Stories of life in the suburbs with Husband and our daughter Squishy and son Button!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just Another Day for Expert Mommy...

Here's a story from the first week of Husband's new job...

I've had other days home alone with Squishy, no doubt. But today was different. I got up to her cries feeling in charge of my own life in a new way. The husband is at work while the wife is at home. I felt free, in a way. I was in control of how the house was run. I was in total control of what to eat, when to shop, even what to make for dinner for the WHOLE week. Then I remembered...

I HAVE A BABY!!!

It was sort of a mini slap on the face. I thought I had control. I didn't. Squishy is in control of my life. Knowing what the day's errands were wasn't a list of "to-dos" as much as it was like a multi-level quest in a video game. Full of it's own challenges, collections, travel, and the big boss fight at the end.

A few days ago it was 34 degrees outside. I know for some of you that may sound really cold, but in Minnesota in February, it's nice. In 34 degrees (granted the sun was out and there was minimal wind), the snow glitters and starts to melt giving the illusion of Spring. You can go out with your jacket unbuttoned. Earmuffs, leather gloves, and heavy scarves become optional. It was just a few days ago....

Today, however, the House Manager gods were trying to smite me. It was sunny. It was also windy and around 4 degrees. Not a typo...FOUR. If I was going to get anything done with the baby today, heavy layering was going to have to happen. Challenge #1

Squishy was a happy girl when she woke up, and she even played with the double head bird while I wrote out the grocery list for the week. I chose an outfit for her that could be layered. Long sleeved onesie, pants, socks, and I was going to put her in the thin snowsuit for extra protection from the wind. After her morning bottle she proceeded to poop on the first outfit, and spit up on two more. Then she took a nap. I took a quick shower and threw in a load of laundry. When she woke up it was just before noon and I knew we had to go now before she needed another bottle. Challenge #2

The car started (yes!), and I had all the baby supplies, my purse, the list, and the bank deposit. At this point I should mention I made a wardrobe choice. I opted for keeping this grocery trip (which was two columns of a legal pad sheet long) as easy as possible. I'm a Minnesotan woman. I can brave the cold. I went with a tank top, cotton tee, and zip up hoodie with scarf and thin gloves. I didn't want to be messing around with a coat when I knew I was going to have a full cart. Challenge #3

Bank was easy...drive up deposit.

I parked at the grocery store and put Squishy in the Bjorn because there was no way possible that the car seat was going to fit on top of the seat in the cart. The Bjorn was still adjusted to when she was three months old, and with the bulky snowsuit I couldn't buckle it. I held her face into my chest and did that cold winter run shuffle inside. I procured a shopping cart and did something I've never done before...I put Squishy in the cart seat. I buckled the little belt around her waist and she sat there. She looked comfortable and didn't complain. In fact, she looked really happy to just be looking around at all the things in the store. Excellent. Challenge #4

It was a long list and I was trying my best to stick to it. I didn't want to get anything for snacks because if I have snacks I will eat them. No snacks, just dinner things. I had a menu. Tacos, curry, roasted chicken, pork tenderloin. Squishy was content on just looking at all the stuff, but you know as well as I do that that contentness could explode into tiny fury at any moment...I had to shop as fast as my little mommy legs could carry me. Challenge #5

I had collected about half of the items when Squishy started griping for a bottle. Luckily, I made one extra hot at home so if this happened while we were shopping it would be just the right temp. I was going to just hold her in one arm and push the cart with the other, but the cart I chose had one of those ineffectual wheels. Bad planning on my part, but I think I get extra points for having a bottle right there. We sat down on a bench in the front of the store and she ate. Challenge #6

After the bottle, Squishy seemed a lot less interested in the things in the grocery store and a lot more interested in taking a nap. I adjusted the straps on the Bjorn so she could mellow out or cuddle in and sleep or whatever. I knew if she didn't fall asleep in the grocery store, she would definitely be upset by the time we got back to the car. I shopped until her eyes started to glaze over, decided My Man could pick up the rest of the list on his way home, and headed for the checkout lane. This is the part of the video game where the music gets all intense because the boss is coming up...Challenge #7

During a shopping trip with a baby, if the baby has had enough, I would not feel bad about dropping everything, and taking baby home and ordering a pizza. I can try shopping again tomorrow. I get nervous right when we start checking out. I'm locked in at that point. I have to buy the food, bag it, cart it, and find the car. This particular trip was about 3 weeks worth of groceries. Squishy was about to lose it. I spent 20 minutes bagging groceries with her in the Bjorn and she was screaming. I was going as fast as I could when my saving grace showed up. A random woman in the next isle, obviously a compassionate expert mommy, offered to bag my groceries so I could calm Squishy down. She jumped right in and sorted and bagged all the food with speed and skill. She talked to me about her kids at home, and how cute Squishy was. I thanked her profusely, and left.

This was a two hour outing and we were both pooped. I took her up to the apartment first and tucked her into bed. I got the groceries and put them away. I took a nap for 20 minutes. I cleaned the kitchen. I did other  organizing projects until Squishy woke up.

I could tell right away she didn't feel good. She was scratching her face so I gave her the anti-itch medicine and she coughed a lot after. I picked her up and walked her around. She threw up a ton all over her, me, the floor...gross. She felt much better after that. I took her clothes off and took her temperature. Normal. Hmmmm....I wonder what the issue was still, but if she felt better, maybe it's just the start of a cold or something. I put her in fresh PJs and she played for a little while. Then she wanted another nap. I started dinner. Husband came home with lots of stories from the new job. We ate tacos. They were delicious.

Can't wait for tomorrow... :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Full Time House Manager

Husband has been looking for full time work for over a year. He has two part time jobs, working for a local TV station on the live crew and at a race track in the TV department. He's had these jobs since he was 16 or so, and feels like he's in a rut. Well....

HUSBAND GOT A JOB!!! 

Through the magic of networking and random people and emails, he landed a meeting with the boss of a marketing firm. Well, the meeting turned out to be an interview. That turned into a second interview. That turned into an offer! We were both so happy and excited. 

Both Husband and I have not had "normal jobs". Working in the hospitality industry since I was 16, and him working in TV for just as long means no free holidays, weekends, or regular business hours. In our lines of work, weekends and holidays are the busiest times, and hours range from 6 AM starts to 3 AM finishes. We spent the first two summers of our relationship not seeing each other Thursdays-Sundays. 

It's really strange when he comes home at 6 PM, when I'm used to going to bed alone when he's working. Now that he's gone 6 days a week (and home 7 nights), I have the newly minted job title of "House Manager"

I'm in charge of keeping the house. Baby, kitchen, laundry, shopping, cooking. I don't like the title of Stay at Home Mom. I rarely stay at home. There are things to be done, and I have to leave the house to do them! 

I've been making menus, and shopping accordingly. We've been sick this week, so it's sort of feed yourself when you're hungry. Plus I don't want to take Squishy out in the cold when she's already not feeling well. 

I will be posting my good recipes and pictures of the food when I find something tasty. Also, I'll be making most of Squishy's food. 

Stay tuned...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Baby Guide: The Cold Season

Squishy is a sickie boo. I am a sickie expert mommy. Husband is also a sickie. We are the sickies.

A cold I can deal with, I've had them my whole life...Squish on the other hand...

All of a sudden all the mechanisms that are automatic for her aren't working. Usually, the air goes in her tiny human nose and into her clear lungs, and she could eat, sleep, and play without incident. However, now that her tiny human nose and sinuses are fulled with baby snot, she's learning the technique of breathing through her mouth. Oh, and did I mention?

She's also teething. Yesterday the tiny bump I felt on her gums turned into a sharp white thing. A painful weapon of unknown potential making her even more....unruly. 

This makes our little cherubic (is that a word?) red headed boo extra cranky. Her body seems to be rebelling against her will, and she doesn't even have "will" yet. She hardly knows she's her own person, and her own person is rejecting her. Sad, isn't it?

There is little to nothing you can do for a baby with a cold. I think getting over it on her own helps build immunity. This means no medicines. With a suffering baby, I have to suck it up and take everything in stride. Husband and I have done a few things that seem to help getting her little clogged nose to drain:
  • Little Noses. This is a saline (non-medicated) nasal spray just for baby nostrils. It's saline, so you can use it whenever. Check with your doctor!
  • Steam room. I turn on the shower to super freaking hot and let the bathroom steam up. This helps two things: it clears Squishy's nose, and helps her relax for nap or bed time. 15 minute maximum for tiny humans!
  • Upright. Keeping a baby upright when they have a cold can help the sinuses drain. This may be jumper time, swing time, and holding time. Less tummy time and back time. 
Since Squishy is sick, her appetite has dwindled slightly. In addition, it's really tough for her to take a bottle when she is having trouble breathing out of her nose. She's gone from four 8 oz bottles a day to maybe three bottles taking 3 or 4 oz. at a time. I don't have an issue with this, as long as she has at least 4 wet diapers a day. Hydration is key with a sickie boo. 

Hopefully this cold won't press on much longer, we could all use some relief. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

For the Love of God, Put On Gloves!

Growing up, my family always had dinner together. Now that my sister and I are adults with our own lives, we try to get together once a week when everyone's schedules are free for a night of dinner, drinks, catching up, and cards at my parents' house. It's one of my favorite things in the world. 

When we all get together, we have, well...one of each. Boys, girls, men, women, mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, young, old (er), sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, baby, teens, adults, democrats, republicans, educated people.

So let's see...when the whole family gets together it's usually the 6 of us, my husband, Squishy, my sister's boyfriend, and one guest of one of the boys...that's 10 people. With the vast differences between all of us, we always have something to talk about or catch up on.

We gather around the kitchen island and have a glass of wine, and help prepare dinner, whatever it may be. Set the table, and eat together. By the time we get the conversation into full swing, it's safe to say that dinner with my family is a spectator sport. It's hard to get a word in edge wise unless you're prepared, and well seasoned for this kind of conversation. Depending on your general mood, it can be taxing on the soul. But a damn good time. 

After dinner is always a card game called Screw Your Neighbor. This no-holds-barred slug fest is the best part of the evening. Cards is usually accompanied by another glass of wine, or an original recipe Sidecar. 

I remember one time when I was preggie with Squishy, we were over making crab cakes. My job was to mince a jalapeno and two serrano peppers. I shucked the seeds out with my thumbs, minced them, and added them to the bowl. Ten minutes went by before Hell decided to take my fingers for a ride. 

All ten of my fingers were set ablaze by what we found out was capsaicin (pronounced Devil-spit) oil, which cannot be removed once it comes in contact with the skin. I soaked my hands in ice, milk, vinegar, vodka (a waste of good vodka), and soapy water. If I took my hands out of the ice water, it took mere seconds for the burning sensation to envelope me, sending me into a twitching fit of near-tear hysteria. I could have gone home, but there was no salvation there! And I wanted the crab cakes, they were really good. Honestly, they could have been a little bit spicier. 

I played cards that night with my fingers in a bowl of ice water, and when it was my turn to play I quickly withdrew my hands from their numbing relief and chose a card without really thinking about it. I cried for the three minute drive home, and slept with ice packs on my hands. I haven't volunteered to cut peppers again. I stick with things that don't attack your senses...like carrots. I'll chop all the carrots. 

I love family dinner....


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Moving Forward...

Honesty check: I'm losing interest in writing this blog. The current star date is 3/26/2011 and my last post was about 10/2010. I really wanted to post about milestones as they happened with Squishy, but seriously, I just don't remember. Writing became a chore, and I love writing. I'm making the executive Expert Mommy decision to jump forward to present day stories.

I'm good at telling stories. I can't put that another way. Sometimes my husband will tell me something that I had nothing to do with, and when we are together with a different group of people, he will ask me to tell the story because I tell it better.
I can memorize songs, TV shows, lines, plays, movies. I used to be able to do the whole script (with proper inflections) for Homeward Bound. "My name is Chance. I know it sounds odd, but most names are if you think about them long enough...maybe even yours!" Gotta love that Michael J. Fox.

I'd like to re-invent this blog to be my telling stories about life as a mommy. I'm jumping forward to right now.

Here it goes...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Baby Guide: Sleeping Through the Night

For the first two weeks, Squishy was on her own time. She slept for most of the day and was most awake at night. My husband and I took shifts to make sure we got at least 5 hours of sleep straight in a 24 hour period. We both took naps when we could, but having that block of time really helped. I was pumping every few hours, so I got less sleep. You don't know what it's like to be woken up by your boobs until it's happened to you. 

We did a lot of reading and research on babies before Squishy arrived, and we had a few ideas we wanted to try after we were ready.

This plan was to be implemented at the beginning of week three. It's called "Night Time Mode" 

Why week three? Squishy needed the first two weeks to adjust to being out in the world, getting used to being on dry land, sleeping, eating, and being in all stages of alertness. Week three is when we decided to start a schedule. 

What is Night Time Mode for? The big goal of NTM is to get Squishy sleeping through the night. Smaller goals are getting Squishy comfortable with her crib, being alone, self soothing, having a bedtime schedule. 

How to do NTM: We chose 11:00 PM as Squishy's bed time. NTM starts 30 mins prior to bed time. We turn off all the lights, turn down the TV, and make sure everything is very relaxed and quiet. We changed Squishy's diaper, fed her, and put her in PJs. We spent the 30 minutes of NTM with no stimulation. This means no baby interaction. This behavior is supposed to train the brain to get tired and think about going to sleep. 

After 30 minutes of NTM, it's bed time. Regardless of Squishy's alertness, she was tucked into her crib. We turned on the night light and closed the door. Here's where the consistency comes in. 

We let her fuss for 5 minutes before going into her room and comforting her. We didn't talk to her or pick her up, but we replaced her nuk and adjusted her blanket. Then left.

We let her fuss for 10 minutes, and comfort again. Add 5 minutes every time. 

*Always meet your baby's needs. Diapers, food, etc. 

We never had to do the process a third time. Squishy knew we were there for her, but we kept the stimulation to a bare minimum. Whenever she would wake up in the night for anything, one of us would complete the task in the dark without talking to Squishy. Maintaining NTM helps train her brain that dark and quiet is for alone time and sleeping. 

We followed this protocol for 5 weeks. She would wake up three times for feedings and diapers, and always go right back to sleep. The length between feedings got longer and longer until at 8 weeks and two days old, Squishy was sleeping through the night 11:00 PM to 8:00 AM

We still do NTM every night, and rarely have an incident of crying once put to bed.