30 Days of Blogging, Day 12

My new year’s resolution was to master sourdough bread making. Those who’ve been following me for a while know I’m interested in self-sufficiency when it comes to food. I grow a lot of our food in the garden, and I’m an official crazy chicken lady with my backyard chickens. I bake bread to feed my family almost every week, but I’d never dabbled in sourdough. Sourdough appeals to me because you can start with nothing more than flour and water and in the end you get a super nutritious and (hopefully) delicious bread. I also like the idea of catching wild yeast!

So I took the first step. I’m working on making a sourdough starter, using organic whole wheat flour and water. I’m on day 2 of feeding it and I haven’t seen any bubbling showing that its active, but it still smells and looks good, so I’m hopeful it will soon become home to a healthy colony of yeast and in a couple of weeks I can try making a loaf with it! 

And while I’m on the topic of self-sufficient food culture, here’s an egg pic  ❤️ 

 

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30 days of blogging, day 3

We had brunch with our donor and his family today. We were good friends before he became our donor, and we’re good friends still. He and his wife have two kids, one school age and one baby.

As I watched Avery play with two children who are her genetic half-sisters, it was utterly clear that they were in no way siblings. They are connected by the mere fact that their parents are friends. Sure, on a biological level one can’t deny that the connection goes deeper than that, but socially, experientially, we are two separate families who happened to be having brunch with our respective kids in tow.

It gave me a feeling of relief to feel that way. Who knows what the future holds for our daughter’s connection with them – that’s up to them. But since genetic relation has become somewhat of a sensitive topic in our house, it was good to feel nothing while we watched the kids play. 

30 Days of Blogging, Day 1

It may have made more sense to start on Jan 1st, but I didn’t get my ass in gear in time. I want to write something – even if it’s just a brief, passing thought or idea, every day, for 30 days. Writing and sharing my thoughts and experiences with this blogging community has been so cathartic for me over these last couple of years, and I’d like to stay on top of my writing-self-care, rather than only writing when something is extremely pent up or vent-worthy. So here goes.

I managed to submit another draft of my dissertation proposal to my advisor before Christmas, and he sent me his feedback this morning. We have a meeting tomorrow morning, so I’m cramming to at least READ his feedback, even though I won’t have time to address much of it. I’m tired again, and it’s not easy going again. The only way I got that proposal draft in before the holidays was thanks to that week or so of good sleep. Sleep… sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep. This is the title of my would-be memoir. It is the only thing I think about, the only thing I long for.

On a related note, I don’t want to keep wishing for my toddler to grow up, but I find myself getting through these tough, sleepless nights with the hopeful thought of eventually leaving toddlerhood in the dust. But toddlerhood is so incredibly awesome to witness, and I hate that I’m wishing it away. Sleep.

Also, Avery is having night terrors. Because her sleep-challenges just weren’t complete without a cherry on top. Night terrors are so hard to watch, but you can’t do much more than watch. If we approach her she attacks us. Last night she screamed the saddest, most terrified scream for 45 minutes while my wife sat next to her and calmly repeated “it’s ok Avery, it’s me, go to sleep.” She is, of course, asleep through her night terrors, but she actually gets out of bed and runs around in her room like she’s running away from something. And then, as suddenly as it started, she slumps over and starts snoring peacefully.

Alright, enough griping. Back to work. Until tomorrow…

Introducing the toddler bed at 16 months

I’m thinking of renaming my blog, “The Baby Who Would Not Sleep.” Not really, but it would certainly be a fitting title. I’m pretty sure 90% of the hundreds of posts I’ve made have been about baby/toddler sleep issues.

So what hair brained idea are we trying out this week to get our 16 month old to sleep? The toddler bed!

Bed rail to come

We’ve used a floor bed (crib mattress on the floor) with her before and it worked really well. The reason we stopped using it is because she started getting up and crawling away at bedtime. That was when she was about 8 months old. But now Avery is going through a phase of refusing to be put down in the crib (even when sound asleep). On the other hand, she is also now able to understand and obey when we say “lay down and go to sleep.” She’ll only do this if one of us is next to her, and it only works for wakeups through the night – not getting to sleep at first at bedtime. She still needs to nurse to sleep at bedtime.
Our solution was to try something that all the parenting blogs say she is way too young for – we transitioned her to a toddler bed. Actually, we just took the side off of her crib. She was so excited when we were rebuilding it, and she wouldn’t stop throwing herself on it and snuggling with her new toddler-safe pillow (while we were still tightening all the bolts back up. Literally couldn’t wait to try it out).

I’ve been sleeping on couch cushions beside her new bed and when she wakes in the night I hold her hand and say “shh, lay down and go to sleep.” So far she does, but only for me (not my wife). To get her to sleep I have to lean awkwardly over the side of her bed to nurse her, because it probably won’t hold my weight. Soon I hope to be able to leave the room once she’s settled, but I think her recent sleep issue is separation anxiety, and leaving her side wakes her up. She clearly experiences anxiety. Or screaming panic, more like. But if I’m there, holding her hand, she flops herself back down and goes back to sleep.

I’ll update after a week or so of this when we get a better idea of how it’s working!

If you’re interested in the floor bed idea or transitioning early to a toddler bed, I encourage you to read about why it’s recommended by the Montessori school of thought. I think that the idea of giving the kid more autonomy with sleep is something that will work for Avery, because she’s very much a power-struggler when it comes to sleep. But that kind of early autonomy won’t work for every toddler!!

As always, wish us luck as we embark on yet another hair brained sleep plan… 

Bahumbug

I don’t want to be like this… I want Christmas to just be happy and exciting with my little one. But it’s a stressful time of year. 

The travelling has been atrocious with two long drives in which we thought we were going to die. Zero visibility snow storms and a screaming toddler in the back seat ensuring our blood pressure was through the roof. 

The family time has been trying. Gifts were in excess of our agreed upon budgets, and although we explained that we don’t want Avery too spoiled (for many reasons), our request was ignored. We were completely overwhelmed when we got home, trying to find places to put all of the noisy, ugly, plastic STUFF. Our garbage bin is overflowing, and I feel bad about that. Next year we want to wrap presents in cloth bags. 

Avery’s sleep issues went from under control to a whole new hell – now she seems to have baby insomnia and is just AWAKE for hours every night. Nothing will get her to sleep, even nursing in our bed (I broke the night weaning because we were desperate, but it turned out that didn’t even work for sleep anymore). She also refuses to be in her crib again, after 9 months of being totally ok with it. So we’re tired. I’m touched out. I once again have no evenings free to rest. If she’s not glued to my (or her Mo’s) body, she’s crying. Please be a short developmental phase. PLEASE. 
But, on the other hand, Avery had a great time seeing her extended family, she loved opening presents, and she was an absolute pleasure to be around. When I’m stressed and tired and just want to be at home in my bed with the covers over my head, I just have to look into Avery’s eyes and I see that the world is good again.

Except at night. At night the world is bad through her eyes, too. 

Quick update on sleep…

Just in case you were wondering… sleep is getting better again.

Recap:

We recently night weaned. That triggered sleeping through the night (at least 6 hour stretches) for a whole week with only one or two wake ups either right after bedtime or early morning. It felt like heaven.

Then BAM, she regressed! Everyone was sick, and it made it impossible for Avery to sleep well. She was up every 30 minutes again for a few nights. The return to crappy sleep lasted another week and a half.

Then, improvement. As Avery got over her nasty cold and cough, she started sleeping for longer and longer again.

Last night, for the first time in her life, she slept completely, by anyone’s definition, through the night.

From 7pm bedtime until 6am wakeup. She appeared not to have moved a muscle in her crib. Perhaps it was because she was so tired from being awake from 1:30-4:30am the night before….

As always, here’s my take on baby sleep. You win some, you lose some. I look at the overall big picture and I definitely see a positive trend.

Daycare love and exposure to the outside world

We love our daycare. Avery loves her daycare. In the mornings there are 3 other big kids plus Avery’s best friend (also 16 months old). They all walk to the nearby school together, bundled in their snowsuits. Avery loves the attention from the older kids. Then the two babies/toddlers go back to the provider’s house and play, sing songs, or, once or twice a week, go to a nearby play group. She’s only in care four days a week for 4 hours a day, but she has developed a strong attachment to the people and the place.

Here’s Avery hugging the daylights out of her best friend. I’m not imposing a friendship on them – they’re actually tight. 

The facial blur is super creepy, but your know, privacy.

Interaction with other kids is an important part of socialization, and gives my little only child a great bit of exposure to the outside world. However, sometimes kids get exposed to things we’d rather them not be exposed to. That’s life. For us, this came in the form of a really sweet gesture from her daycare buddy’s parents. In a Christmas gift (from Avery’s friend herself, of course  😉), there was a Disney princess book. This book prescribed that “princesses must arrive in high style, with a beautiful gown and a sweet-hearted smile.”

I can’t get behind this message. I want Avery to know that princesses can wear whatever the fuck they want, and they don’t always have to put on a “sweet” smiling face if they’re not feeling it.

So I think we’re going to let Avery play with the book for now, but we’re definitely not going to read it to her. It feels kind of awkward. But still, sweet gesture.

Anyway, today was the last day of daycare until January. Avery seemed to understand that she would be away for a while. She unabashedly hugged our provider (AND her husband whom Avery had only met twice), and waved goodbye to her best buddy for seriously like 5 minutes at the door. She then had a tantrum when I tried putting her in the car. She loves that place. It gives me the warm fuzzies.

But you know what else gives me the warm fuzzies? Spending the next almost two weeks with my baby and my wife, doing Christmassy things with a toddler who is starting to get EXCITED about Christmassy things. I think I’ll be saying this in every blog post for the foreseeable future: this age is so much fun!