Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mr. Independence

I took a long break from blogging lately for a few reasons. However, the main one was that I just didn't feel like writing. This blog is for fun for me (and for being useful), and when it doesn't feel fun or useful, I don't make myself do it. But just in the past couple of weeks, I have found myself thinking - oh man, so many things are changing so quickly for Ben, and I have been noticing things that would be fun to write about. Here are a few!

A funny thing happened on the way to sleep training. Ben had suddenly turned into Mr. Independence at night. Mr. Self-sufficient. Mr. Keep Yo Distance. All of the time now, after he is done with his bottle (yep, he still gets one before bed), he will sit up and point to his crib. He will squirm around to let me know to put him down in it. What a one eighty from a few months ago! I know I should be really pleased about this, and a part of me is, but another more whiny needy part of me is sad my baby doesn't want me to rock him anymore. Now, that isn't to say that we haven't had some occasions where he has woken up and needs rocking, but I don't enjoy those as much as the before bed ones. Because I am so damn tired in the middle of the night!

It's a funny dichotomy that I am sure will occur more as Ben gets older. I want him to be independent enough to do things for himself for lots of reasons. It's healthy for him, and it is easier for Dan and I. But I also want to cuddle him, and I want him  to need me and love me more than anything else in the world. It's hard to see where the line between comforting him and comforting myself ends and begins.

On the other hand I am an impatient lazy person, so that helps push forward for the sake of progress.

Also pushing Ben forward into a new age of independence is daycare. He has been moved to the toddler room! Dan and I have sort of been dreading this upcoming milestone. We LOVE the caretakers in the infant room, and we are all so comfortable in there. While the infant room seems calm and serene most of the time, the toddler room is loud chaos. Dan swears he saw a kid smoking a cigarette in the corner there the other day. It is trample or be trampled. He has been transitioning to the toddler room for the past month by spending increasingly longer increments of time in there. During this transition, he has had about 5 injury reports (he had only had one in the past year total). He is a more active guy now, and that room is a more active room. I am trying to get used to it.

One of the injury reports was due to Ben being bitten. I was sort of devastated. Apparently, he had taken a toy away from the biter kid. I am hoping this is a rare occurrence and really keeping my fingers crossed that Ben doesn't learning biting for himself. I know it is a phase a lot of kids go through, and I was hoping just to skip over that one!

Now that Ben has moved to the toddler room, he does not have bottles or pacifiers at daycare. That transition went pretty easily. At home, he only has one bottle before bedtime. I am planning on phasing that out in July. My plan is to put water in it for a few nights, and then take it away. After that is done, we will work on the pacifiers. At home, we try only to give those at sleep time.

I have decided that I really love this age, and I think I am just going to keep loving it for a while. Yes, there are challenging things to deal with that are popping up now. For example, he is more demanding and has had a couple of temper tantrums when things don't go his way. He is not as easy to redirect. He plays in dog bowls, is a magnet for electrical outlets, throws food, etc. Danger is his middle name. BUT the awesome things are just very awesome. He could not be cuter if he tried. Seeing him learn to do things that he could not do the day before is fascinating. Hearing a new word is cause for a mini-party. Finding something that makes him giggle uncontrollably makes me feel like I won the lottery and is worth repeating at least 15 times. Feeling his slobbery kiss on my cheek followed by a MUWAH! makes me melt. Having him hug my leg unexpectedly is priceless.

Soon we will be completely eliminating the night time bottle and pacifiers. I will make sure to do posts about that when it happens! Also, I am really trying to brainstorm about how we are going to begin "discipline." We are at the point where that is starting to become necessary. However, it turns out disciplining a toddler is like trying to solve a problem like Maria. How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do you hold a moon beam in your hands? We aren't completely letting him run wild now, we say "no" of course and direct him away from things. But I need a PLAN. I feeling like I am floundering a bit, and I really want to be consistent. So stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hear's Tube You! And Sleep Training Update

Haha! I am a wizard with wordplay. A wizard I tell you! Ben is set to get ear tubes Friday morning. But before I dig into that, let's revisit sleep training (which I talked about here).

Ben and I went for a date on a Friday after work to get sushi. Well, he mostly just chewed on this drink top while I ate sushi.
How have I not posted again sooner??? Oops! So, sleep training actually went really well (well, at least in retrospect - things always look a lot sunnier a few weeks down the road). We probably had about three or four nights when we had to do some form of cry it out (with always going in to comfort after about 5-10 mins of crying). It wasn't three nights in a row though, because interspersed in there were just a few nights that he was sleepy enough to fall asleep in my arms or close enough. Also, each time we did the "cry it out" (for lack of a better word), it was less traumatic (i.e. less crying for a less amount of time).

Flash forward to now, and here is our bedtime routine:  after dinner, Ben gets a bath around 6pm. After his bath, I wrangle him into his diaper and PJs. He is a big pain in the patoot about this. He HATES getting his diaper and PJs on. I literally have to physically hold him down, which is not easy because he is freakishly strong and I have just lotioned him up. I think they are teaching him wrestling moves at daycare - like how to get out of a hold. Who knows. Sometimes I just let him run around naked for a bit for a few reasons: (1) I am so so lazy and not looking forward to the fight that is getting dressed for bed, (2) It is nice for his nether regions to get some airing out for diaper rash reasons and (3) the boy just loves being naked. He will run around the room, pat his belly, and try to get into trouble by playing with the trash can or the radio. This is all great until he pees somewhere in the room. That happens about a quarter of the time.

After getting him dressed, we go downstairs and hang with Dan. So Ben will play and chill out and we may read some books. Around 6:45pm, I will warm up his bottle for bed (yep, he still gets a bottle and he likes it warm, dammit!). Dan and Ben have what Dan calls "Buddy Time," which is when Ben gets to have a paci if he's fussy (we have pretty much got rid of these during waking time, except when the poor guy is sick, then I bend my rules a bit) while they chill on the couch and watch sports. While Buddy Time is going on, I will get Ben's room ready for bed and tidy up the bathroom. Then at 7pm, I take Ben upstairs and he has his bottle. Then I rock him for a few minutes and put him in his crib. He is almost always awake now when I do this and hasn't fussed about it for the past few weeks. It is great!
Ben's first time on a carousel. He absolutely hated it and cried the whole time. Memories.
We have had a couple of nights in the last few weeks where he has woken up and just cried off and on the whole night. It is horrible! I feel like it must be teeth or something, because he will have no fever and doesn't seem sick. I don't think it is anything that can be solved by sleep training and it isn't the norm. Normally, he will pretty much sleep from 7pm to 7am (although he may have a crying jag or two somewhere in there, but can normally calm himself back to sleep). Also, occasionally he will take a big poop right after I put him down for bed, which he understandably wants remedied before he falls asleep.

No, onto ears. As Mickey would say - We've got ears, it's time for cheers! (What? You don't watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse everyday? Your loss I guess). We decided to bite the bullet and get Ben tubes. I am currently trying to decide what to do about ear plugs. Our ENT said that they only need them for the first couple of weeks during bath time. After that, they say plugs aren't necessary (unless diving or something, which Ben has PROMISED not to do). I am thinking I might still be cautious though and use them. We'll see. I'll let you all know what I go with and out it works. I am debating the Ear Bandit, Pro Plugs (but I would need to know his size), or some sort of moldable situation. Or all of the above. I am really looking forward to it. If there is one thing that Ben loves, it is to sit still while I shove things in his ear (or while I try to do anything for that matter). Or just to sit still at all!

I am really hoping that these tubes give Ben relief on his ear issues. He had two sets of infections in Feb/March. I thought he had another in April, but just ended up having a lot of fluid in both ears that wasn't infected. I could tell it was bothering him though. As a bonus, tubes are supposed to help relief pressure from flying, which we will be doing at the end of this month.
This is us going for a wagon ride at a fair near our house. Ben couldn't understand why I was trying to get him to look at the camera since the horses pulling the wagon were way more interesting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cry It Out? The Joys of Sleep Training

I always thought I would be great at letting my kid "cry it out." After all, it seems like the easiest thing to do, and I am pretty lazy. Just sit there and flip through a magazine while your kid cries in the background. No biggie. Crying didn't really bother me. Or, I didn't think that it did.

Here he is, plotting his next bedtime revenge. Do you see the devious eyebrow action?
Cut to last night. There is something about listening to my baby cry for an hour that puts me in an extremely bad mood. But for our first night of sleep training, I guess it was a tentative success. Possibly. But let me back it up a bit and talk about how we got to this point.

I think we have been pretty lucky so far when it comes to sleeping. I haven't had to try too hard for everyone to coexist happily and get rest up until this point. Sure, we had the same sleepless nights as everyone else when Ben was a newborn. In fact, I remember getting anxiety at sunset, because I didn't know when my next shut-eye was going to occur. But after that first month, things settled into a routine. At about 2 months (maybe a bit sooner, I can't remember) I transferred Ben from his bassinet to the crib. I did a mini-sleep training at that point (nothing crazy, he was still so young). But, in order to get him used to the crib, I would put him in and just pat him on the back without picking him up (when I knew that he was all fed and changed), etc. etc., until he was almost asleep. Ben, like any normal little infant, would still get up a few times a night, but I could count on a few hours stretch at a time normally. Then little by little, three times up a night went to two, and then two times went to one. I would normally breastfeed him when he woke up, but when he was old enough, Dan would go in first to see if a pacifier would suffice. If I am remembering correctly, he began consistently sleeping for 12 hours straight at about 6-7 months. As a caveat to this, there are always exceptions for illnesses, teething, etc..

Eventually we fell into a routine at bedtime where he would fall asleep while I was nursing him, and then I would put him in his crib. After I stopped breastfeeding, he would be very sleepy after his bottle, and I would just rock him to sleep. I knew while I was doing it that this was all very big No-Nos according to every book ever. BUT, it was sooo easy for the following reasons. First, he would normally fall asleep so quickly that it took very little effort. Second, I really didn't mind doing it, because I liked holding him/rocking him. I could easily read a book on my iPhone while doing it, and I didn't have anything else pressing to do. Again, it was easy and felt right.

Two major things have changed a bit over the past couple of weeks. One, he is not falling asleep so quickly. Before, it would be 5-10 minutes. MAYBE 20. Now, it is like at least 45 minutes some nights. Two, I am not able to peacefully read a book while he drifts off to sleep, because he wriggles around like a maniac (and tries to grab my phone if he spots it). Now that rocking him to sleep isn't the easy and enjoyable process that it used to be, I am sort of over it. When I try to put him in his crib awake, he stands up and cries. Eventually, I would come back in and rock him to sleep (he would be more tired this time).

I knew that I needed to kick in the ole' sleep training, but I just didn't really have the motivation until last night, because he would still have a night here or there where he would fall asleep quickly. However, there were enough nights in a row not like that to get me to start the sleep training. Plus, we have a few trips coming up in the next few months, and I don't want to have to worry about going through a whole rigmarole during those.

So last night, I let him cry for about 15 minutes the first round (which was probably too long for the first time around, but I don't think it made much difference). Then I went in, laid him down, patted his back. He calmed down and fell asleep (whoops! I comforted for too long!). But don't worry, I had another chance, because he woke up again about 15-20 minutes later in a tizzy. This time, Dan went in after a few minutes. Comforted for a minute or two. Then he cried for another 5 minutes, I went in and comforted. Then he cried for another 9 minutes. I went in, then he cried for another 9 minutes, I went in. Then he cried for almost another 9 minutes and fell asleep. He woke up around 11pm and cried for a bit, so I went in and patted him/gave him his paci, and he went right to bed.

So tonight, I will be sure to put Ben in the crib when he is awake, even if it seems like it is going to be one of those quick to rock to sleep nights. I will still rock him of course, I am not a monster robot! But just for a bit to get him sleepy and to be comforting, and then off to bed. I will let you all know if he goes to bed more quickly this time around.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ben's Naps and a Schedule Update!

Can we go out to the backyard, please?
My last schedule post was at 11 months, so I thought I would do an update. I like to do the schedule updates, because the schedule thing was the whole reason I started this lil' blog. I was searching for a schedule I could follow when I returned to work for a family with two commuting/working parents and a baby. It's funny, because at the time it seemed almost impossible (which is ridiculous, because there are a million families out there with tons of children who make it work). But still, for my little world, it was a big change and I wasn't sure how I was going to fit it all in. Since the beginning, it has gotten so much easier. I think this is due to multiple factors, most importantly Ben just getting older (sob), me adjusting my schedule, and all of us finding our groove.

Not too much has changed since 11 months though, so it is kind of boring! But there are little changes here and there.

What has changed in that time is Ben's nap schedule. Up until a couple of months ago, Ben would have a morning and an afternoon nap. His morning nap was usually the longer one (a couple of hours, normally at about 9am-ish). The afternoon nap would be shorter, but occasionally also a couple of hours (on miraculous weird days OR when he was sick, poor guy). But sometimes, he would just skip the afternoon nap, which was hellish.

Like my hair? They started doing that at daycare (I think using food remnants as hair product). Daycare Perk!
A couple of months ago, they started transitioning him to a solo afternoon nap at daycare when he became part of the mobile infant group (which is a precursor to moving into the toddler room, gulp). I was totally against it at first. I thought he really NEEDED that morning nap. He seemed more cranky and not as well rested. For a month, I still gave him morning naps at home. But then, I noticed that the afternoon naps at daycare were substantial and that he did seem well-rested. He had transitioned to it well. So now, we are in a good spot. He does one nap at about 12:30pm and normally sleeps for at least two hours (sometimes three). I have found out that I really like switching to just one nap. It is nice having that big block of time in the morning to be free to do things with him and as a family. I think this is one of the examples of when daycare was a perk (although I was super annoyed at first), which I talk about here.

Workday Schedule (13 month old)
5:45am - Dan wakes up, gets ready.

6:00am - Dan wakes me up, I beg him for five fifteen more minutes. I finally wake up around 6:15/6:20 and get ready. I shower or bathe the evening before, so during this time I put on my make-up, straighten or curl my hair, and get dressed.

6:20am - 6:40am - Dan usually leaves to go retrieve his Starbucks. If it is a Tuesday, he also drops Shelbs off at doggy daycare during this time.* I go downstairs and make all of Ben's bottles for the day (one for the morning, and three to take to daycare. Remind myself at this time that I *really* need to start transitioning to sippy cups). I pack any other items in his daycare bag.

7:00am - 7:15am - I wake up Ben, hold him for a bit, give him his bottle, change his diaper, and pick out his outfit.

7:15-7:25am - I call down to Dan, and he comes up and dresses Ben. I get all of my stuff ready for work (make my coffee, pack any food I want for the day). Dan brings Ben downstairs and puts him in his highchair with some cheerios/puffs and usually some sort of fruit and grain pouch. I eat a bowl of cereal and have deep conversations with him over our breakfasts. I may take this time to quickly clip his nails (at the breakfast table??? Gross I know, but that is always when I realize how long and scraggly they are), brush his hair, do a quick wipe-over.

7:30am - We all leave the house at the same time and say goodbye to Shelbs. Then, I kiss Ben and Dan goodbye, and we get into our respective cars.

7:30-8:00am - Commute to work. I drink my coffee on the way. Unless there is terrible traffic, I actually don't mind the commute. It is some time to either space out or think about what needs to be done at work that day.

7:45am/8:00am - Dan drops off Ben at daycare and heads to work.

4:00pm - I leave work and drive like Cruella Deville to daycare, because I miss my son. I may call my sister or a friend (using Bluetooth! I'm safe!) and chat on the way there.

4:30pm - I arrive at daycare to pick up Ben. He is normally walking around like he owns the place. I love to see him before he sees me. I melt a little watching his face spot me out and light up. It's a little strange when I look around the room and realize he is one of the older babies now. They really do grow up so fast! (tear).

4:50pm/5:00pm - Arrive home.

4:50pm-5:30 - Hang out with Ben. I let Shelby out, and we play for a while. Now that it is lighter and warmer out, sometimes we take Shelby for a walk during this time or walk around the backyard. Ben LOVES the backyard. He has started to throw little mini-fits when we don't go in the backyard. He stomps his little feet and cries. It is hilarious now (because he usually gets over it in like a minute). Probably not so funny if he is still doing that in a few months though.

5:30-6:15pm - Dinner time! Ben and I normally eat around 5:30pm/5:45pm. I might have thrown something in the oven when we got home or had something cooking at home during the work day. I talk a bit about dinner time here. Sometimes, Ben and/or I will wait to eat until Dan comes home if he is getting home a bit earlier, bringing dinner home, or if Ben just doesn't seem to be overly tired or hungry yet.

6:00/6:30pm - Dan gets home. At this time, I am either having dinner with Ben, waiting for Dan to have dinner, getting Ben into the tub, or hanging out with pajama-ed Ben.

6:15-6:45pm - We finish dinner. I usually bathe Ben (I have started doing this almost every night, because he is such a messy eater), and Dan cleans the kitchen, but sometimes this is flipped. If I have made something really messy, I give Dan the choice of either bathing Ben or cleaning the kitchen. I make sure to inform him that this includes any dirty pots or pans. He almost always chooses bathing Ben. Dan cut himself on a pot once (I know), and now he is scared of them.

6:45-7:00pm - Dan usually hangs out with Ben while I get stuff ready for bed for him (bottle-making, pacifiers in the crib, straighten up Ben's room and bathroom). I remind myself at this time that we really need to seriously consider how we are going to wean him off the pacis.

7:00pm - Give Ben his bottle and rock him for a while. He is usually asleep by 7:15pm. Dan normally washes bottles while I am putting Ben to sleep.

7:30pm-10pm- I normally go straight to the bathtub for a hot bath after Ben goes to sleep. Then, Dan and I watch some tv and chill. I may do some laundry. I do not pick out my clothes for the next day. I like to do that in 30 seconds the morning of, preferably from a wrinkled pile on the floor.

10:00pm - That's a wrap! We go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat.

*Shelby goes to doggie daycare on Tuesdays because that is when we have the housekeeper come (I can't leave her there or else she would totally annoy them the whole time). Although the housekeeper only comes every other week, it is easier to just keep our schedule consistent each week with the dog walker. All other days (except for Wednesdays**), our sweet dog walker comes to walk Shelbs in the middle of the day so she can do her business.

**I work from home on Wednesdays now. Our schedule is still pretty much the same, except for I sleep in about a half hour later, because I don't have to get ready (or even brush my teeth!!!!). Ben still goes to daycare, etc. etc. I have a little bit of guilt about this. Many times, when someone finds out that I work from home one day a week, they ask if Ben stays home. When I say no, I feel the need to explain myself. If Ben stayed home, I really wouldn't be able to get any work done (except for possibly during his nap). He is constantly moving (and falling), running everywhere. I couldn't expect him to sit quietly and play while I worked. It just wouldn't happen. But there is a feeling of guilt when he goes off to daycare, and I stay home by myself. Maybe when he is older, he can stay home on my work from home day (like when he can play on his own) if he wants to.

Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Official: Gwyneth Paltrow and I Have Nothing In Common

While I love to make fun of Gwyneth Paltrow as much as the next person, I wasn't totally on board the Gwyneth hate-train. Sure, I would jump on for a quick trip, but if I was really being honest, I thought she was cool, smart, beautiful, fit, etc. I don't subscribe to Goop (her lifestyle website), but I peruse it occasionally. A lot of people would get angry that she would suggest that people buy outlandishly expensive things, but I didn't. I figured her target audience was for people who had millions to spare, like herself. So why wouldn't she suggest that they buy crazy expensive sh*t or detail the best place to get a bikini wax in Paris? That's her life. If we are being even more completely honest, I had just about come around to the name Apple. I sort of get it - it's sweet, wholesome, fresh. Not too far off from Clementine. Plus, Chris Martin was the one who suggested it apparently, and he seems like a good guy (and who doesn't love Coldplay).

Gwyneth took the fashion world by storm at the Oscars two years ago by wearing a cape.
When Gwyneth and Chris decided to "consciously uncouple" last week, I was sad for them. I totally rolled my eyes at the conscious uncouple crap, but not really at Gwyneth. More at the dumb doctors that came up with the term and wrote the bogus article about how marriage is no longer really feasible because we all live too damn long (the article was added to the page where Gwyneth announced the separation on Goop). Excuse me while my eyes roll literally right out of my head. I think that is complete bullshit. I think marriage is hard no matter how you cut it, but it is also extremely rewarding. In my mind, I have made a commitment, and I will see it through. I actually look forward to seeing Dan get old, wrinkly, and gray. He's way too good-looking as it is! That all being said, I realize that divorce is what works for some people, and I don't hold myself out as better than them. But let's not blame it on our lengthened life spans. What a cop-out. However, I wasn't "hating" on Gwyneth even at that point. I was more of the feeling of: "Bless her heart. She is trying to cope with the fact that she is going through a divorce and this is the best way she can do it. I don't agree with her views, but whatever helps her get through it."

Then, Dan forwarded me this article (because he enjoys seeing me seethe): http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/03/28/gwyneth-paltrow-working-mom-taking-break/6999685/

In it, for reasons I cannot fathom, Gwyneth compares her job to that of a working mom with a "9 to 5." Here is an excerpt:

"I think it's different when you have an office job, because it's routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening," said the polarizing Paltrow. "When you're shooting a movie, they're like, 'We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,' and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it's not like being on set."

Where do I start? I think the big mistake that Gywneth made was to believe that she knows anything about what it is like to have a "regular" job. She has never had one, and from what I know of her family, she has never been around someone who has had a "regular" job. Therefore, she wouldn't know about the "challenges" and how they compare to the "challenges" of being "on set."

I get what she is saying to a certain extent. That with an "office" job, there is a regular schedule to work around, but with an acting job for a movie, you have to be on location for long hours. But that is really the only comparison she is making. And then based on that comparison, she makes a large generalization that having a regular job as a mom is not as challenging as being an actor on set. She fails to take into consideration a multitude of other factors. For instance, the flexibility of her work (she gets to decide what roles and how many she chooses), the length of her projects (two weeks is a short amount of time), her support system (I am guessing here, but she probably has the means to make sure everything at home is completely taken care of while she is at location). Did she take into consideration the mom who has a routine office job, but has to take the occasional business trip (pretty common)?

I am not trying to argue that my situation as a working mom is more challenging than Gwyneth Paltrow's life as a working mom (although just writing that sentence makes me laugh). What I want to highlight is that she should not even being comparing her life to mine and then labeling one as more challenging. That is the heart of the whole "mommy wars," people who make judgments and generalizations about other moms' lives and then attempt to compare them to their own. Just don't do it. I talked about this to some extent here. What really puts salt in the wound as far as Gwyneth's comment is that she clearly lives a very fortunate, luxurious life, and she always has. I believe I live a fortunate life as well, but I didn't like attend Jay-Z and Beyoncé's wedding or anything. I also don't know *anything* about flax oil (embarrassingly), and I have never done a juice cleanse (just ask my midsection). My point is, it is hard to listen to someone in that position dismiss the daily grind.

So, I guess I can't like Gwyneth Paltrow anymore. Ugh! Who am I kidding? I am totally going to check out Goop next week and maybe embark on my first juice cleanse. Gywnnie's skin is so luminescent! Maybe if I do a juice cleanse, mine can be too!!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

What's for Dinner?

"So...uh...what do you want to have for dinner tonight?" I usually ask this question to Dan everyday.  I am not sure why I ask him, because I either get crickets or the suggestion that we order pizza or pick up Chick Fil A. Which are not terrible suggestions at all, but it's not like Dan is going to make me think of a magically healthy and easy dinner meal that we have all of the ingredients for at home. He is not a wizard! He cannot make things magically appear! (But wouldn't that be awesome? Not gonna lie, I think I would waste this super power mostly on food.)

I have realized that I am going to have to do some modicum of planning ahead to accomplish this dinner thing. Recently, I ask friends on Facebook for their go-to easy weekday meal. Two weekends ago, I used this to help me make a dinner plan for the week. I ended up not following it exactly, but it did help a ton. It was a lot of work on the front end (because I also made up a grocery list to go with), but I figured I could reuse it in the future. Here was the plan:

Monday – Quiche with Greens
Tuesday – Spaghetti and Meatballs with Crusty Bread
Wednesday - Anna’s Hearty TJ Stew with Crusty Bread
Thursday – Pizza Thursday!
Friday – Veggie Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries and Peas
Saturday - Fish Soft Tacos (optional)
Sunday – Erin’s Chicken Parm with Green Beans

Sunday before: Make quiche, let cool, and refrigerate.
Monday evening: Reheat quiche at 325 for 20 mins. Toss greens with lemon, olive oil, salt & pepper.
Tuesday morning: Put frozen meatballs and marinara in crockpot before work. Low for 8 or 10 hrs.
Tuesday evening: Cook pasta. Serve with the meatballs and sauce.
Wednesday mid-morning: Put soup, beans & pilaf for stew in crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hrs.
Wednesday evening: Toast bread in oven.
Thursday: Order pizza. Open door for pizza guy.
Friday evening: Cook sweet potato fries in oven; microwave veggie burgers and peas.
Saturday: Cook fish in taco seasoning. Set out toppings (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cheese).
Saturday evening: Put frozen chicken breast in fridge to defrost.
Sunday late afternoon: pan fry chicken, assemble dish, cook. Steam green beans.

Monday went according to plan (and Dan was a surprising fan of the salad). However, I didn't get around to putting the meatballs and marinara in the crockpot Tuesday morning. I didn't feel great, and the idea of dealing with marinara grossed me out. So Tuesday, I think we had chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, and peas. This is a super easy dinner, because I basically just have to put the nuggets and fries in the oven, and then microwave the peas. On Wednesday, we had the spaghetti and meatballs. Thursday, we ended up not getting pizza, because we had so many leftover meatballs (note for the future, two packages is too much!). Friday evening, things were a little off, because we ended up having to take Ben to urgent care during dinner time (I talked about that here). So Dan just got Chick Fil A for us on the way home, and Ben had a quick meal of even more leftover meatballs and some green beans.

I put Saturday's meal as "optional," because sometimes we go out for dinner on the weekends. I had forgotten when making the plan that we had actually planned to have dinner with friends that night. However, I had to cancel those plans for a couple of reasons (Dan had a fantasy draft (I didn't check with him beforehand) and Ben was sick). On Saturday evening, we ended up getting takeout with Dan's parents who came for a visit. On Sunday, I didn't feel like cooking the chicken parm, and we had tacos instead (but ground turkey, not fish).

Even though I deviated from the plan EVERY day (except for Monday), it was still really helpful just to have dinner ideas in my head and the groceries to accomplish them in my pantry. This week, I didn't make a plan, but I still had ideas in my head. By the way, I made Anna's Hearty TJ Stew this week (put it in the crockpot on my work from home day), and it was so easy, good, and healthy (I used the butternut squash TH boxed soup). Really checked all of the boxes.

Here are a few of the dinner ideas from my friends:
  • Breakfast for Dinner
  • Grilled Cheese with Ham and Tomato Soup
  • Tacos (fish or ground turkey/chicken/beef)
  • Spaghetti with Meatballs (put frozen meatballs and sauce in crockpot before work).
  • Quiche (two variations of this): Suggestion #1: Eggs or eggbeaters mixed with any creamy salad dressing. Pour into a frozen pie crust, add any kind of veggies or deli meats or whatever you want. Bake at 350 until it's set. Takes about 30 min or so. Suggestion #2: Crustless, just spray a pie pan with Pam then 4 eggs, 1 cup of dairy plus veggies and BACON.
  • Amanda's Café Rio Chicken: Put the following in the crockpot: 2 lbs chicken breast  (I usually use a little less- 3 breasts whatever that weighs) I just throw them in there, no trimming etc.; 1/2 a small bottle of zesty italian dressing; 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic  ( I put less b/c I don't like garlic, although you can't taste it); 1 pkt ranch dressing mix, mixed with 1/2 cup of water; 1/2 tbsp. chili powder; 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin. Cook on low for 5 hours or whatever your low setting is. I think mine is 6 or 8. It smells really good and the chicken shreds with a fork! We put it in flour tortillas then put some of the juice from cooking on top. Its great over a salad or making nachos with tortilla chips and cheese!
  • Anna's TJ Hearty Stew: 1 box Trader Joe's soup (she likes tomato and roasted red pepper), 1 can white beans, and 1 bag frozen superfood pilaf (quinoa, sweet potato and kale).  Chuck in the pot or slow cooker. Put it in the crockpot in the afternoon (so it gets 3 or 8 hours), or do it for an hour on the stovetop.
  • Stu's Stuffed Tomatoes: Mix equal parts pork sausage filling and ground turkey/chicken. Add one egg per pound. Mix and season with parsley, coriander, salt, and pepper. This can be kept refrigerated for 1-2 days. Now stuff your choice of vegetables. Use big tomatoes and green peppers (four pronged bottoms -- not three). You can also add zucchini and/or eggplants. I preferred eggplant. Cut tops off tomatoes and cut green peppers in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the insides of tomatoes and green peppers, sprinkle with salt, fill with meat. Do the same for any other veg. Replace tops of tomatoes (hats). Put into a pan. Drizzle olive oil on top. Optional: toss vegetable innards with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Scatter in dish around stuffed veg. Bake uncovered at 400 for 45-60 minutes. Serve with rice and optional toppings. Cover leftovers and it will still be good for a day or two (microwave covered on medium for about 3 min).
  • Erin's Chicken Parm: Preheat the oven to 375. In a shallow bowl (large enough to dredge the cutlets), mix together Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. In separate shallow bowl, whisk together an egg or two. Dredge boneless, skinless chicken breast (Use pretty thin chicken pieces. Usually cut them in half length-wise) in the egg, allowing excess to drip off, then dredge chicken in breadcrumbs and set aside. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium to medium high heat (cover bottom of pain w/about 1/4" of oil). Once the oil it hot enough that it sizzles when you drop something in it, cook each side of the chicken until it's golden brown. Don't worry about cooking the chicken all the way through- place on paper towel covered plate to absorb the excess oil. Once the chicken is all cooked, cover the bottom of a baking pan with a thin layer of sauce . Put the chicken into the pan and then just cover with however much sauce you'd like (I completely cover the chicken) and then a layer of shredded mozzarella (or cheese substitute). Cover w/foil and bake it for 25 or 30 minutes. If I'm not serving it right away I let it cool and put it in the fridge still covered with foil. Then when I'm ready to cook it I just put it back in at 350 degrees and cook it until it's hot- usually about half an hour- you can tell by just seeing if the middle is hot.
  • Ruby's Corn Chowder- Two cans of creamed corn, two chopped potatoes, some chicken broth - boil for a while until the potatoes are cooked. Then I fired some chopped onion, tomato and bacon together, drained, and dumped in.  
  • Pork Tenderloins
  • Beefy Mac, Hamburger Helper, Tuna Casserole

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Formula to Milk

Dan and Ben in the snow last week. Yes, that is a plastic bag I have wrapped around Ben's foot.
He's one! He doesn't have snow boots! We are trashy!
Long time, no talk! Sorry for the delay folks. I would make the usual excuses, but ya'll have heard them all before. :) One thing I do want to mention is that Ben is just now coming out of another illness! He was spiking a high fever late Friday afternoon (daycare called), and I noticed a weird rash when I got him home. By that time, the pediatrician's office was closed. Before I saw the rash, I was just planning on taking him to the clinic hours they have on Saturday mornings. However, the rash really scared me (as did google). So I rushed him to a local urgent care/ER. The good news was that they didn't think the rash was anything serious. He did have an ear infection and some nasty virus.

His fever was up and down all weekend, but since he didn't have a fever most of Sunday and had a great night Sunday night, he was back at daycare yesterday. He is doing well now, but still does not have his appetite back. He won't starve himself, right? Right?!?!? This is his fourth or fifth ear infection event, so I have set up an appointment with an ENT. Tubes, here we come?

On a separate note, a week after he turned one, we started transitioning from formula to milk. I was a little confused about how to do this, along with transitioning away from the bottle. Ben hits the bottle hard, especially when he has had a long day. Our pediatrician said to just start giving him milk in a sippy. He also suggested putting water in his bottle to make him less interested in it. Finally, he said that he really only needs about 15 oz. of milk a day, but not to worry if he even gets less than that, just to give him some yogurt. My good friend (I mention her a lot here, she is a mother of three and a fancy heart nurse for babies) said that she transitioned to milk first, and then focused on transitioning to sippys.

So that weekend, I gave Ben straight up milk in a sippy cup, and he made such a repulsive face that Dan and I were sure the milk was sour. It was not. So after that, I starting mixing formula and milk. I started with half/half. Then 75% milk. Right now, we are right about to be all milk. I think I will start trying to transition to sippy cups this weekend. Our transition has been SLOW. I do have a deadline - at daycare they have to be bottle free by the time they move into the toddler room which is at 16 months. They also have to be pacifier free. YIKES. We are going to start working on that soon too!

A friend of mine who has a son that was born on the same day as Ben (I talked about her here) said this about her little boy's transition:

*Joseph gets a 6oz bottle when he first gets up at around 6am.
*He then gets a sippy cup with milk and a sippy cup with water any time he is in the high chair. I found he would drink milk from sippy cup with straw in the beginning. Now he will also use regular one, but drinks more with the straw.
*Then he gets another 6oz bottle before bed at 7. 
He used to get a bottle at around 9,1, and 4. Now I give him a snack or meal and the sippy cup. It seems to be working and he is taking straight milk. The first two times I tried it he drank less, but after that I don't think he even realized the difference.  
I tried warming up the milk and it didn't make a difference. I tried straight up milk for the first time with his morning bottle. He wakes up hungry so I thought he wouldn't be as fussy.  That seemed to work.
At daycare, Ben is pretty much on the same schedule as Joseph. At home on the weekends, he normally has one less bottle. So I am thinking about just giving him a morning and night bottle this weekend, and no during the day bottles (replaced with sippy cups of milk at snack and meal time). I'll let you know how it goes! (by the way, Ben also rejected the exact milk/formula combo that was in his bottle when I put it in a sippy cup for some inexplicable reason. I should note though that he started drinking water from a sippy cup months ago with no problem. So it makes no sense).
After we have somewhat mastered the bottle situation, I am think about going cold turkey with the pacis....but I can't get over how cruel it all seems. When he was born, I was constantly shoving a paci in his face, and when I started going to work, I trained him to take a bottle. Now that he is actually very on board with both of these things, I am going to rip them away! It seems unfair. Poor guy.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ben's Birth Story

Flash forward one year to Ben's first birthday!
I had been pregnant FOREVER it seemed. My due date was February 21st, but I was still chugging along with no real indication that Ben was coming anytime soon when that date came. I wasn't too concerned, but I had to have that talk with the doctors when you decide when you will induce if it doesn't happen on its own by a certain point. Of course, I read a lot about it, and I was very worried about the negative effects of inducing, of starting out on the "intervention" train at the very beginning. By that point in my pregnancy, I had decided that I would most likely have an epidural, but my plan was to just go along with it and try to be able to move as much as possible, etc., and just play it by ear. I knew that I didn't want to have any opiates (or anything along those lines).

I had a birth plan and everything, but I was really mostly concerned with the newborn procedures (i.e. the Hep B shot, the Vit. K shot, the eye ointment, and cord cutting). I really wanted to be able to hold Ben and attempt to breastfeed before any of those things took place (besides maybe the cord cutting).  I was told I could delay most of it until after the first cuddle, so I was happy about that.

My doctors and I decided that we would induce on March 1st (a Friday) if I didn't go into labor on my own by then. I researched induction, and the camps were fairly split. Some said that your body knows best and no one stays pregnant forever, don't induce! Others said that after a while, the placenta isn't great anymore and there is not enough room in there, induce after 41 weeks! I decided the best thing to do was to be well-informed, but to trust my doctors. When I knew it was likely I was going to be induced, I altered my birth plan. It was basically the shortest birth plan ever, because I didn't really have much control over anything anymore when it came to the actual laboring process.

The night before my induction date, I went to the hospital for a prostaglandin treatment. It was pretty easy, and I was home before I knew it. I was scheduled to begin my induction at 7am. When I got there, they took me right back to a delivery room where I began all of the pre-stuff. Outstanding paperwork (I had pre-checked in, but there are still some forms to fill out), got my IV in, etc. I was assigned the most lovely nurse. She was so sweet and reassuring. We got to the point where she was about to start my Pitocin drip, but I asked her not to do it until I was able to speak with my doctor. He came in and talked to me about starting me on the Pitocin and how it would progress. Then, a hour or so later, my other doctor came in and broke my water. (I went to a practice of three doctors. The one on duty during my labor was busy birthing a baby at that moment, so another doctor from the practice that I was very familiar with came in to break my water. It was nice to see her.).

Then it wasn't very exciting for the next few hours. My doctor regularly checked in on me. I basically didn't feel anything for a while. Then, I started getting mildly uncomfortable at each contraction. I have a very clear memory of my nurse telling me that I had a high pain threshold. I don't really, so I was pretty proud of that. I think she was just trying to give me confidence. Then it snowballed, and I was in so much pain at each contraction that I didn't know how I was going to make it. This was in the early afternoon, basically right during lunch time. I remember this because my nurse was on her lunch break, and I felt bad because I told her that I didn't think I would want my epidural until she got back. But then, the pain got to be too much, but I was attached to her emotionally already, and I really wanted her to be with me when I got it. I couldn't do anything to mitigate the pain, like move around or stretch, because I had to be monitored constantly because I was on Pitocin. My doctor asked me if I wanted something to take off the edge (an opiate), and I was SOOOO tempted. But I held off, only because I knew I could get the epidural soon. I also managed to hold off on getting it until my nurse came back, and the epidural was put in around 2:30pm.

The epidural process was pretty uneventful. They made Dan go and sit in the corner (he gets woozy about blood sometimes), and my nurse held my hand. Sweet, sweet relief. Sort of. It only took to half of my body at first, and it took about a solid half-hour for the other side to get the memo. But, eventually it did. Oh man. What. A. Difference. At that point, I was feeling pretty good, and I was so ready to have the baby. However, at about 3pm, I was only at 4cm.

I was checked again around 5pm and was at 5-6 cm. Better, but I wished I was farther along! However, I wasn't too upset now that I wasn't doubled over in pain. I remember having a popsicle an hour or two earlier. My nurse asked me if I wanted another one, and I held off. I was going to wait for an hour or two, give myself something to look forward to, to break up the time. But ladies and gents, I never got that second popsicle.

Starting at about 5pm, the baby's (it is hard for me to refer to Ben as "Ben" at this point in the story, since this is when he started having a hard time) heart rate would get very low during each contraction. My nurse started putting me in different positions to see if that would help and relief some pressure on the poor guy. We thought he was getting too squeezed during each contraction. At first, my doctor wasn't too concerned, because the baby would recover very nicely each time. But, the changing of positions didn't help too much. And then, there was a shift in my doctor's opinion. I am not sure what did it, but it got more serious. They inserted an internal monitoring device and kept shifting me around. Then, my doctor decided to do another check. I had just had one 5pm-ish, so they normally don't do one again so soon (it was getting near 6:30 around this time). He checked. Then, everything moved at the speed of lightening. He told me that this was going to be a C-section, and it was going to be NOW. The cord was prolapsed, and it was getting compressed by his head, cutting off all air supply to him. Later, I found out that I was pretty much fully dilated at this point.

Everyone was working in a whirlwind around me, getting me ready to move to the surgery room. I was insanely scared, and began to only focus on very small details. For instance, I remember telling one nurse (because now there were about ten around me), "Don't forget to wheel the IV with me, I'm attached to it!" Otherwise, I was pretty quiet. Dan was whisked away to put on scrubs so that he could go into the room with me.

I was wheeled into the surgery room, and my doctor picked me up and put me on the table himself. From talking to my nurse afterwards, this is pretty rare. Then, the anesthesiologist was there, and she was extremely stressed out. She asked my doctor how much time she had, and he said 2-3 minutes tops, and she said "That isn't enough time!" Even though I had an epidural already, I guess it wasn't up to the strength they use for C-sections. She dosed me up higher, but I could still feel one side (similar to when I first got the epidural and one side took longer). The doctor began doing something and asking me if I could feel it. And I *could.* And it was not good. The whole experience was terrifying. After what seemed like minutes, but was actually seconds, I was told that I was going under general anesthesia, and that was the last thing I remember. Ben was born at 6:34 pm. Dan never was allowed in.
Poor Ben right after birth. This picture actually makes me sort of sad, because I think of how miserable he must have been feeling. But I am so thankful to have it! It was taken with Dan's phone by a nurse. She nicely went out and got his phone and then brought it back to him. This must have been right after 10 minutes, because he looks pinked up.
When I came to, I was in a general recovery room, which was a big room with other patients. My area was sectioned off with a curtain. I was by myself. I felt miserable, but also still very numb. I had a hard time swallowing, and, oh yeah, I really wanted to know what happened to my baby! Was he OK??? I had no choice but to sit there and wait for someone to come talk to me. I felt so helpless. Finally, either my doctor or Dan came in and explained things to me. Turns out, my doctor had come in earlier, I just have no recollection of it. I was told that Ben had to be resuscitated at birth. Due to the amount of time that he was without oxygen, they were concerned about possible brain damage and seizures. He was currently being treated by being in a low-stimuli environment and having cooling treatment. The cooling treatment was supposed to mitigate brain damage. I was told that if he had any seizures, he would need to be transferred to another hospital that had the highest level NICU.

They told me that I couldn't go see him until I could move my toes. So that was my first physical challenge as a new mother. I concentrated so hard on those damn toes. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to give one a slight wiggle. I was hauled into a wheelchair, and pushed to the NICU.

Ben undergoing the cooling treatment.
My poor sweetheart. Ben was high up on a table, in only a diaper, with a bunch of cords coming from him. I wasn't supposed to even touch him, because of the low-stimuli environment treatment, but I forgot about that and reach up to touch his toe. That was basically the only part of him I could see, because he was high up on the table, and I was way down low in the wheelchair and too numb to stand. I asked Dan to take a quick picture of him with his cell phone and show it to me. He had already taken a few pictures, but I wanted one of right that second so that it was like I was looking at him. He was all red and splotchy, and I felt so sorry for him that he must be feeling cold and miserable.
This is the picture that Dan took for me the first time I saw Ben.
The NICU doctor gave me more information and said that a lot would be determined on how Ben did throughout the night. I really tried to use all of my persuasive techniques to get the doctor to tell me if Ben would have any permanent damage or not. But he absolutely could not say either way. So it was a waiting game. Looking back, I should have been so thankful that he was even alive. Instead, I was greedily wanting him to be 100% healthy, immediately. I don't think I even thanked the doctor for saving his life.

I was wheeled to a post-partum room in the maternity ward. It was hard hearing the cries of newborns in the other rooms. Dan and our parents came back with us. I wasn't much company, but we did finally tell everyone Ben's name. As an aside, before we came to the hospital, I told Dan not to tell anyone Ben's name until I was there. I really wanted to see everyone's reactions, especially Dan's dad, because Ben's middle name, Steven, is named for him. In my head, the only scenario where this could happen would have been when Dan went into the waiting room after Ben was born and told everyone to come back. I had planned on having everyone in shortly after Ben was born, so I thought the suspense wouldn't last long. Well, Dan kept to his word, and no one knew Ben's name! Even the hospital staff were just referring to him as Baby Petouvis. It is funny looking back on it, because I would have totally been OK with Dan telling Ben's name in this situation, but he stuck to his word dammit!

They cleared out pretty quickly, and Dan and I were left in the room. I couldn't get out of bed, so I had Dan bring me some toiletries that my sister had put in a care package for me. I remember being very methodical about this, really seizing control of this small thing. I went though each product. The lotion, the face wipes, the little disposable toothbrushes, the deodorant, the mouthwash, brushing my hair. Eventually out of exhaustion, I zonked out.

I woke up with a start around 2am. I was in a panic. What could I do to help Ben? I felt so helpless. And that is when I seized on pumping. It was perfect, and really the only thing I could do to help at that point. As soon as I thought about it, I had to begin it that second. So I switched on the light (Dan was thrilled), called the nurse, and she wheeled everything in.

Ben had no seizures through the night, and they felt confident in taking him off the cooling treatment by morning. In fact, I was given the clear to pick him up and attempt to nurse. I won't get too into the nursing stuff, because I talk all about the beginning of nursing here.

Ben was a healthy weight when he was born (8 lbs. 1 oz.), so he had that going for him. And he just kept getting better and better. By the third day (I think) the NICU doctor was confidently telling me that Ben would be fine. The relief I felt was indescribable. But also, at that point I felt like, of course. Of course, he would be fine. He is Ben; he is so strong. I feel like having that thought is offensive to mothers of babies that do have problems, and I don't mean it that way at all. But that is how I felt. So thankful, but also like I expected that. I expected for him to be 100% OK. (I did not feel like this the first night, only after being with him the few days after).

Ben's first outfit! Loved that outfit. He grew out of it by the end of the week.
Later, I found out more details of his birth. He was pale and not breathing when he first came out. His first Apgar score was 1. They performed manual ventilation, and his color improved by two minutes, but he was still having trouble breathing, so they kept the manual ventilation going for about 5-6 minutes. His five minute Apgar score was 5. They kept suctioning and they used a neopuff (a sort of electronic ventilator) until 10 minutes of age. His Apgar score at 10 minutes was 9.

After his birth, I had all sorts of self-doubt. I thought maybe my choice to be induced somehow contributed to the prolapsed cord. My good friend who is a cardiac neonatal intensive care nurse told me that the cord probably was in that position regardless. She thought that actually being in the hospital for an induced birth might have help, because otherwise it may have happened if my water broke on its own at home. My sweet labor nurse (who visited me in my post-partum room the next day) echoed these sentiments. Who really knows one way or the other. The important thing is that Ben is great. I would drive myself crazy thinking of whether the decisions I made contributed to or saved him from his complications.

So happy to be going home. Ben was peeved that his morning included his circumcision and Hep B shot. As if he hadn't been through enough already people! No cameras!
A few months after Ben was born, they had a NICU reunion and I made little thank you notes for the NICU nurses with pictures of Ben. I received a letter back from one of the nurses. I really treasure that letter. Here is a bit of what she said:

"Honestly, I can say to you that Ben is a miracle. The doctors, nurses, and quick medical intervention saved him. When I left, shortly after admission, because it was a shift change, I really thought he would be moved to Fairfax [the hospital with the highest level NICU] for more medical intervention, but...He miraculously turned himself around as he transitioned. I was so thankful when he was there the next day. I think of him occasionally when I grab a pair of earrings, because I have one lonely earring sitting in my box. The other is someone near the entrance to the OR. I was rushing to get gowned and it flew out of my ear. Anyways, when I see it, I wonder how Ben is."

So that is Ben's birth story. He was born on a Friday, and discharged on a Wednesday, in a late winter snow storm. After getting home, I would just cry all of the time, because I was so thankful for everyone's kindness (and maybe from the hormones). My family, my friends, the staff at the hospital. It was just so humbling. It's hard to believe that he is a year old now! I love him so much, and I honestly could not picture my life without him in it. It is cliché, but real. His birth, while traumatic, made me even more thankful for his amazing existence. It also made me incredibly thankful for Dan. I hate to say "he was my rock," because that is so cheesy. But ya'll, he was my rock.

Happy Birthday Ben! May your life continue to be wonderfully way less exciting than your birth!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Safety First (or at least, eventually)!

Hi Folks! I thought I would do a post about baby proofing and my safety gate for our stairs. We *just* put one up two weeks ago. We live in a split level, and it was really hard to figure out how to jerry rig gates to be secure on our main living area. The typical swing gates just didn't really work with our area, because one side only could go against a spindles, etc. I actually tried with some hand-me-down gates that a co-worker gave me, and all I succeeded in doing was making a lot of unnecessary holes in our drywall and wood trim. Nice. (p.s. The holes are still there, and may always be there for all of eternity).

So, I googled split levels and safety gates and Internet researched a lot, until I came across a mommy blog with a good solution. Here is a link to that post:


She had the exact same set up as I did, so I basically just bought the exact same gate with the exact same extension (the gate had a slightly different name just due to the passage of time thought, I think).

Here is my set up:

The gate I bought was the Custom Fit Auto Close ConfigureGate ® G3000. I also purchased one 24" extension (G4310). I bought them ay Buy Buy Baby with coupons, so altogether, the price was about $124. As far as gates go, that was a little on the steep side, but it was really two gates in one, and they are really well made. It was very simple to put together. It still took some time, just making sure everything was in the right spot, but it wasn't frustrating.

I really like this gate particularly for our setup for the following reasons: when it is closed, you can still go from the top to the lower level without having to go through any gates (rather than having to go through two); there is a little "landing area" before you go up or down the stairs, which is nice; the gate will close on its own, but you can also open it all the way to 90 degrees and it will stay open (this is good for us at night, so Shelbs can walk around everywhere if she wants. We also leave it open while we are at work for Shelbs). Speaking of Shelby, she has no problem really with the gate being closed while we are all on the main level, probably because she is usually there with us anyways and doesn't want to go anywhere else. Once, I accidentally closed it behind me when Ben and I went upstairs, and she cried at the bottom because she wanted to come up with us. First child syndrome.

So far, it has been great. Before I got the gates, I played around with the idea of not having any gates. My reasoning was that, first, my space was hard to do (and I was being lazy). Second, we had been living for the past few months with just chasing him before he got to the stairs. About half the time, we would just let him crawl up for play (with us basically there holding him). Third, I figured that way I could teach him early on how to climb up and down the stairs, and he would just be more responsible about it.

Once I saw the set-up from that other mommy blog, I new it would work for our space without a ton of effort, so the first point was taken care of. Now that we have it, it is so much better. We are still with him all of the time, but he is FAST. So it is just nice that I don't have to worry about him making it to the stairs before I do. I am still a bit worried about the third point - I want him to learn to go up and down stairs in a safe way on his own. So, I am just going to try to remember to open the gate and let him go up and down with supervision on the regular.

So far, it has been sturdy and done its job! Other safety measures we have taken since Ben became mobile have been to put the little electrical socket plastic thingies in all of the empty sockets, to put locks on the kitchen cabinet doors (except for one cabinet that just has pans in it that I let him play in), and put a knob lock on the pantry door. We also just got rid of our coffee table in our living room for now. We did this mainly just so we would have more carpeted play space for him, but I guess it also has a safety benefit because he won't be banging into it. We have a fireplace, but don't have a raised hearth, so we didn't have to worry about that. I also rearranged our hall linen closet so that our extra medicine and toiletries were farther up top and the sheets were lower.

The only thing that I really want to still do is to get the a few furniture anchors for some of the bigger items around our house (a few tall pieces of furniture, a leaning mirror, etc). The ones that I wanted weren't at the store when I went last time, so I will probably order a few online and do that within the next couple of weeks. Then, I think, I will be pretty much done (woo hoo!). I also might put our cleaning items below the sink in a higher cabinet. It is behind a lock now, so I am not too worried about it, but I may just take that extra safety measure as that lock gets opened a lot due to the trash can being in there as well.

All in all, baby proofing hasn't been too bad. But really, nothing is totally baby proof. The cabinet with the pans could easily poke him in the eye, and he is constantly banging his head everywhere. The most recent thing Ben hit his head on was Dan's shin, so I don't know how we could have baby proofed that. I think the most you can do is just try to reduce major hazards and keep an eye on him!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bienvenidos a Miami!

God I miss the 90s. Remember when Will Smith was just bouncing in the club where the heat was on and all night on the beach till the break of dawn? Those were the days.

ANYWAYs, sorry I didn't do my thoughts on last week's episode. I had a busy morning at work, and to be honest, I thought it was a sort of boring ep. Except for the part where they flung poo on each other (obvi). Is there anything more hilarious and sexy than a feces fight?!?! (Answer: No).

This week, Sharleen gets the first date. She was happy to get it, because she felt she needed the time to really determine whether she should stay on. As we all know, she decided to leave. I think she has had doubts from the beginning, and it was smart of her to trust her gut and leave before the hometowns. We do NOT need another break up on the pier of doom a la Des and Brooks. That being said, I am confused as to why she didn't discuss her doubts with J.P. during their actual date. I mean, I get that apparently she had a hard time sustaining any convo at all between all the face sucking, but it seems to me that she might have at least expressed her concerns to J.P. to see what he had to say about it. But, maybe it didn't matter what he had to say. Which isn't a bad thing, maybe she just thought it would be there if it was there. And what wasn't there, according to Sharleen, was a "cerebral connection." Bless her heart! I could have told her that before this season even started! Juan Pabs would be an awesome fling for Sharleen on an extended Miami vacation while she is on furlough from Germany, but he isn't her long haul guy.

Nikki got the second date, which ended up being a trip to Cameeeela's dance recital. Nikki got to meet J.P.'s rents and the dreaded ex. And Cameeeeeela, of course. My first instinct at learning this information was to feel woefully sorry for Nikki on her choice of outfit. Had she known she would be attending a children's recital and meeting important members of J.P.'s fam, I have to think she would have not chosen hoochie shorts, a very cleavage-y flowy top, and a kimono style robe/jacket. Poor thing - she was probably thinking - OH! I will break out my "edgy" super casual clothes for hot Miami! However, she put on her big girl pants (metaphorically, of course) and jumped right into the situation. Things seem to be civil between JP and his ex, which is good, even if the ex did not seem to be throwing somersaults at Nikki's presence. Later, Nikki and JP went to the Marlin' 'stadium and talked and kissed and stuff.

On the group date, nothing really happened with Renee or Chelsea, and Clare and Andi both cried. I thought it was hilarious that Andi told the camera that JP had never really seen that side of her before, because this was literally the third time (just off the top of my head) that JP has talked her off an emotional whiny ledge. (Not that I don't like Andi, I do, it was just funny). Clare had tears due to her father, which was touching, even if Clare is not my fav. I can't believe she is the youngest of six daughters. That will be an interesting hometown! When JP gave the rose to Andi, Clare was PO-ED. Instantly, her appearance went from self-assured and happy to frazzled, mad, and slightly crazy. She was obviously spoiling for a fight when she got back to the hotel, and Nikki was her eventual target.

You all know, that I hate the Nikki-hate! First off, it was annoying when Chelsea said that "Nikki is soooo negative," when Nikki made jokes about hoping she wasn't going to dance on her date. It was a joke, she was grinning the whole time, she obviously wasn't actually complaining.

Now, to address the Clare/Nikki showdown. LOVED IT. Super funny. Clearly, Clare was the dumbass here. She was mad about not getting the date rose, and essentially taking it out on Nikki. When the three gals got home, they called for Nikki to come downstairs. She did. They told her about their date and what it bummer it was. She said ok, and that they were acting weird. Which they were. Clare was like - I am just not going to be fake about it. And then she said - I guess Andi just needed that reassurance. Now - this statement was clearly a set up to get started talk about JP giving Andi the date rose. Second, the statement assumes that the date rose should have actually gone to someone else and that JP must not really like Andi all that much. Nikki said - That's so stupid and just left the room.

I don't think that that response was horrible. Andi and Nikki are clearly close, and she didn't feel like listening to Clare debate why Andi shouldn't have received the date rose. But Clare wanted to fight, so she followed Nikki upstairs. Nikki explained that she saw the way the convo was going and didn't want to be a part of it. Clare said that she wasn't talking sh*t about Andi - OK fine. Nikki was honest with Clare - hey we are never going to like each other, so let's just leave it. But Clare was doing that insane thing that people do in fights sometimes by refusing to leave. I thought it was hilarious when Nikki told her she could excuse herself. I am with Nikki on this one, that was clearly Nikki's sleeping space, and Clare should leave if Nikki alone if she asks her to.

To absolutely no one's surprise, Chelsea went home. I cannot WAIT until next week because I NEED to know what happens in the fantasy suite that has Andi so mad! I also cannot wait to meet Clare's "big crazy family," "because she didn't get crazy all on her own." Tee hee.