Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Owen Update

One of Owen’s favorite things to do at the moment is play with a small flashlight of Sean’s.  He will shine it on the ceiling and on the walls and then on his own two feet, upon which he will often do a little dance.  Here he is enjoying the flashlight:

He also likes to exercise his sense of smell and will sniff things if told to do so.  Here he is in Target with Susan smelling the candles.

Another of his favorite activities is to put his toys in stacks and piles.  I was reading something the other day about what a 17-month old likes to do, and it said something to the extent that your 17 month old likes to categorize, so will probably start sorting his toys and putting like with like—so Owen is pretty much textbook right now.  It’s the first thing he does in the morning when he comes downstairs and see his toys—he starts to move one kind of toy to the coffee table, while chortling happily.

He likes music and will stop and dance to it.  He will also often sing a La La La, although I haven’t really noticed him singing anything in particular yet.  One night I was holding him against my shoulder as I tried to get him to go to sleep, and started singing a Christmas carol; after a minute or two, he joined in and started wailing a little complementary tune.  Which would have been cuter, had I not been trying to get him to fall asleep!  At the moment he is on a brief hiatus from his music class, but will hopefully start again soon.  In the picture below he is singing to himself while he plays with his blocks:

Owen’s mealtimes are still not much fun.  He’s not necessarily a skinny toddler, so he seems to be getting enough to eat, which is good.  But he only eats the same old things and spits out anything new we try to give him, as well as any vegetable that isn’t in babyfood puree form.  He most definitely does not trust us now when we give him something new, even if it is something that he should like—like cheesy risotto, a healthy version of chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, or pasta.  So basically he eats fruit, whole wheat bread, cheese, bagels, oatmeal, tons of yogurt, and any kind of sweet or salty snack.  He can do better!  So we continue to each night put food on his tray and in his mouth and he continues to ignore it or spit it out.  I suppose we are at an impasse.

Since writing the above he did surprise me by eating couscous and a few mouthfuls of scrambled eggs.  But whether or not I can get him to repeat that remains to be seen.

He is definitely a busy and mostly happy little fellow.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"

We have a really good variety of songbirds in our neighborhood and yard, and although I have been enjoying seeing and hearing them, until recently I had not put out seed for them to eat.  Mainly because with a baby, a full-time job, a dog, and two cats, I just didn’t have the time for another extraneous chore of the caretaking variety.  But I also held off because I can get a bit obsessed with the birds if I feel like they are relying on me for food.  I get all, THE BIRDS! HOW WILL THEY FIND ANYTHING TO EAT?!  And although I warned Sean about this, that once I start feeding them I will get all OCD about it, he still encouraged me to buy seed and put up a feeder for the feathered rascals. 

So I did at the end of December, and at first all was well:  the titmice and chickadees found the feeder first, and then other birds caught on, and our yard was all a-flutter and it was interesting to watch.  But then came the polar vortex, and its 3 degrees convinced me that without more seed our neighborhood song birds would freeze and fall from the sky.  So I decided that I needed to supplement the seed in the feeder with some extra safflower and sunflower seeds sprinkled on the table.  And the birds loved this!

But now I am often in a state of worry about what seeds are available, where, and when.  And if a bird should stop by the picnic table and NOT find seed there, it is all I can do to keep myself from running out with a cup of seed and refreshing the sprinkling.

I’m trying to contain my crazy but am not always succeeding.  I’ll leave you with an interesting bird event:  one very cold Saturday a robin came to a tree in our backyard that was covered with red berries and that my parents the gardeners think is a kind of decorative crabapple.  Anyway, this tree has been covered with berries since the fall, and all of a sudden on this one Saturday at the end of December, a robin landed and ate a berry and then summoned its flock to the tree.  Soon there were twenty to thirty robins in the tree, all puffed up and plump, and gorging themselves on berries.  They came at 9 and left at around 2 and when they did so, nary a berry remained on the tree.  Here’s a blurry picture or two of the event:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

Having had no uninterrupted sleep since August of 2012, Sean and I took a sleep training class last week at our nearby Breastfeeding Resource Center.  The woman who taught the class was great—her presentation was a really interesting mix of science and experience and anecdote, and she also specifically addressed the situation of all 8 attendees.

So tomorrow we begin sleep training with Owen, which I dread, despite feeling rather optimistic about the results.  As if aware that his nights as a co-sleeper – or as Sean would put it, a “sleep terrorist” – are numbered, Owen has been making all sorts of leaps and bounds in the past seven days.  Most importantly, I’ve put him back in his crib the last few nights after nursing, instead of letting him flail and punch and head-butt me in my bed, and each time he has basically gone right down with nary a peep.  He still wakes up every few hours for the most part, although five nights or so ago he slept from 7:30 to 4:30 in a stretch—which is the longest he has slept ever.  So I think what it comes down to is that (knock on wood) we are beginning sleep training at a really good window in Owen’s sleep development, such as it is.  I think he now prefers the crib, so we really will “just” have to break him of the habit of getting up to nurse multiple times during the night, and also of having us be how he gets himself back to sleep.

On Thursday we begin letting him cry for five, then ten, then fifteen, then twenty minutes at a stretch.  When we go in to offer him comfort, we will not pick him up.  This will be the hard part for me, as well as the not nursing.  The other difficult part will be that since he more or less sleeps happily and well from 7:30 to between 12 and 2, we will basically be beginning the sleep training in the wee small hours of the night.  Urgh.

For most kids it takes seven days, although I’m told the average is two weeks.  Owen is definitely a stubborn little guy, but I still feel strangely hopeful that it is going to work.  In the meantime, if you see Sean and me walking around like zombies for the next week, it is because our sleep is temporarily becoming even more fragmented.

On the nap front, Owen has all of a sudden been extending his usual one hour and twenty minute nap to much longer.  On Saturday, we even had to postpone a trip to the aquarium because Owen took a three and a half hour nap instead!  We just couldn’t bring ourselves to wake him up, although finally did so at the end.  To summarize:  Sleep!  Baby!  OMG!  WTF?!  ZZZZZZZ.

Owen explaining to Plum why it is fun to wake up in the night.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Traveling Toddler

I feel the need to mention for the record that we drove from Pennsylvania to North Carolina to spend Christmas with my sister and family, and Owen was really an angel all ten hours there and ten hours back.  Although he got through the Bag Of Intriguing New Toys I had packed for him relatively quickly, he rarely fussed, enjoyed the rest stops heartily, and was just all out a good boy.

Dorothy rode shotgun, and she was a good girl too:

In general these days Dorothy is an excellent traveler.  She no longer gets nervous or carsick, and as long as she is with her dad, all is well in her world.  She was quite well behaved at my sister's house too.  She growled a bit at her cousin Yuki, a shelty-ish sort, but after that initial grumpiness they got along quite well.  Dorothy is also a very low-keyed houseguest.  She pretty much just hunkers down and goes along with the flow.

Owen did well, too, although he didn't really pay much attention to the Christmas aspects of the visit; he was even not very interested in the presents, but was instead very interested in climbing repeatedly up the main staircase and then walking down while holding our hands.  This of course meant that Sean and I had to spend the majority of our time following along behind him, which got a little dull, but next year when he's two should be different, right?

He enjoyed seeing his grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, and had an especially good time with my niece, Josie, who was very patient with him.  She even spent about forty-five minutes squatting next to him in front of a bench outside while he put sticks and leaves and stones on the bench and then took them off the bench.  Over and over and over, as he is wont.  Here are a few pictures of Owen and Josie, all the good ones taken by Martha.

Here is Owen playing with some new legos he got from his Great Aunt Elsie.  He liked them!  It is interesting for me to see what he will play with when.  For example, he was very intrigued by a Christmas Village Meredith had set up on a table.  But one never knows with him--his favorite car toy on the way down (out of about 12 new little toys I purchased to try to keep him occupied in the car) was a soft shampoo bottle with a flip lid.  He opened and closed the lid and made sounds into the bottle for a good hour, no joke.

As Owen is still sleep-challenged, I basically had to get him to nap on my lap, and then go to bed at night when he went to bed.  So here is a view I saw much of during the stay:

My sister and her family moved into a beautiful new-to-them house in Charlotte in the summer.  It was really quite stunning; it had a lot of character (not to mention an obscene amount of bathrooms!).  But anyway, here is my favorite feature of the house.  In case you are wondering, as was I, that plumbing above the stove is a pot-filler!  So that you don't have to turn around and fill your pots at a nearby sink.  Tee hee.

Sean, Owen, Dorothy and I stayed in their poolhouse, which was nice since we didn't have to worry about Owen crying in the night and waking everyone else up.  It was also nice because it had a fridge Meredith had stocked for us with beer and puddin and chocolate and chips, and a wall of windows with shades that opened by remote.  In fact, they are really lucky we left when scheduled.

And last but not least, here is Owen on Christmas Eve, walking outside and looking natty.