Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympia!

I freaking love the Olympics!

That could be the end of the blog post, really.  I just love them!  We set up a favorites playlist on our tv so I can hit the favorite button and scroll through all the channels that are potentially showing events.  I've been watching them morning to night!  Love it!

I used to think I liked the Winter games better than the Summer - but now I think that has switched.  I love swimming and diving.  And other favorites (in no particular order): women's beach volleyball, tennis, USA soccer, women's gymnastics, various track & field events, rhythmic gymnastics, and USA men's basketball.  For the first time this year, I watched kayaking and enjoyed that.  And I must say, men's water polo is pretty impressive (in more ways than one [wink]).  I'm also hoping to catch some synchronized swimming at some point.

But I'll watch any event - these are just some of my favorites.  We even watched women's judo that other day.  Whatev!  Go USA!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ready To Run!

I couldn't resist a Dixie Chicks song as the title of this post.  But it might be more appropriately titled "Will I Be Ready To Run??"

What am I running, you might ask?  Well - Jonathan and I signed up to run the Memphis half marathon in December!

I know so many of my friends run full-length marathons all the time and have run multiple halfs - but for Jonathan and I, this is big!  Neither of us has run any race longer than 4 or 5 miles.  The most I've ever run in my life is 10 miles.  And actually, since the beginning of the second trimester of my pregnancy, I haven't run more than 2.5 consecutive miles.  (Hence the big question: Will I be ready to run??)

I'm not that worried...yet.  The reason I've only run 2.5 consecutive miles isn't because of cardiovascular endurance, it's because my body just isn't back into running shape yet and I want to take it slow to avoid injury.  I'm worried about my knees and my hips (which have been troublesome in the past), and I'm a little worried about my back (which is now constantly contorting as I hold a baby, carry his heavy carseat, and lean over the bassinet from my bed [I need to quit doing that]).  So I'm taking it slow.

But yeah - we're excited!  Stay tuned for more training updates!  (Also - does anyone have a good training plan they could pass along to me??)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Heinz With Balsamic

As the so-called "Queen," I think it's my duty to be in the know about what's happening in the world of ketchup.  So when I saw this guy at the store the other day, I picked up a bottle for a taste test!

Fun fact: I saw an article last Fall about this ketchup.  Heinz was doing a promotion through its facebook page where if you were a fan of the company you could pre-order before it hit store shelves.  Since I prefer Hunts to Heinz, I didn't participate in the promotion because I didn't want my page to say, "Jackie became a fan of Heinz."  How's that for product loyalty, Hunts?

Anyway, they are promoting this balsamic vinegar ketchup as a more mature ketchup that would hold up to bigger foods (like meats).

The first thing you notice about it is the color.  It's a dark brownish-red - very similar to bbq sauce.  And the smell is different than normal ketchup; it's a little bit smokey.

I tasted this ketchup vs. normal Hunts first just on their own.  Then I did a taste test with eggs on an English muffin (one half of the muff got an egg and Hunts and the other an egg and balsamic Heinz).

Tasting the products side by side, without any food, really showcased how different the balsamic Heinz is.  It's a bit sweeter than normal ketchup (although I think Heinz is sweeter than Hunts in general, so that might have contributed).  And it tastes more grown up, I'd say.  Maybe it's because we have the childhood associations with the flavor of normal ketchup?  But this one is more complex because it has a bit of smokiness to it.  The combo of sweet and smokey is appealing.

Once I did my egg experiment, though, the normal ketchup won hands down.  Maybe eggs were the wrong food to sample with?  But the balsamic was not good with them.  It was lacking the sharp vinegar taste that goes so well with an egg.  In fact, the smokiness didn't work at all.  It reminded me of bbq sauce in this setting (and bbq sauce on an egg sounds nasty).

I can see why they would suggest pairing with meats.  Even though I don't eat meats, I can imagine the ketchup being really nice on a burger or steak (what - was I the only person who put ketchup on a steak back when I ate meat??).  It would almost be similar to steak sauce, but yummier (because I think steak sauce is kind of gross).

Does Heinz still make Heinz 57?  If not, I wonder if it's hoping this will replace that?

Has anyone else tried it?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sleeping Thank You!

Thanks, guys, for the lovely blog comments and emails responding to my sleep post!  I appreciate all the input!

I think my biggest takeaway is: CHILL OUT.  Ha.  You guys know me - I don't relax very well.  And I love to research the crap out of stuff going on in my life.  This whole parenting thing sort of throws those two tendencies for a loop because a lot of times, I just need to chill out and let Bates do his thing. As much as it bothers my control freak, sometimes he needs to be the one showing me what he needs.

The night I wrote that blog post (when I was realllllly sleep deprived), we put him down in his crib at 8:30.  He was up at 9, 11, and 11:30 when I finally said, "F it - I'm not doing this all night" and moved him back into the bassinet in our room.  He then slept until 3:40 (ie, the longest single stretch I had slept in a LONG time), I fed him, and he went back down until 7am.  The next night, we started him in the bassinet in our room and he only woke up once to eat, basically sleeping from 8pm-7am.  Hallelujah!

One thing that sort of surprised me I heard from everyone was how common the "4-month sleep regression" is.  I found a fascinating website (that led me to a fascinating book) that says we use the term "sleep regression" to sort of acknowledge that it's a situation most babies go through at certain times.  But the term "regression" is misleading because it suggests babies' sleep progresses in a linear way (ie, they gradually start sleeping longer and longer as they get older and older until they sleep through the night: the end).  This just isn't true.

And it said how when babies suddenly start sleeping worse than they had been, we know they're going through certain phases (so when they wake up drooling and grabbing their ears, we know they're teething; when they wake up in their crib rocking back and forth on all fours, we know they're learning to crawl).  Well, it said cognitively, babies also go through different "spurts" as well, but we just can't see and identify these spurts like the other ones that are well known milestones in a kid's life.

The book I bought on my Kindle, The Wonder Weeks, describes the major cognitive milestones of the first 55 weeks of a kid's life.  The two authors (researchers) did 30 years of research observing children from birth to 55 weeks.  They say a child goes through major cognitive growth at: 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, and 55 weeks.  In the time leading up to these "wonder weeks," you can expect fussier behavior, more clinginess, poor eating, and poor sleep (ie, sleep "regressions").  The book devotes a chapter to each wonder week and describes: when you can expect to see the behavior that leads up to the week; which cognitive milestone will be taking place; things you can do/games you can play to encourage it; and feelings you might have as the parent while you're child is learning this new thing.  (Very cool book & worth checking out!)


Wouldn't you know - Bates turned 19 weeks old today.  And wouldn't you know, the book said you can expect the period leading up to the 19-week milestone to start around 15 weeks.  Bates started sleeping poorly 3 days before he turned 15 weeks (I remember because the first bad night of sleep happened the night before my mom got in town for his baptism).


It seems applicable in this situation - I'm anxious to see if it happens again with the next milestone!  (Or if the book is just a load of crap.)


But anyway - thanks for all your responses to the original blog post!  When we're ready to try again with crying it out and him in his own room, I'm definitely going to use some of your tips!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mom Friends: I Need Advice!

Ok friends with kids older than me - I need to pick your brains a little bit about everyone's favorite topic: sleep!

I realize I'm sort of opening the wormhole with this one (since everyone has their own opinion on "the best" way to get your kid to sleep).  But honestly - I just need some opinions and/or advice from people who are a few months (or years) ahead of us on parenting (ie, people who know what a 4 month old looks like vs. a 6 month old vs. a 12 month old, etc.).
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Here begins the longest blog post in the World...

Some back story:
We co-slept since the day we brought him home from the hospital.  He was in a bassinet pressed against our bed.  I don't want to dwell too much on how he slept as an early baby (since, from everything I've read, sleep habits are constantly changing as they get older), instead I want you all to understand our method so you can hopefully offer some insight.  (But for the record, he was a good sleeper and was not colicky.)

So The Method has been: rock him until he's completely asleep before putting him in the bassinet.  Any time he fusses/cries in the night (and it's not hunger), I immediately offer him comfort (shhhhhing, putting my hand on his tummy, giving him a paci) until he calms down.  This happens a minimum of twice a night, and sometimes as many as five times a night.  (Note: the fussing has never got so bad that I need to do something other than these things [ie, I almost never have to get out of bed to pick him up or rock him or anything.])  He eats once in the night - after 3am - but varying depending on the day.  And around 6 or 7am, he wakes up and, fussing or not, I bring him into our bed where he falls asleep until we get up.  These nights are roughly 8pm to 8am.

We have a solid bedtime routine that doesn't change.  And he naps three times during the day (he's one of those kids where "sleep encourages sleep" and I find if his naps are messed up or short, he definitely sleeps worse at night).
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So we decided when he turned 4 months old we would: a) move him into his nursery, and b) teach him to self-soothe by "crying it out."  The doctor suggested we do both of these at the same time.

Our New Method (as of Friday) has been: keep the same bedtime routine (bath, bottle, book, and rocking), except rocking only until he's drowsy and then putting him in his crib.  We then follow the "10 minute rule" - that is, we let him "cry it out" for 10 minutes before we go in and offer comfort.  If he calms down for a second, we re-start the 10 minute timer.  The 10 minute rule then also applies in the middle of the night when he wakes up fussing (not hungry).

Here's how it has gone with putting him down awake:

Friday Night: cried and cried and cried (and cried!) when we put him down.  This was expected.
Saturday Night: fell asleep right after feeding, so basically got put in his bed asleep.  Whoops.
Sunday Night: did fine - was awake when we put him in, but then fell asleep not too long afterwards.
Monday Night: same deal as Sunday (awesome!).
Tuesday Night: played in bed for awhile, started fussing, started crying, turned into hysterics, turned into hysterics that made him spit up a ton of food, didn't fall asleep until 9:30 after I rocked him and then stood over the crib holding his hand.  Cry-it-out fail.
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Aside from the initial putting him to sleep, though, what really frustrates me about his sleeping is the middle-of-the-night waking!  He's been waking up a lot!  And now that he's in his own room, I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place: I know if I go in right when he wakes up and soothe him, he'll go back to sleep without much fuss.  Doing this, though, isn't helping at all with the self soothing.  On the other hand, if I don't go in right away (ie, follow the 10 minute rule), I am (I guess?) helping him learn to self soothe.  Buuuuut then he will not go right back to sleep after I come in.  In fact, a lot of times, 10 minutes has been enough time for the fussing to severely escalate into uncontrollable crying.  A couple nights ago he was so fired up at 1am I had to feed him!  It was the only thing that would calm him down (both Jonathan and I took turns trying to calm him).

And you guys - these nighttime wakings are KILLING ME!  When he was in our room, the whole night would feel sort of hazy the next day - like, I knew I had been up a couple times soothing him, but since all I had to do was reach over the bed, I never really woke up.  Whereas now that I have to get out of bed to do anything (thus waking myself up), I'm exhausted because I think, quite literally, I'm only sleeping 4-5 broken up hours a night (which is not enough for me - I need sleep; actually, I need solid blocks of sleep - this hour here, hour there thing isn't working).
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So questions:
1) I get that self-soothing is important.  And I get that "crying it out" is just that.  But where do you draw the line with the crying?  I'm thinking crying so much you vomit isn't really helping anything...  (And if you let your kid cry until he fell asleep - what on Earth did you do to occupy yourself to keep from going in and comforting him??)

2) We maybe should have let him "cry it out" sooner than 4 months - but since we didn't - do you think we should let him learn to self soothe asap to avoid wasting any more time?  Or do you think a, say 6-month old is better equipped to self soothe than a 4-month old (and we should therefore wait)?  How old were your kids when you decided they could self-soothe?  Did any of you try to let them self soothe, realize it wasn't working, and wait a month or so?  Or does it always eventually work, it just needs time?

3) Do most kids wake up multiple times in the night?  Or when others say their kid "sleeps through the night" do they literally mean getting in bed at 8 and not peeping again until 8 the next morning?

4) How long did it take for your kids to adjust to new routines?  I've read books that say it should only take 3 days for a new routine to stick - and other books say a week - and others say 2 weeks.  What did it look like in your experience?

5) What are your thoughts about the middle-of-the-night Catch 22 (that is, if I immediately respond to his fussing, he'll go right back to sleep vs. the 10 minute rule where the crying escalates so much he's then wide awake, but on one hand I'm helping him learn to self soothe vs. continuing to reinforce that he needs me to fall asleep)?

6) Did any of your have a really successful way to either teach your kid to self soothe OR teach your kid to sleep the night that you think I should try?

7) Sort of unrelated, but Bates only wants to sleep on his tummy.  We put him "back to sleep" and he immediately rolls over.  The doctor says it's ok.  But the other night our fancy-schmancy monitor that has a motion detector (ie tells you if they aren't moving [breathing] after 20 seconds and sounds an alarm) went off like 5 times.  And every time I went in there he was on his tummy, face-down in the mattress.  I'm now out of my mind scared of SIDS - that he's going to be face down in the mattress and breath too much CO2, etc.  Anyone else have a tummy sleeper?  Was he often face-down to the mattress?  Did it freak you out??

Any insight is appreciated!  I talked to his doctor about the whole thing before we did the big switch-a-roo to the nursery and she noted that since he doesn't know how to self soothe, he needs to learn.  But she also said, "I think, given how well he's been sleeping, it won't be a big deal or a hard transition."  Hmm.  Maybe I just need to give it more time?  It's only been 5 nights.  Will all this be better in a week or so?

Monday, July 2, 2012

4 Months Old!

Four Month Stats
Length: 25.5 inches - 86%
Weight: 13 lbs, 7.5 ozs - 31%
Head Circ.: 41 cm - 42%

Oh my sweet baby boy - you are four months old!  One third of a year!  You're officially out of the "fourth trimester;" and while I'm not 100% sure what that's supposed to signify, I'm assuming it means you're a big boy now!

And it's true, in a lot of ways, you are a big boy.

Physically:
You've been strong since day one (literally, your first day of life you were able to hold your neck up a little bit).  And now that you're four months old, you can do a lot more stuff physically.  You love to stand on our laps while we hold you under your armpits.  You can roll from tummy to back and back to tummy, and frankly, you're giving mommy a heart attack every night by rolling from back to tummy so you can sleep on your stomach.  (When you're not sleeping on your stomach, you like to sleep on your side in a little "L" shaped position that's positively adorable.)  And finally, you're starting (a teeny, tiny bit) to scoot when placed on your tummy; you definitely don't have the arm/leg movements figured out that suggest you'll be crawling tomorrow or any time soon, but you'll stick your bum into the air (holding it up by your legs) and then move your arms, so that, slooooowly but surely, you can get from one side of a blanket to the other.

Coordination:
Watching you grow up and learn new "tricks" every week has been so interesting from my perspective.  It's crazy how one day you won't do something, and then the next day, all of a sudden you'll have figured out this new thing that you start doing all the time.  In the past month or so, you discovered your hands.  It started with you clasping them together.  Then they went straight for your mouth (which is where they're likely found these days).  But you've also learned how to grab/bat at things and, depending on the thing, you've learned how to put it in your mouth.  As of a few days ago, you can now also grab the paci out of your mouth in a deliberate motion (not just have your hand get stuck on it and by default pull it out).  Aside from your hands, you are super alert/aware of what's going on and concentrate your eyes on wherever the action is.

You're basically mommy's little buddy during the day.  We do lots of fun stuff!  We play with toys (your favorite being ones with rattles [including a stuffed giraffe who has a rattle in his head], Sophie the Giraffe, and other little plastic baby toys that make different noises).  We read a lot of books (your favorites: Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, On The Night You Were Born, The Sad Mad Glad Baby, Llama Llama Red Pajama, and I Love You Stinky Face; your least favorite: Goodnight Moon [no clue why - but you cry when we try to read it to you]).  We swing a lot on the front porch swing; sing songs; dance around; play peek-a-boo; play in your exersaucer; and just generally have a good time.  The itsy-bitsy spider:

Up until 4 days ago, you slept in a bassinet in mommy/daddy's room.  You've been an awesome sleeper pretty much all of your life until a couple weeks ago.  We have no clue what was going on, but there was a major sleep regression on your part (which included multiple, screaming/crying night wakings).  After talking to the doctor at your 4-month check up, we decided to transition you into your big boy crib in the nursery and work on teaching you to "self soothe" yourself to sleep (ie, crying it out a little bit).  Mommy cried the first night you were in the nursery.  Not so much because you were crying yourself to sleep (which was pretty sad), but because I was sad to have you out of our room.  Every morning around 5 or 6 am, I would bring you into bed with me and we would snooze together until we woke up for the day.  I thought this would end with the nursery transition, but actually, I've still brought you in every morning (it just takes a little extra movement on my part)!  I love seeing your little smile brighten up when I finally open my eyes and our faces are inches away from each other.  (And seriously, what is cuter than a kid in footed jammies with a big bear on them??)

And your little smile - I should mention - is so abundant!  You bring joy to anyone who gets to hang out with you.  You have a really happy disposition that pretty much only gets interrupted when you're tired or hungry (and most nights after 7pm...it's the "witching hour").

You aren't on a schedule, but we have a routine.  You basically take 3 naps a day, have 5, 5-oz bottles of breastmilk during the day (mommy's still pumping strong!), and a 3-oz bottle of milk if you wake up in the middle of the night.  We've done rice cereal a couple times - but I'm going to blog more on that later.  We do eat-play-sleep, so it ends up being about 2 hours of play with one hour of sleep all day long.

All of these things are important, for sure - but most important is how much joy you bring to your mommy and daddy's lives!  I don't exactly forget what our life was like before you came along, but I have to say, it's hard to imagine how we lived without you.  You bring so much fullness - such completeness - that it's hard to remember living without that.  We can't wait to watch you continue to grow!