Wednesday, August 30, 2006

trying the slide

trying the slide

Adding to her playground repertoire, Fern's been trying out the slide, too! She's not sliding without support yet, but she does seem to like being run up and down it, both belly-down and butt-down. She's also holding herself up in a standing position, rolling under the monkey bars, and chatting with the big kids. It's kind of like going to the office now... we get out the stroller, commute down the street, have a staff meeting, sit around the water fountain, and maybe, just maybe, get some playing done!

Related Photos on Flickr : ,
File Under :

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"and a nap developed..."

A: staying-awake strategies

  1. Make a constant stream of sound. Fern sounds sort of like "Gqhaaa aaaaa aaaa," "gqwhaaa aaaaa aaaa aaaaa," repeat.
  2. Pretend to be about to suck your thumb and jam your hand violently into your eye.
  3. Toss your legs into the air. Punch and claw at the sleep demons that are crawling everywhere.
  4. After you've been rocked to sleep, stir and threaten to wake every time you're lowered into the crib.

B: getting-asleep strategies

  1. Start early. Don't wait until she's obviously sleepy.
  2. Swaddle.
  3. If she's crying, make a rattling noise nearby. Don't use a brightly-colored rattle, though: she'll want to play with or suck on. (This is a good general-purpose crying-jag stopper.)
  4. Blow gently in her face. Gently is important.
  5. When you lower her into the crib, continue to swing her gently. Rock slowly.
  6. When she's on the mattress, continue to gently rock her by bouncing the mattress up and down.
  7. Want to tell if she's asleep? Lift her hand three inches and let it drop. If she stirs, she's still "in transition."

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child Fern is not colicky. I mention this to assuage the guilt I feel about complaining about getting her to sleep. I've got nothing to complain about, it seems, compared with some. The baby sleep books (there are many, for the uninitiated, and I have a lot to say about them) are filled with horror stories about babies that won't sleep, which, as the authors know, is a great comfort to us parents. Then NPR ran a story about colicky babies that included one who cried for 13 hours straight.

Thir. Teen. Hours.

So complaining about Fern, who sometimes takes 30 minutes to put down (an hour at the very outside), seems a little precious. But even though we've really got nothing to complain about, sometimes it's just wearing. She almost seems conscious of trying to stay awake (see sidebar A!), like falling asleep is the worst thing that could happen.

I just don't get it. I can't think of many sensations more pleasant than falling asleep when I'm tired; it's a total rush. "Fatigue is the best pillow," says Ben Franklin. I bet hormones are involved, some sort of autoƶpiate rewarding me for letting my body go down. So why, then, does it seem like Fern tries her very best to stay awake? Sometimes I wonder about the biology; does the baby monkey who gets put down to sleep left behind by its troop? I guess that explains why being rocked helps: maybe the baby knows it's being carried along in the migration?

Today was a perfect example. I actually managed to get some sleep myself last night by pulling my usual 2 a.m. bedtime back to 12:30 or so. (My self-induced insomnia will be a topic for another day!) For morning nap, she started showing tired at around 9:45, just on schedule (she was up at 8). Here's more or less the schedule:

  • 9:45. I try to feed her, but she would take the bottle for about 10 seconds and push it out. Too cold?
  • 9:55. I try again after warming the bottle. Same result. Just not hungry.
  • 10:00. Changed, swaddled, and in my arms. Crying up a jag (from the changing). I use strategy #3 (see sidebar B!), rattling an object (I use the diaper cream tube against the changing table). I have some success, although she switches to the constant stream of sound (sidebar A, baby strategy 1).
  • 10:03: Bouncing on the yoga ball. Helps to align my birth canal, too, I'm told.
  • 10:06: Rocking on the yoga ball. She seems asleep! I stand up and she stays down. I pace once, twice. Fern stirs prettily, but stays asleep and looks to be about to suck her thumb when WHAM! She shoves a finger into her own eyeball. I'd forgotten about that trick!
  • 10:10: Back to rattling, and I add strategy #4: gently blowing. This is a tricky one, because if I "puff" too much, I'll get a startle response. Actually, a light breeze from waving a cloth is the best, but that's hard to do if I'm holding her. So I exhale gently from a distance. I hope she likes the smell of coffee.
  • 10:14: It's worked. She's asleep. Now I'll just put her down gently and... Nope. As soon as her head touches the mattress, she swings her legs up and goes hyper-alert again. Sigh. I try the flow of air, bouncing the mattress, but nothing works.
  • 10:15: I pick her up again, and she's instantly asleep. OK, then, I'll let her sleep on me for a bit.
  • 10:16: I sit down in the rocking chair. I've taken special care not to move her at all while doing this: I don't change her angle, position, nothing. But somehow, even asleep, she knows I'm in the chair. Whenever I sit down, she knows I've done it and she punishes me. So she's awake again.
  • 10:17: Up and pacing, using every strategy frantically. Thing is, Fern knows I'm frantic, and nothing you do frantically will ever get a baby to sleep. So gradually, I calm down, and she does, too.
  • 10:24: I sit again and rock, jiggle, and roll to keep her asleep. I pick up my book and finish the last chapter.
  • 10:40: I stand and the baby seems to have finally moved past that transition point. (There's a great test for that: Lift her hand three inches and let it drop. If she stirs, she's still "in transition.")
  • 10:42: I put her down in her crib. She still throws her legs up, but her heart isn't in it: it's just her obligatory reminder that she's still in charge and she could wake up if she wanted to.

A Nap DevelopedAnd that's it. Not bad, huh? So the actual comforting-swaying-rocking was only about 30 minutes, but the whole process was about twice that.

I think the thing to do is get into the Zen of it all. In my previous existence, I worked with wild animals. One thing I learned was that although you may not be able to tell exactly what they're going to do next, that doesn't mean that it's not logical. Animals aren't predictable, but you can anticipate their actions, since they always behave according to their inputs. This does involve a little thinking on your feet, since the inputs will change constantly. But all the actions of animal and baby are appropriate to their own experience. It just gets a little murky because you can't experience life from the point of view of a creature as alien as an animal or a baby until you've paid really close attention for a really long time. And even then, you can be easily surprised.

So I'll be OK as long as I always let myself be surprised and never think I know everything (or even very much at all). And, in the end, always keep a book handy so that I can simply wait it out.

sitting up without fail!

sitting up without fail!
It's pretty nice that Fern can prop herself without falling these days. (We still have the cushions up behind, just in case, but she rarely needs them anymore.) She really enjoys that view of her surroundings, too; in this photo, she's playing with her rattle while Carson looks demurely on.

Related Photos on Flickr : ,
File Under : ,

licking the swing

Although Fern really loves swinging, it doesn't take her long before she decides she needs to taste the swing again. I'm not really pleased with this, although I suppose there are worse things she could taste. Not that I want to think about that...

Still, when the tongue comes out (pictured), it's a sign to me that it's time to switch to the slide!

Related Photos on Flickr :
File Under :

Thursday, August 24, 2006

hangin' with Nati in the park

Sorry about the long delay in posting! Between traveling and various other things, the pictures just kept piling up!

Fern got to hang out with Graham's former student Natalie, just before she left for her first year at college on the east coast!

Related Photos on Flickr : ,
File Under :

Good-bye, teacher Karen!

with teacher Karen at Music Together

Sadly, we had our last day at Music Together today; the summer session is over and the fall session is still a month away. Even worse, teacher Karen is switching her day and place to Saturday in Noe Valley, so we won't be able to see her anymore! (We may still do makeup sessions with her; she's been great!)

If you missed the first post, Music Together is a music and movement class for 0-4 year olds that we started at the beginning of the summer; Fern was the youngest in our class by far, but she got a lot out of it. From mostly staring around at the other kids, she's now started to sing with all the songs (well, squeak, anyway, but to the right rhythm!), and she loves rattling anything that will make noise!

Teacher Karen thought that she'd come a long way, and says that a lot of babies who've been through the class remember the songs so well that they spontaneously sing them once they start talking. I can hardly wait!

Related Photos on Flickr :
File Under :

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

first time in the Pack-n-Play

Now that Fern's sleeping exclusively in her crib, we're able to use the Pack-n-Play as a play pen. (We'd been using it with the bassinet insert as her primary bed.) As you can see from this somewhat disturbing photo (our first day using it), it took Fern a little getting used to, although she does seem to be into it now; we've added a number of toys, and it gives her some more room to roll around than the high chair.

Related Photos on Flickr :
File Under :

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Uncle Greg and Grandma Linda come to visit

Dinner party!

enjoying the park with Grandma

Uncle Greg

playing with Grandma Linda and the favorite rattle

being fed by Grandma Linda

Grandma Linda and Uncle Greg came up for the weekend, and, as you can see, we packed it with activity!

Grandma had some fun feeding Fern some of her beloved peas, and we also spent a nice day in the park, swinging, sliding, and having some crawling practice.

We even spent a day at the zoo, but (d'Oh!) we forgot to bring the camera!

Related Photos on Flickr : , , ,
File Under : , , ,

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Deb & Erica play some music

Gettin' funky!
Originally uploaded by grahampc.

Fern's getting into her music now! Pretty much every time we play music (like her Music Together CD), she'll beat her hands up and down or back and forth; the same happens if we put a rattle into her hands, like the lovely wooden one pictured that came from Jack & Anne. Here she is getting funky with Erica; she and Deb came over for another visit and were amazed at how much F.E. grows and learns every week!

Related Photos on Flickr : ,
File Under : ,

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


peabeardWe've been introducing solid foods one at a time for a couple of weeks now, leaving about three days between each new food to check for bad reactions or allergies. Fern loves rice cereal, as you'll remember, and has taken to also enjoying banana, avocado, and peach. Nothing, though, matches her joy at eating... peas. Yep, peas. They smell bad, they're slimy, and they're green... and she just can't get enough!

Related Photos on Flickr : ,
File Under : ,

Friday, August 11, 2006

six month appointment

Fern had her six-month pediatrics appointment today, and came out as:

  • 18 pounds, 12 ounces (exactly twice her birth weight!)
  • 26.5 inches long
  • 45.0 cm head circumference

All those numbers put her pretty close to the 90th percentile. Dr. Goodman did say that growth will slow somewhat for a while, but it's likely that she'll still be large for her age for a while. People often guess that she's 10 or 12 months old...

The photo, by the way, is of the newly-minted six-month old enjoying the soft rubber ball that Grandma Joanie brought her a couple weeks ago; we're affectionately and obviously calling it the "boob ball!"

Monday, August 07, 2006

parent pheremones

we like to swing!

I think maybe I smell funny. Well, funnier than usual, I mean.

We went out to the playground after morning nap even though it looked pretty cold out. So we both bundled up, but then, on the four-block trip to the park, chilly San Francisco melted into sweltering Tucson. Leaving the house I felt proud of myself for going out at all on such a typically cold summer's day instead of just holing up at home. When we got to the playground, I spent the first ten minutes removing layers from myself and Fern both.

It was also an unusually dad-heavy day: four solo dads, which is probably more than I've ever seen there. We were swinging next to another dad who noticed the pile of extra clothing I'd generated and got to talking about changeable weather. He went off to feed and another dad came over and we chatted briefly. This conversation was interrupted by an oddly bemused mother who told us that we men should have more conversations. She then informed us that women talk more than men - 5,000 words a day more, apparently. Not sure where she was going with that one, but we let her continue to monopolize the conversation while we.... oh, wait, I get it now!

It wasn't just dads, though; another mom from across the street recognized me from previous park visits and introduced herself. We talked about street garbage and other neighborly concerns, almost like a real community. How strange! And I talked with a third dad because I recognized his shirt; he's a biologist who works with Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Point Reyes Bird Observatory, both of which I have some oblique knowledge of from my work.

As if that weren't enough, as we were rolling home a contractor on the street chatted me up about Fern and his own experiences raising twin girls as a single dad. He was an unlikely sort: he seemed to have lost a tooth for every year of his kids' lives (both of 'em), and one of his pressing concerns was keeping the boys away from his daughters. (They're three years old.) But it was a sweet conversation, and we really did, amazingly, have a lot in common.

So my question is... why today? I've never had more than a two-sentence conversation at that playground (not for lack of trying), unless of course I've been with Kristin or my mom or some other safe, female person. Then all at once I get to know Jason (with 10-month old Henry), Lisa (11-month old Sylvie), and the tooth-deprived roofer (Hayley and Taylor).

I guess I'll have to wait until Kristin gets home so I can ask her about that smell. Although now the cat is being awful friendly...

In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that today's photo wasn't actually from this outing, but a trip Fern took on the weekend with Kristin and Granna . It just seemed so appropriate to my day that I thought I'd stick it in here!

Related Photos on Flickr : ,
File Under : , , ,

more photos from Anne

Hey, there! We got a few more photos from Anne from their visit. Here are a couple, but for the whole lot, check out the photo site!

IMG_0545_edited-1 IMG_0504_2 FromAnne

Related Photos on Flickr : , ,
File Under : , ,

Thursday, August 03, 2006

the six month mark!

six month birthday crown

Grumpus and Granna are here to help celebrate Fern's half birthday---can you believe it's been six months? Naturally, among several other fun presents, Jack and Anne presented her with the first of what we're sure will be many celebratory hats, per their tradition. Both grandparents have been getting some nice holding and playing time in, too, not to mention giving me a break on the camera! These photos were all taken with Anne's!

The celebration was also attended by Kat and Baillie as well as Aunt Jewel, who again deserves special thanks for offering her hospitality and guest room. Ken, unfortunately, had to go off to a sales meeting, but gave us his birthday greetings before he had to go!

with Grumpus on her half-birthday
with Granna on her half-birthday

Related Photos on Flickr :
File Under : ,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Jessica & George visit!

now she's listening!

We had another nice visit with Jessica & George this week; they brought us some Pauline's Pizza and came early enough to play with the girl a bit! We got a rare picture of Fern actually looking at a book... generally, she likes to eat them!

Related Photos on Flickr :
File Under :