Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The unswaddling of Adam and other updates

You know when people stop blogging? When they have two kids. I like how blogging helps me keep my life in order (and gives me something to look back on) so though I miss blogging more frequently, I'm going to try to do it at least sometimes. (No concrete goal right now.)

Here's what's been up.

So many babies: 
In addition to our one baby, we have about 25 friends having first, second or third babies all within a span of about six months. Four of those babies were all born the other week, which has made for some fun hospital visits and virtual correspondence and a much more adorable Instagram feed.

Spring break: 
Matt had a lovely 10 days off, and I had a reduced work schedule, so we took advantage of opportunities for family time and occasionally nice weather to make our annual venture to the cherry blossoms in D.C. and to the National Zoo.

We took Natalie to the zoo over the summer, but the experience didn't stick as she was only 18 months old and not nearly as communicative. At the zoo Adam needed to be fed, so I found a little bench near some primates and deemed it an appropriate place to nurse my little man. (I would have chosen the inside of the small mammal building, which may have been an even more appropriate place to nurse my small mammal, but it was pretty crowded inside.) I'll admit, I used to stare at women who would breastfeed uncovered in public, not because they offended me, but because I was trying to figure out how they could be so stealth and expose essentially zero skin. Well, all that paid off at the zoo because it was only about 50 degrees at the time, but I was wearing a black nursing tank under an all-black long-sleeve shirt, and as I managed to somehow not freeze and not get spit up on me I felt like I'd finally arrived. I just can't do covered nursing, and I've gotten much more liberal about rarely bringing a bottle with me when I leave the house with Adam.

Fastest home repair in history: 
Last week after dinner while watching some TV show (currently: Mad Men, Game of Thrones, and Silicon Valley -- the newest addition that I'd highly recommend if you're a nerd and/or you have nerd friends) Matt and I heard a horrible crash from somewhere in our house. It sounded like a mirror or cabinet or perhaps baby fell. After we confirmed the kids were fine and everything in our house (including laundry room and crawl space) were in complete working order, we figured maybe the noise came from our (annoying, incense-burning) neighbors. The next morning, on our way to the zoo, we solved the mystery: our garage door wouldn't open because some springs busted and some piece of the contraption broke away from the garage ceiling. Amazingly, a repair person came within 30 minutes of making the call, and 20 minutes later he'd repaired the door. Problem solved, $200 later.

Vitamix: 
We got one. Matt's been wanting one, and after about three years (and some sacrificed rubber spatulas our child may have ingested in her smoothies) I agreed it was time. He's frugal enough, so he bought a certified refurbished one that costs nearly half of the retail price of a new one and still comes with the standard five-year warranty. I'm now waiting for him to perfect my favorite Smoothie King recipe, Peach Slice Plus.

Craiglist and consigning: 
We got rid of the old blender on Craiglist, and that reminded me that we already have some baby items to begin selling/donating/giving away. Of course, people on Craiglist are notoriously flakey, so that can be annoying, but man, people want your aden + anais swaddle blankets, let me tell you. Because we're done having children and we have lots of baby and kid clothes, I've recently entered the wide world of children's clothes consigning. Getting started is a bit (ok, a lot) of work, as Matt can attest after watching me go a little crazy the other week Baby Oxicleaning away stains (tip: buy Baby Oxiclean at Target or Toys/Babies R Us, where you'll find it for $9.99), but it feels good having a plan in place and making back some money on our kids' clothes that I can then justify putting back into future clothing purchases. When I have more experience I'll share my tips and mistakes.

Speaking of baby clothes...my new favorite brands are:
1) Zutano

2) Burt's Bees

3) Offspring

Watch out, you'll probably be getting one from me as a gift.

Also, Baby Gap: thumbs up to you for using a golden snap on some of your snapped baby clothes. Having that one gold snap standing out from all the silver ones makes baby dressing one bit easier. Seriously, simple genius move.

Dishwasher and washing machine: 
Both are running constantly these days. Our water bill tells the story. (And we only run them when they're brimming over -- two kids, I tell you. Who chooses to have more than two?)

Ants: 
We have some. Isolated to one small area of our kitchen, but still, some, and with torrential rain that some is starting to become a lot as they seek shelter in our house. The irony here is that our kitchen is the cleanest it has ever been because it's the one thing I consistently clean these days (and the cleaning ladies leave the floors spotless) so why we have some ants now is baffling. So far my solution has been to kill them with my bare feet because grabbing a paper towel while holding a baby and entertaining a toddler seems like too much work. Any eco-friendly solutions for getting rid of ants in a house with two kids and two dogs? Otherwise we'll be Raiding them tonight.

The toddler:
She's off the bottle. Only took her until 2 years and 3 months old, but now she exclusively drinks her milk from cups. I really didn't mind the bottles for most of her existence even when her little buddies had moved way beyond the bottle phase. She never used them as pacifiers (she never really used pacifiers, either) and she'd never have them for more than five minutes of serious milk chugging. Even our pediatrician wasn't particularly concerned. But then we had a second baby who legitimately needs my toddler's bottles. So, to get her to change, we did "the countdown," which is our best parenting tactic with her: any time there's about to be a transition, small or large, we try to build it up with adequate warning to help her anticipate what's about to occur. For one week we told her she had X many days before no more bottles. Somewhat magically, with only a few tears, the transition went smoothly.

She's also done with sleep sacks. That happened only a couple weeks before the end of the bottle. Seriously, she loved those sleep sacks, but like bottles, they were becoming a bit ridiculous. So, she's got her comfy quilt and that's enough.

She is not done with tantrums. Oh no, those are only beginning.

The next transition I plan to force on her is installing the toddler rail onto her crib. I love that she loves her crib, but all these signs of babyhood must come to an end. I figure the toddler railing is a way to get her a little more independent without forcing her out of the crib quite yet. I have a feeling even when the railing is up and she can get out of bed on her own she'll choose not to, at least not immediately. I used to selfishly not want her to have a toddler railing or a regular bed because I feared she'd be up too early in the morning, but now that I'm up early enough with Adam she can just join the party. That crib needs to eventually go to Adam as he's going to quickly outgrow the Pack N Play.

Further down the road we'll force potty training, but for now she's content in diapers. By this summer when she's two and a half it will be time to require it, and by then I'll want Adam to inherit all the cloth diapers. I know my child well enough to know that she needs baby steps to move toward big changes, but at some point we just have to rip off the Band-Aid (or diaper) for her to make a change.

The baby: 
As the title of this blog suggests, another transition of late involved the baby deciding he's done being swaddled. Specifically, a week and a half ago when he was almost exactly 3.5 months old, Adam woke up four times in one night. We'd been down to one night-time wake up for a pretty long time at this point, so it was a rough night. Every time he started crying, though, he'd broken out of his swaddle (having never swaddled Natalie we were too lazy to learn to truly swaddle Adam, so we solely used the Summer Infant SwaddleMes for wrapping him at naps and night). So, we decided to unswaddle him cold turkey. My experience parenting Natalie thus far has taught me that cold-turkey transitions when kids are super little are the easiest way to make a transition (see "The toddler" section above for our later-in-life failures). And, like any responsible parents, we'd already hired a babysitter for the night we were planning to unswaddle him cold turkey, so we just prepared the babysitter for the worst. Again, miraculously, the child slept wonderfully from 6:45 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. in nothing but his pajamas and size small fleece Halo Sleep Sack, and neither the toddler nor the baby even saw the babysitter during the three hours she was playing security guard (and we were enjoying a lovely meal at Mussel Bar in Ballston).

As he steadily marches toward four months old, Adam continues to be a total joy. I really am embracing babyhood much more this time around, probably mostly thanks to 1) knowing what I'm doing and 2) knowing this is the last time I'll have a baby. (As the ladies on the beach in Miami said to me, "They get older, and then they get lip.") He's exiting the blob-like phase now that he's grasping objects and paying attention to books (I think we're going to have another little reader on our hands) and giggling and cooing and getting more vocal. He is not interested in rolling over, though he's done it a few times, but he is interested in standing up. I think it's about time to break out the old Exersaucer to give him a new experience and work those little legs.

His night-time sleep continues to be wonderful, and his daytime sleep is good, just not consistent. I am starting to see patterns emerge, like the early morning nap, and I can say definitively right now that he has two-hour awake windows. When he was super tiny he was predictably awake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, but we've turned that corner into greater awakeness.

Oh, and he's still super portable and loves the Ergo, so it is in full effect.


Two silly baby organizing tips:
I cannot believe it took me nearly 2 years and 4 months to get to these two, but:

1) hang your baby tub -- one of my friends who just had her first baby told me she and her husband had hung up their infant tub in their bathroom. "Seriously?" I said. Yes, they are smart and realized that the Fisher Price whale tub is meant to be hung up! Genius! I tried using a Command hook on the tile in the kids' hallway bathroom, but it would always fall down right after the cleaning ladies' visit. Umm, it's because they were legitimately cleaning the tile in our bathrooms, a thing I just obviously don't do. So, that scrubbing/hot water was causing the Command hook to fall. So, geniusly I looked at the linen closet door in the same bathroom, and ta-da!


2) organizing breast milk in the freezer -- our freezer overfloweth with breast milk. Now I have a bin for each month (four total at this point). I lay the bags flat until they're completely frozen, then place them upright in their appropriate containers, with the oldest milk in the front so we can use that up first. This is not rocket science, but the 20 minutes I spent to get this together has been totally worth it.

See you some time in May!