Tuesday, December 18, 2012

5 Months Old

How do you describe the incredible feeling of having a child to someone that doesn't have one? I ask that question because I am beginning to realize that as a new mother I still barely understand the answer. My life these past months has been a whirlwind of overwhelming feelings and experiences. Some of them have been frustrating and difficult but most have been full of wonder and joy. All of it has been hard...and tiring.

In November we took our first trip on a plane down to California to visit my family. It went very well and Elora barely fussed. We did learn pretty quickly that bringing the stroller and car seat is both a pain in the ass and surprisingly easy. This is because our stroller is entirely too large but the airport makes bringing it easier then you'd expect with free gate checking. We ended up purchasing a stroller 'frame' when we got home. This is a very light weight frame that our car seat securely snaps into. It weighs maybe five pounds and takes up much less space in the car.

During the trip many of my family members got to meet Elora for the first time; namely my mother, father, and siblings.

We risked the Donner Pass to visit my mother's family in Reno, Nevada and then had a lovely Thanksgiving with my father's family in Modesto. All in all it was a very good trip and I wish it would have been longer.

Mommy's little turkey!

Once we got back from our trip, we decided to start trying to sleep train. We came to this decision because Elora was spending most of the night in our bed and was waking up to eat every hour. I was getting very little sleep and it was starting to show. The first week of training was crippling for me. I was up almost all night and what little sleep I got was at odd angles in the chair in the nursery. Mike, I'm happy to report, slept very well. In about a week we went from her sleeping in a pack & play in our room or in our bed and waking up once an hour to eat, to sleeping in her own bed and eating twice a night. I still bring her into our bed for the last two hours or so of the morning but that's more for my benefit then hers. Also, we were able to adjust her bed time from trying to put her down at 10pm and then struggling with it until midnight or so to a consistent bed time routine of bottle-story-bed at 8:30. I'd say all in all it really helped us but I did learn an important lesson: I have to follow my own instincts as a mother. I'm not as comfortable as I thought I'd be with the cry-it-out techniques. It's painful to hear my baby cry and I really didn't see much of a benefit in letting her howl pathetically for hours like our pediatrician suggested. I am fine giving her a few minutes to try and settle herself but then I'll go and comfort her in some way. The hardest thing for her to learn was that comfort didn't necessarily mean eating. The books I've read and the advice I've gotten suggests that she should be able to sleep through the night without feeding at all but, honestly, I'm happy where we are now. The training was almost harder on me then it was her and I got to the point where I was getting severely exhausted and depressed. Maybe we'll try again in a few months when we've both had a chance to recover.

I've always love the holiday season but this year having her gives me even more of a reason to go all out. The adorable outfits and accessories are definitely more for my benefit then hers. That said, I think it is incredibly important to have these memories recorded to show her how important she is to us and what an integral part of our lives she was.

A few days ago a terrible tragedy occurred at an elementary school on the other side of the country from us. 20 innocent first graders were gunned down while attending school in Connecticut. I've found since I've had Elora that mortality has hit me harder. Even before this horrible event I was having anxiety attacks about even the idea of something bad happening to Elora. It's so terribly hard for me to even think of being without her now. I can not even imagine what the families of those children are going through and I hope I never do know. I feel so strongly for those poor people.

I love my life. I am not by nature a very religious person but I find myself praying every day that this will not end. That my child and my husband will not be taken from me. That I can have peace from this terrible anxiety that something bad might happen any day. As hard as these feelings are on my nerves I am learning to appreciate and enjoy every day I have.

Lord, please just let me see her grow.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Four Month Checkup

We celebrate Elora's fourth month in the world with, as usual, measurements and vaccinations.

Weight: 13lb4.oz (25-50%)
Height: 25.5" (75-90%)
Head Circumference: 16" (25-50%)

Rolling over; front-to-back, and capable (but not interested) in back-to-front.
Can hold her head and torso up easily while on her tummy.
Tracking - can easily follow our voices with both her eyes and her head.
Can get a hand or individual digits in her mouth.

Recent accomplishments:
She can get things reliably into and out of her mouth, though not necessarily orient them as desired.
FEET! She has recently discovered that she can reach her feet, and can get her toes into her mouth.

These are far better than the binky!
Sleep training. She is starting every night now in her super bedroom, rather than in our bedroom. A strict 9pm bedtime, preceded with a bottle and a bedtime story. She is actually taking quite well to being put down - often asleep within 20 minutes with minimal visits. She's not sleeping through the night yet, but we are making progress.

Various holiday pictures incoming.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Two months old!

Elora will be two months old in two days. It's been an amazing, tiring ride so far. I am very happy to report, however, that there have been MANY more ups then downs. The first couple of weeks were made much easier with the help of my grandmother, Judy, staying with us. She was always ready and willing to hold Elora so I could sleep, pump, shower, or just collect my wits. Everything certainly turned a bit upside down when she left but we quickly learned the cope. The first thing I'm happy to report is that Elora sleeps very well at night. We can often get 5-6 straight hours of sleep before she wakes up for her first feeding. It isn't always easy GETTING her to sleep but once she's down she stays there. She's not the kind of baby we have to worry about tip toeing around.

From her first week of life we've had no problems taking her out of the house to restaurants and to visit friends. We are careful of her in crowds and discourage strangers from handling her.

All in all, she's been a wonderful baby and a joy to have around. We're really just focusing on enjoying these early days as a family and there's really not too much to report. She's growing entirely too quickly and it seems like it's passing in the blink of an eye. Here's her one month pictures and I'll post her two month when I take them on Sunday. :)

Bows and Barrettes

It happened! While out and about the town a sweet, well-meaning grandmotherly type approached Elora and I and asked, "How old is he?" He? HE!? SHE was dressed all in pink and had a pink blanket over here. I mean, I know she still has that round, bald generic baby look so I wasn't particularly offended...just a little sad. I decided that the only way to rectify the situation was to start having Elora wear more cute bows. There might be better solutions to the 'problem' but this is what I came up with. Now, there was one major speed bump to my plan: the poor little thing really doesn't have much hair. This, I determined, is easily solved by making flowers and bows that can easily be clipped to a plain headband.

Since I became a dog groomer I started a collection of various ribbons and embellishments so I already had a good stash of supplies to start my project. I religiously stalk Michael's and Joann Fabrics to take advantage of the sales, clearances, and coupons. Because of this, all the supplies in the picture below cost under $40.

 Babies scalps are delicate and I knew it could be an issue for a metal clip to rub against her head even while attached to a headband. So, I selected an alligator style clip (found in the jewelry making part of the craft store), some white grosgrain ribbon, and plugged in my glue gun. I then glued the ribbon over the clip to give it a softer surface. I didn't bother making this particular step all that neat or perfect as the clips really won't be seen beneath the flower or bow. My tips for this part of the process are 1) don't burn yourself with hot glue like I did and 2) make sure your baby is happy and fed BEFORE you plug in your glue gun.

 After I had a handful of clips covered, I started in on the creating process. The first thing I did was select the center embellishment I wanted for my flower clip. These charms and beads can usually be found in the jewelry making section of the craft store as well. I highly recommend waiting for sales or coupons as they can be pricey otherwise.

Then I selected my flower. This entire bouquet of fake flowers only cost me 50 cents on clearance at Michael's. My favorite time to shop are in between the seasons and right after holidays. My favorite time being right after Valentine's day and Christmas.

In a bouquet like this, each flower is attached to an individual plastic and wire stem that is then attached to large, central 'stem' that holds them all together. This might seem like a job for wire cutters but you're in luck! These flowers easily pop right off of their stems. The flowers themselves usually consist of several fabric layers to make them look more full and real. These layers are held together by the flower's center and base. these also easily pull apart. Getting the flower part of your barrette from a dissected bouquet like this is MUCH cheaper then buying the flowers that are actually marketed for barrette making.

Now, unfortunately at this point I burned the bajeezus out of myself and wasn't able to get any good pictures but the next steps are simple. This flower consisted of four layers. I used hot glue to attach the bottom two together at the center. I then arranged white flowers and glued them in between the second and third layers. Then, I glued on the top layer and hot glued my center embellishment to that. Finally, I hot glued the flower to one of my clips. Here's the finished product:

It turned out really pretty but it's definitely large. I'll save it for when the baby is a bit older. If I want something she can wear now, I need to make something a bit smaller. So, I selected some more flowers...

..then took them apart and Frankensteined them back together with a center embellishment.

And then I continued this process a few more times...

I also threw together a cute, sparkly bow....

When I was done I ended up with a nice start on a girly barrette collection. It's a fun, easy hobby to work on in between feedings and diaper changes. I was able to keep my baby close to me the whole time so I could easily replace her binky when it happened to fall out. I think next I'll start working on some pretty holiday bows and flowers.

For some fun, free instructions on bow making I recommend: http://www.girlythingsbows.com/
And for wholesale supplies if you don't happen to have a craft store near you I recommend: http://thehairbowcompany.com/

"No one's gonna mistake me for a boy now!"