Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Strike

Quinn is on a nursing strike.  It's been 3 days now.
If he's gonna refuse to nurse, guess I'll just try to get as much other food in him as I can.... #nursingstrike #day1
It started Monday.  He nursed all through the night as usual, then when he woke up at 6:30 or so I tried nursing him and he just didn't seem interested.  Which was strange, but not unreasonable as he'd just fed at 5:30.  So we played a while, got D ready for school, and before leaving I tried to nurse him again... nothing.

He nursed at 9am, but then refused the whole rest of the day.  It was so weird... this baby who nursed about every hour his whole first 6 months, who almost never refuses the boob, suddenly wanted nothing to do with it.  Anytime I tried he pushed away and fussed.  I got a bit worried, but I made sure to offer lots of solid foods and figured he'd just nurse a bunch at night to make up for it.  He nursed without issue at bedtime (though only taking one side, refusing the other), and I prepared for a long night of many wakeups.

He woke up around 11pm, I think. I went into his room, picked him up, and sat down to nurse him as usual.  And he refused.  And he kept on crying.  Actually, he was screaming, with a bit more urgency than is usual.  And it was at this point that I had a moment of sheer terror and panic, because there I was in the middle of the night with a screaming baby who wouldn't nurse, I didn't know if I could calm him down, Zach was away, and it also suddenly hit me that my baby hardly drank anything all day and now he's not gonna drink anything at night either and ohmygod he's gonna get dehydrated and I'll have to take him to the hospital.

I did get him calmed down, and back to sleep.  He woke up once more that night (which is actually kind of amazing as he normally wakes up 3-4 times or more) and he again refused, and managed to calm down and go back to sleep after a while.

And he hasn't nursed at all since.  Here's what I've been doing:
  • Pumping to try to keep up my supply, though I'm not doing it nearly as often as I should (managing maybe 3-4 times in 24hrs, it's really really hard to find time to pump with a baby underfoot) and I know I'm not pumping nearly as much as he usually gets from me.  
  • Offering the boob throughout the day, trying different positions and levels of sleepiness.  He'll let me hold him as normal (even in cradle hold), snuggle, etc, but as soon as he sees a naked nipple he struggles and pushes away.  
  • Offering Quinn lots of solid foods, trying to go for both high calorie/fat foods like avocado and cheese, and high water-content foods like strawberries and applesauce.  He's eating a decent amount of food, so there's that.
  • Offering water and pumped milk by bottle, cup, sippy cup, and/or straw. However, he just doesn't seem interested.  He'll play with them, take a sip or two, but that's it.  Today he drank a little bit more water than yesterday, but we're still talking a few ounces at most.  
  • Keeping track of diaper output.  Yesterday he had 5 medium-wet diapers.  Today's looking about the same so far, along with 2 big, soft poops.  Not great, but not terrible, either.  The poops were encouraging to see.  
  • Alternating between trusting that Q knows what he needs and will nurse/drink when he needs to, and completely freaking out because he's not drinking anything
For his part, Q's been fairly happy with occasional moments of seeming in pain over something.  I took him to the doctor today and his ears checked out fine, as did his throat.  He might be teething, but that's nothing new-- in the past 2 months he's sprouted SEVEN teeth, all before this strike started.  

Today I found a lactation consultant who works in the area and does free phone advice, so I talked to her some today and may call again if the strike continues tomorrow.  She invited me to the parent group meeting she holds every Friday at a park nearby.  It's right during the monthly parent picnic at D's school, but if Q's still not nursing by Friday morning I may have to go to the group meet instead to try to get some hands-on help.  

So that's what's going on over here.  Apparently most nursing strikes last between 2-4 days.  Tomorrow will be day 4.  So, um, I guess we'll just see what happens...


UPDATES: Day 8, and Day 13 (end of the strike!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Montessori Post-- The Three Year Commitment

I have another post up at, this one about the three-year cycle that is a key part of the Montessori classroom and why it's important:

The Montessori primary program is designed as a three-year cycle.  Much of the material and exercises in the first year or two not only help the child achieve a direct, immediate goal (such as dressing and cleaning after themselves, or learning the sounds of each letter of the alphabet), but also serve an indirect purpose of laying the foundation for future work and learning.  For example, the math material is a series of exercises that guides the child starting with the most concrete and basic introduction to numbers and quantity.  Over the following three years the lessons build upon themselves, adding layers of abstractness and an increasing understanding of mathematical concepts, until the child is eventually able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide -- with a deeply ingrained understanding of what those operations mean -- using only pencil, paper, and his or her head.  
Head on over to read the whole thing, along with an excellent post (and comments) on the Grace and Courtesy lessons (or how we teach the children to behave like civilized and respectful beings vs wild baboons).

In other news, we're going through a bit of a nursing strike over here.  I keep hearing that these things usually only last 2-3 days, and we're currently on Day #2 so here's hoping.  I keep going back and forth between feeling calm and secure in trusting that Q knows what he needs, and freaking out about how he's not drinking anything (other than a sip here and there of water or breastmilk) and will he get dehydrated?!  So, yeah.  Hopefully this ends soon.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back to School

Despite missing his entire second week at school, D's been doing really well this week.  Just jumped right back into the flow of things, even was super excited to stay the full day (till 2:30pm) and get to take a nap at school, which apparently really really exciting stuff.  When I dropped him off on Monday morning he seemed a bit nervous at first, until his teacher invited him to help her take their class bunny outside to the playground.  He then strode confidently away next to her, calling back to me, "I'm gonna go take the bunny outside, Mama."  Oh, my boy.  Just... swoon.
Donovan with his teacher & another classmate, about to take Buttons the bunny outside to the playground. #swoon #Montessori

By chance, I came across a video today of Trevor Eissler (author of Montessori Madness, which I just today started reading after having the copy by my bedside for months now) talking about Montessori and how it compares to traditional education.  I've passed the video around on Twitter and Facebook, but for those of you who haven't seen it I hope you'll take the 5 minutes to do so now.  I think this video is an excellent short summation of the benefits of a Montessori education.  It served as a reminder to me of why I feel so strongly about wanting my children to attend Montessori.  

Our education system is broken and in dire need of a complete overhaul.  It's unfortunate and ironic, considering its roots, that Montessori schools tend to be private and thus too expensive for most families to consider. I hope one day we can tear our current education system down properly, and build it back up using a model like the Montessori method which we know (thanks to much research both on Montessori students specifically, and also in general on the factors that foster learning in children) is so much more in line with how children learn than traditional education.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Picture Post (bc what else do you do when you have no energy for a real post?)

Zach's new job is going well so far.  I love that most of his co-workers used to work at the place he worked at up till last year.  It's like a reunion in a start-up.

D's better and back at school (and doing awesomely there), Q goes back and forth on seeming like he might still be fighting this cold a bit.  I've had a sore throat and cough for I don't even know how long now and am really really ready for it to go away.  I couldn't even read D's bedtime story tonight bc I kept coughing every other word. It doesn't help knowing that with D starting school, we'll likely all be sick a lot this fall.

The good news is: I love our nanny, and I love our friends, who help make this challenging phase of life a lot easier.

Anyway. I should go to bed but here are a few cute pictures to share, just because.
Budding photographer? ; )

Friday, September 16, 2011

Life in a List: 9/16/11 (for lack of a more creative title)

It's been one hell of a week, what with D being sick and home from school all week, and Q being cranky and sleepless due to FOUR teeth all coming in at once, and Zach being gone for his business school visit/interview...  But, we've survived, and Zach comes home tomorrow (if only for 1.5 days before starting his commuter job on Monday) and figuring (hoping) that next week will be better.

I think I might try out doing short posts based on a list of prompts that I came across recently, as a way to write up a post that captures some of what I'm doing, thinking, feeling, without having to put as much mental energy into writing a full, cohesive post.  And  it reminds me of Jessica who likes writing lists and seems like it might be kinda fun. So, here goes.

Listening: to lots of Bon Iver, after being introduced to him by a friend a few weeks ago.

Eating: sweet potato fries that I made! My self! In the oven! I'm so not domestic, or a cook, or any of that, so this is pretty cool.  I figure I need to take more initiative with cooking since Zach will be gone 4 nights a week.

Drinking: yummy iced coffees, thanks to the Keurig Zach got me as a birthday gift.  It's so fabulous and wonderful. 

Wearing: same old, same old-- jeans + nursing tank top.

Feeling: tired. Oh so tired.

Weather: hot and sunny, though yesterday and today it's been cooling... can feel fall in the air.  Zach, meanwhile, is in New Hampshire right now where the evenings are already dipping into the 40's.  Um, yikes.

Wanting: Sleep.  What else is new?

Needing: Sleep.  And more patience.  And our lovely friends, who thankfully have been around a lot, and are oh so very helpful with the kids and just so very fun to be around.  So, that need is being met at least.

Thinking: Of the year ahead-- Zach's new job that will keep him away from us 60% of the time, and of the decisions that lay ahead as he applies to business school and we eventually have to decide where to go.  There may be some very difficult conversations ahead of us as we weigh school ranking, cost, location, etc.

Enjoying: Q's infectious smile and giggles, and how entertaining it is to watch him feed himself; D's random thoughts and re-enactments of Top Gear episodes; new books on my Nook reader (another birthday gift, thanks to my dad); my iphone which I am so completely in love with it's not even funny.

Wondering: why I'm not in bed already, at 9:30pm.  Good night!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

gains and losses and siblings

One of my biggest surprises as a mother of two is this feeling of almost mourning my time as a mother of one.  I miss my time with just Donovan.  More specifically, I miss having time with Donovan where I'm not already dead tired (there must have been a time for that before I got pregnant with Quinn, right? Right?).

A lot of this is due to Quinn being such a high-needs baby.  If I had a nickel for every time I've had to say, "I'm sorry, sweetie, but I can't [race cars/read a story/sit with you/etc] right now" over the past 9 months, Donovan's college tuition would be paid for.  Babywearing helped a lot, indeed was a lifesaver, but still-- anything that required me sitting?  No way.  Or shall we say, I couldn't do it without Quinn getting very upset.  And I don't fault him-- he's a baby, he has needs, and that's not at all his fault.  It's just life.  But Donovan has most definitely gotten the short end of the stick as far as "Mommy Time" goes.  Quinn has been a very squeaky wheel, and D much more silent, so guess which one gets more grease?

I am at least starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  In the past few months Quinn's disposition has become much sunnier, in large part thanks to becoming mobile.  This brings on a whole other set of challenges, such as trying to keep Quinn from messing with whatever Donovan is playing with at the time (being the classic younger brother, Quinn of course wants to do whatever big brother is doing. Sometimes this is ok with big brother, sometimes... not).  But Quinn is better able to entertain himself now, which means I get to play a few race car games with D every once in a while.

Also, Quinn's become more receptive to other people, and lately I've been able to leave him with the nanny or friends and know he won't scream at them the whole time (you think I'm joking, but I think we kinda scarred the nanny one time when Quinn was a few months old and she watched him while I took Donovan to Starbucks just the two of us. It... did not go well).  Last week she watched Quinn while I took D to meet up with Zach at work and then go to lunch together, and I had one of those moments where I remember what an amazingly awesome kid Donovan is when I get a chance to just be with him.

Isn't that sad?  That that was a realization.  I mean, I know Donovan is beyond awesome, but when the vast majority of my time with him is divided between the two kids, and my mind occupied with how to keep one of them happy without the other melting down, and also try to get anything else done, it's easy to not pay attention.  To even forget.  To get so distracted by the stress and hassles of daily life, and forget to stop and enjoy.

A couple of months ago I had one night when I cried on Zach's shoulder out of sadness that I was missing out on so much of Donovan's current state of being.  I've viewed Quinn's first 6-12 months as a period of time that I try to enjoy, but mostly try to get through.  It's getting a lot more fun now, but the first 6 months, certainly, were so much work, so difficult, so draining, that I was counting each day as it passed and glad to have survived it.  Part of that was Quinn himself, part of it was simply the logistics of trying to care for and fulfill the needs of two very different children.  And, mentally and emotionally, I'm at peace with feeling this way about these early months, because I know how much I'm going to enjoy the toddler years and beyond, starting from about now on.  But, focusing so much on Quinn, that night I had the realization that while I was letting Quinn's early months pass by, Donovan's current stage of two- and three-year-oldness was also passing.  And that, I did want to enjoy and savor.  I want to take all of that in, because this stage he's in is so fascinating.  His thoughts, the things he says, the games he plays, the way he relates to the world and discovers new things in it...  it's so amazing, so wonderful, and it makes me so sad sometimes to know that I'm missing out on really drinking him in right now because he also has a younger brother that needs a lot of my attention.

And of course, I love Quinn.  I adore having my two boys, I wouldn't take anything back about the decision to have him, about the timing, about any of it.  I know having a sibling will be, is, worth all this, and is already paying off as I watch them play and wrestle together (even as my heart jumps to my throat as D bodyslams Quinn on the bed, waiting for the time Quinn breaks something instead of dissolving into giggles as he always does. I swear he's even started trying tackle D in return) and enjoy each other's company so very much.  It's truly heartwarming how much they adore each other.

But, I still mourn the sort of attention I could pay to my older son, before I had a younger one as well.  Our family gained so much in having Quinn, but this is still a loss, and it still weighs on my heart.

My goal from here on out is to spend more one-on-one time with each of them.  I know it will be difficult to do, but worth it.  I am a much better mother-- more relaxed, more fun, more patient, calm, understanding-- when I'm caring for just one of the boys individually rather than both together.  That may simply be a truth about me, that I do so much better as a mother of one-child-at-a-time.

I also am trying to work every day to be more patient and more present with them.  Because they really are such wonderfully amazing little people, these two.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

cautious optimism

Donovan's first week of school went extremely well.  He seemed really comfortable there from the beginning, just the slightest hesitation when we dropped him off the first day but that's it.  he was happy to go to school in the morning, and happy enough to be picked up at noon-- though he did keep asking to get to nap at school, which he will start doing this next week.  I wanted to give him a "breaking in" period first to make sure he felt comfortable there, but since he seems fine with it all I'd love for him to stay till the afternoon as getting him down for a nap at home while also minding Quinn has consistently been one of the most difficult and frustrating parts of my days.  It will be a welcome break to not have to feel so torn between my 2 kids at that time of day, every day.

D is right now (hopefully) sleeping in a yurt on a campground near Tahoe, along with Zach and 2 other friends.  This is his first true camping experience.  He's been SO excited about it, and from the bits I';ve heard from Zach it seems to be going really well.  Just as when Zach took D to the snow all those times this past winter, I'm a bit sad to miss out on this outdoors experience with him.  But, trying to take Q at this age (constant crawling, shoving everything in his mouth) would have been a highly frustrating experience for us all.  But, I am hopeful that by spring we can attempt a family trip.  D is so much fun when he's out in nature, he just enjoys it so much.  Takes after his father that way. ; )

So while they're away, Q and I are enjoying some solo time together.  We didn't do much of anything special most of today, though we did join in a group birthday dinner at a restaurant nearby with some friends.  I was apprehensive, as Q hasn't been the best restaurant guest historically.  Tonight, however, he did incredibly well.  Being able to sit in a high chair and occupy himself with food has made all the difference.  He happily munched away on bread, and later on salmon, risotto, and artichoke along with the rest of us.  We did leave a bit early when it became clear his calm mood was not gonna last much longer and it was getting past bedtime anyway, but overall I was so impressed with how well he did.  Highly encouraging.

The whole past week has actually been a pretty good one (despite wednesday).  D starting school made a big difference-- for one, he did great using the toilets at school, which has been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders (we'll see how that continues with a longer day).  Having mornings with just Q has felt amazing.  He's so much happier now, so much more enjoyable, playful, and just a joy to be around, and when it's just me and him I actually get to enjoy him.  Even when he's, say, fighting sleep, I can deal with it without feeling like I'm neglecting my other child.  It's made such a huge difference, already.

I want to say that it feels like this could be a pretty significant shift in how life feels, but I'm hesitant to make forward-looking assumptions based on one great week, and also Zach's about to start a job that will take him away from us 4 days of every week which I know will add a whole other strain to daily life.  But, we shall see.  I'm feeling more hopeful about it all than I was before.  So I'll just keep hoping for the best, and see what happens.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Oh by the way...

I cut my hair short again.

I started growing it out last summer, because I was feeling a bit bored of it (after having the same cut for 3 years) and figured I'd take advantage of the fact that hair grows faster during pregnancy.

Then I gave birth to Super Strong Grip Baby Who Loves To Pull Hair.  Last week I was at a playground talking with another mom, D was playing on the playscape and Q was on my back in the Boba.  As we chatted, Q reached up and grabbed a chunk of my ponytail and PULLED.  The mom looked at me with a bit of surprise and pity in her eyes as she pointed out that he'd managed to actually pull several hairs out of my scalp and was holding them in his fist.  So finally I said, "Screw it. I'm chopping it off again."  It goes in a ponytail every day anyway.

I'm now trying to remember why I ever wanted it long again. ; )  My scalp is much happier, now that it's not getting assaulted daily by baby hands.  And one of the any perks of this sort of a cut is that, as long as you have a good cut to begin with, it almost always looks put-together and stylish.  A big win when you have no time to deal with other-wise high-maintenance hair.

PS- the wrist brace is from a random injury I had last week, had to wear it for several days and now finally it's getting better.  Still hurts on occasion, but I don't need the brace anymore.  So yay for that, too.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

I think I prefer the rabid raccoons

Today is shaping up to be The Day of Ridiculous Things Happening.

First, there's the Anonymous comments left on this post that I discovered first thing after waking up this morning.  Those were good for a laugh.

Second, there are reports of rabid skunks and raccoons in our neighborhood.  That's right.  There are RABID SKUNKS and RABID RACCOONS in downtown Sacramento.

As if all that's not enough, I then came across this little gem of an NPR story, about conservatives in congress trying to eliminate any coverage of birth control in health care plans.  The quotes are priceless, so I'll share a few here:

"They've called it preventative medicine. Preventative medicine," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, on the House floor last month, shortly after the Obama administration adopted the recommendations of an expert panel and agreed to add contraceptives to a list of services insurance plans will be required to provide without a deductible or copayment. "Well, if you apply that preventative medicine universally, what you end up with is you've prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine."
Some opponents, like conservative commentator Sandy Rios, say subsidizing birth control is simply too expensive in an era of tight budgets. "We have $14 trillion in debt, and now we're going to cover birth control?" she said on Fox News, adding, "Are we going to do pedicures and manicures as well? I think that would be a good idea."

Pardon me, I think my head just exploded...

Ok, I'm back.  Seriously? I mean, I'm not sure I can even get mad at this, it's too ridiculous.  Except for the fact that these are people who are running our country.  If they really believe this BS they are spewing, then God help us all.

I will be serious for a moment.  I have been pregnant twice in my life.  Both were planned, wanted pregnancies.  Both were also achieved easily, within the first 1-2 months of trying.  This gives me reason to believe that were it not for birth control, I'd be one of those women who ended up having 15 kids in my lifetime.  The past 9 months of parenthood have also taught me that I really think I would break, emotionally/mentally, if I had to parent more than two kids.  Most of the time I can barely manage to handle these two.

Needless to say, I am EXTREMELY thankful for birth control.

I currently have an IUD.  I am lucky in that my insurance paid for it in full.  I am also lucky in that, had they not covered it, I could afford to pay the $500 myself.  Many others are not so lucky.  And if you can't afford birth control, you sure as heck cannot afford a baby.

Access to birth control is one of the easiest, most effective ways to help improve women's health, education, career, and overall quality of life.  Allowing women the ability to choose and plan for children is a crucial step in any advanced/developed society.  Even if you don't care about helping women, you have to acknowledge that, even publicly, providing birth control is cheap compared to the expense of providing prenatal and pediatric care for those women and children.  Also, birth control = fewer unintended pregnancies = fewer abortions.

I should not have to point any of this out.  It is pretty bleepin' obvious, if you ask me.

So please, world.  Stop being so effin' ridiculous.

Monday, September 05, 2011


My boy starts at his Montessori school tomorrow.  We had originally hoped he would start sometime in March, so by now it's kind of more of a "FINALLY!" kind of feeling than anything else.  I'm so excited for him, because I know he is so ready for this.  So ready to learn everything he will learn, to make friends at school, for all of it.  I'm so excited about this school, too, it just blows me away.  It's such an amazing place.

The one thing that gives me pause and gives me that Wow This Is Momentous And A Really Really Big Deal is when I realize that this will be the first day of what will be about 15+ years of schooling ahead of him.

I mean, WHOA.  And that's not even counting college.

magic box/ day228

My baby's growing up, and I'm so excited about what's ahead for him.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

BLW update at 8.5 months

A few months ago I posted about starting Quinn on solids.  Since then he's really taken off with it.  Just tonight at dinner I think he ate about half an avocado along with several crackers and some mac and cheese.  He's definitely gotten past the point of just playing with his food and now seems to actually eat a lot of it.  He also really likes eating-- he gets mad if he sees me eating something and don't give him any.  And many times he'll actually sit quite happily for all of dinner time munching on his own food, letting us get a chance to actually sit and enjoy our own dinner, too.

I have to admit, the first weeks of baby-led weaning (BLW) were kind of... stressful.  Q gagged on his food a lot, and Zach and I would kinda freak out anxiously waiting to see if he'd be ok or start choking.  Thankfully, I'd read about how that's all part of the normal process.  Apparently babies have an over-active gag reflex, to help protect them against choking (they gag and move the food forward long before it's actually at the back of their throat).  After the first weeks he gained a lot more control, and then I realized that he almost never gagged anymore.  I still watch him carefully as he eats, but it's a lot more relaxed, as I trust him to be able to manage the food in his mouth and eat it successfully.

By now he's tried all sorts of food, like apples and pears, to avocado, beef (sucked the juices out), chicken and salmon, plums, blueberries (I break the skin on them so they squish easily when he chews), bread and crackers, squash, cucumbers, scrambled eggs... etc etc.  I'm mindful of things like sodium content, but otherwise try to give him some of whatever it is we're eating.  Almost everything he's tried, he has loved.  And what's amazing, is that even though he himself is usually a huge mess after he's done, very little food actually falls to the floor (other than when he's past the point of eating and starts purposely flinging).  He's even already experimented some with feeding himself with a spoon (pre-loaded with a bit of yogurt) and fork (with smaller bits of avocado or other foods that I know he can manage bites of but as he handles them get broken to pieces too small for him to pick up as easily).  It's pretty amazing to watch.

Um... squash, I think?
Yummy breakfast of cheerios and banana:
BLW buddies!  Quinn and his cousin enjoying cheerios, blueberries, grated cheese, and yogurt up in Tahoe.

So yeah.  I was a bit skeptical of BLW when we first started and I was so worried about him choking.  Now, this seems like the best thing ever.  He loves his food, is getting all sorts of great fine motor skills practice, and best of all-- since I don't have to feed him with a spoon, it means I get to actually eat my food at dinner, too!  That right there may be the biggest benefit of this whole thing.  Well, that, and not having to prepare purees.  I have no shame in admitting that laziness played a big role in deciding to try BLW.  ; )


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