Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Sewing Machine

This is my "new" sewing machine...
The pamphlet says, "Welcome to the world of automatic sewing." I love it. I haven't been able to find a specific date but I've narrowed it down to the late 40's or early 50's.

They don't make things like they used to. Seriously. This machine is old, it's heavy, and it still works great. I had to take it in for a cleaning and adjustment but that was it.

It can sew straight seams and zig-zag. It can sew light fabric and heavy. It can do all kinds of embroidery. It has a whole bunch of different presser feet and loads of stuff I have no idea what to do with. After a series of random coincidences I found a place (TIAS) where I could download a copy of the original manual online. Now that I have a manual there is hope that I will one day really learn how everything works!
Doesn't it have some serious style? It makes me happy just to sit in front of it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Full Night's Sleep Makes the World a Better Place

Last night L. only woke up twice. It was amazing. She slept 12 hours and only woke up twice.

The first time she just fussed for a few minutes and went back to sleep within minutes of J. soothing her. The second time she nursed and went straight back to sleep. She let me put her back in her crib without any crying. It was amazing. Did I mention that it was AMAZING?

The world is a better place. I am a better person. We are a happier family. Sleep is so important.

Before we moved I attended a post-partum support group whenever I could fit it into my work schedule. The therapist who led the group used to remind us that we weren't really getting restful sleep if we weren't sleeping for more than four hours at a stretch. That's how long you need to sleep to complete a sleep cycle.

I think she must be right. Even if I sleep less total hours, I feel more rested with a four hour stretch than when I get woken up more frequently. I know it's not rocket science. It seems fairly obvious when written down like that.

But J. and I have learned a few things over the last few weeks.

1. Consistency is crucial. We need to start the bedtime routine on time. That said, if she's too tired to take a bath, skip it and go straight to PJ's and bed. No cheating on the one and only nighttime feeding. I learned that the hard way.

2. J. has to be the primary nighttime soother. When I go in to sway her back to sleep, she wants to nurse. Even if I won't let her nurse, she wants to rock and be near the milk source. She'll keep waking up just to be near the boob. If J. soothes her, she stays asleep longer because she figures she won't get near me anyway (at least, that's what we think). Two nights of J. getting up with her and she's sleeping almost through the night (mind you, that's after we weaned her down to one night feeding...)

3. L. needs to eat constantly during the day. When she's not nursing all night every night, we need to make up some serious calories during the day. I'm not producing enough milk during the daytime alone to compensate for fewer night feedings. In addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, she's started drinking a little cow milk and juice as well during the day. Instead of picking at her food, she's actually interested in eating. This was not the case when she was nursing the entire night nonstop.

4. We still have bad nights. They seem to be getting fewer and farther between but we still have bad nights. Teething, allergies, etc. These always seem to crop up when we've had a good couple of days. But when I've had a few good nights I am much better able to cope with the bad ones.

5. I'm glad we decided not to let her cry it out alone. Even though I had moments where I was tempted, I'm glad we didn't. I don't want it to sound like I'm judging anyone else...I know plenty of people who have successfully used that method. It just wasn't right for us. I'm glad she's getting more and more comfortable in her crib (sometimes when she's mad that I won't nurse her she wants me to put her down in it instead of rocking and she just lays there and kicks and cries and doesn't want anyone to touch her until she calms down and falls asleep. Other times if you put her down and she doesn't want to sleep she'll stand toward the end of her crib where she can see herself in the mirror and sway back and forth smiling at herself). I'm glad she knows we are there with her if she's upset. It might be slow going but I know we're making progress.

I think there are probably a million other things I've thought about the last couple days but these are the ones I can remember for now. I'll add more as I think of them.

I hope you all are sleeping well and in increments longer than 4 hours!

Lemon Bars!

I'd like to introduce you to my latest obsession: lemon bars. Seriously, I've made them twice this week. The dangerous part is that I generally have all of the ingredients stocked in my kitchen.

I stumbled upon the recipe while looking for something else on the King Arthur Flour website. Click here for the original recipe.

I won't type out all the ingredients and instructions since I did pretty much exactly what they did. The only thing I changed is that I used 4 tablespoons of lemon juice instead of 2 tablespoons. I read the comments before I tried the recipe and almost every single person suggested increasing the lemon juice...so I did.

I'd also keep an eye on things while it's baking. I didn't need to cook my crust as long as they recommended and once I added the topping I didn't leave it in quite 25 minutes.

I highly recommend sprinkling them with powdered sugar once they've cooled.

Overall, they are delicious. I'd addicted.

Happy baking!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Things that made me happy today

Since I've been in such a foul mood the last few days, I really tried to focus on happy things today. Today was exhausting but not all bad.

This is my list of things that made me happy today:

L. putting her baby in the shopping cart and plowing through the sea of Easter eggs in our living room.
A rainbow of Easter eggs in a basket on the window seat.
The smell (and taste) of homemade lemon bars.
Watermelon starts that grew a full inch in 24 hours.
What made you happy today?

It's 2am and I'm not sleeping

I feel like a horrible mom. I feel like can't do this anymore. I can't keep getting up at night. Please don't tell me to shut the door and let her cry it out. That just makes her fear her crib.

L. woke up around 10:30pm and J. went in a put her back to sleep quickly. She woke up again at 12:30am and I went in. I quickly rocked her back to sleep and put her down in her crib. She woke up. I picked her up again and she fell asleep immediately. I put her down, she woke up.

I decided I needed to do what I did those first few days of weaning down to one night feeding and just let her cry in her crib. I was there with her, rubbing her back and singing and telling her that I loved her. At one point she stopped crying. She was just resting. After a few minutes she started up again. I called for J. to help me but he didn't hear me. She cried for almost thirty minutes before J. came in. He didn't understand why I didn't pick her up. He took her to sleep in the spare room. They've been quiet in there for a while now but I don't know if they're sleeping.

And I'm alone in our room feeling like a horrible mom. I hate that this isn't something I can do myself. When we first started our new nighttime routine, J. was the primary comforter at night because L. wanted to nurse when I went in to calm her. We had three bad nights and then she was pretty much sleeping through the night. I guess she decided she didn't want to wake up if she wasn't going to see me. But then J. worked some long days at work and we reverted back to me being the primary night comforter.

It hasn't been working. Even though we're only nursing once at night she's waking up just so she can be next to me. She wants to be near the boobs. J. says she just wants to be near me and that just makes me feel worse. It makes me sick to my stomach that I'm not letting her be near me when she wants to be. I love it when she wraps her little arms around my neck and snuggles in for a hug. I must be such a cold hearted person to refuse her little hugs.

But I need to sleep. I'm a better mom during the day when I sleep at night. And she needs to sleep. I know she can do it. I know she can sleep for at least seven hours without waking up. I know she still loves me in the morning when I don't get up with her at night.

The fact remains that when he's the one that calms her we make progress. She sleeps for longer and longer stretches. When I'm the one her comforts her, she sleeps less and less at a time.

I'm totally writing this to convince myself I'm not a bad person. If I write it down enough times maybe the sick feeling in my stomach will go away. Maybe J. will understand why I didn't just keep picking her up so she'd stop crying. Maybe I'll figure out how to explain why I can't be the one on night duty right now. Hopefully just a few nights of J. calming her is all we need to get back to where we were a week and a half ago...sleeping at 2am.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cranky Mommy

When I'm tired, I don't feel like a good person. I think I'm actually not a nice person when I'm tired.

I'm crabby, irritable, and impatient. I snap at people (mainly my husband). I don't appreciate all the cute stuff that L. does (and she was really cute). I cry for no reason at all (really, no reason whatsoever).

When I'm tired I compose mean emails to my husband in my head, ranting about how unappreciated I feel. This is really silly because I know that J. appreciates me. But I don't feel appreciated when I'm tired.

I feel hopeless and helpless when I'm tired. I've been avoiding writing anything because I've been so tired. I feel like everything I write is just complaining. I hate feeling like I'm spreading negative energy.

I finally decided I'd write it down anyways in case it helps.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pajama Pants and a Sewing Machine

Ages I ago I told you all I was taking a sewing class. Well, I took it and it was fabulous. Not only did I have two lovely evenings out of the house with a friend, I learned some basic sewing skills and made a pair of pajama pants. Pajama pants were the perfect first project. It was a simple pattern with a useful (and much needed) product.

Pajama pants are one of my most favorite items of clothing. I used to have several pairs of pajama pants that I loved. They fit me well, they were comfortable, and most importantly, they were not too short. I'm tall and it's very difficult to find a pair of pajama pants that fit at the waist and are not too short. Somehow, these pants have gone by the wayside over the last few years. I've ended up with only one pair that fits and they're too hot for the summer.

Until now. Now I have a lovely pair of summer pajama pants. I'm very excited about them. They fit me. I love them. But I'll stop there. This is turning into an ode to my pajama pants...

All that said, I'm really glad I took the class. It was a good introduction and now I'm all motivated to start sewing all kinds of things. And I finally have a machine of my own.

It just so happens I'm a very blessed person. I am so lucky. Let me explain...

My mother-in-law's mother-in-law (I'll call her G. to simplify things) learned I was interested in sewing and she offered to help me with some projects to get me started. She let me use her machine since I didn't have one of my own and she gave me a whole bunch of supplies to start my sewing basket.

She's the sweetest woman and she's is the reason I have a machine of my own. She knew I was looking for a machine and asked around to her sewing friends. It turned out that G. had a friend who had an extra machine she wanted to give away. It's a wonderful old machine. Right now it's in the shop getting a good cleaning and adjustment (it's been sitting for a while) and I can hardly wait to get it back. The little old man who runs the sewing machine repair shop told me I was lucky to get such a machine at least four times when I dropped it off.

I feel really lucky. The possibilities are endless. I'll post pictures soon...

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nighttime Weaning: A few weeks later

It was getting better...and now it's getting worse...or staying the same. I can't tell. I'm too tired. Things were great and she was sleeping as much as 7 hours without waking up. She'd nurse and go back to bed and wake up happy in the morning, ready to crawl in bed with us. Then we got off schedule one night. Now she's still in her bed all night and only nursing once, but waking up 4, 5, or 6 times a night. I'm a wreck.

Friday, April 15, 2011

In Awe of Squash

Yesterday evening L. helped me pick the very first squash from our garden (well, she supervised and yelled excitedly while I cut it off the vine). It was thrilling to see the joy and amazement in her face. She carried it around and patted it for a good five minutes.
The sheer delight in her eyes will be enough to keep me motivated for a long time...
Now I just need to find a good recipe for yellow crookneck squash! Any ideas?

Friday, April 8, 2011

First Harvest

These radishes are the first thing we harvested from our garden. L. and I pulled them up on Friday afternoon. They are super yummy!

Nighttime Weaning

I've been having a hard time getting this post down on paper. My apologies in advance if it's poorly expressed...

I've been feeling really guilty the last month or so. There have been times when I haven't wanted L. to nurse. I've cringed when she pulls on my shirt and whines. I've been feeling resentful of never getting a break. We have our good moments and they keep me going but the need for more space has been increasing steadily.

I didn't always feel this way. I loved breastfeeding. Sometimes I still do. I love the little noises she makes when she wants to nurse, when she knows she's going to get some milk. Those noises haven't changed since she was just born. Granted, she's become a little more aggressive and demanding but she still makes those little excited noises.

I've been wrestling with my emotions and trying to figure out what is wrong with me. Am I failing at breastfeeding? Am I failing at attachment parenting? Am I failing at co-sleeping? I feel so strongly about all these things...and here I am wanting to sleep in the spare bedroom by myself.

It took me a while but I figured out what changed. When L. was little she would nurse until she was full. Then she would unlatch herself from me and I would give her a Binky. Then she would go to sleep and sleep the rest of the night. She might nurse once or twice before morning but it was usually quick, we didn't really wake up, and she'd suck on the Binky when she finished. I woke up feeling pretty rested and ready to snuggle and nurse when L. woke up.

Right before her first birthday, L. got her first cold (it might have been allergies, who knows...) and with a runny/stuffy nose, she couldn't use her Binky. So she started sucking on me. She would nurse, we would fall asleep, and she would never unlatch herself. I don't know why it took me so long to figure out what was going on. It happened so gradually it just snuck up on me.

Before I knew it L. was sucking on me the entire night through. Gradually I started feeling more and more desperate for a little space. We started putting L. down to sleep in her crib. We started a bedtime routine. All of these things helped but she still never slept more than a few hours in her crib. She would wake up every few hours to nurse and I would go back and forth between our rooms until I was tired of trying to put her back down in her crib. Around midnight or 1am when I was deliriously tired, I'd bring her back to bed with me where she'd suck away until morning. I'd try to unlatch when she wasn't really nursing again more and eventually she started anticipating this and would fight to stay latched on.

The few hours space I had in the evening kept me from losing my sanity.

I feel like I should make it clear that I'm not ready to wean entirely. I know this because I get sick to my stomach every time someone suggests it. I also get a sick feeling when people tell me to just let her cry it out. But I've realized that not being able to get comfortable at night and a toddler who has taken advantage of an available boob and who kicks and cries when I try to unlatch her is not working. She's not sleeping well and neither are J. and I. I've mentioned before how I've felt like a human pacifier. It's not my desired role in life.

But I've been getting more and more tired. Last Saturday, I reached my breaking point. I decided the sucking needed to stop. L. can eat when she's hungry but she can't suck away endlessly.

I came up with a plan. Starting Saturday night, J. would be the one to get up and soothe L. back to sleep. If he reached a breaking point, I would step in. I would nurse L. one time during the time (I know she usually nurses for real about 3am). We would try to keep her in her crib all night. I would sleep in the spare room in case J. needed to bring her back to our bed. 6:30am would be considered the end of the night. After 6:30am, L. is free to get in our bed and have her morning milk.

Again, I want to make it clear that I'm grateful that we were able to co-sleep as long as we did. It worked wonderfully for a long time. Had L. not given up her Binky we'd probably still be happily sleeping in our family bed. I'm glad I've been able to successfully breastfeed for as long as we have and I hope it continues to work for a while longer. I hate that I sound like I'm complaining about these things. I'm not...it's just being a human pacifier that is the problem.

The first three nights were rough. J. and I were exhausted. The first night I slept undisturbed until 2am. It was amazing. I felt like a new person. I was able to deal with her patiently for the rest of the night.

The first night looked something like this:

6:45pm-bedtime routine.
7:15pm- nurse until full, unlatch, then rock to sleep.
8:15pm- asleep (This was a lot later than when nursing to sleep).
10:45pm- wakes, J. soothes.
11:00pm- wakes, J. soothes.
11:15pm- wakes, J soothes and bring to our bed (they sleep fine since the boobs and I weren't there).
2:15am- wakes, J. unable to soothe to sleep. I nurse and put her back to sleep in her crib.
4:30am-wakes, I rock, sway her back to sleep, no boob (this took about 45min.)
5:30am-wakes, I rock her but can't get her to lay down in her crib.
6:30am- I take her to our bed to nurse.

The fourth night looked like this:
6:45pm-bedtime routine.
7:15pm- nurse, unlatch, then rock to sleep.
7:25pm-asleep.
1:15am-wakes, I sway her back to sleep in 5 minutes.
3:15am-wakes, I nurse and put her back in crib (15 minutes total).
6:30am-wakes and I bring her in bed with us for morning milk.

Granted...not every night has been that easy. We had a few nights (especially those first few days) that were exhausting. But we're having more and more nights where she's only woken up twice and slept until 6:30am or later. One night she even slept for a six hour stretch!

We're still working hard but even with getting up to soothe her during the night, I'm feeling more rested than I was when she was sucking on me for the entire night.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

One last gratitude list (for now)

Somehow March ended before I could post my last gratitude list. The time I spent with my family, mourning the deaths and celebrating the lives of the ones we lost, reminded me just how fortunate I am.

I am filled with gratitude because...
I was able to introduce my great-grandmother to my husband and my daughter.
I have a picture of my daughter with her great-great-grandmother.
L. got to sit on Pampa's lap and play with his suspenders last time we visited.
We have a video of Pampa calling L. his "little sweetie".
I was able to share L.'s birth story with Great Grandma and she shared stories of the births of her children with me.
We got to hear Pampa's stories about taking the mule team to the cotton fields first hand.
I got to tell them both we loved them before they passed.
They both passed peacefully in their sleep.
We were able to be with J.'s family when things were difficult.
I was able to talk with my family almost every day the last few weeks.
I am surrounded by love.
I have a wonderful, supportive family.

That's it for now.

(Belated) Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Grieving

Maybe you noticed I haven't posted anything in a while. Or, maybe you didn't. Either way is fine.

To be completely honest, I haven't really felt like it. One week ago last Wednesday, J.'s grandfather passed away. They were really close and it's been very hard. Fortunately, we live relatively close by now and he was able to visit his grandfather the weekend before he passed. L. and I were able to speak with him on the phone. After he passed we were able to be with J.'s family and to help as much as we could.

The morning that we found out about J.'s grandfather, we found out that my great-grandmother was near the end of her life as well. She doesn't live near us and it was difficult to be away from my family. I was able to speak with her on the phone for a few minutes while we were with J.'s family preparing for the funeral. I'm glad I was able to tell her I love her.

She passed away early this morning. I want to hug my mom and my grandma. It sucks not being close. I wish we could be close to everyone at once.

Anyhow, that's why I've been gone. That's why I haven't been writing much.

I'll be back soon.

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