Sunday, 21 August 2016

13.5 Months

After Kate reached one year, I was planning to write an update every three months. I knew that her growth and development would slow down a bit and I figured that I would be pressuring myself to turn out monthly monotonous reports. Yet I often found myself making mental notes; 'I should include this in her next up date' or taking photos for a post. I decided that since I'm really writing these updates for myself, I would aim for every six weeks. As tedious as it can feel at times, I really appreciated having these posts when I was preparing her baby books, and as time seems to be flying by so quickly, I enjoy looking back and reliving my memories. What I want to capture from this point in her life is that she's starting to become so affectionate. She'll walk over to me with her little arms outstretched and if I squat to become closer to her, she'll wrap her arms around my shoulders and give me the sweetest hug. It feels like my heart could burst. Some times, she'll bury her head into my shoulder, which is the best thing in the world. Less charming memories; breaking my glasses. 

Stats: 22 lbs 4 oz  29.25 inches

Teeth: Proud owner of 6 teeth. Four on top, two on the bottom. I suspect she'll cut the next two on the bottom right when she reaches 14 months, if she's keeping up with her 2 month teething schedule.

Hair: Her hair is growing longer and thicker in the back. I can finally brush it and can even get it to flip up a bit at the end, a la Cindy Lou Whoo. We're worried that she may have inherited her father's hairline as she's still pretty bald on top.

Sleep: We are so fortunate as she's a rock star sleeper. I'm so thankful every day she [and we] sleep through the night as I know a sleep regression could be right around the corner. We [I've] been working on putting her down in the 'drowsy, but awake' state so she can put herself to sleep. She usually does in about twenty minutes. There is crying when I leave the room, but a few minutes later she'll settle and I can hear her babble to herself. She's not as reliable about going down easily for her naps, so I've resorted to putting her in the jogging stroller and walking around our block to get her to sleep at times. When I do put her down in her crib, she's on her front and she'll cross her legs underneath herself, sticking her butt up in the air. It's very sweet. 

Eating: I think she's finally grasped the concept of Baby Led Weanig and she's now like; "BLW? Where have you been all my life?" She wants to eat herself and does not want to be spoonfed my purees anymore. In fact, she's discovered how to shake her head when she doesn't want something. Oddly, she seems to prefer picking foods out of a container, than having everything placed on the tray in front of her. Even when we're at home, I discovered serving her bite sized pieces in a small tuperware container makes the feeding process more efficient. She has also lost interest in squeeze packets, which is really irritating, as I've been making pouches with my own purees. (Yes, I've become that Mom.) I purchased the Inferno squeeze pouch filling stations, which reminds Husband of the multi-vial set up for a lethal injection. Nice thoughts while you're making food for your daughter. Anyway, I have several pouches stored in our freezer, so I hope she takes to them again. As I stopped pumping on the night before her first birthday, it helped me to be filling the freezer with packets as we started working though my supply of frozen breast milk. Fortunately, Kate had no problem transitioning to cow's milk, and I've been giving her 1-2 bottles of breastmilk per day (if I remember to defrost some). I'm dreading the day I discover the last bag of breastmilk. Would it be really wierd if I kept one bag in our freezer forever? 

On one hand, it's a bit of a relief as I don't have to spend extra hours during meal prep making purees and packets, but I do have to chop up veggies and foods for her to eat during the week. Fortunately, I discovered these 'protein blend' bags of frozen vegtables. I just toss it in the microwave and fill her containers. She loved the Thai seasoning blend, but when I offered the Southwest inspired version, she just picked out the black beans. sigh.  Nonetheless, we're getting closer to having her eat what we eat. My Dad and I went to brunch with her and feed her from our plates and she gobbled it right up. We gave her some left over salmon and she loved it, hamburger not so much, but she did take to my homemade Mongolian beef. Sometimes it can be hit or miss. Something that she loved one night, she'll refuse the next night and will send us back to square one trying to find something to give her. She can now actually eat raw green beans, which confirms that she is defniately my daughter, as I only eat raw green beans. Seriously, cooking then ruins their natural deliciousness (in my opioion). I eat them raw as a snack and as a side dish with meals. Going to the Farmer's Market is so much more fun with her, now that she can sample the produce and to my surprise, I discovered that she can eat a whole strawberry.  I've been trying to introduce using a spoon on Tuesday and Saturdays, while feeding her yoghurt. If you load the spoon for her, she can figured out putting in her her mouth, but she can't quite scoop with it. Often, she'll hold the spoon upside down and dip the end in the yoghurt, then touch it with her fingers. This leads to the idea that she could just use her fingers to eat her yoghurt. She finishes with yoghurt all over her face, as if she's trying a facial mask. Good thing Tuesday and Saturdays are also her bath nights. 

Likes: I really want to document some of these, as they are so perculiar. Opening the refridgerator door captured her curiosity one day, and she discovered my plastic lemon and limes. A lot of Paleo and Whole 30 recepites call for fresh lemon or lime juice. Get real! I'm a working mom, so store bought lemon and lime juice will work just fine. Plus, Kate is fascinated with them. Whenever the fridge door is open, she rushes over to grab the lemon, lime or sometimes both. We're figuring that one day she'll accidently drink some of the juice and that will end the obsession with the plastic lemons and limes. 

She's also obsessed with bags. It started with carrying around her bottle or snack bag, then she got a hold of a cloth shopping bag and started walking around the house collection toys and other small items (the remote control, her shoes) into the bag. I could be in real trouble. I'm missing the girlie gene that makes you like purses and shoes. While I was a student (we're talking since high school through my mid-twenites) I just carried my wallet and other personal items in my ruck sack. When I started interviewing for a real job, Myrtle feared (probably accurately) that I show up to an interview with my worn-out back pack on my shoulder, so she bought me a nice simple back purse. I used that purse for the next eight years. The pull of the zipper broke so I replaced it with a safety pin. The inside lining had riped and I hand repaired it three times. Finally I releted and bought a replacement purse at a conseignment shop back in 2010 and I've been usting that purse ever since. It's a real Burburry and cost $75, which I still thought was a lot for a purse. Then I remembered that one of my former colleagues was so excited that she successfully bid on a [I can't remember the designer's name] purse and won it for $500. "Is it a magic purse?" I asked. 

I confess that I have a bad habit of leaving shoes lying around the house. The thing is, I can usually remember where I've put them, so I find it annoying when I look in all my usual spots, only to discover that husband put them in the closet. Shoes are not safe with Kate as she'll pick them up and move them to an entirely different spot. Like the time I couldn't find my swimming flip flops, only to discover them in our laundry hamper. 

Were you looking for these?

Our latest solution for cheap and easy entertainment is to play 'Couch Cushions'. I discovered this while cleaning one day, and it led to a regular activity. Just thow the middle cushion on the floor and she can climp the different levels of the couch. Double bonus: we can watch the Olympics while she plays! Our household rule is that the only time we have the TV on in front of her, is for sports. The morning version of this game is called 'Pillows'. We'll toss the decorative pillows on the floor and let her climb over them. It gives us a few extra minutes in bed. 

I can't stop her from playing with the remote, 
so I've resorted to turning around the batteries.

Myrtle gave her this picnic basket, as littled Myrtle loved it. 
It has special meaning to me, as little Myrtle and I played with her toy weeks before my transfer.
I was wondering if I'd ever have my own baby to play with.

"More Coffee, Damn You!"
Yeah.. letting her play with my travel mug was a bad idea 

Dislikes: I can't think of anything specific that she doesn't like, other than the usual, getting her face wiped, diaper changed or going to bed. Probably the biggest thing she doesn't like is being told that she can't do something perfectly reasonable like sit in front of the open freezer door. As she seems to be developmentally advanced in her motor skills, I'm thinking we'll hit the terrible twos early. Part of me admires her defiance and fierce determination not to let anyone tell her 'no'! I'm sure those skills will help her succeed in life, but for right now? I don't give a shit how much you're yelling and crying, you still can't wash your hands in the cats' water bowl! 

Diapering: As I was looking back at my prior posts, I found it curious that Kate has been wearing Size 3 Pampers since she was 4 month old and weighed only 15 pounds. According to the box, Size 3 can go from 16-28 pounds, but Size 4 starts at 22 pounds and goes up to 37. Just as I had opened a new box of Size 3, she started leaking at night for three consecutive nights. Previously, she had only had two leaks. Once, when she woke up around 5 AM, both husband and I thought the other person had changed her. She feel asleep after nursing and as it must have been on a weekend, she slept until 8 AM and leaked all over our bed. The other time, I think her diaper just wasn't properly fastened when we were getting her ready for bed. We bought a box of Size 4 to use at night, but still leaked. Then I learned about Over Night diapers. They don't seem to be any thicker, so I'm not sure what makes them better, but I don't care how they work. I just know we've been leak-free for over a week now. 

We're still using cloth during the day, and I'm not sure why, but I felt it was a big deal to make it to one year in cloth. My only complaint with our diaper service, is that they tie the diaper bags with a twist tie. Thanks for the chocking hazzard every week! 

Milestones: She is getting steadier and faster on her feet, which brings the question: at one point do we let her walk out in public? I know it somewhat depends on where we are and how many other people are around, but for some strange reason I feel I'm not ready for that. At least carrying her in the Bjorn or pushing her in the pram allows me to keep her safe. Sigh. This is the first step of letting go. 

She has been using the sign for milk. I know what you're thinking as you're reading. Jane, haven't you been going on about her making the milk sign since she was eight months old? Yes, but rather than using it randomly (or signalling for me) she uses the milk sign when she wants her bottle of milk! She's also figured out how to use the 'more' sign while she's eating. It's so amazing to feel like I am actually communicating with her. She is still making the sign for cow...but uses it for the cats. Palm to face... I think we may re-take a sign class. 

Although it's not listed in the Denver Developmental chart, her other milestone would have made my late grandfather proud. She was playing on the floor in the kitchen, while I was eating my breakfast/reading random crap in the internet. She started motioning to the Baby Mum-Mum on the table, so I opened it up and offered her a piece. However, she was more interested in the wrapper. I gave it to her, figuring it would be good for her dexterity to remove the cracker from the wrapper. Once I saw that she was eating it, I retruned my attention to Facebook. Then I looked up to see her opening the drawer to the garbage and she was attempting to throw the wrapper in the trash. [Well actually it was the recycling bin, but we'll teach her that later] I would later learn that a few days earlier my dad held her and showed her how to throw a wrapper in the trash, still it was a proud moment. 

Activities: Remember how I once said that I never wanted to participate in those Mummy and Baby groups that involve sitting around and singing? What was I thinking when I signed us up for a baby music class? Well, I had an underlying alterative motive. Years ago, I heard an interview with Sting, who was speaking about his experience as a music teacher.  He described that it is such a mistake for school boards to cut music programs from their cirrculum as the lessons leaned in music education translate to language, science and math classes. I'm signing and dancing so she can be smart. 
Actually, it's a really good class. The instructor is excellent and she teaches basic music competence, so I don't mind sitting around in a circle and singing if there is a purpose to it. There is a woman in the class who I met during my days of attending the breastfeeding support group, so it's nice to feel that I'm on the 'Mom' circuit. I signed us up for a 10 week session in Autumn,  but I'm not sure how much longer we'll continue with it, as the classes are a but pricey compared to other activities we've done. It just so happens, that the class is near the pool, and she'd ready for a nap when the class ends, which is just in time for the noon swim class. Sometimes she'll sleep through the class for me, a few times my coach has helped feed her lunch while I swim, and othertimes, she goes into full blown meltdown mode. I haven't figured out how to coordinate with her to meltdown during an IM day.

Speaking of swimming, I started taking Kate to "Parent and Child" drop-in swim sessions. I had been kicking myself for not starting sooner, as the pool is less than a mile from our house and is open year round. Yet, I found it to be a little disappointing. When we arrived, the organizer described that the parents walk around with their babies, there are floating toys to play with and instructors are available if you have any questions. Um, when do we do kicking drills? What is our main set? So not exactly what I had in mind. However, without any hesitation, I wore my goggles in the pool and I didn't feel the slighest bit self conscious.

Health Issues: I had to take Kate with me to a swim meet and she fell off a concrete step and received a small scrap on her head. I should mention what we were doing at a swim meet. My coach sent me a text asking if I wanted to make my return to swimming at an upcoming meet. A long course metre meet. I haven't been in a pool since our meet last October. I think she knew that I was just crazy enough to do such a thing and would start swimming again, It's what makes her such a great coach, she knows how to motivate someone like me and then can coach our young fast swimmers to a Masters world record in the 4 x 100 m redley relay (true story). Anyway, the scrap healed quickly, it just was very prominent on her little bald head. She also had another ear infection, which brings her total to three. I'm trying not to focus on the fact that she only had one ear infection during the first eleven months of her life while she was breastfeed and she's now had two since we've stopped. 

Bacon makes everything better;
even a bump on the head.

Looking forward to: We're going back east next month. Not quite sure I'm looking forward to flying back and forth with Kate by myself! Wish us luck!

Friday, 5 August 2016

An Affair to Remember

After searching high and low for shoes to compliment the dress;
They stayed on for all of five minutes...

I have to admit that prior to parenthood, I didn't understand the rationale behind having a one year birthday party. After all, the guest of honour is largely unaware of the purpose for the event and won't likely remember it. Co-worker explained her motivation for holding a party for her twins first birthday was really to celebrate herself and her husband. "We wanted to commerate that we kept the boys alive for an entire year without killing each other in the process." I started to view the first birthday party with the same approach I had for our baby celebration non-shower: this is our first any only baby. I didn't want to look back and regret not having a first birthday celebration. I started mulling with ideas just before she turned nine months. It would be a small gathering. Just my aunt and uncle, cousin and her kids, Co-worker and her twins and my friend Amy and her two kids. I have no idea how moms manage a large affair, as this small event was so much work! Seriously, planning and preparing this party felt like I had a second job. While Husband does his share with child care duties, I discovered that I would be on my own for party-planning. Husband is just not going to give thoughts to themes, invites, decorations, party favors, menu ideas...

The largest project was addressing our badly neglected shit hole of a back yard. The last time I raked up dried grass and leaves was the day before my Kate was born, and I don't think anyone else has done any work in the garden since then. My aim was to make the area at least look tidy. I knew that after all my hours of effort, it would still look like shit. I had to bargain with Husband to get gardening time on the weekend (funny that whenever he has a task to do, it's assumed that he'll get kid free time) and I spent about 30-45 minutes in the evenings after Kate went to bed. I eventually needed to take a day off from work to complete my projects (and of course, it rained that morning).

I'm not going to show any before and after picture of the backyard, as the 'after' picture, still looks like a 'before'. Over the course of three weeks, I filled 32 of these lawn and leaf bags!

The other rationale for having a bunch of people to your house, it that is serves as an excuse to make some necessary updates. We had to get rid of this chair as the cats had clawed the shit out of it. 

We replaced it with another chair from Ikea. A faux leather, which hopefully will be more resistant to kitty claws. We also added a standing lamp, figuring it would be safer than a table lamp. 

We decided to get another one to go on the other side of the room. 

Don't you love the end table? Actually, when we moved out to California, we bought a sofa and love seat set plus a coffee table, two end tables and two lamps and some decorative pillos for just unfer two thousand dollars. The cats destroyed the sofa and we bought a new sofa and love seat just before my in-laws came to visit in 2013. We couldn't find any end table and coffee tables that we liked, so we've been stuck with our old ones that don't match the curent furnature and with glass, are a safety hazzard. We got rid of all the old tables and lamps...

and replaced it with a new table and lamp from Ikea.

The other item that we needed to remove was the entertainment unit, as it also had glass doors...

we installed child locks on the new unit.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Books were put on display as part of the party decorations. 

The KATErpillar. A collection of her monthly photos

I spent many hours completing her baby books. No one looked at them

The Menu:
Apples (served with peanut butter)
Two Pears (display)
Three Plums (display)
Strawberries (with Nutella)
Orange Slices
A jar of pickles
Cheese and Salami
One lollipop (display)
Cherry Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
A Nice Green Spinach Leaf Salad
Chocolate cupcakes

TVHC Food Table tents. Delivered by Etsy

I set up this little bowling alley as we have a long hallway in the front entrance. No one really played with it. The kids were much more interested in the shit hole of our back yard.

Cupcake Fail #2 

So remember by first attempt to make my own cupcakes? After I relented and realised I had to go to a professional baker, I still wanted them to represent the party's theme and didn't want to pay an outrageous price. I found these edible stickers on Amazon, (as I write this, I recognise how short sighted I was. Seriously Jane, just because you can order everything in the world on Amazon, it doen't mean it's always a good thing) but when I met with the baker, she explained that they couldn't put them on for me, as it was against their company policy (clue #2). The baker gave me a little instruction on how to apply them, and as you can see, there was space reserved for them. I followed the instruction that I received, (which guaranteed the stickers would pop right off the wax paper backing) and used the advice of the baker. They didn't come off the paper cleanly and it was a total fucking mess. I served the cupcakes as they were and no one gave a shit about how they looked as they were absolutely delicious. Kate really didn't get the idea of the cupcake and just dipped her fingers in the frosting, which was rather lady-like. 

One of my big worries for the day, besides the usual last minute preparations, was making sure Kate had a good nap in the morning. We didn't let her fall back to sleep after she woke up at 6 AM, and then put her down for her nap around 10 AM. My aunt stopped by that morning with my older cousin, who was visiting from Washington state and was on her way to the airport. They woke up Kate, who barely slept for 45 minutes. I feared this would set her up for a meltdown right in the middle of the party, but despite being so tired, she pushed through and I think she enjoying having so many visitors. Our guests seemed to mingle well and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. There were compliments on the food and yes, some noticed how much effort I had put into arranging the event. (I was up until midnight hanging decorations and arranging the table) Her first birthday party was a family success. However, it was not without some hiccups. 

As I hinted earlier, I found that I was doing most of the work for this party, so I gave one job to Husband -buy the sausages. As he would be grilling them, I figured he could be in charge of all things related to the sausages. Well, he bought way more than we needed (Co-worker stashed some in the freezer before he cooked them all) and he bought eight different types of sasuage. You can't keep track of which ones are which when you cook eight differnet types of sasuage at once, so no one had any idea what they were eating. (Face palm. SMH) While I was shopping for the rest of the food, Husband was supposed to be cleaning. I was gone for almost three hours and he spent most of that time hanging our framed professional photos. This included hanging a collage in our room where we were planning to confine the cats during the party. How is it that men can pick the task with the lowest priority and devote the maximum amount of time to that chore? I was so pissed as he ended up doing a half ass job cleaning, but given that the house needed to be cleaned again after the party; in hind sight, I was glad he hadn't spent too much effort cleaning before the party. (Although I do suspect he spent much of his time while I was out either working or watching football). 

There was something else to make the party memorable. While I was at work the next day, our ENT department had a pot luck party for a doctor who was leaving the group. I don't usually partake in a pot luck if I didn't bring anything to contribute, but several people stopped by our department to invite us to their party as they had so much food to consume. As I didn't feel like having mystery sausages and spinach salad for three meals in a row (it was our dinner too) I decided to eat at the pot luck. An hour later, I didn't feel so well. Twenty minutes after that; I ran out of a patient's room and almost ran over a staffer on my way to throw up. The next morning, I received a text from Co-worker that she was diarrhearring (a verb invented by one of our former patients). I figured it was the pot luck as I fixed a plate for her and we ate the same foods. However when I took Kate in for her 12 month check up, I inquired and no one else who had ate at the pot luck had been sick. That night Husband began to experience gut ache. I began to suspect it wasn't the pot luck that caused our illness and feared it was foods from our party. 

My fears were confirmed when Co-worker admitted that her husband also had some GI issues and then she disclosed a starteling relevation. "So, when we were at your party... your cousin's oldest child was licking the bread rolls for the sausage and was putting them back in the basket." Oh, it gets worse. "His father watched him do it and didn't say anything." I texted my friend Amy to inquire about her stomach. "I was puking on Monday and have been having the big D. Why?" she responded. Oh Fuck, my cousin's son made everyone at our party ill (Interestingly, my cousin and her husband and my aunt and uncle did not get sick). I can understand the awkwardness of the situation and how Co-worker probably wasn't sure what to say to my cousin's husband, but why the fuck didn't she say anything to me? Seriously, she is the most germaphobic person I know. We went out to the parking garage at lunch so I could return the cooler I borrowed and she grabbed a tissue before touching the door handle to walk out of our office (a door only accessed by staff, not patients) I debated if I should say anything to my cousin, but my dad cautioned me against doing so as I wasn't a direct witness to the event and apparently to prove that the rolls were the cause, I would have to do a full food analysis of what everyone ate and cross refernce symptoms. My dad used to be a food service manager and told me more than I ever wanted to know about documenting food contamination. The silver linging? Co-worker, Amy and I were all happy we lost a few pounds, and as Husband and I really didn't feel like eating much, I didn't have to meal plan or cook for almost a week. A few days later I was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar with Kate and came to his binge session on Saturday, which gave him a stomach ache that night. I chuckled to myself. At least it was fitting with the theme of the party.