Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Bunnies!

Molly's first real winter snow!! She absolutely loved every minute of it!! Though I think she thought we went a little overboard with the warm clothes...but, hey, what kind of mama would I be if I didn't err on the side of caution?!!

Daddy decreed that we all needed to get out of the house this evening to avoid cabin fever, so the 4 of us took a beautiful walk in the snow. Ben hiked like a pro, and this was even after 40 min. of shoveling this afternoon with the "Ben-sized" snow shovel that he got for his birthday! (Thanks Aunt Maria and Uncle Curt!)

Molly rode in the sled, and giggled with glee the entire time. She laughed hardest when Daddy would run fast or go over hills. You should have heard the giggles when Daddy threw her in the air...little thrill-seeker! She kept reaching her little mitten hands over the side and forward, trying to get a hold of as much snow as she could. Ben even helped pull the sled for half a block.

Great night!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blissful sleep...

For those who have shared a good portion of my journey as a parent, you can attest that there has been an awful lot of whining about the adequacy of sleep. For that, I can only offer my most sincere apology for all the complaining, and promise to do better in the future! For those who don't know, we had a rough journey with Ben on sleep issues, and, only now that I am a more experienced mother, can I see how much of it was a problem with perspective and expectations, rather than a problem with our precious little boy.

So, just to share a little bit, armed with all my Ben experiences in mind, I was determined to not "screw up the baby!!" So with Molly, Aaron and I had all of our grand plans laid out, and forged ahead, planning to figure it out "right" this time.

Well, I am here to announce (much to the shock and horror of my pre-baby self), that, the "right" thing for us right now is that Molly and I spend almost all of our night hours blissfully slumbering together. She and I...a little sleep unit...both equally aware and oblivious of the other next to us. She will fuss to nurse a couple of times, and I sleepily nurse her effortlessly, and then we both tumble back into dreamland. And, the complete and honest truth is that...IT IS HEAVENLY!!!

Sure, it's not perfect in some ways. I am still awakened by her to nurse, though I know this short time in her life will pass soon enough. Also, we will, at some point, transition away from it, and I worry that it could be a rough change, whenever it comes. And lastly, the "girl power" duo of Molly and I have kicked Aaron out of the bed altogether. Ben was sick one weekend, so Aaron offered to sleep in his room with him. After the weekend, Ben was better, but Aaron realized he had slept better those 2 nights than he had any night since before Molly was born, and we decided together that, for the time being, we would just go with it, especially because Aaron had a lot of really demanding issues coming up at work in the near future.

I should probably add that, in the interest of full disclosure, I was completely against co-sleeping before I had kids. And with Ben, though it seemed natural when we did it during the first few weeks of his life, I thought I was making a huge mistake, and felt very guilty about doing it. Every single one of my friends was choosing not to, and some were frankly quite critical of it. My only friend who had co-slept had children that were near school-age, so it was long since gone for her family. In this American society, it seemed like such a poor parenting decision to co-sleep.

But the more I learned about attachment parenting and about truly "present" parenting of your children, the more I began to question the views of our society. And the fact that so many other cultures co-sleep with newborns and infants also made me question my guilt about it. In addition, the research that found that SIDS rates were even LOWER for co-sleeping babies (given that parents don't co-sleep drunk or on a water-bed duh!!) also pushed me to change the way I was thinking about it.

But the last straw came when Molly was born. It was a bolt out of the blue. I never intended to put her in the bed at all. We had a bed for her right next to our bed, and I figured that it would be good enough. But, from the second she was born, she and I slept best when we were right next to each other...like a drug...for me almost more than for her even.

I had felt very close to her during the pregnancy, and once she was out, the very first time I tried to sleep, I found that I couldn't. It was like I was wired on caffeine. My senses were heightened, and I could not drift off. But once I laid her beside me, I dozed off blissfully within minutes. It went on like this for months. Aaron would offer to hold her while I started the night's sleep early in those first 8 weeks or so, but I found that, if she wasn't right next to me, I couldn't sleep at all. But if she was with me, I could sleep effortlessly. It was a beautiful, peaceful time.

And now, she doesn't "need" me and I don't "need" her anymore. She naps just fine by herself all day, and goes to bed in the room hours before I do. But we are still co-sleeping for part of the night, and are still loving it. With Ben, I admit with shame that it was such torture to have him wake up in the night at this age. But with Molly...it's nothing...no shame...no worry...just a warm, snuggly baby who has slept the first 3 hours of the night alone, and would now like to snuggle up, back-to-back, with her sweet mama to finish off the night's sleep.

*Now, I write this knowing full well that most of my mommy friends will never once consider co-sleeping, and I think that is just right for them and their families. I don't want anyone to think that I am writing this, intending for it to push them to try. I can clearly see how, especially in this country, that it is a really hard choice for some mamas to make. But I decided to write this blog because it is a HUGE part of the joy I find in parenting right now. It is a peaceful force for bonding between my youngest child and myself, and it really, truly is wonderful.

The other part of the reason that I am writing this is that I have been trying lately to be more vocal about standing up for my parenting beliefs, especially when my beliefs don't necessarily mesh with mainstream US society, and when I feel my beliefs are particularly well-formed and/or well-researched. It is not about changing the beliefs of others, so much as it about being a supportive voice for some other young mother who may be exploring these same issues. I don't tend to tell a lot of people that we co-sleep, because often the response is negative. But, I was at a baby shower for a dear friend this past weekend, and another mother and I got to talking. Now this mother didn't know me at all, and within 3 min, she had fearlessly shared that she and her husband co-sleep with their daughter. The parents both work full time, and the choice to co-sleep together provides their family with a sense of connectedness that they otherwise feel they would miss. I was struck by the fact that she talked about co-sleeping with confidence and with an apparent lack of worry about what I might think or say.

And for anyone who knows me well, I will admit that I might have talked with you about co-sleeping and sounded very confident, but I will come clean now and say that I was probably trying to hide my insecurities and was hoping desperately to not be judged. But now, I am working to lose my fear of what others might say or feel...hence the (rather long and possibly now boring;) blog entry about co-sleeping.

I've gotta run now. My little 19-pound roomie will be wanting me to snuggle up with her in about an hour!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Little Miss Moose Mouse

I don't know exactly why that is her nickname...but it sure has stuck! It's so cute when Ben says it too. When she wakes up from a nap, she will start talking to herself in the bedroom, and if Ben hears her before me, he will say, "Oh, it sounds like little Miss Moose Mouse is awake!"

Time for a little Molly update:
1. She is CRAWLING!! It only took her 10.5 months to really figure it out, but she has got it now! She isn't super speedy yet (she only started last Tuesday), but she cure can move around when she wants to. It is actually quite a mental adjustment...I knew it would be. Just a week ago I could leave her anywhere and if nothing dangerous was in reach, we were good to go. But now already I have to scan a full 12-foot radius for safety if I want to leave the room. But, honestly, I am glad that she is crawling. She is actually starting to show a lot of readiness signs for walking...pulling up and standing on her own as long as 30 seconds, and even cruising on furniture and take a few independent steps on her own here and there, but I do think that it is better for kids if they crawl for a short while, at least...upper body strength, hand/eye coordination, hand and wrist strength, etc...so it is nice that she has gotten it figured out, even if it only lasts for a short while. Already if I leave her rather close to the couch, she will just crawl right over and pull herself up to standing. I'm very interested to see how long it will take her to walk.

2. She has her first 2 signs! She can sign for "milk" to nurse, and "all done" when she doesn't want what I am trying to feed her! However, the funny thing is that she mostly uses the sign for "milk" when other people are holding her and she wants them to take her to me. When I am holding her, if she wants to eat, she often refuses to sign as if to say, "Come ON mom, you know what I want...why do you try to make me work for it? I never had to work for it before!!"

3. She is just about at her first spoken word, too. She is saying "Dada" all the time. And about 50% of the time it is clearly spoken in reference to Aaron walking in the room or playing with her. Though she sometimes says it for me, too, when I walk in the room, so (being the speech-therapist that I am) I am not quite ready to call it her official first word...but when I look back in a few weeks, I may realize that this really is it. We'll see.

4. Her development is progressing at lightning-speed these days. It seems like every day she gains a new level of awareness in her environment and a new ease at working her way through daily life. We flew to Earling, IA last weekend to visit Aaron's grandmother, and Molly just took the trip in stride. No troubles traveling, sleeping, flying, meeting TONS of new people, etc. Just easy, breezy! It was also easy for Ben. In fact, he LOVED every minute of it...the Metro-Link train ride to the airport, flying, renting a van, seeing a true Iowa farm, playing with toy tractors, meeting distant cousins, hanging out with great grandma...it was all wonderful!

5. Molly's fine motor skills, in particular, are SO developed. Aaron and I have both been noticing for a while now that she can do tons of things in the area of fine motor that seem like they should be way too difficult. She puts pegs on and takes them off a wooden pole, she can put cheerios into a small container, she can drive cars, she can easily do 2-step ball toys, she is a pro at turning pages in a book, etc.

6. She likes baby dolls! It was the cutest thing when I discovered this. I don't really think about giving the kids "girl" vs. "boy" toys, but I will freely admit that this house has a TON of trains, trucks, and cars. Well, one day last week, I dumped out this big container of stuffed animals and dolls that we have but never really play with. The kids and I just sat on the floor in the middle of the toys and had fun playing with them all. Well, most of the toys are stuffed animals, but there was one baby doll in the mix. It was an old doll that we had actually given to Ben when he was little. He never did anything with it other than to throw it around usually (though he did wear it in a tiny Moby wrap once while I was wearing Molly...my little baby-wearing boy!!) But as soon as she noticed it, she lunged for it and grabbed it out of the huge pile. Then for the rest of the playtime, she only wanted to play with the baby. She hasn't been holding it all the time or anything, but if given a choice of stuffed animals with the baby included, she will always choose the baby...gives a little insight into the nature/nurturer discourse!

7. She is a little dare-devil. She LOVES it when we turn her upside-down. She loves to ride in things like carts or strollers or anything that can zoom around. And she (the same baby who used to not EVER leave my arms, even to go to Daddy) LOVES Uncle Russell. Keep in mind that Uncle Russell is a 6 ft. tall ex-military man who has a full beard and is usually terrifying to small children. But Uncle Russell is the one who has all the best "tricks" for flipping and spinning babies, so she now LOVES him! Crazy baby!

8. She still remains the happiest, easiest, most pleasant little child. I LOVE this stage of development. I remember loving it with Ben, but, so far, Molly is even more low key and fun. She is a delight to me!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"I can do it!"

Ben has been really focused on being able to do things by himself lately...but not just little things like take his shoes off. He has recently been dressing himself, brushing his own teeth (though we always follow up after), building his own train tracks, and trying to read books to himself.

Yesterday, he tackled an even bigger job!

He told me that he was hungry, but I was nursing Molly, so I told him that he would have to wait a few minutes. He said that he would just get his lunch himself. I didn't think about it too much, because he can't really reach any of the food. But, sure enough, a few minutes later I walked into the kitchen to find him eating!

One of our favorite snacks is "honey toast." Aaron has been baking all our bread lately, and there is nothing quite as delicious as warm, fresh bread straight out of the oven with some butter and honey on it.

So, anyway, Ben walked into the kitchen, and apparently pushed a chair over to the counter to get a piece of bread. Then he must have climbed down and then pushed the chair over to another cabinet and climbed up to get the honey. By the time I walked in, he had the bread at his place at the table and had honey all over it (and his shirt and the table, unfortunately!), and was reaching for the butter with a toddler knife in hand. I was so impressed and shocked that I couldn't worry about the honey mess at all. I just congratulated him on being so self-sufficient!