Saturday night rager

Ohhhh how Saturday nights have changed.  {Not that this is a new thing.  We’re 2.5 years in!}  But here it is, 8:30pm on a Saturday night, and I’m making pancakes and crock pot applesauce.  To freeze.  So that I can save time making lunch during the work week.

My kids are OBSESSED with these gluten free pancakes.  And with a picky toddler and a one year old who isn’t even ON the dang growth chart (.5%ile), we need all the comfort-food-slash-time-savers we can get!  This one by Cookie and Kate nails it:

http://cookieandkate.com/2013/pumpkin-oat-pancakes/

At least I’m drinking a Geary’s HSA doing it.  Did I mention that the hubster came home from the grocery store with THREE cases of it, and a carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream?  I knew I married him for a reason.  That, and he’s so handsome.

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Cooking up a [snow]storm!

With 12″ of snow, 2 snow days, and temperatures hovering at 0 degrees, we’ve barely left the house this week.  This has given us lots of time for playing with Charlotte’s new Christmas toys and videos, and has also meant that she’s taking some extra long naps!  (What a blessing for a shoveling-daddy and a house cleaning-mommy!)

I’ve been baking up a storm here while Charlotte naps, and wanted to try some new recipes for her that would go beyond fresh fruits and roasted veggies.  She eats a ton of whole foods and especially produce, but I can see that she’s getting kind of bored when her dinner consistently is made up of one green veg, one whole grain, and maybe some yogurt or applesauce.  She also seems less interested in nursing, which  means that she may be starting to drop some of her feedings.  It’s been a long and sometimes-bumpy road with nursing for us, and it will be a little bittersweet when it’s all done (more on that in the next post).

In the meantime, it’s increasingly more important that Charlotte gets quality nutrients from the solid food she’s eating.  We’re nearing the end of our “food is fun until age one!” theory.  Just one month until her first birthday!  We got a juicer and a new dutch oven for Christmas, so Fred and I have been playing with our new toys too!  Here’s what we’ve been up to, in the kitchen and at the dinner table….

Milestones

I am always amazed when mothers (such as my own) can remember back 20 or 30 years and say with exact certainty “You said your first word when you were 9 months old!”  or “You weaned yourself at 9 and 3/4 months of age”.

I worry that my memory is already fading, and Charlotte is a mere 10 months old.  So I’m getting some things down here quickly, before I forget!

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One of my all time favorite pictures, 1 day old.

First smile: Charlotte first smiled around 7 weeks of age, and those early smiles were few and far between.  As I was home on maternity leave, I was with her every minute of every day (and night).  I had seen the smile a few times and was eager for Fred to see the same–but it took a week of disbelief before he finally saw it and had the same reaction I did…tears in his eyes that this little newborn blob was finally responding to us!

Grampie plays with his little Charlabee

Grampie plays with his smiley little Charlabee

Sleeping through the night:  Fred and I were already debating our foggy memories about this last night!  Sometime around 4ish months, Charlotte started sleeping about 8 hours at a time.  But she’d be up for the day around 4am.  Does this count as sleeping through the night?  It wasn’t until 6 months that she slept solidly from 7pm-6am, and she’s still doing it now at 10 months!

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Rolling over:  Charlotte rolled over one way, by accident, around three months old.  When I excitedly told her day care provider about the news, she said “Oh yeah!  She’s been doing that here for a few weeks!”  Doh.  Enter mommy guilt.

Crawling:  No dice on this one!  At ten months, Charlotte still hasn’t managed to get up on her knees and get her belly off the ground!  She has gotten good at rolling as a means of transportation though.

First solid food:  We held off on the normal 4 month baby cereal routine, as we really wanted to go the baby led weaning route.  Charlotte had her first taste of baby oatmeal around 5 1/2 months, and started solid finger foods at 6 months.  No mush, no fuss here!  She has the best baby appetite I’ve ever seen.  Her first favorites were prunes and baked apples with cinnamon.  Now, at 10 months her favorites are meats of any kind, fish, and fresh raspberries.

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black {bean} beard

Sitting up:  At six months Charlotte could sit up and play upright for a change!  Tummy time fell by the wayside at this point, as she preferred to see things from a higher angle.

Sitting and reading, reading and sitting

Sitting and reading, reading and sitting.

Walking:  Beginning at 7 months, Charlotte loved to stand with support.  She’d stand all day long if someone would hold her fingers for balance.  At 9 months she began high-stepping around the living room with us holding her fingers for balance.  Now at 10 months, she holds on her little push cart and takes wobbly steps towards the cats, the Christmas tree, and the TV….stopping to wave at everything along the way!  No independent steps yet, so we cannot say that she is actually walking.  Give it time…

Practicing walking on Thanksgiving

Practicing walking on Thanksgiving

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Talking/signing:  Right around 10 months, Charlotte started signing “dog” (although to her it means any animal), signed “milk” in the middle of the night, and said “MAMA” when mama was wiping her nose too aggressively.

At 10 months we are still exclusively breastfeeding, eating three solid-food meals a day, and sleeping through the night (with a few bumps along the way).  She loves peek-a-boo and row row row your boat, and is practicing clapping.  She follows the Wonder Weeks theory like clockwork.  And for someone who cannot tell time, she is on a regimented schedule of 7am wake up, 9am nap, 1pm nap, and 7pm bedtime.  “She even poops on a schedule!” says Connie her day care provider!

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happy holiday baby

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four generations

 

 

 

Fine dining

For those of you that haven’t dined with the Follansbee Family lately, I thought I might give you an update on what Charlotte is eating these days.  I wrote a few months ago about how we are foregoing the pureed baby mush step, and are doing the method called Baby Led Weaning (BLW)–basically, baby feeds themselves from the beginning, and they eat anything that we eat–just in a more manageable form.

People ask me all the time “What is Charlotte eating now?”  Well, I’m glad you asked!

Dinnertime is so much fun at our house.  Charlotte sits on our kitchen island in her bumbo seat while we cook, and then all three of us eat the same meal at the same time.  When we go to restaurants, we sometimes feed her off our plate–and have even ordered some side dishes for her.  BLW couldn’t be easier, and I think we are growing a little human who absolutely LOVES food.

Charlotte will try anything, and among her favorites are baked apples, roasted chicken, and fish.  Yes, fish!  Salmon, haddock, tilapia!  You name it, she is a little hoover at our dinner table.  Last night we had grilled cheese and tomato soup, and all three of us licked our plates (er, high chair tray) clean.   By feeding herself, Charlotte can experiment with the temperatures and textures of her food, and decide what tastes she wants to mix together.  Oatmeal and peas?  mmmm!  Kale and frozen strawberries?  mmm!  Turkey meatballs and dried prunes?  MMMM!  haha.  Click on the photos to enlarge.

Transition and Adjust

While out for a [rare] run together a few weeks ago, Fred and I confronted a huge hill.  We were running in uncharted territory while on vacation with my family.  And this hill?  I’m talking steep and long–maybe a quarter mile or more.  Per our usual agreement, I let him power up and we’d meet at the top.  I diligently put one foot in front of the other, keeping my eyes glued to the ground.  After a whole song on my ipod, I did what I try never to do: I looked up, thinking I must be almost at the top.  Wrong!  Fred was distantly ahead of me, and he wasn’t even at the top yet.

But, gluing my eyes back to the pavement, something strange started to happen.  My breathing slowed.  My footsteps got lighter.  The hill got easier.  And I began to close the distance between me and Fred, which never happens.

Throughout the rest of our four miles back home, I kept asking myself why–how–did the hill get easier?  We don’t run hills often.  Heck, we don’t even run often.  The hill was steep, and nearly half a mile long when I mapped it afterwards.

So how did it get easier when it should have been the worst part?

The only answer I can think of is transition and adjust.

If you keep going uphill long enough, your legs will get tricked into thinking that this is the new normal.  Your muscles will transition, and your stride will adjust.  What was once hard gets easier.  Uphill feels flat.

So why the story about running on a blog about motherhood?

Transition and adjust seems to be the only thing that is propelling Fred, Charlotte, and me forward these days.  Just when we seem to get a handle on routines, something gets in the way… work, or a new developmental phase, or extended family and special events.  We mastered breastfeeding and it was soon time to transition to bottles and pumping.  We conquered the nighttime routines, and it was necessary to transition Charlotte to her own bedroom, and then go on vacation.  We developed a feed-nap-play schedule, and suddenly it’s time for solid foods and teething.

I’ve often said to Fred that just when I gain my confidence and get a handle on one thing, there is something new to tackle.

If you go without good sleep for long enough, you will get used to the lagging blurry feeling.  You will perform on less sleep than you ever thought possible, and you’ll even find time to work out even though you really could be napping.  Sleep deprivation is the new normal, and so you trick your mind and body into handling it.

If you pump often enough at work, you will get used to the prickly feeling that anyone could walk in at any second.  You’ll find tricks to clean your pump faster, pump your milk faster, and get your work done too.  Pumping has to be a part of the routine, so you transition and adjust.

After my first few days back at work, I tearfully told Fred that I couldn’t do it.  I was drowning in a sea of pumping at work, washing 500 bottles a week, carting Charlotte to and from daycare, and still trying to be a decent teacher and a good mother.  “I can not make all of the milk, make some of the money, make dinner nightly, and make us all happy too.”

To be completely transparent, summer vacation hit just around the time of my breaking point.  We are more than surviving right now.  We have free time!  We run!  We do fun things!  So this is not a success story {yet} but rather a harbinger of things to return in September.

A big transition and adjust will have to occur, perhaps our biggest yet.  I’m not sure what that means.  It may mean take-out more than cooking… or a less than clean house… or even a compromise between a little bit of formula and a lot of breast milk.  But Charlotte will be seven months old, and we will have successfully made it through seven months of exclusive breastfeeding.  A huge steppingstone toward the 11 months that we’re aiming for.

At the moment though, we’re working on introducing solid foods.  It’s not always smooth.  Milk is no longer 100% of the menu, and I’m having a harder time with that than Charlotte is.  But, transition and adjust.  Just when things get easy, they get hard again.  We do nothing constant, except the constant transitioning and adjusting.  Being a mom is like running hills multiple times a day/every day.  And I used to think marathon training was hard?

Self-feeding

It’s about that time: Charlotte is nearly six months old, and she is chomping at the bit to get her hands on some solid food (pun intended).  We are trying something new and slightly adventurous with Baby ‘Bee called baby-led weaning.  In essence, it’s a no mush/no puree approach to eating by babies (as opposed to the traditional feeding by parents).  No spoons, no tiny bowls, no unrecognizable jars of combined foods.  Just finger-sized tidbits and mushy handfuls of whatever ‘Bee can put into her own mouth.

Baby-led weaning was first recommended to us by our pediatrician at our four month appointment.  Fred and I looked at each other and thought she’d lost her mind.  Chunks of fish?  Handfuls of shredded cheese?  No way.  For a baby?!

Since then I’ve been trolling pinterest and blogs for info on this idea of baby self-feeding, and I’ve quickly realized that it just makes sense.  Why go through the effort of steaming, pureeing, and mixing things down to an unrecognizable state that Bee may or may not like?  We don’t eat our food like that, and it seems like a silly stepping stone to learning how to eat.  Why not let her explore the textures and shapes and flavors of actual food?  She will join us at the table, eat what we’re eating (in a modified, softer, and more grip-able state) and learn by doing.

The keys to self-feeding are these:

1) Babies under a year do not need anything nutritionally besides breast milk.  Breastfeeding is going well, Bee still loves it, and she’s growing healthily.  All systems go.

2) Always let baby feed themselves.  We will not use spoons, nor will we encourage her to ‘finish the meal’ or have one more five more bites.  She will eat when she’s hungry, and stop when she’s full.  Milk will be on tap around the clock, and oatmeal will make it’s morning appearance.

3)  My job is to provide as much variety and nutrition that I can, and modify the foods in way that she can manage with her own two hands… and then trust that the learning and exploration is worth the mess.

Mind you, we are only three days in.  And I’m pretty sure she hasn’t actually ingested any food yet.  She’s done lots of sucking, pinching, gumming, squeezing, and dropping.  But she’s exploring and learning about how hard to hold a banana so that it doesn’t mush; how to grab the ‘handle’ on the broccoli so she can get the good part in her mouth; and why it’s easier to hold the skin side of the cucumber than the slippery insides.  It’s a mess.  It appears, at a quick glance, to be a waste of food and time.  But we’re sticking with it for at least 2-3 weeks and examining her diapers every day for signs of digestion.

Here are some of Charlotte’s first foods…

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carrots at the beach

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broccoli has lots of interesting textures

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the mush stops here! (but the mess doesn’t…)

concentrating hard on some slippery watermelon

concentrating hard on some slippery watermelon

fistful of turkey

fistful of turkey

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getting her started early on!

Giving Charlotte some food in public, I’ve already heard the questions I had been asking myself before I did all my research…

Won’t she choke?

No.  Babies of six months old have a very sensitive gag reflex, which is different than choking.  It’s actually a safety mechanism.  And if she gags, she learns not to put things so deep into her mouth.

Doesn’t she need to eat more?

No.  Breast milk can make up 100% of her nutrition until she is 9-12 months old.  Our goal is to continue breastfeeding until Christmas, when Charlotte is 11 months.

“Food is fun til age one.”  Self-feeding is about the experience of food rather than the nutrition.

What about allergies?

The new research about allergies shows that holding off too long on certain foods may actually be causing all these peanut allergies/gluten sensitivities etc.  Earlier introduction to a wide variety of food can help your child to be a more well-rounded eater, and like more foods.

She doesn’t have any teeth.  How can she eat?

Apparently she doesn’t need them!  The massaging/sucking motion of breastfeeding is more like chewing than you’d think, and breastfed babies take to real food quite naturally.  To begin, we will steam or roast foods to make them soft enough to gum.  Think things with “handles” or skin still attached for traction.

She’s really going to eat that piece of watermelon?  Or that handful of fish?

Yes!  It may take awhile.  It will be a mess.  She might not swallow all that much of it.  But she’s learning how to eat, and it will go down the right pipe when she’s ready for it.

[I’m still building my patience on this one, and have to sit on my own hands when she eats!]

This sounds a little tree-hugging and hippy-ish…and also kinda lazy…

I already know Uncle Teddy Bear and Uncle Tommy Gun might be thinking this  🙂  I’m a new mom.  I don’t know everything anything about raising a baby!  I can’t say that self-feeding is THE way to go, or that all babies should do it.  If we try it and it doesn’t work for us, I’ll be the first one to say so right here on this blog.  Which reminds me, I need to write about our failures in sleep training…

But I’m all about trying things, and if it works…great!  If it doesn’t, there is always the opportunity to change it up!  It’s important to us to raise an independent, curious, and adventurous child, and this seems like a great way to get her started very young.  And while the prep may be pretty easy, the cleanup afterward is not!