Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monica Schools Us On Babyproofing

Last Friday, JK was watching Monica while I grabbed lunch with some friends from work, and he had the pleasure of putting her down for a nap. Naturally, she staged a protest. The funny thing is that Grub protests can now officially be classified as "sit-ins."

Instead of laying in her crib and whining until she falls asleep from fatigue or boredom, now she gets up and practices all her new acrobatic tricks.

As you can see from the photo above, she's also perilously close to the top of the crib when sitting up, so JK decided that it was time to drop the crib mattress.  Of course, I jumped on the chance to make him do 9 million other things in her room such as dismantling the swing, putting a bunch of crap up in the attic and working on babyproofing her room.

We've basically been tackling babyproofing on an as-needed basis.  Partly out of laziness, but mostly because it's annoying.  Apparently, everything in your house can be construed as a hazard.  Literally everything - I'm not exaggerating! Even if we stopped using electricity, eliminating cords and electrical outlets, we would still have furniture, on which she is going to bump her face/head as she begins exploring.  So, unless we empty out our house of everything but ourselves and the baby, it's never going to be perfect.

A friend of mine gave me some really great advice about babyproofing.  She told me that we can take one of two approaches:  either we spend all day every day chasing Monica around the house saying "no" every time she gets near something dangerous, or we relinquish part of our everyday living space and cordon off some baby safe zones throughout the house. For now at least, we're going with the latter approach, and our test run of the baby superyard setup in the living room is working beautifully. 

While I was packing outgrown clothes to put in the attic, and JK was working on the crib, Monica busied herself by cruising around the bedroom and pointing out some still-existing problems areas to us:

Monica says:  Whoooa, open vent!  Daddy, weren't you supposed to install this cover before I was born??  Hmm...I wonder what kind of stuff I can throw down here?

Daddy says:  I can't find this one...I've looked everywhere...

Mommy says:  I just don't understand how you can take seven vents to the garage to paint, and come back with only six.  And, of course this one would be the one that's missing!  A laundry basket barricade will have to suffice for now.

Monica says:  Haven't you guys ever heard of baby gates?  Until you get your acts together and buy one, I'll be hanging out in the hallway, taunting the animals and investigating Daddy's smelly gym bag.

Mommy & Daddy say:  We're gate shopping for a stable model that can easily be moved from room to room without dismantling mounted hardware.  Hang tight and enjoy those gym socks.

Monica says:  Outlets!  I hear these are lots of fun!

Mommy says:  Tricked!  Clear covers are already in place, Monica!

After all this cruising around, she collapsed on her quilt to let us know she was ready for an afternoon nap.

Finally, we've decided that we're not really fans of her slamming herself bodily against the rails of her crib when she is staging a nap protest.  Hurting herself is only serving to delay the nap process and require me to go in there and settle her down, so we've installed the crib bumpers.  I have been watching her when she sleeps and I there is no evidence of her getting herself into a dangerous situation.  Plus, now she has something fun and new to occupy her when she first wakes up, and I get a couple extra minutes of sleep :)

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Holy Crap!"

Tonight, Monica and I were up in her room playing. Well, she was playing and I was chasing after her, as she is completely fascinated with everything in the room except her toys. This includes, but is not limited to:
  • The area under her crib
  • Her humidifier
  • The cords for the humidifier and video camera
  • The packing tape on the edge of a cardboard box of "crap" that needs to be moved into the attic.
She was kind enough to give me a brief reprieve while we had some quality time with her collection of books. This does not include actually reading the books; rather, she methodically removes all of her books from her book basket, and then I have the pleasure of cleaning them up . Her part lasted for about 10 minutes of distraction, and then she went right back to the packing tape.

I leaned to the right to grab two of the books she had knocked out of reach, and when I turned back to put them in the basket...

She was standing.


JK came running and found me laughing in disbelief and Monica sitting next to me, pretending she wasn't just standing up like a little person. I assured him that everything was fine, our daughter had just decided she was going to use the aforementioned cardboard box to help prop herself up into standing position.

She's not quite six months old yet. JK and I have a super baby! I simply cannot wait to see what she does next!

Tuesday morning 2/28 update:

Monica seemed pretty intent on re-creating last night's standing adventure this morning.  While she didn't get into full standing position, there was lots of climbing and kneeling going on.  Plus, she was tired and whining for naptime.  Plenty of time for her to practice later!  Hopefully I'll be able to capture an action shot next time she stands!  In the meantime, I guess I'll leave the now-famous "box of crap" in her room because it seems to be the perfect size for her to practice new tricks.

This loose piece of packing tape makes such a fun noise!
Time to throw these books on the floor so Mommy has to clean them up!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Everything I learned, I learned from my... brother?

Let's hope the Grub doesn't ever utter those words. At least, not in the presence of people that don't know us very well. That could make for a very uncomfortable and abrupt ending to a play date!

I can remember when Monica was only a month old, and JK saying something along the lines of, "When is she going to do stuff." For men, having kids means wrestling matches, teaching them to ride a bike, and having a catch in the backyard. Looking at our lovely little little lump who couldn't even roll over...well, all those fun ideas just seemed so far away!

But I replied, "She is doing something! She's watching everything we do and learning how to be a little person!"

From the moment babies are born, they are taking in the world around them, and their little brains are soaking up every sight, sound, and experience. So for the first two months, those big solemn blue eyes followed our every move as we went about our business. Sure enough, it was no time at all before Monica was interacting in the world in her own way and trying her best to imitate our actions, sounds and facial expressions.

And when I say we, I don't mean just JK and I. This includes...

The dog.

And now, we have our very own little Grub Dog, carrying her toys in her mouth as she crawls around her play yard:

The Woof, showing Monica how to hold, manipulate, and gnaw on a piece of dog corn. All with a sock on his head, just for fun.
So, we thank you, dog friend, for helping us to teach your little sister the ways of the world.  We're so proud!

One final comment:  Just in case you were wondering, the answer is yes; like the dog's sock, we also put toys and laundry on our baby's head:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dropping a Nap

While I was pregnant, I signed up for all sorts of baby-related websites:  "What to Expect" informational sites, mommy blogs and forums, coupon grabbers, etc.  My email is now FLOODED on a daily basis with articles, sales, mommy humor, and everything under the sun related to parenting.  Don't get me wrong, I think it's great.  I love reading, I love researching, and I love the fact that technology puts all this information right at my fingertips.  The thing with babies is that they're constantly changing, so there is always something new to learn.  For me, it's like the most complex, evolving project I've ever had the pleasure to work on.  It's incredible.

So there I was, drinking my coffee and checking out the highlights on my weekly email from TheBump, when a topic on the 6 Month Board caught my eye:  "Dropping A Nap." 

Instead, I dropped my phone.

My eyes darted over to the Grub, who was methodically munching away at her own feet.  Then to the clock.  Then to the Grub.  Then back to the clock.  It was 10:30a.m.  Which meant that sometime in the next 20-30 minutes, we were going to settle down for a nap.  Which meant that I could then get a shower.  And with whatever time remained before she woke up, I could prep her lunch, throw in a load of laundry, and maybe even grab a few minutes to myself on the computer.

Therein lies the problem.  I have allowed myself to become comfortable and to expect that certain things can, and will, happen at certain times of the day.

We have finally settled into a loose schedule in our household, and it is working beautifully.  Much of the initial struggle with establishing a routine had a lot to do with Monica's dislike for her crib, so sleeping in general was a mess.  For over four months, there was very little rhyme or reason to our days. 

Thankfully, we've moved past those times, and the past two months have actually had a rhythm.  I almost look like one of those carefree, effortless, put-together moms that you see in magazines.  Ok, maybe that's a bit of a stretch.  But I will venture to say that I'm actually getting good at the whole stay-at-home-mom thing.  I'm not tooting my own horn here, I give full credit to the Grub for being an easy baby.  BUT, I will say that remaining flexible and keeping expectations low have definitely been the keys to success in this ongoing endeavor.  Acknowledging that the routine will happen, it's just not going to happen in an identical fashion every day.  Variables like teething, dirty diapers, and the dog barking at the mailman/neighbor's dog/random kid on bike all have an influence on our daily routine.  

However, even with all those factors, I can generally count on the fact that twice each day, somewhere in the neighborhood of 11am and 4pm, the Grub is going to lie down for a minimum of 45 minutes.  Again, the key is staying flexible and just following her lead when she gets tired.  I don't even try to estimate how long she'll stay asleep; I just go with it and appreciate whatever time she gives me. 

Twice a day.  I need it.  Not once a day.  Twice.  On this, I am not flexible.

One nap?  How do parents do it??  Let's be honest, some days I'm watching the clock, counting down to naptime.   How do you give up that last little piece of freedom that, truthfully, is the one thing that's keeping you going on a rough day?

All of these thoughts raced through my head in less than 15 seconds.  Taking a deep breathe, I figured I might as well start reading.  The online network of experienced moms and dads must have some insight on transitioning (for the baby) and coping (for the parents).  I mentally braced myself, and clicked open the link to start reading the introduction:

     "In general, babies move to two naps around six months of age..."

Move to two naps??  TWO? The three naps per day ship sailed months ago in this household!

I collapsed onto the couch, exhaling loudly in relief, and smacking myself for being such a spazz.  Grub started laughing at me.  Either she thought my antics were for her amusement, or she had already read the article and knew I was getting all worked up for absolutely no reason.

Once I had my wits about me, I immediately started googling dropping down to one nap.  I hate being caught off guard, so I figured I should prepare myself.  My findings are that, on average, toddlers go down to one nap per day between 15 and 18 months of age.

Toddlers!  Yes!  Thank freaking God!

In my head, thinking about the Grub being 15-18 months old is so far away, I might as well be thinking of her high school graduation.  Mentally, I simply can't even touch it. I do know that the time is going to fly, and she'll be toddling, talking, and terrorizing the dog before we know it.  And JK and I will look at each other and say, "How did she get so big so fast?"  We're already doing it now, when we look over and she is crawling around, playing with her toys, and sitting on her own - all before her six month birthday.

It's so true, how everyone says that time flies when your baby is an infant.  Undoubtedly, this is because the changes happen in such quick succession; there is always a new development lurking just around the corner.  And as parents, we're constantly changing and adapting and evolving right there with our babies.  We have to.  Staying flexible is a means of survival.  But for now, I'm going to relax, and enjoy nap time.  Twice a day.  Every day.  At least, until the next round of changes begin.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Scariest Day Ever...

...Or at least, the scariest day since bringing Monica home from the hospital:

Yes, that is The Grub sitting in the big kid seat in a shopping cart. Note the look of mild disgust and the fact that she isn't touching anything with her hands....settle down, Grub, I wiped the entire cart down with sanitizing wipes!

Normally, the central factor of any shopping trip is the Grub's car seat, which I place in the basket of the cart.  She stays strapped in and I can shop without worry.  Purchases are limited to the amount of items that I am able to strategically stack around the car seat without risking a landslide. you can see, today was not a normal shopping day as we were buying a BABY SUPERYARD!

JK and I talk daily about babyproofing. Or at least, I say a bunch of words (we should do xxx, we need to move xxx, she's going to start getting into xxx), and he feigns listening and nods at the appropriate moments. Then we each go about our business and pretend that Monica isn't just moments away from full blown crawling.

Unfortunately, those days are over. Monica is rolling and trying to crawl EVERYWHERE.  JK and I are already tired of jumping off the couch and chasing after her every time she ventures off of the area rug and onto the hardwood floor.

An acquaintance had posted a picture of a baby superyard on Facebook with the caption "Superyards: great for keeping kids in and dogs out!" We already have one of the add-on pieces that we use as a dog gate, and they are lightweight and snap together easily, so we figured we would give it a try.

What we did not think about is the size of the box for an entire superyard.  

Monica and I packed ourselves up and headed out.  When we arrived at Babies R Us, it was raining and all the carts in the parking lot were wet, so I took Monica out of her carseat and carried her into the store.  When I found the gate section and saw the size of the box for the superyard, I was stumped - this was not a small thing that I could carry in one hand while balancing her on my opposite hip.

Silently cursing at myself for not waiting for JK to get done work, I went and found a dry cart.  I thought I was keeping my cool, but I must have looked distressed, since a nice woman came over and offered me some sanitizing wipes.  She must have overheard me explaining to Monica that we were going to use the "big kid seat" for the first time.  The Grub might be big for her age, but it's only been about two weeks that she is able to sit unassisted, and I wasn't sure how she would do once we were in motion. 

While Monica was perfectly fine sitting up in the seat with the safety belt on, she was a little wobbly once we got rolling.  Then she started fidgeting.  And leaning.  And whining. I basically ended up walking the cart by pushing it with my body while I had my hands on her waist so she didn't rock back and forth like a little bobble head. Oh, and let's not forget the one pinky finger stabilizing the superyard which was balanced on the top of the cart.  I wish I had a picture of that, but our fellow shoppers were steering clear of us and our precarious arrangement, so I didn't get to ask anyone to partake in a photo shoot.  

She settled down once I let her gnaw on a cardboard package of bibs (yes, we did buy them!).  Somehow we actually made it through the store and the checkout line without incident.  I even declined the offered help getting everything taken out to the car - I had made it so far on my own, I could handle the last stretch!

We made it home and JK set up the superyard while Monica took a nap.  She woke up to a very fun surprise! 

Here it is! Our baby superyard with a cute little Grub saying, "Well, Daddy, aren't you coming in here to play with me???"

Daddy's offscreen saying, "Hold on, Grubster, let me grab your dog brother so we can get a cage match going."

We had talked about putting a blanket or sheet over the area rug to (a) soften the abrasiveness of the carpet, and (b) catch barf stains. Then JK had the genius idea that we could stretch a fitted bed sheet under the entire play area. It's a perfect fit!  

Monica had a GREAT time exploring her new play area.  She liked it SO much that she actually crawled going forward for the first time!  A super exciting ending to a super scary day!  Here are some pictures of her exploration...

Assessing the perimeter:
Hi, Mommy!
Playing with the caterpillar that JK won for her on the boardwalk last summer - yes, when she was still just a little fetus in mommy's tummy :)

She was laughing the entire time, I am just not good at catching her laughter and smiles on camera :)

JK and I definitely have some peace of mind with this setup.  We feel comfortable that she is safe and secure, and that we can leave the room for a few minutes to grab a drink or use the bathroom - all without worrying that we'll come back and find her under the coffee table, licking stray dog toys.  I just can't believe how big she is getting so quickly! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Frugal Grub

Let's play a game....where's Monica?


Oh, there she is!  Peekaboo!
JK and I struggle to come up with things to do with an infant on the weekends in the middle of winter.  We are very much looking forward to the spring when we can resume outdoor activities.  In the interim, our go-to activity is...drum roll please....a family outing to Costco.  Weird, I know, but it gets us out of the house.

Monica just loves trips to Costco - who doesn't love a good deal?  We're teaching her all sorts of lessons about saving money by buying in bulk.  Some basic guidelines include: taking the time to do a little math to confirm that you are getting a good per unit price, and identifying bulk household "needs" (as opposed to "wants").  Diapers meet both criteria!  We save about $24 on a month's worth of diapers.  We also get to enjoy the convenience that we are not running to the store to buy diapers on a weekly basis.

Anyway, this was Monica's third trip to Costco, and this time she actually made it through the whole store AND the checkout line before she started whining to go out to the car.  

Before heading home, there was even time for a quick driving lesson with Daddy:
Monica says, "I'm already wearing my prison stripes just in case we get in trouble for underage driving!" Haha, the Grubster can be quite the comedian!

Of course, after having so much fun, Grub staged a noisy protest against getting bundled up in her winter bear suit and being restrained in her car seat.  I graciously agreed to a compromise in which we would skip the bear suit, but I still ended up in the backseat entertaining her for half the ride home.  We couldn't really complain, though, because she was so well behaved while we were shopping :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Adventures in Creeping

Check out who's on the move!  Monica is not actually crawling yet, but being able to get up onto her hands and knees is really helping her to pivot and move in all directions now.  I'm calling it creeping because she can now creep up on me when I'm clear across the room.  I did try to interrupt and let her know that it looked like she was setting herself up for head butt against the crib, and that this probably wasn't a good way to start out a creeping adventure. 

But...she set me straight the next day.  Turns out she was wasn't aiming for a head butting adventure at all, but rather, an under-the-crib adventure.  I ran to the bathroom for mere seconds and came back to this:

Hi Mommy, look, this is soooooo fun!!! 
She totally looks like a little grub crawling out of a grub hidey-hole right here :)  Guess I should probably throw that dust ruffle in the wash, just in case she's planning on spending a lot of time under there in the future.  

Love my silly little girl! Stay tuned for more adventures in creeping!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Just got this munchkin to sleep.

As I was smearing lanolin on her dry little cheeks and nose, I had a quiet chuckle to myself....remember the very beginning when I couldn't even BREATHE on her for fear of her waking up wailing? Remember just two short months ago when I was terrified because the simple act of placing her in her crib meant a screaming disaster? And now look at us, all grown up...I can dress her in a grub sack (sleep sack), slather her in moisturizer, and plop her in her crib, no sweat :)

Fantasy vs. Reality

Now that I've been a mother for five whole months (during which time I have become wise and all-knowing about parenting), I'd like to take a moment to look back in time at pre-baby Pregnant Melissa.  Pregnant Melissa had a lot of cute ideas as to how she would be spending her time during maternity leave, mainly based upon the unrealistic portrayals of parenthood that we see on television....

Situation:  Taking a Walk
Fantasy:  Pregnant Melissa had a lovely fantasy in which she saw herself pushing a stroller through the park in autumn, chatting with her newborn bundle of joy, and pointing out the beautiful changing colors of the leaves.  Melissa is trim and fit in her newly purchased outfit because she has lost SO much weight that even her pre-pregnancy clothes are too big.  For the duration of the walk, the baby smiles and coos quietly in the stroller, and adorable little woodland animals scurry alongside the walking path.

Reality:  Too scared to leave the house alone, I coerce JK into joining us to attempt a single lap around our block.  In the 20 minutes it takes me to flap around the house and prepare for the walk, I get all sweaty and worked up.  Which isn't really that big of a deal, because I've been wearing the same spit-stained t-shirt for at least three days.  For the first half of the walk, I am paralyzed with fear that Monica is going to start pooping or crying and we'll need to turn around.  Once we hit the halfway point around the block, I practically sprint the rest of the way home.  I collapse on the couch even sweatier than before, vowing to never leave the house again.

Situation:  Shopping and Running Errands
Fantasy:  Pregnant Melissa envisioned a leisurely stroll through Target to pick up a few household essentials.  On the way out, her and the baby stop at Starbucks to enjoy a refreshing frappuccino.  Everyone who passes by stops to comment on how the baby is so adorable and well behaved.

Reality:  Too scared to leave the house alone, we stick to group outings for the first two months.  JK shops and I nervously keep the stroller in constant motion, fearing that Monica will start pooping or crying.  Both things happen anyway.  I end up hanging out in the car, changing diapers and nursing, while JK finishes shopping.  It's just like being at home, except that we don't have the comfort our Boppy.  When I finally muster up the courage to go out on my own, it wasn't until I was in a store that I realized I can't push a stroller and a shopping cart at the same time, so I can't actually buy anything.  It's almost a relief because I'm too scared to have to wait in line.

Situation:  Cooking Dinner
Fantasy:  Pregnant Melissa just knows that her perfect baby will be taking all sorts of lengthy naps, during which she will have tons of free time to concoct exciting new gourmet meals for her husband.  She has been pinning recipes and stocking up on supplies to make fun and healthy new meals.

Reality: Whoever said that babies nurse every 2-3 hours, and sleep most of the time in between, was full of sh*t.  This kid eats every hour.  On the off chance that I might be able to snag a few minutes to prepare some food, there's no way in hell I'm actually going to get to eat it once it's done cooking, so I'm not wasting my time.  JK does his very best to prepare meals and deliver them to me on the couch where I have a baby stuck to my boob 24/7.  
Present Day State of Affairs - Life with a 5 Month Old
If you're a new mommy or mom-to-be reading this, take heart:  this phase where it seems like you can't go anywhere or do anything totally settles down after the first three or four months. I promise.  Things will ease up and you will be able to go out in the world again. Get out there and enjoy yourselves before teething begins!

For those moms who are still laughing at Pregnant Melissa's absurd fantasies - it's ok.  I'm laughing, too :) 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Monica's Five Month Update

I know, I know, I am a few days late posting Monica's update from her five month old birthday, which was on January 29th. But better late than never!

No doctor appointment this month, so no "official" stats on her weight and height for this update.  Just take my word for it:  she's growing like a weed - it's barely been a month since Christmas and I've already retired two new pairs of pajamas

Milestone updates:  Monica is able to sit upright, unsupported, for long stretches on her own.  She is able to catch and balance herself  with her hands to the front and to either side, but still tips over backwards, so mommy and daddy need to stay close by.  She is also working on transitioning from lying flat on her stomach to pushing up on her hip to get into sitting position.  Also, for the first time this week, Monica pushed up on her hands and knees to get into crawling position!  She hasn't actually crawled as of yet, but is rocking back and forth on hands and knees and ready to go any day now.  It's time to get serious about babyproofing!

Daily Grub Life:  Solid food sampling is in full swing!  Monica has enthusiastically incorporated two meals, breakfast and lunch, into her daily routine.  To date, she has tried both rice and oatmeal cereals, bananas, and carrots.  Next on the menu:  peas, pears, and sweet potatoes. 

The Sleeping Grub:  Monica has fully relocated from sleeping in the swing in our bedroom to sleeping in her crib in her own bedroom.
  • Daytime sleeping:  two 1 to 3 hour naps each day
  • Nighttime sleeping:  9:00 - 9:30 bedtime.  One nighttime feeding between 4am and 6am, then back to sleep until 8am or 9am. 
The four to five month time period has been wonderful as we're all finally settling into a comfortable day-to-day groove.  Here she is cracking up because she just knocked over her toy snail - happy five month birthday, baby!


Don't Carpe Diem

Three weeks ago, a Facebook friend shared Glennon at Momastery's blog post, 2011 Lesson #2 : Don’t Carpe Diem .  I immediately shared it as well, and it spread like wildfire among our mommy friends.  I have already re-read the post a half dozen times, and I'm linking it here so I can quickly refer back to it in the future.
The essence of the post is that all parents will inevitably run into someone (friend, family, or friendly stranger) who conveys the well-meaning message to Carpe Diem.  Seize the Day.  Enjoy Every MomentWhile we can appreciate the sentiment that our little ones won't be little forever, we're usually nodding and smiling and thinking to ourselves, Was I really supposed to enjoy this morning's diaper explosion that resulted in emergency bathing of two adults and a baby?  Then the panic sets in:  Am I missing out on some crucial part of the parenting experience if I'm not enjoying every moment? Am I a bad parent if I do not cherish every second that I spend attending to my child?

With the perfect blend of humor and truth, Glennon's post takes a fresh look at this topic and tells us that it is perfectly ok to not enjoy every moment; because, quite frankly, day-to-day parenting is an exhausting challenge.  Rather, she encourages us to recognize those those brief, beautiful moments that make parenting worthwhile.  When you glance up and see your baby smiling over at you, or you hear giggles and laughter coming from the next room, stop whatever you are doing and really look at your kids  Seize these moments.  Soak them in.  Record them in your memory.  And when you're strung out from sleepless nights, or you're wallowing in the the monotony and drudgery of daily parenting, tap into those memories to remind yourself exactly what makes parenting so special.     

I am sure, for years to come, I will be revisiting this post time and time again.  Whether your children are young, grown, or still on your "to do" list, this post is a must read.

P.S.  I simply cannot wait until the first time I catch myself blathering the "enjoy every moment" message to a couple of brand new parents.   I'll have to try to remember to immediately turn around and refer them to this blog post!