Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Project: Holiday Photo Collage

If you're like us, every year you receive dozens of photo holiday cards from all your friends and loved ones. Once the holidays are over, I always think it's sad to just throw all these out, especially when I know how much effort (and $$!) go into sending these out to everyone on your holiday mailing list each December!

So I found a way to keep the adorable pictures of the little ones around for a little bit longer.

Holiday Photo Collage

Supplies needed:
All your photo holiday cards
Double-sided tape (or regular tape, glue stick, whatevs)
8"x10" matted frame (larger/smaller depending on your photos - use your judgement!)

  1. Start out by trimming your photo cards. Select the best photo on the card (for those that have more than one) and trim out anything that is not adding anything to the photo. I also try to make sure the photo I select from each card has the most members of the family.
  2. Take apart the matted frame. Typically these will come with a piece of paper inside to be used for the frame display. I use this to create my collage.
  3. Lay out all your trimmed photos in the space that will show through the frame. Create a fun collage of happy smiling faces that will be fun to see on your wall.
  4. Use the tape/glue stick to apply to the backs of the photos, locking them in place.
  5. Reassemble the frame and hang from a hook on your wall.
  6. Create one of these every year and see how fast all the kids grow!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sleep Stress

I've noticed lately that I have a little anxiety in the evenings regarding what that night will bring for sleep for the house. My husband has been out of town for business for the past 4 nights (only two more to go!!) and it has been challenging to say the least.

As I mentioned previously, Bugga is a pretty decent sleeper at night, but can't nap for crap. I take equal responsibility for this so I'm working on my parenting skills (back to that MBA in Baby thing again!). I still am in the habit of tracking all her diapers, sleep time and nursing time via my Total Baby app on my iPhone so I am well aware how much sleep she is (not) getting.

The first few mornings my husband was gone, Bugga decided that 5am had the most exciting events taking place, and she was not about to sleep through it. Ugh. I am not a morning person. Neither is my husband. We are hoping neither is our daughter, but, well...there's still hope for the future I suppose. I'm guessing this is tied to minimal sleep time during the day that results in her being overtired and having trouble keeping the longer stretches at night.

So by last night, I was so scared she'd wake up super early, and just never go back to sleep. I had her on track with feedings at least all day so I could get them all in with her going to bed a little sooner than usual. I have heard the phrase "sleep begets sleep" so WOW was I hoping this was right. But I was stressed out.

Usually I'll nurse her a bit before I put her in her sleep sack and then lay her in her crib. After that full meal she is typically pretty exhausted so it's all we can do to keep her eyes open until she sets her head to the mattress. But not last night...ugh the instant sweat on the back of my neck when I heard her fussing over the baby monitor as I finished shoveling down my dinner so I could go to bed immediately and stock up on my own sleep.

But then something miraculous happened - she fussed for about 10 minutes, with it never really making it to a cry and then ALL THE NOISES STOPPED. Had she really just put herself to sleep? I waited another 10 minutes before tempting fate and then snuck into the nursery. Yep, there she was, arms splayed over her head, out cold. Oh, the pride I felt that moment.

I did go to bed shortly after in case this was a fluke. I heard her singing at 2am (and LOVED THAT!), fussing at 5am and 6am - but each time she soother herself back to sleep. She woke for the day at 7:15am. I'll say that last night was a Total Win.

And tonight is a new night. But hopefully I feel a little less stress, to be replaced by a little more confidence in The Bugga.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Feed Me

My daughter has been exclusively breastfed since birth, and somehow, fortunately, we are still going strong 4.5 months in. (This is absolutely NOT a blog about the best way to feed your child – I say to each her own, and only you know whether breastmilk or formula works for your little one.)

The main challenge I have at this point is trying to fit in 6 full feedings throughout a day, when a baby this age is also supposed to be sleeping 12 hours or so at night (and just so we're clear, that also isn't happening). We strive for a meal every 3 hours starting from the time we wake up, but by the end of the day we are on 2-hour cycles just to be sure we fit them all in before bed. I constantly feel like I am falling behind schedule throughout the day. It’s exhausting. 

I am trying out a variation in my schedule where I front load a couple of my 2-hour cycles first thing in the morning. This way if we should be so lucky that she does nap later on, she doesn’t need to miss a meal in exchange for sleep. She does not nurse overnight, so there are no bonus feedings.

How do you make it work??

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Keeping a Schedule

I read on various blogs before I left my job that the most important thing about staying at home with your kids is to create a schedule. A schedule gives you purpose, helps you feel accomplished at the end of the day when the house might still be a mess, and helps you fit in everything you want to do with your child(ren). And since you are your own boss, if you disregard your schedule for a day, so be it.

This seemed genius to me so off I went, building what I thought would work for us into Excel, color-coding all the fun we’d be having. I feel that the best method for this schedule building is to color-code by category. This way things can be interchanged when needed for the most part (varying by time needed for each). I also recognize that this is a living document and it is subject to change permanently on a regular basis as my daughter needs different things, and hopefully as I become more efficient with my time.

Below is an example of where I started. Note that it is pretty general. The feeding schedule works for my 4.5 month old who is not yet eating solids (and STILL needs an hour to eat). The nap schedule would ideally work, but, well, we are still working on that. What isn’t included here is meal planning for the following week (done on the weekend), and what happens around the time my husband gets home from work, but my daughter typically gets a bath, eats one more time, and heads to bed.

At the very least, I have a “focus” room in the house each day, where even if Bugga never gets her naps (and right now this is often) I still pass through the room of honor repeatedly and “tidy on the go” so that at least I feel like I got something done that day. 

I welcome any other tips that can be generally useful for getting through the day feeling accomplished!

Mr. Sandbaby

Ah the coveted sleep of new parents. We miss it so. Then again, I say this all the time, but I know I also need to recognize that we have it SO much easier than it could be. Our daughter started sleeping through the night (we’re talking 8+ hours) at about 5 weeks old – coincidentally starting on New Year’s Eve 2012.

We somewhat knew we were going to get lucky during her first couple weeks of life when we struggled to keep her awake during feedings. Our pediatrician was ready for us to let her sleep as long as she wanted at night as soon as she was back up to her birth weight. I think it takes the average baby 2 weeks; ours needed 3. And once she was back over 8 pounds, we were ready! Good thing, so was she.

Bugga slept great at night for quite awhile, with daytime napping happening here and there, when and where she felt like it. When I went back to work at 12 weeks and she started daycare, it became very clear we needed to focus more on those naps. Even worse, sometime around 14 weeks she started waking up at night too. We verified with our pediatrician that she wasn’t waking to eat since she had previously slept through the night and not needed meals then, so we were careful not to use food as a crutch.

Meanwhile, I started reading every book on sleep training I could find, while constantly fearing the lights on the baby monitor that alerted us to her waking up earlier than desired. I read BabyWise, Lull-a-baby, Your Fussy Baby...and we are now trying to use a combination of all these (and any other ideas, hint hint) to teach our daughter she is capable of soothing herself to sleep without Mom or Dad. Cry it out (CIO) scares me at this age (4 months old), though if this keeps up I might have a different opinion two months from now. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Over the River and Thru the Woods

Neither my parents nor my husband’s live anywhere near us, though we have already recognized that we all of a sudden are seeing them much more frequently now that we have added a grandchild to the mix. Along with that is my personal realization that I’m not really there anymore – what people want to see is the baby. (And how can I blame them? She IS pretty cute.)

So though we still have to plan trips to the grandparents’ houses very carefully so we can mirror all the comforts of home for the baby without having to rent a U-haul, and I have to prepare myself to hand her over immediately, reducing my time with my child, I suppose there are some new benefits.

I just realized that over the 4-day trip, I actually SHOWERED EVERY DAY. This is sadly a very big deal. But with someone watching Bugga when normally it would just be me, it was a nice perk.

And yes, this baby is my new – and BEST – accessory. She is a blast to show off, what with her easy smiles and gurgles, purple and pink girly outfits, and even that pouty bottom lip that shows up when she’s upset at something.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Role Models

For no reason I can explain, Bugga is just now meeting her only cousin, who is three going on 12. Well, I suppose the distance has something to do with it, as they were unable to visit us with the rest of the in-laws over the holidays when we welcomed Bugga into the family.

Aside from the 5 weeks of daycare that my daughter participated in, she has had limited exposure to other people her size, so her cousin was fascinating from the moment her cousin asked the first second, “Can I hold her?!?” Bugga has never seen such energy! She watched mesmerized as my husband sought to cram as much Uncle-ing as possible into the brief overnight stay we had with his niece, never taking her eyes off this new 3-year-old role model.

Could it be coincidence that Bugga then decided to test out her voice more than ever, pushing it to higher decibels than we thought she was capable of without ending up in hysterics? We found it highly entertaining (and somewhat confusing), while my brother- and sister-in-law never batted an eye, used to such chaotic scenes repeating themselves daily in their living room.

I feel like we visited with a 4-month-old infant and left with a toddler. I get a sense that my daughter is finally realizing there is a world full of all sorts of fascinating people and things around her and she needs to swallow up as much as she can TOMORROW.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Master's Degree

In case you are wondering, the name of this blog (MOMba) stemmed from my attitude as I made the transition to being a stay-at-home mom. A few years back, I was attending a top business school for my MBA in Marketing, where I met my now-husband, married him and now have a baby together. And then decided to shelve something I very recently spent upwards of six figures and a lot of exhausting nights to earn (referring to the degree; the marriage was a business school perk for sure). As I was trying to wrap my head around how I could still be applying my business school skills, I would tell me husband and a select handful of friends that I was going to “MBA the hell out of this staying at home business”.

What I meant by this I suppose is that I am very schedule oriented. I’m not in the least bit bragging that I am organized (though I have pinned dozens of projects on Pinterest that I plan on pursuing sometime this year to help me get better at this). But I enjoy nothing more than economizing my time and making the most of multi-tasking where it makes sense, and focusing on a single moment in time when multitasking does not make sense. Like my daughter’s Firsts, for example.

So I plan to (attempt to) master my baby abilities so that I can reduce the time needed for unimportant but vital things like laundry and meal planning, while living in the moment with Bugga’s first steps, her trying to talk to me, the first time she sees a tree and other fantastically basic things that I get to re-appreciate with her help.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

First Road Trip

My in-laws live about 4 states over, which amounts to about a 10 hour drive, sans infant. Being a new parent, I have noticed myself walking through a new event to understand how we would deal with possible issues as they arise, and then plan ahead accordingly. The biggest challenge I could see for a long roadtrip was Bugga’s feeding schedule. How does she get the meals she needs without us completely doubling our travel time?

My daughter is exclusively breastfed, though she does take a bottle like a champion. The problem is I have recently determined I am crap at pumping in the car. I’m not sure if it is the stress of the overall situation, or just the stress of manipulating the pump and all the annoying parts, but I have trouble producing much more than 3 oz and that does not a full meal make. So we compromised for this one once we got on the road. I pumped for two meals’ worth in between nursings, and I’d nurse while my husband would go in and sit down at a restaurant to enjoy food I typically detest (Waffle House, anyone?). Then I get to pick anything with a drive-thru and we make the most of our travel time. Not bad – but next time we should definitely check flights.

The other challenge with extended road travel is how much time my daughter needs to spend in her car seat. And she was great! In fact, as I had actually hoped, her daytime napping improved because, well basically she had no choice. Well, I guess she did have a choice – she could have screamed the whole way and she didn’t, so for that I am greatly proud of her. I’m typing this with about 5 hours left of the return trip so we’ll see how this affects her nap schedule when we’re back to normal tomorrow.

First plane trip in 3 weeks! Now I need to envision all the scenarios that come with that trip...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Rolling Over

When Bugga mastered rolling from back to front, all of us were SO proud. That is, until later that night when we found her in her swaddle flipped over onto her stomach against the slats of the crib at 5am. Which of course resulted in hysterics. Not on my watch, buddy!

OK fine, so no more swaddle. She has always been a Baby Houdini and managed to get at least one arm out, so we figured she could handle a regular sleep sack. Except while we thought the problem would be her hands getting in her face, that was not the primary challenge. After mastering this “half roll”, you could not stop her from practicing. We would lie her down on a quilt, and up those legs would go to throw herself over onto her stomach. And then she was stuck because she couldn’t roll back and eventually she would need to put her face down (gasp!).

We spent several hours early one morning repeating a frustrating (and yet somewhat adorable) cycle where I’d lay her on her back in her crib, she would roll right away onto her belly, doze off on her stomach, then stir about 20 minutes later and realize she was on her face, panic, and then scream.

So after scouring the internet at 3am for a fix to this (what DID we ever do without the internet, seriously) my husband and I rigged up a blanket that was tucked into the crib mattress that we would place across her legs, low enough so her hands couldn’t find a way to yank it free. For bonus points, we rolled up a second blanket and placed it by her legs on the side she rolls over on (only one so far!).  After this, she SLEPT. This child looked so cozy, and her four-month regression issues with waking in the night for no reason pretty much evaporated with this. Fist bump. For now anyway.

One Week In

Well, I was assuming that my first report of stay-at-home-mom-ing would be full of all sorts of great experiences now that my daughter and I can have endless quality time together. Boy was I wrong! My little one had different ideas...

About a week before I left work she suddenly started napping wonderfully in her crib for about 4 hours a day. A glorious thing since previously we had only known a 30-minute cat nap here and there. So with the knowledge that routines are power for babies, I tried to continue this.

She wasn’t having it, and we know who’s boss. I think Bugga took about 2 hours of naps ALL WEEK my first week on the job. Which all you in-the-know parents realize makes for a nice family nightmare of crying and crankiness – from both of us. Somehow she still slept pretty well at night, so I should consider myself lucky (which I do everyday, but I digress...).

So lessons learned Week One: We don’t have to wean from the pacifier just yet, naps in the bouncer are perfectly acceptable, and a perfectly-timed errand that allows for car seat napping is not (yet) a crutch for baby sleep.

Oh, and incidentally, Bugga decided to roll over back to front on Friday evening – perfectly timed for me to still feel successful for the week, and Daddy was home from work to see it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Here We Go!

Welcome to my new adventure! I just quit my job last week after 5 challenging weeks back at the office after maternity leave. My reason is probably obvious. My goal? To master this parenting thing and give my daughter everything I can, while selfishly being able to be there to be a part of all her Firsts. I never expected I'd choose this path, but that 23 inches of smiles and giggles has changed everything else about our life - why not this too?

As much as it is a time for me to teach her everything she can handle, I am fully aware that I am sure to learn JUST as much.So that is what this blog is for...a journal of how we spend our days, which I am sure will be peppered with tear-fests (from both of us), lazy days, parenting mistakes, recipes and crafts, field trips, playdates and who knows what else!

Feel free to follow along - I might need some advice from time to time. And maybe I'll be able to help you out too! Thanks for reading!