Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mom: Baby Stats at Nine Months

Yesterday Susan turned 9 months old.  NINE MONTHS OLD!  How did this happen so fast?  She has been out longer than she was in.  And WE HAVE HAD SO MUCH FUN!  Sure there are a  lot of things that we had to power through - it will be that way for the rest of our lives.  The worry reflex will never go away.  But I wouldn't trade these last nine months for anything.  Watching Susan grow and try new things is amazing.  She really does change every single day.  

She had her 9 month check-up today.  She is right on track and on schedule.  She loves her doctor and we love her doctor too.  We didn't  love our first pediatrician so we switched right away.  That is one thing I would say to new parents - trust you instincts.  If you don't like the way you or your baby is being treated, or if the doctor seems to think your concerns are a big joke, switch doctors.  As new parents, you don't know if something is serious or silly and you want your doctor to take you seriously.  Except for that one horrible experience before Thanksgiving, we have been very happy with Duke Peds.  

Here are her stats at 9 months.

Weight: 23 lb.s 6.3 oz. (99.5 percentile)
Height: 30 inches (100th percentile)
Next appointment: 3/21 for her one year check up!
Teeth:  Six!  The fifth tooth erupted right before Thanksgiving and the sixth erupted this past Monday.  Now she has 4 teeth on the bottom and two up top.  We have tried to tell her that teething is not a race.  But apparently she doesn't care.  
New Foods:  Watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, broccoli and cauliflower.  We also helped Susan learn to self-feed.  Our first try was the night of the Christmas tree lighting.  She would take the puffs, look at them and throw them on the ground.  She has come a long way since then.  Now she eats her O's (Cheerios) and Puffs like a little champ.  She is also a master at the sippy cup.  I do think this is where daycare has been helpful.  Her dad and  I were not having a lot of success with the sippy cup.  She was having a hard time tilting, but now she drinks water like a champ!
Bottle: 3 times a day, 8 oz. each.  We decided to wean her down to three bottles around the same time we started self-feeding.  Susan LOVES her bottle.  I mean, if there were such a thing as Bottles Anonymous, she would need to attend the program.  And we would like her to be off the bottle as close to a year as possible.  We are going to wean her down to two probably around 10.5 months.  Once she really has the sippy cup mastered.  And once meats and other proteins are firmly established.
Clothing: 12 months
Diaper Size: 5 - With this last round of teething, Susan was having A LOT of blow outs.  And she was blowing out onto her adorable Christmas outfits.  Thankfully, I found this awesome recipe that removes stains from carpet and clothes!  It works better than any commercial stain product I have found.  So I was able to save her clothes, but we were tired of her coming home in her spare outfit everyday.  So even though she hasn't reached the weight of size 5 diapers yet, they fit her body better.  And the Blow Out/Soiled Clothes cycle has ended.
Sleeping: Between 10.5 to 11.5 hours at night.  She usually goes to bed between 7 and 8.  If she has not had great naps at daycare, she goes to bed a little earlier, around 6:00.  When not a daycare, she has two naps, one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon.  These usually last around 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
Favorite Toys:  She loves the ball.  I taught her to play ball ( we roll it back and forth) and she loves to do that.  Sometimes she gets so excited she hops on her butt. She also loves this bead rollercoaster toy that a friend let us borrow until Susan is too old for it.  She can pull up on it and explore every facet of it.
Likes: She loves to clap her hand and play ball.  She love peek-a-boo.  She really enjoys crawling around and exploring the house.  Now that she is so good at crawling, she just goes everywhere she wants.
Dislikes:  She doesn't love having to go in her pack and play if we need to do something and can't watch her.  She will sometimes even throw an all out fit.  We just ignore it and then she realizes she isn't getting her way and starts to play happily.  She still gets bored pretty easily.  We are both excited for the new toys that Santa is bringing for Christmas.  She is ready for more advance stuff and hopefully that will help with the boredom.
Milestones:  As Chris blogged in his last post, she is now babbling and talking.  She says "mama" all the time and sometimes she even says it at me.  She also says "baba" and "wawa" and a couple of others.  No "dada's" yet but we are working on it.  Chris also taught her how to "give five."  If we hold out one of our hands, she will slap it.  And she can wave.  She doesn't always wave when we wave at her, and sometimes she just starts waving for no reason.  But she can do it.  She is cruising a little but not a lot.  She is much happier to just crawl around.  We have to finish babyproofing because she pulls up onto everything.  This includes kitchen cabinets and drawers.  So we need to add those.  And we need to add the gate to the top of the stairs.  We have one; we just haven't installed it yet.  Basically, she is a textbook baby who is right on track with everything.  We are so blessed!

Beautiful smile!  Quite possibly the happiest baby alive!
Short attention span.  "Oh the light!"

And we lost her.  The tree and ornaments are much more interesting then her 9 month photo!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mom: Christmas Traditions Part 2

Two weekends ago we had so much fun!  We made Susan's first Gingerbread house and also made some delicious Christmas goodies.  This year, Susan mostly watched with interest but next year she will get to help!  And maybe we can even decorate Christmas cookies too.

Watching my dad put the M&Ms on the roof!

This looks delicious!

What are you doing mama?
This looks so yummy!

Susan loves it!

Susan's First Gingerbread House!
After we finished the Gingerbread House, my mom and I made some very yummy Christmas treats.  First we made Peppermint Pretzel Kisses.  Susan helped a little.  Then we made Rolo Stuffed Snickerdoodles.  I had never made Snickerdoodles before but they were delicious.  Then we made Christmas Crack which was amazing!  All of the recipes were on Pinterest. 

Peppermint Pretzel Kisses

 I took the goodies to my work Christmas party that night and they were a huge hit.  We are going to make more goodies next week when we are in Greensboro. 

So far, it has been a fun and memorable Christmas season.  I know Susan won't remember it, but her dad and I will.  And we wanted to make it really special!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dad: The Worry Reflex

For anybody who’s expecting – or even just toying with the idea of one day producing an offspring or two – just know in advance that there’s going to come a time, probably weekly, that you will be CONVINCED that your child is suffering from a genetic defect, a life-threatening illness, an uncorrectable developmental delay, or simply a lack of perfect parenting. Three of those four scenarios are usually false, but don’t try and tell that to a new parent because while it may seem like we know better and are keeping our wits about ourselves even in the most heated of crises, we are, in truth, always freaking out somewhere in the back of our minds.

I think that a person’s brain chemistry changes once they have a kid, because I sure as hell didn’t used to be this high-strung in my pre-fatherhood days. Maybe there’s some secret area of the cortex that awakens once you become a parent and reroutes all rational thought to your brain’s “Worst-Case-Scenario Processing Unit” that sits between the “They’re All Out to Get Me Paranoia Generator” and "Mental Breakdown Button." The word “reflex” is the best description I can give because it’s not something you can control, and it happens so suddenly that before I can say pneumonia, my mind is already equating a sneeze with the early stages of whatever went wrong in The Walking Dead

My worry reflex is tingling.

The worst I can recall this happening to me was over the last two months when Susan’s lack of talking, or what the baby books call “babbling,” had me sure that she was either deaf or incapable of speech. For all the cooing and playful screams that came from Susan’s mouth, as of about five days ago she had yet to say anything that resembled an actual word. Yes, she would converse with us, respond with her own OOH's and AAH's, and had mastered almost all of the vowels, but the consonants were sorely lacking. One time I swore she said “Uh oh Bob,” but since I know for a fact that she has yet to see the Bill Murray classic “What About Bob?”, I considered it a fluke. 

Uh oh Bob, indeed.

Now I’m not saying that you should ignore any signs of significant problems your child may have, and the bottom line is that if you’re concerned about something it’s never a bad idea to ask your pediatrician. I know several people who have children with learning disabilities, and I commend them all for dealing with their own day-to-day worries regarding their kids better than I ever could.

However, this particular instance of worry-without-cause was entirely on me, though I shed some of the blame on Susan’s pediatrician, who we love but who has yet to catch on to this particular “quirk” of mine. The last time Susan went in for a check-up was on her six-month-old birthday, and at that point the doc told us that we should expect to hear her start babbling within the next few months. She told us to keep talking to Susan normally but also to say lots of MA-MA-MA-MA, DA-DA-DA-DA and BA-BA-BA-BA in hopes that Susan would reciprocate. Easy enough. I figured after a few weeks of talking to Susan like Ozzy Osbourne during a week-long bender at Bonnaroo, the girl would be reciting Shakespeare by October and delivering motivational speeches on par with President Thomas J. Whitmore before Thanksgiving. 


But about 2.5 months and 40,000 MA-MA-MA-MA’s later, Susan still hadn’t given us any MA’s, DA’s or BA’s in return. For me that’s when the Parental Worry Reflex kicked in. I’d felt it before, like the first time I bumped her head, or when we convinced ourselves that she had a major flat spot on the back of her skull or when she wouldn’t laugh at my hilarious moderately funny jokes, but this time my worry reflex was in overdrive. Susan had hit all of her previous milestones at exactly the right time, making us feel like competent parents who were doing things exactly right, just like Chuck Norris' mother. She rolled over at four months, sat up at five months and crawled at seven months, but it had been almost nine months and she still hadn’t started babbling. Even though her doctor CLEARLY said she would.

So at that point, I did what all bright, rational and self-confident people do when they need an important question answered, and consulted the internet.

I googled “My baby doesn’t babble” and found that about 5 million other parents shared the same concern. I checked out the first few page results, ignoring the paragraphs saying helpful things like “Don’t worry if you child isn’t babbling” and “Children develop at their own rate” and “Why are you toying with your own sanity by consulting internet forums which we all clearly know are the least accurate information resource in the world.” Instead, what I focused on were the freak-out words that always seem like they’re written in big, bright red font. You know, things like HEARING PROBLEM, DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY, and YOU SHOULD CONSULT YOUR PEDIATRICIAN IMMEDIATELY.

What do you know, MomOfDamien.

I went over to Susan immediately and snapped my fingers in both her ears. She turned and looked at me like “WTF are you doing that for? Clearly I’m in the middle of something important with this ball and cup.” So she wasn’t deaf, that’s good right? WRONG. If she wasn’t deaf and still wasn’t babbling, that only meant the next logical conclusion that she was probably suffering from a brain hemorrhage that I inflicted when I (ACCIDENTALLY) knocked her head on a door four months ago. After some more help from the internet, I determined that Susan needed to be fitted for a hearing aid and then pulled out my phone to call the doctor.

Then a funny thing happened. My wife, who will fully admit that she is also prone to OMG THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER freak-outs, told me to calm the eff down and quit being a diva. “She’ll start talking, I promise. Just wait.” she said. Um, cleary not, I thought, because obviously if Susan wasn’t talking before her 9-month birthday, she was never going to get it. Ever. But I listened, put the phone down and waited.

For the next few days, every Susan grunt and squeal was just further proof that our baby was never going to talk, would never be able to yell at the TV with me for the Panthers to THROW THE FREAKING FOOTBALL, or would never be able to hold court on the merits of the designated hitter rule. Needless to say, it weighed on me.

Then on Thursday morning, Mary and I were busy-bodying in the kitchen while Susan tooled around in her Pack-n-Play. She was going through her normal rotation of EEEEEEEEEE and OOOOOOOOO and UUUUUUUH when all of a sudden she started humming. It started as mmmmmm and built up into an unmistakable mmmMUH. Then another. mmmMUH mmmMUH mmmmmmMUH mmmmmmmMUH MUH MAH MA-MA-MA. Mary and I looked at each other, totally NAILED a high-five and then Mary broke into a dance that I can only describe as the Funky Chicken Tootsie Roll. I joined in with my rendition of the Cabbage Patch, and so there we were, two grown-ass adults dancing (badly) by ourselves in the kitchen at 6:00 AM while our baby said MA-MA-MA-MA and our dog backed away nervously. The blinds were open, so if any of our neighbors were awake at that hour, I hope we added a little excitement to their morning Corn Flakes.

Now Susan says MA-MA-MA all the time and has even thrown in a few BA-BA-BA’s and WA-WA-WA’s. I’m not sure there’s a whole lot she can do with those syllables at present, but who cares! She can talk! And best of all, it’s taking my mind off her nasty cold and the fact that she isn't walking yet.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mom: Christmas Traditions - Part 1

I love Christmas!  It is one of my favorite times of year.  The weekend after Thanksgiving, we went ahead and put up all of our decorations and decorated our Christmas tree.

Going for it!
Playing around - in one of my many Christmas outfits!

I blogged last year about how I could not wait to start sharing our Christmas traditions with Susan.  Well we have already started, plus we have added some meaningful new traditions as well!  The town we live in - Hillsborough - is such a neat little town.  We found it by accident!  I missed the swearing in for the Durham County bar and needed to be sworn in so I decided to attend the swearing in at the Orange County Bar.  And the county seat for Orange County is Hillsborough, not Chapel Hill.  Well, we fell in love with Hillsborough that day and managed to find our house in a great neighborhood a few months later.  Now that we have Susan, we are getting to do so much and appreciate our little town so much more.

Last Friday was the Town Christmas Tree Lighting.  Festivities were set to begin at 6:30.  We weren't sure if that meant the tree would light up then or not.  So we ate a quick (and early) dinner downtown and then walked over to the Christmas tree at 6:30.  There was a large crowd already gathered and we could hear carolers singing.  After listening to a few more carols, the lead caroler read The Little Fir Tree which was such a sweet story!  After a few more carols, all the children were invited to come forward and take a seat.  Then Mrs. Claus came out and read Twas the Night Before Christmas!  Then everyone joined in to sing Joy to the World before the Mayor and children began the official tree lighting countdown.  Susan was very interested and thankfully it was not that cold.  When the tree lit up, it was really beautiful.  Chris and I had a lot of fun and Susan appeared to enjoy herself as well.  We decided it is definitely a Christmas tradition we want to continue.

Excited to watch the Christmas Tree Lighting!
Listening to Mrs. Claus
Watching the carolers
It is so big and bright!

There is a lot going on right now!  Distractions everywhere!     
The video below shows the full lighting - but of course I completely missed both the actual lighting and Susan's reaction.  Oh well!  There is always next year!

We didn't get to make it to the Hillsborough Parade this year.  That is okay.  The parade starts at 10 a.m. which is during her morning nap.  So we will make it next year, when she is down to one afternoon nap a day.  But on Sunday we did experience a few more new and fun Christmas traditions.

First we stopped by the Daniel Boone Arts and Craft Fair.  We wanted to see the crafts but we mostly wanted to stop by and see Santa and Mrs. Claus.  They were rumored to make an appearance.  We knew this would help us avoid the mall and would support our town.  So we stopped by around 12:30 p.m. to meet Santa.  And Susan was a star!  She didn't cry or even whimper.  She just looked at him intently, clearly indicating all the wonderful things she wanted for Christmas.  And by her behavior, he could tell she had been a really good girl this year.  It was so sweet!

Who are you?  Oh right - your Santa Claus!  Well, I want...
Such a happy girl!  I love Santa!
Instead of my two front teeth, could I just have a break from teething?  Wait, that is what my mom wants.  I want a corn popper, blocks, a ring stacker...
Too cute for words!
Whoa - Mrs. Claus too!
 You would think the fun might have stopped there but you would be wrong.  The town also holds an annual Candlelight Home Tour for all of the historic homes.  Now, we didn't attend the tour this year (it may be a few more years for that) but as part of the tour festivities, there are horse drawn carriage rides downtown!  After meeting Santa, we still had about 45 minutes until Susan's next nap so we decided to go for it.  And it was so worth it.  She had a great time and we had a lot of fun too!

On the carriage
Looking out at my adoring fans!
So inquisitive
Oh Hey Daddy
Best afternoon ever
So much fun!
 It really was a great weekend.  We started the Christmas season off with some wonderful new traditions.  Next weekend we will share with Susan one of my favorite traditions - decorating a gingerbread house!