Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nap Breakthrough!

Holy naptime, batman.

After almost 10 months of nursing my daughter to sleep for every bedtime and nap, and then holding her in my lap (thankfully she's been tired enough at night to lay into the crib), we have broken this habit!

Bugga has been a light sleeper for quite awhile. Yes, every newborn will sleep anywhere with any level of noise, but our kiddo grew out of this phase very quickly. Sometime around two months old, she would be easily startled if I turned the car engine off after nodding off during a drive, or woken by the floor creaking if I crept past her bouncer. Realizing she desperately needed more nap time in order to maintain healthy development, I started to nurse her to sleep and then hold her in my lap, barely moving, so she could log some valuable sleep hours.

Her naps started at 20-30 minutes here and there, but soon extended to up to almost 3 hours! I was thrilled, but this meant a lot of butt-in-the-glider time for me. I love to cuddle my little girl, but besides this being precious time that I could use to be productive around the house, if she ever wanted to change sleeping positions, my lap was not conducive to this and any movement she made would lead to her waking up and not getting the full nap she needed. It's been a long ten months for nap challenges around here.

I needed to teach her how to nap in her crib.

I read several books over the previous months on sleep training so I referenced these now to figure out what could be done. The catch is that this wasn't a straight issue of nursing to sleep, since most who do this, do this all night long. We had night-weaned back at 5 weeks or so when Bugga started sleeping through the night. She also could be laid down in her crib at night still awake but drowsy, and roll over and go to sleep. So I knew she had some soothing skills. But I knew I wanted her to a) do this for naps without freaking out (which had been the result if I ever tried before this), and b) be able to put herself back to sleep if she woke up at night (bonus!).

OK so I just went cold turkey on the naps in the crib, figuring I'd give it a try for a week. I was scared to death I would simultaneously ruin bedtime by putting a fear of the crib into my child. I put her down at her scheduled times, twice a day, after nursing. At first there was crying and protesting. I'd lay her down with the lights off (closet light on for a slight light), white noise on, leave the room and close the door. She would begin to cry as I left the room. I watched her on the video monitor for five minutes. She sometimes would sit up or stand up while crying. After five minutes I went back in and offered her the pacifier, laid her back down, rubbed her back for about 2 minutes, then left again. I repeated this until she finally fell asleep.

I started last week on Monday, and by this past Monday (8 days later!), I feel she is officially comfortable with falling asleep on her own. Out of the 14 nap windows during this time, she cried anywhere from 0 to 50 minutes before falling asleep. The 50 minute scenarios happened only (gulp) twice, and although I continued the checks, the second time this happened I just picked her up and moved on - no nap that time. Sometimes she would let out a couple whimpers and/or just nod off; sometimes she'd cry for 5 minutes then be out. And the strange thing is there was no rhyme or reason for which option would happen when. But now she will pretty much go down without freaking out at all (yay!!) and sleep anywhere from 50 minutes until 3 hours (and we had to wake her up from that one). She really is getting better sleep this way, and my husband and I are getting some kid-free time on the weekends which is completely new to us.

If you are struggling with this scenario, I am happy to answer any questions!

Parenting Support #17

Could no one have been straight with me about how hard parenting is?

It seems to me like all the parents that are doing a fabulous job are the ones who feel the worst about how things are going. Cut yourself some slack, your little girl is getting everything she needs. Just make sure mom is getting what she needs as well... and don't feel guilty about making time for yourself. I found the first 18 months to be the most difficult. Hang in there, and seek out your friends!

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Right Kind of Socialization

At almost 10 months, Bugga is finally making the age cut for various activities. She is now old enough to attend classes that will cater to any interest she has in music, gymnastics, singing, stories, etc., but mostly these are great for socialization. As a stay-at-home mom, my child does not have the opportunity to interact with other babies unless I schedule this time. 

Bugga waving at Mom
I find it funny when I think about my natural reaction to certain social situations. Waiting in line at the grocery store is an easy place to observe other kids shopping with their parents. As eager as I am for my daughter to observe other babies and children interacting with the world around them, I would prefer to block her view from the horrid behavior we typically see! Ugh, the tantrums and Energizer-Bunny-ness.

Since my kiddo is so young, I suppose those times will come eventually for me, but right now I will enjoy the compliments I get because, "She is so quiet and well-behaved!" My daughter is very much still in her Observer stage. (Sidenote - is this a stage? She has always been one to watch everything, and never misses a detail.) You can always see her little brain ticking away as she thinks about how to react to what she is watching.

Gymnastics, on the other hand, is exhilarating!!!

Parenting Support #16

Could no one have been straight with me about how hard parenting is?

People look at you horridly when you express your frustration... I emailed some of my friends with kids when my daughter was one month and called her the spawn of Satan - anyone who knows my husband realizes it's true. :) The beginning is awful - my biggest problem was just the lack of predictability. Things settle in, and then all other problems crop up - illnesses, temper tantrums, etc. sometimes makes you wonder why we do this! But, once you get to see the world through their eyes, experience the laughs and good times, it makes sense...

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Project: Rainbow Rice

I have recently learned about the fantastic concept of sensory boxes. These are portable boxes filled with all sorts of random things that help babies and toddlers learn about colors, shapes, textures and other random details about the world around them.

A great way to introduce the sensory box is essentially by building an indoor sandbox.  As we are still living in Alaska until November before we move back to Texas, anything we can do indoors is a bonus!

There are many things you can use as the sand. I am starting with Rainbow Rice! Across Pinterest (and the rest of the internet, I'm assuming ha) there are various ways to make this rice. The instructions below are my version, as I wanted to make sure that should any of this rice make its way into the baby's mouth, it would not be toxic.

Items you will need:
  • several bags of white rice (I used 8 bags which turned out to be plenty. Oh, by the way, I actually bought 4 bags of brown rice first, thinking if I never got to the project that at least I could cook with the rice since I prefer brown. Then I bought 4 white bags. The white definitely allows the colors to be brighter, but the brown does take the color differently so you have more color options.)
  • food coloring (I used the gels)
  • dark-colored mixing bowl (just in case!)
  • spoon
  • water
  • baking sheets
  • paper towels
  • ziplock bags for storage (I used one per color)


  1. Add several drops of one color to your mixing bowl. Add about 4 Tablespoons of water and mix well with your spoon. The more color you use the brighter/darker the rice will be, so feel free to experiment.
  2. Once the color is mixed to your satisfaction, add a bag of rice. Mix thoroughly until the color is evenly distributed and all the rice has been colored.
  3. Lay a paper towel down on a baking sheet. Pour the rice onto the paper towel and use the spoon to spread it as flat as possible to dry. Drying time is pretty quick - I let each color sit for about 20-30 minutes. Your rice might get hard and crunchy, and even stick as it dries. Just use your spoon to break it up again.
  4. Once the rice is dry, pour into a ziplock bag to store/transport. You might need some extra hands to keep the rice from getting everywhere as you pour (I used a big pot and sat the bag in it.)
  5. Repeat with the rest of your rice until you have the amount you want.
  6. Use your rice! This stuff is great for sensory boxes, arts & craft projects - you can even just eat* it to make for a fun meal! Have fun!

*If you are planning to eat this rice, please use my instructions versus some other web recipes. I have seen some direct you to use rubbing alcohol when coloring the rice and that is obviously dangerous to consume!

And as a final comment, I saw that rice hit the news today as having trace amounts of arsenic in most brands, which is obviously not good. Authorities are recommending that everyone limit feeding their babies rice to one time a week. One more reason to avoid eating it and instead use it for crafts!

Parenting Support #15

Could no one have been straight with me about how hard parenting is?

You wouldn't have listened. :)

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Milestone Mania

If you are a parent, then you are more than likely familiar with the child comparison game.

"Oh, your son is so cute! How old is he?"
"Ten months."
"Oh wow! You are so lucky he isn't walking yet! Mine was walking at nine months and she got into everything!"

On the surface that is a simple conversation. But what it is beneath that surface is a parent bragging about how much earlier their child conquered a popular milestone versus another child.

People here is the reality:
It all evens out in a couple years. If your child is progressing along the development scale, it will all happen in time and it matters NOT when your kid masters something versus the kid next door.

So relax and just enjoy the thrill your baby gets from each new experience.

Parenting Support #14

Could no one have been straight with me about how hard parenting is?

No matter how hard it gets, stick to your guns. You will be thankful you did when she gets older. The reason people didn't tell you, is that most people think it is a direct reflection on them if they admit it is not all happiness and sunshine. In truth, we all come unglued. You just need to find the "real" people close to you that can admit that too. Then you will truly have the support you need! No doubt you are doing an excellent job despite the adversity!!

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Activity: Baby's First Painting

As an arts and crafts fanatic, I have been eagerly awaiting the time when my daughter is old enough to understand being crafty and how much fun it can be. WELL apparently 8 months is that age!

My two main missions with any baby craft are to a) not make a ridiculous mess, and b) not poison the baby. Starting a baby with a crafty project comes with some limitations. Obviously I want to do what I can to prevent anything dangerous from going into her mouth (like everything seems to do lately), and should it accidentally get there, it can't be dangerous.

So this project is a perfect starter idea. I have seen variations of this craft across Pinterest, but here is my version. It is safe, mess free (yippee!) and you will even have your first piece of Fridge Art when it is completed.

Items you will need:
  • non-toxic paint (I used primary colors and had white on hand for lightening up the different combinations)
  • 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag
  • cardstock/paint paper (the thicker paper can handle the globs of paint better)
  • that's it!
1. Put a "glob" (that's a technical term - perhaps poker-chip size) of each paint color on a different part of a piece of paper.

2. Carefully place the paper with paint inside the Ziploc bag. Seal the bag.

3. Start squishing away! Help you baby push and smear the paint all around, mixing the colors as you go. I spent a lot of time talking about each color and the colors that resulted from the mixing.

4. Once the fun is over, carefully remove the paper from the bag. Make sure you are out of the reach of your baby (mine wanted to help). Set the paper someplace safe to dry over a piece of newspaper. Once dry, hang that baby (the art, not the literal baby) on the fridge for prominent display!

For additional projects, use specific paint colors, and then cut shapes from the finished and dried paper. You can cut pieces to make flowers, frames, etc. - these are perfect for birthday cards for family or Father's Day gifts!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Engineering Parenting

My husband and I are both engineers. Because of this, we approach everything with a heavy dose of logic like the whole world is a math problem. Even parenting apparently.

Bugga's schedule has been pretty steady lately, and she's been nursing and eating solids well, sleeping through the night consistently, and even getting almost 3 hours of naps a day. Then there was last night. We normally nurse her to sleep (I know, I know) around 8:15ish, and she's typically out like a light at 9:05 PM. Not last night.

Last night she was wide awake. Not interested in sleeping whatsoever and just stood up in her crib happy as a clam unless we left the room, and then she cried. This went on for hours. It was awesome. Oh and it was my husband's birthday. So no cake for us.

We spent those three hours in my daughter's room analyzing what had gone wrong that day. Should we have not switched up the pajamas? She didn't need a bath after dinner (for once) that night, did we throw off her bedtime routine? Did she nap enough during the day (yes)? Did I have caffeine? Like a math problem, we figured we had somehow switched up the equation and it resulted in bedtime chaos. Unfortunately in this exercise, anything that DID go wrong (we still don't know what) fell into my lap, as I am the one who spends my days with her. Sigh. No more math tonight please...

Parenting Support #13

Could no one have been straight with me about how hard parenting is?

Wow, this is hilarious. Do you know I once said the EXACT same thing to a mutual friend of ours since she was the 1st to have a baby. Her words, which I have never forgotten, were, "If I told you how hard it was, you would never have done it." Love you both!

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Parenting Support #12

Could no one have been straight with me about how hard parenting is?

Hang in there sistah! Everything is a phase! Once you nail this challenge the next will show itself so just take one day at a time and don't forget to call your mom and say thanks cause remember she did it too!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Baby Schedule (8, 9, 10 Months)

I thought it would be a good idea to share our latest schedule. I think the last time I posted about the details was way back when I was first planning on being a Stay at Home Mom. Well, to say the least, things are different now. For one, my kiddo is 5 months older. (WHOA! I've been doing this for FIVE months already?!?) Also, I was a little clueless as to what was realistic as far as scheduling goes. So if you want a good laugh, please check out how I thought we'd be spending our weeks.

We've hit a good stride lately, and as long as we stick. to. the. schedule. everything is great. WOW do babies need a schedule. We've tried to put her to bed a little later some nights when we are caught out of the house when a family activity runs late, and we pay for it. The biggest problem ends up being a cranky baby - but the worst result has been a baby that is overtired and either will not go to sleep until several hours later, or wakes up several times throughout the night.

I know that some baby experts recommend that babies be eating 3 meals of solids a day at this age (several others leave this open-ended as "food is for fun, until after one"), however we are still just at 2 meals a day. Honestly - we spend sooo much time nursing, eating solids, and napping that there is hardly time for anything else during the day. As it stands, we pretty much have time to leave the house once a day, so we have to use our errand/activity time wisely. If we are out somewhere for lunch during the day (that does not involve a drive-thru) I have Cheerios handy to keep Bugga from turning green from food jealousy. And they make for easy cleanup.

Also, we are currently on two naps, with the longest one being in the late morning. The second nap is a little harder to come by, and lately it's usually done in the car on the way back from somewhere. My formerly very "green" self has vaporized in order to keep my child napping, and since she wakes if I try to move her, I have spent a lot of time sitting in my garage (door open!) with the air-conditioning/heat running.

I feel like it would be useful to post our schedules from previous months, and since I am still logging everything in my Total Baby app, I will go back in the next week or two and pull the schedules from Bugga's previous ages.