Panic

I am not sure if there is anything that will cause the same level of panic and dread than seeing your daycare center's number on your caller ID. Is she sick? Is she hurt?

Sara called this morning and I took a very deep slow breath before answering my phone. She was calling to inform me that they had been playing beauty parlor this morning and she had put gel into Caroline's hair. She was in near hysterics explaining that my daughter now resembles Ace Ventura. I just wish she had sent the photo to my cell phone instead.


{Edited}


I am guessing that she must look something like this now.


Then and Now

At pick up from school yesterday afternoon, one of the regular afternoon caregivers ("girl whose name I don't even know") brought her over to me from another room and put her coat on while I gathered up all her belongings. Even though I was right there, Caroline kept on smiling and gently touching girl whose name I don't even know. I smiled and said, "oh, Caroline loves you!" Her reply was "Oh, I love her to pieces!" She gave her a little squeeze before handing her over to me and saying "Have a great night, see you tomorrow!"

Last week when I picked her up one afternoon, she was busy cruising around a play table with another little girl. I stood just inside her classrom watching her for a few minutes before I called her name. I like to do that sometimes at pick up. Seeing her engrossed and so completely happy makes me feel great about her being in school those three days. When I did call her name it took her a moment to look up because she was so into her table game. She casually turned to look in my direction and when she realized it was me, dropped to her knees and crawled over to me. When I bent down and picked her up she smiled her little scrunchy nosed smile and looked at the caregivers in the room. It looked like she was sying to them, "Hey look, my mom's here, can you believe it!?!?!" It was so sweet.

This morning when I dropped her off at school, she went right to Sara who immediately handed her this little whale toy that she likes to chew on all day long. I unpacked her bag, stated that she may love lunch or hate it, and was on my way with a little kiss and a wave.

In the beginning I was so frantic at pick up or drop off. In the mornings I would rattle off a thousand things; she has green beans today, she may hate them so I also gave you applesauce oh and she hasn't pooped since yesterday and on and on and on. In the afternoons I would have to force myself NOT to run into the center to pick her up, seeking her out as soon as I walked in the door like some terminator style robot feeling as if as soon as I got her in my arms that I had saved her from further torture. Times have changed people.

These days I casually put her on the carpet in the mornings if the girls hands are busy and simultaneously ask how their weekend was while fishing out a box of little people to busy her with. In the afternoons I find that I am pausing to watch her interacting with the kids or playing quietly by herself, watching the little girl she has morphed into seemingly overnight. School it turns out is a very good thing, not torture at all. In fact on some days that I am home with her, I wonder if she might have had more fun if she had been at school. I suppose I need to work harder at finding fun things to do together, take more trips to the library play area a couple towns over, and get her out of the house more. If someone had told me in the beginning that I would have such affection for her school, her teachers, her classmates (even Hannah!), I would have laughed out loud before I burst into tearful sobs. School has become such a positive part of her life.

I looked at Baby Luke this morning, sitting in the swing, a solitary tear drying on his cheek from an earlier bout of sadness. I bent down and touched his foot and told him, "It's ok buddy, you are going to absolutely love it here soon, I promise." and I meant it.

What's Caroline Eating Today?

Yogurt
Pancake
Pears
Peaches
Banana
Chicken Nuggets
Grilled Cheese with Hearty Grain bread, American Cheese, and Pea puree (hence the love or hate!)
Pirate Booty

Why am I losing my voice?

Caroline and I are on the road to recovery. She seems to have picked up my cold, but in a much more mild form, which I am very VERY grateful for. We aren't quite out of the woods yet though. Steve had a great time in Vegas, "one of the most fun weekends in the last few years." Last night he started to lose his voice and looked at me and said "why am I losing my voice?" Umm, I don't know Steve, perhaps from utter exhaustion? On Saturday morning I sent him a good morning photo of Caroline that he received before he even went to sleep. I didn't hear from him until almost 4pm our time because they had all slept in. (I was just a TINY bit nervous!) Also, exhaustion sometimes happens when your flight is delayed 6 hours and you land at 4am on a work day. So he woke up this morning with some cold symptoms, but we have high hopes for a speedy recovery.

Caroline and I had wonderful weekend (if you take away the sickness part of course). We took a trip to IKEA and purchased a new organization and storage center for all her toys. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Our family room was becoming more of a toy haven than my anal organized self could stand (it was making me itch!) and no number of baskets or containers seemed to be doing the trick of keeping things looking tidy. It is a gift for everyone! Clean up is a breeze, even MORE put in and take out opportunities than before, and it created a cute little Caro corner in the room that is all her own. She likes to sit in her little rocking chair and flip through a book. Eventually I see this new piece being relocated to the basement which will someday be both man cave and playroom. Maybe as a room divider? I like that this piece is customizable too. There are three different sized tubs(you can also purchase shelf pieces)so as she grows and her needs change it can adapt. Maybe later she will need smaller tubs for art supplies? or bigger tubs for games and puzzles? Getting a bit ahead of myself here, she needs to master the stairs before that happens.

Though it does seem like she might want to get moving on the basement playroom too. We drove up to my parents' house on Saturday and no sooner was she crawling around their living room, than her attention went to the stairs. With close supervision she climbed all seven steps! Daddy wanted to see for himself and last night she treated him to a climbing expedition on our steps at home, all the way up to the first landing. She is a fast climber! She just doesn't know how to get down yet.

Caroline and I had fun with Nana and Granda and even got to celebrate my grandmother's 85th birthday with my father's family. No cake for Caroline yet, we're saving that for next weekend at her celebration. She even got to visit with Uncle Brett too. He came in Saturday night after work and spent all day Sunday with us. Caroline loved his dog Brodie, who was very tolerant of all her poking and chasing. Brodie quickly learned that the best seat in the house was beneath her high chair. It was nice to see my whole family all at once!

We had a scary situation yesterday afternoon. I can look back now and laugh. We were playing and I left her in the family room momentarily to refill her sippy cup. When I returned she was gone. G-O-N-E. Suddenly I heard her crying from her corner and when I walked over she was nowhere to be found? When she cried again I found her BEHIND THE COUCH. She must have crawled in from the other side, gotten all the way across, realized she couldn't get out because the furniture was blocking her in and tried to turn around, which got her stuck. I rescued her and after cleaning about a pound of cat hair off of her, because c'mon no one but the cat goes back there, so a vacuum sure isn't, she calmed down.

We are working hard to pull together the details for Caroline's birthday celebration. It is unimaginable that this time last year I was convinced she had set up permanent residence in my belly and she would NEVER come and here we are getting ready to light candles on her first birthday cake. Time has slipped away from us. Our little girl has seen all the seasons, all the months, and almost all the days of the year.

In tooth news - that little tooth is still giving us some trouble at times, but is also easily spotted in her mouth which is fun to see.

What's Caroline Eating Today?
Yobaby Yogurt
Pancake
Strawberries and Peaches
Sweet Potato
English Muffin "Pizza"
Banana

Please don't touch mommy's snot rag!

My little cold has catapulted to a full blown sneeze, hack, and sniff fest. I am sure that it is only a matter of time before poor Caroline catches this from me and then we will once again trod down the road of snootiness and ear infections. I have been trying to wash my hands more than normal, to avoid touching my face when possible, and to keep her from grabbing my icky tissues. I learned at school this morning that Hannah is sporting a stuffy nose of her own and I accepted there on the spot that my own baby will soon join her. A girl can only resist so many disgusting germs before her body raises the white flag and surrenders and Caroline is being hit from both sides.

On the upside, I am on my way to see Heather and get my hair done today over lunch. I hope she doesn't mind my drippy nose too much and I hope that the new do will give me a much needed pick me up.

Our exciting evening consists of warm broth from a mug, a take out pizza, and another early bedtime. Steve has to pack and set the alarm for an ungodly hour to make his flight. We have swimming on Friday morning and I am hopeful that we will be able to go, if for nothing else than to get us out of the house.

{EDITED}

What is Caroline Eating Today?

Kiwi
Nectarine
Strawberry
English Muffin "Pizza"
Mac and Cheese
Yogurt

Turkey Meatball for dinner with whole grain bread and cheese

Teeth like me, or teeth like you?

All quiet on the teething front, at least for now.

We all slept last night and Caroline even slept in this morning until just after 7, allowing me the ability to shower, get dressed, apply blush and lipstick, and prepare all our collective lunches before she opened her eyes. She barely slept a wink at school yesterday and was so tired when we got home that she could barely keep her eyes open. Her parents were equally tired and were in bed by 8:30. The only newsworthy item is that I woke up with a stuffy nose and a scratchy throat. Joy. And just before Steve heads off to Vegas, baby.

In an effort to get a better handle on this teething business, I asked my mother about how my brother and I coped with this teething business. She recalled that I got my first tooth around my first birthday and that she sort of stumbled onto it one day when I smiled at her while standing in the bathtub. Information from Steve's family points to earlier dental presence, but with difficult and painful teething. She seems to be following what was teething protocol for Steve and the aunties; go to bed with ease, fool parents into thinking teeth are feeling better, wait for them to juuuussstt get into a deep sleep and awaken them between 11 and 12 in absolute agony. So Miss Caro seems to have my teething timetable and Steve's teething experience. Poor Girl, but interesting isn't it?

I am hopeful that as each tooth makes its appearance it will bother her less and less, and not just because I would really like to sleep, but because it is the saddest thing to see your baby in such obvious pain and feel so helpless to do anything to make it better.

What's Caroline Eating Today?

Yogurt
Sweet Potato Fry Sticks
Whole Wheat Pancake
Strawberries
Kiwi
Chop Suey (she loved it last night, though some did end up being thrown onto the floor, yuck!)
Pirate Booty and Cheerios for snack
Whole Milk

Speaking of Milk, I sent in my second to last bag of frozen milk this morning. After Thursday there is no more stashed in the freezer. Someone suggested we water the whole milk down a bit because she is not used to drinking something so thick, so I think that will be the next plan of attack, but reports from school indicate that she is doing quite well with her milk cup. She doesn't do so well at home with me, but I half expected that. I haven't nursed her except for morning and bedtime in several days and even those sessions seem to be shortening. She is doing very well and I think we have a good pace going. I will just continue to follow her lead. She seems to like to be in control, I wonder where she gets that from?

What day is it?

It feels an awful lot like last night was Saturday, probably because it was Saturday night all over again. Caroline fooled me into thinking that she was feeling much better during the day on Monday. Her appetite was back and she was her usual smiley self. There was a little pouting after her afternoon nap, so I gave her some frozen bagel slices to chew on and those seemed to help.

We opted (FOOLISHLY!) not to preemptively give her Motrin because she seemed to be feeling so much better and the tooth (lower middle left!) was definitely more visible. It is also by all reports very sharp, as she bit Steve's TOE. EWWW! Deep breaths Auntie k - hater of all things feet related! She was her normal smiley self and fell fast asleep just before 8. This was my decision, Steve practically had the Motrin drawn up, but I fear giving it when it isn't necessary, because hi, she has about 20 other teeth that are going to come in. How long would we have to give Motrin every night for?

Imagine our shock as we were awoken at 11:30 to absolutely desperate cries, which for some reason seemed much much worse than Saturday. She adamantly refused an oral inspection. Motrin was given, a frozen washcloth was refused, as was a frozen bagel slice I offered as a ploy to check out her gums. Once the medicine kicked in she was smiling and happy and playful even, not a yawn or eye rub in sight. Attempts to put her back to bed resulted in unhappiness and frustration, so we let her play and waited for the elusive eye rub. When it finally came, she was still not having it. We tried walking and tush tapping, singing, cuddling in bed, and then finally just put her in her crib. After several failed attempts, much back rubbing and shhhing, she finally blissfully closed her eyes. It was 2:30am.

She slept in this morning until almost 7:15, when Steve had to go wake her up. This gave her bleary eyed parents time to shower and get dressed. Stern warnings were handed out at school, who remarked on how tired her puffy little sleep-deprived face looked.

I have that "you need sleep" sore throat. Steve is wiped. Of course this is all happening while she is weaning, leaving me in some kind of a do I feed her or not purgatory.

Parenthood is such a guessing game. We have tried most of the remedies, though I have scratched buying Jack Daniels off the list of possibilities. What strategies would you suggest to calm, comfort, and get back to sleep? Should we let her play it out like we did last night? Put right back to bed after medicine despite wails of anguish?

It isn't all bad though. We enjoyed an absolutely lovely day just the girls yesterday at home. It would have been a support group Monday and it was so nice to run a couple errands and return home to read stories together under the warmth of a blanket. I even got 30 minutes on the elliptical, which seriously is the new guage of a good day at home. It used to be "I showered!" now it's "I worked out... for 30 minutes!!!"

What is Caroline Eating Today?

Whole wheat pancake (Sara looked at me funny, but then said, "ok, sounds good!" I think they think I am a nut. No really!)
Strawberries
Grapes and Kiwi
Yogurt
Chicken Nuggets
Sweet Potato fries (baked with olive oil and cinammon)

Yesterday she had her first English Muffin "pizza" with a whole wheat muffin, crushed tomatoes, and shredded cheese. It was messy, but she LOVED it! AND she totally loved her turkey meatball at dinner. Tonight's dinner - Chop Suey!

You mean it's not an ear infection?

We were up most of Saturday night in what we thought was ear infection hell.

Caroline had a very small fever most of the day and we noticed there was some occasional ear pulling, which set off all our sirens and alarms. We were woken up before midnight to a very sad crying baby and after the normal routine of walking and singing, she spent the night with us. She was restless and in pain and she was doing the ear pull head hold move we have come to learn is usually the first sign that we will be making yet another contribution to our "copay" file. (A women I "know" has a son who has earned the nickname "Charlie Copay" for his frequent ear infections and it seems Miss Caro is on her way to earning herself a similar nickname.)

We were both utterly convinced that the previous ear infection had not cleared up, but had returned full blast and we could not wait until 9am to roll around to call the doctor and get the meds we all needed to sleep better Sunday night. In the meantime, we were up at 1, 3, 5 and then blissfully there was a reprieve until almost 8. I think we each slept about 4 hours. The only way she could get comfortable was lying horizontally with her head on my stomach and her knees bent up beneath her. It was peculiar, but it worked. We also stripped her down to her onesie and there were no sheets or covers because she felt like she was on fire despite the thermometer reading of 100.6.

Steve called the doctor right at 9am (his first call! go Steve!) and we were sitting in the office by 9:40. The doctor checked her over, listened to our harrowing tale of a sleepless Saturday night, and found not an ear infection, but a TOOTH! The ears still have some fluid, but no infection in sight. I suppose when you have been watching and waiting for teeth since JULY, you don't exactly think of teeth each and every time. I guess we are on too high an alert here, but I don't care about the copay, better safe than sorry, especially with little miss stealth ear infection.

Yesterday was better, no fever, better mood overall, though there were many slices of frozen bagel and lots and lots of hugs. This tooth business is tough. Caroline had very little appetite and absolutely shunned her zwiebeck toast. Today seems better already as the tooth seems to have officially made its appearance and with that there seems to be less discomfort overall, though the clinginess has been kicked up a few notches.

She slept right through last night, but I foresee a few more of these Saturday nights in our immediate future as we welcome more teeth.

What's Caroline Eating Today?

Breakfast:

Hosgson's Mill Whole Wheat Pancake
Quartered Grapes
Kiwi

Lunch:

Yogurt
English Muffin Pizza
1/2 Banana shared with Mommy

Other new things we tried this weekend:

turkey meatballs, not a big fan, but it was Saturday before the tooth business so who knows


here she is with Daddy getting ready to cheer on Tommy


Use your words

Initial reports from Steve indicate that my post earlier today was long and "too technical." He prefers it when I am "fun." Point taken.

Caroline seems to be cutting out her ride home nap as well, omitting it for the last two nights. This results in a slightly unhappy baby in the back seat. Perfect mother that I am, I listen to Howard Stern on the ride home, catching up with The News With Robin. Sue me. Report me. Think less of me. Whatever. This afternoon Caroline punched up her unhappiness a bit and seeing as how I do have the luxury of nearly 200 Sirius stations I searched for the kids stations. She quieted down. I questioned the kids music lulling abilities and put Howard back on, and discontent rose again. So it was kids music the rest of the ride home.

We heard a rousing version of the Hokey Pokey featuring verses utilizing "your nose" and "your back side." This next one was a blog entry begging to be written. "Use your words" by the Sippy Cups. I kid you not. It was about playing with your best friend and getting shoved and being so upset and angry that you forget to use your words. There were also references to a Super Hero Superpower somehow being related to using words as well. Hysterical.

So without further ado, some videos.

Belly laughs at bedtime



First Steps? Does this count??!?! We couldn't believe it!!!

nursing firestorm

I went to bed last night without pumping and though this has happened before, it has usually been due to tiredness. Last night was different. I have officially cut my bedtime session. It felt strange to go to sleep both guilt free and unphased that I was not going to be able to send in three full bottles of milk to school with Caroline. She actually went with a bit less than two bottles and two full to brim bottle of "moo."

My appointment with Breastfeeding Resources was yesterday afternoon. I met with Robin to talk about my concerns and questions. I wanted to know how I would know if I was moving too fast, if the mommycentricness was a normal part of this and could I expect it to pass, how to incorporate whole milk, and how to handle the sure to be tough to let go of bedtime and morning meals. She was amazingly helpful, they always are there.

We also discussed the pressures of society and how now as I approach the American Pediatrics recommended 12 months of nursing, I am beginning to feel enormous pressure to stop immediately as soon as her first birthday rolls around. Comments come from all sides. "You must be exhausted." "Aren't you happy it's almost over?" The answer is no. I am not exhausted. I am filled with happiness and pride that I have been able to do something that I consider the most healthy thing I have ever done in my life, both physically and mentally. And no. I am not happy that it is almost over. Will I miss the bedtime milking machine sessions? um regretfully, no I will not. Did I resent them? no, not really. This time in my life and this special bond I have created with my daughter has made me so incredibly happy. It wasn't always easy, especially not in those early days that I read back now and shudder thinking about how I knew so little and was literally flying by the seat of my pants most of the time. I was grateful to have in my mother-in-law a nursing role model, someone who had done it, who reminded me that it would get better. I was also grateful to have a mother who did not nurse, who asked questions and told me how proud she was of what I was trying to do for Caroline. I feel like once I passed those tentative early days when sometimes stopping all together seemed like the only solution that there was actually no stopping me. While society kept reminding me that it was ok to take a break and supplement with formula, this just didn't make sense to me, especially after all my hard work to get things sorted out. So as her birthday looms, I am looking at it not as a stop date, but as more of a guide. Tomorrow will be a test for us as I offer milk instead of mommy throughout the day. I am not sure how it will go. I intend on redirecting her if possible, so long as it does not appear to cause her any distress. I am not sure which one of us will experience more distress? I wonder if I would want to continue longer if society was more accepting of toddler nursing.

Robin and I discussed this controversial topic of toddler nursing a bit and I told her that while I am certainly not opposed to the idea, I just don't see Caroline and I taking our nursing relationship in that direction. After having come this far, I want to do this right while honoring both of our feelings and needs. Caroline is already self-weaning by cutting feedings back dramatically and I don't think it will be much longer before we are walking downstairs to make her scrambled eggs for breakfast instead of feasting on mommy. It seems like a natural progression is taking place and I am going with it. She seems to be in the same place I am.

Robin did give me a very interesting article that I wish I could link to electronically, but the contents are not yet available online. While I am certainly not seeking to start a firestorm here, some of this information just begs to be shared for discussion purposes more than anything.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF in their Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding made recommendations on nursing, but I read them keeping in mind that this is a global strategy that also accounts for populations living in very rural non-tech saavy worlds where there is an overwhelming amount of poverty, malnutrition, and ill health which seems very much unlike my own little neck of the woods in suburban CT. (Is it though?) Their recommendation is exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued nursing for up two years and beyond.

In a study conducted by Katherine Dettwyler with other mammals, and in particular primates, a number of factors were examined that influenced weaning age; quadrupling birth weight, attainment of 1/3 adult weight, gestation length, and dental eruption. For our closest relatives the chimp and gorilla, nursing is six times the length of gestation, which for humans would be 4.5 years old. With regard to dental eruption, primates wean when permanent molars come in, which for humans would be 5.5 or 6 years of age. This suggests to her that in "our recent evolutionary past" we may have nursed our babies until this age as well. Isn't that just interesting?!

Roman doctors whom penned the go-to "Dr. Sears" of their day that remained the standard of infant care until the 18th century believed that complete weaning should not occur before age 3.

A study was conducted early in the 20th century which found that out of 52 societies the US middle class limited feeding more strictly and stopped nursing earlier than all but one other society. Today the median (that is not the average, but the most common) age of weaning in the world is beween ages 3 and 5.

You might be thinking, well that was a different time and today we have artificial means of feeding babies which we obviously didn't have while we tended to the cave or debated the flatness or roundness of the Earth. Of all the interesting and emotionally charged information included in this article I found this little ditty in particular to be the most provacative:

Kathleen Huggins in A Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning states that "some have even called the mass feeding of artificial milk...one of the greatest experiments ever undertaken on human beings." wow. What do you think?

What is Caroline Eating Today?

Yobaby yogurt
Mac and Cheese
Butternut Squash dices
Kiwi
Milk
Cheerios

Things we are trying this weekend

Pancakes with grated vegetable
Grated potatoes with eggs, cheese, and chopped ham
Turkey meatballs (thanks JEN!)
English Muffin "pizza"
Sweet potato fries

You, I want you!

My weaning appointment got postponed due to the weather on Monday. For the record, we didn't get a heck of a lot of anything really, but the schools down here cancelled preemptively so my appointment got bumped because the consultant's kids were home from school. I am going in this afternoon around lunchtime and I have a long list of questions.

Caroline slept on the way home from school. She woke up just before dinner and was badly in need of cuddles, but she didn't want them from Daddy, oh no, she wanted them from Mommy who was busy chopping up cauliflower. Holding babies and knives is obviously not a very good idea. I was trying to just keep going in hopes that she would be comforted by Steve, but when I looked over at her she had that telltale upside down pout face and pointed her little pointer finger at me with a whiny moan. How can I say no to that? I put down my knife, don't worry. I actually laughed because as soon as she was in my arms her thumb found its way to her mouth and her head was snuggled on my shoulder.

I shouldn't have laughed. It must be tough for Steve as we go through this transition and the only person she seems to ever want is me. I know if things were reversed I would probably bawl my eyes out each and every time he was able to calm and comfort her after my failed attempts. I think I laughed because he was convinced that it was her ears bothering her when she would not settle down, while I tried to convince him it was me. I still shouldn't have laughed. This preferred parent thing must have a cycle to it. There will surely be days to come that she will only want Daddy to hold her, to read her that bedtime story, to tuck her into bed and kiss her forehead. I know that he won't laugh while I bury my head into my pillow in anguish that she doesn't want me. I need to remember that kids are fickle and what they need and love one day, they refuse the next.

What is Caroline eating today?

Yobaby yogurt
an entire kiwi
Annie's Mac and Cheese
Cauliflower
Shredded Cheese
Pirate Booty
oh and did I mention - Whole Milk - which I differentiated from the breastmilk by labeling it "moo!"

Phase out milk, phase in mommycentricness

First things first~

Jesse and Amy welcomed little Sam in the wee hours of Sunday

First reports from the new Dad indicate that everyone is doing well and the photos are simply adorable. He has a full head of dark hair! Sam's shower was this Saturday afternoon and I guess all the fun and laughter helped him decide that enough was enough, he wanted to join in the excitement! CONGRATULATIONS!!! We cannot wait to meet him!!

Other weekend highlights:

... special time with Kiki during one scary thunderstorm

... visit with the Arnold Family and sweater distribution (I knit the twins each a new little sweater with sailboat buttons for John and turtle buttons for Henry)

... dinner with the McShinos and Flynnewskis and one very loud group of women

... Amy's baby shower (a mere 12 hours before her son's birth!)

... leisurely drive with Kelly to CT talking about weddings and the Corona commercial allure of Aruba

... Archie Moore's wings with Marc

... hangover cure croissant french toast

Yesterday Caroline and I ran to the doctor for a last minute appointment because she woke up with her left ear all scraped up from her nails and she was pulling on it again. Pedi reports that her ears are no longer bulging, just some fluid, and that they both appear to be in a process of healing. She encouraged me to keep careful watch, but no new meds.

We trotted off to the brand new BJs here in town after the appointment to pick up necessities and later when I arrived home and was unpacking the trunk I saw that there was a huge scrape in the back corner of my bumper!?!? WHAT?!?! I don't know if this happened at the pediatrician or the BJ lot, but cmon! I cannot freakin' believe it. Luckily we have not had the other bumper scraping incident repaired yet due to scheduling difficulties. Saying I was livid is an understatement, but I was able to remain calm because I know it will get fixed with the other damage. In the meantime, I will seek out the bulls eye which surely must be hidden somewhere on the rear left side of my car. What are the odds of this happening really???

Caroline is at school today with a warning from me that she has become a Cling On. She is all Mommy all the time and yesterday she wouldn't let me out of her sights for a moment. I know she isn't feeling 100% and I am sure that is part of it, but I cannot help but wonder where this mommycentricness (yes, I made that up and I rather like it!) is coming from.

We are after all beginning the road to non-nursing land, where cups are full of whole milk and even Daddy can participate in morning and night time snacks. After 4 days off work and 8 pumping opportunities I had barely enough for her 3 milk cups this morning. Sara and Michelle both agree that topping off her bottles with a little whole milk is ok and so Wednesday's milk cups will include a as much as is necessary to satisfy her. When I first wrote about this it all seemed like it would take so much longer, baby steps, one thing at a time, but I am finding that it is progressing really fast! She is already taking all her milk at school from a cup. I suspect that all her school milk will be cows milk mid week next week. That will leave us just with the morning and evening to contend with and I don't know if Caroline will want to keep those around for awhile or not, we'll have to see.

Mornings have become more of a cuddlefest than an instant feeding frenzy. She will snuggle with me in bed for about ten minutes before she makes it very obvious that she is done with snuggling, please bring on breakfast. This weekend when I was home with her I tried to not look at the clock, to follow Caroline's lead and she actually phased out an entire meal, which is great! When she gives me the thumbs up, I haven't denied her, but I have noticed it has been great lengths of time since her last meal with me, often close to 7 hours or more. Perhaps I am being a little presumptuous to assume that the mommycentricness is due to the process of phasing out mommy that we are embarking on, but it seems to me that she is trying to find other ways to be physically close to me and please, who doesn't like a baby climbing up to lay her little lavender fresh head on their shoulder?

Did I mention she hugs? Caroline hugs her bears, toys, and even people. Like all her other tricks, this one doesn't always happen on command, but when it does and you feel those little arms squeezing your neck, it's pretty awesome to be able to hug her back.

~EDITED~

I forgot to include the new eating section.

What's on the menu today?

Yobaby Yogurt

Jar of cereal and fruit

Shredded cheese

three chicken nuggets

quartered grapes

Pirate Booty

this one just has to be told

I work at a senior center, so I meet a lot of characters.

Moments ago I took a break to refill my water bottle. On my way back to my office I stopped to glance over the balcony for a few minutes to watch the line dancers. They are led by a 90 year-old firecracker who at the conclusion of the dance made a BIG announcement that began with "everyone listen to me!"

"Anyone wear a size 5 brief? They are too big for me, I bought the wrong kind. I am not charging, does anyone want them?"

To catch you up - she was giving away free underwear.

At least two women came up to her to vie for the 5 pack of cotton briefs.

File this under things you only see at a senior center.

games Caroline plays

Peek a Boo

If there is a blanket within her reach Caroline holds it up to cover her face. This is not a one person game, your very important role in the game is to say "peek a boo!" She drops her hands. Repeat. She does this in her car seat, sitting on the floor, on our laps, pretty much anywhere there is a cuddly blanket present.

What's in the tissue box?


We recently finished up a box of Kleenex and when we replaced it with a shiny new box, I left the empty one on the floor thinking she might play with it. I put the "top" of the new box into the old one and thus began a new game, "What's in the tissue box?" She took the liberty of adding her Learning Home Key to the box, along with several Cheerios, a ball, and her giraffe. I bet you can guess what she does with this. Put it in, take it out, excited squeal, put it back in, take it out, excited squeal and so forth. I added in a washcloth and that was the hit of the century because she was able to combine what's in the tissue box with peek a boo. Ten solid minutes of entertainment.

Caroline is also very keen on following directions. We keep a little bag (actually it's the bag my slippers came in) on my night table and it is full of fun things to keep her entertained during the morning rush; empty toothpaste and soap boxes, monkey, taggie book, duck chime. I used to just keep them willy nilly on my table, but this seemed much more organized AND yup, another opportunity for put in and take out fun. So as I gathered up all the bag contents this morning she was not quite ready to relinquish her toothpaste box. I said to her let's put the box in the bag for tomorrow, pointing to the box and the bag. With a little assistance from me to get the box all the way in, she put the box away and crawled off to other things leaving me open mouthed and astonished.


How long will it be I wonder before Steve can say, "Caroline, how bout a beer for your Daddy?" KIDDING aside, she is obviously understanding WAY more than we are giving her credit for. Lately all we have to do is show her how to do something and there she is doing it on her own, or at least putting in a valiant effort.

On the eating front - there was a small booting episode at school yesterday. Her tummy is learning how to cope with the new foods we are offering. She is now exclusively drinking from her cup at school. They just kept offering it and she kept taking it, no complaints! So I send an empty bottle in just in case with full medela bottles to be doled out into the cup. So SO much easier. Is it possible we are done with the bottle? Could it really have been just that easy??

I am finding that my milk production is really slowing down and no amount of pumping seems to be helping. I am not all that concerned at this point because I know it isn't for lack of trying and the girls at school seem to think that she is in a process of phasing me out anyway, so good timing all around.

A new feature - Maybe the other moms can give me some fresh ideas and for those not breaking kids into the great big world of real food, it might be interesting to read.

What is Caroline eating today?

AM:

Split an English Muffin with Mom before school - Dad notes that Mom doesn't give big enough pieces. Um, is it possible he is insinuating that I don't share?

Sent to School with:

Yobaby Yogurt
Pirate Booty
Sweet Potato chunks
Grilled Cheese with green bean puree cut into tiny triangles
Jar of Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Shredded Cheese

An Evolution of Eating

Yesterday was Day 1 of those new Nuby cups at school. We have been "practicing" with them at home for awhile now and so on Tuesday I brought her to school with three bottles and her cup. The plan was to pour one of the bottles into the cup at some point in the morning. According to Sara and Michelle she drank it so well and so quickly that it was almost like they turned their back and the cup was empty. Woah! I suppose that since she has been used to a pretty slow flow it must have wild to be able to just gulp it right down, but that is just what she did. The notes from school said she did "GREAT!" with her cup, "drank it all!"

I called yesterday afternoon just before I left work to get the lowdown on the cup situation and see what if any changes the girls were recommending for today. Michelle relayed the news and encouraged me to start bringing in more non-baby foods. According to Michelle, Caroline is doing really well with her eating and they think she is ready for most foods now. Since she has been doing so well eating they want to encourage her to keep going and trying new things. Her words were to bring things like "pizza, hot dogs, peas and carrots, chunkier sweet potatoes." I think we will pass on pizza and hot dogs - not much redeeming nutrition in those things, though a little English muffin pizza with sauce and cheese wouldn't be too bad now that I think about it. We have been sharing my morning English Muffin lately and she really seems to be enjoying that. In fact, she wants bites of everything we eat now. If I can get her to try new and good for her things just by putting them to my lips, fabulous. I am sure this will become a pain later when she wants to share food all the time, but one thing at a time.

I had a little trouble wrapping my head around the food thing. I even asked Michelle on the phone, "are we really doing this?" It seems surreal mostly because Caroline STILL has not one tooth, but I need to rationalize that any teeth she did have would not really assist her in the chewing department. Her gums are actually hard enough and strong enough to mush most things.

So I leaped head first and for dinner last night she had some of what I was having along with some peas and chunkier sweet potato dices that seemed way to big to me, but that she handled just fine. We even trialed some tortellini, which was a big hit. She LOVED the turkey chop suey I had for dinner, which was actually a pretty healthy meal; ground turkey, an onion, some spices, whole grain rotini, crushed tomatoes. I caught myself holding my breath when she picked up a piece of rotini that I typically would have pulled apart into itty bitty pieces, but she handled it just fine. I think it wasn't until we were actually done with dinner that I took another breath.

Today for school she has some of the chop suey, big chunks of sweet potatoes, peas, yogurt, and half of a banana. Back when she started school I was packing milk, then a myriad of carefully prepared purees, then more challenging and annoying to prepare chunkier options, pulverized pieces of vegetables and fruits, organic jarred options, yogurt, and suddenly last night I found myself packing up a little dish of leftovers from the family meal. What an evolution...

Yolk on our face

Imagine yourself at a local restaurant, ordering a frosty beverage, attempting to relax and connect with your spouse all while chasing down your baby's wandering mouth to spoon in tender chicken and stars with applesauce. Now imagine this beautiful child batting your hand away and spilling the few remaining spoonfuls of said chicken and stars on the floor, and on herself, and oh yeah, in your diaper bag. Now imagine that your meal arrives and you treat your baby to a bit of the egg yolk from your salad, which she has never ever had before, and she LOVES IT, gobbles it right down happily. Imagine your surprise when she suddenly and without any seeming reason begins screaming at the top of her lungs, refuses to make eye contact, and cannot be soothed by walking, bouncing, going outside, or any number of other things we tried.

That was what our Friday night. I scooped her up from her high chair and took her out of the dining room and when I returned a few minutes later, Steve had just about finished his dinner and we switched off. I shoveled salad down my gullet so fast I knew I couldn't possibly be chewing. Suddenly there was Steve in the window requesting me to finish up, pay the bill, and get the heck outside. That frosty beverage I had so wanted to savor, went down in a handful of rather large gulps. I requested the salad to be wrapped, but regrettfuly abandoned my white take out box on the table after paying the check. My thoughts immediately turned to the egg yolk. Could an allergic reaction really happen that quickly?

Outside was pandemonium. This was not Caroline. Something was wrong. You could hear in her sobs that she so desperately wanted to calm herself, but she couldn't. Calls were made and thankfully the pediatrician was waiting for us at the office when we arrived 20 minutes later. It was not the egg yolk, but our poor baby's ears, bulging from yet another double ear infection. Our little girl has stealth ear infections. I made up that term because there are no signs save for an occasional ear pull. When I notice this tugging, I observe her closely for more ear pulling, and then it ceases and I dismiss my concerns. Caroline does not have difficulty sleeping when she has an ear infection, she eats normally, she is not cranky, she just suddenly and out of nowhere cannot take the pain anymore and then and ONLY then does she make her poor little ear infections known.

She is on a new antibiotic, a really strong one apparently, that we were told could cause some digestion issues. So she's been eating lots and lots of rice and bananas. We gave alternating doses of Tylenol and Motrin for the first 36 hours until the meds kicked in and since then she has been her usual typical perfect little self.

We have an appointment to check in on the infections in two weeks. I cannot help but wonder what the pediatrician must think when she sees Caroline with terrible ear infections and two doe eyed surprised parents looking back at her asking how this could be. I am sure it was there was no intent to embarass me, but as she inspected that first ear and turned to me and said "bulging," I could not help but feel small and so utterly STUPID for not realizing it sooner. I don't want to sway to the side of irrational, but from now on a sniffly snooty little nose combined with an ear pull of any kind is going to land us squarely in the doctor's office. Poor baby.

Post Holiday Video Catch Up

Some snippets of our recent life...

A few notes -

The amazing magic of Christmas morning... there are no real words for it.

Why oh WHY does it seem that I am always wearing my scrubs in ALL the family videos. Perhaps I need a scrub intervention? I love my scrubs. Scrubs = most comfy thing ever.

Since the holidays we have seen Caroline's various motor skills and comprehension increase two fold. She knows how to use all her toys (as you will see) and even understands and is able to follow many verbal commands like "put the mail in the mailbox" or "throw the ball to Mommy." It is SO FUN!

While I still cannot believe I am posting a video of myself playing with her under a blanket, (highly embarrassing) she absolutely loves it and I want to save this one, if even just for me.

Behold the belly laugh and also ticklish little baby thighs.

Someone please explain this new silly gum grin Caroline is doing? She literally puts her gums together, throws her head back, and closes her eyes. She must have learned it at daycare (wink, wink)

Did we mention she loves her Stride to Ride? Yeah, she pretty much loves it. We spend at least 10 minutes a night with her walking on her knees behind it between us, back and forth back and forth.

Without further ado...

Christmas Morning - The Learning Home - a big hit


Stride to Ride 1


Blanket With Mommy


Bouncing Ticklish Caro


Off On Off On - followed by distraction by snack cup (a constant distraction)


Smiley Caroline


Speed Racer

oh that laugh

There is a new baby in Caroline's class at school named Luke. He was there this morning when I dropped Caro off and she made a beeline for him as soon as her little tush hit the carpet. He was sitting in a baby seat holding his head up nice and strong and Caroline climbed right up to get a better look at him. She gently touched his little arms and looked at me with that silly gums touching each other smile she has been doing lately. (I love that smile) Sara said that Caroline and Sunny (AKA Hannah) were all about the new toy in the room yesterday, the new toy being Little Luke of course. I walked around to get a better look at his sweet face and he is just adorable! I looked up at the wall and there was Luke's little star with his name and birthdate in September 2007. September 2007. Wow.

Caroline is no longer the littlest one in the room. I don't know how I feel about that. I just paused after typing it and I am not sure if there is a sense of pride for all she has accomplished or a pang of sadness that her babydom is quickly slipping through our fingers. When Caroline started with Michelle and Sara she was a bit older than Luke, but probably spent her days in the same little seat, with the older babies gently touching her arm, looking up at their mommies with gleeful expressions. Having a new little one like Luke seems almost like a rite of passage for Caroline.

I glanced over the center's activity calendar last night, which I always do, but always with the knowledge that Caroline isn't exactly an active participant yet. January's calendar is filled with winter themed weeks with activities like building igloos, creating snowflakes, snowcones, and lots of winter themed clothing things that I am sure are designed to convince reluctant little ones to wear mittens and coats. Before long her cubby will be filled with winter scenes of cotton balls glued to paper and she'll be proudly showing off how she spent her day. I am really looking forward to those silly art projects. I glanced to the bottom of the calendar and saw the January birthdays listed and gulped a bit in the realization that next month her name will appear at the bottom of the calendar. I quickly tossed aside those overwhelming emotions to consider what I might be allowed to do for her birthday in the classroom, if I was supposed to organize something, or if I would be allowed to do anything at all since her birthday is a Monday and a non-school day. hmmm. More to come on that I am sure.

So as we close the chapter on Caroline's 11th month she is eating an enormous amount and variety of foods. She's been enjoying whole petite peas, sweet potato dices, roasted chicken, all kinds of bread, and most recently chicken nuggets. Yes, chicken nuggets.

I just made an appointment at Breastfeeding Resources to discuss how exactly I should go about transitioning Caroline from nursing to whole milk at the conclusion of her 12th month. The appointment is set for the 14th and we'll see how it goes. She is quite enamored with her new cups and she switches between her Dr. Brown Training Cup, to the Nuby No Spill, to another version of the Nuby with a straw. I forgot to ask the girls today about transitioning from the bottle to the cup. Since Caroline really seems to love her sippy cups in a throw her head back and suck it down kind of way I don't think the transition will be too challenging.

I want their help in setting up a good transition plan and I want to ensure that it meets the center's standards as well. They have a bottle rule that once a baby has drank from a bottle they cannot offer it again and I am wondering if the same is true of the sippy if it still contains breast milk or formula and not whole milk. My hope for next week is to move one bottle to a sippy, then another, and then all three, until all her daycare bottles are from a cup. With 4 weeks to go before her first birthday, we should incrementally be able to do this so that around when she hits 12 months we can start mixing in whole milk until we have eliminated the breast milk from her school diet. Gulp.

On a more playful note, Caroline has really taken to the monkey see monkey do game. Mommy flips a light switch, Caroline flips a light switch. Mommy presses the fridge Dj, Caroline presses the Fridge DJ. Mommy eats a pea, Caroline eats a pea. Mommy laughs, Caroline laughs. Oh that laugh. I feel like overnight she has really learned how to belly laugh and not just do that sucking in gaspy thing she does. We discovered that she is particularly ticklish under her chin and she totally anticipates us coming at her to tickle her, which has made things so fun. The house is full of our family's laughter.

Brush your hair

Our holiday baby friendly get together hit the skids, so we bagged it with intentions to try again next year. We were lucky enough to utilize an invite from our great neighbors to head over to their place for some New Year's Eve libations and fried pickles, which were TREMENDOUS! Caroline was perfection at their place allowing us to stay out until after 9pm. We tried to head back once we got her to sleep, but alas the monitor sketched out at the hedges preventing us from another round. We actually made it to midnight, barely, toasted in the new year with some presecco in the glasses from our wedding, and watched our neighbors across the way light off fireworks in their front yard.

Caroline woke us promptly at 6:30 and through some miracle played for only a few minutes before I spotted a stealth eye rub. I launched into row row row your boat asap and with some gentle rocking and a properly placed pillow the little miss blessed her pooped parents with TWO, count 'em TWO, additional hours of sleep. I guess it was a late night for her too? It was the first time she's snoozed with us in the morning in months. When Caroline woke up next to me, smiled the biggest gummy grin, and rested her ridiculously sweaty head on my shoulder I smiled too. What better way to start the new year off with that smile and a little cuddle bug snuggling with you. She must have been happy because she kept snuggling with me and smiling until it was time to get up and make croissant french toast. YUM.

There have been a couple minor "learning to stand" injuries these past few days, but none seem too serious. Caroline is full of curiosity and as she learns how to stand up and cruise along for things just out of her reach she often moves faster than we can to catch her. Nothing a little Aquafor can't fix.

Last night she discovered my hair brush while I was drying my hair. I showed her how to brush Mommy's hair and then we together gently brushed hers too. This morning she found it again and dazzled us by brushing her hair a few times. We also think she signed "all done" while her and I were splitting an apple. She was far more interested in the top of the coffee table, so she waved her arms and walked away. AMAZING! She has been walking on her knees behind her little stride to ride toy. She continues to enjoy taking out and putting in and now applies it to cheerios, blocks, laundry and just about anything she can take out, put down, pick up and put back.

We all watched the Tournament of Roses Parade together and she was so comfy sitting between us all cozy under her blanket, that she dozed off for a little cat nap on Daddy.

If this morning is any indication of the kind of year 2008 will be, I would say we are in for lots of discoveries, our fair share of boo boos, and lots of quiet family times together just the three of us.