Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A window friend already?

Yesterday, Isabella started putting her chair next to the door. A bit troubled, I thought perhaps she's a bit too young to have a window friend. . .

She has figured out that she can carry the chair where she goes - to the kitchen, by the couch to watch t.v., in front of the stereo, in front of the piano.

Last night, I finally put two and two together, as I was getting Isabella ready for bed. By putting the chair by the door, she is copying what she "read" in The Cat in the Hat. Problem solved Sherlock.


This is the way we learn to crawl

Victoria's in the beginning stages of crawling. She's not always motivated to do the crawling thing, since rolling places gets her there just fine. So, I've been motivating her to crawl towards something by putting something not too far from her reach. Her movements are a tad bit like Isabella's was. She uses mainly her upper body, the right side to be more specific, to propel herself forward. Then her feet do a little push in the aftermath.

in preparation for the classical crawl, she's taking her tummy off the ground and rocking back and forth, shifting her weight from her front to her trunk.


What else is going on with Victoria lately?
  • Sleep training is going pretty well. It's simple and uncomplicated at this point. I'm nursing her until she is partially cognizant. Then I play music for her, put her in bed and lay her in bed. Not half an hour ago, I did this and she somehow woke herself up more. Ten to twenty minutes later she fell asleep.
  • Food besides breast milk. Well, she still hates rice cereal, so once in awhile, I sneak a teaspoon into her carrots. Like my dear friend, Manda (see this post for her description), I've seen direct consequences of iron in the rice cereal; makes her stool a lot harder. Yup, even a teaspoon makes a huge difference. I've tried carrots and peas. She digs the carrots. Not so keen on the peas, but heating it up helps.
  • She is very vocal, whether happy or upset.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The 24/7 diner

This sweet little girl has a voracious appetite, all the time these days. I'm chalkin' it up to a growth spurt. Otherwise, she thinks I'm a 24/7 diner, never closed for any reason, holidays or sleep. She wanted me at 2 AM, and then again, she wanted to nurse at 5:30 AM. Gals, hold off on giving me advice about stuffing her up with rice cereal, as tempting as such might be. Isabella eventually outgrew that phase. Or sleep training did it. So, too, this shall pass with Victoria.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

She rings in the 8 month mark with plenty of whine and a feast

Victoria turned 8 months old yesterday. How did she celebrate that day? Wanting to nurse ALL day long and never wanting to be apart from me. Think I'm exaggerating? No way. Not at all. In fact, the saga continued today. Being in the same room isn't enough. She wants me to hold her, play with her, love her. Putting her down is like, well, someone has killed her slowly and painfully. Speaking of which, got to take care of the little one.


She's a blessing and a blessed child. I'm not complaining. Just making an observation. Comfort her, I shall.

Moving mountains, I mean, tables

Isabella decided to do some furniture rearranging today. Her table was something she wanted in the living room area, where Victoria and I were hanging out. A pretty impressive move, if you ask me.



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Building strong towers, I mean, towers

Since Saturday, we noticed that Isabella can and does build towers by herself! This is truly amazing. Up to this point, she has lacked the coordination and patience to do this, and oftentimes when we play with her, she prefers being the destroyer to the builder. But, here she is, building! Isabella built all those on her own.



Our little musician, sitting and playing at the piano for seven minutes

I'm going to sound like a super proud parent (and I must confess that I am), but Victoria seems very much interested in the piano. She loves to pluck away at the keys. Plus, the musical distraction keeps her from focusing on the fact that she is practicing sitting on her own.


It's bedtime and Dr. Seuss is the rule of the roost

Clearly this picture wasn't taken during her evening bed-time. Isabella, however, is looking at the newest edition to her list of favorite books she likes to peruse before going to bed - The Cat in the Hat. The books she has to "read" before going to bed are: The ABC Book, The Foot Book, and The Cat in the Hat.


Socks, anyone?

Some time around the age of two, a milestone is for toddlers to try to put clothing on. Well, Isabella has tried putting on pants backwards, sticking her arms in the sleeves of shirts, sticking her feet in the sleeves of shirts, putting on her own coat (we've seen that once or twice), and putting her sister's socks on. That's right, Isabella will pull Victoria's socks off and put them on her own feet or her hands.



Sunday, January 11, 2009

Providing entertainment and practicing sitting without assistance

Victoria's practicing, well, at a couple of things. She was on her belly rolling back and forth. When she got to the piano, she was raised her belly high off the ground, eager to play on the piano. Soon she became rather frustrated, wanting to get a better view.

Little did I know that helping her gain a better view and reach of the piano would also give her a good distraction and hence practice of sitting on her own. She sat for about a minute on her own. Sniffles. Our littlest one is growing up so fast.


Sleeping beauty

Victoria had fallen asleep in my lap and how joyous it was to hold her, my sleeping beauty, my sleeping angel, sleeping babe.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Victoria tries baby food vegetables, carrots, for the first time

Hates rice cereal, as many babies do. But, Victoria tried baby food vegetables for the first time. Carrots. Loved it!

Initially tried feeding to her in my lap. BIG mistake. I ended up wearing carrots on my clothes, she ended up wearing it on her clothes, it was all over the place. She wanted to grab for the carrots in the bowl and on the spoon. Very enthusiastic and hands on that one.


I gave her an extra spoon to play with, "to keep her busy." Didn't work, apparently. She'd still grab for the one with the food on it.

Decided that I needed both hands free to feed her. Into the high chair she was strapped.


Not so clean. I tell you, this little girl wanted to grab the carrots and shove it into her mouth herself. She chomped up the four teaspoons I fed her. Had no idea whether she would have consumed the entire jar had I let her.


I was getting ready to go shopping with Christina, so I polished Victoria's meal off with some breastfeeding, and off I went.

She's currently still sleeping. So, she hasn't had any breast milk or anything to eat, for that matter, for over four hours now. I'm planning on waking her up to eat for two selfish purposes. One, so I won't have to wake up at four o'clock in the morning to nurse. Two, my breasts won't protest as much. And, since I'm not completely recovered from mastitis, I also need to try and empty my breasts. With that being said, I must sign off and hop to!

How the little ones communicate at Victoria's age

We're closing in on 6 months, in terms of the amount of time we've been living in Colorado. I wish I could say I'm patient in the making friends and taking time to adjust to place department. Truth is, I totally am not.

Feeling lonely and isolated are not states I cope with easily or willingly. The good news is that though I met Christina early on, at our church, only recently have I discovered just how much we have in common. Her son, Oliver, is one month older than Victoria. But that is just the beginning of our likenesses. We seem to approach a lot of things similarly. I'm super excited about getting to know her better. In fact, we have a scrap booking date for this coming Friday, while Troy takes the girls to the zoo (what an awesome husband and father, huh?!).

On a couple of occasions recently, when Oliver has gotten close to Victoria, his mode of contact with her was to bite her and to pull her hair. Christina quickly responded, not just by pulling him away from her and telling him not to do that but apologizing profusely for him doing that.

Two things, I'm not one of those uptight moms and I am not a first time mom.

I am well aware of the fact that these little ones best explore the world by putting things in their mouths. They get a better feel of things in the world through that means than any other way at this age.

I wasn't offended. I did want to comfort Victoria, though, because she was visibly upset, and she didn't realize that Oliver didn't mean any harm.

Though her eyes are closed in this picture, her facial expression was too colorful, expressive, and funny not to include.


The doll Victoria is totally checking out is Reagan, a doll that Grandma and Grandpa got for Isabella for Christmas. See? She's doing the very same thing Oliver was doing to her before the New Year. He just wanted to check her out. Only, um, she has no teeth and Oliver has six or more teeth. Ouch.


Friday, January 02, 2009

The sleep-training journey

Parents have to make their own decisions on sleep training, but I for one have decided it is crucial for our children. Why? Without any sleep training whatsoever, babies learn to sleep by being held or rocked to sleep or associating eating and sleeping. What's wrong with that? Nothing in it is inherently wrong, per se. It's just that when babies learn to sleep in that fashion, they are incapable of soothing themselves to sleep. Getting them to sleep becomes a cumbersome task. Moreover, when they wake up in the middle of the night (whether we realize it or not, all people wake up at some point during the night), realizing that they are no longer in the arms of their beloved parents, they are quite upset. Understandably so. And, they need to be soothed back to sleep. I've seen this happen with friends' children when the little ones are one, one and a half, up to three years old. I cannot imagine having to get up in the middle of the night, when either of the girls are three, having to soothe her back to sleep. Not good for them, not good for me.

Nursing Victoria to sleep every time certainly seems to be the easier option at times, but she's old enough to start sleep training. I've been doing sleep training off and on during the day. She eats, she plays. Then, when she starts showing signs of tiredness, I'm trying to build in some sort of routine: changing her diaper, putting on some music, and then putting her down for a nap. I've not been so diligent about my efforts at nighttime. Not at all, in fact. I oftentimes fall asleep while nursing her. So, she's been long asleep by the time I wake up to put her down. Got to work on that.

Mastitis, a most unwelcome guest

Between 2 and 3 AM this morning, I awoke with writhing, excruciating pain in my right breast. Started from the nipple all the way to the edge of the breast. Felt really full or swollen. No matter which way I laid on the bed, on either side or on my back, the pain was unbearable.

I've done Victoria many a favor, so I decided this time was her turn. I woke her up and nursed her. From various breast issues in the past, when I nursed Isabella, I knew that I needed to nurse Victoria on the afflicted side, even though that would increase the intolerable pain in the short run. Holy crap-ole-la. I wanted to grit my teeth, punch something or someone, kick the crap out of something, the pain was so piercingly intolerable.

Even after Victoria nursed on that side, the right side was still very puffy. Nothing touching the breast brought on unimaginable pain, but putting a bra on over it made the pain that much worse. After laying in bed with the pain not subsiding, I got up to pump. I needed to get the milk out of my breasts. CRAP. That REALLY hurt. Plus, I got very little milk out of the affected side.

I couldn't remember what I was supposed to do to numb the pain, so I tried ice. That made it hurt even more. Dude, the breast hurt with gentle contact. Heck, it hurt no matter what.

My attempts to go back to sleep took at least an hour to two hours. Couldn't really find a non-painful position and wanted to scream. I knew rest was crucial to recover, whatever I might have.


Fast forward to this morning. Woke up nearly in tears. This sort of shooting pain in the breast makes me want to DIE. I knew the reality was/is that I most likely have mastitis. I've had it once before, when we visited family in Ohio, and I was nursing Isabella. That time, I had the same shooting pain with some flu symptoms with it - fever, chills, dizzy, fatigue. It couldn't be anything else. I didn't just have a clogged duct; I was certain of that. If I had a clogged duct, I could not tell where, since the breast was so swollen.

We've been living in Colorado only since July of last year. I don't have an obstetrician, yet. So, I called my lactation consultant in Texas, my last obstetrician in Texas, and one of my pediatrician friends. And, I did some research on the internet. A nurse at my ob's office said that I don't have to have a fever to have mastitis. I read that i could take Ibuprofin or Tylenol to help with the inflammation and pain. Applying a WARM (not cold - silly, tired me) compress would help a lot.

The awesome lactation consultant, Martha, that saw me through the really trying initial breastfeeding months with Isabella, called me back not long after I left a message with her. She suggested using warm compresses, taking a hot shower (running the warm to hot water on the breast), soaking the breast in a basin of warm to hot water - while gently massaging the breast. Using Ibuprofin for inflammation and pain, she also recommended. She said that mastitis always starts with a clogged duct. Couldn't find the red line or the source of the clogged duct until after I applied warm compress for awhile.

What else helps? Taking the baby to the breast more frequently, starting on the afflicted side. Must get the milk out of the breast. So, I am nursing Victoria more frequently and am pumping afterwards. I've been pumping once or twice a day to provide breastmilk for another baby, but today I am trying to pump after almost every nursing session.

I read that if the problem doesn't clear up in 24 to 48 hours (who the heck can cope with such excruciating and relentless pain PLUS nurse for more than a day?!) to see a doctor. Antibiotics might be necessary to treat the infection, before it turns into an abscess. Great. Well, it's Friday, so the soonest I'll be able to see a doc is Monday. Let's hope rest, frequent nursing and pumping, consistently applying warm compresses and massaging the breast will make the mastitis clear up. Oh yes, and drink plenty of fluids, which I already do for nursing purposes and for living in the mile-high city.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Seen one too many monkeys at the zoo?

Isabella loves her bananas. These days, she can even peel back the skin herself. Our little girl is growing up so fast!


Oh, and she's drinking soup from a bowl for the first time in this picture.


The fun that never stops - driving, drawing, taking a bath, and playing with stickers

Juliet and Isabella, 9 days apart in age, sometimes seemed joined at the hip. They would drive together, take a bath together, draw together, eat the same things, look at stickers, go to the park together. Even though having four children under one roof that are two years old or younger was a bit like a circus show with no intermissions, at times, I sure miss the liveliness of it all. And I deeply miss my parents, sister, and brother-in-law, as well. Sniffles.




Months apart makes a world of difference when they're less than a year old

Victoria's about 7 months old and Zephan is 3 weeks old here (these pictures were taken December 26, 2008.

Victoria would flip over to get closer to Zephan and even laugh and giggle. Zephan's working on focusing on objects 6-8 inches in front of him.

Here are the cousins together.

Christmas fun for the little ones

On my side of the family, we decided and agreed to not exchange gifts this year. A-ma and A-gong got clothes and a few toys for the little ones. Tenny had the fantastic idea of wrapping more "presents," including food items, so that the fun of opening presents would last a little bit longer. Ingenious.

Taking the gifts out of gift bags is one option, but Isabella & Juliet LOVE ripping wrapping paper off. On Christmas Day morning, the day after we arrived in California, we opened some gifts. By the way, my sister's right on the money. Even if we don't give or receive anything rather substantive, it is nice to open something on Christmas.

In Tim's hands are the Trader Joe's chocolate chip cookies Manda introduced to me during Thanksgiving. I love those cookies so much, I even dreamed about it last night. Tenny and Tim had, at my request, picked some up for me. In my dream, Troy ate a significant portion of them, and I was not a happy camper. Yes, yes, sharing what we love and enjoy is super important, but those cookies are to die for!

Juliet was delivering the gifts to the appropriate persons. She did quite well, I must add.

This is a gift that A-gong and A-ma brought. It's a motion-sensored musical banjo, although everyone kept calling it a guitar. It has a red light in that hollow circular part, and when motioned is passed through it, it plays notes to a song. Pretty neat.

Victoria watched with fascination. Actually, she was more interested in knawing on shiny wrapping paper. That's non-toxic, right?

Wow, Isabella and Juliet kept us quite busy. Once in awhile they seem to play together, but they still do more of the parallel playing than anything else. Oftentimes, one child is playing with one thing and the other one suddenly becomes interested in it and has to play with it and take it away from the other. Both toddlers are learned what it means to share.

But, Isabella and Juliet were rather cute together, too. Juliet would always be interested in consuming whatever foods Isabella was eating. And they wanted to participate in whatever activities the other one was doing.

Oh, and Isabella spotted this dog high up on the shelf and had to drag that guy around, even though he's as big as she is!

Here's the newest addition to the family - Zephan George Chang Calhoun, at 3 weeks of age. He seemed to like me a lot. Perhaps I have some sort of Mommy mojo going on here.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas.