Friday, June 21, 2013

Fun at 5 Months!

Our tiny defenseless newborn is turning into a skilled self-sufficient infant! MAKE IT STOP! She keeps growing despite our efforts to keep her in tiny little baby land! :)

Stats: We think she weighs about 15 pounds and is probably around 25.5 inches long! That's based on weighing her on our home scale and the way she is filling out her clothes length-wise. That means she has already gained about 2 pounds and grown an inch since her 4 month check up! Solid foods will do that to a kid, I suppose!

Schedule: As noted in an earlier post, Maleah is now eating on a 3.5 hour schedule. We are hoping she will stretch to 4 hours sometime in the coming month. The 3.5 thing is tough! Right now, a day looks like this (with naps in between feedings):

7am - Feed 2-3 tbsp oatmeal mixed with 1/2-1 container fruit, 4-ish ounces of formula; finish the rest of bottle around 7:45
10:30 - Feed 5-6 oz formula
2:00 - Feed 5-6 oz formula
4:45 - Feed 3-4 oz formula
7:00 - Feed 1 container fruit or vegetable, 3-4 oz of formula; finish the rest of bottle right before bed

Do you see anything missing? How about THE DREAM FEED! No more 10:15 p.m. dream feed. More on that in a moment.

Eating: This past week, Maleah had a growth spurt. She was hungry (and we fed her, obviously!) around 10:00 and 1:20 and 4:00 for a few days instead of 10:30/2/4:45. We upped her bottle to have 6 ounces, as well. She has taken 5.5-6 ounces the past few days and gone back to the "regular" schedule. Hooray! She also dropped the dreamfeed. We have skipped it a few times in recent weeks to just see how she would do, and she always woke up around 3/4 am hungry. So she wasn't ready. Well, last Tuesday, Blake didn't get home from watching the NBA Final game until after 11 and I was already in bed. He thought I had done the dreamfeed; I thought he did it when he came in. Neither of us did it - but she slept through until 7am. So, we didn't do it the next night or the next or the next. The past couple of days she has woken up early (between 5-6am) hungry, but we think it's because she isn't finishing her 7pm bottle. So, we have to work on that this week!

Solids: Solids foods are... eh. I keep reminding myself that this point in their life is just practice for solid foods. Not that I'm eager for her to chomp down on some solids, but it's difficult sometimes to balance the solids with the formula. Too much solids and she won't take the milk. Too little solids and she doesn't get full enough. We're all still learning and just figuring out what works. So far, she has eaten squash, sweet potato, carrots, peas, banana, and pears! We just experiemented with everything - some we put in the oatmeal, some she ate without, thinner, thicker, with formula, no formula. I feel like I'm on Chopped trying to figure out a new recipe at each meal time! I am planning on making some homemade baby food this weekend, but am waiting to make any big batches until we move into the new house so we don't have to worry about transferring frozen food.

Activity: Maleah has recently started purposefully grabbing and holding on to toys placed within reach. And of course, once she's grasped the toy, it goes directly into her mouth. Babies are like sharks in that way - they need to nibble at everything to see if it's good to eat! It's so fun to watch her see something and then reach for it. At first, her arms were robot-like, as if she was having to tell her brain, "Move up, okay over a little bit this way; no, no, too far; okay now up..." It was so cute. Now she's a little more fluid, but still you can see that her brain is working hard to get those little arms in the right place. She is also doing well at grasping objects. She doesn't seem to get too frustrated easily, so she'll keep grabbing until she gets ahold of what she wants. She's also starting to be able to put her pacifier in her mouth!

Sleeping: Nap story is same-old, same-old. They're all over the place while she's at daycare but it's all good! At home, she naps like a champ. Shows signs of sleepiness, gets cuddled for a few minutes, and BOOM - she's in the crib and headed off to dreamland. And she will sleep around 1.5 hours total at home. Nighttime sleep is great. After her bath, we read a book to her and let her finish her bottle (if she'll take it!). She's usually totally ready to go to sleep by 7:45. She used to let me rock her to sleep, but now she fights me so I rock her for a few minutes and put her down awake. She sleeps from 7:45 until 7 most days which is great and sad all at the same time.

For a while, she would cry around 3/4 am because she wanted her pacifier. Now it's about 5:15 that she lets out a cry, we give her the paci, and she's back to sleep. I wake up at 5:20 so it's not a big deal. I think she'll eventually stop doing that but for now it's not a problem for us. Since she is at daycare all day long, I kinda treasure those moments in the wee hours of the morning!

Personality: Maleah seems to be a really sweet, content little girl. She doesn't fuss too much unless she needs something. She seems to really like people, although she is not quick to laugh! It seems like she's got to be in the right mood to crack up at something! She is also a little studier. She does really well to sit and look at a book or stare at your face or at a toy. Like all babies, she is figuring out the world and she is so interested in everything she sees!

Misc: This is random, but at the suggestion of a mom-friend, we no longer use the baby monitor. Maleah is just in the next room and we can definitely hear her when she cries. With the monitor - even on its lowest setting - we could hear EVERYTHING. And it would drive me nuts! Plus we were running in to calm her for the tiniest of whimpers. Babies make noise in their sleep - some (like Maleah) even let out little cries - but they don't actually need anything. They may be dreaming or moving from one sleep cycle to the next. So, we haven't used the monitor in weeks and everyone is getting good sleep at our house!

Me: Being the mom of a 5-month-old is A LOT easier than being a mom of a 2-month-old! Maleah is so much more predictable now and we have a much easier time figuring out what's wrong when disruptions happen. And, now that we aren't doing the dream feed anymore, I can go to bed earlier which is really helping my mood! I am not a night-owl, that's for sure!!! Blake and I are working on finding ways for me to be able to fit in exercise again, but it's really hard. I want to be home so badly with her that I don't like going or doing anything without her until she's in bed - that's 8pm. By 8pm, I am exhuasted! And I already wake up at 5:20 a.m. and am running out the door at 7:45. I can't imagine getting up any earlier! But, this is just a short season and soon I'll be able to take her with me to exercise!

We are so happy to be parents of this sweet little baby girl! It won't be long before she is moving around and finds her independence, so we are treasuring these moments of infancy!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Stop Trying So Hard

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am enough just the way I am. I try so hard sometimes to gain other people's approval. It's exhausting. There's nothing wrong with wanting to achieve a little self-improvement from time to time, but after a while you know who you are at your core and there's really just no changing it. That's where I am today.

Take for instance the topic of fashion. Look, I know what looks good. I just can't always afford what looks good! What little allowance I do have for clothes gets spent on necessities (like a new pair of black sandals since my five-year-old Payless sandals bit the dust Sunday!!!) or on thrift/consignment/clearance finds. So, I'm not always always first on the fashion train. Usually I'm on the caboose - right about the time the trendy stuff hits the clearance rack.

Or how about cooking? I mean have you noticed how people are super obsessed with cooking these days? Read this next sentence in the most pompous voice your brain can create: "Oh yes, tonight I am serving seared salmon flavored with home-grown herbs and locally grown organic oven-roasted purple potatoes with flat-leaf spinach and goat cheese." If that's what you're cookin' on a busy Thursday night, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me your secret!!! I LOVE to cook but lately my dinners have been less-than-fantastic. Last night we had ground turkey patties (w/ onion soup mixed in for flavor), rice, frozen steam-in-the-bag green beans. Kind-of boring, but actually more delicious than I anticipated! I just can't deliver an everything-from-scratch FoodTV-worthy dinner every night!

Then there's always, always the issue - for me - of being busy. Everyone's here and there doing this and that and where am I? Sitting on my couch. And I am not doing something cool like knitting my own toe socks or reading one of the classics or sipping fancy tea or DIY-ing ANYTHING. I am propped on my couch in leggings and a tank top watching reruns of Family Ties. I lead an exciting life, I tell ya.

So sometimes I get a little bummed out that I'm not the most fashionable, culinarily gifted, adventurous person that I imagine I could be. But then I look at Maleah and think that she could really care less about all of those things. All she cares about is that I'm her mommy and I love her to pieces and part of the reason I'm so boring is because most of my energy is focused on her!!! And I look at Blake... who is happily sitting beside me on the couch (still wearing shoes, because he is weird and wears shoes until time for bed) watching reruns with me after eating yet another tasty but unexciting dinner.

So who is it exactly that I am trying to impress? I don't really know. Because the two people I care about most in this world are already impressed with me. Not because I can do all these amazing wonderful things. But just because I'm me. And "Me" loves them big time.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday Confessional: I Once Failed a Class to Watch Family Feud

Last winter, some people in our Sunday School class played "Never Have I Ever." I LOVE this game. But, my husband thought it would be funny to pick me out every time it was his turn.

"I have never had a new car since turning 16." (I'm on #4.)

"I have never worked in a fast food restaurant."(Subway, for like 2 months. ALTHOUGH, Blake Ball DID work at Chuck E. Cheese as a teenager!!!)

"I have never failed a college course". (UGH!!!)

THANKFULLY I was not the ONLY person who had to get up, but I definitely had the worst reason for having actually FAILED - and I DO MEAN failed - a college class.

It was Biology, and I actually really liked the class. But, you see, it was scheduled for EXACTLY the same time as Family Feud!!! I was the only one out of my friend group that had a class at this hour and so they were all at home watching Family Feud together and I had to go to boring Biology.

It started with one skip. "Give the devil an inch..." You don't have to tell me. Then it was twice in one week. Then maybe another time. And before you knew it I had completely ignored my Biology class and spent my time screaming "Number one answer on the board is...." and "Let's Play THE FEUD!" and "Surrrrrvey Says...!!!". By the time I actually cared about my biology grade, it was too late to drop the course and too late to pull it up much higher. I took the final, bombed it, and failed the whole class!

Y'all. This was just so dumb of me! I have to admit this was Semester SIX of college - I should've known better. But, you have to remember, I hated the first three years of my college experience because I had NO CLUE what I wanted to do and had no motivation to do well in most of my classes.

This is when I decided to take a break. I took three semesters off from college before going back. I was determined to finish a degree, but I just needed some time to get my act together! When I went back, I made just ONE "B" in three years. And that was because my finite math instructor clucked like a chicken and also I was trying to read the second Twilight book and opted out of some of my homework. So, that means I made more A's in college than anything else.

Oh, and I took biology again and made an A. :)

Technically I graduated from UA with a 4.0 and my diploma does say I graduated summa cum laude. My overall GPA is somewhere in the 3.5's. So, all in all, I think I did pretty well after I finally decided what I wanted to get a degree in. Only trouble is - now I don't really use that degree!!! But, I will, one day. I promise. Blake & I have a plan but we have to get through his PhD first. :)

Anyway, there's my funny confession of the week. :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday Confessional: I am on Facebook WAAAAAY too much!

Okay, that's not really a secret! Slow days at work give me plenty of opportunity to catch up on everyone's Facebook lives. :)

The past few weeks of my little confessions have been pretty negative. Didn't like my wedding photos, didn't like certain TV shows, don't like fast food... so I wanted to do a little positive spin on this series and give you something to actually smile about! So today's confession is a GOOD one: I have short hair.

Okay, that's not really a secret either, is it?

Hmm... what to share, what to share? How about this: We are moving!!!

Also not a secret.

Gee, it's really hard to find something to share that isn't totally embarrassing. So, I guess I will go with "totally embarrassing".

I sing and talk in the car. Like, ALL THE TIME. I will stop if I get to a red light and am surrounded by other cars, but most of the time I am singing or chit-chatting with myself while I drive. Now, I know I'm not the ONLY person in the world who does it but I've been caught a few different times and it's pretty embarrasing! Now that I carry Maleah around in the car people probably assume I'm talking to her, but... I'm probably not!

So what do I sing? Well, every morning when I get in my car, I start out singing some sort of worship song or hymn. Lately it's "Wonderful, Merciful Savior" or "Revive Us Again" or "Praise the King". In the afternoons, it's usually some pop song. Like Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors" - Maleah says she likes that song. :)

What do I talk about? What don't I talk about!? In college, I would literally answer interview questions. Not kidding. I practiced interviewing over and over and over. Sometimes I talk to myself about life or something I want to do in the future. It's just a time I can think out loud and talk without being interrupted or questioned. One of my friend's husbands recently caught me doing this and he said I was even using my hands while I was talking!!! That was probably when I was saying all the things I wanted to say to someone in particular but will not say to them in person. :)

So if you see me out driving and it looks like I am having a conversation with myself, well, I probably am. And now that you all know, I feel less ashamed and will probably be doing it more often!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Body Post-Baby

It's been many years since I have looked in a mirror and cringed at my reflection. Not because I had a flawless body pre-Maleah, but just because I had learned to love myself. My "fat knees" (thank you, Mitchell genetics) and flabby triceps just didn't bother me all that much. It took a very long time, but I had finally come to terms with the fact that this was my body, I was healthy, and I should be proud. So I was - for a long time.

While I was pregnant, I was basically in love with my body! I think the hormones worked wonders for my self-esteem! I remember feeling disgusting around 37 weeks, but then felt beautiful during weeks 38 & 39. I loved looking at my belly - so much so that I think I ignored everything else! I only gained about 26 pounds, but that's a lot for someone who is 5 foot 3. And after Maleah was born, it only took a few weeks to drop about 20 pounds (thanks to nursing!). Now those last 5-6 pounds are just lingering and they're beginning to drive me crazy.

But, as they say, everything changes after the baby. At first I was just amazed that I didn't have a big gut anymore. But, as the weeks passed and those 5-6 pounds held on with all their might and I STILL couldn't fit into most of my regular clothes, I started to feel the all-too-familiar cringe whenever I looked in the mirror. Now, I know most people would think 5-6 pounds is nothing. And, honestly, I don't really care about the numbers. I care about how I feel. And right now I don't feel like I did before - not at all.

In April, I had to go to physical therapy for knee pain. They did all sorts of exams on my knee and found nothing wrong with the joint itself. The problem was my quad muscles. For whatever reason, the muscles in my right thigh were not nearly as strong as the left and it was causing my knee to misalign. Huh?? I had never had any problems like that before Maleah, but I assume it was due to doing a lot more sitting/resting after she was born instead of being up and moving. That was the first huge hit to my ego - feeling dumb for letting my muscles get so weak.

I have also had some lingering health issues that concern me a little. I still have pain and tightness in my chest - I assume it is from the pneumonia I had after delivery, but I will talk to my doctor about it during my physical early next month. I also have had some strange headaches, tingling sensations in my neck and feet, and pains in my abdomen. All things I never experienced before having a baby.

Sometimes it worries me that it's been four and a half months and I'm still not "the same". Blake and I have plans for a large family, but I wonder if things are this bad after just one pregnancy, how will they be after a second or third? But I am beginning to realize I will never be the same. And that's okay. This body carried and birthed a beautiful baby and I should be proud of its battle scars.

I'm also having to realize that my life is much different than it was before being pregnant. These days I work a desk job - I'm having to reduce my caloric intake to match my activity level. I'm also having to work harder to fit more intentional physical activity into my day. Blake and I are working on continuing to eat healthier meals and to try to encourage one another to be active.

But, most of all, I'm just learning how to love myself again. Learning how to look in the mirror and appreciate what this body has been through so much that its flaws become invisible to me like they were before.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Day in the Life: Part 2

I knew as soon as I wrote this, things would change. And I was right! Here we are just under a month later, and Maleah's little routine has already changed thanks to the introduction of solid foods. This post, like the last, is mostly for my own' memory's sake, but maybe it'll help a new mom out there!

So, yeah, we started solid foods. Right at the 4-month mark. I wasn't planning on starting so soon, but she took right to it! We fed her oatmeal cereal at her 7pm evening feeding for about five days and then started her on it for breakfast and dinner. I know most people just feed them at one feeding for a week or two and then add the second feeding, but again, she just seemed to be ready for it. In the mornings, she wants a little of her bottle first (an ounce or so) since she hasn't eaten since 10 the night before. But then she'll eat about 2 tablespoons of oatmeal and then the rest of her bottle (4-5 ounces total). This coming Friday, we're going to try out a vegetable. Haven't decided which yet, but I'm thinking sweet potatoes or carrots. I want to make our own baby food, but I think I'll buy the pre-made kind at first so I can see what she likes and how much so I'll know what to make (and in what quantity).

Maleah is a good napper at home and a so-so napper at daycare. Some days she sleeps great at daycare, others not-so-much. But we don't worry about it too much unless she's super fussy (which she really isn't). She has moved to taking only 3 naps, but still needs the 4th nap (sometime between 5:30-7pm) every now and then. We just play that by ear.

Sleeping at Night
Someone's a thru-the-night gal now! Last week she woke up a couple of nights around 3 am to eat, and we fed her, of course! It was a little worrisome because she'd been sleeping so well for several weeks, but she hasn't done it since, so I suspect it was a little growth spurt. We do have issues with the pacifier - she usually cries around 3/4 am for someone to come find the paci for her. Part of me wants to break this habit and let her cry it out and self-soothe, the other part of me doesn't really mind it. Since we don't get to see her during the day, it is nice to have that couple minutes of time at night when we get to soothe her back to sleep. So the plan for now is to let her keep the paci. If this is still a problem once we know she can find the paci & put it in her mouth herself, we might try to break her of it during the night time. We'll see.

Potty Stuff
They weren't kidding when they said her poops would change. I hate to post about this, but... you know you want to know!!! Right now she seems to be "going" in the morning. She used to go at daycare, which was great because that meant someone else got to change the poopie diapers!!! But now it looks like it'll be on us... great! It smells, it's gross looking, and she laughs the whole time we're cleaning her up. Babies!

Schedule - now going about 3.5 hours!
7am - wake up, change diaper, feed 2 tbsp oatmeal & 4-5 oz formula
10:30 am - feed 4-5 oz formula (nap 12-2-ish)
1:45/2 pm - feed 4-5 oz formula (nap 3:30-4:45-ish)
4:45 pm - feed 4-5 oz formula (nap 30-45 min if she needs it around 6-ish)
7pm - feed 2 tbsp oatmeal & 4-5 oz formula then bath, book, finish bottle (she sometimes only takes 3 oz after eating the oatmeal at this time), sing, sleep!
10:15pm - dream feed

*I know it seems weird that we would feed her at 4:45 when 3.5 hours would be 5:30. When we tried to feed her at 5:30, she didn't eat as well at 7pm and it caused a lot of problems (she was uber-fussy). Plus, I get off work at 4:45 and pick her up at 5. Otherwise I'd wait until 5, so it would have been 3 hours since the last feeding. But, this is working and she will take anywhere from 3-5 ounces at 4:45 and then be satisfied until 6:45/7 pm for dinner.

Thoughts on the Dream Feed
I'm not totally sure how to stop the dream feed, to be honest! I've read lots of different things about ending the DF and nothing totally makes sense to me. One thing says wait until they're on a 4 hour schedule (which she's not ready for yet). Another says we should've already dropped it. One says to drop it cold turkey. Another says "wean" by dropping it an ounce at a time. Honestly, my parenting theory is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Currently the DF works - we missed it one night b/c we fell asleep and she woke up starving at 3am - so we're going to keep doing it for a while longer. Lately she has been chugging the DF, so she apparently still needs that additional feeding.

My Schedule
I've written about the difficulties of getting everything in while you have a baby, so I wanted to toss in a little bit of how I get things done:
5:30 a.m. - Wake up, shower, do make up
5:55-6:25 - fix coffee, Bible study
6:25-6:45 - unload dishwasher, prep bottles & diaper bag, fix lunch
6:45-7 - quick chores (fold a load of clothes, spot clean counters, etc)
7 - Maleah time!
After she's eaten & been changed, I sometimes do a few more chores while she watches. Or I play with her and watch the news. Just whatever we feel like at this point!
7:30 - Finish getting myself ready & get breakfast together
7:45 - leave for work (soon this will be 7:35 since we'll live farther away! BOO!)
5:15 p.m. - come home, play with Maleah, start dinner
6-ish - eat dinner, clean up dinner, straighten up kitchen, play with Maleah if she's awake
7-8pm - nighttime routine w/ Maleah
8pm - wash face (I have to do it now or I will honestly forget before bed!!!), do chores
9pm - free time! (aka fall asleep until 10:15)
10:15 pm - dream feed & bedtime!

And that's life!!! Maleah is super fun right now - lately she has been REALLY chatty and gets REALLY loud!!! Lots of squealing and Chewbacca-like throat noises. She loves when we blow raspberries on her belly! She also has a favorite toy - it's a vTech butterfly that sings. She will choose it out of other toys, which is really cute to watch. However, that toy is REALLY annoying so hopefully it's batteries will die soon and it will go to the bottom of the toy bin for a while. :) Don't tell Maleah!