Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sad News

My cat died today. Even though he stayed with my parents when I left home, I still think of him as my cat. He would have been 18 years old next week.

He was such a good cat. He slept on my pillow. He used to lick my eyelids if I didn't wake up when my alarm went off on school days. He was always waiting by the front door when I got home from school. When I left for college my parents told me he sat by the front door for a week.

Over the past ten and a half years when I've gone home to visit, he always settled right in on my lap to be petted, meowing and purring like crazy. In between visits he'd meow into the phone while I talked to my parents. Lately we've been skyping since L. loves to see the kitty. He was so patient with her. When we visited in January he let her pet his ears, even when she pulled them a little.

Anyhow, I'm sad. I'm going to miss him.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Playdough!

Late yesterday afternoon I was feeling well enough to stand up for a few minutes at a time and L. was desperate for something to do...so I made playdough.
It was super easy and super quick.

I used a recipe posted by homemade by jill on the blog Skip to my Lou. I won't bother reinventing the wheel, so click here for the recipe and instructions.

I couldn't believe how quick it was to make. It literally took me less then 15 minutes. My only caution would be to slowly and gently add the food coloring. I got distracted and squirted myself with food coloring when I was kneading it into the dough...

But it's a great recipe. The texture is perfect and it is definitely kid approved!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

One Sick Mama

I think I jinxed myself. Immediately after I wrote my last post, L. woke up. And didn't go back to sleep. For several hours. I think she's teething. It was a long night. J. and I took turns trying to get L. back to sleep mixed with breaks of playing in the almost dark living room.

None of us were very rested Friday morning.

And then I realized I had the stomach flu. Long story short, I felt sick and it went downhill from there. Between Lilly nursing and my trips to the restroom, I got dehydrated really quickly and felt horrible. I turned on Sesame Street for L. and curled up on the couch. I couldn't move. J. was at work and couldn't come home. Luckily my mother-in-law was able to bring me fluids and crackers.

I dragged myself to bed and L. went shopping with her Mimi. It was such a relief to know someone else was taking care of her. It was such a horrible feeling--feeling like I couldn't do the things she needed me to do. It was completely overwhelming.

Fortunately, L. slept really well last night (knock on wood).

This is the first time I've been really sick since L. was born and it's not something I care to repeat anytime soon. I'm feeling a lot better today--so long as I don't move around. The nausea is gone but if I stand up I feel like I got hit by a truck. I don't have much appetite but I'm keeping liquids down. That's a plus.

Being sick stinks when there is a little person depending on you. I am so thankful we have family close by. Sometimes I don't know how I would cope otherwise...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Baby/Toddler Bedtime Routines

Warning: This is a long, rambling post!

For the last 15 months, L. has slept with us. Up until recently, this worked really, really well for us. I know it's not for everyone, but I'm glad co-sleeping worked for us for such a long time. When done safely, I think co-sleeping is fantastic. It allowed us to nurse and cuddle and get the most sleep possible when we needed it most.

That said, I've always wished we had more of a bedtime routine. It just never really happened. Work schedules, school schedules, and a million other things always seemed to get in the way of a regular routine at bedtime.

If I'm really honest with myself, I know part of the reason our attempts at a bedtime routine didn't work were because I wasn't ready. It was just easier to take her to bed when I went to bed or vice versa. There was a time when I didn't have the energy for a routine or I didn't want to miss an opportunity to play or snuggle. Selfishly, J. and I didn't have to make any sacrifices. We didn't have to say no to dinner with friends or family because L. had to be in bed at a certain time.

Not that I kept her awake and out on the town...I always tried to make sure she got a good nap during the day (for a long time she napped on me in the Ergo) and we usually went to bed at a decent hour even if we had an evening out.

Anyhow, my point is that co-sleeping worked for a long time and we managed without a regular schedule. We got to a point where L. slept between 11 and 12 hours a night with very little disruptions to either J. or myself. Even though I thought I wanted a bedtime routine, I never followed through.

But I've been needing more space in the evenings. L. has turned me into a human teething toy since she stopped using her binkie last November and I slowly came to terms with the fact that I'd like her to spend a little time in her crib--at least for naps and when she first goes to bed at night.

So, over the last few months (disrupted by holidays, traveling, guests, etc.), I've been trying to put L. down to sleep in her crib. I started nursing her to sleep in our bed and moving her to her crib and hoping she stayed asleep for at least an hour. Again, we didn't have a routine.

I decided this wasn't working very well. I re-read, The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantly and decided to have another go at the routine deal. I read this book last summer after we moved but wasn't able to successfully follow through. Consistency is important and we didn't have it then.

Essentially, she talks about creating a routine so that your baby (or toddler) has multiple cues telling them to go to sleep at a certain time (that's the super simple version). She has a lot of tips for both breastfeeding and bottle feeding, co-sleeping and not, moving from co-sleeping to crib, etc. There are so many details and suggestions I'll stop at that.

But, re-reading it was good. It reminded me of several things...

1. L. sleeps better at night when she naps well during the day. Counter-intuitive as it may be, it's true for her.
2. I'm not a failure at attachment parenting or co-sleeping if I want my daughter to sleep in her crib for a little while after 15 months.
3. I'm providing her with useful tools to sleep on her own.
4. I'm giving her a little independence (something she's been experimenting with lately).
5. I'm not abandoning her and I don't have to let her cry it out.
6. A bedtime routine is relaxing for all of us, not just L.

So, I ordered white noise machines for both our bedrooms (love, Love, LOVE them), got out her Snoedel (her lovey), logged L.'s sleeping patterns and made a routine.

Here is our new routine: Start time-6:45pm
1. Bath (while one of us is supervising bath time, the other gets her room ready...dim lights, noise machine on, lotion, hairbrush, PJ's, books, etc. all out and ready to go)
2. Brush teeth and brush hair
3. Lotion and mini massage (which means trying to rub lotion on her while she runs around her room)
4. Diaper and PJ's on
5. Read two bedtime books
6. Turn lights out
7. Nurse to sleep
8. Transfer to crib

I should mention that she generally starts nursing while we read and sometimes we only read one book. I've also been trying to unlatch her from my boob every time she starts just sucking and not nursing. This means we spend a lot of time latching and unlatching, but it's getting better.

According to the book, we stick to this routine for 10 days (or maybe 12, I should double check) and then do another sleep log to see if we're making progress and figure out where we need to tweak the routine if necessary. But I'm impatient. I tend to make mention notes of how things go each night. And...

It's going GREAT so far. Don't get me wrong, it's hard work. Sometimes there is a lot of putting her down and picking her up and soothing her back to sleep. But she's been going to sleep about 7:30pm EVERY night. We've gone from not sleeping more than an hour in her crib to sleeping in her crib for two and half hour stretches. Sometimes I still need to go in and nurse her or sooth her but I've been able to do this and get her back in the crib. The last two nights she slept in her crib for a total of 5 hours!

But it's HARD!!! As much as I'm enjoying my independence in the evening, I'm having a horrible time sleeping without her. I'm fine if I'm watching a TV show or writing, so long as I'm not trying to sleep. As soon as I lay down to sleep without L. I get jumpy. I wake up at every noise that could be her.

For example, last night she started crying at 10pm. I went and soothed her back to sleep and then went to sleep myself. She cried again at midnight and I woke up totally confused. I woke up thinking she'd crawled out of our bed and was stuck in the hallway. I kept thinking, "how did she get out of our bed?"

Other times I've woken up kind of frantic, thinking I've lost her. I'll feel around in bed for her until I realize she's in her own room.

The good thing is that I know I'll adjust eventually. Also, the few hours she's spending in her crib are helping me to really, really enjoying the time that she is sleeping with us. I still get to cuddle with my baby in the early morning hours.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sewing Class Canceled

Well, the title says it all. Not enough people signed up...but they are planning to reschedule and we're hoping we'll be able to find another person or two who wants to learn how to sew. In the meantime I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

I picked up my supplies before I knew the class had been canceled. Below is a picture of the fabric I picked out for my pajama pants!
Update: As of 2.17.11 it looks like we've found enough people to make a class. Now we're just waiting for them to reschedule!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Project: Heart Shaped Crayons

Recently I heard about crafty moms melting crayons into fun shapes. Honestly, it had never occurred to me before. Obviously, I wanted to give it a try. It sounded like a fun, simple project.

Supplies needed:
  • Assorted crayons
  • Heart shaped silicone baking sheet
I bought two boxes of 48 crayons at the Dollar store and found a heart shaped silicone baking sheet at our local craft store. [I looked online and there were quite a few options. The trays come in different shapes (flowers, hearts, letters, etc.)].

Once I had my crayons and baking sheet, I took the wrappers off the crayons and sorted them into similar color groups. I've been told this is the best way to avoid ending up with puddles of brown.

Then I broke the crayons into pieces and put them in the baking sheet. Three crayons per heart seemed to be a good amount. It ended up looking like this:
I baked them on low (I set my oven to 200 degrees F) and checked them about every 10-15 minutes until they looked melted. I discovered it's best to put the silicone tray onto a baking sheet for easy transport. Once the crayons are melted, they're easy to spill.

Anyhow, I moved the melted crayons to the freezer to firm them up quickly. I thought about putting them outside but it wasn't very cold today. After they hardened up, I popped them out of the mold and...
Perfect little Valentine presents! And, I feel totally crafty!

An added bonus is that they are the perfect size and shape for little hands. It's much easier for L. to draw with the new and improved crayons!

This post is part of Made By You Monday

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Easy Hummus Recipe

I love hummus. I think it's a very versatile snack. And, it's easy to make.

Here is my favorite recipe...

1 can chickpeas (aka. garbonzo beans)*
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves chopped garlic (or to taste)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Puree the chickpeas in the blender (dump the whole can in, liquid and all). Then, blend in the other ingredients. You can add them one at a time or you can add them all at once. I've done it both ways and it always turns out fine.

One of the great things about hummus is that you can always mix it up a bit. If you want it a little thicker, don't put in all the juice from the can of chickpeas, or, don't put in all the lemon juice. Or, blend in some kalamata olives and feta cheese to thicken it up. If you don't like so much lemon, don't put in the whole 1/4 cup. Like garlic? Add more. Like it spicy? Blend in some peppers. Anything is possible with hummus. I sprinkled some cayenne pepper on the hummus in the picture.

Eat it with chips, eat it with veggies, on bread or a bagel...and enjoy!

*You can use 3/4 cup dried beans instead of canned. Obviously, you'll want to cook them first and save some of the cooking liquid to add as needed when you're blending.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Simple Lives Thursday, and Monday Mania.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sewing 101

I am going to take a sewing class.

I've wanted to learn how to sew for quite a while now but haven't done anything about it. Now, thanks to a friend who suggested we take a class together, it's finally going to happen. The class starts in two weeks and I can't wait! As far as I know the class project will be a pair of pajama pants. I'm going to learn something new and I happen to LOVE pajama pants. It's a win/win situation. And, J. and L. will get to have a little time together while I'm gone...

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