Friday, August 30, 2013

My baby is developing a personality.

It's cool. But it's also really, really frustrating!  We used to sit in our big comfy chair in the nursery while he ate. Now he stops every 5 seconds to try to sit up, then twists across me to try to pull a book out of the he can eat it. I almost think we need a new feeding spot. 

And don't take anything away from him that he's interested in! One evening, I took a teething wafer out of his hands to dip it in yogurt. He completely lost it! I was so shocked. It was out of his hand (and mouth) for literally two seconds! Wow.

So basically everything is harder now. I love it, but also hate it so much. 

I also feel partially at fault or like I'm getting what I deserve because his personality really resembles mine more than his dad's. He's stubborn, opinionated, and doesn't like being told what to do. I also think he's pretty smart. He remembers exactly what he was originally wanting whenever I try to distract him.

I haven't talked much about it, but he's so close to crawling. He sits virtually unsupported, but I still need to be nearby to prevent crashes. He'll lean down onto his hands. He can almost sit up without help (and boy does he try to often!). He will occasionally get on all fours, but usually I have to help him. And he's a pro at pushing himself backwards...just hasn't quite mastered forward yet. Makes him so angry!!  He has this loud frustration grunt. He actually has lots of loud noises now.

The nanny transition went pretty well this week, but he's not eating enough for her and it stresses me out to no end. Hopefully they'll get in a groove next week. When it's not 90 degrees. (Working in a 90 degree bungalow is a non-starter. I went to a public library today for the first time in 10+ years. Just me, old people and crazy people. Ok and a few normal people.)

This is my view from my current blogging locale in my backyard. Mr.GG is out walking Dylan to sleep since the house has not cooled down yet. He's a keeper! This heat is not.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Hiring a Nanny

Finding the right nanny was just about as stressful as I thought it would be.  Here's how it went down, along with my suggestions.

The Search:
Start your search 1-2 months before you want your nanny to start.  I decided to use because I had seen it on TV and knew a few people who had used it.  I bought a 3 month membership.  If you are seriously ready to hire, you could easily just buy a one-month membership. I started in June and didn't have a full-time position until the end of August (although this ended up giving us a nice transition period).  Within 48 hours, I had at least 60 responses, maybe more.  It was both exciting and overwhelming.  I went through and "favorited" the applicants that I liked using experience with infants, desired pay, and responsibilities the nanny was comfortable with (light housekeeping, meal prep) as my criteria.

Then I sent an email to all of my favorites which was probably about 15 people.  I reiterates that the full-time position would not start until the end of August and asked them to let me know if they were still interested.  I did state the dates on the original ad, but I don't think people paid much attention.  So be really clear if the position starts in the future.

I asked them to answer 6 questions:

1. Tell me about your specific experience with infants including feeding, creating schedules, etc...
2. Describe a typical day with a 7-month old.
3. What are your career plans?  Ideally, we would like to find a nanny that can stay with our family for the next two years.
4. Do you have a driver's license?
(and two others I can't remember)

I was kind of shocked, but I only got 4 responses!  Initially, this made me very upset, but I think it weeded the candidates exactly as I had intended.

I have conducted job interviews before, but this was very different and pretty awkward.  I decided to interview three of the applicants.  The first interview was awesome.  Let's call her Nanny 1.  She is Brazilian and is here first studying English and then will be getting her Master's.  All classes are in the evenings.  She has great relevant experience and is willing to do light housekeeping and cooking.  But most of all, she's really warm.  I feel comfortable talking to her.  The conversation flowed pretty naturally.  She lives about 10 minutes from my house and has a driver's license (but no car).  When she left, I thought I'm going to hire the first person I've met!

The interview with Nanny 2 was the polar opposite.  Even though I had just conducted an interview an hour earlier, there were tons of awkward pauses.  Nanny 2 was very nice, but somewhat reserved.  Honestly, I don't really remember the rest, because I knew that I wanted our nanny to be more boisterous and playful than I am.  If I'm not going to be the one with Dylan all day, why not find someone who is even better at "playing" and interacting with a baby?  I wanted a complement to my personality, not the same personality or a quieter version.

Nanny 3 was perfection.  She was super cute and put together, taught preschool, had tons of relevant experience.  She and her fiance had moved out here from the East Coast for his job.  She lived in the same area as Nanny 1 and had her own car.  She was awesome and now my decision became really difficult.

So I was stuck.  I really liked Nanny 1, but Nanny 3 was essentially perfect.

The Decision:
As you know, decisions are not my forte and this was such a huge one!  I knew I wanted to do a trial with both candidates, but I was also not sure how much it would tell me.  I mean Dylan is not going to say "mom, I liked Nanny 3 better."  But I had each of them come for about 4 hours on different weekends.  Everything went well with both, of course, and I was still stuck although I had forgotten to settle on pay ahead of time and When I asked Nanny 3 if x amount was okay, she said "I usually get y." I was fine with the amount, but it left just the slightest bad taste in my mouth.

I went back and forth so many times and took over two weeks to make a decision (thank goodness they were patient!), but in the end I chose Nanny 1.

Here's why.  I was confident in the abilities of both women, but I felt like Nanny 1 might be a little more flexible and less demanding.  I want to compensate our nanny fairly.  It's an extremely important job.  But I also can't pay her what I make or it just doesn't make sense financially.  I felt like Nanny 3 would constantly be adding up hours in her head, seeing whether she was getting a good deal with hours worked versus our flat weekly rate, whereas Nanny 1 would be happy with whatever and trust that I was being fair.  Our schedule is pretty set, but might be a few hours more one week and less another.  But I would always give extra if something out of the ordinary came up.  Also, Nanny 3 was working full-time all summer, all the way up to our start date.  Nanny 1 was fine with starting once a week immediately which was perfect. She worked about once a week for the rest of the summer and I feel really comfortable with leaving him with her TOMORROW! Aah! really just came down to a feeling about what would make me the most comfortable.  When I told Nanny 1 the news, she was so excited!  She said that she had turned down other jobs because she was hoping she would get this one.  That sealed the deal and I knew we had made the best decision for Dylan.  And maybe he'll learn Portuguese to boot!

She's been here about once a week since mid-July and is here today. She has gotten to know Dylan well, but now she also knows where the trash bags and toilet paper are, how the frozen breast milk is organized and how to work the Keurig. I think it's going to be great for everyone. Fingers crossed!

Obligatory pic of my cool California dude! (Sitting all by himself at the beach.)

Growing up

I read so many of my mom friends say how sad they are that their baby is growing up or getting bigger.  Honestly, I haven't had many of those moments yet.  I enjoy each day as he gets more and more interactive.  And he's still wearing 3 month clothes and will *sometimes* fall asleep on my shoulder.  But we've got some upcoming changes that are really giving me pause.

Last school year, I only went back for the last 6 weeks...and he was just 4 months adjusted at the time so he was still asleep often and not nearly on a schedule.

Now I go back on Wednesday and he's 7 months adjusted (nearly 11 months actual!!).  He's slept in our room since the day he got home and I love having him there.  But he wakes up around 6:30 and that's basically when I need to leave in the morning.  I don't want to worry about waking him up earlier, so he needs to start sleeping in his room. And I am sad about it.  His nursery is downstairs on the other side of the house.  I'd probably still be able to hear him and we have a great monitor, but it's a big step!  He already goes to sleep in his crib at night (I move him after the dreamfeed) and takes all naps in his crib, so I'm pretty positive he'll be fine.  But it's definitely a step away from baby-hood.

The second issue is pumping...or weaning I guess.  Dylan had 100% breast milk for the first 4 months of his life.  But he really liked the thickness of Enfamil AR and it got us out of the NICU, so he's been eating 50% BM, 50% formula since then.  I say this just to show that I have no issue with formula (except the cost...geesh!).  But despite that, I wanted to be able to give Dylan breastmilk through a year adjusted which will come in January.  I have a healthy freezer stash, so I figured I could stop pumping when I went back to school and make it until January.  And I can. number one concern right now is flu season.  We hired a nanny for Dylan so that he would be away from other kids and their germs since his lungs are much more vulnerable to infection.  But I'm terrified that I will be the one to bring sickness into our household from one of the 150 dirty teenagers whom I spend my day with.  I almost never get sick.  And I've always felt that it's because of the immunity I've built up from my students.  I hand sanitize occasionally, but also realize that some exposure is good.  But not this year!

I'm seriously considering having all students sanitize before entering the classroom (like they do at the hospital) and having all desks wiped down with Lysol at the end of the day.  Then when I get home I'll change my clothes and shower.  It feels a little crazy, but I don't think I could sleep if I don't do it.

So back to the breastmilk...I wonder how much protection I could give Dylan by continuing to give him fresh milk?  Does it really work that fast?  How much milk would he need?  Is four ounces enough?

Because I do not want to pump at work.  I would actually be totally happy to still pump twice a day.  But it's not feasible to pump for a half an hour and have a half an hour commute in the morning.  School starts at 7:30.  (And car pumping just does not cut it.  I get almost nothing and then have to "unhook" and such near a school with teenagers walking by.  Two times of that was enough to want to die.)  I could pump during my prep period, but honestly I just really don't want to.  I need to use that time to really get things done so that I can get home to spend time with Dylan.  (I can't really get things done while pumping since I need to do compressions for most of the time and need to hand express after.)

So I dropped to just one pump a day last Friday and I'm hoping that my milk will not dry up before January, but I've taken a severe hit with each dropped session since 4 and I'm only making 4-5 ounces now.  If I can sustain that amount, I'll keep at it.  But if it drops below 4 (with about 40 minutes of pumping, then hand-expressing), then I'll throw in the towel.

I think weaning is hard for every mom, whether you make the the decision immediately, after 6 months, or even at two years.  And I'm mourning it before it's even happened, even though he's only been getting 5 or so fresh ounces a day.  (And I know that I'm lucky that I've had a supply both fresh and frozen that has gotten us this far.)  When do parenting decisions become easier?  When they're 20?

He can hold the bottle now!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Suzy Q Homemaker

That's what I felt like last night!

I've mentioned many times on here how un-domestic I am.  It's hard for me to stay on top of household things.  I have no excuse; I'm just terrible at it.

But sometimes the planets align and I turn into Trudy from Mad Men (our Netflix series of the it!).

During the day on Monday and Tuesday, my mom came over and we re-organized just about every messy area of the house: pantry, tupperware, fridge, my "catch-all" bookcase, and most satisfyingly, my closet.  I have NEVER been this prepared for going back to school.  It'll be nice to know where everything is and not have too many projects hanging over my head.  Although I still never technically finished the nursery.  Whoops.

So anyway...I decided to actually prepare dinner because I was feeling productive.  It wasn't special or involved, just a really delicious tomato bisque from Costco that my mom and I sampled during the afternoon, grilled cheese, and a salad, but it's more of home-cooked meal than I have prepared in awhile.  It probably triples the number of meals I have cooked all summer.

And while we ate, Dylan ate an entire portion of butternut squash that I saved from my lunch.  It was just about an ounce, but he ate ALL OF IT!  He's never eaten all of something.  Apparently, he likes fancy gourmet roasted food better than the plain baby food I make or buy for him.

So the three of us ate dinner the dining room table (MrGG and I usually eat at the coffee table in front of the TV, but are trying to eat with Dylan more often).

And I felt like a success.

*New goal*  Repeat this success at least once a week.  It's only a few short months until Dylan needs real food all of the time.

Today's picture is not of last night's meal, but it is of Dylan eating.  Doesn't he look like a big boy?!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Liebster Award and some very random facts

None of the posts I've been writing have made it to publishing.  Why?  I'm not really sure.  But I thought I might as well do a Q&A post to actually give you something to read.  I was first nominated for the Liebster Award a long time ago, November 28, 2011!  I can't believe I've been blogging that long.  And P at Handpicked Miracle was kind enough to nominate me again.  The purpose of the Liebster Award is to recognize small blogs with less than 200 readers.  See my picks at the end of the post.

Now for P's questions:
1. What is one place other than where you live now that you would love to live?
I would love to live so many different places!  Abroad.  The Pacific Northwest.  I would kind of even like to live in a big city like New York.  But I am very happy here in Southern California.

2. What is your favorite quote?
I hate favorites questions because I'm not a good decision-maker.  Currently, I love this one and chose one as the headline for Dylan's blog: "Sometimes," said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." -A.A. Milne

3. What is your favorite/most profound lesson that your preemie(s) have taught you?
It's really lessons about myself.  One, that I truly needed to stop everything to focus on being his parent.  I think that was really good for me.  And two, just how strong both myself and dh can be.  We came out of this experience shaken, but so much stronger.

4. If you could only eat one vegetable for the rest of your life what would it be?

5. What was your most favorite vacation to date?
Our Honeymoon to Costa Rica was definitely the best, but I've taken some pretty awesome vacations: Australia, Europe, Hawaii, Cabo.  My two trips abroad were on my own though and it's much more fun travelling with someone!

6. If any animal could be domesticated safely, what would you want as a pet?
Either a panda or a tiger.  I've always loved pandas, but tiger's are pretty awesome.  

7. What book can you read over and over without getting tired of it?
I don't really re-read books.  I like to be surprised.  But for school I do read the same books year after year to teach them.  To Kill a Mockingbird never gets old.  Neither do Romeo and Juliet, A Tale of Two Cities, or The Kite Runner

8. What was the last movie you saw in the theater?
I can't really remember.  How sad is that?  I know that I saw Argo while Dylan was still in the hospital and I know we've seen one movie since.  Maybe the last James Bond?  When did that come out?  (And I love going to the movies!  When we do have date nights, movies never seem to make the cut.)

9. How would you describe your fashion style?
Hmm...I'm somewhat youthful and on the edge of trendy.  I have to make sure not to wear things that my students wear.  In an outfit it would be skinny jeans, TOMS or sandals, and a loose top or  a v-neck with a longer cardigan.  Pretty simple and comfortable.

10. What sound irritates you?
A lot of sounds irritate me, but I can't think of one in particular at the moment.  I always tell my students not to sing in my classroom!  After being with 150 students all day, I like some quiet at home.

11. What is your favorite holiday?
I think Thanksgiving.  It's not as crazy as Christmas, but everyone gets together and there is good food.  But I also love summer...the 4th of July and fireworks!

and 11 random facts?  Dylan might wake up soon and I need to wash bottles.  Ok, super fast.
1 - I was born in the same city as Ashton Kutcher.  Look it up.
2 - Snickers make me happy (the chocolate kind).
3 - I was in the marching band in high school AND COLLEGE!  (I loved it.)
4 - I have a double major in English and Psychology. 
5 - I'm thinking about starting a PhD program...soon.  Crazy?
6 - I hate black olives.
7 - I am a really messy person and I fight it every day.
8 - I'm addicted to the Bachelor and Bachelorette (but not Bachelor Pad - glad they canceled it).
9 - I've been told by multiple people that I look like Nina Garcia.  Not sure if that's a compliment...
10 - I crack my fingers and toes.
11 - I have never lived more than 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. nominees are: (if you've received it before, just play along!)
Non Sequiter Chica at Non Sequiter Chica
A Miracle in the Works at A Miracle in the Works (who originally nominated me!)
Mrs. Rochester at itsgonnahappen

Ugh.  I don't want to think of new questions.  Here goes:
1. What trait do you hope your kid(s) don't inherit?
2. What is your dream career?
3. What is your favorite chick flick?
4. What is your favorite TV series?
5. What kind of a blogger are you?  What's your blog-style?
6. Tell us a funny story from high school.
7. Where did you Honeymoon?
8. What is the last book you read?
9. What do you eat for dinner if you are home alone? (I eat cereal or PB&J, like a lazy child.)
10. Which blogger would like to go have drinks with?
11. What is currently stressing you out? 

DONE! Baby still asleep.  Now to disconnect the pump parts from my chest and wash some bottles.  I guess the shower can wait until the next nap.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What little kid doesn't like food?

Mine I guess.

Actually, the more research I do, the more I realize that a lot of kids don't really like food, but all of the babies I know in real-life cannot get enough of it.

I'm not at all surprised that solids are turning out to be a challenge.  Neither is DYlan's Occupational Therapist.  It took him a long time to get the bottle down, so this may take some time too.  I'm not sure whether the issue is the texture or the taste, but I kind of think it's just swallowing.

At the very beginning, I followed the rules and gave him the same food for a few days in a row.  After some additional research on allergies, I decided to just give him new foods when the situation presented itself.  It looks like delaying foods does not prevent an allergy.  If I had allergies in my family, I'd be more cautious, but we have none and Dylan has had no reaction so far.

So first I gave purees or mashed fruit: avocado, banana, sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash...  Most were home-made by my sister or myself, some were Plum Organics.  Basically Dylan spit out whatever entered his mouth.  He may have eaten a tablespoon of the butternut squash - it had a bit of cinnamon in it and he seems to like it marginally better - but it's hard to tell.

But then he started more actively grabbing for my food.  I didn't plan to do Baby Led Weaning, but by following Dylan's lead, I guess I am doing it a bit.  First he grabbed for watermelon.  Success!  He gnawed on it, maybe swallowing some juice, and spit out any pieces that he bit off.  In Hawaii he tried honeydew and also enjoyed it.  Cantaloupe was a no.  He was also grabbing at my bagel in the morning.  I didn't let him have it the first day (it was an "Everything" bagel), but I did let him gnaw on a roll at dinner that night and he loved it!  He has also enjoyed gnawing on whole carrots.

So I could tell that he was interested in food, just not the purees.  Texture issue?  Or still swallowing?

His OT said that if it is a texture issue, that we want to "nip it in the bud" right away or else it will become a behavioral issue where food in mouth = spit out food.  She said to keep trying the purees, but to also add in some "meltables" like  Baby Mum Mums and Puffs.  I believe these are basically "junk" foods, but at this point, I just want him to learn that he can put food in his mouth and swallow it.  He has definitely eaten some of the Mum Mums and Puffs.

I'm also using a variety of feeding techniques.  I use spoons and he can (somewhat successfully) put the spoon in his mouth.  I bought little rubber toppers for the pouches to make them easier and more comfortable to suck on.  So far he just bites and I squeeze a little in (and then he spits it out). He seemed to kind of like prunes yesterday.  I also bought the Boon silicone feeder.  I put honeydew in there one day and he enjoyed chewing on it.  It's a bit large for him right now though. I have to help him hold it and it's pretty big for his mouth.  I definitely think he prefers holding his food and feeding himself.  He's just not super coordinated yet.

He hasn't choked on anything at home yet.  He bites pieces of and then swallows them when they melt (carbs) or spits them out (fruits).  But...we let him chew on a piece of bread at dinner one night.  In hindsight I knew it was a bad choice since it had kind of a hard skin on it.  A small piece of skin got stuck in the back of his mouth.  It wasn't dangerous for choking.  It was completely flat, but it annoyed the heck out of him.  He got it out all projectile vomiting it up.  So now that's happened. : /

One of the most important things with feeding is to be consistent and keep introducing new things and textures.  I can't just give in and only give him things he likes.  But I'm at least as stubborn as he is, so I'll take the challenge!

He's one tooth bud out and one on the way.  It'll be interesting to see how teeth change the game.

Oh and he loves chewing on glass.  The bowl I put his food in is his favorite.  My coffee mug is a close second.  #futurebruin