Thursday, August 27, 2009


Stella's latest obsession:

Soon we're off to the wading pool where we're meeting up with some of the fellow November/December babies from our midwife clinic!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Stella asleep in her crib with Ribbit and her Soothie

Sleep. It's the subject of many books, experts, parents' conversations, parenting blogs, what have you. Everyone tells you to get sleep while you're pregnant (despite the fact that turning over after 8 months involves serious effort and no position is really comfortable). And even though you know that babies need to eat every few hours and that you'll be sleep deprived, you don't really understand the meaning of tired until a few weeks in.

For some, that seems to be all it takes. Some babies start sleeping for good stretches at convenient times (i.e., when their parents want to sleep) early on. Stella's not one of those babies. It's easy when hearing about someone else's baby's blissful sleep patterns to feel that it reflects badly on either you or your baby. But some of it may be expectations. When talking to my aunt who was watching her young grandson how he was sleeing, she said pretty well, for a six or seven hour stretch. I'm still holding out for double digits.

Stella can apparently sleep in horribly uncomfortable looking positions, but not for many hours in a row

I think part of the challenge is that Tyler and I have felt ambivalent about the whole sleep training thing. There are times we get really tired and end of doing a vague job of it, but we quickly realize that's not working for anyone. In late July, we made a decision to deal with the sleep issue in September. We had too many schedule-disrupting things going on (weddings, camping, trips to Illinois) to try and create any kind of strict routine.

Here we are, nearing the end of August, our schedule looking relatively home-based for the foreseeable future. And we've been tired. Now that Stella's teething, she's started waking up more, usually unhappy, and sometimes for longer since her mouth is bothering her. And now that she can pull up, she seems to feel compelled to sit up and stand as soon as she's even moderately awake. In this sleepy state, she's also increasingly likely to wack her head on the crib rail or otherwise hurt herself. And wihle I'm perfectly OK with letting her fuss when she's frustrated, it doesn't feel right to ignore her when she's hurt.

The bottom line is that Tyler and I have mixed feelings about where Stella should sleep. For now, she goes to bed in her crib but inevitably wakes up wanting to eat more. And I think she often likes being in bed with us. can understand that. It's probably colder and lonelier in her crib than being with her two favorite people. It's a very American culture thing to have children sleep independently quite young--and there are some risks to bed sharing if you don't do it right. But there are other cultures and ways of thinking that say a family bed is the way to go. And, anecdotally from my doctor and my own circle of parent friends, it seems that breastfed babies are more likely to want to keep eating a little more frequently than their bottlefed counterparts. It's harder to know how much they've eaten or to try and get them to eat more to help them sleep longer when you don't have a set number of ounces to count down.

Probably Stella's preferred way to sleep

Then again, Stella's nine-months old and I'm still more sleep-deprived than I'd like. It effects my ability to function well at home, at work, with friends, with Tyler and with Stella. Which is not really OK. Now that I'm back at work, I can't nap with her and it's harder to catch up with everything else we need to do on the weekends. I'd be OK with a one time a night wake up to have her come to bed, eat and then sleep. But I think having me close sometimes may remind her that she could eat since I'm right there.

So we may try and do some Ferberizing, or we may not. Last night, Stella woke up twice, which felt downright reasonable compared to the previous night when she woke up multiple times and stayed up for nearly an hour at one stretch. I think we keep hoping that it's something she'll grow into, like sleeping alone in her bassinet or eating solid foods. But it remains to be seen if we can sanely wait it out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Baby Experience Points

August has been a busy month, typical for the Northwest. We're all trying to get married while there's nice weather and fit in some last camping trips, hikes and BBQs before fall officially begins. The rain is in sight, and we're bound and determined to enjoy summer before it's over! This year has been no exception, with two weddings, a trip to Illinois, two camping trips and our anniversary so far. Tonight Tyler and I were joking about how many "baby experience points" Stella has. That comment probably has some genesis in role-playing games that I didn't fully appreciate, but it is amazing to think of how much Stella has experienced and changed.

But I get ahead of myself. First, our family trip to Illinois.

We finally got the chance to take Stella to meet her third great-grandmother in Illinois two weeks ago. It was fortunate timing as my mom and stepdad were able to take a trip and visit at the same time. It's been two years since I've been back to see my extended family, and Tyler hasn't been since before we were married when we went for my great-grandmother's funeral. I was a little worried about how Stella would handle everything and everyone. My mom's the oldest of seven children; I'm the oldest of 21 grandchildren; Stella's currently one of 10 great-grandchildren. When we visit, there's no shortage of people to see and talk to. The day of the big family get-together had 36 people, and that's not even everyone!

My grandma and Stella

Four generations: my mom's mom, my mom, me and Stella

Me, my mom and Stella. If you look closely, you'll see the rock commemorates the very first Lincoln-Douglas debate in Illinois.

Stella and three other great-grandkids, Madelyn (9:00), Van (the youngest at 12:00) and Logan (6:00)

Rose has been a popular middle name among the grandkids; it was our great-grandmother's name (my grandma's mom who lived to be about a week shy of her 100th birthday). Here is Stella with the other "Roses": Mia Rose, Mariah Melania Rose, Madelyn Rose and Stella Rose

Stella in the highchair that's been at my grandma's house since I was born. Apparently they had just given away their baby stuff when I came on the scene and they had to get a new crib and highchair.

While we were there, my mom, stepdad and grandma also did a little babysitting to give Tyler and I some time together, including celebrating our fourth anniversary with a lunch out together at the Starved Rock Lodge.

Celebrating four years of marriage! It's passed quickly, yet it's hard to remember my life without Tyler

We also had the chance to do a little hiking in the nearby canyons. I hadn't been hiking there in ages, and the sights and smells kept bringing back memories of hiking around the park and canyons when I was little and we'd come visit family for the weekend.

Tyler in Illinois Canyon land

Tyler standing under Ottawa Canyon. There's not much water now, but in the winter there are really cool frozen waterfalls.

Tall, curving canyon wall

Then it was on to our annual summer camping trip. This past weekend, Tyler, Stella and I went met up with Grandpa Rick, "Uncle" Gary and friends up in the Alpine Lakes Region (also irreverantly known as Lake Phuckalia) for a few nights in the great outdoors. This started as a father-son thing, but a few years ago the wives started joining in, and this summer was the first Baby Edition.

Early evening the first day at camp: Grandpa Rick, Tyler and Stella and "Uncle" Gary

Having a little dinner on dad's lap

Some of Stella's favorite times camping are in the tent, probably because for now it's one of the only places she can roam free. (Once she gets past the pesky phase of putting everything in her mouth, we can have her be a bit more independent.) She looked awfully cute in Tyler's alpaca hat, but she wouldn't keep it on, even though the mornings are a little chilly.

This year we even managed to fit a hike in to Hyas Lake. As we were hiking, Tyler and I were reminiscing about one of our past backpacking trips in the region and thinking that maybe next year Stella can spend a few days with her grandparents while we rough it. A few minutes later, we caught up with a family backpacking: mom carrying the 20-month old baby on her back and a pack on her front, the dad carrying a big pack and holding the four-year-old by the hand. We'll see how ambitious we get next year!

Daddy-Daughter hiking!

Lake Hyas, beautiful views and a great, easy hike

Me and Stella at Lake Hyas--it's not a very exciting picture, but otherwise all the shots ended up being mommy-free...

Our camp grew by one family on the second night when Gary's son Alex came with his wife Rachel and 16-month-old son, Ryder

Stella at her first (illegal) campfire.

On top of all that, tomorrow Stella turns 9-months-old. At her last check-up, we learned she's 29 inches tall and 19 pounds 11 ounces. That puts her at the 93 percentile in height and only 64th in weight, so she's apparently slightly thin for her size. And her first tooth continues to come in, causing us all more sleepless nights than we might like. I've been trying to get a photo; if you click on this, you can see a whits spot on Stella's lower left gum. That's the tooth!

Stella at 9 months: crawling, pulling up, getting her first tooth, and generally a pretty smiley happy girl

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stella on San Juan Island

Stella seems to be at a stage where every day brings a new development. She's getting her first tooth, and she's crawling like a champ. A couple days ago she started pulling herself up on things, and I think today she even "walked" from the chair to the coffee table as she followed Buttercup. She's started being more of a free-range crawler, leaving the room and us far behind as she explores. But amongst all these internal developments, she had a few other new firsts recently: a ferry ride, a camping trip and a wedding.

Our friends Zeke and Anushka got married on San Juan Island a week ago. We decided it would be a good excuse to make it into a long weekend and finally try going camping with Stella.

Now, like going to Hawaii or some of our other adventures with Stella, it all goes well, but it's all a little harder and different from when Tyler and I would do these things on our own. And timing matters when you're trying to catch a ferry. Especially when missing one means waiting four hours before the next departure. We got up early and tried to get all our last minute preparations underway. And slowly our intended 7:30 departure turned into something more like 8:45. But luck was with us and we got onto our intended ferry with time to spare.

On the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor. It started off a little foggy and cool but got sunny and beautiful as we went to San Juan Island. Stella took it all in stride, and it reminded me a lot of our honeymoon taking the ferry through Southeast Alaska.

Once we arrived we stopped for lunch and a locally made beer than found our way to our campsite for the night. Tyler had fortunately made us a reservation at a resort/campground. It reminded us a lot of some of the more developed holiday parks in New Zealand--RVs, bathrooms with showers that take tokens, a little general store. Not necessarily our first choice for local camping, but it was alright for a night.

Stella seems to like hanging out in the outdoors and was a hit with our neighbors. (A good thing since our campsites were right on top of each other!)

Stella even had her first dip in a lake! As the name would imply, Lakedale is situated in the middle of three small lakes. And as we'd guessed in Hawaii, Stella was much happier in the still waters of the lake instead of the crashing waves of the ocean.

Dipping in to the waist!

When we were leaving, we realized that we didn't have a good idea of what Stella was going to sleep in while we were away. Now, a few months ago, this wasn't such an issue--even when we went to Texas in May she slept on a makeshift pallet on the floor at my mom's house--but now that she can sit and roll, she needs a little more containment. And we don't have anything practical like a pack and play (what used to be known as a playpen), and we didn't think to try and borrow something until too late. But the tent ended up being a perfect playpen--it was soft, contained, and she could roam around until she fell asleep.

Ah--sleeping with the fresh air!

And she did pretty well all night, though she spent a good portion cuddling with me in my sleeping bag. Remember my comment about last minute preparations? Oh, and remember the heat wave? It was hard to pack well when our house was still in the 90s, and we did a terrible job of packing for cooler weather. Tyler didn't bring any pants or long-sleeve tops. Fortunately, I'd grabbed on layering top and a few random things for Stella. We made do alright, even if it might have looked a bit foolish....

Tyler staying warm with a blanket. Yes, Stella's using her BabyLegs as makeshift socks.

Our successful night of camping behind us, we had the day to explore the island before meeting up with friends at the house we had rented for the remainder of our stay. We stopped by the Friday Harbor Farmer's Market (which was fantastic) and then did a hike in some of the fields overlooking the coast.

Hiking on the southwest end of the island

Stella the Happy Hiker!

The house we stayed in was fantastic, with access to its own small lake and close to the reception site. We had to do a little improvising to babyproof our room:

Thank goodness for duct tape!

Stella and I even got into the little lake, Lake Margot, for a nice afternoon dip!

Stella is a lake baby if not an ocean one...

She also got some quality time with some of her friends, too!

Stella, Lucy (5 months) and Porter (almost 3 months). It's fun as the babes are all getting older and they're starting to interact a bit...if mostly taking toys from each other.

She also got to spend some time with her Uncle Travis and Aunt Meghan who were up for the wedding, too.

Sadly we don't have any pictures of the wedding yet, but it ended up being a beautiful, lovely affair, relaxed, fun, with lots of dancing at the lavendar farm. Too soon it was time to head back home.

Catching up on sleep on the way home. As Stella's gotten older, she has a harder time sleeping just anywhere, so she has to get really exhausted to nap. She hardly slept the two days before this.

In a few days, she'll be jet-setting to Chicago to go meet her great-grandmother Geri for the first time! She'll also get to spend time with Nana and Grandpapa who are driving up there, too.