Monday, March 27, 2017

Ellis At Two Months

Ellis is 2 months old! He's 23" ; that's 3" in 60 days! He weighed in at 11 pounds and 4 oz. at this last doctor's appointment (he got shots! Ouch!) 

Hey Mom-readers (and not-Mom Readers)! How are you doing? Are you like me, tired of everyone telling you about how their baby never cries, sleeps a solid nine hours and can go on vacation to France with nary a hiccup?  Don't worry. I'm not here to tell you that.  I am here to tell you, it is okay if your baby- or any baby- isn't the next incarnation of Buddha; that he doesn't sleep through the night at two weeks; heck, can't handle a trip to the grocery store. You are still good parents and nothing is incurable about your kid. 

Colic, we've discovered is a real thing. So, yeah, you've guessed it, there's a lot of crying and whimpering at our house. Our little Ellis' colic seems to stem from a digestive system that is still getting the hang of things. He's also pretty "high maintenance"  in that he knows what he likes and wants and isn't afraid to tell you about it. However, he is quick to find things funny, and he is so, so alert and incredibly curious. He has been since day one. He wants to be up where he can see things and on the move. When he's not having stomach pains, we've seen lots of smiles; I suspect a pretty funny guy is underneath all the tummy aches.


Our little dude has a seriously strong neck. He can hold it up on his own for quite a few minutes. He also showing a lot of real, or "social" smiles. Mommy and baby both find it hilarious when Ellis manages to imitate her by sticking out tongues at each other too. He's starting to make some cooing sounds and will sometimes grip things (mostly my hair).  

This guy loves his jams. He's a big Beatles fan; his favorite lullaby is "In My Life."  He loves to dance around the room, and, if that isn't possible, will try to move his arms to a beat (So Grandpa says, anyway!)  Ellis demands to be in the thick of things, and always wants to be carried so that he can see what is happening. It has to be walking about too; there is too much to see to stay in one place! Which is just like his daddy was as a baby, according to my mother-in-law. What is that saying about apples and trees? He is pretty friendly and content right now with other people. He wasn't sure of my dad's beard even a few weeks ago, but now seems to find it fascinating! Bath time is now tolerable but tummy time still is not.


We have been breastfeeding, but the doctor recommended trying formula to help with his stomach. He was taking a bottle up until he reached one month and has refused to since. This past weekend was when we started the hard switch to bottles. Wish us luck! 

Ellis sleeps in his crib now, swaddled. He's not a big fan of being swaddled, but it helps him immensely once he is asleep. Otherwise he will startle awake. His longest stretch of sleeping is usually about four and half hours, right after he is put down for the night. He typically has been fed 2-3 times at night; we shall see how night feeding with a bottle works out! 

As I shared in Ellis' birth story, the labor was really rough on my body. In all honesty, the postpartum recovery was harder than the pregnancy on me physically. I finally feel mostly recovered and have lost all pregnancy weight (more on both of these topics in the coming weeks). Right now though, I'm dealing with insomnia (any tips, new moms?) and migraine headaches. This too shall pass, though, right?

What is upmost on my mind right now, though, is going back to work. My maternity leave ends this week! Things have been a bit stressful about work this year, as there are a lot of upheavals and budget cuts, but  I am excited to see my students again. Ellis will be going to childcare; who will this been harder on (pretty sure it will be me!) I feel so blessed to have had the time off for maternity leave, to get to know this amazing, tiny person and have the time heal. Wish us luck as we enter into these new journeys and Ellis' third month.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rec Five: Children's Books with Strong Female Characters

Madeline- "They left the house at half past nine/ In two straight lines in rain or shine- /The smallest one was Madeline.” Nearly everyone will find, if they try, that they are able to recite these first few lines of the Madeline books. What makes Madeline so remarkable though isn't her enduring popularity, but that even though she is the smallest, she is still the bravest, saying "pooh pooh" to tigers at the zoo. She is kind, taking in stray dogs and stopping bullies, and a perfect example of what we want as a role model for girls and boys alike.

Oz books - Some people are surprised that that is more than one book about the magical land of Oz, but let me tell you something even more better- all the rest are far, far superior to the first. Part of that is the role that girls and women play in all of the books. L. Frank Baum was himself a suffragist, and purposely made his protagonists girls. Strong, and powerful women were sources of wisdom in his stories; girl rulers were nobel and kind; Dorothy- and other heroine's modeled after her- were plucky and had common sense. In one book even, two armies faced off and all the members of either side were girls! He did this because he felt it was important for women to be represented in literature, and tried to do just that when creating his "American Fairytales."

The Betsy-Tacy series - Another series that deserves far greater recognition than it gets, these books show the daily life of a two girls living in the early 1900s. Though technically fiction, the author, Maud Hart Lovelace, draws quite heavily from her own life to the point where it might be more accurate to say they are fictionalized memoirs. The first book starts when Betsy is five and future novels take her through childhood, high school, and eventually college, marriage and the world beyond. As she ages, the writing becomes more complex, allowing the reader to grow with the series. What I love most about these books is that all the women are individuals (since they are based on real people that is hardly surprising) with complex inner lives, and nearly all of them pursue jobs and dreams outside of the home, with the support of their families.

Eight Cousins and A Rose in Bloom- Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and its sequels are perhaps better known, but I love these two books. In real life Alcott was a feminist; she and her family had been part of the transcendentalist movement. Both of these facts put her in the same social circles as the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The characters in the books likewise espouse many of the same values and even quote some of her friends' works. Yet, it never comes across as preachy. Instead, Rose, other female characters, and the male characters are equally encouraged to make something of themselves, to have a purpose beyond that of leisure and family. Again, these are messages that I find very encouraging to young readers.

Emily of New Moon-  The whole world love's  Lucy Maud Montgomery creation, Anne of Green Gables. This book series is somewhat in the same vein, but here Montgomery draws more closely from her own childhood and young adult experiences as she chronicles the daily life of Emily. Like Montgomery did, Emily longs to be an author, a dream that sometimes put her at odds with society's expectations of women. Emily also deals with deep emotions as she and her friends struggle to find their right paths, a theme that I feel will resonate with readers.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Motherhood Musings: Breastfeeding Basket

I was not a breastfed baby.  So, despite the omnipresence of breastfeeding on any pregnancy forum, it was also not something I had strongly considered.... until my husband brought up that he felt it was important to breastfeed a baby. Please note:this is a hot-button topic to many, but each person has their own reasons for caring for their child as they do, so please refrain from negative commentary on people's choices). Oh, the debates that were had! Questions of health benefits, bonding experiences for both parents, convenience, money, and time all were rehashed. Doctors reassured me that either choice was a good choice- bottle or breastfed, what was important was that the baby was fed. Still, for a variety of reasons, I did in the end, choose to breastfeed. And by the end, I mean, we'd come to that decision only the last three weeks of the pregnancy. Not exactly a plethora of time to read up and find out the right way to do anything. Luckily, I and Ellis took to things easily enough.

Now, as my maternity leave draws to a close at the end of this month, we are switching to bottle and formula (once again, for a variety of reasons unique to our situations, so no commentary on that, please). We can only hope he takes to it as easily.  But before then, I wanted to share with you one tool I found particularly helpful: The breastfeeding basket.

1. Board Books | 2. Diabetic Supplies | 3. Nursing Pads | 4. Notebook | 5. Kleenex | 6. Lotion and Chapstick | 7. Nose bulb | 8. Drink | 9. Extra Burp Cloth. 

1. Board Books - It is never too early to start reading to your child. At this stage though, they can't see much, so don't get too hung up on things. We use about three books in regular rotation. All are simple with high contrast pictures to make it easier for the baby to see. 

2. Diabetic Supplies - Breastfeeding helps me regulate my blood sugar levels, but, since breastfeeding also takes a lot of energy, it is important to have my diabetic supplies close at hand to check on things and react, if needed. 

3. Nursing Pads - Your body is amazing. It is also a bit gross and things can leak. These can help keep your clothes looking great. 

4. Notebook - This can help you remember all those little things, like recording when your baby slept, or sweet moments, like when the baby first smiled. 

5. Kleenex - Your immune system is lower right after giving birth. Be prepared. 

6. Lotion and Chapstick - It is easy to become dehydrated breastfeeding, which can lead to dry skin. Stay ahead of the game here. 

7. Nose bulb - It could be used to clean out baby noses, but we used to to help suck out spit-up. Use for one or the other. Not both because- ew. 

8. Drink - As we said, it is easy to become dehydrated breastfeeding. This nifty straw and cup came from the hospital. It is nicer than a sports bottle because I don't have to lift it up and yet it doesn't spill. 

9. Extra Burp Cloth- babies spit up. Have an extra on hand, so you don't ruin your clothes. 

Not pictured but still important: 

Snacks- I had both a low-carb snack and a snack I could eat if I was becoming hypoglycemic. Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy and quickly changing blood sugar levels are possible. Even if you are not diabetic though, it is good to have snacks as you need to replenish your own energy levels. 

Wallet and Phone- A phone provides communication and entertainment. Especially in the early days, you maybe physically be up to moving around much, so having the world at your finger tips is helpful. Likewise, your wallet has mony, credit cards and your health insurance card. As you get all the paperwork for your baby finished (like, say, ordering birth certificates!), you want these in easy reach. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cinema Style: Designing Woman

Designing Woman may be a repackaged version of Woman of the Year... but the plot is besides the point. It is really a film all about the clothes, something Gregory Peck's character comes to understand when the wife he's known all of three days discards her casual wear for, well, this ensemble. As the film's costume designer put it, Lauren Becall had a body made to wear clothes, and that is put to advantage in a number of pencil skirted dresses. A conservative neckline keeps things classy, and the accessories do the rest. Pearl earrings, mink stole and a structured bag complete the look. You have to pretty confident in your style to pull off red-on-red monochromatic look like Becall does here. With confidence as the main accessory, everything else is kept pretty minimal with only a subtle watch added to the ensemble. The focus in on the color. Another wiggle dress is seen, and a swing coat with three quarter sleeves adds enough drama on its own. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

10 Productive Things to do in 15 minutes or less

Lay out your clothes

Write several Thank You notes

De-clutter your wallet

Watch a TED Talk video

Update your resume

Toss dinner in the crock pot

Learn a new language with Duolingo

Call, text or email a friend

Get up and stretch, especially if you've been working on the computer all day

Unsubscribe to unwanted emails (try Unroll.Me to help!)
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