I've been mulling over a series of posts on my parenting philosophy, and now that my summer school class is over, I think I'll start. This is partly for record-keeping and partly for discussion. I want to remember what I was thinking at this point in my parenting experience when I look back. :-)

First, a few caveats: I have one child, who is currently 2.5 years old. What I write here clearly only applies to me and my family, and I don't mean to imply that anyone who does things differently is doing it wrong. I freely admit that I might be doing things wrong here, and I may look back and regret some of the choices I've made. However, as a Slacker Mom, I also feel pretty strongly that children are pretty resilient, and it's unlikely that I'm doing any real damage. On top of this, I only work part time, and I have no idea how things would be different if I worked full time.

With that out of the way, one of the first things I want to write about is Sleep. It's one of the biggest issues on every parenting board, and it seems to be the first question people ask when they see someone with a newborn: "Is he sleeping through the night yet?"

And the answer to this question, IMO, should be... )


Jul. 12th, 2010 09:45 pm
I posted this to FB, but I have to post it again here.

Carter: "Carter has a penis. Mommy has a 'gina."
Me: "That's right. Carter is a boy, and Mommy is a girl. Boys have penises, and girls have vaginas."
Carter: "Daddy has a penis too!"
Me: "That's right!"
Carter: "Mimi [his nanny] has a 'gina." [pause] "And a Civic."
Me: ROFL!!

I swear, little kids are THE BEST!!! I love how Mimi having a vagina and driving a Honda Civic are on the same level of interest!
I'm working at home today, writing up lecture notes, commenting on students' lesson plans, and trying to get calc exams graded. Michelle is taking care of Carter for 5 hours today, and there is no way I would be able to get any work done without her here.

I'm upstairs in the office, and when Carter woke up from his nap I could hear him and Michelle talking, and I wanted so badly to run down there and hug him and talk to him too. It sounded like she fed him a snack, and then they went to the park to go play. I'm grateful that he has such a wonderful nanny who does with him the things I would do if I weren't working, but sometimes I feel incredibly guilty that it isn't me doing those things with him.

Even though two days a week, it IS me. Heck, I took him to his swimming lesson this morning, and then we went to Stay n' Play (Austin area moms, check it out, because it's really awesome!), where we played with 3-foot-tall Easter bunnies for a while before Michelle came, at which point I left them to play while I went home to get some work done. Again, *sigh*, Mommy guilt.

But you know, it's not guilt so much as jealousy, really. I love my job, and I love that I can work part time and bring in a little money and keep active in my field and still have 2.5 days a week to be a SAHM and be with Carter. But I still find myself jealous of full time SAHMs. I think about how cool it would be to be able to spend every day with Carter, to just wake up every morning and say, "What should we do today?" It would be cool to be able to take him to playgroups and local parenting meetups that happen on days other than Monday or Friday (which most don't -- it's all Tuesday and Thursday, it seems). It would be nice to be able to relax on the days he doesn't take a nap because I don't have several hours of work hanging over my head, that will now have to be done late at night. Hell, I might even be able to knit again! Or keep up with blogging. Or write that novel...

Any full-time working moms reading this are probably rolling their eyes right now, heh. I suppose the grass is always greener, eh?

Now I'd better get back to those vector calc lecture notes...
Does that even make sense? I've gone back and forth about putting Carter in preschool, and every time I decide it's not time yet. For one thing, we have an AMAZING nanny, and I want to hang on to her as long as possible. This semester, I'm organizing my schedule so that I work two days a week (all day, 7-5) and then spend the other three days at home with Carter.

I'm a strong believer in unstructured play-based learning for little ones, so I'm not really even sure that there is a point here. Carter knows a lot already, and he's learned it all just from play. He can identify the entire alphabet and is starting to be able to tell me what letter a word starts with just by sound. He can count to 12. He can identify at least 10 different geometric shapes. He can identify many, different animals and can replicate the sounds they make. He knows all the standard (10 or so) colors. He loves books and drawing and coloring and sign language. He's just starting to get into imaginative play. Et cetera.

So that tells me that what we're already doing is working fine, and that I don't need to worry about changing it up or adding any structure. And that's the whole point of unschooling, that kids can learn everything they need to know just by playing, and that adults should watch for opportunities to build on children's natural curiosity rather than impose artificial structures and concepts on them. We go to Gymboree play and music classes every week, and Carter has a swimming lesson once a week. He gets lots of time to explore and play outside, and has plenty of toys and books to play with inside. I try to go out somewhere with him most days, so he gets lots of stimulation.

But then I look at fantastic blogs like No Time For Flashcards and I think about all the cool things I could do with Carter to enhance his learning. But then, he's learning just fine already. You know? I have no idea what to do. My instinct is to lean towards unschooling approaches, but there is something in my mind that keeps suggesting I start making it more formal, like doing a "Letter of the Week" kind of thing.

Wisdom/validation from other moms would be appreciated. :-)
I've read many stories about people asking their toddlers if they remember being born, with the surprising result that many young children can recall details of their births that they would have no way of knowing otherwise. It's commonly believed that children don't remember much from their early childhoods, but research is starting show that isn't true.

So things like this really make me wonder how much Carter remembers. Does he remember being cut from my body far too early, isolated from human touch and warmth for so long? Does he remember painful procedures, the few blissful hours a day when he would sleep on my chest, the sound of the machines in the NICU?

When we brought him home from the hospital, he would not let us put him down. He demanded that we hold him 24/7 for months, and so we did. I think he was in constant contact with a human being for most of the first year of his life. He needed it so badly, and we were happy to provide him that security.

He hates loud noises, hissing sounds, and is incredibly disturbed by machines like vacuum cleaners, blenders, and hair dryers. He talks a lot about things that are "loud", many of which aren't actually that loud at all, but sort of hissing or continuous in nature, and I can't help but wonder if he is reminded of the sounds of machinery in the NICU when he hears those "loud" things.

I've often wondered what the legacy of his NICU stay would be, but it wasn't until now that I considered it might be something other than developmental. :-/
But not here, LOL. I'm doing it over on Carter's blog. I did it last year, and it was actually easier than I expected to post once a day. It's the best-documented month of his life post-NICU!

It will probably inspire me to post more here too, though.
Doug is the cook at our house, and he's a fantastic cook. But when he's gone (and he's often traveling for a week at a time), it falls back to me. I'm a decent cook, though not a great one. One of the qualities of good cooks that I just don't have is the creativity it takes to invent dishes. Doug has this in spades, but I really need a recipe to cook something. He could do one of those Top Chef challenges where you are given a twinkie, a tomato, and some cheese and have to make a gourmet appetizer from them. I would just sit there and stare blankly at the ingredients, you know?

But I decided a couple of years ago that I needed to start challenging myself to broaden my repertoire, and I started by mastering some classic Italian dishes that I love. One of them was risotto, and I quickly learned that I could be creative within the boundaries of a structured basic recipe. I can make risotto with whatever we have on hand, and it always turns out well. I need to find another basic recipe like that. (I'm open to suggestions!)

Another thing we did about a year ago to try to eat healthier was subscribe to Greenling, a service that delivers fresh produce from local farms (among other things). We get a "local box" every week of whatever is in season. It's been interesting to see what we get every week, and to challenge ourselves to cook with what we get.

It's zucchini season now, and we got two huge zucchinis in our box on Friday. I shredded both of them and used them to make two loaves of zucchini bread (I use Paula Deen's recipe, yum!), a batch of salmon-zucchini fritters for dinner (I combined a can of salmon and about a cup of shredded zucchini with bread crumbs and an egg, then formed patties and fried them), which were surprising good.

That still left me a cup of shredded zucchini, so this morning we had a zucchini frittata for breakfast. Frittatas are basically thick omelets, and you make them out of leftovers, traditionally. You saute your ingredients (in this case onions, zucchini, and some bits of deli sliced chicken I found in the fridge), then add 3 or 4 beaten eggs, let it cook until those are almost set, then top with some shredded cheese and pop the whole thing into a 425 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until it's done and the cheese is bubbly.

Carter LOVED the frittata, and gobbled up a lot of it. He wasn't as impressed with the zucchini bread, though. He tasted a bit, but it went on the floor fairly quickly.

I've also started making jello from fruit juice, which I feel better about giving him than the regular stuff. I heat 1 cup of fruit juice to boiling, then add one packet of plain Knox gelatin and stir until dissolved. Then I add one cup of cold fruit juice, and pour it in little cups like usual. It's a lot less sweet than regular jello, and doesn't have the other added artificial stuff. Carter seems to like it just as well! We've tried apple and grape juice so far, and both turned out well. I've had wine jello at a restaurant before, so now I'm thinking that would be a fun thing to try. Of course, that would be for me and Doug, hee. :-D
We were at Gymboree class this morning and I was talking to another mom whose baby was at most 9 months old. This baby was sitting unsupported, but not yet crawling. The mom told me about all the activities her baby was doing in addition to Gymboree, which included swim lessons (at the same place we go), preschool (I always find it weird when they call it preschool for kids under 3, but whatever), and dance classes.

Yes, her pre-crawling 9mo is taking dance classes. I didn't ask, and now I wish I had: WTH do you do with a baby that young in a dance class? Anyone know?

It's amazing how much there is to do around town even with infants. I'm a big proponent of letting kids have lots of unstructured time to play independently. I don't even like to show Carter how to use any of his toys; I want him to figure that out for himself and use his imagination. We play lots of silly games together, and I try really hard to just follow his lead.

But with that said, I really enjoy the Gymboree classes and the way they're designed to let the parent and child play together. There's very little structured sit-in-a-circle time at this age, 15 minutes max, and that seems about right. I'll contrast that to the library's toddler reading time we went to earlier this week, which lasted half an hour and was lots of fun, except that it was really too much for Carter to sit still and listen to stories for that long. The librarian insisted the children be quiet and still, and if your child wasn't cooperating, you were supposed to leave. That seemed a bit much to me, so I haven't decided yet if we'll go back. We might wait until he's a little older.

Other than Gymboree, we have our swimming lesson once a week, which is really awesome and something that was important to me. (We have a pool, and I want Carter to be able to swim in it.) Those lessons are also parent-child activities; he and I are both in the pool and I'm learning how to help him swim under the instructor's watchful eye. We also belong to the children's museum and try to go play there in the toddler room once a week. That's really more a change of scenery than anything else.

I'm currently working in the afternoons and have mornings with Carter, and if we wanted, we could literally go somewhere and do something every morning. That's nice because it's SO FREAKING HOT here now, and really not possible to play outside except in the pool. But it's also too bad because Carter loves to be outside, but after about 10 minutes he is sweaty and red-faced and whiny and saying "bye-bye" to the outdoors, literally. That's the nice thing about all these indoor playplaces this time of year. It'll be October before we'll really be able to play outside again...
Since Carter is heading rapidly toward toddlerhood, I've been doing some reading on discipline. I started out by reading The Discipline Book by Sears et al, which was a great read, but more about how you should base your disciplinary approach on your strong relationship with your child than any specific strategies. It started me down the path I was looking for, though.

So I branched out from Sears and started reading... )


Mar. 1st, 2009 10:32 pm
In one of the baby books I've read, the author suggests that you start letting your baby drink water from regular cups as soon as possible. Carter has been really interested in drinking from my cup lately, so I've started giving him water in his own cup to drink. He caught on surprisingly quickly, and he's much more interested in the regular cup than he ever was in a sippy cup.

Of course, giving a baby an open cup of water can have really funny results:

One of the things I'm going to do in the next couple of months is reflect on Carter's NICU experience. I'm going to start converting and posting video that no one other than Doug and I has seen before. It took me a year to feel like I was ready to do this, but here we go.

The videos below were taken January 13, 2008, almost exactly one year ago. Carter was 5 days old, and his weight had dropped down to its lowest, 1 pound, 12 ounces. He was born January 8, and I was released from the hospital January 11, so I was still recovering from my c-section here. We bought an HD video camera on the 12th, and this was the first day we used it. I took a lot of video of him up close, but it's hard to tell how tiny he is in many of those, oddly enough!

The first video shows us doing kangaroo care, which is when you hold the baby on your chest, skin-to-skin. It was something we would do for hours a day, and it was always the highlight of my day. Here you can really see how small and fragile he was. (Click on the "watch in HD" option for the best picture.)

This one I went back and forth on before deciding to post it. It shows a nurse drawing blood from Carter, something that is clearly uncomfortable for him. Even though it is hard to watch, I decided to post it for a couple of reasons. First, this was Carter's reality, and I think it's important to get a sense of just what these tiny babies go through. He had blood drawn daily in the early weeks, and then twice a week later on. Second, it's interesting to see how they do things like this. The NICU nurses are incredibly skilled. Still, it's hard to hear him cry and to think that even that premature, he was able to process what was happening to him and respond. It was only a couple of decades ago that doctors still believed babies this premature didn't feel pain, and would even perform surgery on them with no anesthesia. Horrible.

At this point, I was still reeling from the whole birth experience, and I don't think it had really sunk in that this was my baby and this was going to be my life for the next two months. He didn't look or feel or act like a baby at all then, and so it was hard for me to think of him as the newborn I'd dreamed of having for so long. I was also still settling into my routine of wake up, pump, go to the hospital, pump, hold Carter, pump, eat lunch, pump, etc., etc. I was still feeling it all out, and when I look at my face in the first video, I see that I have no clue what I'm in for. Interesting.

One year!

Jan. 9th, 2009 12:06 pm
One year ago yesterday, Carter was delivered and whisked off to the NICU, while I spent the next few days in the ICU recovering from severe pre-eclampsia. Despite my begging and arguing, it took more than 24 hours for a pump to be delivered to my room, and so it was one year ago today that I started pumping.

It took more than 5 months to get him fully transitioned to nursing, but he never had more than about a teaspoon of formula. We're doing BLW, and so he is still basically 80% BF. I love the fact that he is made almost entirely out of ME, that every part of him is made mostly from my body. And now we have earned this:

Some SFW pictures under the cut. )
(I was going to write up a separate post here about Carter's birthday, but instead I think I will crosspost what I wrote to him in his blog.)

A letter to my son on his first birthday. )
Carter is over 20 pounds and technically coming up on one year, and since my car has a tiny back seat, I had started thinking about when we might turn his seat around.

And then I watched this video:

So yeah, I'm not turning him around any time soon! I'm starting to think the solution might be a car with a bigger back seat. That Prius looks roomy...


Oct. 29th, 2008 09:26 pm

I'm going to do NaBloPoMo this year, but I will do it in Carter's blog. I think it will be fun to write something about him every day, actually. I usually post there whenever I have a cute picture or video, but as I look back over the posts, I'm finding that I wish I posted more everyday details. He's growing up so fast, and some things are jut not being written about because I'm focusing on photos and such. So that's my goal: post more about the little things.

His blog has an LJ feed here, if you're interested. :-)

9 months!

Oct. 8th, 2008 05:05 pm
Carter is 9 months old today, amazing as that sounds. Which means we have almost earned this:

I didn't start pumping until the 10th, technically, but still. Nine months!
Carter really likes watching the speeches. I think he probably just likes to watch the faces on the big screen, but it's still very cool to see my son's face light up when Al Gore speaks. :-D

Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] lolobama, hee!
This morning Carter had his 6 month well baby visit with his pediatrician, Jill Nichols of the Austin Diagnostic Clinic. Up until today, I've been happy with Dr. Nichols. But this morning she told me he was old enough to start sleeping through the night, and that I should start cutting out his night feeds. When I told her it wasn't a problem for me, that I didn't mind nursing him twice at night (for ten minutes each time), she lit into me. I argued back, because after all I've actually read a lot of the research that contradicted what she was saying. We went around and around about cosleeping: she thinks Carter sleeps in a cosleeper sidecarred to our bed (I started lying about that one after the first visit when she made her opinion on bedsharing clear), and she thinks that's bad because OMG he might still be sleeping in our room when he's two!; nursing at night: she said it would cause tooth decay, despite the fact that there's not much evidence to support that for breastfeeding infants; pushing him to sleep through the night: she thinks I'm doing him permanent damage by "conditioning" him to wake up to eat overnight, despite the fact that research suggests human babies NEED to eat overnight, and so on.

When it became clear that I wasn't going to back down, she said, "Well, I'm very anti-attachment parenting. I think it's a horrible way to parent and produces children who are clingy and far too dependent on their parents." At that point, my jaw dropped, and I stopped talking. I decided there was really nothing more I could say to her. She checked over him, but I only nodded or shook my head at her from there on out. She came back and apologized before we left,
and said she had strong opinions and understood that I might disagree with them, but I still left the appointment thinking this was no longer the best pediatrician for my family.

I will only see her for a few minutes every few months, but I don't feel like I can be open with her now. I'm afraid I won't be inclined to tell her things I probably should, because I'll be concerned that she's judging my parenting. So I think it's time to move on. (I posted about this on a local AP group, and already have several recs for new peds, all of whom are much closer to my house anyway.)

But still, yuck. You know? I'm completely confident in my parenting choices, but it's still no fun to be confronted in that way. I'm thinking I might send her an email when we transfer to explain (in a very reasonable way, of course) why I'm leaving the practice. Or should I just quietly slink away?

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