Wednesday, April 16, 2014

a baby's language, part 2

Mikayla is over 6 weeks old. I can't believe how fast time has gone with my second. The first six weeks with JP seemed to last ages at the time. The days were so long, and hard, and not to mention I was still getting little sleet at nights with JP.

This experience is so different from my first. I'm sure part of that is different temperaments of my daughters, but I think the great difference is in me. I know more, have a whole lot more 'tricks up my sleeve' for dealing with a newborn, I'm way less anxious about everything, I have different expectations, different attitude. I feel no need to sweat the details. The result is quite different. For starters, our sleep is so much better than it was at this time with my first. But I'll go into that in another post.  For now, I'll tell you about the baby language.

I surely feel that I have a better sense of what Mikayla needs. Part of this is just from being a mom a second time around, but Dunstan's baby language has also helped a heap.  Here's what I found helpful:

  1. The two clearest words that I can hear from Mikayla are EH (burp) and EAIR (gas). The EH is very clear.  I can hear that the sound is coming from high in her voice.  It just sounds like she's struggling with a burp. It's helpful to know quickly that she needs to burp. I can tell even when she's lying on a blanket and I'm not looking at her. I can tell a friend who's holding her what it is that she needs. 
  2. The EAIR sounds to me like a low RRR sound. And I can totally tell that it has to do with lower gas. As soon as I hear that, I can help her by crunching up her body or doing "bicycle" with her legs and we can work it out before she's all-out crying in pain. Mikayla hasn't had a huge problem with gas. Maybe it's mostly because she just has a good digestive system, but I also like to think it's because when she has issues we can help before they get too painful. 
  3. I don't hear the NEH sound (for hunger). I think this may be because my daughter is tongue-tied. While it's not serious enough to affect her eating, I think she cannot easily put her tongue to the roof of her mouth to make the N sound. She makes a coughing sound when she's hungry. In the middle of the night that's the sound I get up for. Anything else I sleep through or I let her work out on her own. Actually, I haven't gotten up for anything else in weeks, but that's another post... I usually just tell when she's hungry by her reflex - she opens her mouth toward skin or a finger if it's put on her cheek.  I think that reflex will be going away soon, probably by two months. I hope it's not hard for me to tell when she's hungry after that. 
  4. The HEH and the OWH are harder for me to distinguish. I personally think OWH sounds more like AH, and I do occasionally hear that. More often I can tell she's tired because I know she's been awake for a long time, or I see her eyelids doing the blank stare or drooping. I haven't heard the HEH sound yet. 

All in all, it's been helpful. I love that I can quickly tell when she has a burp or gas problem.  I'd recommend a new mom or mom-to-be to watch the youtube video. I don't feel any need to purchase Priscilla's DVD program, but not having done it I can hardly say it wouldn't be valuable. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

a baby's language

A while ago this was going around the Internet and I mentally filed it away as a resource I wanted to pull out when I have an infant again.  One month to go!

To sum up, there is a woman who has genius in hearing - she has a phonographic memory and is a musical prodigy.  As a new mom, she discovered similarities of sounds for when babies had different needs.  Priscilla Dunstan has been on Oprah and other TV shows sharing this, and you can watch it here. (This is the longest youtube clip with all the background; there are shorter ones if you prefer, or just focus on minutes 2:15 to 9:00 for the basics).

I think this is amazing!  You can learn more on the company website and buy training videos.  She says on her website 9 out of 10 moms find it helpful.

I just think it would be life changing to know easily if my baby is hungry or tired or uncomfortable...  So I made this graphic to remind me what the sounds are.  You've got to watch the part of the video to really hear the sounds and know what to listen for, but I'm hoping this "cheat sheet" will help as I practice with my own little one. I will let you know if I have success with this!

I have a PDF of this sheet that I'd gladly share, but I'm not sure how to share via my blog. I guess if you'd like it, send me a comment with an email address. 

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Sleep Teaching

Last year I read Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, and I loved it. She presents a different way of viewing parents, children, and their relationship from the typical American view. Her writing is engaging and entertaining. It is full of good advice, but it doesn't read as a self-help book. Rather she tells the story of her own parenting and shares research she gathered from French books and parents and American books and parents. She never places commands on how to raise children: this is so refreshing compared to other American books and magazines on parenting which seem to love spurting commands.

I made a mental note to re-read the bits on sleep before my next child.  I've only two more months before I can practice what I've read here, but I still feel like I'll forget the main points, so I wrote them all down.  Here I sum up the key points from her chapter "Doing Her Nights."

Of course with this list you miss out on Druckerman's wherefores and hows and examples, and her engaging writing. So consider this as a refresher course for those who read the book.  Or perhaps it will whet the appetites of others to read her book.  

  • Believe a baby is a person who is capable of learning things and coping with frustration. Frustration is good for babies – it makes children more secure. 
  • It is good for parents and babies when they sleep through the night, and they can do this from 2-4 months of age. 
  • Babies need to be by themselves. Babies who learn to play by themselves in the day will be more content in the crib alone at night. Consider that babies need privacy – times when they are awake without any needs and all alone. 
  • Place value on the parents' quality of life and not just the child's welfare. 
  • It's the parents' job to teach babies to sleep well. Teaching a baby to sleep is a first lesson on self-reliance and enjoying one's own company. 
  • The one most crucial thing is to do "le pause" – wait when your baby starts crying. Give them a chance to self-soothe. Observe them first. When babies cry, they are telling us something – listen to figure it out. 
  • Babies make lots of noise in their sleep – they may be moving, but they are still sleeping. Don't think of these movements or noises as a call to you. 
  • Babies wake up between their sleep cycles (about every 2 hrs) and they must learn to connect these sleep cycles on their own. They can learn this between two and three months old. Intervening between cycles leads to sleep problems. 
  • Teach babies the difference between night and day by refraining from holding, rocking, nursing the baby to sleep in the evenings. 
  • Between midnight and 5am, re-swaddle, pat, re-diaper, walk… Only if the baby continues crying should you nurse. 
  • If you miss the 4-mo window for "sleep teaching," you must do "sleep training" – having the baby cry-it-out. Either go "cold turkey" or take it in stages, and it will succeed in a few days. As you do this, explain to the child what you're about to do. Consistency is key. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

where Keller and Guiliano meet

I'm completely fascinated with the way that the 3rd Session in Gospel in Life, which I read today, corresponds to the same philosophy Mireille Guiliano describes in French Women Don't Get Fat, another book I'm currently reading.  

Keller quoted Thomas Chalmers:
It is seldom that any of our [bad habits or flaws] are made to disappear by a mere process of natural extinction. At least, it is very seldom that this is done through the instrument of reasoning...[or by] the mere force of mental determination. But what cannot be thus destroyed may be dispossessed--and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind...[T]he heart['s] desire for having some one object or another, this is unconquerable...The only way to dispossess [the heart] of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one...
He was talking about replacing idols with Jesus Christ.

Guiliano was talking about food.

It impresses me that her philosophy has such truth to it. She speaks to misuse of food: loving too much of a thing, and wanting bad things.  But her solution is not diet, and it's not deprivation.  Instead of conquering our love of the unhealthy and trying to eliminate it by sheer determination, she has a replacement plan.  She encourages us to look carefully at all that we eat.  Then decide what we really love, and reduce how much and how often we eat it, and instead focus on enjoying it thoroughly when we do eat it.  And she offers suggestions for delicious healthy things to take the place of unhealthy treats.  The result is that our pallets are re-trained to enjoy fruits and vegetables, and to slowly savor foods.  

For example, one overweight lady used to drink a beer every night before bed.  She had just developed this habit, she didn't even really love it that much.  But the ritual and comfort didn't need to disappear, just how she was dealing with it.  Instead she began drinking herbal tea.  She started to love teas, and even became a connoisseur.

This is the second book about the way the French livie that I've read this year.  And I'd highly recommend both.
I'll write more about this one later. 

Thursday, April 04, 2013

she sat under a blanket like a crocus under an april snowfall

While using the awesome-search-function of gmail, I came across these in an email. This is from teaching 8th grade 3 years ago. Brilliant.

Bad Similes

  • Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
  • His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
  • She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.
  • The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
  • McMurphy fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
  • Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
  • Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.
  • Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
  • He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
  • The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
  • Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
  • The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr. Pepper can.
  • They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.
  • John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
  • The thunder was ominous sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.
  • The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.
  • Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.
  • The door had been forced, as forced as the dialogue during the interview portion of "Jeopardy!"
  • Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
  • The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  • He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
  • Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter."
  • She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
  • It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before.
  • The knife was as sharp as the tone used by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) in her first several points of parliamentary procedure made to Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton.
  • The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  • The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium.
  • It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
  • He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
  • Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.
  • She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
  • She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
  • Her voice had that tense, grating quality, like a first-generation thermal paper fax machine that needed a band tightened.
  • It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
  • Every minute without you feels like 60 seconds.

Several times during the day, Julie goes into me-time, and just sits quietly intently reading books.  Sometimes she entertains herself like this quietly, and sometimes she 'reads' aloud (I've got a video!).  Sometimes she does this for over 30 minutes.  Sometimes she sits on the potty (with or without her pants on) and every once in a while, she gets herself into a tent while reading.  Her love of tents is close to my heart.

This from just 10 minutes ago.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

canned tomatoes

Had you heard?  Canned tomatoes (in aluminum cans) have BPA.  This evidently rocked the Internet world in 2009, but I missed it: 7 Foods Experts Won't Eat.

Apparently the lining of cans (which is necessary so that the aluminum doesn't seep into our foods) has BPA.  This does not pose a significant problem with all canned foods, but acidic foods, such as tomatoes, increase the rate at which BPA seeps into the food.  My research (*cough* *cough*...browsing of the Internet) has led me to suspect that a small amount of this for adults is probably not a big deal.  But for those under 6, experts are very wary of this.  This article (point #3) stated that kids' bodies have a harder time processing the toxins of BPA than adults.

Now, here's the thing.  I'm trying to live more health-fully while not being too bowled over by the "food-scare" that seems to be ravaging the Internet.  With a grain of salt if you catch my drift. But here's what happened.
About a week ago I used a bunch of canned tomatoes to make my own spaghetti sauce (yummy, cheap).  The tomatoes were in tomato juice, and I saved all the liquid in the cans, because there was plenty to make cream of tomato soup.  Last Saturday I made soup, following a recipe I regularly make which calls for tomato juice.  Julie enjoyed it as always.  She had it for lunch on Saturday and leftovers on Sunday. 
Both afternoons, a few hours after eating, Julie developed rashes.  On Saturday they were all over her legs.  She's never had rashes before.  She has no allergies, she had had nothing new to eat, and she wasn't hot.  At the time, I only hoped they'd go away and it would be no big deal.
But on Sunday evening I learned about about BPA in canned tomatoes, and started my research.  It just adds up.  That tomato soup has an awful lot of tomato in it (far more being eaten in one sitting than if I use canned tomatoes for chili, or salsa, or pasta sauce).  And Julie is just a little girl, and she'd be more affected by BPA.  It just makes sense to me that the rashes were a result of the soup, which had BPA.
I'm sorry it happened, but it is pretty wild to have mysterious toxins that I can't see or taste and don't even know if I really trust the 'experts' of their danger, then be confirmed as harmful before my eyes.

Monday, February 25, 2013

oj. what a day.

Today I reached a new threshold of motherhood.

In case you'd care to relive the story (and you might not; read at your own risk), here's what happened.

Within the span of 30 minutes this morning...

1) I help Julie take off her sleeper, and she plays happily and then decided she wanted her diaper off too. She gets it (disposable) off by herself (only pee) and I take it, thinking no big deal; air-time is good.

2) Several minute later she's playing happily with balls. She goes behind the couch, gets quiet, and as I realize what's happening, it happens: an enormous poo falls out. Thankfully on the wood floor.

3) She is horrified at what she's done, and I try to encourage her that it's fine, her pooping is nothing to be sad about...hoping to help her make the connection between the action and the result.  [potty training may commence soon]

4) As I'm doing that a little one comes out in another spot on the floor.

5) Now she's got poo on her butt, and some on her ankle, so I scoop her up and throw her in the tub. I manage to spray her clean with the shower hose, and she asks for a bath. I wasn't planning on it, but I think, 'oh what the heck, why not?'

why not.

6) I let the water start to fill up and when there's a millimeter or two in the tub I run with a paper towel to pick up the poop from the dining room floor. I've got it in my hands and I peak in the bathroom to make sure she's OK.  She's distressed.

7) I leave the poop on the washing machine when I see that she's pooped in the tub; she's horrified again. (this is my first poo-in-bath-water-experience too...)   I scoop her out and carry her to the changing table.

8) Wipes. Diaper. Set her down.

9) Clean the bath tub.

10) Start to dress poor babes. Realize it smells.

11) Yes, there is another poop in the cloth diaper, so i get yet another privilege of cleaning some damp poo stuck to the diaper in the toilet.

12) Julie is fully dressed, in a clean cloth diaper, playing.  I hope that's the end of the story.


It's not.  Twice after lunch Julie has little tiny throw ups, which are directly after eating something I told her not to.  Fuj.  (dirt, and some unknown -scary- food article that I was cleaning off our stovetop)   Not big deals.  

Julie hadn't really eaten lunch, and then she had thrown up whatever was in her tummy.  But she was acting tired (and she's sick with a cold), so I put her down for a nap.  Just when I was thinking she must be sleeping, she let out an unusual upset and panicked cry.   She'd thrown up in her crib, down her sleep sack.  And she wasn't finished.  

Thankfully, clean up is relatively simple.  Scoop up sheet and water-proof mat.  It didn't touch stuffed animals.  Take off her clothes. Start laundry.  We wipe her face, brush her teeth, She's chipper and happy, not acting tired at all.  

At this point I'm ready to turn in this day for a new one. 

I gave Juls crackers and water.  And she was happily eating and drinking while I was skyping, when I noticed the all-to-familiar body posture. Thankfully, I slid the computer out of the way.  Julie threw up all over us and the carpet.  Poor kid.  Another laundry basket full of dirty clothes awaiting its turn.  This time Julie was really tired, and after being cleaned up, she fell asleep.  

The thing is, this only begins to give a feel for the day I've had.  I started the day with almost every pot and pan dirty.  The stove and counter was unusually dirty.  There was the regular laundry load.  And the reorganizing of the bookshelf that Julie had demolished on Saturday.  And the re-potting fiasco I unnecessarily (but therapeutically) put myself through today. [Hence the eating of dirt.] 

Now I am sitting down in a relatively clean home, while pizza dough is rising, enjoying tea and chocolate.  Thankful for clean clothes, a working washing machine, and that this day won't last forever.  It's really not so bad.  And I handled the situations calmly, cleaned the messes, and gave Julie comfort.  I did it on my own, without too much difficulty.  It's just that when you experience things like this in your day, you really want to share them with someone--an adult preferably.  You would turn to a co-worker if something crazy like this happened at work.  But when you're a stay-at-home-parent, you generally have to process it all by yourself.  So it's easy to turn to the Internet.  I understand why moms so often post statuses and blogs, etc.:  because we're constantly experiencing new things and weathering new challenges for which we have had little-to-no training for.  And we crave an outlet and a place to process and get feedback too.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I'm a die hard pancake fan.  I've been loyal to my buttermilk pancake recipe all these years, never thinking I'd meet another pancake I'd rather make.

And today I converted: Sour Cream Pancakes.
These are delicious.