Q:I love the way you dress Win. Where do you shop?
Thank you! The majority of his clothes are hand-me-downs from Eleanor and my nephew. The brands aren’t anything exotic, mostly Carter’s, Baby Gap, and Old Navy. I absolutely love putting him in BabyLegs legwarmers. He almost always wears those instead of pants.
If I had a ton of money to blow on baby clothes, I would create a dream wardrobe for Win from Kate Quinn Organics (sometimes featured on Zulily), PaigeLaurenBaby, and Zutano (also occasionally on Zulily).
Well, it finally happened
The three year old walked in on us having sex. Hopefully she isn’t scarred for life.
I am DONE with today
This is a complaining post.
Whatever progress was made when I got Win to take the pacifier a few weeks ago has been undone. He now wants to be held for all of his naps again, and sorry kid, but you’re a second born and a light sleeper, so that isn’t going to happen for you. He has been taking short crappy naps again. Today he woke up at 5:30am. It’s now 2:30pm and he has slept maybe an hour since. His long nap is all messed up. Usually I put Eleanor down for her nap first, then rock and nurse him, but lately he’s been doing so well with the pacifier that I could put him down quickly first, then take some extra time reading and cuddling with Eleanor before her nap. I attempted to do that today. Nursed and rocked the baby until he was asleep, gave him his paci, put him in the cosleeper. That all went smoothly. Then he woke up about 10 minutes later while I was reading to Eleanor. When I told her I would be right back because I had to try to get him to sleep again, she flipped and begged me to stay, so I said I would quickly finish the book, hoping that if I left Win alone he would settle himself. No such luck. He stopped crying but he was just…awake. Like always. Apparently that 10 minute snooze was enough for him.
He is turning in to such a terrible sleeper. He wakes at the slightest sound, he won’t sleep alone, he still needs to be swaddled, and on top of all of that he is restless. I am so, so tired. Bed sharing is failing me. When Eleanor was his age she woke often to nurse, but she slept so still beside me, and in the mornings I could always coax her into sleeping in until I felt ready to start the day. Bedsharing with her was the perfect solution. We both slept great. Most nights with Win, I see every hour on the clock. If I have him next to me in bed, he wakes me kicking and thrashing around. If I have him in the cosleeper, instead of just waking and thrashing around for a bit, he wakes, thrashes, and cries. I just don’t know what to do.
I’m getting a repetitive stress injury in my right wrist from holding my iPhone (smartphone claw, anyone?) or a book while holding him during his long nap. It’s really bringing me down. I can’t seem to get it to heal. But what am I going to do? I have to just hold him for at least two hours every day, I have to keep my mind occupied some how.
Both kids have been so crabby today. If one isn’t screaming, the other is. Win doesn’t usually get like this, and he doesn’t cry very much, but when he goes GOOD GOD. It is the most awful, loud, high-pitched noise I have ever heard. It literally makes my ears ring if I am holding him. But even with both kids screaming at unheard of decibel levels, they’re still outdone by the screeching of our broken washing machine. Today I had the pleasure of hearing all three going at once!
Our (crappy “portable”) washing machine is absolutely falling apart after only four years. We keep fixing it only to have something else go wrong a few weeks later. It obviously needs to be replaced, but we don’t have the money to drop on a new appliance, so we’re going to have to put it on a credit card, which we absolutely hate doing. We try so hard to live debt free. Andrew and I both have been stressing nonstop about what sort of machine to get. Like, texting all day about it, talking about it all night, drafting multiple spreadsheets, making pro and con lists. We don’t have washer/dryer hookups in our apartment, so we have to get a “portable” kind that hooks up to the sink, and it just seems to me like these “portable” sort of appliances simply aren’t made to last, so I hate the idea of dropping a bunch of money (that we don’t really have) on another one, just to have it break a few years later. Why can’t they just make quality appliances these days?
I need a real washer and dryer in my apartment. I need a break. I need a spa day. I need a four hour long massage. I need a giant margarita. I need a good night’s sleep. I need a pair of earplugs.
Q:does Eleanor still have many epic toddler meltdowns and how do you deal with them? How is win going with eating solids?
Oh yes, Eleanor is still very meltdown prone. No one strategy seems to really help, so I often find I have to try many different attempts before I find something that speaks to her. I’ll run down a few of the techniques I use.
I always start by first acknowledging her emotions, and giving her words to name them. Let’s use the example of her not wanting to stop playing in order to get dressed, because that is one that I encounter a lot. I will say something to her like, “I can see you are really upset. You feel angry because mommy told you it’s time to get dressed so that we can leave, and you want to keep playing.” Just acknowledging her emotions by itself never really helps her. Usually she is totally unresponsive when I do it, she just keeps crying/screaming. Occasionally she will say “Yeah!” through her tears, but it never satisfies her just to know that I understand how she is feeling. I also try to make sure to always state my expectations and rules to her by saying things like, “I see you are really upset, but I can’t let you leave the house in your pajamas. We have to get dressed, and we have to do it now because we have an appointment and can’t be late.” Then next I try one of these until I arrive at a solution.
- Pick my battles - I first usually reassess the situation to decide if it’s something worth really fighting her over. Does she have to get dressed this very second, or can I give her a few more minutes to play? Can I wait until she decides to get dressed herself, if we aren’t leaving the house soon? As a three year old, she has very little control over her life, and I realize that must be frustrating for her, so if she has a very negative reaction to something, I try to give her as much leeway as possible. If I decide the battle isn’t worth waging, I will say something like, “I can see you are very upset. You must feel really strongly that you do not want to get dressed. I understand that. You can stay in your pajamas until you feel ready. Next time if you feel this way, you can try telling me about it with your words instead of screaming.” I try not to think of this as letting her “win” by throwing a fit, but rather realizing that she is a person too, even if she is small, and that she is entitled to her own emotions and a desire for autonomy, and being sensitive to those needs.
- Start over - Sometimes when she starts to tantrum, I react badly, by immediately trying to punish her or issue an ultimatum. That only amps her tantruming up, so if I notice that our negative reactions to the situation are feeding off of each other, I will pause, give her a hug, apologize for my behavior (“I’m sorry I used a mean voice. I was feeling very frustrated. We both got upset.”) and ask to start over. I will literally say, “Let’s start over. Hi, Eleanor! I would really like you to get dressed now, do you want to go pick out an outfit?” This is more about modifying my behavior rather than her own, but often given a fresh opportunity to comply, she will take it.
- Make a deal - Similar to picking my battles, if there is a little wiggle room, I try to take advantage of it. I will say something like, “I can see you are really upset right now. We have a problem, I need you to get dressed, and you want to keep playing. So I can make you a deal. You can play for 5 more minutes while I change the baby’s diaper, but then you have to come with me and get dressed.” I also try to get her involved in bargaining and problem solving by pointing out our problem and asking her if she has an idea to resolve it, but she isn’t quite mature enough to grasp the concept yet.
- Play pretend - Eleanor sometimes doesn’t want to get dressed, but Rapunzel (or James from James and Giant Peach, or Merida, or Astronaut Eleanor) often does. If Eleanor is resisting me, I try to make it a game through pretending. I’ll simply start calling her by another name, pretending to be someone else myself (“Come on James! Miss Spider is going to help you get dressed now.”) This usually works very well for us, but sometimes it backfires and she yells at me, “I don’t want to pretend!” It’s hard to remember in the heat of the moment, and I’m really not much of a “playful parent” by nature, but it really does help if I can manage to keep the tone light and make every activity as fun and engaging as possible.
- Distract - Just like with early toddler tantrums, sometimes it can still be effective to simply get her to think about something else. Last night she didn’t want to brush her teeth, and I was able to distract her by talking about some dino toys that she had been playing with in the tub that night. If she doesn’t want to leave the park after having so much fun at the playground I can often get her to walk along with me by asking her to name all the colors of the parked cars we passed.
- Give a choice - This strategy isn’t working very well at the moment, because suddenly Eleanor has decided that she wants me to make all of her choices for her, but it has worked in the past. Sometimes the choices are totally made up, like “Would you rather pretend to pick up your toys like a helpful robot, or like someone searching for treasure?” and sometimes they are totally crappy options, “I’ll give you a choice. You can listen to mommy, or you can sit in time out,” but by giving her a choice I at least grant her a bit more control and point out that she is responsible for the outcomes of her actions.
- Wait it out - Sometimes she gets so overwhelmed by her emotions that all I can do is wait for her to calm down on her own. I try to stay near her, but the baby is upset by her screaming, so I often have to leave her alone. I will usually put her in her room and tell her that she can come out again when she is ready to talk or is done screaming. Then I listen closely, check on her often, and wait for her to come out of that red-faced screaming phase. She usually signals to me that she is ready to engage with me again by switching from just screaming to screaming “mo-ooo-mmmm-ieeeeee.” She rarely calms all the way down by herself, but if she will take the first step then I can help her.
- Display her displeasure - This is the best strategy I have found for redirecting her if she is starting to tantrum outside of the house. I try to help her find a tangible way of measuring her emotions. I will ask her to show me by spreading her arms how mad she is, or ask her to draw me a picture of how mad she feels, then I will react by saying, “Oh! I had no idea you were THAT upset!”
A lot of these strategies I read about in the often recommended book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, which is a really great resource.
Win is doing good with solids so far, but since we just started Baby Led Weaning, he is still in the just-making-a-huge-mess-and-not-actually-swallowing-any-food phase. But he really enjoys exploring all of the flavors. Strawberries, watermelon, crispy focaccia bread, and zucchini have been big hits so far.
Thanks for the questions!
Win - 6 Months (26 Weeks)
My beautiful boy is already six months old. How is this possible? I looked through photos from his newborn days last night, and it really feels like just yesterday that we were bringing him home from the hospital. I’m trying really hard not to get lost in the nostalgia of it all. I’m trying not to think about the fact that he is (probably) my last baby, and his baby days are already half way over. It’s cruel how fast the first year goes, and how fleeting babyhood is. Just the other day Eleanor asked me, “Mom, are babies forever?” and I had to tell her, with much genuine sadness in my voice, “No, babies aren’t forever. They always grow up.” I wish this one didn’t have to. I really wish I could keep him just as he is today for a even a tiny bit longer.
So what is Win like as a six month old? He is very sociable and friendly. He loves making eye contact. Often if he is fussy all anyone has to do is just lock eyes with him for a moment. He is super smiley. He is always giving these big, gummy smiles, with his head cocked to one side and his tongue at the roof of his mouth. He gets a bit more serious around strangers, he will stare at them critically for a while, but then usually cracks a smile.
He is doing much better napping independently, but he still really likes me to be right there with him at night. He usually only wakes up twice to nurse during the night, but he is a fidgety sleeper and tosses and turns a lot, especially from about 4:00am until he wakes up around 6:30. It drives me crazy, but I can’t bring myself to attempt putting him elsewhere to sleep, because I love cuddling with him all night.
He is a big boy, just every so slightly under 20 lbs, 27.5 inches long, pushing the limits of 9 month sized clothes. I had to squeeze him into these cute overalls (which are 6 month sized) to take these photos. They were the first item of baby boy clothes that I bought after I found out I had a little boy on the way, and I always imagined dressing him up in them for his six month photos. They really don’t fit him anymore, but I had to do it.
He can sit supported by a boppy pillow very well, and can manage the tripod sit for a few moments. He has great hand coordination, and if he gets a hold of a toy, he almost never drops it. He seems to love having things in his hands to play with and chew on, so we have various baby toys scattered all over the house for him. We started Baby Led Weaning in earnest a few days ago. I have no idea how much he is actually swallowing, but he loves the chance to play around with food. Even after just a few days, I can see him learning. At first he would take hold of a piece of food and suck and suck and suck on it, but now he has started mashing it with his gums and managing to break off little bites (that mostly get spit out).
On Saturday his first little tooth broke through (the bottom right incisor), but it seems to be taking its sweet time pushing up. It’s still just barely there, where I can feel it with my finger but can’t really see it. I’m anxious to see what his smile will look like when it is fully of white baby teeth.
I don’t know what it is, but all of a sudden he seems to look so much more grown up. The way his face has matured in even just the last month is really dramatic. Win has always been a cute baby (in my biased opinion), but lately he has hit this level of cuteness that is just unbearable. I can’t even look at him without saying at loud, “Win! You are just too cute!” Of course it doesn’t hurt that he is almost always smiling at me. But seriously, his cuteness quotient is off the charts, with his perfect little button nose, his giant chubby thighs, his bright blue eyes, and his ridiculously long eyelashes that curl all the way up to his eyebrows. I can’t get enough of him.
He still loves bath time, being naked, bouncing in his jumperoo, and playing with his big sister more than anything. He is almost always happy (unless he is in the car, which is still a bit of a challenge). His disposition is as sweet as honey.
At first the novelty of the experience was enough to consume me entirely. But after a few weeks, I grew restless. I had to do something else. Or rather, I had to do something, since breastfeeding somehow didn’t count. It seemed to exist in that nowhere realm of feminine activity: in the back stairways, the dark kitchens, those places where women do the invisible work that drives and maintains life. The essential, ground-level work: the feeding, the nurturing, the staving off of chaos, work not measured in hours, miles, words, dollars. Work that doesn’t count as such. I would sit and stare and enter an oxytocin-fueled dream state, a new kind of boredom.
In the past, I’ve felt boredom as a restrained and tedious anticipation: How many more minutes in the waiting room, or until the bus arrives, or until this lecturer stops droning on? Boredom as a state of toe-tapping impatience for the next event. But in breastfeeding, boredom was a kind of presence, an altered way of being. It didn’t involve any anticipation. The act of giving milk itself is pleasant and soothing; it’s not that I am eager for it to end. And it’s not that it is uninteresting, between the strange palpable effects of the oxytocin and the mesmerizing face of the latched baby. It just doesn’t fit into the matrix of productivity or purpose or attention I’m accustomed to. It is simply being, mammal-animal being, layered with a human consciousness as thin and light as linen. It is not directed, not overtly constructive, containing the possibility of a spark of curiosity or desire, but also the possibility of a lack of either. There could be a revelation—an insight to be used in an essay or in dinner conversation—or there could be nothing more than the vaguest drifting of consciousness among the wind in the trees, a faint awareness of the sound Pattiann Rogers describes as a “cavalry of paper horses.” It is this lack of drive and intentionality, lack of self perhaps, that I find so unfamiliar and disconcerting. That I call boredom.
th3littlestavenger tagged me to post 6 photos of myself where I feel beautiful. I’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone else post there six photos, and I’m glad to join in!
1. Walking down the aisle in my friend’s wedding, 2012
2. At a diner with baby Eleanor, 2012
3. 29 weeks pregnant with Eleanor, 2011 (I felt my most beautiful when pregnant.)
4. 24 weeks pregnant with Win, 2013
5. On a picnic with baby Eleanor, 2012
6. Being moody in Europe the summer after high school, 2005
You’re nothing but a dump of scrawny old cupcake paper!
Win is almost six months old, which means it’s been almost six months since I got a good night’s sleep. I have officially entered shark status: if I stop moving, I’m going to die (ok, not die, but I probably will start to nod off). I keep myself absolutely as busy as possible, because I know that if I’m not actively doing something, I’m going to sit down, and if I sit down, I might not be able to get up again.
The sleep deprivation is way worse this time around. Win sleeps like your average baby, up a few times to nurse during the night, waking with the sun. Eleanor was the same way as an infant, but since I only had her I could sleep with her during her naps (which I did a lot), and I had an easier time coaxing her into sleeping in later with me. Plus I’m just more extended, more busy during my waking hours. It’s really starting to get to me, all of these accumulated months of fractured sleep.
So I keep moving. Always moving. Picking up toys, folding laundry, making snacks, bouncing the baby, attempting to stay on top of the relentless chaos of life with two young children, all the while pining for the moment when I can finally close my eyes.