Friday, June 29, 2012


Am I the only one who hates the new Blogger?  I didn't mind at first.  It was easier to upload pictures.  But after about FIVE attempts to write the same post with pictures of my garden, my relationship with the new post editor has grown cool.  It uploads the pictures great.  But then I walk away from my computer while they're uploading (guess what, Blogger, I don't sit in front of my computer all day), and when I come back, the computer's fallen asleep.  When I wake it up ... my pictures are gone.  Or else the browser seizes up (this happens almost daily; my computer is kind of buggy) and I have to restart it.  No problem, right?  Because Blogger autosaves everything, my post will still be there!  And it is ... but without the pictures.  I am sick to death of uploading the same dang pictures for weeks while my garden keeps growing and looks nothing like the pictures by now.

So forget that post.  Imagine you were seeing pictures of a tomato jungle, a pumpkin jungle, and a few smothered and crowded cucumbers and bell peppers.  Imagine some rather bug-eaten pole beans and a bare space where Marko dug up all my bush beans.  Picture a giant cilantro plant going to seed and some herbs at their prime.  There's some lettuce going to seed now (Mignonette Bronze, which was heat-tolerant enough to last till now ... and that's really the only thing it has going for it; it's much too bitter for me (or else that's the heat's fault)).  There are still no carrots or spinach.  There's a bare bed where the sugar snap peas were; the heat killed them but they had a decent run.  I've planted chickpeas there, but they didn't sprout.  Either I fail at growing chickpeas, or the kind from the grocery store doesn't sprout.  One or the other.

Use your mind's eye, because I'm telling you, I don't think I'm ever gonna get those dang pictures up.

I have four or five good posts in my mind, but there's no promising I'll get them onto here.  Michael still is rarely asleep before 9:30 (unless today is the start of a new trend!) and I have trouble (read: distraction by Marko) blogging in the daytime.  I'm also really distracted with two busy Facebook groups (where I've been debating the future of Regnum Christi; heavy stuff, but I'll write about it here if there's interest) and a translation project I somehow volunteered for.  (After I said I'd do it, the woman who wanted it done wrote back, "Thanks!  I have a six-month-old so it's really hard to get anything done."  I wanted to take it back!  If they're too busy with a six-month-old, I am definitely too busy!  But ... somehow I've found time, which goes to show that when you really want to make time, it often appears.)

Marko has been spending his days singing, playing guitar, and weedwhacking.  Nothing new.  Sometimes he sleeps through the night, sometimes he doesn't.  One night he stayed up for FOUR HOURS from 12-4 a.m.  Not cool, kiddo.  He slept till eight afterward, but Michael didn't.  Sigh.

Michael is two months old and getting chubby.  If I get really optimistic I might try to upload a picture.  Or I might just go to bed and call it good.  He still uses the potty pretty reliably (way more reliably than Marko ever has, except for that one golden week at 12 months old when I was ready to say he was potty trained, ha ha ha).  It's to the point that I don't think much of laying him down for a nap on my bed with nothing on or under him.  If he pees on me, it's usually because he's fussy and doesn't want to go on the potty.  So I throw a diaper across my lap and just wait for him to go.  It's not a big deal.  I don't think we had a single "accident" today.  I did get wet once, though, because of an aiming malfunction.  Elimination communication is way easier than I was led to believe.  (Though I willingly will accept that there will probably be bumps in the road as he grows older.)

The big thing that's been eating up my time isn't the boys OR the internet, though.  I really do have time enough for everything...if it were not for a housekeeping nightmare which I will probably tell you about when it's OVER because it's just too awful to even talk about right now.  Let's just say it has me sweeping, vacuuming, and doing laundry daily.  That kind of eats into one's free time.

Other than that, though, having two kids continues to be fun and not terribly difficult.  My great trial is getting Michael to nap.  Turns out he's just as bad, and in just the same ways, as his brother in that regard.  He goes to sleep all right, but he can't tie one sleep cycle to the next without help.  He wakes up after 45 minutes and needs to nurse back to sleep.  But of course I have this other kid, who either follows me into the bedroom and stands next to the crib yelling, "Are you flirsty?  Are you flirsty?"  [this is how he asks for water, which I can't just leave out for him because he drinks what he wants and then spits the rest onto the dog] OR hangs out in the living room being nice and quiet and ripping off my laptop keys or dumping the salt shaker onto the floor.  He's just not quite ready to be left unattended.  (Sometimes he plays quite nicely all by himself in his room.  But he seems to have a spider sense for when I would really like to be left alone, and doesn't do it.)

We have two solutions right now.  One is that I've moved the rocker to the living room and can often nurse Michael back to sleep there.  The other is the wrap.  I hardly wore Marko at all at this age because I didn't have to.  But with Michael, if I can't get him to nap easily for the amount of time he needs, I just pop him into the wrap.  He sleeps really well in there, he can easily be bounced back to sleep in half a minute if he wakes up, and I can keep up with whatever Marko's got going on at the same time.  And even vacuum!  I don't think I could survive without that wrap.  (It's a homemade woven wrap; that's my standby right now, but I think I might pull out the homemade mei tai soon.)  An added bonus is that wrap naps help him stay on some kind of schedule, which helps his "down naps" last longer too.  He took a two-and-a-half-hour, uninterrupted nap in bed today.  Plus one very interrupted "down nap" and one wrap nap.

Did I mention Michael can smile now?  I keep trying to get it on film, but failing.  It's cute though.  He's much more sparing with his grins than Marko was, but I get a few good ones every day.

Oh, here's a picture for you.  I made it as an imitation of one of Marko at the same age.  Compare:



Okay, I think that's enough rambling and parentheses for one night.  There's a massive storm rolling in, hopefully to break up the 100-degree weather, and I've got to get to bed before the thunder wakes the kids up.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Two beautiful births

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.


My regular readers know that my son Marko's birth, two years ago, was miserable, and that Michael's birth six weeks ago was a triumph.  But I think it's fair to say that both births were beautiful in their own way.  They both brought my sons into my arms.  My mother used to tell us her birth stories over and over, always focusing on the beautiful part of each.  I know now that my own birth was not her "favorite," because she was not respected by the hospital.  And yet her telling of the story is beautiful and reminds me of how eager she was to meet me, how much she loved me when she first held me.

Still, I had to think for awhile to find the beauty in Marko's birth.  Finally I realized it was the support I got.  First, John.  He was my anchor through everything.  I must have wrung the life out of his hands as I held them through each contraction, while we whispered the Divine Mercy chaplet together.  I honestly don't know how I would have managed without him.

The second support person was my nurse, Felicia Clancy.  She was the best.  I wanted so badly to send her a card or something, but what's the etiquette for thanking a complete stranger who made all the difference as you bring your first child into the world?  All I know is, she was a huge comfort to me.  She kept telling me I was doing well, saying John and I were a great team, that we knew what we were doing.  When the doctor wanted her to start an IV, I begged  her not to and she went back to the doctor to plead my case.  She took personal responsibility for me drinking enough water and convinced the doctor to leave it out.  Since I'm terrified of needles, that made a huge difference for me.  And when her shift ended just as I was almost ready to push, she stayed an extra half hour so she could be there for his birth.  My aunt is an L&D nurse, and I can definitely say it's those nurses that really deliver the babies.  The doctors often just show up for the last few minutes -- bringing you through labor is the job of the nurse.

Michael's birth was pretty great throughout.  I wasn't very emotional about it, to be honest.  But the really magic moment was when I reached down and felt his little fuzzy head.  I tuned out the midwives and even John and just focused on that little head.  It was the first thing Michael and I did together.  And when he schlooped out into my waiting hands -- well, it was lovely.  I felt that, unlike at my first birth, I had done this all by myself, the way I had wanted to.

I wish every woman had the opportunity to catch her own baby.  It made me feel like Michael's mother right away, instead of feeling distant for awhile as I did with Marko.

I imagine I will tell my sons their birth stories on their birthdays, like my mother does with me, and I'll focus on those beautiful moments when I was so excited to get to meet them.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pottying Michael

Ugh, it is so hard to get a chance to post when my hands are always full of one child or another!  Marko has realized that his chance for lap time is whenever Michael's sleeping, so he takes full advantage.  Mostly, I'm glad because he never was that into snuggles before Michael was born.  Now he's finally realized he needs them, so if I'm not offering he comes and gets them on his own.  Nice not to have to chase my kid down just for a hug!

Michael is seven weeks old now.  Seemed a good time for an update on how elimination communication was going.  I know I intended to it from day one, but I really didn't -- the first couple of weeks all I did was sometimes leave him coverless so I could watch for signs he was going ... which I didn't.  I still have no idea what "signs" there might be.  Perhaps he just isn't giving any.  I think a lot of the signals babies give, they only give later on, once they realize they need to be taken to pee, and figure out how to signal you.  Not sure on this one or if it's just my baby or my own obliviousness.

Around two weeks old I started taking his diaper off first thing in the morning and holding him on the potty or a sour cream container (perfect size for him!) and he would poop!  Very exciting to me.  But that didn't last; he doesn't poop every day anymore, and the timing is unpredictable.  So I would observe him for a bit in the mornings, and when he peed I'd just say "psss."  After the second or third soaking, I would put his diaper on.  I don't have infinite patience for getting peed on!  I noticed that he went every 15 minutes or so, and sometimes I made a catch in the sour cream container or the sink.

At this point it's useful to note that Michael is a very "in-arms" baby.  He's hardly ever down.  Which made everything I'd read not make sense, because they seem to focus on putting some kind of puddle pad down and your baby down on top of it ... and he just wasn't contented being on the floor at all until last week.  Now he does it for maybe 20-30 minutes, once or twice a day.  His bouncy chair buys me a little time too.  But all the rest of the time he is either nursing, sitting on my lap, in the wrap, or asleep on the bed.  None of these are very convenient for pottying, at least if there are going to be misses because, like I said, I don't care for being peed on.  Meanwhile, if he's got a diaper on, I just don't know when he's going, and that's kind of unhelpful.

About a week ago I decided to leave his diaper off longer and see if we could manage to make a few more catches.  To my surprise, I was doing things backwards.  That first hour of the day is the hardest.  The rest of the day, he goes more like every half hour, which is much more manageable.  I still don't see any signs, but if I take him to the sink every half hour and make the cue sound (pssss) he usually does go and then stay dry afterward.

Another useful revelation is that if the baby pees on you, you don't have to freeze and just let him do it.  I was afraid of scaring him, so I never moved when he was peeing, except to angle him away from me a bit.  (Boys are handy this way -- he sometimes peed while nursing and it would almost all go on the floor instead of on me.  Wood floors make easy clean-up!)  I later read that you can make a "wait" noise to show the baby that it's not an acceptable place to go.  So I started to say "ah!" and rush to either move him off me or grab the sour cream container, which I try to keep within arms' reach.  I think he got the idea, because he doesn't go on me nearly so often.  In the past four days, I've only gotten soaked once and a couple little splashes.

Sleep is still the issue.  I don't want to interfere with his already rather shaky sleep routine just to get him to potty -- but on the other hand, maybe it would help him sleep better if he had an empty bladder.  So I try to get him to pee when I think he might be going to sleep soon (which is kind of anyone's guess, but I'm beginning to get a sense that at least after nursing or when I put him in the wrap, he might sleep).  In the wrap, it's no problem.  He'll sleep two hours and never go.  I do rush to get him out of the wrap as soon as he wakes up, though, so that he doesn't go on me.  But if he's sleeping in bed by himself, he often wakes up halfway through and grunts a bit.  Sometimes he'll go back to sleep.  Sometimes he'll pee on the bed and go back to sleep (hence the puddle pad I've been keeping under him).  Sometimes he'll pee and then stay awake because he's all wet.  Sometimes I rush to him because he's crying, and I don't know whether to nurse him or offer a potty.  If I offer a potty he doesn't want it, and cries.  If I nurse him, he pees on me.  I've had some success with trying to nurse him over a potty, though this is awkward.  Either way, it's rather inconvenient.  It's tempted me to give up on EC during naps, except that Marko also woke up mid-nap, even though he was diapered.  That's the main reason EC didn't work out when I gave it a brief try with him.  But I wonder ... would EC actually help with this problem, once we got it down?  Is he just waking up because he needs to pee?  And when Michael is in a diaper, he still does wake up during naps usually.  I may start diapering him during naptime only.  But for now, he's sleeping on a prefold diaper on top of a waterproof blanket, and hopefully that will work out well.

I haven't tried yet at night at all.  I mean, I need to sleep too, and it's easier (to me) to bring him into bed and nurse him than it would be to try and figure out a potty at night.  However, he's recently started sleeping (two out of three nights) for a longer stretch -- from 9:30 till about 3:00.  And when he wakes up from that, I've noticed that his plastic diaper seems to be dry.  I wonder if I could add in just one potty opportunity at that time only?  I have been trying to come fully awake for this wakeup so that I can nurse the baby and then stay awake long enough to burp him, because otherwise his burps keep him awake.  So pottying him wouldn't be so much extra trouble.  And maybe he'd sleep better after three a.m. with an empty bladder.  Worth a shot, right?

Overall, EC has been surprisingly easy.  I don't really watch for cues, though I try to see if I can figure out any so I can start looking for them.  I keep track of time, give him frequent opportunities, and that's working out.  Sometimes he gets crabby and doesn't want to go in the potty, which is the only time difficulties arise.  Every "miss" lately, I knew he needed to go and he wouldn't go.  Then when I sat down again, he went.  I hope these go away as he gets more used to going in the sink or potty.  The bonuses for me are plenty.  We are doing diapers every other day, instead of every day (and it's mostly Marko's diapers).  I get to snuggle a naked baby without worrying about getting soaked, which is a definite perk because I don't think any baby clothes are cuter than a naked baby.  (Thank goodness it's summertime though!)  And Marko's been showing more interest in the potty as well.  He will only sit on the big potty, but he definitely has awareness of what he's supposed to do in there, and usually goes right away when he sits down instead of sitting on it for half an hour every time like he used to.  Perhaps he just needed the example to be set!  I still keep him in diaper backup, though, because I don't know when he needs to go and I can't keep him on a puddle pad.  He uses the potty a couple times a day, and the rest he goes in the diaper but runs to me immediately to be changed.

Overall, it's been fun.  I even think he smiled the other day while he was peeing!  I hope it stays enjoyable for both of us, but if it isn't, no one will be harmed by putting a diaper on him for a bit.  As I tell people who worry, it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  Every pee in the potty is a diaper you don't have to change or wash.  But being completely diaper-free is very nice, so I hope to stick with it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cosleeping guest post

I have a guest post up on Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner!  I think it's exciting that there's such a thing -- a site just about attachment parenting for Catholics.  I personally think that AP makes a lot of sense for Catholics, since we have so much respect for the human person at all stages and AP is mainly about respecting the child.  Not to mention that ecological breastfeeding is practiced by a lot of Catholics, and it has a lot of overlap with AP.

My post is about cosleeping, a topic I've sort of beaten to death around here, but it includes more about cosleeping with Michael (which is the best, by the way).

If you're clicking over from CAPC, I recommend you click on the labels "Parenting" or "Catholicism"  -- you might find a lot that interests you!

[Incidentally, that's not my real name on the post.  Since I don't share my real last name on here, I thought I'd just let it go.]
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