Monthly Archives: October 2012

First Halloween

Timothy had his first Halloween party today. He invited some friends and baked an apple-chocolate cake (which was from a new recipe and didn’t turn out all that great, we think).

Well, the playdates aka chatting session for moms, with babies stuck in bumbo-exersaucer-playgym-swing are a thing in the past now.

Now many of Timothy’s friends are on the go, crawling, walking, eating cookies, taking stuff away from each other. My living room looks like a tornado aftermath (maybe not a very good comparison to use right now, though, what with the Sandy disaster)…

covered in crumbs…

toys, and forgotten sippy cups and socks. The kitchen doesn’t look much better 🙂

But it was fun! Babies interact much more with each other now and it’s fun to watch.


Back from Vacation!

OK, so here’s the deal: I was away for two weeks, on a sunny vacation. I left a few postings in cue to avoid cosmic silence here – if you posted a comment and were wondering why the hell am I not responding – this is why!

We are back and quite a few stories about Timothy enjoying his first vacation (because he really needed a break, working so hard lol) are coming up. Well, that and a few helpful tips for our future selves: what to pack, what to consider, etc.

For now – laundry, laundry, laundry, cooking, and layers of body cream to keep the tan!

How have you been? I don’t know if I will be able to go back 2 weeks through all of the friends’ postings… what’s new with you?

Take Advice with a Grain of Salt – Even from Professionals

“Have you asked all your questions?” – asked the sleep specialist as I was leaving the room. “I have” – I responded. But the truth is, I didn’t have any.

Sleep and naps are one of the central topics of motherhood; perhaps only breastfeeding gets the same level of attention. Even though I lucked out – Timothy is an awesome sleeper – I never took it for granted. I never assumed that we’ll sail into the sunset together, happily sleeping through all nights (well, at least until he gets to that teenage stage staying awake until 3 am). I kept reading about sleep and asking questions and experimenting.

That’s why I took today’s sleep specialist’s advice with a grain of salt. Some things she mentioned – I nodded along, but some…

For one, her advice was to get blackout curtains and keep them shut tight for nighttime sleep AND naps. Her explanation was that it helps babies know that it’s sleepy time (along with a white noise machine), so even if they wake up, they will know to go back to sleep again. Totally agree for the nighttime sleep – that’s what I’ve been doing. Works like a charm. And totally disagree on the naps. A) that means my baby won’t sleep unless he’s in total darkness. Do I want to plan my day around three naps? Do I want to be able to leave the house for only 2 hours at a time? I don’t think so. And B) I think it might cause some day-night confusion that happens with babies. I don’t want that to happen, either.

So thanks for the advice, but I respectfully disagree.

And then she was talking about how long naps should be. According to her, at 8 months of age, it’s 3 naps a day, 1.5-2 hours EACH. That is just plain ridiculous. At least when it’s phrased this way. 5-6 hours of naps AND 12 hours of sleep at night? That’s way too much, he’s not a newborn any longer. Of course, she should have added something like “if your baby sleeps 10 hours during the night” – which would have made sense – but she didn’t.

If my baby had that much naptime, he wouldn’t have slept through the night, and that’s a fact. See, I already got this advice before: work on the length of his naptimes, shush him back to sleep if he wakes up after 45 minutes of napping, blah-blah-blah. Which I did – and he did start having longer naps.

Yay? Not so fast. Yes, he started having long naps. He also started up at night. Do I want this? I don’t think so. I say let him figure out his naps on his own. His nights are 11.5-12 hours long and his naps come up to about 2.5-3 hours in total. Which, according to the information from babycenter, is exactly what he needs at this point!

And that is why I always look at a few sources – my “what to expect the first year” book, the babycenter website, specialists that I talk to, other moms. Only then I make my decisions.

But that came with experience. Like I said, in the beginning, I just followed the advice to lengthen his naps and almost ruined his restful night sleeps.

So I didn’t have any questions for the specialist. Do I sound too haughty if I say I know better?..

How to Get Rid of the Bedtime Bottle?

“How do I get her to let go of that bedtime bottle?” – so many times I saw this question on forums and blogs, that I decided to plan ahead.

As in, ahead-ahead.

Timothy was a bit over 7 months when we decided to try and switch his bedtime routine, which was falling apart (or so it felt, anyway).

Almost since Timothy’s birth, it used to be like that: my hubby brings Timothy upstairs to his room, changes the diaper, puts the pj’s, tries to have a chat – and then dims the light and passes him on to me for nursing. The nighttime nursing used to be 45 minutes… then 30… then 20… and lately – probably due to a 6 pm dinner – 5-8 minutes. And Timothy kept getting more and more unhappy during the changing sessions, to put it mildly. Screaming his head off is a more accurate description. And we didn’t want to put him to bed earlier than 7:30 pm (or he wouldn’t see his dad).

So to get him off of the nurse-to-sleep routine AND get him ready to start teeth-brushing (we have two teeth! and brushing them before the nursing is kind of pointless, right?) we decided to switch over the going-to-bed thing.

So we chose a day, and went ahead with the new scenario. Shortly after 7 pm, I brought Timothy upstairs and nursed him (no light-dimming). Having eaten, he got extremely happy and excited, babbling, wiggling, laughing. So hubby had a much happier job of changing and dressing Timothy than it’s been for the past couple of months. And then hubby set in the glider, sat Timothy in his lap, and they read a bedtime book – Timothy excitedly slapping the pages and babbling something at the book.

Real quality time!

Then hubby put Timothy in bed, whispered good-night, turned the humidifier (aka white noise) on, lights off – and left.

That first night Timothy wasn’t a very happy camper going to bed. He stayed up for maybe 40 minutes, moving around, complaining on and off (started crying in honest once – so we went in and gave him the paci), and finally cornered himself against the rail and fell asleep.

Since then it got better.

Now that’s what we do every evening: nurse, change, pj’s, book, nighty-night. Next step – brushing his teeth! Or, rather, his tooth 🙂

So it seems that to get rid of that nighttime bottle, you need to start early. At least, that’s what worked for us.

PS Bath has never been part of his bedtime routine for a number of thought-through reasons, which I will share at some point later.

No More a Walking Boob!

Timothy and I go to a community centre Early Years Baby program. Recently we graduated from the 0-6 months class to the 7-12 months one.

The other day as I was sitting there, feeling good about myself wearing mascara and a pretty hairdo, I all of a sudden noticed that most moms around me were wearing makeup (morning-appropriate morning), nicer hairdos, nicer clothes… all because our babies are older, I guess?

In the 0-6 month olds group, moms have pony tails, spit up on shoulders, huge boobs, bellies that they don’t even try to suck in – because who cares about bellies when you run on 5 hours of sleep? I don’t think I have ever seen make-up there. I was the same.

And now… it’s the sign of change. Little by little, we are reclaiming our old selves back. Perhaps we won’t wear high heels to a sit-on-the-floor baby group, but we definitely are not walking boobs any longer (did anyone else feel like a walking boob in the early days?)

Green Fingers

In Russia, we have lots of scary stories that children share after dark, around bonfires. Red Hand that appears in the middle of the night and strangles you; a Man With Blue Teeth that takes you away – forever; Green Fingers that tickle you to death.

But this is not not about those green fingers.

The other day we noticed that Timothy was sporting green paint on his fingers. It obviously came from a marker, but we couldn’t figure out how it got onto his hands. It’s not like out 8-month-old doodles away. Not yet, anyway 🙂

Until today I was playing with Timothy, building a tower with his stackable buckets, and discovered that one of them was covered with green marker lines on the inside. Ah-huh! Our friends came over a few days ago and their son was given the markers and paper, so he must have decided to decorate the inside of a bucket instead of the paper.

Mystery solved 🙂

From Starting Solids to Sharing Our Dinner

Nursing my baby meant a lot to me. I freaked out (as in !!!FREAKED OUT!!!) when I was having some milk supply problems early on. I felt like I was failing my baby’s needs. Hey, don’t judge – those first few weeks post-partum are wacky, your hormonal soup is boiling and you cry at a drop of a pin, let alone when some real stuff is happening.


I fought to get the nursing thing going – so when Timothy turned 5 months old and I started receiving newsletters on starting solids, got a brochure from my pediatrician on starting solids, started getting more and more questions from friends about starting solids… I felt resentment. It was all so good, and quiet, and peaceful: Timothy is hungry, I nurse him, we cuddle, I smell the top of his head, he strokes me with his tiny sticky fingers… pure happiness. It was hard to imagine that anyone would be able to feed him. It was so hard to grasp the fact that he’s not a tiny baby any longer, that milk alone won’t cut it any longer. That he’s growing up so fast. I don’t know what exactly bothered me, but I resented the change.

When Timothy was 5.5 months, I gave in – we tried rice cereal and it was an immediate success. Seeing him eagerly leaning forward, opening his mouth, asking for more melted all my reservations. Then we tried oat cereal, then carrot, pumpkin, apple and so on.

And then I started worrying that I am giving him all these bland foods: is he getting enough vitamins? Am I setting him up to become a picky eater later on?

I went through some magazines, books and online websites and they said that, basically, yes – if we keep giving them same old carrots, why do we expect them to share filet mignon and onion soup when they’re two? I researched the subject further and realized that there is a whole world of things I can be cooking for him. It doesn’t have to be all carrots and peas. I can add onions, garlic, herbs, butter – and so on. Numerous things to make things interesting – and get him ready to share our meals when he is ready.

I tried potato-carrot-onion puree (boiled it all in one pan and mashed it) – he LOVED it. Couldn’t get enough. I tried butternut squash boiled with garlic and peppercorns – again, success. I tried a lentils-celery-carrot puree and (uh-oh!) Timothy wasn’t very excited; I tried the puree and thought it might be too high on celery, so I added some mashed potatoes to dull the celery down a bit – huge success. Mind you, not only was the celery still very prominent, the lentils weren’t fully mashed, giving the puree a very different texture. Success!

So that’s what I do now – I experiment. But, just in case, I always have a few jars of frozen sweet potatoes or potato-onion puree or something like this. If any too adventurous food ever needs to be rescued from the garbage fate 🙂

And Timothy loves his meals. To the point of constantly checking to see if there’s still more food in the bowl in my hand 🙂

By the way, here you can find lots of great recipes and other information on feeding and solids and schedules.