Sunday, September 29, 2013

Thankfulness & Laughter

It's not quite thanksgiving, but today when I was running, I felt the urge to jot down things I'm thankful for, or at least things that have made me laugh recently. First, the laughables:

  • After facetiming with Nate tonight (who is in AZ for ultimate), Lou asks me, "Daddy playing frisbee in China?"
  • Cora's "smile, then nuzzle" - her favorite way to interact with strangers or friends alike when I'm holding her
  • Bullying (yes, a serious subject) Stops Here! - Cora's first anklet

And the thankfuls:
  • My neighbor Tara and her 8 year-old daughter, who took Lou to their synagogue today while I did my 10.88 mile run with Cora
  • How nicely Cora sat in the stroller for 10.5 mile runs today and last Saturday
  • Friends in VA who sent a birthday card, and, after sending a text to say thank you, announced they're pregnant with their 2nd baby
  • Whole Foods workers who are willing to carry your groceries out and even load them in the car
  • How Lou returned extra Cora clothes and burp rags to Cora's drawers after I told her that Cora was going for a run with Mom while Lou went to synagogue with the neighbors (so Cora's things were not necessary in her backpack). Not only did she put things in the right drawers, she laid the burp rags flat
  • A last minute birthday-eve invitation to 9 wonderful friends resulting in a perfect evening of wine, chocolate decadence and humbolt fog with 3 of them

Friday, September 27, 2013

Learning as we go

For the first, oh, 23 months of Louisa's life, I was very convinced that everyone who said parenting was hard was being dramatic. It wasn't hard at all! Different than being single or married without kids, yes. But hard? No.

Well, now I see what they're talking about. Something about having a two year old or two kids has made things incredibly hard. So hard that I find myself yelling at least once per day. Most often, "it is TIME to go to SLEEP!" or "PLEASE do not GRAB things, Lou!" Last week I told Nelly, our amazing nanny, that she saved Louisa's life. She arrived, carrying a huge load of patience when mine was absolutely depleted. I had been trying to get Lou to stay in bed for her nap and she was NOT taking me seriously. Without the pack n' play, I have no way to make her stay in bed. Our "bedtime rules" don't seem important enough for Louisa, nor the star stickers cool enough. I'm open to suggestions as to how to make bedtime more peaceful! For now, I'm trying to learn about Lou and what motivates and drives her.

At MOPS this week, my table's mentor mom gave out charts from The Child Whisperer that outline personality types for kids. I had never really thought about trying to categorize Louisa, but the minute I read the 4 types, I knew exactly what she was and I was surprised. Here it is:

The Fun Loving Child (Type 1)
Primary connection to the world: social
Primary movement: bouncy and random
Primary need: have fun, happy parents
Described as: friendly, bright, light-hearted
Judged as: flighty, hyperactive, unreliable

I was surprised because neither Nate nor I are that type at all. I'm definitely sensitive and Nate is definitely serious.

The Sensitive Child (Type 2) ME
Primary connection to the world: emotional
Primary movement: subtle and thoughtful
Primary need: feelings heard, connected to family
Described as: gentle, tender, mindful
Judged as: shy, wimpy, hypersensitive

The More Serious Child (Type 4) NATE
Primary connection to the world: intellectual
Primary movement: straightforward and exact
Primary need: respect, given and received
Described as: efficient, analytical, thorough
Judged as: critical, know-it-all

Another reason that I was surprised at Lou's type is that she is just recently becoming this type. When she was younger, I think I would have said she was sensitive. But now, as she enters a stage where more behaviors need to be corrected, her confidence is evident and she can communicate better, I'm learning more about her (and parenting) each day. Although Cora is already 6 months old, which is just crazy to me, she's too young to categorize just yet. I'll get back to you once her type becomes more obvious. Maybe she'll round out the group and be the last one, type 3:

The Determined Child (Type 3)
Primary connection to the world: physical
Primary movement: active and determined
Primary need: new experiences, with parents' support
Described as: busy, persistent, energetic
Judged as: pushy, demanding, loud

I'll also get back to you about what I'm supposed to do once I know my kids' types...

To close, two pictures from our Happy Hollow Park & Zoo visit today:

Cora's first carrousel ride

Looking more sensitive here, huh? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wake, Nap, Nap, Nap, Sleep

People like to talk about babies' sleeping habits. I noticed it with Louisa and now with Cora. In a close second to the question, Is she sleeping through the night? comes the question, Is she on a good napping schedule? I know the answer to the first question for Cora, but until now, I didn't have a good grasp on her daytime naps. So I decided to collect some data. Here it is:

Wake: 7:30
Nap: 9:30-11:30
Nap: 1:50-3:20
Sleep: 7:45
Wake: 7:45
Nap: 10:15-11:30
Nap: 2-2:45
Nap: 4:30-5:30
Sleep: 8:00
Wake: 7:30
Nap: 10:00-10:30
Nap: 12:00-12:30
Nap: 2:00-3:30
Sleep: 7:30
Wake: 6:30
Nap: 7:00-10:00
Nap: 11:30-12:15
Nap: 2:30-4:00
Sleep: 8:30
Wake: 7:00
Nap: 9:40-10:20
Nap: 1:00-1:20
Nap: 3:30-5:15
Sleep: 8:30
Wake: 7:00
Nap: 8:30-9:15
Nap: 10:20-10:50
Nap: 1:30-2:00
Nap: 6:00-6:30
Sleep: 8:30
Wake: 6:30
Nap: 7:15-7:55
Nap: 9:30-10:20
Nap: 12:45-2
Nap: 5:15-5:45
Sleep: 8:30

Hopefully you didn't feel compelled to read the data. It's not very interesting. BUT it was a great exercise for me. It confirmed that Cora's daytime sleeping is not awesome. The only sleep book on my shelf is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. He says that short naps (less than one hour, for a 5 month old, at least) are NOT restorative. Oh boy. Cora's data above shows that 13 out of 22 naps last week were less than 60 minutes. Ugh.

Another thing the author says is that if your baby wakes up once at night to eat or get a new diaper, you can still count it as continuous sleep (i.e., don't consider it a nap if they wake up but then go back to sleep from 4:30 to 6:30 am, for example). So you'll notice that I don't list a break in night-time sleep even though she did wake around 3:30 am three or four times last week.

After asking Nate how to mathematically average time, I did some calculations to arrive at Cora's averages. Here they are:

Average wake time: 7:20 am
Average total nap time: 3 hours, 7 minutes
Average going-to-sleep time: 8:07 pm

So what do I do with this data? Well, it definitely helps me to do my best to put her to bed at 8 pm. She falls asleep amazingly if I put her down when she's tired, but not overtired. So knowing her average helps me to anticipate what she needs. The next step is to figure out how to help her have two 1.5 hour naps each day. I'm afraid that might require letting her cry it out. Hmmph. It's so hard! Here's how I would prefer to let her sleep -- on the go -- but I think that's why her naps aren't restorative. I'll be thinking about how to slow down and make naps more of a priority...

Nice nap during a run in August (I found some free peppers along the way)
**Update on September 18:

I'm sitting in the kitchen thinking of things to do to distract myself. Cora is in her crib screaming and has been for the last 27 minutes. I'm supposed to let her do this for an hour?!? My sense of humor is being challenged because right when I resolved to let her cry, Lou learned how to climb out of her pack n' play. This handy pop-up crib has been our back up for times when she wouldn't stay in bed. Oh boy. What did I sign up for? I'll be okay. I'll be okay. I'll survive. Cora is safe. I love her so much that I'm helping her get the sleep she needs. 31 minutes. She stopped! Started again. I love you Cora babe. Cora Bean. You'll be okay. I'll be okay. In the long run, this is better. Can I just start crying too?

At least Louisa is still in bed. After she climbed out, I folded up the pack n' play and put her in bed. The book I referenced earlier recommends the "silent return to bed" method. Nate and I laughed when we read the case study about a 2 1/2 year old who had to be put back to bed, sans emotion, 69 times the first night, 145 times the second night, but stayed in bed the third night and every night after. We laughed out of nervousness, I think. Would we even have the patience to do it 35 times? I was excited to try it, but after something like 6 times the first night, Cora needed to eat and Nate wasn't home, so I put Lou in the crib. Now that that's no longer an option, I'm not sure what I'll do. Hire a put-the-kids-to-bed nanny when Nate isn't home at bed time?

Yes, Cora is still crying. 37 minutes. I changed her and fed her before I started this, I promise. I've checked in on her to make sure her arm or leg isn't awkwardly stuck in the rungs of the crib. I'll be fine. She'll be fine. Better than fine, right? Well rested, loved, stronger, better at self soothing...

So more about the "silent return to sleep" method for Louisa. Let's call it SRTS. The thinking is that if you show emotion, whether positive (hey babe, it's really time to go to sleep...) or negative (if you get out of your bed one more time, I'll take away your doll...), they learn that coming out of bed earns attention, which is precisely why they come out of bed. The times I have done SRTS with Lou, I've felt calmer and free. Yes, I had to assume I'd be doing it for the next little while, but before adopting the practice, I would get so worked up and angry. (Cora? Yes, still crying. 45 minutes. Going to check those arms and legs again...still okay, still safe). I had forgotten that she's two and not necessarily doing it to be "naughty" but more because she is curious about what's going on outside her room. The author also recommends a SLEEPING RULES sign, designed by the child, framed and hung triumphantly. By the age of 3, they should be able to recite the rules and be proud when they follow them. Here are the rules:

At bedtime we...
1) Stay in bed
2) Close our eyes
3) Stay very quiet
4) Go to sleep

We'll be making our poster soon. WOAH. She's quiet! Cora is quiet. Six minutes shy of one very difficult hour. I love you Cora babe. I love you so much, I let you cry yourself to sleep today.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Terrific Two's

Nate has been gone this week, so Marcia generously rescheduled her week to spend time with Cora, Louisa and me. We've had lots of fun...walks, naps, sharing meals, and taking turns on stay-at-home child duty while the other one worked or ran errands. Today, the first day without work for me, we all went on an outing to the mall. I know. The mall? Why? Well, it's true what they say: it's really fun buying clothes for little girls. And it's easy to justify buying new cloths for the older girl when you know the younger one will get to wear them too. Plus there are some really cute stores that I've never lived near before, like Hannah Anderson and Naartjie.

I've never tried clothes on Louisa in a store, mostly because I try to shop alone. It's much more enjoyable that way. Today Marcia decided it was worth trying things on. It was about 12:30, which is prime nap time for a 2.5 year old whose been up since seven. Tiredness often hides behind silliness, and today was no exception. She was running out of the dressing room, giggling and squealing, in her PANTIES...all the way out the store into the mall. While I was pretty embarrassed, I'm also couldn't help but enjoy the stage Louisa's in: one that knows no embarrassment and comes with seemingly endless amounts of joy and confidence.

Of course there are days where I want to put my face in a pillow and scream because I don't understand this two-year-old-transition we're going through, but generally the rough times are mirrored by sweet or funny times. For example: we're working on staying in bed once you've been put to bed. We have a pack n' play set up in Louisa's room though and if she comes out of her room, she goes in the pack n' play in a "silent return to bed" fashion. I knew Louisa understood the routine, but I was surprised (and wanted to laugh a lot) when she was able to articulate it yesterday. Out of bed one time?...go in pack n' play, is what she told me. I thought for sure her stating the rule meant she'd stay in bed. Not at all.

Another example: using poop as a procrastination tool at bedtime. She has learned that we'll listen if she mentions poop. This is frustrating because I can't think of many things more potentially damaging than telling your newly potty-trained child that they are lying about having to poop (or pee) when they actually have to use the potty. So usually I get her out of bed and let her sit on the potty, only to be disappointed by a teaspoon of pee in the little plastic bowl. But the sweet/funny part of this bed-time evasion is that when she does poop (which she's done in the potty ever since my last blog post) she is so proud and happy.

I'll leave you with one more funny thing Lou said lately and a sweet picture. Without any obvious reminders of her Aunt Georgia, Louisa said, Love Georgia. Love Pat too. Here's a photo from a few weeks ago that I should bring to mind when I want to scream. Who's heart can't be softened by unprompted hand holding?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Photo Overflow

Here are some pictures...each worth at least 2,000 words. :) Love to you, my loyal readers.

Future 1/2 marathoner (and chocolate milk lover)

Sophie, you silly $17 giraffe

Loubear hug is coming

Cora surprises Lou with an open mouth kiss

Not convinced on this whole tummy time thing

Much happier on my back, thank you

A run/walk with all the girls

Because the last picture was Ries' best (worst) "BEFORE" shot

The frisbee fields in Santa Cruz (Nate's team won the tournament!)

See Where Our Pictures Were Taken