watching my frozen supplies dwindle. We haven't reached a critical point yet, but it is looming on the horizon.

I have nothing against formula, but I stubbornly don't want to use it. I am blessed with an abundant milk supply- really, you almost need an over-supply to keep up with a baby by pumping- and since I went to great lengths to provide Pumpkin with nothing but breastmilk, I feel like I should do the same for Petunia. For fairness, you know. (Yes, I know this is silly.)

Regardless, I view the little bottles of milk as liquid time, because they are not irreplaceable- I can make more (see above about the abundant supply), but to do so requires time, and of that I do not have an abundant supply.

All of this is to explain why it drives me absolutely bonkers that I can't figure out how to explain how I want the day care teachers to handle the last two bottles I send for Petunia, to maximize the amount of milk that I can reuse the next day. (I send extra because she refuses to settle into a schedule, so some days she needs it. Anything that has not yet touched her lips can be reused the next day. Anything that she has had a crack at has to be tossed if it is not used that day. Believe me, it hurts to pour milk down the drain. I usually make Hubby do it.)

I remember having a similar problem when Pumpkin was a baby, and I don't remember ever solving it. I don't think it can be solved, because the milk in the bottle represents time to the day care teachers, too- a more complicated routine would add to the time it takes to give Petunia her bottle, and with four babies to each adult, they don't really have an abundant supply of time, either. So I watch my frozen supplies dwindle and wonder if Petunia's solid food intake will increase enough to reduce her milk intake before my frozen stocks shrink to that critical point at which I decide that yes, I really do have to add the evening pumping session back to my schedule.

And will Petunia be sleeping well enough by that point to make those extra 20 minutes in my evening routine acceptable?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Back Home

Last week, we were on vacation at my parents' house in Arizona. It was a good trip- we got to see a lot of family and some friends, Pumpkin had a blast with her Mimi and Boppa, and Petunia got to see what its like to have enough grown ups around to ensure that she is constantly entertained (at home, she has to amuse herself a lot, while we deal with her far more vocal older sister). Hubby and I got a night away in a local hotel for our 5 year anniversary, too.

We drove over in our new Mazda 5, which was great. It easily held all of the gear we have to travel with these days. It was nice to be able to go out visiting relatives and what-not in one car. The "way back" seat in the Mazda 5 is not luxurious, but it was certainly comfortable enough for short trips around town.

Both girls did fairly well on the drives, too. The drive between San Diego and my parents' house (in the Phoenix area) is about 6 hours if you don't stop. On the way over, we left after dinner and stopped in Yuma for the night- Yuma is roughly half way between San Diego and Phoenix. Petunia slept the entire way, and Pumpkin fell asleep after an hour or so. They both did OK in the hotel, but Petunia started our day bright and early by waking up and refusing to go back down at 4:30 a.m. We were on the road by about 8 a.m., but had to take a couple of longish potty breaks, so didn't get to my parents' house until lunch time.

On the way back, we left after lunch, having convinced Pumpkin that the Birdie would find her if she took quiet time in the car. She slept most of the way to Yuma, and played with her magnetic doodle thingy the rest of the way. Petunia slept. We stopped for about an hour in Yuma at a really great park. Pumpkin had fun on the playground, and Petunia had a chance to sit in the shade and move around a bit. Then we drove to El Centro, which is about an hour from Yuma), for dinner. After dinner, we changed the girls into their PJs and headed home. Petunia fussed a bit but then slept the rest of the way. Pumpkin played with her magnetic doodle thingy a bit more, and then slept the rest of the way. Both transferred to their beds fairly easily.

All in all, we're feeling like we worked out the timing pretty well. Of course, we'll try to do it again sometime and it will go miserably wrong... we know this was more luck than anything else. Only luck can explain how both girls managed to sleep through the blindingly bright lights and stop and go traffic associated with the Border Patrol checkpoint we had to go through last night. (These checkpoints are an annoying side effect of our current approach to immigration and border enforcement- all traffic stops under bright stoplights and a Border Patrol officer looks into your car. We are always waved through almost immediately. I imagine that they are even more annoying if you have to stop for a chat with the agent. We went through one on the way over during daylight. I still do not have a good answer for Pumpkin's question about why we had to stop and talk to the nice man.)

I've got some trip stories to post, and more posts kicking around in my head, too- for instance, I have some more thoughts on feeding a picky eater that I want to write up. But Hubby has convinced me to take advantage of the fact that we've already disrupted Petunia's sleep environment to start the process of moving her out of our room. She's asleep in her crib, in her own room, right now. Since she's currently waking up 2-3 times a night, I should probably get to bed. I'll have to actually get out of bed and go down the hall to her when she wakes up tonight! (The cosleeper is still set up, and I suspect she'll finish the night in it- I don't want to undo all the good rest I got on vacation in one night.)

I know it is time to move Petunia to her own room. She is almost 7 months old now, and I actually suspect she'll sleep better in her own room- we seem to wake her up when we go to bed. But I can't believe my little baby is so big. Transitions are hard on me, too!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Still More Thoughts on Food

I've still been thinking about food, particularly about the idea, taken as gospel in some corners of the internet, that processed food is a bad thing.

Two questions are floating around in my head:

1. Do you suppose that when humans first learned how to turn wheat into flour and then into bread, a group of traditionalists went around grousing about this new, unnatural processed food?

2. Why is it that when Native Americans or a tribe in some remote corner of the world use all parts of an animal it is considered noble, but when a food company does something similar and fashions chicken nuggets out of less-favored bits of chicken meat it is considered bad, even evil?

I suspect the answer to the first question is a resounding "no", because that technological innovation increased the food calories that could be extracted from a plot of land, and enabled those calories to be stored for delayed use. These were good things. But who knows, maybe some people at the time were suspicious of the new-fangled bread.

The answer to the second question is harder to fathom. I suspect it has something to do with our deep-seated ideas about how homes should be run and what women should do with their lives, mixed with a healthy dose of knee-jerk "if a big corporation does it, it must be evil".

Personally, I think we should evaluate our food based on whether its production is sustainable and whether it is good for us, not on what technology was used to produce it or who produced it. I think we should be rational about this, instead of dogmatic. I don't think high-fructose corn syrup is a problem- I think the problem is our overuse of refined sugar. So I don't search for juices cookies made with "real sugar". I limit our use of juices cookies*. Similarly, I don't think the problem is that we are using foods that are made by a company and not baked from scratch at home. I think the problem is that some of those foods use too much fat, sugar, and salt as a shortcut to good taste. So I try to chose these foods carefully and use them in moderation.

It is not that I am a huge fan of "processed" food. We don't eat fast food very often at all. We cook most of our meals in our house, and I try to find recipes that I think are healthy. The vast majority of the recipes in heavy rotation come from Cooking Light, actually. However, I do make use of "convenience" foods, such as pre-shredded cheese, store bought tortellini, and frozen sweet potato fries (which I bake, not fry). And once every week or so, we eat a frozen pizza. I read the ingredients, and I decide if I think the product is a good mix of nutrition and convenience. I balance those things against the limited time I have in the evenings, and my desire to spend some of that time with my children, not in the kitchen.

I suspect that as my children get older, dinner time will move a little later and I will get them to help me make dinner- or at least hang out at the dining table while I make dinner. Hubby will make dinner more often, too, once we don't have to try to eat between 6 and 6:30. When these things happen, we will use fewer convenience foods, because we will have more time to cook and the work will be shared among all the family members.

In the meantime, I will continue on as I am going now- evaluating recipes and ingredients one at a time, with an eye to both nutrition and easing my hectic after work routine. And I will continue to refuse to feel guilty about it.

*Thanks to Petunia's decision to let me get some uninterrupted sleep last night, I'm thinking a little more clearly, and I realize that juice is a bad example. What I actually do with juice is look for products with NO added sugars and less added "sweetener juice" (e.g., grape juice). And then I still limit its consumption- Pumpkin gets juice at home only rarely.

Also, more on HFCS, food safety, and additives in the comments!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Blinding Flash of Insight

A couple of hours ago, I was sitting at my desk, engrossed in an interesting user interface design problem. I realized that I was fidgeting in my chair because I had to go to the bathroom, but wanted to finish designing the screen I was working on.

And then I flashed back to last night, when Pumpkin was sitting at her little desk, engrossed in a picture she was coloring. She was fidgeting around, clearly in need of a potty break, but wouldn't stop to take one until she finished coloring in the sun she'd drawn on her page.

One of the most humbling things about parenting is seeing your own bad habits and personality quirks echoed back at you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Extended Interlude

I'm too tired to write any of the "real" posts I have in mind. It was a busy weekend. Pumpkin's birthday party was on Saturday. I baked her a cake on Friday night- chocolate, as requested. Then, Saturday morning, I made the frosting (also chocolate, as requested) and frosted the cake. Pumpkin and I decorated it with sprinkles and dinosaurs. She wanted a spiderman on her cake, just like one of her day care friends had. I told her I didn't think I could do that, and she chose dinosaurs as her second choice. Luckily, our local grocery store had some candy dinosaurs. Here is the finished product:

It was a lot more impressive than it looks. It is two sheet cakes stacked on top of each other. Only people who have baked cakes will appreciate what a miracle it was to that both sheet cakes were cooked through but not over done, and came out of their pans (and then onto the serving platter) without mishap. I'm not a big cake eater (I prefer cookies), but I'm told it tasted good. Anyway, Pumpkin was happy with it, and that's what matters.

Pumpkin had a great time at her birthday party. I think the other kids did, too. My favorite part was when they started singing into the karaoke machine the party place had in their "disco room". They were rocking the ABCs song, let me tell you.

Today, we went to a birthday party for one of Pumpkin's day care friends. It was at a park, and again, all the kids had fun. So did the adults. Our day care crowd is a good crowd to hang out with. But I think the adults were all fairly wiped out by the end of it- two kids parties in one weekend is pretty intense. I am particularly wiped out because Hubby's work had their annual party last night. My saint of a sister agreed to babysit (after helping out with the party, too!) and we went to the party. I tried to get into it, but frankly, I didn't really want to be there. I wanted to be at home, asleep.

Petunia held up well through all the partying, but was clearly tired by the end of the weekend. We still haven't figured out how to get her the naps she needs on the weekends. She really needs to be held for one of her naps each day, so that she can get a good long nap, but Pumpkin doesn't make it easy for us to do that. She is just a ball of energy.

However, she is a ball of energy that is starting to display some impressive deductive reasoning skills. What she deduces isn't always quite right, but you can always follow her logic. For instance, today she told us that Mommy had to nurse Petunia. Daddy can't do it because he has hair under his shirt.

We just smiled and tried not to laugh. Because really, it isn't a bad explanation.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Birthday Interlude

I have even more to say about food, but before I do that, I thought I'd take a little break to gush about my children. Yesterday was Pumpkin's 3rd birthday. We've been having an extended celebration. She got her first gift on Sunday, because we wanted her to have time to play with it. My parents bought her a little tricycle.

We had her open her gifts from Hubby's parents on Sunday, too, just to space out the gift bonanza a bit. Besides, it was her birthday in New Zealand (they're on the other side of the international date line). And we needed some new books to read at bedtime, and they can always be counted on to send us some fun New Zealand kids books. They did not disappoint.

Pumpkin told us (several times) that she wanted an umbrella and a computer for her birthday. So, her baby sister got her an umbrella, and we got her a computer.

(That is the a little toddler computer. The screen is a little old-school, but Pumpkin loves the computer. It is going to stretch her skills a bit- the games are little advanced for her. She has already learned how to use the mouse, though, and is getting the hang of a couple of the games.)

We had a family-only party for her last night. My Mom made her cupcakes (yellow cake with yellow frosting, as requested) and hung a "Happy Birthday" banner with dinosaurs- Pumpkin is currently fond of the T rex. Whenever she sees one, she says "that's a T rex!" So the birthday banner was a hit.

We opened the rest of her gifts after dinner. She liked everything she got. Several people gave her money for her college fund. She had a lot of fun putting that in her piggy bank- it is full now. We need to pull some out and deposit it in her actual college fund! She solemnly rolled up the bills to stuff into the piggy bank. Her GiGi and Great-Boppa (my grandparents) sent quarters, which are always a favorite. Unprompted, she decided she wanted to share some with her little sister. Don't be too impressed with her generosity, though- she still got to put them in a piggy bank, which is her favorite part.

My favorite part of the evening came when we sang her happy birthday. She was so happy that it erased any worries or annoyances that were in my mind from the day. I just looked at her big smile and smiled, too.

Pumpkin's day care party was delayed to today, due to a miscommunication between Hubby and the teacher who was in the room when he dropped her off yesterday. She was sad when she realized the party hadn't happened yesterday (we'd taken some cookies and party hats in), but was easily mollified with a promise of a party today- and today, she was bouncing around telling me about eating cookies when I got to day care to pick her up. So I think the adults all felt worse about the mix-up than she did.

Her final birthday party is Saturday, when we're hosting a bunch of her friends at an indoor playground. (The idea that it is easier to have a birthday party at the park and that it is silly to hire a place like this for a party is one of those little misconceptions I had before I had kids- this is actually FAR easier.) I am making a cake for that party. I have been instructed to make a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, with a fishy on top.

Petunia's half-birthday was last Friday. She didn't get a party- she got a trip to the doctor's office for her 6 month check up. She is about average height (25.5 inches, 43 %), a bit chubby (18.2 lbs, 88 %), and has a gigantic head (18 inches, 99 %). The doctor checked a few milestones- the fact that she's rolled over was duly noted, even if she's done it exactly one time. She uses both hands to grab at items, which is good (it means the two sides of her brain are talking). And just recently, she's gotten really into sitting up. She even likes to sit upright in her bouncy chair, which has got to be an awesome abs workout. She sat like this for about 20 minutes after we got home today, while I cooked dinner.

So she may have chubby thighs (oh my, does she have chubby thighs!) but she's going to have abs of steel!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

More on Food

As an answer to anyone who might have read my last post and thought that I just need to offer Pumpkin more vegetables, here is a list, probably incomplete, of the vegetables she has been offered but refused to eat. Each thing on this list has been offered multiple times. Some things, such as carrots, have probably been offered close to 100 times by now.
  • zucchini (sliced and shredded, steamed, fried, and grilled)
  • broccoli (a.k.a "little trees", raw and cooked with cheese sauce)
  • carrots (raw and cooked, with and without sauces, ad infinitum... she'll nibble them, but spits them out)
  • corn (on the cob and off)
  • asparagus (steamed and grilled)
  • green beans
  • red, yellow, and green peppers (raw and cooked)
  • spinach (raw and cooked)
  • tomatoes (raw and cooked, chopped, as a soup, and in sauces)
  • butternut squash (in soup and cooked in pasta dishes)
  • potatoes (mashed or baked)
  • peas (frozen or cooked)
  • hummus
And here is the sadly complete list of vegetable-like things she will actually eat:
  • sweet potato fries (this took about 10 tries, but now she'll eat them >75% of the time)
  • carrots when shredded and cooked into carrot cake pancakes (but not always)
  • ketchup
  • french fries
  • refried beans, but only at day care
Hubby and I try to eat a vegetable with every dinner. I am building quite a collection of ideas about how to quickly prepare vegetables in a way that I can stand to eat (remember, most green veggies taste bitter to me). One of my current "go to" recipes is to put a bunch of green beans in a microwave-safe dish, plop a little bit of butter on them, pour on some orange juice, and sprinkle on some thyme, salt, and pepper. Then I microwave them for 3-5 minutes (depending on the number of beans), stirring once.

We've had better luck with fruit- Pumpkin likes grapes, strawberries, bananas, pineapples, applesauce (but not whole apples or apple slices!), raspberries, and sometimes tangerines ("tangeringes") and mandarin oranges. We've also tried pears, blueberries, kiwifruit and several different stone fruits, but those have yet to meet with success. We can get away with just about any fruit when it is blended up into a smoothie, though, particularly, if we add strawberries to the smoothie.

It is just like sleep, in my opinion- you can do everything "right" and still not have great success. However, I think it is interesting that the article I found on supertasters says that most kids can taste the bitter compound, even if they will eventually become "non-tasters". So maybe we're all just fated to have to struggle to get our kids to eat their vegetables.

Anyone have any suggestions for more vegetables we should try?