6 Months

{ Wednesday, December 30, 2009 }
I can't believe we're parents of a six month old; where has the time gone? Someone said to me recently that the days are long and the hours are short and I couldn't agree more. While I've been busy with the minutiae of diapers, feedings, naps and baths, the bean has been growing up! Six months is an incredibly meaningful milestone to me, for an important reason and for no reason at all. The reason is similar to the one that had me letting out a sigh of relief when I passed the 25 week gestation mark of my pregnancy. I knew that there was never a time when I would be guaranteed that everything would go well, but passing that viability mark made me breathe a bit easier. When the bean was a newborn, I drew a similar line at 6 months. The risk of SIDS drops off significantly after 6 months, so this half-year birthday is a huge milestone in my mind because of that. I also say that there's no reason because I'm very aware that there are many other things to worry about and I'm just beginning to understand that I will be filled with worry over this little one for the rest of my life. Still, it feels good to pass this milestone and check this worry off my list.

At six months, the bean is sitting like a pro! No more wobbling and she rarely topples over--usually its just when she's tired or over-reaching for something. She is not able to pull herself up to sitting, but she lifts her head, kicks her feet and tries so hard to that it may not be long now.

The bean is also not crawling, but she's starting to experiment with pulling herself up on her hands and knees. She lifts up into that position and then looks around as though she's trying to decide what to do next, then flops back down on her belly. She is definitely getting better at rolling and has added a breakdancing-like belly spin to her repertoire which has really helped her accurately get where she wants to go. Because of this, she is into everything!

Once she learned how to roll, she wouldn't tolerate being put on her back and would put herself on her belly any chance she got. Once her sitting got better, she would complain when we didn't help her to sit and lately its the same with standing. She wants to be helped up in a standing position all the time. If we try to put her down on her back, she'll push down her feet and stand. If we succeed with getting her feet out from under her, she'll use her incredibly strong stomach muscles to try to stay sitting. Because of this, every diaper or clothing change is a wrestling match. Even if she agrees to lie back for a moment, she quickly starts to roll over, usually as soon as the diaper is off. I've gotten really good at fastening diapers and putting on pants from behind.

The bean's manual dexterity is really improving. She is able to pass objects from one hand to another and is just starting to master her pincher grasp. Of course, pulling mama's (that would be my) hair and removing mommy's (the boy's) glasses have given her lots of practice.

At six months, the bean's hair is really coming in. She was so bald for so long that we thought it might be more than a year before she had any hair, but she has more and more hair every day. Literally. Some days we notice a difference overnight.

The bean has slowed down her babbling a bit, but has added "b" to her vocabulary and says "baba," which always makes me laugh. Baba is what we call a bottle and, given how she feels about them, I don't think she'd be asking for one if she knew what she was saying!

Sleep is a topic I have planned for a future post, but I have to say that, when I read that most babies sleep through the night by six months, I never dreamed we'd be up as much as we are. She is such a happy and easygoing baby that I know we are lucky, despite our sleeplessness. I try to remind myself of that when I'm tired and frustrated.

And finally, Itsy Bitsy Spider is still a favorite and still calms her right down. I can't wait until she's older to ask her what exactly it is she loves about this song!

Christmas Recap

{ Monday, December 28, 2009 }
Our first christmas with the bean was amazing and maybe a bit overwhelming. We opened presents on christmas eve with the bean's 6 cousins, 5 of whom are under the age of 6, and it was a completely different experience looking after the bean with so many other children running around. So many kids plus presents meant there were many new and interesting (and dangerous!) things on the floor for her to get in her mouth. Not to mention that the bean and I usually spend our days alone in a fairly quiet house. She didn't know what to make of all the noise and excitement and, as a result, didn't sleep much at all for two days. Santa didn't grant my wish and end the teething, but we kept a big supply of teethers on hand during our travels and, despite teething pain, chaos, and sleepiness, she was in pretty good spirits.

And her moms had so much fun! The bean was much more into the present thing than we expected, helping to rip some of the paper and playing with each new toy as we opened it. We loved playing with her toys almost as much as she did and she was given so much stuff that we've put half of it away to pull out little by little over the next couple months. We were so grateful for the things the bean was given, but at the same time we're struggling with worrying about not going overboard on presents, especially when she's older, in order to give some meaning to christmas other than just getting stuff.

For our part, we really tried to choose quality toys that the bean would play with for a long time. We don't have a very large house, and this has helped us to really think about each purchase. We consider the safety--we prefer toys made of wood or fabric, we feel that these are safer, although you really have to take the manufacturer's word on the safety of wood finishes; we think about how much use the bean is likely to get out of it--blocks, stacking cups, toy foods, and dolls are play staples throughout most of childhood, in my opinion; and finally, there's an aesthetic component--large, brightly colored plastic toys that play music or make a lot of noise just don't do it for us. As I'm typing this right in front of our big plastic exersaucer, I feel the need to say that there are definite exceptions. We originally had a "no plastic" rule, but found it very difficult to follow so now we just try to limit it. Two brands that we love and that meet our requirements are Melissa & Doug and Plan Toys. These are the brands we directed our family to when they asked us what to get.

The bean was given some really great things, including this little rocking horse that she loves:

But by far, her favorite present right now is this pull toy, which we thought she wouldn't use for a few more months. As you can see, the flag is her favorite part.

The boy and I like the idea of all the presents "arriving" under the tree on christmas morning, so we stayed up on christmas eve putting the presents out. Obviously, this was more for us than for her, since she had already seen all her presents (and helped us wrap them), but its a nice tradition that we wanted to get in the habit of practicing. We opened presents christmas morning just the three of us.

Ha, I just realized how huge the bean's feet look in this picture. She has room to grow in those PJs!

The boy is really the toy expert around our house and started early (was it September?) working on the bean's christmas list. We wanted to get her a big present, but there really weren't any "big" things that are age appropriate, so the boy had the great idea of getting the table and chairs set. We hope she'll get lots of use out of it in the next couple years.

Soon, little one, you'll sit at it without Mama's help!

And we had yet another celebration to attend late in the day on christmas. I love this picture of the three of us because the bean's expression says it all--she was done and ready for christmas to be over.

This time of year, especially, I miss my family on the West coast, but I have to admit that there was a little part of me that was glad that we didn't have 4 christmases to attend.

Merry Christmas

{ Friday, December 25, 2009 }
Today, as always, I am so thankful for my little family, who are the greatest gifts I could ever hope for and I am wishing for love and joy in your lives as well, now and in the new year.

Merry christmas from krafty, the boy and the bean!

Close only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades

{ Thursday, December 24, 2009 }
I so very badly wanted the bean to have a handmade stocking for this year so I could say that it had always been hers, starting with her first christmas. I knew it was an ambitious undertaking, considering how little free time I have this year and the fact that I didn't start until the week before thanksgiving, so I'm not surprised that I wasn't able to finish. Its hard to admit defeat, but I think I'm going to have to call this one. Even if I were to stay up all night stitching, it still needs to be sewn into a stocking. Next year, my little bean.

Too much of a good thing

{ Wednesday, December 23, 2009 }
The boy and I are sugar addicts. We generally try to eat very healthfully, but when it comes to dessert, forget about it. Early in our relationship, we bonded over the fact that we both believe ice cream should not be reserved for warm weather eating. I had to fast the day leading up to my surgery last year. I confidently announced that, when I broke the fast after almost two days, I would no longer be eating processed sugar. I lasted two days before I gave in. We like our sweets.

It should come as no surprise, then, that one of our favorite christmas traditions includes loads and loads of cookies. Every year, I start in early December making batches of cookies to give away. They fill our freezer and we can't help but sample them. I make extras to account for the ones we eat, but there is always the worry that there won't be enough to give away. I never know until the containers are filled whether I'll be making emergency batches on christmas eve to make up for our December gluttony. I might also add that by the time the cookies leave the house, we are happy to see them gone. We've been eating them for weeks and are sick of them.

Today I packed up the cookies and there were enough to go around, with some to spare. We've enjoyed them all, pronouncing each new batch our favorites as we taste tested them and I think they look so pretty packed up in their little tins. Still, I have to say, good riddance!! I can't wait to get these things out of our house!

All I want for christmas is her two front teeth

{ Sunday, December 20, 2009 }
Its been months since we first started talking about teething in our house. When the bean started drooling and chewing on everything at around three months, we felt in her mouth for little bumps, but there were no signs of anything coming through. We sort of shrugged it off as first-time parents getting overly excited for some new development.

A few weeks ago, the bean started having the occasional meltdown and would only be comforted by a teether, her chewing of which reached a new level of intensity. A few times she grabbed my hand, shoved my finger in her mouth and chewed so hard it hurt. Still, we saw no sign of any elusive teeth.

The last few days, however, have been really rough. The bean's sleep, while always pretty bad, has reached a new level of crappiness. She's been a colossal grump and has started grunting to express her unhappiness. I've been saying all week that I wish these stupid teeth would just COME IN already and bring our happy baby back.

So, I've read that the bottom teeth come in first and that's what we've been feeling for. There is still absolutely no sign of any bottom teeth coming, but today we looked at the top and I'm sure you already know the end of this story. There are two big bumps right there, almost ready to break through.

I hope Santa brings her teeth and a sunny disposition to go with them!

Babyproofing, whatever that means

{ Friday, December 18, 2009 }
The bean was several months old before I first heard the term "free-range kid," but it definitely resonated with me. I think this means different things to different people, but for us it means that we try to encourage the bean to explore her surroundings while limiting her time spent in "containers." We naively assumed we could survive without any of these until two weeks with a screaming baby had us begging for a hand-me-down bouncy seat. Today, the bean sits in a bouncy seat while I shower (unless I can get her to nap in her crib while I sneak off for one) and she'll sometimes sit in her exersaucer while I cook dinner. Otherwise, she is playing on the floor or being worn in a carrier. I have no idea what life is like with a crawling or toddling child, so our plan may change as she does, but for now, this is what works for us.

The bean is also becoming more and more mobile by the day. She's not showing any interest in trying crawl just yet, but she's discovered that she can get anywhere she needs to go by rolling there and is getting better (and faster!) at it by the day. The combination of these two things is what's causing my trouble. I'm having a hard time striking a balance between letting the bean explore and keeping her . . . well, safe.

I know that sounds silly because of course I have no internal debate about whether or not to keep her safe. But, for instance, the bean is enamored with our christmas tree. She likes to look at the lights and glittering ornaments, but what she really loves is to roll over to it and grab the lights and feel the branches on her fingers. I know she would love to get these things in her mouth and she often ends up with a handful of pine needles, which I have so far been successful in stealing away before she can eat. As I type this she is playing with some plastic packaging material, which of course is a euphemism for plastic bag. Yes, I am letting my baby play with a plastic bag, even though there is a warning label printed right on it. When she brings it close to her mouth, I move it away and tell her "bags are not for eating," but she loves the sound it makes when she crinkles it with her hands and I don't have the heart to take it away from her.

I know I'm supposed to be distracting her and replacing forbidden items with other, more appropriate, ones but do any babies really fall for this? The bean is fairly single-minded and isn't content with a familiar toy when there are so many new objects to explore. The boy and I both want her to explore all these things but a line must be drawn at some point. Of course acutely hazardous objects are off limits (hot and pointy things come to mind), but do we put away all breakables, hide the electronics, and lock up any PVC/BPA/phthalate containing object she might want to mouth?

How do you deal with this? I'd love to hear general philosophies or specific tips or even a reality check about how much more difficult this will get with a toddler. (And if you have no idea, you're welcome to comment just to say hi!)

But at least I haven't licked my finger and cleaned her face

{ Thursday, December 17, 2009 }

Things I have done in the last 5 months that I never imagined myself doing:

  • Picked another person's nose
  • Chosen to sleep in pajamas covered with someone else's vomit rather than stay up to do laundry
  • Used my shirt to wipe someone else's face
  • Routinely gone more than a day without a shower
  • Left the house without fixing my hair
  • Forgotten to brush my teeth
  • Had to cut short errands because my clothes had become covered in someone else's poop
  • Slept less than 4 hours at a time, except for a handful of nights
  • Spent almost every moment with someone without getting the slightest bit sick of her!

Hi-Ho Hi-Ho

{ Tuesday, December 08, 2009 }
Since before the bean was born, we've struggled with the question of whether or not I'd go back to work. The boy and I considered several different possibilities that would allow us to keep our bean out of daycare, but finally decided that the only thing that would work for us would be for me to stay home, or work part-time. We were still weighing the pros and cons when the bean arrived and I admit that I did a little Scarlett O'Hara every time the topic came up--I put the decision off for another day.

As my maternity leave came to an end, I finally got up the nerve to talk to my boss and we arranged for my job to be outsourced back to me on a part-time basis. I had fully expected that this would not be an option and that I would end up resigning outright, so I was pleasantly surprised, but surprised nonetheless that I would be going back to work. I consider myself very fortunate to have this opportunity and to have had as long of a maternity leave as I did, but I think it must be hard to go back to work whether you're home for 6 weeks or 6 years. I've been dreading the day that I'd go back, even though I love the work that I do and I'm looking forward to earning a paycheck again.

The dread has been compounded by the question of childcare. We had planned to hire a nanny to come to our house to care for the bean. Our nanny story goes like this: after screening applicants for schedule conflicts and moral objections to our same-sex status, we scheduled interviews. After no shows and last minute cancellations, we interviewed two women. We chose one to come back while we were both home to care for the bean for a few hours. It didn't work out. Just a tip to potential nannies--when a mother of the child you are caring for says, "Oh my god, she's choking!" The best course of action would be to immediately stop whatever you are doing that is choking the child. Continuing on until the child vomits while the mothers try to wrestle the baby from your arms will get you a, "Thanks for your time, sorry it didn't work out."

Thankfully, the boy's mother has volunteered to help out for the next couple weeks. After that, the boy will have some leave from work and will be on bean duty. And then, she'll go to daycare. Before the bean was born, we had picked a daycare that we love and they still have an opening, thankfully.

My first day of work was yesterday. The boy tells me the first few hours went smoothly, until the bean decided she wouldn't settle for substitutes and wanted to nurse to sleep. Mother-in-law and the boy were able to finally get her to nap for a bit (after some serious crying) and I came home to a very sleepy, but otherwise happy, bean. Me? I cried in the car to and from work.

Five Months

{ Tuesday, December 01, 2009 }
At five months, the bean:

  • Is really starting to babble more. 'M' is her favorite consonant and she loves to say, "mmmm." "mom", "ma," and "mama."
  • Is able to sit independently for a couple minutes at a time before she topples over.
  • Is much more interested in what we have in our hands than in any of her toys.
  • Loves to pet the cat, even though she doesn't yet know the difference between petting and hair pulling.
  • STILL loves Itsy, Bitsy Spider. If she's crying and I can't get to her right away, I can sing this song and almost always get a smile. Other songs just won't do.
  • May or may not be teething, but is definitely enjoying gnawing on all her teethers.
  • Enjoys putting her left foot in her mouth.