Monday, April 20, 2015

Olive at 4+

Sometimes I look at my daughter and am blown away by how grown up she seems. Being pregnant and feeling terrible for most of her 3rd year created a sort of time warp. I feel like we went straight from 2 to 4 years old. So, I've been jotting down things she says in my notes on the phone and trying to take at least one picture every day so that this chaotic transitional time with a new baby doesn't swallow another year without me noticing.

We have been carving out time for just the two of us which is so so yummy and fun and now that she knows she can ask for it, she asks all the time. I'm grateful to have a helpful, participatory co-parent to work with on all this kid sharing. He makes it possible.

Olive at 4 years and 1 month is sassy beyond belief. She has a retort to my request that she do something which drives me insane: shrugging her shoulders, jutting her chin out and tossing out the rudest, "I don't care." It is obviously a test - she wants to know what I will put up with but it really seems as though the child is gone and the teenager has arrived when she does it and that makes me sad.

When she does something particularly gross, she blames it on her imaginary little sister, Solan. Solan gets in trouble a lot but Olive is very adamant that she does not share responsibility and sometimes even offers to chastise Solan for me.

I realized how few opportunities we had around the house for large motor play and had Spartacus install a swing on the tree in the front yard. She loves it less for the exercise and more for the opportunity to hang out in the front yard by herself and talk to anyone who walks by. "Hi! I'm Olive!" I hear her repeat to every passing stranger from through the screen door while I sit on the couch nursing her brother.

She loves knee socks and has been replacing her usual tights with them the past few weeks. Perhaps she's realized how much easier it is to go to the bathroom in them? She is so opinionated about what she wears and won't let anyone pick out her clothes. I've had to put away quite a few things I'd bought before she reached this age because she's decided she doesn't wear _____ (stripes, pants, blue, etc.). I don't mind this at all and want her to wear whatever she wants (as long as it's appropriate for the weather and occasion) but only from amongst the wardrobe we currently have. I'm definitely not letting her pick things out to buy because it would be all pink plastic princess dresses forever. No thanks.

She told me she wanted to grow her hair out into a "long braid" (damn you, Elsa!) and we grew it for over a year. But the other day I reminded her that we wouldn't have to brush it if we cut it and she said, "cool, let's go do it right now". She proudly tells everyone who asks if she got a haircut, "Yeah, my mom did it! She can cut yours, too, if you want." which makes me so happy. I don't know anything about cutting hair but she thinks I do and that's everything. I know the time will come (soon!) when she won't let me anywhere near her head with the scissors.

While she bristles at being asked to do chores, she always replaces the toilet paper roll all on her own. She knows how to pull the rod out to slip the empty roll off, but instead she always cuts it off with her little scissors and then finally removes the rod to put a new roll on. I never ask her to do it and she never points it out that she has, but it makes me smile every time I sit down and see the telltale cut-up empty roll on the floor.

She is vehemently anti-smoking and told me the other day that it "makes your energy black". She won't hesitate to remind someone that it's slowly killing them if they are within earshot.

We've had a few deaths in the family recently and she definitely has a new, more sophisticated grasp on the concept. She asks when Spartacus and I will die, when Grandma will die and the other day mournfully exclaimed, "I love Charlie but I'm so sad that one day he will die!". It's hard to know exactly what to say. We always remind her that it's far far away for all of us - that she will have her own babies and maybe even they will have babies before we die, but of course, like for any of us, it is just going to be scary no matter how long it may be before it happens.

She's so interested in older girls and seeks them out at the park. She wants to be cool, she wants to belong and she puts on a ridiculous attitude when she's tagging along with the elementary school girls she always seems to find. She tells me she wants to grow up almost every day. "I wish I was bigger" she'll say or, "I HATE being four! I want to be TEN!". What I wouldn't give to be four again!

She is all pisces - fierce, sensitive and loving. It's so fun to watch her grow up.

* top photo by Pamela *

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

life saver alert: blue apron for the win

Enough of you expressed interest in Blue Apron on my instagram, I figured I'd tell you more about it and get you all your own free boxes. Happy Thursday!

After Charlie was born, if it wasn't a meal train day, we pretty much ordered out or didn't eat dinner. All the food I had socked away in the extra freezer in the garage went bad when the freezer quit without warning and no one was showering, much less making trips to the grocery store. In our neighborhood you can get pizza or thai delivered and after many days of both pizza and thai we all had a stomach ache and were like - there has to be a better way.

Blue Apron has been awesome for many reasons. Every week we get a box with three well thought out meals (usually one with fish, one with meat and one vegetarian) delivered to the front door. I always make the fish first because duh and I usually make the vegetarian meal for lunch with Olive during the week, though it was perfect to have one vegetarian meal all set for Fridays during Lent. One of the biggest perks is not having to make a detailed meal plan but it is also incredibly convenient not to have to go to the grocery store which has all of a sudden become a little more complicated (naps, nursing, two kids to keep in a good mood through an entire trip, etc.)

Blue Apron is a new mom's best friend. The recipe cards are beautiful and easy to read so Olive loves helping me with them. (And I save the ones I love so I can recreate anything that goes over well with everyone in the house). My picky eater can see each meal and help decide what we cook for the night which makes her feel important and more likely to actually eat. She can help gather ingredients because the list is in both text and photos and she helps me follow the instructions by keeping track of which part we've just completed. It is SO FUN to do with her.

But there are other aspects that I love, personally: every meal is quick (they should never take more than about a half an hour but I often finish them sooner), every meal is under 700 calories (a helpful thing to keep track of during my postpartum weight loss, especially at dinner is where I can really plow through an entire pizza if one were presented to me), they are generally very healthy and balanced (heavy on the vegetables) and I especially love that they get us eating fish more regularly. And they're only $10/person/meal which is significantly cheaper but more importantly, healthier, than ordering takeout.

Oh, and their garnish game is on point.

(for tons more photos, if you're interested, check out the blue apron hashtag on instagram)

Blue Apron is offering 2 free delivered meals to the first 50 people who sign up here. There is no obligation and you can cancel or skip a delivery at any time. A Blue Apron subscription would be a great gift for an expecting family, someone who is moving, for your adult children who don't know how to cook, lots of people. I'm a huge fan.

Thanks, Blue Apron! Readers, enjoy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

parenting the second

Olive was an easy baby - oh, I WISH I had known at the time just how easy. And while I say that it would have been nice to have my easy baby second, I know that it would have been so much more of a struggle trying to navigate life with a challenging baby as a new parent. I'm better at this now with more experience under my belt.

Dr. Sears coined the term "high needs baby" because he thought it was a nicer way to say "cranky ass baby" and he generated a list of characteristics around his work as a pediatrician with challenging babies as well as his own experience with his fourth child. High needs babies are particular, intense and often poor sleepers.

Here are some things I've learned so far from parenting a high needs baby (whom I love VERY MUCH) alongside my independent 4 year old.

I can't meet every need all the time: I am not an animal. I require a weekly shower - a real one with hair washing and everything - and though I know Charlie may will scream the whole time his dad holds him, I'm taking that shower. He'd like to be held all the time (and only in certain positions and only in certain carriers), but if he is inconsolable, sometimes I just have to put him down. I remind myself that a lot of the time his needs come first. For the most part, I hold him all day every day. He sleeps right next to me. He nurses on demand. But, there are other people in the world (like me, like his sister) who also have needs.

The iPad is my friend and there ain't no shame in that. Once I deleted YouTube kids because all Olive was doing was watch toy unboxing videos (???) and she "had" to play games, she spends WAY more time on there than I ever thought I'd let her. However, this season will be short, especially the part about nursing all the time. So, I feed the baby, she plays Toca Nature, it all works out. We're balancing the extra screen time with a new swing in the front yard which draws her out there approximately 100% more than before.

It can be really isolating to have any baby, much less one that cries a lot, so I am aware of everyone's need to get out of the house, no matter how difficult that may feel. Maintaining a regular time for all four of us to go to dinner (fridays) and having a few times a week Olive gets to go do something fun with grandma or the babysitter keeps us from making the focus 100% Charlie, which is easy to do when he is making so much noise.

There is no sleeping. At 6 weeks Olive was sleeping 6-8 hours at a time. I am very lucky if I get a 4 hour stretch once or twice a week with this guy. I am not willing to sleep train a baby so young, so we make temporary daytime adjustments that make life a little easier: a meal delivery service (seriously helpful) (more on that later), babysitter hours (we love you alicia!!) and a postpartum doula (and you, Jen!). It's worth it.

I really get how temporary the sleep deprivation is and that makes it m much much easier to do. I know because I watch olive sleep right through Charlie's hysterical nighttime antics and remember that just a couple years ago, she was the wakeful baby. He'll learn to sleep, one way or another, eventually.

Overall I just try to keep the long game in mind. I'm not having an easy time right now but I'm glad we have two kids in general. I know that he'll grow less demanding. The time will come when I sleep all night.

+ photos by pamela +

Monday, April 13, 2015


// made these without a popover tin and they were just as good from the muffin pan

// the happiest kids in the world

// I LOVED these

// sleep training: "what takes guts here is not whether or not you sleep train but whether or not you can refrain from being an asshole about this or any other parenting decision."

// broad city is hilarious (courtesy of alicia)

This weekend Olive spent tons of time on our new swing, Spartacus taught a friend to make bacon, I (finally) got my ear re-peirced and Charlie cried. We visited with some friends and wrapped it up with a little Louis C.K. Hope you had a good one! Happy Monday!

my little secret to (much) smoother mornings

dirty hair > clean hair - can you guess which this is?

Some mornings are harder than others. 

You know what I don't get? How it doesn't necessarily matter exactly how much I slept. Some nights I'm up with Charlie 6 times but, inexplicably, I wake up feeling ok and some nights we sleep almost straight through but I still feel destroyed in the morning. (I usually feel destroyed, let's be real. Like, statistically it's more likely regardless how many hours I got.)

oontz (70% off on amazon!), french press, stumptown

Olive rarely wakes up after 7:00am, usually right on the nose. For a long time I've used her as an alarm clock because it's rare that I need to be anywhere earlier than that. I always figured getting more sleep was better than less - even an extra 30 minutes.

HOWEVER! Not being woken up is a game changer. After a few sleepless mornings during my pregnancy where I got up long before she did, I was converted. The quiet time to think and enjoy the morning light in the house - to make coffee, listen to the news, sweep the floor, it's everything. And, as crazy as it seems, it's much better than sleep (or I can just go to bed half an hour earlier to compensate).

Your turn: any tips for an easier morning routine (with or without children)?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

on infant sleep

Here's my gift to first time parents from this wise old broad who has been allll the way around the block on sleep deprivation (not only with Olive but all my little doula babies and their families, too). When your baby is still little, gently let them practice falling asleep by themselves.

I held olive for 4 straight months. I held her through every single nap and only finally put her down once she was rolling over in her sleep at night and I knew she could sleep on her belly. We're not going to wait that long with Charlie. Oh no.

He spends plenty of long, luxurious naps sleeping on me. He sleeps tucked up next to me at night. But! Two times a day I try my best to get him to fall asleep on his own in his own space. 

Here's what that looks like, specifically:

For the first morning nap which is anywhere between 20 mins and 1.5 hrs after he wakes up, I feed and change him, then swaddle and tuck him into the swing with white noise and walk away.

For nighttime, I feed and change him, swaddle and then tuck him into his podster in the crib next to my bed with a pacifier and then lay down myself.

After both times, I let him complain but not cry. The morning swing nap usually goes off without a hitch and bedtime usually takes several pacifier replacements, re-swaddling, extra diaper changes, etc.

And let me tell you, he can complain quite a bit without getting too upset! He can whine and wiggle and vocalize and try to get his hand in his mouth and fart and yelp and snort. ALL WITHOUT CRYING.

Most of the time he does fall asleep on his own. Sometimes he sleeps for 2 minutes, sometimes 20. it's never as long or as hard as he would sleep wrapped up in a sling while I walk around but he is practicing. Learning something takes practice and it's never going to be perfect right away.

It doesn't always work, either. occasionally he's too cranky at bedtime and I decide I would rather be sleep than practice falling asleep. but the point is that I try. And the point is that I give him the space to know more than I give him credit for. If he cries once and I decide that that means it's terrible for him and never try again then I'm saying "I'll tell you when you're ready for this." That might take quite a while.

I am acutely aware of how much he has displaced olive and know I need to carve out space for her wherever I can so I comit myself to these practices so that hopefully he can learn to be a more flexible sleeper than she was. 

Parenting choices! Controversy! Go ahead and weigh in!