Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our only picture in the last two weeks.

I'm not sure why, but we just haven't been taking pictures of Zack lately.  But I did snap this at Target. We used this cool seat cover that Dana and Jules sent.  I've been using his car seat on the carts, but finally I saw that Marion had done this, and I remembered that we had one of these things, too, and I realized that Zack has been sitting up for a while now.  It didn't even occur to me that he could sit in a cart until I saw a younger baby doing it!

We've been running a lot of errands lately.  Yesterday we went grocery shopping.  I think I'm going to take him to the car wash.  He loves being out, and I really can't do much at home when I'm watching him.  So it's fun for both of us to go out and do stuff.  Also it's fun to get loads of admiring comments from strangers.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Monster Hats

I might finish posting all our holiday stuff by Valentines Day.

Here are some fun pictures of the monster hats we got all the kids.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Great Day With Zack

I'm cheating, since this picture is not from today.  This is Wes and Zack playing in the park last week.  Coupla' dudes, just hanging out.

Zack was spacey and feverish yesterday and took a two hour nap in my lap.  Yep, that's not exactly sleep training, but I got to watch the inauguration and whole bunch of other TV.  He woke up with a slight fever again this morning, so I kept him home and stayed home from work.  He was a lot better by mid-morning, and then we just had an excellent day together.  Playing, reading, walking, eating.  It's amazing to me that he can be so much fun.

He's doing a couple things that blow my mind:

--If I say, "Zachary's nose," and touch his nose, and then, "Mommy's nose," and touch my nose, he will also touch my nose.  For real?  I still can't believe he did that.  He's all sentient and everything.

--He turns the pages of books now.  He is just imitating the motion; he doesn't really know when to turn the page.  And he needs a tiny bit of help, because he doesn't have quite enough dexterity yet and he will just close the book unless you hold the page for him.  But still, people, he turns the pages.  I mean, come on, he's obviously a genius.

--He loves going outside so much, so we go for a walk every day.  Around 3:30, he gets antsy and whiny.  But when I put him in the stroller, he is obviously soooo stoked!  He will wait in the stroller for 15 minutes while I get ready.  He just totally, totally gets that we're going outside, and he is so happy.

--We're pretty sure that he consistently says, "Nay nay," when he wants to nurse.  I don't think it's a word, exactly.  It's more primal than that.  It's just what comes out when he wants that thing, but it happens with some regularity, so we've started asking him, "Do you want nay nay?"  I'm also trying to do a few signs with him, since they use baby signs at daycare.  I think he might understand the sign for milk.  It's impossible to say at this point for sure.  But if he is whining and I make the sign and say, "Do you want milk?" he will wave his arms around excitedly.  Since he waves his arms excitedly in response to almost all kinds of stimuli, this is hardly a controlled experiment.

Today on our walk, we almost lost Leopard, but we retraced our steps and rescued him.  Then we retraced our steps from another walk and found the Jungly Tales book, which was a stroller casualty several days ago.  So we have had very good stroller recovery rates.

Zack ate more food today than usual.  I am quite anxious for him to eat food, since nursing him takes quite a toll on me.  He ate two full meals.  And I also mashed up some avocado for him as a snack and just let him feed himself, which was a fun experiment but did not result in very much actual ingested avocado.

He went down for two naps very, very easily, and just now I put him to bed and it was like nothing, really.  Like he'd been doing it forever.  I'm pretty sure having a bedtime ritual really helped us out with our sleep stuff.  We started that back when he was six weeks old.  So all we really had to change was that he now does the final falling asleep on his own, and he's been a champ.  It is so much less stressful for me that I feel like I found my old self, dusted her off, and I get to take her for a spin every evening.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Tribe

Burt just sent these.  I like the kinetic energy in this one.

And here we are all dignified.

We've had a horrible weekend!  I picked Zack up from daycare Friday, and he had a fever that climbed to 102.7.  We nursed him back to health and then Jeff got the virus, and he's been a wreck for two days and is also running a fever of 102.2.  It sucks!  I've been trying to pamper him, but mostly that means taking care of Zack so he can rest.

Zack was doing amazing with the sleep training and we started tackling naps.  Of course he ended up right back in bed with me for two nights while I monitored his fever and cough.  Now he's back in the crib with hardly a peep, so that's a relief.

He's still occasionally refusing solids, but Elsa at daycare really helped on that front.  He's also had what might be allergic reactions, or might be just his eczema, or might be viral exanthem.  Fun stuff.  Mostly he's been just great as usual.  He really was miserable with his fever, and it's nice to see him smiling again. 

We went for a super long walk today, all around the big park and through the surrounding neighborhoods, while Jeff slept at home.  Zack and I also looked at a super nice apartment with a rent twice as high as our current rent.  Gorgeous place.  A two bedroom with a loft.  I saw the open house sign and just decided to take a peek.  Yikes--so nice.  I just can't see spending that much on rent, though.  Makes more sense to buy at that point.  But oh, how awesome our lives would be in this place!

I am still working on holiday catchup, but for now I need to shovel some of the mess around in this place.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sleep Training, Chapter Three: In Which Zack No Longer Requires Assistance to Fall Asleep!

From our big plane trip

Zack went down last night in minutes, with no fuss at all.  I put him to bed, he smiled at me, and I closed the door.  I heard nothing!  I am so, so proud of him!

I did the scheduled awakenings and they went perfectly.  I woke him at 10, 1, and 4, and each time he went back down with minimal fuss and it took mere minutes.  Good thing Jeff was awake for the 1:00 a.m. feeding, because I slept through my alarm.  So he saved the day and got me up.

Now it's my time to get ready for work, and I am doing it without also wrangling Zack, because he is blissfully asleep, most likely until 6:30 at the earliest.

I am so, so happy!  I had all kinds of mixed feelings about sleep training, but now that we're on this side of it, I think it's the best thing since babies were invented.  Doing this has also given me more confidence that Jeff and I will be able to handle all kinds of difficult parenting issues.  I know we're not done with bumpy nights, but wow, what a lot of progress, all over one weekend.  Jeff and I both slept in our bed last night and just kept the monitor on.  I slept sooooo well!  In my bed.  With my husband!  Hooray!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sleep Training, Chapter Two: In Which Manta Ray Is Successfully Sleep Trained

Zack loves this bath toy and fell asleep with it the other day, which was just so cute and also so totally Jeff that we were all kindsa heart warmed and cuddely cutified.  And it's a great picture to illustrate the last 24 hours.

We have been sleeping very, very well--better than most parents, I think--with Zack.  To back up a little, in the early days, we did a 24 hour baby watch, enabled by Jeff's night owl schedule, and we co-slept in the sense that Zack was always in a bassinet in the room with one of us.  Then, when I went back to work, things got more complicated, and our schedules synced up.  I hardly remember those days, because I was so sleep deprived.  Somewhere in the midst of all of it, Jeff and I had a talk and tried to pick between getting Zack into his crib or just letting him sleep with me.  Since I'd been interested in bed-sharing for a while, we went with the second option, and sleep returned to us all.  Zack has been on a regular schedule since then.  He sleeps great at night.  He takes all the age appropriate naps (although they are a bit short) that he should, and he is never overtired or cranky.  He has a bed time ritual and he goes to bed at 7:30 on the dot most nights.  Everything works great.

There are just two minor hitches:  he needs someone next to him to sleep, and he needs to nurse to sleep.

The sheer relentlessness of having to be with him every second was driving me nuts.  I could not do anything in the evenings.  I started to read books during nap times, because I had to lie there beside Zack.  I often told myself I needed the extra rest anyway, but I just couldn't do it anymore.  I did a lot of reading and decided that letting Zack cry and learn to get himself to sleep was probably the best thing to do.  I tried last month with encouraging results--except for the night I found Zack happily awake in his crib.  He cried himself to awake, basically, and then just sat there and played for a while.

Then, I got sick, and then, we traveled, so we postponed sleep training.

Jeff read the assigned book I picked and we set a date to start.  Zack got sick again so we postponed again.  And now I have a nasty cold, but I just couldn't put this off any longer.  So last night we did our usual bed time ritual and put Zack down awake in his crib.

And wow, did the boy catch on fast.  We wrote down everything, all our check ins, and he was asleep in 30 minutes with really not too much fuss.  Jeff and I congratulated ourselves, and I felt the weight of the last several months lifting.  What great parents we were.

It lasted a few hours, until Zack woke up again.  I fed him and got him drowsy, but when I went to put him back in the crib, the world exploded.  The look he gave me was the most expressive I have seen yet on his little face:  "What?!  Betrayer!!!"  This as I lowered him onto the mattress.  Later, upon review, I realized I should have followed my book's advice to the letter.  If Zack wakes up, we don't pick him up at all.  I really blew it there.

An hour and a half of howling later, he was asleep, Jeff was exhausted, and I was completely wired.  Zack woke several times later throughout the night and each time it was difficult for him to get back to sleep.  At one point, I snuck into his room to sleep myself, because it was warmer in there.  When he saw me during one of his wakeups, it was a bad scene.  Once again, I learned not to underestimate the authors of my sleep book.  I should not have made an appearance in that room.  I tried to turn it into a "checkin"--"Hey, you're doing great!  I know you can get to sleep!"  But it just prolonged the whole situation.

Finally, he got to sleep.  At 5:00 a.m., I finally got the "dream feed" thing right.  I went in, woke Zack, fed him, and got him back down with absolutely no problem.  That's the key:  you have to beat the baby to the punch.  If he wakes up and you respond to his cries, it's over.  You've mixed your messages, given in, let him win, lost the battle.  But if you get him, feed him, and then put him down, he hardly registers the event.  Then you can slowly wean those feedings away until he sleeps through the night.

Why did I think I could get away without those steps?  Well, you see, it's because our baby is a genius!  I figured all that pedestrian b.s. was for lesser babies.  I was too proud!  I have been humbled.

I think I got a couple hours of sleep last night.  Jeff and I were so exhausted today that I felt like I did on many mornings during our college years, after partying all night with him and all our friends.

Only this time, it was all hangover and no party.

One great thing happened, though.  On my walk with Zack yesterday, I lost Manta Ray.   I had a pretty good idea of where it happened, so we all walked to the park this morning, and we found Manta Ray in the sand!  He had spent the night there.  I guess he managed to self soothe without us, and now Manta Ray is successfully sleep trained.  I'm so glad we found him, and his big adventure away from us makes him an even better toy.  A toy who needs serious washing to make sure he doesn't transmit pin worms.

After recovering Manta, we went to Starbucks, where I did not order coffee.  I got a hot chocolate.  I figured if Zack's having a hard time learning his new thing, it's only fair that I stick to my guns.  Not to mention caffeine in me means caffeine in him, which can't help.  Zack sat and observed everyone while Jeff and I ate, and I said something about how he didn't use to like sitting in cafes.  He demanded that the stroller be on the move.  But now he's changed.  Since he's outgrown his pacifier, his swaddle, and several other behaviors and habits in his short life, I wonder sometimes if he could outgrow needing to sleep next to an adult, too. But how long will that take? And how much time will I spend lying next to him while he gets that together? It seems like we're just reenforcing a habit, in this case, and so we have to make the change, over Zack's protests.

My book says naps can be treated differently.  Thanks, book.  But after how hard last night was, I didn't want to lose any ground.  I put Zack in the crib awake for his first nap today.  He probably slept a whole 20 minutes, if that.  In addition to really missing his giant human pacifier / teddy bear, he is a phenomenally light sleeper and woke to the sound of the bathroom door closing in the hall.  (The daycare people moved his crib to the back of the nap room to try and deal with his incredible sensitivity to noise.  It didn't help.  Of course, if Zack's sleeping next to me, Jeff and I can have an entire conversation over his head, which seems to argue for the whole Attachment Parenting claim that infants really should sleep next to their parents.  When he's warm and safe next to Mom or Dad, nothing bothers him.  And hey, I don't dispute it really, but it's just that at this point, this parent needs a break.)

He's down for his second nap now, and we all needed a respite.  I don't want Zack to get overtired and not be able to go down at all tonight.  So I nursed him to sleep, and Jeff is sleeping with him.  (Jeff was actually falling asleep while watching Zack earlier--I heard the baby talking and Jeff snoring.  So I think they both really need a rest.)

And this is my rest:  not sleeping with Zack.  I'm going to take a shower and take as much time as I want in there.  And then maybe I'll sleep.  By myself.  In my bed.

I still am not sure that this is the best route.  With sleep, there are so many different agendas and philosophies.  I need to post on Rational Moms about this, too.  But the AP folks will go on and on about how letting a baby cry like this elevates cortisol, the--oh no!--stress hormone.  And that leads to permanent changes in the brain.  And that is child abuse.  Seriously.  Child abuse, that's what they say.  The kid is sleeping warm and safe in a beautiful room full of toys in a house with two parents who are beside themselves with love for him.

I had to do some reading and sorting things out to clear my head over that crazy claim.  And then I had to say goodbye to sleeping with snuggly Zack.  I'll really cherish the memories, but it's time for us to move on.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Seven Months Old

We have to interrupt the holiday recap to celebrate Zack's birthday!

Here's the month by month.







And seven!

And here are a couple bonus funny pictures.

The Big Family Photo Shoot

The 26th started off with the Cross Jones family milling around before the photo shoot.  Kristina and Casey are working the beautiful pregnant vibe.

Hot photo action!

The grandkids photo, with Cole not cooperating.

All the parents are trying to make the kids smile, and most of the kids are staring back at the parents.  Jeff also got hilarious video of this.

Zack looks small in Papa's arms.

Beeyootiful ladies!  (Thanks to Burt for this picture and the next two.)

Zack hamming it up.   As you can see, we are unable to keep it together as he addresses the family.
I think he was saying, "Aaaaaaaaaa!" But it sort of translated into, "Here I am, everybody!"

Zack's first plane trip

While we were waiting at the gate, Zack did this!  He was sitting on Jeff's lap on the floor and got curious about his stroller, which Jeff taped up for gate checking.  And he just pulled right up!

Later, we realized you really don't need to tape a stroller or use a stroller bag for gate checking.

Some other cool stuff happened at the gate.  Zack stood on my lap and gave a little lecture to the waiting folks.  Pretty awesome.  And this Armenian man next to me said, "I have a red head," and he and his wife talked to us about babies for a while.  Turns out they also had an "off the charts" red head.

On the other hand, a guy tried to steal my seat while I was away, and when Jeff said, "Excuse me, my wife is sitting there," the guy said, "Your wife?  Where is she?"  So rude.

I never, ever noticed people traveling with kids before, but on this trip I saw so many car seats going through security, so many people wrangling strollers and a gaggle of children.  It's funny that I was just completely tuned out to all of that until now.

Here he is ready to go!  Later we realized you don't have to put your car seat in the rear facing position on a plane.  It doesn't fit, and really, it's not like the plane is going to get into a front end collision.

Zack was just great on the plane.  No trouble, really.

Where to Begin?

We have so much holiday catching up to do.  Here is a great picture of Zack with Aunt Rose.  I actually forgot it was Chanukah when we visited her, but she didn't!  Zack got a Chanukah bear from her.

And he met her grandson, Tyler.  They hit it off.

I cannot believe we don't have more pictures from Christmas Eve at my house.  But anyway, even though this pic is blurry, you can see that Zack is learning the true meaning of Christmas as he is deluged with toys.  He loved every single one.

A fairly decent picture of our tree!  We got so many great ornaments.  I admit I went a little ornament crazy.  Jeff picked this tree and it was completely beautiful and almost scraped our ceiling.  I loved having a real tree this year.