Wednesday, April 28, 2010
This month Baby P has also become a champion sleeper. She is proof that babies are shaped by nature just as much as nurture. Suddenly she started sleeping long stretches at night and now we can usually put her down at 10 and see her again at 7. Her daytime sleep is still somewhat disordered but we're starting to get a consistent morning nap each day that lasts almost an hour. I have learned from my two previous kids that it's worth doing some gentle 'sleep training' at this point and I think it's working. When she is calm and not overtired we usually put her in her bed and she will put herself to sleep after wiggling around a bit. She's also figured out how to get her fingers in her mouth and suck on them, and sometimes will put herself back to sleep sucking them. Since S-Boogie is still sucking her thumb at six-and-a-half I have mixed feelings about the finger sucking, but she doesn't like the pacifier and I know that babies who self-soothe often sleep better. The fabulous sleeping is truly a blessing and a miracle because I know it's the main thing keeping me from slipping into craziness again. Bedtime is still rough and she has many attacks of the evening fussies, but I can forgive that much more easily when I get a full night of sleep most of the time.
Nursing is still going along all right and I am proud of the fact that we've made it twelve weeks so far. I'll be honest and say that I've never enjoyed nursing that much. It's just always a little uncomfortable for me and the impreciseness of it keeps me a little nervous. I recently switched to feeding Baby P on just one side at a time, and now I sometimes worry about her not getting enough. But I was having an oversupply problem and she was starting to have frequent projectile vomiting from eating too much at a time, so the switch was a good idea for both of us. If I sense that she's really not satisfied then she can have more from the second side, but for right now smaller, frequent feedings seem to be the way to go. Since she spends nearly nine hours sleeping at night I think she needs more feeds during the day. Generally she seems content and is growing well, which is all the proof I need that things are working as they should be. Hopefully the next few months will be just as smooth as this last one was.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
-We've had many days of good weather and are absolutely loving the fact that we have a yard to work on. I say 'we', but really Mr. Fob has done most of the work in sprouting seeds, clearing the garden, and creating a compost pile. The kids also spend hours playing out in the back with mud, sticks, rocks, and bricks.
-Several mornings this week I was able to get up and ride the exercise bike before kids woke up and needed my help. The baby almost always sleeps through the night, and if we get her down early enough she will wake up to nurse at 6 or 7 and then go back to sleep for a few more hours. I've learned that it's worth it to me to get up then and do some exercise and have a bit of 'me' time before the day gets crazy. She doesn't have a great schedule yet, but we're working on teaching her how to put herself to sleep and how to nap during the day.
-We did have some cold and rainy weather during the week (springtime in Utah is crazy) and I remembered how much I like rain.
-Thursday night we had a good friend stay the night and I was again thankful to have a house where we can comfortably host other people. I love having people visit; I went out to breakfast with her and another friend the next morning, and even though the food was mediocre the company was great.
-Thursday was actually not a good day, starting with Little Dude waking up with a very stinky, poopy Pull-Up. But that afternoon my visiting teacher invited the kids over for a playdate with her kids and I stayed and chatted with her for over an hour. There is definitely something restorative about fresh air and sunshine.
-This week we talked about Greece and I made baklava for the first time. I need to improve my technique, but it tasted great and the kids liked it a lot.
-My mom signed me up for the writing conference as my birthday present, and she's going to come up and go with me. It should be a lot of fun!
-We discovered that the bushes along our back fence are lilacs. Those are my favorite flowers and I'm looking forward to the day when the blossoms open up and I can fill my house with them.
-Today was stake conference and I'm proud of myself for attending both the adult meeting last night and then today's general session. The kids were pretty well-behaved during today's meeting, until it started going overtime. Little Dude spent the entire closing prayer chanting 'no' in response to my attempts to shush him. Thankfully I sat next to a very sweet lady who happily held the baby while she slept for an hour (and while I had to extract Little Dude from under the chairs and take him into the hall to reprimand him).
-This post has been mostly positive, but the truth is that it's been an up-and-down week. Just life with kids, a house, a husband, and all that entails. Little Dude is going through a challenging phase and the baby is almost three months old now; she's darling, but twelve weeks of disruption are starting to wear on everyone a little. It's a good thing she's so cute and loves to sleep all night!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I've been thinking about our upcoming summer vacation and how I can make it pleasant for everyone in the family. S-Boogie loves school and I think she's going to have a hard time without it. I believe in time for free play and the positive value of boredom, but I'm also trying to come up with a bit of schedule for our days so we aren't always sitting around the house driving each other nuts. The other day I was thinking about television time and how to manage it when the thought came to me "just don't have it at all." No television for the kids all summer? Am I crazy?
Before S-Boogie was born I was determined that my kids would not ever watch television. My family didn't have a TV until I was about eight. But we had a large yard and I had two siblings close in age that I could play with. And my parents were not both in school. I did keep S-Boogie away from the television until she was about one year old, but then I started letting her watch Signing Time. That was usually the only thing she watched for the next year, and I actually don't regret it. It's a fairly short program and it does a great job teaching signs. Then she started getting really sick and we discovered that one of the few ways to entertain a hospitalized toddler, or a toddler using a nebulizer, was television. So she started watching more. Then I had Little Dude and we really get into the TV habit during my first few months of recovery. Now when I think about it we probably could have come up with alternatives to TV in all these situations, but I didn't. Oh well. I've still generally been good about limiting their time to about two hours a day and making sure they only watch kid-friendly shows (like Dora, Backyardigans, Arthur, Super Why, etc).
The problem is that the TV regulating has gotten much more difficult as the kids have gotten older. Actually, Little Dude still doesn't like watching it very much and will often get bored after twenty minutes or so. Sometimes I actually beg him to watch something so I can take a shower without worrying that he'll tear down the house (it doesn't always work). S-Boogie, on the other hand, is pretty attached to television. One Sunday a few weeks ago, when the parents were feeling too tired to enforce the rules, she sat and watched it for five hours straight. It makes her cranky when she watches that much TV, plus it's such a big deal to her that we spend lots of time negotiating when and how much she can watch. Generally she doesn't get to watch any on school days, but some times I give in.
I had been thinking of various ways to have her earn TV time during the summer but really wasn't coming up with anything good. So the thought of just not making it an issue at all really appeals to me. It also scares me because it means more work for me as a mom. I can't just say 'go away and watch the TV', which is a habit I've developed as well. It would mean a lot of changes; no more getting DVDs from the library, no more worrying about which show is on when, no more uninterrupted time for me. But I think the kids are old enough to handle it. We have a backyard now and we live close to a park and a pool where we will spend some time. We will also still have our weekly family movie night as well. I think the idea is tempting also because it seems like a challenge. And even though challenges scare me a bit, they are also a bit exciting. Summer vacation doesn't start for about two more months so I have more time to think about it.
Nursing is still going well and I feel like my body is producing more than it did with either of the other two kids. She doesn't spit up often, but I've discovered that she has a sensitive gag reflex and occasionally empties her stomach all over me. The vomiting is kind of scary since it comes out her nose and everything, but it doesn't happen too often and just seems to be due to a combination of sensitive throat and forceful milk release. I'm still working on trying to get her into a daytime routine, and she seems to be working against my efforts as much as she can. We have had moderate success with the 'put her down sleepy' plan for naps and she is getting some sleep during the day, but we also still have quite a bit of fussy time. Thankfully she is making up for it by sleeping so well at night. During the last few weeks she has developed the ability to sleep for at least six hours at a time at night, and many nights for eight hours. It is wonderful; this is the first baby I've had that slept that long this early and I love it. The next step is making bedtime less of a struggle and moving it a bit earlier in the evening.
This also feels like a rewarding time because she is becoming more social. She has figured out that smiling gets a response and does it often. She loves to watch people and smile at them when they look her way. I love it when she smiles and coos at me while I'm changing her diaper. My body feels mostly back to normal from the birth and my brain seems to be doing all right so far. I have moments of frustration with the kids and some days I'm more tired than others, but it doesn't seem to be a chronic problem. I'm still feeling pretty social most of the time and I'm still able to shower every day, so that's how I know my mental health is OK. Many people have told me that they felt the transition from two to three kids was the hardest, but for me this has been easier than last time for a lot of reasons. I'm really grateful we decided to have another baby and glad that our sweet baby is here with us.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
We had a nice Easter together and I felt inspired by the Conference talks I was able to watch. It felt ironic to me to be receiving so many good ideas for how to better teach my children the gospel while at the same time giving in to their cries of "I hate Conference" and letting them play in the backyard. I wasn't really prepared for either Conference or Easter this year and didn't do a very good job of helping them understand and appreciate the significance of the events. Thankfully we will have another chance and next time I will find ways to make it more accessible. We've had a good vacation so far and I'll be sad to come back home to ice and snow this weekend. Hopefully Utah will get it all out if its system before we come back.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
This was our book group pick for the month; I've read it a few times before, but it's been a while so it was nice to revisit it. I think Ishiguro is one of the better writers out there simply for his ability to so fully inhabit a character's brain and thought processes. He writes characters that really feel like people and not just book characters.
The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy EganHave I mentioned before how much I dislike the subtitles on most nonfiction books? I'm not a big fan of the 'title-colon-long subtitle' trend, and I didn't like the subtitle on this book because even after reading it I'm not sure how the fire 'saved America'. It did save the Forest Service, though, and I enjoyed learning more about that part of American history. Other than the subtitle, this is a good book. I have recently enjoyed reading more books about American history, if nothing else for realizing that politics really haven't changed that much in 100 years and that our popular culture is very adept at forgetting anything that happened more than a decade in the past.
Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
I'd read a lot of good reviews of this book, and I've enjoyed other things by the author, but in the end I didn't really like the book. For one thing, I didn't like most of the characters; I know an author doesn't have to make them 'likeable', but they didn't feel very believable to me. The book is told from the point of view of four characters, and none of their voices felt very nuanced or realistic. The theme of the book is domestic violence, and even though I've read other books dealing with similar difficult topics, the constant descriptions of violence felt excessive.
The Vision of Emma Blau by Ursula Hegi
After reading Hegi's Stones from the River last month, I really wanted to read more of her writing and more about the characters from the novel. This book follows the lives of some of the supporting characters from her earlier novel, this time after they emigrate to America. It is a good book for a long afternoon; Hegi is very good at the small details and building up the layers of a long family history. I think I'm going to have to read even more of her books now.
Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb
This is the second novel set in Ethiopia that I've read recently; I really didn't know much about the country or its recent history and I feel that both books have helped me learn a lot. When I first started the book I liked it, then in the middle I started disliking it, and then the end redeemed it a bit for me. The writing is beautiful and evocative and I think the writer handles the alternating sections between 'now' and 'then' well. My main problem was that I didn't like the main character for much of the book; I can understand her actions and attitude, but reading it was still painful since I spent half the book wanting to yell at her.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse AndersonI've always admired Anderson's writing; it is beautiful, lyrical, and always painful to read. This book is like many of her others, and like her others it is about a teenager in distress. It's been a while since I read one of Anderson's books and now that I'm a parent it hit me in a different way. Hopefully my children will never be in the situation the protagonist in this book experiences.
The Surrendered by Chang-rae LeeI'm still trying to decide how I feel about this book. The writing is gorgeous, but the plot seemed weak to me. Horrible, ugly things happened to all of the characters. Over and over again. Sometimes books like that have some sort of redemption at the end, but this one didn't. I can see why it is getting so much acclaim, but it left me feeling unfulfilled.
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
This is a relatively short book that only took me a few hours to read. The concepts are mostly things I've heard before or have been thinking about, but Pollan really seemed to bring them together in a way that helped me learn new things and see things in a new way. It certainly made me feel motivated (again) to be more careful about what I eat.
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
I think Carol is one of the better writers out there for preteen girls, and this book is no exception. It was a quick read, but powerful. I especially thought the characterization of the protagonist was wonderful, she really sounded like a thirteen-year-old. And, without giving too much away, I liked the ending and felt it worked for the book.Movies
Mr. Fob and I both agreed that this movie was better than we expected it be. It is about a reparative therapy center, and though it ultimately comes down on one side of the issue, it still manages to sympathetically portray both sides. It's a character-driven movie and all the actors do a great job; there are no obvious 'villains' and even those who are the least likeable are still understandable. I think that is the biggest strength of this movie: even if you don't agree with the characters' actions, you can at least understand them.
A Jihad for Love
This documentary about gay and lesbian Muslims is similar to one we watched a few years ago about Orthodox Jews. For me, the strength of both films is found in the exposure of different people and their struggles, and not so much in the craft of filmmaking itself. In some spots it felt kind of slow, and I kept want a bit more questioning or engagement of some of the issues brought up by the film, but it is still a good viewing experience.
The Remains of the Day
Since I was reading the book this month I decided it was time to watch the movie again. It is generally faithful to the book, which is both a good thing and a bad one. The choice of actors is perfect for the roles and is the biggest strength of the movie for me.
Mr. Fob and I were in the mood for something funny and so we decided to watch this one again. It was definitely funny and, in a way, thought-provoking. And it made me very glad to be done with high school forever.
A Very Long Engagement
This movie is by the same director as Amelie, and while the style is similar the tone and subject matter are completely different. The first part of the movie was slow and fairly violent so we weren't sure if we wanted to keep watching. But it got better and I decided that I liked it quite a lot. If you're expecting something like Amelie you will be disappointed; if you're expecting a unique historical film about World War I, you won't be.