Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

more Savannah pics

We took a walk down along the river where it was cold but sunny, and saw the warehouses where the boats used to offload their cotton cargo. A refurbished replica of an old-fashioned sailing ship was open to public tours - pretty sweet!
Mama Irma, here are all your girls!
(Note Valerie is wearing the sweater Tara knitted - yay!)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

6 month stats

Length: 27.25 inches (85th percentile)
Weight: 16 lbs even! (40th percentile)
head circumference: 17.25 inches
New milestone: sitting up by herself!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008, Savannah

I have so many awesome pictures, I don't even know where to start...
Or rather, I'm not sure when I'll be able to stop! But here are a few to start with:

Thanksgiving Day preparations at Anita and David's house:
Enjoying the sunshine and 65-degree weather at the local playground:
Bonding with Uncle David:
"No, you can't be in charge of the stuffing. Maybe next year."

"Bye-bye! See you soon!"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Last night at about 11:00 we were trying to get Valerie to go to sleep (again... she WAS asleep at about 10:30, for all of like 20 minutes...) I put my knuckle in her mouth and I felt a sharp little prick! We got out the flashlight and sure enough! One sharp little tooth emerging from the lower left gum...
Aw... I felt all teary-eyed... my little baby growing up so fast :-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama Mama


Monday, November 03, 2008

Anthropology of Sleep

You know, the sleep schedule would be perfect if:

1) I didn't have to get up at 7 a.m. to teach two mornings a week. Because Val goes to sleep late, this means I am very short on sleep those mornings.

2) We didn't have department colloquium from 3:30-5:00 on Fridays. Because this is prime naptime, I have't been to colloquium in months. It's not a huge deal, but socializing at department events is just good professional practice.

3) She was SURE to go to sleep by 11. Lately she's been pretty consistent. But the nights when she won't go to sleep until after midnight are killers.

Other than that, the only issue I have is that it doesn't seem "normal!" For a baby to go to bed that LATE! And I wonder if we're being bad parents!!!!!

I used to think it was hilarious that there exists a society for the anthropology of sleep, but now I totally get it. Sleep is a natural human need, but there is so much about how we do it that is culturally contingent. Just think about it. T. came back from four years in Africa with the habit of taking naps under his desk or on the grass outside (when warm) whenever he felt like it and people thought it was really weird, but for him it had become normal.

My Granda Beth told me once, "don't ever let anyone make you feel guilty for needing a lot of sleep." She needed more sleep than Grandpa, but he liked her to get up and retire for the night at the same times he did. So she got into the habit of taking a mid-day nap. People would give her a hard time for it, like she was being lazy. But when left to my own devices, I tend to feel best with 9-10 hours a night. I am perfectly capable of sleeping for 11 hours straight. Once I slept for 14 hours straight. I think there is a genetic component at work.

Well, I'm certainly not getting 9 hours a night now; 8 at best, and always interrupted. But it's not so bad. It's doable. Less than that, however, is pretty rough.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Sorry I haven't posted in awhile; I had a major deadline yesterday that had me nose to the proverbial grindstone with not much extra energy or extra computer time.

Today we went to brunch with our long-neglected playgroup; they tend to meet right during Val's afternoon naptime. The good thing about playgroup is socializing with other new parents, seeing the development of babies a few months older than V, getting ideas about things to try with her and learning new information.

The downside of playgroup is that I start second-guessing myself about everything. Feeding, sleeping, diapering... We finally bought two diaper covers yesterday to test-drive with the cloth diapers; she's outgrown the ones we have and we've only been using the disposables for a long time. Not that there's been consensus in the household about that anyway... it's hard to cloth diaper if only one parent is into the idea. Anyway, there seems to be more interest in it now. But the sheer variety of diapering options out there is mind-numbing... paralyzing... sometimes it's easier just to do what you've been doing.

Val seems so thin compared to some of the other babies. She definitely likes her rice cereal and is into eating from a spoon. We want to get a food grinder to mush up stuff for her but haven't been able to find out yet. I hear you can get them at Greenstar though - one thing we learned at playgroup today :-) I worry that I'm not feeding her enough.
And then there's SLEEP - the big one. She's kind of on our night-owl schedule. It seems like all the other babies go to sleep between 6 or 7 p.m., but V. goes to sleep between 10 and 11. Then she sleeps until about 9 a.m. Of course, she nurses up to 4 times during the night. Now that she's back in bed with us, I don't really wake up all the way and I actually feel more rested in the morning than when she was sleeping in the crib and I'd get up twice in the night to feed her. But anyway, I wonder if we're messing up her circadean rhythm by keeping this weird schedule? Can we really shift her schedule earlier? She takes a long nap between 4-8. Sometimes she falls asleep at 6 or so, and can sleep until 9, but then she wakes up for at least 2 hours, sometimes more. There have been nights when she wouldn't go to sleep again until 1 or 2 a.m. Which is crazy-making. But we'd definitely have to do some things differently if we wanted to change her schedule.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


There's been a lot of buzz in my playgroup circle and among friends about this book written by women scientists on combining a career in science with motherhood. I liked this quote (lifted from a review):

“Bringing up a child and bringing up a career are remarkably similar. ... They are often exhausting, sometimes heartbreaking, rarely predictable, but tremendously rewarding. Motherhood is the grandest experience. Don’t miss out. And remember that you are not alone in your eternal quest for balance.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A good day

This was a couple weeks ago when it was still quite warm out, but I'll let it be representative of the great walk we had this afternoon with T-Dad. V. really likes facing out in the bjorn like this; she fusses if I carry her facing in. She's starting to eat rice cereal but did not like the baked apple I tried out on her last week - not much, anyway. Sweet potato is up next! I worry a bit b/c she seems thin to me - even though she's got those great cheeks and some nice chub on her legs, when I lift her up under the arms I can feel her rib cage and shoulder blades. I'd like her to have a little more padding!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Everybody else is sleeping, why amn't I?

Now I lay me down not to sleep
I just get tangled in the sheets
I swim in sweat three inches deep
I just lay back and claim defeat

Chapter read and lesson learned
I turned the lights off while she burned
So while she's three hundred degrees
I throw the sheets off and I freeze

Lids down, I count sheep
I count heartbeats
The only thing that counts is
that I won't sleep
I countdown, I look around

Who needs sleep?
(well you're never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep?
(tell me what's that for)
Who needs sleep?
(be happy with what you're getting
There's a guy who's been awake
since the Second World War)

My hands are locked up tight in fists
My mind is racing filled with lists
of things to do and things I've done
Another sleepless night's begun

There's so much joy in life,
so many pleasures all around
But the pleasure of insomnia
is one I've never found
With all life has to offer,
There's so much to be enjoyed
But the pleasures of insomnia
are ones I can't avoid

~ courtesy of Barenaked Ladies (that's the name of a band)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

total cuteness

This is what makes it worth it all.

5 months

So baby Val-Val celebrated turning 5 months by NOT SLEEPING. Well, she DID sleep - all day on the 15th. I should have known better than to let her sleep past 8 p.m., but I was finally able to get some WORK done, so when she stirred at 8 I nursed her and she fell back to sleep, and I let her keep sleeping... until 9. Not a good idea.

At 11:30, she fell asleep nursing in my arms. When I tried to put her down, she woke up. WIDE awake.

At 12:30, I said ok that's it - time for the "Happiest Baby" CD (loud industrial noises that miraculously put babies to sleep). At 1:02 she was asleep; I put her down and she WOKE UP AGAIN.

By 2 a.m., I was sobbing. By 2:30, she was asleep again. FINALLY.

At 3:30, she woke up crying. I brought her into bed with me and we both fell asleep for...THREE... blessed hours.

At 6:30, she woke me up to nurse again. I re-set the alarm from 7:20 to 7:50.

When I picked her up to take her with me to class at 8:20, she woke up again.

Two short naps this morning.

Sometime between 1 and 2 we both conked out and slept for 2 hours. I finally feel (sort of) human again.

I wish I knew what to do to help her sleep at night better. One thing is for sure: no napping past 8 p.m.

fall in ny

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Just a quick little post to say yes, we're still here! Here's your moment of cuteness for the day:

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


At around 8 or 9 this evening I realized that I feel neither overwhelmed nor exhausted, just a little tired. This is unusual for a Wednesday night - but I like it!
In Val news: she now rolls over, plays with her feet, and has discovered the rattle on the excersaucer we bought.

Monday, September 29, 2008

stats update

She has grown an inch and gained four pounds. Terry was a little disappointed that she hadn't grown more, but she's still thriving. Yay!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

At last, a post about knitting

I knit this sweater for Valerie, but it would almost fit Solana right now. It's only about an inch too short, but the sleeves would look really funny. Anyway, I understand it's pretty warm in Savannah right now! So, I'll just save it for now.

So then I made this for Soli's birthday (it's a tank top, not a dress!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


She has found her feet - grabs them all the time and tries to suck on her own toes :-)
She laughed for the first time for her babysitters a week ago today; I've heard a couple chuckles since then but I'm still waiting for her to laugh like this.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

QUICK while she's sleeping!

The hardest thing to do while mothering is work on the computer. I can entertain/hold/nurse Valerie while reading, eating, and even a certain amount of housework (except maybe cleaning the toilet or using the stove). But the computer uses both hands, both eyes, and most of my focused attention - and it seems like even when she's happy in her bouncy chair looking at her birds and listening to music, when I get on the computer it only takes a few minutes til she's trying to get my attention. So I have to wait until she's asleep.

Terry has found another tactic:

Sunday, September 21, 2008


All my ailments seem to be healing, and there have been no more regurgitation incidents (aside from the incidental spit-ups). I decided to hire my babysitters as occasional errand girls as well, which in less than two hours wiped 5 things off my to-do list. T. is back in town and we're getting our work done. And have I mentioned the weather is gorgeous?

I have, though, lost a knitting needle - a long metal #1 DPN - and so am stymied for sock knitting at the moment. Sock knitting is one of those things I can fit into the corners of my life and get the satisfaction of seeing something material concretely produced. So instead I've been folding origami birds for another mobile for V.

I promise, I promise, pictures forthcoming - once I finish writing an essay due tonight.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

yay, it's morning!!

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." While not always literally true (sometimes weeping can last a lot longer than that!) it was true for us this past 24 hours. Here's the timeline:

Sunday night: Val sleeps 7 hours straight! Mom feels totally rested!
Monday night: Val wants to nurse every 2 hours - Mom feels completely sleep-deprived.
Tuesday all day: Val is fussy and congested, wakes herself up coughing every time she goes down for a nap. She doesn't want to lie on her back, preferring to be held upright. I think she can breathe better this way. She also seems to sleep better while nursing - at least while suckling, even if she's not actually eating much. I think it's because she can swallow the mucous that's draining from her sinuses.

So all this would not be a huge deal, except that at some point yesterday I did something funny to my right shoulder and now I can't lift that arm higher than horizontal. Hurts! My guess is I pulled something while lifting her from her bassinet. So this makes all manner of baby wrangling all that much harder.

And, sorry if this is too much information, but I've been dealing with a small sore spot that won't heal and sometimes bleeds, from nursing. I talked with a lactation consultant who said that it should heal if she is consistently latching on correctly, so I'm hoping... it seems a little better today but this is a constant challenge since ensuring correct latch-on means paying close attention while nursing her which is hard to do in public places when you're trying to be discreet.

Anyway. So last night I was exhausted and alone, dealing with a fussy baby and feeling crippled in my right arm. Somehow I managed to cook and eat supper and to give her a bath. Then I took her to bed to nurse her to sleep. She was nursing enthusiastically, and then sucking on a pacifier, and my finger, just as enthusiastically - and then she THREW UP. All over the bed. In wave after wave of sour white milk. Fortunately I had her lying on a towel, which got a lot of it. But it also got on the sheets, the mattress pad, my pajamas, her onesie, her hair (after the bath!!!), even in her ear.

She lay on the couch kicking happily and saying "aaaaAAAAaaaa" while I cleaned up.

Once we got re-settled, with clean sheets and a hot pad on my shoulder, the night went much better. I know the EMT who gave us the baby CPR training would have a cow, but we slept tummy-to-tummy all night. She nursed at midnight (when we went to be finally), at 3:30, at 6:00, at 8:00, and at 9:00, and we got up at 10. Each time she woke up coughing, but each time we both fell asleep and then slept well.

Poor baby. Poor me, too, I was feeling quite desperate at times and won't say there weren't tears on both sides. But there's no passing the buck, you just have to do the next thing that needs to be done. I think of all those times when I was little and sick and throwing up and I know my mom did the same for me. I'm sure she felt quite desperate at times, too, but here I am. We lived to tell the tale.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a day late and a dollar short

Little V. was four months old... yesterday!!!

No new milestones to report, but I feel like we're on the verge. She likes to say "AaaaAAAaa" and "Urgle," clasps her hands together, and will bring objects to her mouth when placed in her hand. We've had to lengthen the Bjorn, so we know she's getting longer. And chubby! She rolls to one side but doesn't roll over all the way yet. I think I heard her laugh one time in her sleep... but I wasn't completely awake myself, so can't be certain.

As for school and all that, we're coping. Two nights ago she slept seven hours straight... heaven! I felt so rested the next day! Last night, however, was another story altogether. I feel as sleep-deprived now as I did during finals week as an undergrad. Not good. Hopefully tonight will go better.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

kind of impressed with myself...for the moment

This morning I found myself simultaneously:
1) pumping milk (plugged ducts - arg!)
2) eating oatmeal
3) listening to "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" (the NPR news quiz, very funny)
4) reading e-mails

And then, while Terry held the baby, I made an origami mobile to hang over her bassinet.

(Granted, the paper had already been folded; all I did was thread them on string and hang them from the ceiling with thumbtacks.)

Terry thinks that all mothers should automatically grow two more pairs of arms - about 20 feet long and retractable, like the Octopus bad guy on Spiderman - when they have a baby. I tell him HE is my extra set of arms!

A good day... so far.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

it's six a.m., do you know where your baby is?

(This is one for the album, is it not???)
I know every parent whose baby regularly wakes up before dawn is playing the world's tiniest violin for me right now, but I've gotten used to V. sleeping until around nine a.m. Her parents are night owls and she seems to follow suite. Now granted, she doesn't sleep straight through until nine; usually she's interested in nursing at six, at seven, and at eight (give or take) before she fully wakes up. But this morning? Wide awake at six. This would be less of an inconvenience for me if she hadn't been up until midnight last night. She had a long, late nap from around 7-10, so I wasn't sure what her sleep pattern was going to do. I guess this is it.
But seriously - how CUTE is this picture???

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sunny Afternoon

I got my hair cut!! You can tell how I feel about it by my expression in this picture:
Terry left for VA early this morning, so today was our first truly solo day in Ithaca. We spent part of the afternoon outside on the lawn. You can tell how we felt about that (being outside, not being without Terry) by our expressions in this picture:
Here you can tell how Valerie feels about tummy time:And here is the forest fauna that stopped by to check us out:

Monday, August 25, 2008

100 days!

On Saturday, Valerie was 100 days old! I didn't remember until after she had gone to sleep.

Little V., you dig a hole in our hearts and then you fill it with yourself.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Green Poop

And now I become that boring person who yammers on about her baby's bowel movements.

A couple nights ago we had a new development in parenthood - green poop! For a few days leading up to this event, her BMs were becoming more frequent, smaller, and more "seedy." That seemed odd but not a big deal. However, the green poop event was accompanied by some serious fussiness - to the point of out-of-control crying at Grandma's house. So I went to the Internets.

This is what (among other things) I found:
"Babies that receive too much of the thin foremilk and not enough of the richer hindmilk sometimes have problems with green stools and tummy aches. If you have been switching breasts a lot instead of letting baby get a good feed on one breast, you may have problems with this."

There were some other possible explanations, but this one sounded the most plausible within our context. The solution? Block feeding.

What did we do before the Internet??? I guess we read books, or asked people we knew. Now the expertise - both lay and professional - at our fingertips is increased exponentially. Pretty amazing.

Oh, and it's working! :-)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

happy v-day!

In honor of little V being 3 months old today, I ended up throwing caution to the wind and just spent the day with her. No academic work, and no fretting about it either.

At three months old, she's so perfectly cute!!! She loves looking at ceiling fans and lamps, practicing sitting, and smiling at us. Her personality is really starting to show - she's kind of shy, and overall a calm and patient baby. When she does cry, she does this adorable thing with her mouth, just the cutest little sad face - it's irresistable! Her hair is getting quite long on top and at the neck, but she's getting that hilarious little bald ring around the head that babies get, where their heads rest against the bed.

My favorite things to do with her are to sing, and to practice sitting - I lay her on my lap with her feet against my belly and her head on my knees, and lift her by her hands singing "sentadita, sentadita" (seated, feminine diminutive in Spanish) and then I lay her down singing "hechadita, hechadita" (lying down, same). I really need to get some pictures of that soon, she looks like such a big little girl sitting up!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

nursing relationship

So I said that nursing was my favorite thing about being a mother; I wanted to elaborate a little bit. With all the drama around her birth, I had this feeling that my milk wouldn't come in. It just seemed like too much to hope for, that something would go right, the way it was supposed to. But then it did! I was amazed.

Then, the bigger surprise was that nursing was hard. I expected it to hurt somewhat, but I didn'dt realize that there are important things one must do in order to minimize the pain and maximize the amount of milk baby is getting. I was very thankful for the lactation consultants and nurses available around the clock at the hospital.

Eventually, though I did get really tired of having strangers staring evaluatively at our latch-on. REALLY tired of it.

Somewhere I heard or read the phrase "nursing relationship," and that's really what I love about it - the completely particular and unique connection I have with my baby, just the two of us. I can do one thing for her that nobody else can. Nursing is something we do together, and I think that's why I also like the term "nursing" more than breastfeeding, because it's so much more than just little V. eating. It's me loving her, and her trusting me; me comforting her, her needing me. And it's like its own miracle, that she can turn milk into muscle and bone and brain, into the softest sweetest skin, bright eyes, and the cutest smile we've ever seen.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Sometime in the last few weeks (it's all a bit of a blur, really) I asked Terry the following questions:

1) What do you like best about being a dad?
2) What do you like least?
3) What has been the most surprising or unexpected thing about fatherhood?
4) What has been most surprising to you about me as a mother?

And of course, he turned the questions around to me as well. Here's how it breaks down:

1) Him: when she falls asleep on my chest.
Me: nursing
2) Both: interrupted sleep!
3) Him: nothing - had no clear expectations (!!!)
Me: breastfeeding was harder to learn than I expected, and the lack of sleep a lot less difficult to cope with than I expected.
4) Him: how well I (eep) have been coping with the lack of sleep
Me: how well he's handled diaper changes!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

12 weeks old today

This afternoon I was driving back from Kate's (natural food etc. store) where I had just bought a Neti pot for a nasal cleanse (I have found this to be very effective for dealing with an incipient sinus infection, which seems to be brewing at the moment). I was thinking about health, and food, and the upcoming semester, and Valerie, and how I was ever going to finish my degree with this baby here. We've invested so much in it already, though, that there's no way I'm walking away from it. How many hours and miles has T. logged driving back and forth so that I could have the luxury of reading social theory til it comes out my ears? I'm afraid to actually do the calculations.

Anyway, it occurred to me that the one thing that will get me to the other end is going to be self-discipline. Normally I'm pretty happy to follow Terry's spontaneous impulses, but I think I'm going to have to step it up a bit and impose a greater degree of order on our lives. I haven't told him about the plan yet though :-).

(Note: this onesie doesn't even fit her anymore!!!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

two-month stats

She's 24 inches long (96th percentile!!!)
10 lbs. 12 oz. (40th percentile)
circumference of head = 15.5 inches.


The first week, she was in the 2nd percentile for weight, and 20-some for length. She's growing so well!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Nick the Name

I almost never call her "Valerie," to the point where sometimes it takes me a few seconds to remember her name. Sometimes I call her "Solana" by mistake! But the compendium of
nicknames includes:

***and how could I forget: Miss Grunty Grunty!

Little V.
Little Val
Little Monkey Girl
Little One
Little One-one

But the most frequent and least creative thing I call her is just My Baby.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Slings and things (edited to fix layout and add final comment)

The attachment parenting literature is pretty clear on the benefits of "babywearing" (aka carrying your baby close to your body). I've been struggling somewhat with the sling thing, however. Little V. likes to be carried upright rather than reclining, although she does ok in the carseat (which we refer to as her "plastic bucket") and will also tolerate the sling when she's sleeping. But, so far, the carrier that most resembles a bullet-proof vest has been the easiest one for us to master given her preferences.

Here's what we've tried so far, with pros and cons.


Pros: when running errands that require driving anywhere, eliminates the need to transfer her constantly back and forth from one conveyance to another.

Cons: bulky, awkward to carry unless in the stroller (and then extra-bulky), heavy - 11 lbs sans baby.

Pros: easy to put on and adjust, nice for hot days since arms and legs are free. She really likes pushing back from your chest and staring all around her. It mimics the way she likes to be held in our arms. Dad likes it.

Cons: doesn't keep sun off head or limbs; cultural association with pretentious yuppies; the nagging feeling that you are short-changing her by not using a more ergonomic, earth-friendly sling.

Pros: Best weight distribution on my frame - by far the most comfortable to wear. Also very versatile with lots of ways to tie on. The generous fabric protects her skin from sun or cold. Guatemalan fabric is beautiful and just looks cool. Y'know; "ethnic."

Cons: Learning curve. It definitely takes skill to tie on, practice and commitment. Also not great for hot weather.

Pros: simple construction, no adjusting or tying or buckling required

Cons: I have only managed to use it correctly ONCE. Part of the problem is that the design requires her to have her legs tucked up against her tummy, but because of how she was positioned in the womb, she likes to have her legs out either froggy style or straight. I've just had a really hard time getting her into and out of this one and am about to give up.
I'd really like to try a ring sling, since the hardest part of the pocket sling for me is getting her in and out. I remember the few times I carried Solana in the ring sling, it was nice to be able to loosen it in order to get her out, and to tighten it after putting her in.
I also want to learn other ways of tying on the wrap. Rachel asked about my back - because of the way this one distributes her weight on my body, it is easily the most comfortable. The B.jorn is the second best.