Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We love vegetables!!

This is Gabriel with zucchini on his face. It's his favorite vegetable - also the first one we tried. He just loves it. He's not making a super happy face right here, but that's mainly the effect of the camera, not the food. So, yes, we are eating veggies now, so far just zucchini and carrots. We just started the carrots a few days ago, but we've been doing zucchini for a couple of weeks. And we've given up on rice cereal. It is just too boring. Now we're eating oatmeal instead, and later this week we'll try a multi-grain cereal. Gabriel is also getting better at drinking water, both out of a real cup and a sippy cup. Yesterday I gave him diluted juice for the first time. One of the moms in my PEPS group suggested pear juice for constipation, so that's what we're trying. When I mentioned constipation in the last post, I was being naive - he was not constipated then. Now I know the difference! So anyway, hopefully the juice will help . . .
I don't really have any pictures this week unfortunately, my camera needs batteries before I can get any new ones from it to the computer. Fun things are happening besides vegetables though . . . we've discovered clapping!! Clapping is Gabriel's new favorite thing. And it really is the cutest thing in the world to see. I've started doing some baby signs with him, and now we're working on waving. He just loves doing things with his hands, and watching my hands. He also LOVES getting into EVERYTHING!! He can't even crawl, yet he manages to get into everything within reach, and many things that are just barely out of reach. He is working really hard on figuring out this crawling thing, so we really need to start paying attention to what's around him. I think Gabriel is going to be a very very entertaining (and a little bit difficult) little mover!
Another thing that happened since my last post was that we turned six months old!! So there was a doctor's visit, which went fine. Gabriel is right about average for both height and weight (oddly enough he's just above for weight, just below for height). He's about 18 lbs and a little over 26" long/tall. His head circumference is still well above average though, which I find amusing. He just needs a big head to hold that large brain of his!
And what post would be complete without a sleep update? Well at least we are getting good naps!! And night time sleep is a little bit better, but that's mainly because I've just completely given in. Which is a good thing. Sometimes you just have to let go and admit that you have no control over a situation (or person!). So when Gabriel simply will not stay asleep on his own in his crib, I just sleep with him. Unfortunately our bed is not big enough for the three of us, so this means Gabriel and I sleep on the couch, which is actually very comfortable, more so than the two of us in the bed. I'm also trying out sleeping in his room, on the recliner, when he is sleeping in his crib. This hasn't seemed to make a difference so far, however. Last night we actually got our longest stretch of sleep in ages, I think it was close to six hours! Of course it was on the couch, with Gabriel in my arms, but still. I read something by a mom who was going through a similar thing with her baby, and she said that she had to just stop worrying about the bad habits that the books told her she would be creating, and just give her baby what she needed. And it worked fine for her. So that's what I'm trying to do. If Gabriel needs to sleep with me for a little bit, I can do that. His sleeping habits will get better some day. I know they will . . .
Sorry for the super-boring pictureless post! I promise more pictures next time.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day and a visit from Grandma

Well, I have more complaining about sleep (or lack there of) to do, but I think that we're all pretty tired of that, so I won't. I'll just say that it's not really getting better yet, but now I think that constipation is the problem (we're just putting all the gory details out there!). So anyway . . . naps are getting back to normal though. Yesterday I moved him to his crib for his naps and he did fantastic! So that was exciting. I'm looking forward to moving him into his crib at night too. I was waiting until he was sleeping better, but if we hit six months and are still having problems, we'll just deal with it in his crib instead. He's too big for his bassinet now anyway.
The solid food is going well this time. It's probably the culprit of the constipation, but other than that he's handling it well. This week I'm going to start giving him servings at breakfast too, and maybe lunch when we're home. I'm waiting until he hits six months to introduce something other than rice cereal, unless he lets me know he's just super bored with it. I plan on making his food, except for the cereals, because I really don't see any reason to buy it when it seems so easy to make. I'm sure there will be updates on that, we'll see how it actually goes in practice. This is Gabriel eating in his chair - the other little baby seat was too hard to keep clean, and this one's meant for eating in anyway.
Our big news for this week was we had a surprise visit from Grandma Mary! She had been planning on coming up soon, so it wasn't a huge surprise, but we weren't expecting her this weekend until just a few days before. So she and her boyfriend Nick were able to join us for Robert's first Father's Day, which was fun. On Saturday we went to the Fremont Summer Solstice Festival. We took the bus into Seattle, because parking is always impossible. We caught some of the parade. We were going to try to take Gabriel in the Baby Bjorn, but he's pretty much grown out of it completely. He's just too tall, so no matter who's wearing it, you get hit in the chin with his little head. So we had to take a stroller into the madness. In order to avoid dealing with the car seat + stroller combo on the bus, we just put Gabriel in the big kid side of the stroller. He can sit up well enough, he's just a little small. So he looks kind of funny. But I think he enjoyed the different perspective.
We did practically nothing on Father's Day, just hung out all day. We did finally give Gabriel a mohawk, although his hair is so fine, and we only had hair wax, it didn't really stay up. But it was cute while it lasted. His hair is really goofy - because most of it fell out on the sides, the top middle is just super long, and the hair that has grown back in on the sides can't keep up. When it's not looking like a mohawk, it looks like a comb-over, which might be equally hilarious.
Here's hoping I have better things to report on the sleep front next week!
**Edit: sorry for cutting you partially out of that top picture Mary! Blogger can't seem to deal with a picture that big - maybe on different computers it displays better . . . **

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The No-Cry Sleep Solution

As of last Thursday, we have given up on letting our little boy "cry it out". It was really just terrible. Honestly, I think it is a solution that can work for some babies - I'm not necessarily totally against it just because it didn't work for us. But it really really didn't work for us. Once you've listened to your baby scream his head off for more than two hours every night for five nights straight, you might come to the same conclusion. So now we're trying the appropriately named "no-cry" sleep solution, from the book of the same name, by Elizabeth Pantley.
Pantley's method is a collection of tactics to help your baby sleep better. She presents them all, and then you put together your own "sleep solution" from her ideas. Most of them were ones I'd at least heard of, some I've tried. The great thing about the book is that it is so encouraging. Like I said, I'd tried some of these methods, but when you don't see immediate results, you move on to the next thing. Pantley reminds you that expecting immediate results from anything is inappropriate. She has you log your progress only once every ten days - otherwise you won't see the progress you're looking for. So yes, it takes time. But she promises results, you must simply have patience. There's a lot more I could say about the book, because I really do like it, but there is also a lot more to say about Gabriel, and I like him better.
One of the suggested solutions that you can add to your plan is to introduce a "lovey" (or a snuggli, as I like to call it). Here is Gabriel with his snuggli - it's a little blankey thing that my Aunt Robyn made for him. In this picture he has pulled it over his face. He does this all the time now, with whatever blanket-type thing is handy, usually when he's sleepy. In this case, he pulled it over his face and then just lay there while I finished changing his diaper, and even while I ran and grabbed the camera. One of the times he did this I thought he was actually trying to play peek-a-boo with me, but I think now it might have been a coincidence. He was on the changing table, with his blanket over his face, and I said "Where's Gabriel?" He immediately yanked the blanket off his face and was smiling at me! But I've tried it since then and he hasn't really done it again, so it may have been just a super adorable coincidence.
In food-related news, we have reintroduced rice cereal. I've started using a super cool bib that I dug out - not sure who gave it to us, but both Gabriel and I really like it. It kind of distracts him while he's eating, but pretty much everything distracts him, so that's no big deal. So far we seem to be doing good with solid food - I've stopped giving Gabriel his multivitamin though, because I started it around the same time as the food, but if he has any problems, I won't know which it's from. So now hopefully I can narrow it down a little bit better.
And here is a picture of Gabriel doing his baby yoga. He's very limber, as babies are. This is the sort of thing he does when he's sleepy - he looks for something to snuggle against, and if nothing's close, he just flops over and rubs his face on his toes. Another cute thing he does now is play with his pacifier. I wasn't sure how I felt about pacifiers, although Gabriel really seemed to enjoy his, and he definitely needs them for sleep. But now I've decided that they're okay. With the one he uses during the day he is developing his fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. You can actually see the little wheels turning in his brain as he picks it up and figures out how its supposed to go in his mouth. He's really good at picking most of his toys up and manipulating them. It's a lot of fun to watch.
In mom-related news, I am excited to say that I am down to my pre-pregnancy weight. I have felt like I've weighed less since I was sick, but yesterday I confirmed it - I'm back to "normal". My goal was actually about five pounds less (I figure I might as well go for lower), but I honestly feel really good at the weight I am. I may always have a little mummy-tummy, but I'm not really concerned about that. Once I'm not suffering from so much sleep deprivation and able to consistently work out again, I may get down another five pounds. But I'm more concerned about staying active at this point. So hopefully we'll get this sleep deprivation problem solved soon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Check it out - a book review!

While I have not gone back to my book review blogging habits of over a year ago, I am still reading. Although I must admit, I am reading a lot less. I now can barely manage more than one book at a time, and I'm reading only three or four a month. For me that's a big step down. But I'm okay with it.
So I am including this book review here because it is about babies. The book is Growing a Reader from Birth: Your Child's Path from Language to Literacy by Diane McGuinness. Obviously I am interested in having a child who is a reader. I think the main reason why I am such a big reader is because both my parents modeled reading as a (very) common behavior as I was growing up. After reading this book, especially the last chapter about current literacy programs in schools, I have been thinking about how I learned to read. I actually do remember bits and pieces of learning, but not where it came from. But when I think about it hard enough, I think that my mom must have taught me before I started school. I remember being way ahead of the other kids, even when I started in the gifted program in second grade. Go Mom!
So, back to the book review. McGuinness structures the book by your child's age, beginning with the first year of life. For each section she reviews the literature on language development. (Her basic premise is that in order to be a good reader, we must first have top-notch communication skills.) She distills the important information out of the most current studies, and offers it to the reader in a coherent fashion. She finishes each section by discussing ways that parents can improve their child's language development, based on the current science.
Many of the tips are self-explanatory (talk to your child!), but she gives important details and ways to test your own communication style. The ideas that resonated the most with me were the difference between a repetitive style and an elaborative style, and, related to that, letting your child guide the conversation, rather than forcing it where you want it to go. The communication styles refer to conversations with toddlers - a repetitive style is one that mostly contains one-word answers and does not bother to expand on the topic under discussion, while the elaborative style is one where the parent adds lots of extra information on the topic under discussion, especially if it is one the child finds interesting. An example of an elaborative conversation from the book is -
Parent: What did we see down in the harbor?
Child: Boat
P: Yes we did, we saw a lot of boats didn't we? Do remember, some were big and some were small.
C: Small boat. Bird.
P: Oh, you remember the birds! We saw birds sitting on the small boat didn't we? Looking for fish. Do you remember what kind of birds they were?
C: Fish birds?
P: No they're called seagulls. Can you say seagulls?
C: Seagulls.
P: Good! That's very good!
The boy in this example is thirty months old. This is contrasted with the actual conversation, where the dad kept changing the subject to try to get the "proper" response from his son. That conversation ended with the boy in tears. Obviously not much learning taking place in that case. The key is to not be afraid to talk more than your child. He needs to hear you, as long as you're giving him a chance to participate as well.
The book ends with a discussion of current literacy practices in schools, and how, for the most part, they do nothing to actually teach children how to read. From McGuinness's examples, it's hard to see why these are the methods that are still predominate. She gives tips on investigating your school's methods, and what programs you can use at home if your school is not using a phonics-based method.
As you can probably see, I really thought this was an excellent book, and I highly recommend it for parents with children ages five and under. I know I will be using all of the tips, as well as modeling reading to my child. I kind of can't help that part!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Surprise, surprise, another post that revolves around sleep. I told you I was obsessed. But in this case I have mostly good things to report! Gabriel has decided to create his own naps during the day, right on schedule. According to the books (I know I shouldn't rely on what I read so much, but I can't help it), he's supposed to be developing two long naps, with a possible short late afternoon nap. And he's totally done it! I was just focusing on getting him down for at least 45 minutes after he'd been awake for an hour and a half or so. But he sort of shifted into these one and a half hour to two hour naps within the last week. I've been reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, and he makes a big deal about "protecting the naps". He gives tips on how to get your child to take these two naps, and then stick with them for as long as they need them. I'm pretty stoked that we've already passed one step. Next is making sure he can actually fall asleep on his own. Currently we don't have much of a problem when it comes to falling asleep, but he does always do it while we're snuggling, on my lap. At least I've broken the rocking him to sleep habit!! So for naps, that's the next step. But I'm very happy with where we are right now.
This is Gabriel after he woke up from a recent nap. The funny thing about this picture is that he's turned himself completely perpendicular to the way I laid him down. And the blankets with the little bunnies on them? Those are supposed to act as bumpers on either side of him, simulating the wedge. He didn't seem bothered by all this movement - this was one of the long naps. I've since put the little music box/white noise maker in one of the cubbies below where he sleeps, now that he's become such a little mover. So no more cords in the bed, don't worry!
In further sleeping news, we have spent the past two nights trying the cry it out method, in very specific circumstances. Like I said, we don't have much of a problem falling asleep, although that is something we will work on in the future. The problem is the "night waking", and I don't mean for feeding. Gabriel will simply not stay asleep through the night, with the problem being the worst before midnight. I decided that I was tired of spending my evenings fighting to get him back to bed. So on Sunday night, when he woke up around 8 o'clock, I didn't go in to put him back to sleep. Of course he cried . . . for two and a half hours. So that was absolutely no fun. Once he fell back asleep, I went and checked on him, and he looked surprisingly similar to how he does in the picture above. He woke up again an hour or so later, which was a feeding wake-up, so I fed and changed him. He fell immediately back asleep and slept for eight hours without waking up. This seemed miraculous, and I was hopeful about future nights. Last night was terrible however. He didn't cry the whole time, in fact he had many quiet, talking to himself periods. But he didn't fall back asleep for three hours. After those three hours, I finally just picked him up to feed and change him. And then he woke up every couple of hours for the rest of the night. Of course, we don't want to have him crying it out when he's still sleeping in the same room as us, and Robert has to go to work the next day, so after midnight I just do my normal soothing back to sleep routine. So we're kind of a mess. Maybe I should have waited to try this until he is in his own room (which will happen soon, in the next couple of weeks). I am just so so tired of dealing with his waking up all the time. Dr. Weissbluth says that if babies are getting enough sleep, night waking should go away on its own - so protect the naps and put them down for early bedtimes. I'm going to try again tonight, but I'm giving it only two more nights, and if there's no improvement, we'll put the crying it out method on hold until he's in his own room.
Okay, that should be everything I have to say about sleep. In other news, we stopped the solid food feedings. I only did it for about a week, but he was having a lot of problems with his reflux and sleeping, and the solid food was not making it better, and was maybe making it worse. He recently started refusing his medication by clamping his little jaws shut (see picture), so I now have to force it down the back of his throat. But at least he's getting his full dose now. We went through a few weeks where that wasn't happening. So now his reflux is bothering him less, so we may try the solid food thing again soon. He at least seemed to enjoy it.
Other than the night-time sleeping/waking thing, we've been having fun. I was really sick last week (apparently breastfeeding just makes you more susceptible - I even got three cold sores!), but Gabriel managed to fight it off. He got a fever for one day, and was lethargic for a couple days, but he didn't get really sick. During that time however he started making this face. It's combined with heavy breathing through his nose, so it's really funny, even though he doesn't seem particularly happy when he does it. I thought maybe his nose was bothering him. I think that may have been the case, because he's been doing it less the past few days. I don't know if he appreciates us laughing at him and making the face back at him every time, but it's kind of hard not to.
Gabriel is sitting up really well, and all the time. He lets me know he's done eating by clenching his stomach muscles and trying to sit up on his own. I still put him on his back and his tummy for some play time, but for the most part we do this. I just vary the location and the toys involved. We also use the exersaucer, but not as much. When he's on his tummy he tries to crawl - he lifts his butt up off the ground and gets on his knees, but then of course he can't go anywhere. He's still not rolling over, but he's getting closer to doing so, and he actually seems like maybe he wants to now. He falls forward sometimes when he's sitting up, and ends up on his tummy. Usually its when he's trying to get something that's out of reach. I think that's what's going to get him crawling more than anything else!
I think that's about it - hopefully next week I will have positive things to report about nighttime sleeping!! Meanwhile, enjoy some more pictures. This is the hoped-for picture of Gabriel munching on his toes. And this is Gabriel with his friends Avery (left) and Brian (center). I get together with their moms Merrie and MJ (and one other mom Jennille and her little girl Piper) about once a week. Merrie recently went back to work, so we'll be seeing her only once a month or so from now on. I'll also be getting together with the ladies I met in my PEPS group (another new moms group) on a weekly basis, so maybe I'll have more to say about them soon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sleep - it's always about Sleep

I'm pretty sure that just about every mom has a single issue that consumes their thoughts about their child, an issue that they bring up every time they talk to another mom, simply because they can't help thinking about it. For me, that issue is sleep. At first it was nighttime sleep, then it became napping, and now we're back to nighttime sleep again. It's a little sad how obsessed with this issue I am.
Lately we've been having a big problem with staying asleep at night. We had gotten to the point where I would put Gabriel down for bed around 9 or 10, then he would sleep till 7-ish, with one wake up during the night for feeding. Well I decided that he was ready for an earlier bedtime, one that would allow me to actually see my husband when he came home from work, before I collapsed into bed myself. Gabriel had proven that he could sleep from midnight to 7-ish, having done so a handful of times, so I thought we would just move his feeding time, and just do one feeding for the whole night. What I neglected to realize was that this was effectively removing one feeding. It seemed okay at first, but over the past few weeks, it's just gotten more and more difficult. Gabriel will typically fall asleep when I want him to, but for the past two weeks, he has woken up every single hour until his midnight feeding. This does not help Robert and I get more time together, needless to say. You'd think I would have figured out that he was still hungry because I'd eliminated one of his feedings, but no, this simple fact did not dawn on me until this weekend. So the new solution, which is already working better, is that I do our normal bedtime routine (with one new addition! see below!), then I feed him around 9-ish when he wakes up. Then I feed him again in the middle of the night - it's been around 1am the past couple of nights. I think he's still not getting quite enough to eat at that middle of the night feeding - he's been waking up between 4 and 5 every morning, then I get him back to sleep until 6-ish. I think he just needs to get used to the new schedule still; I'm really not interested in doing three feedings at night - he's big enough that he shouldn't still need that many.
Other sleep issues that we have recently come up against deal with where Gabriel sleeps. Since we first brought him home, he has slept in the bassinet top of our pack'n'play, right next to the bed. When he was diagnosed with reflux, we were given this sleeping wedge for him. I finally took some pictures of him in it. I really wish I would have done so when we first got it, just to compare how much he's grown. As you can see, being swaddled while in the wedge is a pretty funny sight. (A friend of mine said he looks like Frankenstein's monster on the table.) He's pretty much grown out of it, and while they can make me one that he will fit in until he's six months old, I decided we were just going to end it. So for the past two days he's slept with the mattress raised, and two little bumpers on either side of him, so that it feels similar to the wedge. So far this seems to be working great.
And now for some fun, still sort of sleep-related news! We have started Gabriel on solid foods! Sunday night was the first time. As you can see, he had a great time. It was very entertaining, and I think he even swallowed some. Last night I fed him again, and he actually "ate" all that I made for him. This was only a couple of tablespoons, but still. He definitely got some inside his tummy! He really seems to enjoy eating, and we've had no bad reactions to the rice cereal. I'll be sticking with rice cereal until he's six months old. I'm going to take it really slow with introducing new foods because of all of my own food allergies. Hopefully he'll be like his daddy, and have no food allergies at all! (I mentioned that this was sleep-related because hopefully having solid food in him will help him stay asleep better.)
I will do my best to post weekly from now on. There's always something new going on. Besides everything else, Gabriel managed to get a big toe in his mouth last night! I'll be working on getting a picture of that this week.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Okay, so here is the picture post that was promised. Blogger sometimes does funny things, so I am apologizing in advance if this post looks goofy. Sometimes it displays fine on my computer, but looks all screwy on other people's. Hopefully it won't be too bad.
So first we have pictures taken when all of Gabriel's West relatives visited. This was at the very end of March, so Gabriel is almost three months old in these pictures.
Here's Gabriel with Uncle Alex.
Next is Gabriel with all the West boys: Alex, Jacob, Robert, and Grandpa Jim.
Next is a picture of Aunt Katie with a sleeping Gabriel.
Then we have two pictures of Gabriel in his baby carrier - one with Robert at Pike's Place, one with me at the dog park.
The next four pictures were all taken of Gabriel during the month of April. We have him sucking his thumb, rocking tummy time, hanging out in his swing (which he will no longer do), and sitting in his baby chair with George.
So there you have it. I'll try to post more often from now on, maybe even weekly!!