Saturday, August 29, 2009

cry-i-i-ing over you

Today has turned out to be day one of "Cry It Out" sleep training for North. He just spent the last hour crying and wailing from his crib. During the first twenty minutes or so, Dave and I took turns going to comfort him silently and without picking him up. He would settle down temporarily, but would start wailing as soon as we left the room again. Knowing he had just been fed and had a fresh diaper, we eventually stopped going in to comfort him. Listen to me justify that fact that we are NOT bad parents for letting him cry! I hated every moment of it, but he's FINALLY asleep.

He was quite a good sleeper in infancy as I've mentioned before. Argh! I knew talking about it would jinx it! Right around three and a half months, he was really putting up a fuss one night at bedtime. I opened the door to his room and he turned toward the light, saw me, and stopped crying. Of course, at the time, I thought how sweet that he stopped crying when he saw me.  I got all Sally Field and exclaimed in my head, "he likes me! He really likes me!" Hi, I'm stupid. Ever since that switch went off that told him crying = mom and dad come in, his sleeping has regressed and then regressed some more. What started off as him getting up every 2-3 hours has now become every 1-2 hours. I can tell you with certainty that when you get up at 5:00 AM and have been up 4-5 times throughout the night, the "Cry It Out" method starts to make a lot more sense.

There is a lot of controversy about "Cry It Out" though and some people would have you believe you are a bad parent for attempting it.  I can tell you that hearing North cry for the last hour was the hardest thing I've had to do thus far. I don't think parents take the decision to try this sleep method lightly, we didn't anyway. I've been thinking about using this sleep training method for weeks and attempted it, only to fail, pick him up and hold/feed/rock him until he finally fell asleep. It physically pains me to hear him cry, as I think it does any parent. Point is, "Cry It Out" is not for everyone. But we have to try to teach him how to soothe himself so we can start to get some sleep again. As much as I hate admitting it, sleep deprivation really does take a physical toll after awhile.  Damn you body limitations!

I've been beating myself up for the last week thinking we are to blame for his sleep issues (and you know, we are really). At first I thought our routine was not strict enough. Then I thought maybe I was not feeding him enough. And finally I realized that I needed to stop listening to every one's opinions about how they raised their baby and figure out what my son needs.  I need to stop comparing North to other babies and myself to other mothers.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate any advice given to me from another mother.  I have learned a great deal through the insight of other moms.  But to blame myself when what worked for someone else doesn't have any impact on solving our sleep issues is silly.  I cannot cram our life and my baby into another family's situation and expect to get the same results they did every time.

I also need to kick this guilt habit to the curb once and for all. Thanks Catholicism!  So there you have it, I've admitted to using "Cry It Out" sleep training on my child and made fun of my Catholic upbringing all in the same post! Bring on the flames!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


North has officially started eating solid food. We actually tried it a few weeks ago when he started waking up multiple times through the night. But after a couple of days of rice cereal before bed, he was still waking up through the night. Realizing how much more time consuming cereal is to prepare, we decided to hold solids off for a few more weeks, especially if they weren't satisfying him. Then North went from waking up every three hours to every two hours. Yeah, momma can't keep doing that and hope to function. So here we are attempting solids again!

He is a good little eater so far. Well, except for weeping through his breakfast yesterday. So we have decided to just start with an evening feeding for now and work up to twice a day. He often smiles through his meal regardless of the fact that his mouth is full of mush. Then the mush oozes out of the sides of his mouth and down his face where I catch it with the spoon and feed it to him again. Mmm recycled food.

Three days into eating solids and he's still waking up every two hours though. We're still hopeful that introducing solids now will help though. Now for the disclaimers:

-I'm really not complaining, just stating a fact that I miss solid chunks of sleep. Honestly, I enjoy being up with him through the night. Just, you know, not this many times in one night.

-I know that we're lucky he goes right back to sleep once he eats. I realize that I might look back on this post from some future point when he's teething and wailing through the night and think "what a simpleton I was to think I knew what tired was when he was merely getting up every two hours!" Maybe this is Mother's Nature's way of building up my sleep deprivation tolerance for some new phase that is right around the corner? That bitch!

-You cannot get used to the current behavior of your child because they will turn on you in time. That's right, you child's directive is to destroy you. I joke. What I mean is, every time I think I figure something out about North, he changes. So I've stopped trying to figure him out and just go with it.

-I'm just going to shut up now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sun Pickles

I got another double share this week from my CSA. That means I've got a ton of vegetables to use up in a short amount of time. So I scoured the internet tubes for an easy pickle recipe that could be completed during one baby nap. I found a recipe that uses the power of the sun rather than hours on a stove top and I tweaked it to my taste and what was in my pantry. I opened the jars for a taste test last night after they had been sunning for only two days. The pickles were already pretty tasty.  With confidence, I bring you:

Sun(ya) Pickles

pint size mason jars with lids (old food jars work well too)
4 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1/8 cup sea salt
1 teaspoon dill
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoon celery salt
6-10 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
10-15 medium sized cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
2-3 jalapeno peppers, optional

Scrub cucumbers and peppers and rinse thoroughly. Place vinegar, water and sea salt in saucepan and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, quarter the cucumbers and cut up the peppers and garlic. Add half of the dill, garlic powder, seasoned salt, celery salt and garlic to the jars. Pack the pickles and peppers into the jars. Then top with the other half the spices and garlic.

Once brine comes to a boil, remove from stove and pour over the cucumbers until the jar is full. Top with lid and shake. Place full jars outside in the sun for 3 days, turning a couple times a day. After 3 days of sun, put pickles in refrigerator. Pickles will stay fresh for up to 1 year.

Fruity Nutso Baked Oatmeal

Warning: This post contains the words breastfeeding and milk. It also contains the word oatmeal, which is delicious.

When I knew I was going to breastfeed, I researched foods that would be good for me to eat to help with milk supply issues. So far, I have had success drinking fennel tea and chamomile tea, especially when North was a newborn (thanks Sabine!) Gripe water often contains ginger, fennel, chamomile and bicarbonate. So it makes sense that drinking these teas would have a calming effect on a breastfed baby. Or maybe it's all placebo effect. I'm no scientist.

Beer is also said to help with mom's milk supply. Or at least that's what I tell myself when I'm sitting in my inflatable pool drinking an icy beer on a 95 degree day while North naps inside the house.

Another food that I use for its magical breastfeeding properties is oatmeal with fruit and nuts. The oatmeal and nuts are fantastic sources of protein. I have found that most of the extra calories I need for breastfeeding are best found in protein rich food.  Starting off your day with so much protein can help to curb your appetite later in the day too.

As a matter of fact, two night ago, I forced Dave into a Wendy's drive thru at gunpoint because I needed a bacon cheeseburger at 9:00 PM. Cravings can be just as bad as the ones felt during pregnancy, especially if your child is going through a growth spurt.

But back to delicious oatmeal. I eat it almost every day. This recipe is so much better than the kindergarten paste oatmeal I sometimes have to eat at work. Once you try steel cut oats, you may never go back to quick oats again. You could use all steel cut oats in this recipe (increase the milk 1/4 cup if you do). I tweaked the recipe a bit so that I could get rid of some reserves of rolled oats in my pantry. Steel cut oats are also a bit expensive, but worth it. In case you have a hard time finding them, they are also called coarse-cut oats, Irish oats, or pinhead oats. The latter is kind of mean though.

I would recommend using peaches or pears for the fruit and almonds for the nuts. So so good! Dave even ate it with ice cream last night because he is trying to increase his milk supply too. Anyway, I'll shut up now, here's the recipe.

Fruity Nutso Baked Oatmeal

1 1/2 cups steel cut oatmeal
1 cup rolled oats
3 cups milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup fruit (can be fresh, canned or dried)
1/2 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans and almonds work great)

Combine ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes. Pour mixture into a 9 X 13" glass baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Leftovers can be refrigerated up to a week or frozen. Best served warm with milk. Serves 9.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Camping in the NC mountains

North, you're going to be a fine camper one day. I could tell as soon as we got our camp set up and sat you down to relax in your chair that you already know exactly what makes camping so enjoyable. Being one with nature (beer), cooking on an open fire (beer), and unplugging from normal life make camping a favorite past time of ours.

We spent the past weekend camped in a small cabin off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the NC mountains. Dave and I went tent camping here when we first met five years ago over Memorial Day 2004. Funny to think we would be married a year later and have you five years later.

On Saturday afternoon we drove to Burnsville, NC, where there happened to be an Arts Festival in progress. But it also happened to be in a dry county, didn't allow dogs, had a lack of ATMs and did I mention no beer tents? So we had some barbecue and went on our merry way. We stopped at a train car that might have been some one's house on the way back towards camp. This picture has been dubbed North West.

Oh the fun we have with your name. It just never stops North!

We weren't going to stop at North Cove because you were sleeping. But I'm so glad we did. You were such a giggle monster. I'll always remember the sound of your giggles and delighted squeals as we overlooked the other mountains in the distance.

We hiked you through Linville Falls, where you were quite a flirt with the other hikers. Between you and Jake, we were perhaps a more popular attraction than the actual falls.

After a long day of walking, you needed a bath. So I finally got to use the inflatable sink my mom got me for Christmas when I was a teenager. I carried it around unopened for 15 years so that it would be nice and clean for you to bathe in. Who am I kidding? You really weren't even that dirty. I just wanted to get a picture of you in it.

Sadly, we had to leave our campin' cabin behind and head back east. But before we exited the parkway, we stopped for a quick picnic at the Blowing Rock exit. Nestled in amongst the rhododendrons and trees, we ate sandwiches and played with Superman while the world went by.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Four Months

Dear North,

I can't believe it's August and you're already four months old. You're decidedly not a baby anymore. I watched your pooping video from when you were just a few weeks old yesterday and already I do not recognize that earlier version of you. I cannot imagine a you that doesn't smile, giggle, babble and flirt. Oh yeah, and fly.

Man, do you love to fly. Since you've realized that you're Superman, it's all you want to do. Your bib/cape flaps in the wind as you fly around the house stopping only occasionally to tap dance on the dog or the counter top. I guess you're a cross between Superman and Lord of the Dance.

Currently, you are going through what I'm guessing is a growth spurt or maybe it's the four month wakeful period I have read a bit about. Either way, you are up about every three hours through the night. Previously, you would only wake up one time, so your sleep regression took us by surprise. But I do not mind the sleep interruptions because I love spending that time with you before I have to go into work for the day. I will gladly give up a bit of sleep to stare at your tiny sleepy face cast in a soft blue light from the projection machine we use as a night light.

You still sleep in our room right now. Especially considering how much you're waking up, sharing a room with you just makes sense. This morning, you were hungry around 4:30 AM, but once you ate, you were not interested in going back to sleep. So you laid there and hummed with each breath you took. Every now and then, we would hear a soft half-hearted attempt at a cry followed by more humming. I've considered grabbing the video camera to record these moments so I don't forget them. But I have to trust that I can capture these moments in my mind's eye forever. I admit it, I may be having a bit of hard time transitioning you to your crib in the nursery. I just know that once you are in your own room, I can't turn back the clock and make you my tiny baby anymore.

I know I have said this every letter thus far, but I want to lock you in time right now. You are still so tiny but with an emerging personality that tickles us to no end. You giggle uncontrollably anytime you are tickled or zerberted. You are also becoming much more self-amused and independent when playing on your activity mat and or in your jumperoo. Changing your diaper is not so much a struggle to fight your kicking legs as it is a challenge to get your toes out of your mouth. You seem very fond of your feet and often you laugh and jibber jabber while playing with them. I think you've found a friend.

Speaking of friends, there is also your favorite baby that lives inside the mirror. This works as a great soothing tool for when you are upset. We just carry you to the mirror and if we can get you to actually open your eyes and stop wailing for a second, you see that highly attractive little person's reflection and instantly change to smiles as you flirt with him. I don't think you realize that it's you yet.

We spend a lot of time in front of the mirror when you are not upset too. Sometimes, it is the easiest way for me to see your face. Because you still love perching on my shoulder facing backwards for hours a day, every now and then I carry you to a mirror just so I can see your face light up in smiles as you see our reflection. So there it is, I miss you even when I'm holding you in my arms.