Tuesday, December 30, 2008

6 Month Check-Up

Christmas Day was Ella's half birthday. I cannot believe that my tiny baby is 6 months old already. I'm on vacation this week, and we are sitting in the floor together, playing on our respective laptops. Hers plays music and lights up, and the best game about it is to open and shut it. She's eyeing mine like she might need to upgrade to a more professional model.

We saw both doctors yesterday for the six month visit. She weighs 14 1/2 pounds and was 25 and 3/4 inches long. He said she's petite but gaining well (still at a rate of about a pound a month, which is pretty much what she's been gaining since birth). I knew she was petite; she seems to have a small frame like her Aunt Becca. She got her long feet, toes, and fingers, and it looks like her build, too. The doctor got a good understanding of what it's like to examine my octopus baby. Her hands were everywhere trying to grab his hands, stethescope and the thing he looks in her ears with. He kept having to trick and distract her to be able to look in her ears. She flirted with him, of course, like she always does. He says that she sits exceptionally well and has very good balance. When he put her on her tummy, she immediatley pulled her knees up under her, so he thinks she'll crawl soon. I'm not sure I'm ready for that, given that just containing her hands is a job by itself. What will I do when she's mobile? Probably lose more weight. He also said her bottom teeth look like they are about to sprout. We'll see. They've been looking that way for at least 3 months now. She got her four shots again, so now we are on puke watch. She's been gagging but happily playing. This time the shots just made her MAD. Previously they've hurt her feelings, but she was plain mad yesterday. She had the screaming fit like someone was peeling her skin off - holding her breath and turning purple - and she refused to nurse, because you can't scream and nurse at the same time. Once I got her calmed down, she nursed and the happy baby was back. She has quite the temper.

We also saw the orthopedic specialist and got good news there. Her pelvic x-ray looked completely normal and she officially doesn't have to wear the harness anymore. We will have to go back for x-rays periodically, to make sure that her hips stay normal as she becomes mobile. X-rays are fine, but I hope it's a long time before we suffer through another ultrasound. The tech actually remembered her yesterday because of the fit she had the last time, and she didn't disappoint us this time either. She hates being held down.

Oh, and the pediatrician said to keep her on stage 2 baby foods for a couple more months, then switch to stage three and maybe some soft table foods. It was a nod and smile moment for me since Ella has enjoyed Mexican and Japanese food this week already. She much prefers table food to baby food, and seems to be tolerating it just fine. She completely turned her nose up at the chicken noodle dinner yesterday in favor of my soup, fried rice, and zucchini. My worries about her eating too much solid food and not nursing enough are over. She's still nursing like a champ; in fact the doctor laughed when I said she still nurses 8 - 10 times a day when I'm home with her. As long as she nurses, I don't have to worry about making sure her diet is balanced.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ella's First Christmas

These are a few of my favorite pictures from our whirlwind Christmas. There are more in this Picasa album.
I'm editing to add some details, now that I have a minute. Everyone kept saying that she wouldn't really get Christmas this year because she's only 6 months old. She obviously didn't get the anticipation of Christmas, but the child totally understands presents (as you can see from the pictures above and in the web album). After unwrapping her first present and realizing there was something under that pretty paper, she was all about it and she thought all the presents were for her. Granted, the bows and paper were still her favorite, but she took great joy in unwrapping.
She came home with two new baby dolls, a table with a laptop, phone, piano, and book, a lion she can ride, a lion that plays music, books, stackable rings, some clothes, and a frog that dances and sings Jingle Bells. There's more, but that's just what I'm looking at right now. Everyone was very good to her, and she's been having a blast with her new toys. When I bring her into the living room in the morning, she dives toward her toy basket. She's content to sit in the floor and play and play.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Dave decided to teach a light lesson in Sunday School yesterday, so he did a sort of history of Christmas. I found it interesting, so I thought I would share it here. These are a few facts he found on the History Channel's website.

~ In the early 1600s, Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans took over England and outlawed Christmas. Charles II later restarted the holiday.

~ 1659 - 1681 Christmas was outlawed in Boston and anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five schillings.

~ Christmas was mainly a party holiday until the early 1800s.

~ Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon in 1819, which features a squire in England who invites peasants into his house at Christmas time. This was based strictly on Irving's imagination, but it changed the nature of the way we celebrate Christmas.

~ Around the same time, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. Its message of charity and goodwill to all mankind was embraced in American and English cultures.

~ Christmas trees, cards, and gift giving soon followed, but Americans thought they were just catching on to the real traditions of Christmas. They had no idea that they were creating their own.

~ St. Nicholas was a saint in Turkey around 300 A.D. who gave all his possessions away and traveled around helping people. He came to be known as a protector of children and sailors. His death is celebrated on December 6.

~ 1773 - 1774 New York newspapers report that groups of Dutch families have gathered to celebrate the death of St. Nicholas. In Dutch, he is known as Sint Nikolaas, whas was shortened to Sinter Klaas.

~ 1804 John Pinter distributes wooden Sinter Klaas images at the New York Historical Society meeting. The images pictured fruit, toys, and a fireplace in the background.

~ 1809 Washing Irving claimed that St. Nicholas was the patron saint of New York.

~ 1820s - 1840s Stores began to advertise for Christmas presents, often using Santa Claus.

~ 1841 A shop in Philadelphia displayed a life size Santa and attracted thousands of kids.

~ 1890s The Salvation Army dressed up unemployed men in red suits and sent them into the streets to solicit donations.

~ 1822 Clement Clark Moore wrote a poem for his daughters, An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas. He didn't want to publish it because of his frivolous nature. This poem first presented the ideas Christmas Eve, a jolly round Santa, chimneys, a sleigh, and 8 named reindeer.

~ 1881 Cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus with a red suit, white beard, and a sack of toys. Nast also created the North Pole workshop, elves, and Mrs. Claus.

~ Kris Kringle or ChristKind deliver gifts to well-behaved Swiss and German children.

~ In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten rids in a sleigh drawn by goats.

~ Pere Noel fills the shoes of French children.

~ In Russian legend, Babouschka gave the wise men the wrong directions to find the baby Jesus. Babouschka comes on January 5 and leaves presents for the children, hoping that one of them is Jesus and that he will forgive her.

~ In Italy, a kind witch named LeBefana rides a broomstick down the chimney to deliver toys to children.

~ 1939 Robert May of Montgomery Ward Department Store wrote the story of Rudolph. Two and half million copies were sold that year. Johny Marks wrote the song in 1949 and Gene Autry was the first to record it on TV in 1964. It has been translated in 25 or more languages.

~ It was originally believed that evergreens kept evil spirits away. This was seen as pagan in early America.

~ 1846 Queen Victoria was sketched with her family around a Christmas tree. She was well liked and this was considered fashionable. Trees then arrived in America and were primarily decorated with food (apples, nuts, berries, etc).

~ 1931 Construction workers placed a small undecorated tree in the center of a construction site a Rockefeller Center. The tree remains in the same location today and is decorated with approximately 25,000 lights.

~ Finally, the best bit of modern history, in 1914 Allied and German forces called a truce for the Christmas holiday. They spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together in no-man's land singing carols, playing music, trading desserts and cigarettes, and at one location, playing a friendly soccer game.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ella's Theatrical Debut

Ella made her theatrical debut last night in our church production of A Night in Bethlehem. She is playing the role of a basket weaver's apprentice. This picture is courtesy of The Shelby County Reporter's photo website.

And this is the evil King Herod.

We've had some big happenings this week, in addition to our church events. She has spent the last three nights sleeping in her crib in her own room. Sleep has been such a sketchy situation lately with the cold and the teething and everything. She has regressed to sleeping like a newborn again and I have been on the brink of exhaustion. Our typical night time schedule:
In bed between 7:30 and 8:00, then up at 11:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 4:15. Then I get up at 5:15 to get ready for work. Most of the time, she is awake as well. It's been rough. I decided that maybe she would sleep better in the bigger bed, on a better mattress since she is heavier now. The first night, she kept the same schedule. The second night, she only woke up twice and I got four straight hours of sleep for the first time in weeks. Last night, she was awake three times and again at 5; I think her teeth woke her up because she was a grouchy, crabby baby that wanted to still be sleeping. Overall, I think the transistion to her crib is a success (so far) because she hasn't woken up any more than usual.

She seems to be enjoying the extra space, because she moves all over the crib. Once I went in to find her scooched into the corner, lying on her side, talking to the animals on the bumper pads. I haven't been putting her harness on her at night anymore because I think that might be contributing to some of the wakefulness. She gets uncomfortable and can't move enough while she's wearing it to get comfortable again. Since she's out of the harness, I often find her on her hands and knees when I go in there. I'm happy to see this, because the child pretty much refuses to play on her tummy - which is important if she is ever going to crawl. I've actually been convinced that she is just going to skip crawling, but now I'm not so sure. She has a play date after Christmas with a friend who is crawling already, so I'm hoping she will encourage Ella to crawl, too. The last time we played with her, she taught Ella about tags (on blankets, toys, etc).

I also started putting her in the end of the tub where she can sit up, instead of reclining. She loved it. She splashed herself in the face, acted shocked, decided it was okay, then proceeded to splash as much water out of the tub as she could. Toys were flying out, I was soaked, and she was laughing and having a ball. Bath time just became even more fun.

She is already a complete copy cat - taking in everything and trying to do it herself. When we got home the other night, before I could get to the backseat of the car to get her out, she was sitting up as much as the carseat straps allowed and working on the buckle herself. I guess I was taking too long, and she was just going to go ahead and let herself out. She gets mad at Georgia when she's trying to pet her and she walks away. We've started working on "soft touch" because she likes to grab handfuls of Gypsy's fur (it is very soft). Gypsy is setting her own boundaries with her. Ella grabbed her the other night while my head was turned and Gypsy slapped her. She didn't use any claws and there wasn't a mark on Ella, but her little face was priceless. She looked awfully surprised and confused, as if she was trying to figure out if it was a joke, then she gave a tentative little smile. Since then, she has been gentler with the kitty. The amazing thing is that Gypsy has NEVER EVER kept her claws in for anyone, except Ella. She was banished to the porch for the rest of the evening after this incident, but I'm actually very proud of her.

We go back the orthopedic doctor on the 29th for an x-ray on her hips. I feel a little guilty because I've stopped putting the harness on her, but she really isn't tolerating it well anymore. Plus, she's been working hard at getting out of it. She slides her feet out of the little stirrups, so I'm not sure how effective it is. The other night when I put it on her, those little hands immediately started working on taking it off again. I think we are about finished with this chapter in her short life. I'm interested to see what the x-ray shows, and even more interested in what my response will be if I'm told we need to continue with treatment. I'm skeptical at best.

That was a long update.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Poopy Situation

I called to check on Ella this morning, and it seems that she had created a sticky situation for her grandparents. She was jumping along in her Johnny Jump Up (Please tell me you know what that is), having a grand ole time for about 45 minutes when her Uncle Rob came into the room and asked, "Dad, what's on her foot? It's orange."

That's right, technicolored baby poop was all over the hardwood floor. She was bouncing away, without any indication that her diaper was filled to overflowing and she was squishing out poop with every jump. Johnny Jumping is fun! When I got off the phone, they had discovered that poop was not only on the floor, but also on the toys near by. I am just picturing a happily bouncing baby splattering poo all over the living room. I could hear Grandma in the background saying, "Come home now - it's an emergency!" Ha!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Spoke Too Soon

I guess I jinxed myself when I said that Ella's cold was mild. We were awake all night again Tuesday night because she couldn't breathe. I snorted out her nose too many times to count, and the alarm found us sitting up on the couch again. This time I stayed home to be with her. I knew the best thing I could do was nurse, nurse, nurse all day long, so that's what I did. Aside from pitching a fit and twisting herself into a pretzel every time I snorted or wiped her nose, she was in relatively good spirits. She was officially a snot-nosed kid all day. Her tiny nose was all red, just like her mommy's.

I gave her a little bit of chicken noodle soup broth in her bottle at lunch, and she loved it. I've relied on soup and hot lemon tea with honey to get rid of my cold, so I was trying for something hot for her, too. Since I cannot take cold medications while nursing (because it dries up the milk), I've had to rely on alternative methods. I have to say, I have felt better all the way through than I normally do with a cold.

Since I was home with her yesterday, I got to witness her FINALLY put her toes in her mouth. She seemed surprised to find that those little piggies really are attached to her body. She also picked up the pacifier and put it in her mouth, the right way, for the first time. I put it on her tray in front of her and turned my back. Then I heard a little slurping noise and turned around to see her in full-out Maggie Simpson mode. I was so proud.

The independent little imp is also demanding to feed herself with her spoon now. She was fussing and fussing at me while I was feeding her, and I knew she wanted a bite, so I finally gave her the loaded spoon. She put it right in her mouth and sucked the food off of it. Then she put it down, I loaded it up again, handed it to her - rinse and repeat. Is she old enough for all of this?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Little Elf

Doesn't she look completely impish in this picture? All that's missing are the pointy hat and funny shoes. Grandpapa sent this picture today. She seems to be making a speedy recovery from the cooties we suffered yesterday. I wish The Mommy was recovering as quickly.

We've both had a cold - mine is nasty, hers has been relatively mild. We spent nearly all of Sunday night awake until I finally threw in the towel and moved us to the chair in the living room. We managed to sleep sitting straight up from 3:30 a.m. until the alarm went off at 5, when I made the executive decision to stay home. Last night I went all out with Vick's and the vaporizer, and I propped us both up as much as possible. We both slept much better, and she has had a great day today.

On top of that, she pooped! This event was worthy of a happy dance when I got the phone call this morning because we haven't seen poop since Friday night. I'm not ashamed to say that this is not the first time I've happy danced over poop. We've have many Poop Watches in Georgia's four years with us. I told you animals can prepare you for babies. :)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ella Met Santa!

Christmas is upon us, and we have been busy little elves already. This morning, Ella had her 6 month pictures made and then she got to meet Santa! We took her to the Child Study Center at the University. I thought she might cry, because most kids do and we passed many blotchy, tear-stained faces on the way in, but she just seemed intrigued.
Then she decided he was pretty funny. She loved all the kids running around, and she laughed out loud when one little girl walked up and started playing with her. I think she liked meeting Santa. She would have been dressed up, but after her portraits she had a fit because she hates wearing tights (She's my daughter, alright), so she was in play clothes to meet Santa. I'm trying hard not to be bothered by the fact that she is wearing pink and Santa is wearing red and my tiny compulsive side thinks that doesn't match. The pictures turned out cute, and the program seemed really neat. Santa was there for 2 hours for breakfast, and we paid three dollars for a disc of pictures.
Last weekend we decorated the house. Tonight, I worked on my Christmas cards. I've already done most of our shopping and half the wrapping. I spent several hours at church painting the backdrop for our Night in Bethlehem production, but it isn't finished yet. I put out Ella's nativity scene tonight. It's a Little People nativity scene, made by Fisher Price, so it's all bright and plastic and non-chokable. I can't wait for her to see it in the morning. Thanks to Ms. Laurel for giving her that. It's even better that I first thought. : )
Now, my baby is sleeping and since she might be awake in 2 hours, I'm going to bed now.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Piglet Eats Food

I was dead set on waiting until Ella turned 6 months old to feed her solid food. However, she convinced me otherwise by consistently diving into my plate at meal times. The child is ready to eat what we are eating.

We started with sweet potatoes over Thanksgiving, then moved onto squash. Today she had peaches for the first time, and threw a little fit when Grandma stopped feeding her. Since she is new to this, we are going very slowly in the amounts and frequencies so that her little body can adjust to processing food. I also want to ensure that she drinks all the milk she needs because that should be her primary source of nutrition until 12 months. She likes to eat and drink apple juice from her cup. She seems very proud of herself, too, opening her mouth for more and reaching for the cup when she needs a sip. To quote her father, "She's an eater." As if there was any doubt.

We did the naked baby in the high-chair thing the first time we fed her and took video, but I had already cleaned her up when I remembered that I needed a picture. I'll have to restage it so I'll have a picture for the baby book. However, I received this picture via email from Grandpapa yesterday.

Ella enjoying squash.Notice the little foot sticking up? One of her newest tricks is to grab her feet. She hasn't managed to get them in her mouth yet, but she tries. She also floats herself in the tub now, meaning that I'm not only nursing an octopus, I'm bathing one, too. Her control of her hands gets better every day, so that she's now fairly accurate when grabbing things with one hand. She can sit in the floor without assistance, but she needs to be padded for the fall because she can't balance very long yet. It's incredible.

Kudos to My Husband

I am married to a fabulous man. Oh, we have our moments when neither of us can be considered fabulous, and bringing a baby into a marriage definitely throws a few kinks into things. But, generally he is very good to me, and I would be a lot crazier and more tired if he didn't do so much for me.

Upon returning to work, the delicate life balance I managed to achieve while on maternity leave got all out of wack. I guess being away from home for approximately 60 hours a week will do that. As a result, I had little time for him and even less for myself. Being a person who needs a bit of Me Time every day, I was on a fast track to insanity. After a few weeks and a particularly ugly discussion, we came to the realization that a little more help would make me a more pleasant person to be around. It's quite humbling for me to admit that I can't handle it all by myself, because that's how I try to do everything (a fault of mine, I know). I'm so very grateful to have Dave's help and I work daily on banishing the guilt I feel for relying on him to do "my" jobs.

How are we managing, you ask? (You probably don't care, but I'm going to tell you anyway.)

1. We hired someone to clean the house. Given that we can afford to pay for that service, I refused to be responsible for all the housework and work full-time and care for Ella.

2. We take turns doing laundry.

3. He exercises the dog when he gets home before me. Last night he picked Ella up from Grandma's for the first time so I got to go straight home since I was running late.

4. Several nights a week he washes pump parts and bottles while I pack the bags for the next day and reconnect with Ella. He also makes bottles for the next day if I don't get to it first.

5. He feeds us. If it were left up to me, we would have eaten approximately 10 meals since I went back to work in September. By "feeds us," I mean, he usually cooks and fixes my plate and drink so that I can eat while I nurse Ella to sleep at night. I love to cook, but I can't seem to figure out how to do that and everything else that needs doing in the three hours before bed time.

6. He carries my things for me. :) This doesn't seem like a big deal, but I love that he meets me at my car to carry my stuff so that I can carry Ella into the house. He also loads my bags into the car in the mornings.

7. In a recent development that made me fall in love with him all over again, he came and got Ella at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving so that I could sleep another hour and a half. Then he did it again the next day because he wanted to. I told him that we should establish this as a normal weekend routine.

8. He generally follows behind me, picking up my slack (paying bills, taking out trash, putting gas in my car, feeding/watering the pets, etc).

I don't know what I'd do without him, or the rest of my family for that matter. I am blessed to have a very strong support structure around me.