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Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I love Google Analytics. I had prevented my site from being in the search engines for a while, but I couldn’t resist finding out how people would find me. I allowed my site back into the search engines and installed Google Analytics nearly a year ago.

I check it almost every day, though I’m most interested in seeing what searches land strangers on my page. These searches have resulted in a ton of hits for some posts. I’m not saying that these are my best posts by any means…just the ones that get the most hits.

Here’s the top 10 blog posts (from least popular to most popular):
10. Changes in Girl Scout Cookies – I received a good number of searches around Girl Scout cookie time for things like “changed tagalongs” and “did the girl scouts change the recipe for tagalongs” and other similar searches. I wonder whether I’ll have similar searches around Girl Scout cookie time next year.

9. Maddie’s cute little feet – I’m not sure why I waited so long to write a post about Maddie’s underdeveloped left foot. I know that I personally spent HOURS searching the internet in the hopes that I would find similar abnormalities in other children to help me understand. I did not find much. I get searches for this one at random times for things like “underdeveloped feet baby,” “child with different sized feet,” “underdeveloped feet in young babies,” and “will different sized child feet even out.” I hope that some other parents can find a little of what they are looking for in this post.

8. How many of these children’s books can you name? – I created a quiz for my friend Melisa’s book themed baby shower. It turned out nicely! I get some searches like “book quiz with answer.” I don’t see a ton of obvious searches that would land people on this page, so it is surprising that it was so popular. I think I had more of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers following the blog link than usual, perhaps.

7. Maddie’s Birthday Party at Daycare photos – For some reason, I get a lot of hits for “daycare birthday party” and similar. I guess that people are looking for ideas of what they can do at daycare for their child’s birthdays? At any rate, I get a good number of these searches, making this post the 7th most popular one.

6. My first big lesson in parenting: never say never – I get some searches for this one about co-sleeping, but I think most of my traffic came from my friend Ann‘s blog when she referred to my post. This is the post where I admitted that I was NEVER going to have my baby in the bed with me. How wrong I was! The weirdest search that landed someone on this page was “dairy-free breaded chicken.”

5. Concert Review: Mannheim Steamroller – I decided to do something different and post a review of the Mannheim Steamroller show that I saw as part of my annual Christmas date with Audrey. I had no idea that so many people were interested in it! Around Christmastime, I had sometimes a dozen searches with people looking for reviews on Mannheim Steamroller shows. I’m wondering if this post will be just as popular around December this year.

4. Maddie’s Hives – This one could end up being the most popular post ever, considering how recent it is and how high it ranks already. I get numerous searches involving hives, including things like “102 fever and hives,” “hives in the morning,” “hives with fever,” “penicillin allergy hives pictures,” and “pictures of penicillin allergy hives.” A few searches on “cefdinar” show up in the logs as well.

3. Melisa’s Baby Shower photos – This one is a bit surprising. Many people find it with generic searches such as “baby shower photos,” “my baby shower photos,” and “friend’s baby shower photos.” Maybe these people are potential shower hosts and are looking for ideas. I’m really surprised, however, by the number of people that have searches containing Melisa’s name (considering the unique spelling). I have seen searches such as “melisa shower” and “melisa baby.” The funniest that I have seen are “melisa archives” (they were probably disappointed considering that it is probably not the archives they were looking for), “melisa babe” (I’m starting to think she has a secret admirer), and my personal favorite “melisa in the shower” (now I KNOW she has a stalker).

2. Animal Crossing: City Folk – These searches have been getting less lately, but for a while I had a flurry of activity with people wanting to know all sorts of things about Animal Crossing. I’m planning to write a separate post eventually to serve as a sort of resource (mostly linking to legitimate resources). People want to know tips and tricks with the game, but my post was more or less a review.

1. 25 Random Things About Me – And the winner goes to…the Facebook viral activity. Around the time that the list was really popular, I got tons of hits daily. Interestingly my follow-up post didn’t receive quite as many hits. These searches started the day after I posted it and continued strongly for a few weeks. It tapered off gradually after that. I would expect this post to fall in the ranks eventually, but for now it has been the most popular post on the blog. The searches in this case were quite obvious, all variations on “25 random things about me.”

Night weaning the co-sleeper

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Gabe and I had come to several conclusions about co-sleeping, night nursing, and sleep in general. We felt like night weaning was necessary, but we didn’t want to make any changes before our cruise in May. We decided to take on the challenge during the first free weekend that we had after the cruise.

After several weeks of the new routine, things are looking quite promising. If you’re a regular reader, you should be well aware that Maddie is not the best sleeper. Up until recently, I have pretty much posted as a separate post each time that she has slept more than 6 hours in the past year! Let’s just say that these posts have in no way cluttered up the blog.

The first week of night weaning was rough. I had done quite a bit of reading on the subject, and one of the suggestions is to remove Mommy from the nighttime equation. Dr. Sears was one who makes this recommendation. So, I slept on the couch for that first week (and maybe almost one more week after that).

The first night involved quite a bit of loud crying when she awoke as usual at 11pm. We weren’t going to fight the co-sleeping battle at the same time (not to mention that the co-sleeping isn’t an issue exactly…the NOT sleeping is our issue. The constant nursing has recently been a bit of a problem as well.). Gabe would bring Maddie to the bed as usual, but I was unavailable. Maddie was not thrilled about this, and she cried and cried for Mommy. It was difficult for all of us since I was not far away in the other room. Gabe was finally able to get her back to sleep, and she woke several times throughout the night looking for me and crying about it. I joined the family in the bed at around 6am, which is a suitable time for nursing. Maddie nursed quite a bit at this point.

The next night, I was on the couch again and Maddie cried a little less when Daddy brought her to bed. I had my first night terror in a LONG time and was convinced that the couch was an unsafe place to continue my night (I couldn’t convince myself that the big spider that I saw wasn’t in my imagination, though I’m almost sure that it was). I went to the bed, and a little while later I had another night terror. This time I was pretty sure that the same (or similar) spider crawled over Maddie onto Gabe. I have no idea how I was able to convince myself that it was a night terror and my imagination and NOT REAL. But I did, despite the fact that I thought it entirely possible that the spider had gotten trapped in my hair and followed me to the bed. I tried to push that thought away in my head and went back to sleep.

Maddie woke up several times, and it was rough to deny her requests to nurse. She cried a lot. I tried to comfort her in other ways. I told her that we would nurse when the sun comes up. I held her off until the light came through the windows. Things went a lot smoother when I was on the couch. She was upset the previous night, but not as upset as she was when I was there and I denied her requests to nurse! Oh, and on top of the two night terrors, I dreamed that the whole family was in a plane crash (fortunately, we somehow survived as we crashed on water and we were trying to figure out how to get off of the plane and into the rafts). Can you say stressful!?

Maddie nursed a lot at 6am, and she also nursed more than usual during the day on both Saturday and Sunday (we started on Friday night).

The third night, Gabe and I went to a movie while Aunt Kristin babysat. We were shocked when we came home and found Kristin in the living room without Maddie! When Kristin took her to her room, Maddie requested to be put in the crib. Kristin patted Maddie for a few minutes, and she went to sleep. We were even more shocked when she didn’t wake for almost 6 hours!!! She had not done that in ages. I slept on the couch, and Maddie didn’t even cry when Gabe took her to the bed. We were starting to see definite progress, but we weren’t ready to get our hopes up just yet. Once again, I joined the bed at 6am and Maddie nursed a lot.

We encountered some setbacks over the next few nights as our efforts were poorly timed. She FINALLY cut her 3rd tooth and seems like she may be getting the 4th at any moment. A few nights were rough due to the teething, presumably.

After those few awful days, we got into a routine. Maddie was fairly easily soothed by Daddy when waking up and coming to the bed. At first, she woke up in the crib and was ready for our bed around the same time as usual, shortly before midnight. She threw in a few 5 and 6 hour stretches for good measure and even a few 7 hour stretches. Things have certainly been improving. About two weeks into the night weaning, she slept a miraculous 10 hours straight! She has not repeated this feat, but we finally have hope.

Aside from last week’s midweek fever and ear infection (awful, awful nights), her worst nights have involved a 5 hour stretch of sleep. This may not sound like much to many of you, but for Maddie this is huge. She’s added more 7 hour stretches to her record. Sometimes, we have to go upstairs and pat her once or twice to get her back to sleep, but this was something that wasn’t even possible two months ago. Usually if she woke up, she would not accept any answer except “take me to your bed.” Attempting to pat her back to sleep and get her back into the crib resulted in a Maddie who wanted to stay awake for two hours. It typically wasn’t worth the risk.

She has been difficult to get to sleep initially on many nights. For example, as I am writing this Gabe is upstairs putting Maddie to bed, and she is protesting (I’ll likely schedule this to post on a different day as I usually do!). She’s very tired and needs her sleep, but she fights it very hard!

She doesn’t ask to nurse when she gets into the bed, and I’m able to sleep in my bed all night (hooray!). She sometimes wants to be very, very close to me (even laying on my chest like she did when she was a newborn), especially when she’s sick. Other times, she doesn’t even seem to know that I’m there! I’m not complaining one bit about the co-sleeping. I know I’ll miss it when she sleeps the entire night in her crib, but I’m not going to complain either. For now, I’m happy to get some extra sleep and my morning snuggles. It’s a very sweet compromise.

Unsolicited Parenting Advice

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I’ve been reading some Cruise Critic boards, getting some last minute advice on cruising with a toddler. I find it very annoying the number of people giving “advice” who have no experience with cruising with toddlers. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the unsolicited parenting advice that brave posters receive in response to asking questions about cruising with little ones. It still makes me angry.

I’ve learned a few things in the past 14 months. I think the biggest lesson that I have learned is that I don’t know what it is like for another family. I had enough preconceived notions about what my child would be like and what my parenting would be like before I was even pregnant to realize how wrong I was to judge other people’s parenting.

Following is some of the “advice” that I have seen from unhelpful, rude, and uninformed posters (and my comments about it):

In answer to the title of your post – IMO “yes”.

This was in response to a poster who said, “Am I crazy?” with regards to taking a toddler on a cruise – the entirety of the response. How is this a helpful reply? True, perhaps the original poster opened herself up to this type of criticism, but this really seems like a worthless response to me.

I hate to say it but YES!! I have seen many miserable parents on a cruise. It is too much money to be miserable. When you are out of your routine and element then they tend to be cranky. They don’t usually like the beach yet.

So, this person claims that they have seen miserable parents on cruises. This is slightly more helpful than the last response, but it still isn’t all that helpful. Why were they miserable? Did the parents have realistic expectations? Did they think that they could drop their toddler off at the childcare services all day and were mistaken? Did they think that they could take their non-potty trained toddler for a swim in the pool? Did they expect to do everything they would have wanted to do without kids? It’s not the same as cruising without kids, obviously, and one has to have realistic expectations. The parents have to make a judgment call on whether or not their child will be able to handle being out of routine. They are the ones to decide if a “working vacation” is worth the trouble and expense. Most of all, they have to realize that yes, this is a “working vacation.” If you want to go on a cruise with a toddler, you’re not going to be relaxing by the pool, sipping margaritas all day. The same responsibilities you have at home will be true but to a greater extent on the vacation with unfamiliar places and hazards and uncontrollable changes to the schedule.

I would leave her with Grandma and get spoiled while you and your husband go on the cruise and get spoiled.

I can’t tell you how many times I see people who say “leave your child with grandparents and go by yourselves.” Everyone is different, but if someone is asking about taking their child, have you ever considered that they WANT to take their child with them on vacation? Or perhaps they have NO OTHER OPTIONS. Personally, we have no interest in leaving Maddie with anyone overnight at this point in her life (nor it is a possibility with our sleep issues). If we’re going on a vacation, she’s going with us. Furthermore, while she’s on vacation with us, we want to spend time with her. When we go on our cruise in September, my parents and sister and brother-in-law will be there. We may or may not get a few hours here and there to ourselves, but for the most part, we expect to be spending time with our daughter. Even if she was officially old enough for “kids’ club,” there’s no way that I’d leave her with strangers on a boat with who knows what qualifications. She’s too young. The same goes for the in cabin babysitting services. I don’t trust many people I do know with my daughter…why would I leave her in the hands of a complete stranger with dubious qualifications?

Frankly, it sounds like it might be time to pop her off the nipple (figuratively). I’ve generally found that children who don’t do well without their parents are that way because their parents never let them go.

The original poster expressed that she did not expect to use the kids’ camp services for her two year old, stating that she stays at home with her child and that she’s not accustomed to being in the care of strangers. She specifically was soliciting advice from people who had cruised with young children in the past, and this is one of the responses that she gets? Ridiculous. She did NOT ask for parenting advice, she asked for advice from experienced parents who had cruised with their toddlers. I can’t believe how rude that this person was to respond in this way.

I think, as others have said, if you can stand to have her right up on you 24/7 then take her. The only part of this I see is selfish is having your friends babysit because the child has such stranger/separation anxiety that she cannot be left in Camp Carnival. I love my friends to death, and love their kids, but there is NO WAY, NO WAY, did I mention NO WAY I would take time out of a trip I had to pay for out of my pocket to watch their kids–not even for a minute!! Especially if it was because the kid has separation anxiety (which is taught btw, children aren’t born with it). That being said, there are some parents who want to be with their kids 24/7 (though I guess that is not you since you want the friends to babysit), and power be to them, but I personally cannot fathom taking a 2 year old on a cruise, especially one who absolutely could not leave my side. Where is God’s name is the relaxation in that???? However, if you want to go for a non R&R trip and can leave the babysitting friends aside (it is not their responsibility to ensure you have alone time, no matter how much they say “they don’t mind, really”) and can spend 24/7 with your daughter, then hey, it is YOUR money, do with it as you will.

What the heck is wrong with these people??? This is in response to the same post above where the original poster asked for advice from experienced parents. She stated that they were traveling with friends – they aren’t asking the friends to babysit, the parents will take turns to hang out with the kid individually while the other joins the friends. And seriously with the separation anxiety – it’s a developmental milestone. All kids go through separation anxiety. It’s a healthy part of their development. I see no reason to push their limits when on a cruise. The original poster sounded like they had very reasonable expectations. She did not once complain about the fact that she would be with her daughter at all times. She just made it clear what her expectations were going to be – for the most part, they would be with their 2-year-old constantly. She was a little apprehensive, but she wasn’t seeking attacks on her parenting. I’m sure she would welcome positive or negative advice from those who actually have cruised with small children. Unfortunately, many decided to criticize her parenting based on a few, small details about her upcoming vacation.

Sounds like it would be a great vacation with the little one………NOT!!

May I suggest you leave her at home to get used to being away from you so you can enjoy some time alone and not subject others in the dining room to her whining and tantrums.

Another “leave your kid at home” post that’s also a bit rude. I know that not everyone is courteous about their kids’ tantrums, but if Maddie is unhappy in the dining room, she will be taken outside. We expect things to not go smoothly every moment, and we are prepared to take turns eating our dinner if necessary. This is another fact about cruising with a young child that we are prepared to accept.

Cruising with an “easy” toddler is one thing, but this one sounds like anything BUT.

This was another poster’s entire response. Um, from the description by the original poster, the toddler in question sounds pretty much like an average toddler. Nobody said that toddlers were easy.

All of those were from the same thread, in addition to some back and forth replies defending the original poster after some of these rude remarks. Fortunately, she was able to get some more helpful replies from people who have done it and loved it. One replied to say that they did it, but that they wouldn’t do it again. It sounds like from their description that they had unrealistic expectations, thinking that they would have “alone” time on the cruise with their spouse. Another traveled with their sister’s kids and was disappointed by the inconvenience posed by having the kids – this may be an issue with how much the parents expected other family members to “help.” Many people replied to say that they have wonderful memories of their family vacations with toddlers. The biggest piece of advice that I hear over and over is to have realistic expectations. I think that is the key. It’s not for everyone, but not everyone wants the same thing out of cruising. On our last cruise, one of the ladies on the cruise had a four-figure bar tab (she bragged about it). Every time we saw her, she was extremely drunk. Obviously, her goals with a cruise are quite a bit different than ours! I was pregnant on the cruise, but even if I wasn’t, it’s not crazy to think I would have gone the entire cruise without a single drink. We were more likely to be up before 8am (despite the fact that we’re NOT morning people) than we were to stay up past midnight. Just because you want to party for a week doesn’t mean that everyone else has the same agenda. Anyway, that’s not really the point of the post. I was just annoyed by the types of responses that people were getting and wanted to vent!

A Little Note about a Big Milestone

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

I was nervous today since Gabe has a fantasy baseball draft that will take most of the day. Considering that I have my own activities once or twice a month, I think it’s great that he has some of his own things. I was worried, though, since he would be gone during Maddie’s naptime. For many months, Gabe has been in charge of getting Maddie to sleep in the crib for naps and the first “nap” of the night. The last time that I tried to get her to sleep in the crib, I failed miserably. She just doesn’t separate from me as easily as she does from Gabe, and I don’t know that I have as much patience as Gabe has with the process. She was a little fussy this morning and needed to go down for the nap before Gabe left. I took Maddie up to her crib, laid her down in it, and patted her to sleep for 10-15 minutes. IT TOTALLY WORKED. I couldn’t believe it, and I was so excited. I feel like a little bit of stress has been lifted from me. I have always worried about Gabe not being here for naptimes or in the evening, and I now feel a bit more confident! We both feel like her daycare routine has helped immensely with this as well. Since she is moving to the next classroom very soon, I’m curious to see whether her sleeping will improve even more. I’m pretty sure that this means I’ll be sharing the responsibility of getting Maddie to sleep. The next step will be to get someone other than her teachers and parents to put her to bed…

More random things about me

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I felt inspired to write another list. I am really enjoying reading everyone’s lists on Facebook!!! They keep making me think of more things that I could have written, so I’m going to do it. It’s my blog, and I’ll do what I want. So, I’ve decided to post another 25 Random Things About Me.

  1. I’m excited that Gabe is actually working on his 25 things list. I really didn’t think that he would. I can’t wait to see what he has on his list!
  2. I like dogs…other people’s dogs. I have fond memories of my childhood dogs, and I enjoy my parents and sister’s dogs. I do not want my own dogs. I don’t want the responsibility of a pet. Cats are out of the question as I am allergic.
  3. I could *possibly* be convinced to get a small dog later for my kids, but I’m not planning on it. I know that no matter what they say, I’ll be the one that has to take care of it.
  4. If we get a gerbil, I will make sure that we get ONE gerbil or two same sex gerbils. My sister had gerbils when we were younger. We started with two. We ended up with hundreds of gerbils over the years. At one point, my sister’s room had over 120 gerbils. I’m not exaggerating. True story.
  5. I took art lessons when I was a kid. I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, just like my Aunt Frances. I still have a few pieces of my artwork.
  6. I also thought it would be cool to be an archaeologist. The digs and study of ancient people sounded neat to me. I’m way more fascinated with ancient history than modern history.
  7. Around the time that I was training for the triathlon, I decided to be a vegetarian. It felt healthier. I can’t remember how long this lasted, but I want to say it was around a year or so.
  8. According to the Myers Briggs personality test, I’m always an extreme extrovert – almost 100% on their little scale. This does not mean that I like public speaking or to be put on the spot in any situation unless I’m very prepared and know exactly what I’m going to say. I cringe when everyone has to introduce themselves and say a few words in a large group setting and desperately hope I don’t have to go first.
  9. The only time that I have spent the night in the hospital in my adult life (aside from giving birth to Maddie) was last year for my kidney stone when I was 8 months pregnant. I missed my own baby shower, though I hear it was awesome.
  10. I said multiple times that I would never, ever co-sleep with my child as recently as when Maddie was 4 months old. Maddie spends the majority of the night in our bed. It works great for our family, though I look forward to when Maddie regularly sleeps through the night. For now, I’m enjoying the extra closeness that I have with my daughter.
  11. I started having intermittent night terrors in college. I think that I will save this for a separate post. It’s kinda like a combination between sleep walking, talking in your sleep, and a panic attack.
  12. New Zealand, Greece, Egypt, and Italy are near the top of my travel list. I think it would be neat to go to Antarctica, though I doubt that I will. I would like to see most of Europe. The only countries outside of the US that I have visited are Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico. Mexico barely counts as I only crossed the border into Tijuana.
  13. I want to see the world, but I am a little nervous about visiting non-English speaking countries without some sort of guide or tour. I am also scared to drive a car in a foreign country.
  14. I have a fear of heights especially when there’s an open railing or floor to ceiling glass. Somehow I have always loved rollercoasters, airplanes never bothered me until recently, and I’ve done those really high free fall and swing things that you see at amusement parks. I’ll have to admit that those scared me every time, but it was awesome! After the third time, the falling was not as exciting and not worth the fear and anticipation. I won’t do it again. Somehow, I walked on the glass floor at the CN tower and even laid face down and looked at the tiny people below me. It was a little scary, but I had to trust the engineering. I loved rappelling the few times that I have tried it. I want to try bungee jumping, hot air ballooning, and skydiving, but I might be too chicken. Time will tell.
  15. I laugh easily. I’m not a bad person to have around if you need someone to laugh at your jokes. I might be a bad person to have around if you don’t like people laughing at you now and again. I can’t help it. I find a vast array of things to be funny.
  16. I’m particular about where I need to sit at a table in a restaurant. I think I need to face the majority of the restaurant with special emphasis on the exits. It’s more complicated than that, but I think that’s the general idea. I also have a strong preference for which bed and side of the bed to sleep on in a hotel room. For both, I feel unease if I’m not in the right spot.
  17. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the fall colors and temperature change.
  18. I have never broken any bones. I am a little superstitious about stating this. Guess I better knock on wood.
  19. I will pick up pennies (or any coins, really) that I see on the ground as long as they are showing heads. I admit to occasionally kicking coins until they flip over so that they are safe to pick up.
  20. I make every effort to not walk under ladders or step on cracks, yet I have no issues with the number 13. My birthday is on the 13th. Friday the 13th does not phase me.
  21. I have a hitchhiker’s thumb. My thumbs bend backwards a full 90 degrees. This sometimes creeps people out a little bit. One day, Gabe got very concerned about what had happened to Maddie’s thumbs. Turns out that she also has the hitchhiker’s thumb. Awesome!
  22. I can not only roll my tongue, but I can cloverleaf it as well.
  23. I owned a Galaga classic upright arcade game for almost 6 years. It got to be a bit flaky, and I didn’t know anything about fixing old arcade games. I sold it before we sold the old house. I miss it. I would have kept it much longer if it had functioned properly.
  24. I wrote my first computer programs when I was 6 years old. I wrote programs throughout my grade school years in BASIC, LOGO (go turtle go!), and later Visual Basic. It didn’t occur to me to pursue a career in computer science until I toured the computer science department at NC State’s Open House as a senior in high school.
  25. I met my friend Melissa in 3rd grade. We became friends after I asked her on a bathroom break if she would be my best friend. Life was simple then. Her family brainwashed me into being an NC State fan. Melissa and I decided in 4th grade that we were both going to go to NC State and we were going to be roommates. About nine years later, we did just that. We’ve been friends now for about 25 years!

How did we survive?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Tonight, I was browsing through my notebook. The one that I used when Maddie was a newborn to keep track of her feedings, mostly. The one that I used to jot down fleeting thoughts and diaper information. I’m glad that I kept this notebook, and it really puts things in perspective, especially on a night like tonight! We had a rough time getting her to bed tonight, but nothing compares to the first few weeks. Everyone said it would be hard. Everyone said that we wouldn’t get any sleep. But nobody told us what life would be like with a colicky baby who refuses to sleep. Everyone mentioned the constant feedings, but it just didn’t register until it was time to do it. I think there’s no way to get it until you have the baby. And every baby is different, of course, so nobody can tell you what it is going to be like for you. I knew it was going to be hard, yet it was 100 times harder than anything I imagined. I had encountered sleep deprivation in the past, but I never experienced sleep deprivation for so many consecutive days. And pregnancy emotions are nothing compared to postpartum emotions, yikes! I had a few breakdowns in the early months.

To give you an idea of what I mean when I say that the baby demands constant feeding in the early days, I nursed Maddie a total of 19 times on February 25th – Maddie’s 4th full day. The total amount of time spent nursing was almost 7 hours. 7 hours! That time represents the amount of time that Maddie was actually latched on and does not take into account getting prepared or convincing her to latch or trying to get her awake enough to feed. It doesn’t take into account the diaper changes, which we had to do pretty much at every feeding and then some. Exhausting does not even begin to describe it.

So how did we survive? It had a little something to do with this little angel (this photo taken a few days after bringing her home – she’s so tiny!). Just one look at her, and suddenly it was all worth it.

Our Snug Tuck Pillow

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

I mentioned a while back that we had ordered a Snug Tuck Pillow to keep Maddie safe while co-sleeping. As I said in Maddie’s 7-month letter, we love it! We are so much more comfortable with her safety when she’s in the bed with us (which is the majority of the night).

What’s sweeter than sleeping next to this little angel? The Snug Tuck Pillow is pictured here behind her. It matches our sheets pretty well, doesn’t it?

Happy 7 Months, Madeline!

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Maddie turned 7 months yesterday. I wrote this letter late last night, but I wanted to take time to add the photos today. Enjoy this installment of the Letters to Maddie series. (more…)

Mothers and More

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

I’ve mentioned that I enjoy the community in the nursing room at work, and I find myself interested in associating and socializing with other moms. My friend, Ann, recommended Mothers & More. I have attended two meetings so far. The first one was a Games Night – perfect for me, right? The meeting was smaller than I anticipated, but it was nice that everyone could play one game together. We had a good time playing Taboo. I had a bit of guilt going to this meeting since it required us to leave for our Gatlinburg trip pretty late. Plus, since Maddie’s evenings are generally full of fussiness, I felt guilty leaving a screaming baby with Gabe. She was very upset for over an hour of the meeting. Gabe was a very stressed Daddy by the time I rescued him!

I think that something like the mothers group is a very good outlet for me (as is the book club!). The group offers a variety of activities in addition to the meetings twice a month. These activities include moms-only outings, playgroups, family picnics, and a book club. Once I get a better handle on my reading (still trying to finish Pillars of the Earth and start and finish When You Are Engulfed in Flames before next Wednesday), then I think I would like to attempt a second book club.

One of the things that I really like about Mothers and More is that they seem to be very accepting of differing parenting styles and choices. Both the stay at home mom and the works-outside-of-the-home mom seem to be equally respected. Personality differences are embraced, which brings me to the topic of last night’s meeting: Your Personality, Your Parenting Style. This was one of the topics that caught my attention, especially since I wrestle with various parenting issues and my identity as a parent.

I was excited when I found out that we would be talking about our Myers Briggs Personality types. I’ve done this with groups multiple times in the past, and I always enjoy it. Every time that I have tested, I have been ESFJ. I’m about 50/50 on the F/T, but I have leanings towards the F. I’m close to the middle with the N/S, as well, but I’m a pretty strong J and a really strong E. Surprise, surprise. According to the handout that we had at the meeting, here’s a little more about my personality type:

Practical HARMONIZER and worker-with people; sociable, orderly, opinionated; conscientious, realistic and well tuned to the here and now.

I enjoyed talking about personality types from the perspective of how it applies to your parenting style. The speaker went through each of the indicators, and we discussed the strengths and weaknesses for each one as well as tips for that type. For example, one of the strengths of the extroverted mom is that she’s happy to be in the midst of activity with kids (classes, sports, etc). This definitely applies to me! I am looking forward to all the fun activities and lessons and sports that Maddie will do in the coming years, as you probably guessed from her early swimming lessons. One of the weaknesses of the extroverted mom was that she tends to overextend herself (so true!). One of the tips was to have a “stay at home” day. I have been thinking lately that this would be a great idea for me! I tend to want to schedule things and plan social activities and trips and active things, but sometimes I just need some time to relax. We went through all of the indicators in this fashion with a list of strengths, weaknesses, and tips for each one.

Last night, the meeting went quite well and Maddie and Daddy ran some errands while Mommy was in the meeting. Maddie stayed in a good mood the whole time, and she elicited a variety of compliments and small talk on their adventures together. I don’t think that Gabe will want to go shopping for every Mothers and More event, but it worked out quite well this time! Maddie didn’t have her classic meltdowns, hooray!

For those who may be interested, our local chapter of Mothers and More is having an open house on October 21st. Prospective members can also attend a few regular meetings before deciding whether they want to join for a yearly fee.

A New Monthly Challenge: Healthier Living

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Now that we have the responsibility of raising a child, we are looking at our own habits to see what we need to improve. I thought that in addition to our Green Challenge, we could start a Healthier Living Challenge. I’m thinking that this can be a variety of things – eating healthier, introducing a new healthy recipe, or exercising, for example. The first challenge is something we’ve been doing for the past 2 months. We are no longer purchasing any groceries that contain high fructose corn syrup. Adding this to the dairy free restriction has definitely been a challenge. We carefully read just about every label before placing them in our shopping cart!

Here are a few foods that do not contain high fructose corn syrup or dairy (and I know that some of these products are not the healthiest or necessary, but that’s for another month):

Heinz Organic Ketchup: This is the only brand and type of ketchup in our local Harris Teeter store that does not contain high fructose corn syrup. The taste is a little different than normal ketchup. Surprisingly, it seems a little sweeter! I think it’s one of those things that you don’t notice the difference unless you’re comparing the tastes one after the other. We started using this in our Stuffed Bell Peppers recipe and now use it for all of our ketchuping needs.

Thomas’ Square Bagelbread: It’s a challenge to find bread that does not contain milk products or high fructose corn syrup! We have found the tasty Thomas’ Square Bagelbread and love the wheat and everything varieties. Neither contain dairy or high fructose corn syrup. They have been perfect for sandwiches, hamburgers, and breakfast or snacks (the wheat variety with a little non-dairy “butter” and cinnamon sugar, yum!).

Spicy Sweet Chili Doritoes: Snacking is one of our weaknesses. We will possibly address this in a future month, but for now our snack options are at least somewhat limited. I was disappointed to find that Wheat Thins (I love the Sundried Tomato variety) have high fructose corn syrup. I was surprised to find that all Doritos fit our new criteria! I was also excited to find that they have at least one non-dairy variety: Spicy Sweet Chili. As far as I know, this is the only one. This has been great for road trips as junk food seems to be a necessity when I’m driving… Many chips and crackers have high fructose corn syrup, so at least our snacking choices are somewhat healthier now.

Paul Newman Marinades: The majority of dressings and marinades contain high fructose corn syrup. We had to stop buying our favorite marinades and search for new ones. We found that all of the Paul Newman marinades were free of high fructose corn syrup. We haven’t checked the dressings, but I’m guessing that those may be free of it as well. The ones we have tried have been quite tasty so far!

The Immaculate Baking Company’s Better Bakes Ready-to-Bake Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough: We found these in Harris Teeter one day before our avoidance of high fructose corn syrup. I’m not sure if other cookie brands contain hfcs, but the exciting thing about this particular cookie dough brand is that they are dairy free! I’m not sure if all of their varieties are dairy free, but I was excited and surprised to find a chocolate chip cookie that fit our restrictions. Yum!

Quaker Simple Harvest & Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars: We have granola bars for snacks and breakfast-on-the-go all the time at our house. I was disappointed when I found out that the regular ones that we used to get not only contained dairy products but also high fructose corn syrup. We have since discovered Quaker Simple Harvest granola bars. They even have a chocolate chunk variety that does not contain dairy! We love these! The Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars also have varieties that are both dairy and high fructose corn syrup free.