Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I was definitely on a roll, in terms of blogging recently, but the previous post might explain the week of silence. Sigh. Little R has not been a happy camper, and it doesn't look to be a fleeting phase or a passing illness (am I terrible mom for almost hoping she'd get sick and then turn back into a happy baby again?). She's also suddenly resisting naps and waking up at all hours of the night.

What I've read about one year olds is that it's pretty common for them to get separation anxiety about now and--here's the best part--it's not unheard of for this phase to last until eighteen months. Hmmm. More than half a year of this clinging and wailing and tantrum-throwing. Interesting.

It seems the best way to deal with separation anxiety is to give the baby as much reassurance as possible. Lots of holding and cuddling and eye contact. I think if you try to force a baby to confront his or her fear of being alone, you're only going to end up with a little octopus suction-sealed to your chest whenever the two of you are together. After all, a one year old really is still very much a baby and *shouldn't* be independent yet.

Except that my arm sometimes feels like it's about to fall off because she wants me to hold her in my arms, not my Beco baby carrier. And there are certain things that you just cannot do--or, I at least am too stupid to do--one-armed.

And when, inevitably, I have to set the baby down--to change her diaper or clothes, for example--there's so much yelling and screaming, I'm really terrified my neighbor is going to call Child Services on me.

This makes for a long, tiring day. I was just emailing a friend that I've stumbled upon a new and very effective weight-loss strategy: the too-tired-to-eat diet. I've actually gone to bed two nights in a row now with my empty stomach protesting most vehemently and yet with no trouble falling asleep.

So what this meandering post is is an advanced apology if things suddenly go very silent on this blog. Check back in eight months. Oh god.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear R,

You're a very sweet baby. Just not today. Or yesterday. Or this whole week. Wow, have you got some bee up your bonnet lately. And there's absolutely no way to know for sure what's causing all this infant ire.

Most likely, it's: teething (will this particular insanity never end?), looming illness, or maybe a new developmental milestone (but why do you need to get mad about this, I ask you?). You have had a lot of firsts, this week. You figured out how to wave bye-bye. Your technique is charming, but the application is a little iffy. Often your timing will be off (you'll be waving even though nobody's leaving or after dad's shut the door and gone off to work) or you wave at people who are completely unaware of your attention (like passersby on the sidewalk below). And today, you made an attempt at clapping--for yourself, apparently, after you put a toy block into a bowl (another first). I did make a pretty big deal out of it. I think what got me so excited was that I first asked you to try doing it and then you did, you understood me.

Anyhow, it's been a long week, for both of us. I actually thought today, "Dear god, it's only Thursday?" and to accurately capture the voice in my head, you'd have to inject a boatload of shrill panic and despair into it. That's right, sweetie, sometimes you do make mom tired. There was a lot of not-sleeping today, starting very early in the morning, combined with plenty of whining and collapsing and crying and trying to climb up mom's neck and stiff flopping like a fish dragged out of the water.

I really hope you feel better tomorrow, baby. It's your birthday, after all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lapsaky Cotton-Fleece Romper

The cotton-fleece romper that I recently bought online arrived today. Not hating it, not thrilled.

The good: The inside of the romper is really soft--just like polyester fleece. I went with the "natural" color (no dyes or bleaching), which in the photo on the website looks stark white, but in reality is a nice cream.

The bad: The website describes this as a winter romper, but even though it's not *that* cold where we live, this romper is not thick enough to be worn on its own. For people in truly cold climates, this might not be the best romper for your babies--unless you're the type of people who, say, like to frolic in semi-frozen bodies of water or have your babies nap outdoors in the winter, and probably think I'm a total wimp for classifying my current location as anything less than balmy. Nevertheless, in my wimpy opinion, I'd say the romper would be more suitable for fall/spring. So my first problem with the romper is: What's the point of the snuggly cotton fleece if you have to wear layers underneath it and thus not get to enjoy the snuggliness? Yes, that's right, I am peeved on my baby daughter's behalf.

Then here comes problem number two. There is a zipper that goes all the way from the neck down to the left ankle cuff. Since I've been known to shriek uncreative curses at snap buttons in my head--usually while trying to do up about a trillion snap buttons around a flailing, hysterical baby--you would think I'd be appreciative of this zip. Except that there's this lining along the zipper track on the inside that is stiff and scratchy. Again with the scratchy. Not comfy. Not snuggly, damn it.

I could stop fussing and just leave my baby to suffer with an itchy left leg as she sleeps, but these little things REALLY bug me. I know, it's her leg, not mine. But it STILL BUGS ME.

So here we are, with a nice, cuddly-soft cotton-fleece romper but it looks like R will always have to wear an extra inner layer. Maybe that scratchy wool underwear I recently bought her. Argh.

Ho-hum: Nuno Organic Wool Undies

The wool onesie and long johns I'd ordered from Nuno Organic arrived yesterday and I was disappointed that the material was a bit scratchy. I rather thought itchy wool--especially in products meant for babies--was a thing of the past.

I do have somewhat sensitive skin, but I imagine it can't be more so than a one-year-old baby's. Now I'm not sure I want poor R wrapped in this stuff while sleeping. I did write to Nuno Organic to ask if there is a way to soften the wool and am awaiting a reply. There were suggestions online to use hair conditioner, but I don't feel good about trying that when there's so much chemical crap in conditioner--says the girl who uses said crap on her own hair almost every night.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Searching for Snuggly

Is it just me or do the seasons lately seem to change in the blink of an eye, rather than a gentle transitioning? One day, the sun will be lighting up the green foliage outside my window; the next, like an overnight blizzard, I'll wake up to find everything changed, the trees and ground suddenly cloaked in yellow and pumpkin-orange leaves. And just as suddenly, the temperature nose-dives. This is the worst part. Now more than ever, because like most parents, I think, I'm always stressing about whether the baby is too warm or cold during the long nights.

It's confusing to me because they tell you (don't ask me who "they" are) that baby should always wear one extra layer of clothes than what you've got on. But then I'm always seeing little kids scampering about outdoors in nothing more than a t-shirt and jeans, while I'm bundled up to my nose in my thickest woolens. Kids just seem more warm-blooded than adults, but maybe that doesn't apply to babies, especially sleeping ones?

Anyhow, R has a sleep bag made of wool, which supposedly is good at regulating body temperature. But I'm still obsessing about how to dress her underneath that. I don't know why but in the US, there only seem to be two choices for baby pajamas sold in the mainstream stores: thin cotton or thick polyester fleece. I don't want R in synthetics during the night, and layering on the cotton seems extremely stiff and confining, especially when R likes to roll about A LOT in her sleep.

The past few nights, R has been waking up crying, and when I go to her, her hands and arms are icy. So I broke down and splurged on some versatile woolen underwear from Nuno Organic but couldn't bring myself to spend $60 to $90(!) on the thicker one-piece PJs that she'll surely outgrow before next year.

Yesterday night was FREEZING though and I just knew the wool stuff I'd ordered wouldn't be enough. I briefly considered the Snug Organics cotton sherpa sleeper (warning: maddeningly slow-loading website), which sounds pretty snuggly. But at $48, this was way too pricey. After a lot of searching for warmer baby sleepwear made from natural fibers but that wasn't crazily expensive, I settled on an organic cotton-fleece romper ($35) made by Lapsaky. Will report back when I get it and test it out on R.

Update: my reviews for the wool thermal underwear from Nuno Organic and the Lapsaky cotton-fleece romper.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Things I Do, Now (i.e., I'd never do this stuff pre-baby, seriously!)

Since I've had R, I find myself doing things that surprise me, sadden me (as in, pathetic-sad), and even embarrass me. Like:

1. I get into the driver's seat of the car, look over, and find in the cup holder a stale cube of bread (in plastic wrap, I assure you), a leftover bribe for getting R into the car seat without too much back-arching and screeching. I snatch it up, thinking "Jackpot," and devour it, utterly indifferent to the number of days it's been sitting there.

2. I never am able to finish my morning cup of coffee uninterrupted, so whenever I return to it, it's cold. If I made myself a fresh cup each time this happened, I'd drink us right into the poorhouse. So throughout the day, I just keep topping up my coffee with hot water, whenever I have the chance, until by the end of the day, I'm drinking a very translucent brown water for reasons I don't even understand.

3. (a) I often find myself at home, feeling weak with hunger, but unable to do anything about it because the baby's sleeping and there's nothing in the house to eat. I'll occasionally stagger into the kitchen, open all the cupboards, stare into the fridge, confirm there's nothing to eat, and drink some more pale-brown water (see 2 above).

(b) I often find myself out of the house, rushing somewhere, feeling weak with hunger but unable to do anything about it because the baby's awake, but only for the next two hours, and there's just not enough time. There's never enough time.

(c) Alright, sometimes there is food to be had. But there's only so much peanut butter, cheese, and bread a person can eat. Why peanut butter, cheese, and bread? Because these are the things that can be taken out and gulped down in approximately 30 seconds or less. Mind you, gulping down peanut butter or cheese is extremely hazardous, and should never be done unless you have a baby standing at your feet, yanking at your pant leg and wailing. In which case, you'll put your life on the line, day after day. Also, a tip to new mothers: Eat standing. Don't waste those precious seconds on stupid things like carrying the food somewhere, pulling out a chair, sitting down--all that la-di-dah nonsense.

4. I come up with asinine fantasies, such as procuring skunk spray (I've never Googled it, but is there any doubt that somebody sells it online?) and leaking it down into my neighbor's balcony, which is right below our apartment and where she emerges every freakin' hour, from 5am in the morning until 1am at night (okay, there is a short reprieve some time in the middle of the day), to smoke cigarettes. The smoke rises up and for some reason gets sucked into our apartment, if our windows are open. Sometimes it's just too hot and stuffy to keep the windows closed all the time, though, and so I'll open them, the fumes inevitably come rushing in, and when I imagine R inhaling this second-hand smoke, that's when the juvenile ideas start churning.

5. The other day, I microwaved (get your pens out, everyone, this is an original recipe, from me to you) some leftover white rice, then stirred in a handful of frozen peas (thawed with hot water) and half a can of tuna. Ambrosia from the gods--is what you'd think too, after being on a steady diet of cheese, peanut butter, and bread for the past year. I might have even moaned a little, while eating this feast. Oh my god, my stomach just growled in recollection. I need to stop blogging and find something real to eat.

Etsy Share: Mamachee Bird Rattle (on sale, too)

There is so much amazing baby stuff to be found on Etsy, but like any good thing on the Internet, there's also a surfeit of it. I tend to get overwhelmed when I have too many choices, and even found my Etsy newsletters piling up in my mailbox unread. But every so often, I'll scan through and be sucked in anew by some adorable handmade creation. I'll try to share, when I can.

My first Etsy Share is this squelchably adorable bird rattle by Mamachee. I'm being a bit of a mom by adding this, but if you order one, you might want to request that those bead eyes be replaced with simple hand-knitted ones, so that they don't come off and get swallowed accidentally by baby. Also, you can't tell by the pictures, but these rattles are a pretty nice size--not too tiny--that's perfect for baby to hug. There are more pictures on the Mamachee shop pages.

According to the Etsy newsletter, from 13 to 15 November, there will be a 10-percent to 20-percent discount on these rattles--although I couldn't find any info on that on Mamachee's homepage.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Dear R,

You're 11 months old and you have strong opinions about everything.

Right now, you love:
-being held by your dad
-your stupid 100% polyester lovey, which was originally a cheap wash cloth that someone gave us and that I tried to replace with several organic lookalikes, which have all repeatedly been tossed aside
-opening and closing doors
-turning pages of books and magazines (but not actually looking at the pages or being read to)

You hate:
-being strapped down (i.e., carseat, stroller, high chair, supermarket cart, my Beco Butterfly carrier--so are we ever going to be able to go anywhere ever again? And do I have to let you eat while moving about freely, dragging fistfuls of food across the floor, leaving a slimy trail behind you like a snail?)
-lying on your back
-socks, shoes, and hats--actually anything even remotely near your head (your latest enemy is the sun shade attached to the carseat)
-getting ready for bed (but weirdly, you're okay with the actual going-to-bed part)

Recently, you were scared by:
-a helium balloon
-water spraying against the shower curtain
-being at Gymboree (I think I'm going to cancel our membership)
-three huge nurses surrounding you to collect a urine sample with a catheter because you had a fever for three days without any other symptoms and the doctor wanted to make sure it wasn't a UTI (turned out to be roseola). And I totally don't blame you for freaking out during this whole ordeal; poor baby, mom was having a very hard time keeping it together herself.

Monday, November 9, 2009

She Sleeps?

So there's been incredibly loud hammering, scraping, and rattling going on in the upstairs apartment for the past three hours now, and it's all coming through my ceiling nice and clear. It started about an hour before R's naptime, and I found myself praying the noise-makers would be prompt about pausing for lunch. But, no, not these oh-so-diligent workers. I actually started Googling white-noise makers and was about to purchase the Marpac SleepMate 980A Electro-Mechanical Sound Conditioner on Amazon, when I decided to peek in on R first, certain she'd be rolling around in her crib with her hands clamped over her little ears. But no, actually, she was sleeping the sleep of the dead. Whah?

I don't get it. This is the baby that bolts upright if I even dare breathe wrong while in the room next door, while she's asleep. This is the baby who didn't doze for more than 30 minutes, at 10-minute intervals, during a recent 16-hour international flight, because every little thing woke her up.

Now she sleeps through construction work? And continues to sleep, I might add, longer than she has in...months. I don't know what this means. Oh my god, maybe I better go check to see if she's breathing.

Does ANYONE Like Daylight Savings?

Obviously the person who came up with the idea was one of those early birds who doesn't have any small children in the house and probably goes to bed at 8am each night. Daylight savings has doomed me to having to wake up an hour earlier every day since R's body doesn't know any different. Just what all parents with babies need: one extra hour less sleep each morning. Screw you, Daylight Savings person.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Maybe Not Helpful Tip

In a pinch, breast milk works great--like an all-natural hair gel--to keep baby's hair out of her eyes. Really!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Your First Birthday

Dear R,

Your first birthday is coming up this month. I hate to admit this, but I thought about planning a party for you just because everyone else was doing it for their baby. Yep, I almost caved in to mommy-group pressure. But I didn't need to think about it too long. I'd barely begun agonizing over matching balloon and cupcake frosting colors, when I realized I couldn't do that to you. You would hate a birthday party, especially your own. Heck, while the other babies at Gymboree are either throwing themselves into each new activity or just hanging out with mom on the mats, you're the one repeatedly making her way to my shoes at the entrance, like, "Let's get the heck out of here, already."

Everyone says you're the picture of your dad, but at heart, you're more like me. You don't like too many people all at once. You're not so good with new places. And you're more often an observer, rarely a participant. So I can pretty much anticipate your reaction to a room full of noisy people with lots of attention thrown your way.

They say the first birthday celebration is usually for the parents, but I'd rather the day be for you. So we'll probably keep it low-key, just our little family: you, me, and dad. Maybe we can go to the zoo and actually see all those animals you've been avidly examining in your board books. You can still have a birthday cake, though. Let me take another stab at my whole-wheat, sugarless banana-almond cake recipe. Which may not sound very good to the you reading this now, but trust me on this: Baby R digs mom's cake.

It keeps bowling me over, the tide of feeling that accompanies my thoughts of this upcoming milestone. I actually get teary, and I'm about the least sentimental person I know (your dad gets not-so-secretly miffed every time I forget our wedding anniversary). At first I chalked it up to me being hormonal, or something, but after talking with other people, I've learned that baby's first birthday is incredibly emotional and bittersweet for most parents. I don't feel sad that you're growing up, though--that isn't it. I don't quite know yet what I'm feeling.

I thought it would be nice to take a few pictures, though--an informal family portrait. We have possibly zero photos of the three of us together. So someone else would have to take the pictures. But I don't want one of those studio ones, with the weird cloudy background, matching snowflake sweaters, and poses that make you think of high school yearbooks.

I came across the Blue Lily blog by a husband and wife photographer team and was amazed by some of their pictures:

I like how natural and at ease everyone is. No one looks posed and there aren't any stiff studio smiles.

I wish we could have a gorgeous family picture like that, in memory of your first year...but most likely, we'll be in a public place, and we'll ask some passerby, "Excuse me, would you mind taking our picture?" And your dad will be smiling, you'll probably look serious because there are strangers everywhere, and I'll have that perpetually irritated look I always seem to have in photos. But we'll all be there, and one of us will be holding you close, and that's really all that matters, right?