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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kronk is not a very good Chipmunk Scout*

So as I had mentioned in a previous post, I was somewhat worried about the interactions between Mira and one of our dogs, Kronk. Well twice now within the past 3 days, when Mira has approached him rather than getting up and moving away Kronk has growled at her. Both times, he's gotten reprimanded *severely*. But now I'm at a loss about what we should do. Brian has suggested that we just spend a bunch of time on the floor with both Kronk and Mira, letting Mira be close to Kronk while we pet him to keep him comfortable. I guess we'll start with that tomorrow and I'll do some research to see if there are any other methods to try to get Kronk to accept Mira. I really really hope we're able to get this under control because the alternatives are to banish Kronk to the backyard, find Kronk a new home, or get Kronk a muzzle (none of which I am happy about). If anyone has experience/suggestions, I'm open.

*That's a reference to the movie The Emperor's New Groove, after which Kronk is named.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New foods

Mira's been trying a bunch of new foods. Now that she's 8 months old, the list of acceptable foods has opened way up. She's now eating a lot of the foods that Brian and I eat. We just make our dinner and then cut up really small bites for her. For example, tonight we had steak, yellow squash, and parmesan pasta. She had a really easy time with the squash; I just cut off the skin and fed her pieces of it with my fork. The pasta we cut into very tiny pieces and she ate that off of her fork. The steak she only had a couple of bites, but I just cut them really super small (since she can't really break it up by gumming it) and then pushed them into her mouth with my finger. She's still not mastered finger foods very well yet. If you give her little finger foods, then she picks them up and gets them in the middle of her hand and then she can't figure out that she needs to open her fist to get it into her mouth so instead she usually just drops it on the floor. She can somewhat use a fork. If you poke some food with her fork and then lay the fork in front of her, sometimes she'll pick the fork up and put it into her mouth to get the food. But other times she'll just bang it on things until the food flies off in some random direction.

Part of me hopes that she learns to feed herself soon because having to feed her every bite is a bit tedious, especially when I'm also trying to feed myself. But the other part of me wants to hold back, simply out of fear of the mess. I'm afraid that I'm already not giving her enough opportunity to try to do it herself. But then I remind myself that she will eventually learn to feed herself no matter how long I continue to spoon-feed her. I mean, you never hear about that 13 year old that refused to put food into his own mouth and had to have mommy feed him with a spoon. At least, these are the things that I tell myself when I start worrying too much. Which is often.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Mira has started clapping. So cute. She tends to do it after pushing herself up to sit (as you can see in the first video) or after taking a bite of food while eating.

In this second video, you can see that she is trying to take Brian's hands and make him clap. She's started doing this frequently, with a lot of things. She'll take my finger and press it to a button that she wants me to push, or she'll take my hand and move it to the page in the book to indicate that she wants me to turn the page. And just today she was playing with me and grabbed my glasses off my face; she played with them a bit and then held them back up to my face, trying to put them back on me. It seems so amazing to me when she does stuff like that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sleep schedule? What sleep schedule?

For the last couple of weeks Mira's sleep has been so chaotic. Some days she gets one nap, some days two. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes to get her down to sleep, sometimes an hour and a half. Some nights she wakes once, sometimes five times (seriously, sometimes I feel like I've got a newborn again). Sometimes she sleeps till 7am, sometimes 9am. It makes me really miss the days were I knew what to expect: A nap at 11am, another at 4pm, bedtime at 9pm, two brief night wakings and then up at 9am. At least then I could mentally prepare myself and I could actually schedule activities because I knew when she'd be up for them.

I feel like this chaos might be some sort of trial. Like we are on the cusp of something (what, I don't know). But that what I do now will have a big impact on the way she sleeps for the next while. So since we've got this insanity going on anyway, I figure now is a good time to try to set some ground rules because it certainly can't get any more out of whack (which is what you worry about when you change something that baby is used to).

So here are the main tenets I am trying to adhere to:
1. No more falling asleep on the breast. To break this habit, I'm using a technique called "Pantley's Gentle Removal Plan". It does seem to be working, as now a couple of times Mira has actually pulled away from the breast on her own and rolled over and gone to sleep without me having to force the issue at all. Used to be that she absolutely insisted on having the suction on my breast until she was fully asleep. So I think this is getting better.
2. Two naps a day are always attempted. Though, I am being flexible on the nap times. And if she refuses to fall asleep at one of those naps, then she has quiet time alone in her crib. She's actually gotten quite good at this. If she won't take her nap, I just give her a few quiet toys in her crib, maybe turn on some calm music, wait till she is content and relaxed, and then I leave the room. I duck my head in every few minutes to make sure she's ok, but I leave her in there quietly playing alone in her crib for at least 30 minutes. I think she actually likes it. She always seems happy when I come in to get her out, and she usually doesn't cry at all while she's alone. (If she does cry, I come in and sit with her, smiling, talking softly, until she is content again, and then I leave her to finish her "nap".)
3. Bed time is now 8pm sharp. Used to be that she'd go to bed anytime between 8pm and 9:30pm, usually around 9pm. Well, she's shown consistently that 8pm should be her bed time (it's like you flip a switch at 8pm on the dot and she goes from happy-let's-play-baby to OMG-get-me-to-bed-NOW-baby), we just haven't been listening (mostly because Brian wants to have more time in the evenings to play with her after he gets home from work). So now we're starting the bedtime routine at 7:30pm so that Mira can be nursing to sleep at precisely 8pm.

So anyway, we've been at the new rules for 2 days now so hopefully we'll start to see some results soon. Really what I'd like to see happen is that Mira finds a sleep schedule that works and is CONSISTENT. And if it ends up that what works is for me to be up twice a night for the next while, then I'm 100% ok with that, if that's what she needs. I just want it to be predictable. Is that too much to ask? ... Maybe so.

I think part of the issue lately could be that she's cutting two more teeth (she's getting the two on either side of her top teeth). So I think the pain might actually be disrupting her sleep sometimes. Even so, I'm hesitant to give her Tylenol because I never really feel certain that pain is the issue. And I don't want her on meds round the clock.

On a positive note, I do feel like we are moving in the right direction, because a couple of times recently she's woken up in the middle of the night, cried out once or twice, and then gone back to sleep without any intervention on my part. Between that and the whole pulling off the breast without any provocation, I feel like things are happening. And I feel good about knowing that I'm doing it on her pace, letting her set the rhythm so that it's all done in the gentlest, most loving environment for her. No excessive crying, no unanswered needs, all very supportive and responsive.

And because it's all been gentle and responsive, she's actually been in a good mood most days, despite the total sleep chaos. So at least she's still pleasant to be around, even if bedtime is a struggle. Here are a few pics from the last week.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Better start baby proofing...

We discovered that if Mira had the right motivation, she would do this little army crawl. Turns out that the "right motivation" is this decorative ornament we have. It's a big plastic egg, carved to look like crystal that sits on top of a LED light. Anyway, here's some video.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Mira loves to nuzzle. It's really sweet. And her little laugh is adorable. (You really need to watch this video with sound. Her laugh is contagious. FYI, at the very end of the video she's "kissing" Brian... she just kisses by putting her mouth on him; she hasn't figured out the lip pursing part yet.)

She really loves Brian, which I'm very happy about. I've always tried to encourage her to bond with him. (She spends all day with me, so I KNOW she's got a strong attachment to me, but I want to assure that she'll be close to Brian also.) So I do things like make sure she's in a good mood when he's around, get excited when he gets home, make most of her time with him be playtime, say things like, "Yay! It's Daddy!" and so on. So now when he walks in the door she gets so excited all on her own now, without any provocation from me. It's like we're a happy little nuclear family or something...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tooth brushing

Ever since Mira got her first teeth I've been "brushing" her teeth with a washcloth wrapped over my finger. We do it after every solid food meal, as part of the clean up procedure (2 to 3 times a day). She's actually really good about it. She'll open her mouth for it and sometimes she giggles while I'm brushing. Only thing is, every time I try to get the back side of her top teeth it's like I trigger a reflex or something and she bites down. I'm not really sure how to get her to stop doing it and keep her mouth open. I try making open-mouth faces at her to demonstrate, and saying "Say AAAHHH" like they do in the doctor's office. But that doesn't seem to work. I can get her to open her mouth by putting my finger on the tip of her chin, but then when I put the "brush" back behind her front teeth CHOMP. It may just be one of those things that will have to wait till she can understand what I'm saying a little better, but if anyone has any tips or tricks, let me know.

Anyway, here are some cute tooth-brushing pics:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Baby + Pets

Before we had Mira, I worried about how the pets would interact with her. We have 2 dogs (Anna and Kronk), 2 cats (Mimic and Poofball), and a tank full of fish. (For the record, I wasn't worried about how the fish would get along with Mira. Just the mammals.) We got sort of lucky because once Mira came home, both of the cats and Kronk all pretty much just kept their distance. Anna, on the other hand... Anyone who's met Anna knows: she LOVES everything. In a "OMG I love you so much I can't even control my body spasms" kind of way. And she's 8 years old. You'd think she'd have gotten over the LOVE by now, but no.

By a small miracle, we had taught Anna to respond very reliably to two very important commands: Go and Outside. Go means get away from me now and Outside means specifically go outside. (They have a dog door to the backyard so they can let themselves out.) As we began laying Mira on the floor within spasm distance of Anna, I started by always laying Mira on a blanket and I made Anna respect the blanket as a boundary. If she set one foot on the blanket, I would immediately correct her with Go. If she got too pushy, I would respond with Outside. So over the months, Anna has learned that the baby's personal space is to be respected. We don't even need the physical boundary created by the blanket anymore.

Remarkably, Anna has become the one animal that I trust most around Mira. With the cats, Mira likes to pull their hair. I've tried telling her to be gentle, but you just try and get a 7mo to do anything you say and then you'll see how well that is working out. Never the less, I keep trying to teach her how to pet the cats with an open hand. It'll come eventually, if she doesn't torment them so much in the mean time that they just run in terror at the sight of her. Kronk is actually the one that I see as the loose cannon. He has been known to get defensive over food and treats and he has bad knees so the pain of that makes him tender in places that a baby could easily reach. So far he has kept a good distance from Mira, jumping up and moving away if she even comes within 3 feet of him. He does this of his own volition and not because we tell him to. But that in itself kind of makes me worried. Like if he's scared of her then he might react strongly to her if she pushes his buttons. Anyway, I just keep a close eye on him when he's in the room with Mira on the floor.

So since Anna is the one that I'm most trusting of, we have occasionally invited Anna into Mira's personal space and Anna has always responded very well, sniffing gently at Mira's head, sitting next to her without disturbing her, allowing Mira to lean on her and holding somewhat still for it. It's quite sweet.

Anna's a pit bull/lab mix, and she has that pit bull head. So to look at her, she looks a little intimidating and could even be scary if it weren't for all that love spazzing that she does. But having Anna so close to Mira reminds me of when my little sister was a baby and she used to play with my pure-bred lab by putting her hands into the dog's mouth and as my sister was learning to walk she used to lean on my lab's back for support and the dog would stand SO STILL until my sister was done using her for balance. So it's clear that, while Anna may have the look of a pit bull, she has the temperament of a lab. Like a sheep in wolf's clothing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mira is a victim of Accidental Ferbering

First let me say that I'm sorry for not blogging much lately, but I have a (very good, in my opinion) excuse. Nine (yes NINE) days ago I had a cooking accident and burned myself pretty severely. It's finally starting to feel better now, but for the past nine (yes NINE) days it's put me in a bit of a funk. Something about wearing a giant bandage with the skin underneath it alternating between burning agony and itching so bad it makes you want to claw your face off. Yeah, that kind of funk. So I've been slacking on a lot of things, blogging included.

Perhaps the previously mentioned funk is the reason Mira became a victim of Accidental Ferbering.

Last night I accidentally went to bed without turning on the baby monitor. I woke up at 4am thinking, "Why isn't my baby crying?" I looked over and realized that the monitor wasn't on. So I got up to check on Mira and she was sleeping soundly, but her crib was in a massive state of disarray. So she must have woken up at her normal time (2am) and cried herself back to sleep... after much thrashing and flailing. I arranged the blankets to cover her again and went back to bed, but I couldn't immediately fall asleep. I laid there feeling terrible guilty-mom feelings and thinking terrible guilty-mom thoughts. And plus my burn was itching (that's its favorite time of day to do that).

She woke briefly again at 6:30am (normal) and went back to sleep quickly. But then she slept in late, till 9:30am. And here I'm thinking, "She's sleeping late because she is exhausted from all her middle-of-the-night crying. Calling out to me with no response, left alone and cold in the dark with no mommy, all the unanswered fear and desire made her extra tired." So more terrible guilty-mom feelings and terrible guilty-mom thoughts.

And then when she woke for good at 9:30am, her little voice was hoarse. And here I'm thinking, "She's hoarse because she was calling and calling to me for so long last night. While I was just snoozing away in peaceful dreamland, my baby was screaming all alone in the dark with no one to hear her." And again with the terrible guilty-mom feelings and terrible guilty-mom thoughts.

I don't understand how some parents can find the emotional resolve required to "Ferberize" their babies (aka, the "cry it out" method). I would go insane with guilt. I would be terrified that she'd lose all her confidence that I would be there for her and she'd stop trusting me. I suspect that is why the Ferber method works for some families and not for others: either the parents can hack it, or they're just wimps like me who want to give in and hold and console their crying babies and let them know that everything is ok because Mommy is here.