The 5:30 a.m. Wake Time

I have a bone to pick.

Where are the books or websites dedicated to helping dual-working (outside the home) households navigate the schedule and transition hurdles associated with having a little one in daycare full time? Do they exist?

I can’t readjust Rylan’s entire day when he decides wake time is at 5 a.m. His teachers are accommodating to a point, but his room has a schedule too and they are working very hard to keep the babies on somewhat of a similar routine. Similarly, I would need to leave work early every day in order to make his bedtime any earlier than 7:30 p.m. to see if that helps solve our current 5 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. wake time occurrences.

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On Monday – Friday, by the time we race into the house around 6 p.m. or 6:15 p.m. depending on traffic, I run around like a crazy person to throw down something nutritious on his highchair tray for dinner. This sprint is followed by bath and if I am lucky, a few moments of cuddles and playtime before Rylan begins whining and rubbing his eyes in exhaustion.

Why is he exhausted? Well, Rylan is much too curious to nap for longer than 40 – 50 minute stretches on his daycare days. And yes, I feel we have tried everything. Letters to his teachers about it being okay to let him CIO at the 45-minute mark. Moving him to the furthest, back corner crib to mitigate noise and distractions. Bottle before nap. Bottle after nap. Bottle after nap and milk in his sippy cup. New sleep sacks. If we’re lucky Rylan gets two 50 minute naps during the day there.

But there isn’t a chapter in any of our books on how to deal with that. In fact, in one I read recently it talked about adjusting naps and bedtime and then said, “this is very difficult for babies in daycare.” Period. Nothing else. No real-life examples or words of advice. Seriously?

Yes, yes…I am 100% aware that kids don’t actually follow the baby books word for word, but they were sure helpful in the beginning. I miss being able to reference things like sleep phases and eating issues.

Or maybe I am reading the wrong books entirely? The Honest Toddler has a helpful post on how to decipher toddler mornings. Rylan isn’t a toddler quite yet, but this “schedule” from The Honest Toddler is also informative.

Mike and I have decisions to make. Consider the 5 a.m. hour wake time “fun” a phase and attend to him upon waking? Try CIO, which breaks my heart and makes me stress about leaving him in there when he could be hungry or dirty? Take a chill pill on all of it and toast to the next phase of impending toddler-hood?

There is one solution I wholeheartedly embrace, thank goodness. Coffee. Lot and lots of coffee. Normally my answer would be wine but I’m too sleepy for that.

Happy sleeping!

Rylan is 11 Months

IMG_8439Eleven months (last week). Counting down to one. I’m simply amazed by how fast the most life changing, thrilling, exhausting and humbling year has gone.

Rylan is still one of the happiest babies around. His smile and belly laugh is infectious. He loves his mama and dada but warms up to strangers within minutes. If Rylan could choose his own adventure each day, it would consist of being outside as much as possible, eating meat and blueberries, watching ceiling fans, opening kitchen cupboards and dancing to music…any kind of music. The kid loves to bounce and clap.

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This has also been one of the most challenging months yet. Rylan is beginning to test limits and has a very predictable reaction when things do not go his way. He has taken to folding over while crying to hide his head in his hands. And when it comes to the car seat and diaper changes, he contorts into a full body arch to protest. Sometimes we can’t help but laugh because he is upset over such a silly thing. But other times I get nervous about the toddler road ahead. Behind Rylan’s sweetest smiles, I fear, is a stubborn streak that will surely test us in ways we can’t predict.

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However, until then, I am holding onto every cuddle and every nursing session for dear life. I cannot get enough of how he waves his arms and crawls to me at warp speed at daycare pickup. My heart melts at the way he curves his arms through mine when I am holding him, pulling himself that much closer to me. I adore watching him stare in awe at his older cousins. Their bond is already strong and he is going to follow them around like an unshakable shadow in the next year.

Mom’s 11 Month Favorites:

  • Holding his little hands while we “walk” around and around the house together
  • The fact that he is still up for nursing at least twice a day, and the look that only I get when we hang out and cuddle and play after nursing and before bedtime
  • Hearing from his teachers just how social he has become. He is the class “tour guide” during stroller rides, pointing out every tree, building and other sights along the way
  • Asking him, “where is the owl or where is the light,” and seeing him think then point to the correct object
  • His easy going nature when we are away. My mom watched him for three nights in mid-June and he was his happy and flexible self

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Dad’s 11 Month Favorites:

  • His extremely inquisitive personality. I love answering his point and “bah” questions with an explanation of what he is seeing. It is especially neat to watch him learn how to recognize, with repetition, the things that he is pointing at…especially ceiling fans and lights
  • Seeing him go from crawling, to standing, and walking with support, along with his growing interest in figuring out how to walk on his own
  • Watching him begin to mimic mom and dad, and the excitement on his face when he figures it out
  • The HUGE smile on his face after being away from us
  • How his smile and giggle makes us smile and laugh right back, no matter how challenging the day

Little bud, we love you so darn much! Can’t wait for what the next few weeks have in store.

Rylan is 10 Months

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Ten months old as of Saturday. Double digits. Officially within the window where it is okay to talk to other parents, especially first-time moms, about first birthday party plans.

What. Is. Happening.

Each day Rylan is becoming more of a little boy. He wants to stand on everything and can no longer be easily corralled with bouncers and jumping apparatuses.  No kitchen drawer is safe and baby toys are boring compared to bathroom waste baskets, dog beds and wobbly tables. And Ry has the bumps to prove it in his 10 month photos. Look closely at where his poor little forehead met the stainless steel fridge head on. Let’s hope he develops better depth perception than his mama.

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If Rylan could plan his perfect day I think it would consist of being outside as much as possible. Stroller rides, sandbox time, slides, swings, water–anything to stay outdoors. I know this early preference will bode well later in toddler-hood when he is schlepped along for hikes and camping trips on a regular basis.

Ironically, if Rylan could plan his own meals I think meat would be a part of every sitting. Perhaps that is from not getting any chicken or red meat in utero. He loves fish too, thankfully, but can down meatloaf, meatballs and sausage at record speed. Other favorites include any type of fruit, especially blueberries and watermelon, noodles, yogurt and cheese. We did introduce peanut butter with no reactions, but it isn’t a favorite yet. Purees have also become a thing of the past, though I am still making fruit purees to stir into his oatmeal and plain yogurt since I refuse to buy the pre-flavored baby varieties.

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This month Rylan will enjoy another weekend with Grandma Judy (my mom) when Mike and I take a 10 year college reunion trip to Lake Tahoe. While Grandma gets up early and plans outings to music class, the zoo and park, I am dreaming of sleeping in, reading fashion magazines by the lake and drinking mimosas.

And speaking of mimosas, I guess I’ll have to plan for a bit of the infamous “pump and dump” routine on our trip. Ry is 10 months and still going strong on breast milk. I nurse morning and night during the week and typically all day (four feeds) on the weekend. I am pumping three times per day (morning and twice at work) and taking Fenugreek to help my supply, which dipped pretty dramatically last month. If I am good about water, Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk tea during the day at work I am pumping 7 – 10 oz daily in addition to nursing, sometimes more. That is a HUGE decrease from just two months ago so I am extremely grateful that we have a good amount stored.

My new goal is to nurse until Rylan turns one and then mix what we have left in storage with whole milk. I am determined to get to a year, which makes trips like Tahoe stressful but I know it will be great for all of us.

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Mom’s 10 month favorites:

  • The silly, milk-drunk grin he gives me before bedtime
  • When he squeals after a nap or in the morning when we open the door to his room
  • His growing fascination with everything Kona does and how he stays totally calm even when Kona is barking loudly near us
  • Saying “shake shake” and then having Rylan shake his head side to side, which causes his whole body to sway back and forth
  • The moment he clapped on his own and the huge grin that crossed his face
  • The way he holds onto my arm when I am carrying him…so content and trusting
  • His opinions. New-found opinions don’t make it easy to change diapers or tighten the car seat, but he’s developing and I am so intrigued by what he does and doesn’t tolerate these days

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Dad’s 10 month favorites:

  • Watching him begin to mimic our gestures and actions
  • Seeing his big smile whenever he sees mom or dad, especially when I pick him up after a long work trip away from the family
  • Getting to watch him interact with his classmates and see who he is becoming “friends” with
  • Watching him learn to pull himself out and slowly progress to standing on his own–and the surprise in his eyes when he realized what he has done

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Rylan, we love you so darn much. I remind myself every day just how lucky we are that you picked us to be your “ma ma ma ma” and “da da daaa da da.”

A Thought on Motherhood

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Earlier this week I was driving Rylan to daycare. Mike had been traveling, Rylan had been up every night coughing and I was simply wiped. In fact, later that day I tried to wipe what I thought was ink from my face only to realize it was the circles under my eyes. Sexy.

During our drive I was in a total zone. I was thinking about all of the things I wish we were doing now for Rylan, rather than focusing on all that we are doing with the limited time we have together as a family.

Sign him up for swim lessons. Find a Saturday music or movement class to meet, hopefully, other moms who work outside the home and some kids in our neighborhood. Read more. Say “screw the mess” and recreate one of the many art projects he completes at daycare on our front porch on a nice day. Go the the library for a story time.

But then I had this little personal epiphany. It made me smile and dissipated the lump I still get on my throat during many morning daycare drives.

I may have become a mom in an instant, but it’s going to take a lifetime of trial and error to become the mom I envision myself being.

I say “instant” because even though pregnancy is nine long months, I didn’t feel like a mom yet. I still got to sleep as much as I wanted. Go to the gym based on my schedule alone. Take trips without guilt and only keep cereal and milk in the house if life was too hectic for a grocery store run. Pregnancy chips away a little at your selfishness but not completely.

It was, however, an instant between the last push in the delivery room and the moment Rylan was put on my chest. Seemingly within an hour or two, all the nurses and doctors who hovered over me during labor were on to the next family and there I was–a mom. A clueless and terrified mom holding this tiny little boy. A clueless and terrified mom with a lot of hopes and dreams of what motherhood would look like.

Some have come true. Some have not yet.

As moms we tend to dwell on the “have not” when there is so much to celebrate on the other end of the spectrum. However, I am actually okay with the regularly questioning of myself. Asking myself, what we can be doing better? While exhausting it means we’re really in it–living parenthood every day. I care so damn much about making Rylan a well-rounded little guy.

This post is not intended for people to tell me that I am a good mom. I am not looking for empathy or cheerleading of any kind.

I simply feel the need to reach out and connect with the other mamas out there who feel the same way–that motherhood is an instantaneous shift, yet it takes every hour of every day to figure out what the hell you are doing!

I am thankful every day for my network of support–spoken and unspoken. And wine. I am very grateful for wine.

Hand Foot and Mouth Fun

Last week we were put on notice by our daycare that Hand Foot and Mouth was making the rounds along with Impetigo. Do me a favor. Do not look at the Google Images for either. I was FREAKING OUT.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday came and went and Rylan exhibited no symptoms. But instead of feeling lucky I just assumed it would hit over the weekend.

I was right.

Thankfully, we knew what to watch for and at the first sign of red bumps and blisters on his little hands and feet, we called his pediatrician. He has limited Saturday hours and we got in early that day. I was relieved to find out the case looked mild, especially since a high fever never accompanied the rash.

When we got home I also consulted with Mike’s sister immediately regarding essential oils. I shared my Gentle Babies guide with a friend but Kelly found case studies of success using diluted Thieves on the spine and feet several times a day.

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Rylan’s Hand Foot and Mouth never spread past his hands, feet and a few random bumps on his legs. He never developed a fever and aside from being more fussy than usual, he handled it like a champ.

We were certainly lucky that his case was mild but I believe the addition of a natural remedy, Thieves diluted with olive oil in this case, helped him heal faster.

Every day I am fascinated with the way each oil is becoming a staple in our home!

Lessons Learned at 9 Months

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I’m in denial about Rylan’s next big milestones. Having his first birthday. Walking. Weaning. Emotionally I am not ready for a single one.

Since we made his 12 month doctor’s appointment, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the past nine months. The high’s, low’s and inevitable lessons learned along the way.

For all of my mom friends out there, whether your kids are nine days old or going on 19, I know you join me in the constant internal questioning routine. What should I have done differently? Where can we improve?

If and when we expand our family again, there are many things I will try to do exactly the same (even though every baby is wildly different…I get it). On Becoming Baby Wise continues to be the best method for our family. With a few modifications in the early weeks, I am committed to the philosophy.

I am proud that Rylan is so adaptable and independent, traits we focused on from the start. I am proud to still be breast feeding and pumping but have no regrets that we also began fortifying his bottles early on to help with weight gain. I am proud that I pushed to start with food other than rice cereal and vividly remember his first timid bites of organic avocado at age four months. His food journey has been incredibly fun since that day. I am proud that I have been away from Rylan multiple times, trusting his days and nights to either Mike or grandparents.

I am proud of us.

However, I do look back on the past nine months with many “I wish I’d known” feelings too.

I wish I’d known…

  • To block out the doctors, nurses and all the noise when Rylan was first born to really REALLY hear, take in and catalog in my brain that first cry. The memory is such a blur.
  • To take more naps instead of giving in to the laundry piles and urge to shower. Being clean is great, but sleep deprivation is no joke.
  • To hold onto Rylan longer rather than feeling like I needed to get him down in a crib for a nap or bedtime. I was obsessed with “the schedule” and I missed opportunities to simply let him lay on my chest, enjoying the miracle of our tiny bundle.
  • To not obsess over one bad feed, but instead focus on the entire day or heck, just the week overall. Everyone told me that but as a new mom I simply could not process the advice. Each bad feed gave me knots of worry about his weight gain.
  • To put vanity aside and take more day-in-the-life pictures WITH Rylan during maternity leave especially. This one absolutely kills me. I get a lump in my throat typing out this “wish.” We have countless photos of Rylan but not enough of us as a family in survival mode–bags under our eyes, wild sleepless hair, stained clothes and all.
  • To start a house cleaner savings fund BEFORE the baby is born. In hindsight I wish I would have hidden money away from every paycheck the moment we found out Sprout was on the way. We have a cleaner we use every three to four weeks, but I would be a more relaxed person if we could afford her biweekly (and in a fantasy world, every Friday).

I have a few friends who are expecting so I hope these reflections are helpful. If you only take one to heart, make it the one about pictures. Take dozens of you and that little nugget from day one. They don’t have to go in a frame or on Facebook. But trust me, you can never get the early days back.

Moms, what do you wish you’d known the first time around?

Rylan is 9 Months

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We blinked. I swear that is all we did and here I am typing up Rylan’s 9 month post. I don’t get it.

The past month has brought so many firsts. Rylan is officially on the move and man is he fast. As Grandpa Steve says, he crawls with purpose. Our house is now sporting three baby gates and gone are the days of setting him down in front of my mirror while I finish getting ready for work. I thank my lucky stars that he still loves his doorway jumpy seat. It’s a godsend when I am cooking or running around in the morning before daycare drop off.

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Speaking of daycare, Rylan is thriving. He is all smiles at drop off and pickup. He has favorite toys along with favorite baby friends. He absolutely loves to be outside and gravitates toward anything musical. He eats well and we are told practices very good patience/table manners if he is done eating before others. Daycare has also made him extremely adaptable. He continues to let anyone hold him and had no trouble staying with my parents for three days while Mike and I took our first big trip away–to Chicago. I was a wreck leading up to it but in the end, Rylan had an incredible weekend and was all smiles upon our return.

At night and on the weekends we are trying to mimic everything Rylan is focused on at daycare. That includes a lot of questions like, “Rylan, what does a cow say” and “Rylan, no thank you,” when he is doing something that we don’t want to encourage. We sing, have dance parties and spend our hours with him on the floor taking every toy out of bins before putting everything back–and then repeating the process yet again. The kid LOVES bins.

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On the eating front, Rylan loves finger foods. Feeding him purees has turned somewhat into a battle because he so badly wants to feed himself. We are still making most purees from scratch aside from meat. As a non-meat eater I cannot bring myself to puree chicken. Gag. When we need to rely on packaged foods I am a huge fan of Earth’s Best and Plum Organics. Ella’s Kitchen is awesome too but very expensive. There isn’t much that Rylan cannot or will not eat these days. Quinoa, lentils, kiwi, eggs, avocado, watermelon, tuna, salmon…the list goes on. Our pediatrician encouraged us to avoid wheat until 12 months but said to go ahead and even try nut butters now. Eeek!

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I do want to be clear that it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows around here either. Mike and I continued to be extremely busy and there are nights when Rylan goes down that I am disappointed with how un-present we were during our brief time with him before bed. Everyone told me that being a working mom is tough but no one explained how draining a dual-career household can be–we’re exhausted. My heart sinks on Sunday nights. I still cry on some Monday mornings when I don’t have time to cuddle or play. I’ve slipped tremendously on working out because I hate to miss a morning or evening with him.

I’ve been harping on both of us to hide our phones and 100% disconnect whenever possible. The same goes on weekends. We have a long way to go but I am noticing a bit of improvement.

Well, I am rambling. If you’re still reading, here are our 9 month highlights.

Mom’s favorites:

  • Watching him crawl and the excitement on his face when he reaches his destination
  • The way he holds onto me a little tighter if we’re in an unfamiliar place
  • Seeing him interact with the other kids in his daycare room and the beaming smiles he gives his teachers
  • Having him sit in a regular high chair at restaurants and watching him look around in awe. The little dude is SO nosey!
  • The way he has handled teething like a total champ
  • Our quiet, one-on-one time when he is nursing. I can’t believe I contemplated proactively giving this up a few months ago

Dad’s favorites:

  • Watching him figure out how to crawl and pull himself up to standing
  • Taking him to the park and listening to him belly laugh going down the slide
  • How much he enjoys and gets excited about all new experiences
  • Seeing him socialize with friends at school and recognize the babies and teachers he loves

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Survival Mode

Help Mom

Wake up. Nurse. Get little one and adults fully dressed. Race to daycare. Work all day. Pump at work. Race to pickup little one. Curse traffic. Get home. Run around like wild people to get the little one fed and bathed. Nurse. Collapse into heap in front of the TV for an hour or two…

Oh wait. Watch TV? That doesn’t sound quite right.

Feed adults. Make baby food. Potentially work some more. Tackle laundry. Wonder if dog has been fed. Feed dog just in case. Put away laundry from the night(s) prior. Contemplate working out. Fall asleep while thinking about working out.

Repeat Monday – Friday.

We’re in a dual working household survival mode. A mode that makes me thank my lucky stars every day that Rylan is a great night time sleeper. Please let the teething gods (2nd tooth coming up now) be kind.

But amidst our chaos are many moments of perfection. Yep, that is the best word to describe our ridiculously overwhelming life. Mike and I have never been more in sync. We try hard to pick up where the other left off or anticipate what will make the other a little more relaxed. There is no room for being less than 100% hands-on and we are killing it. We say ‘thank you’ more often and tell each other whenever we remember to breathe that we’re doing a really great job.

Then there is Rylan. He is unreal. I can’t get over his infectious laugh and endless energy. He is mobile and quite independent, yet nothing makes his eyes sparkle more than seeing us walk into a room. Kisses make him squeal. He brightens my whole heart. I would gladly take on more chaos if it meant he would smile this sweetly forever. I often catch myself saying, “that kid. Man I love him. ”

But this post is about surviving. Which leads me to share what’s in our current survival kit with an almost 9 month old…

  • Compassion
  • A lot of forgiveness
  • Grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts ~ family
  • Wine. Preferably a Malbec. Club W would be the jackpot
  • Peace & Calming and Valor essential oils from Young Living — in the diffuser, behind ears and on wrists at bedtime and before work
  • ABDL (Always Be Doin’ Laundry)
  • Friends, even if time only allows for a few text exchanges
  • Stitch Fix
  • Butternut squash slow cooker chili
  • Door to Door Organics online local and organic grocery delivery (a client of mine, but we’ve been using them for long before that)
  • Apple TV for catching up on Girls, Jimmy Fallon, Game of Thrones and Parenthood on weekends

I am trying very hard to add working out back to that list–it varies greatly each week. I’d also like the list to include Sunday freezer meal prep, regular evening family walks and a spa day. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

How do you survive? What do you rely on and what have you had to give up on?

Rylan is 8 Months!

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Our incredible boy is eight months old! To say he brightens each and every day is a huge understatement. His gummy grin (no teeth yet!) is infectious. His body-shaking belly laugh is addictive. Rylan’s easy-going personality and happy demeanor has really come through this month. We’re more smitten than ever.

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The past month has not been easy. Mike traveled for work more than usual and my job was extremely busy, including some weekend commitments. The notion of balance fell to the wayside and we went into survival mode. Get Rylan safely to and from daycare. Line up backup care. Make food for Rylan. Heat up a can of soup or frozen dinner for ourselves. Survive.

I am disappointed in myself for being so preoccupied the last few weeks. I really need to learn how to put my phone down and focus. Work, texts, Facebook…it will all be there when Rylan is down for the night. Technology keeps us positively connected in so many ways but at the same time, it makes us miss the present. The now. That’s my goal for Ry’s next month ~ to be more present during our precious and extremely limited with him at night and on the weekends.

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Despite our craziness, Rylan is thriving. He crossed the 15 lbs mark and is actually growing out of 3-6 and 6 month outfits. Yay! He loves sitting in his high chair for meal time, any meal time. Finger foods are quickly replacing his tolerance for purees. Not having to steam and puree food will surely be a time saver, but we take a lot of pride in making 99% of his food from scratch. I am going to miss it a lot. He has given us a few forward crawls but much prefers to worm across the room with a combination of sitting, dropping to his belly, followed by a downward dog on tip toes, back to his stomach and then up to sitting. It’s an amazing feat to witness and he is so proud of himself every time.

Mom’s eight month favorites:

  • Hearing “ma” “ma ma” “ma ma ma ma” for the first time after I was away in LA for the weekend with friends
  • Listening to his daycare teachers tell me about his day, which usually includes notes like, “he was so happy” and “he laughed over and over with his buddy Tolan”
  • Watching him finally connect how to grab food, put it to his mouth and open his hand to release it
  • The fact that he still gets completely milk drunk at night, which allows for totally peaceful snuggle time…just like the early days
  • The sparkle in his eye. His eyes are so happy, and it makes me incredibly happy and proud to be his mama

Dad’s eight month favorites:

  • The smile on his face and excitement in his eyes every time he sees us after a few hours apart
  • Finding him sitting up in his crib, staring at the wall in amazement
  • Watching him do his version of baby yoga, complete with a solid plank to downward dog move
  • Watching him shove food into his mouth by any means possible — hands, wrists, you name it
  • Seeing him rediscover his hands and fingers in awe
  • How he “shows off” his toys and books while playing
  • His mellow demeanor and easy going nature around just about anyone

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Dolphin to Starfish

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Apparently ocean-themed rooms are quite the rage at area daycares. A close friend has a daughter in the “Cuddly Clam” room at her center. But I digress. Oh and yes, these photos have nothing to do with daycare rooms. I just like them a lot because we remembered to get out the regular camera this past weekend.

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This week Rylan is transitioning from being a Dolphin (infant room) to a Starfish (6 – 18 months approximately). If this mini milestone doesn’t prove that his first year is flying by way too fast for comfort, I am not sure what does. Having him move rooms based on development stages was really appealing to me when we toured our daycare. However, now that it’s our son transitioning I am excited and apprehensive. How long will it take them to re-learn his routine? We will mesh with these teachers as well as the last? Will we be back a square one with daycare nap battles?

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Naturally, the worrier in me is braced for the worst but hoping for the best (within a realistic timeframe of a week or two of adjustment for Ry). But in the end, every day I am more and more confident in our choice of daycare over a nanny given our current situation. There have been many challenges but I love how adaptable Rylan has become and appreciate all that he is learning–even if it’s to wait his turn for a toy, meal or diaper change. Those are tiny little moments that I hope will rub off on him in toddler-hood. I value the insight and expertise that is shared with us by the various teachers and their observations of his development, especially because Mike and I often miss new things when we’re at work five days out of the week. Rylan’s daycare has become an extension of our family.

So, off to Starfish we go!

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