Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good eats

So here's a barbecue recipe. The easiest thing you can possibly make, with one sorta tedious step- shredding the meat and picking out the fat.

1 big ol' pork rump/butt roast or shoulder or something called shoulder butt. don't be put off.
1 big onion
apple juice to fill up the crock pot 3/4ths full
1 jar bbq sauce (plus more if you want to top your meat with it later)

Cut the onion into biggish rings. Lay half on the bottom of the crock pot. Rinse the meat, pat it dry, trim any big blobs of fat (or wait til it's cooked and tender, either way works). Salt and pepper it generously and plop it in the crock pot. Pour apple juice around it about 3/4ths full- not all the way to the top of the pot or it'll spill over. Top the roast with the other half of the onion rings. Turn the crock pot on high for about 6 hours (up to like 8 hours, or set the crock pot on low if you do it overnight). When time's up, take the roast out (careful, it's tender and breaky-aparty). Shred that mess and pick out any fat bits. You can use two forks, or the less dignified but more effective your own hands to do this. Empty the onions and juice from the crock pot, put the shredded meat back in and mix in a jar of bbq sauce. We only use mustard-based, but I have a friend who does half mustard-based and half ketchup-based sauce, and I suppose you could also do vinegar, or just throw in salsa or a bunch of green chiles to make taco pork. You can serve it right up, or I like to leave the crock pot on low or warm for another hour or two until mealtime. It makes awesome sandwiches, you can put it over rice, or just eat it by the forkful straight out of the crock pot. And that's all I've got for you today, but once you make it you'll see it's enough.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Isn't this when Mary Poppins comes?

Someone hold me. We're going through what I suspect/hope is the 37-week sleep regression. Wynne IS sleeping, but don't ask me when her naps were yesterday or what they'll be like tomorrow. She'll wake up at 6:30 one morning, then sleep until 8 the next. She'll take 9 minutes to fall asleep for her first nap and an hour to fall asleep for the second one. I can't STAND the unpredictability and wondering if I put her down too soon or too late. She always cries when I leave her to sleep and takes forever to settle, which is maddening because she'd just gotten to where she knew the routine and usually took just 10 minutes to fall asleep. She needs to go in for her 6 month shots but I have no idea when to schedule an appointment because I can't guess when naptimes will be. Some days she gets 5 hours of naps, some days only 2.5 or 3, so bedtimes vary from day to day and that makes wake time vary. We have no schedule anymore and it is highly unpleasant.

She's also not eating like she used to. Sometimes she'll eat a normal serving, sometimes she'll turn her nose up at food she's always liked after three bites, sometimes she won't finish her bottle and has no interest in food at all. And no matter what it's a struggle to get through a meal. She's distracted and bats at the spoon and rubs her green beany hands in her eyes and hair. She didn't used to do these things, and it's making me dread mealtimes.

She constantly makes grunty humming sounds and scrunches up her nose and mashes her face into my body and rubs her eyes after 2 hour naps like she's still tired. She bursts into tears when I leave the room to put her diapers in the pail or get food ready or anything, even when somebody else is in the room playing with her. She'll be playing with a toy and suddenly NEED TO BE PICKED UP NOOWWW WOMAN!! She's had a rash around the sides of her diaper for a week now that will periodically get better and then pinker and more inflamed. She's always on the move, crawling for a step or two and then sticking her left leg out like a kickstand, getting stuck, and resorting to a sniper crawl. And in the last couple days she's started trying to pull up to her knees. I'm sort of hoping she'll start trying to walk just so we can do aaaall the developmental disruptions at once and get back to a schedule sooner.

I don't know WHAT to do most of the time. Basically I'm trying everything I can think to entertain her when she's awake, I'm doing ridiculous performances to keep her from melting down in the crib, I'm trying to sneak food in when she's distracted so she can't fling the spoon or the bottle to the floor, and for the most part, none of it is working.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What I Think About Schedules: Nobody Asked, and Almost Nobody Cares.

The other day I read a blog post where a mama talked about allowing for flexibility in her baby's routine. They HAVE a routine, but on the days it doesn't fit with the other things that need doing, she doesn't freak out, and the baby adapts. What I took from it was that for them, a strict schedule is too limiting. Several commenters wrote that they totally agreed, that you can't let the baby's naptimes and whatnot dictate your entire life. And I absolutely get the gist- you aren't trapped in your house until your youngest child is through with naps. Even for stay-at-home moms, even with only one baby, it's totally unrealistic to expect that every nap be in the crib, that the baby's waketimes are never too long, that all feedings happen on time or at home. And I don't think any baby has ever suffered more than a day or two from a change to her routine. Maybe, as several moms noted in the comments, the occasional schedule disruption and lack of routine is good for babies (though I have my doubts. It isn't like babies go to bed and process the day to glean life lessons like "go with the flow").

What I think, and what I wrote in the comments, is that different babies have different temperaments and adaptability tolerances. Some babies are hardly phased when 2:00 rolls around and they aren't being set in the crib like the past several 2:00s. My baby isn't one of them; she needs a routine (all babies do, of course, but people. Wynnie don't play.), and when we're out at naptime or even when she wakes early from a nap, she is incurably cranky. It's not fun for her or for us. So I am loathe to disrupt her schedule. Occasionally we do, to visit friends or go out to eat with our families, but Mike and I both know we'll pay for it later, so we keep outings to a minimum. To us, it isn't worth the fussing or the day or two it takes to get back on track.

What I didn't write in the comments, because there's no need to broadcast your snobby dissenting opinions on someone else's blog, is this: I think it's a mistake to believe that as a mom, your life doesn't revolve around your baby and her needs (and other children too, when applicable). That may seem extreme, but I come by it honestly. My mama is a routine snob. Any time we're out and hear fussy crying babies or cranky meltdowny children, she says "that baby needs a nap." or "that child should be in bed asleep." When Emily and I were babies, Mama strove (strived?) to have us at home for naps and in bed at the same time every night. She almost never took us on playdates, shopping excursions, or visits to friends and former coworkers. I don't even think we did the church nursery, though I could be wrong. And I'm sure it wasn't much fun for her some days feeling trapped in those wood-paneled walls with two needy children. But what's that thing people are always saying about parenting? "It's the hardest job you'll ever love?" It's corny, but it's definitely true. Being a parent gives you a million new ways to make sacrifices, and for my money, sacrificing your schedule to your baby's, at every possible turn, in order to have a happier baby, is well worth the boredom, difficulty, and juggling it can cause. I don't want to step on any toes or criticize anybody else's parenting. I think routine is more important for a happy, well-adjusted baby than anything else, but some people may disagree, or may not be able to stick to a strict schedule as easily as we can, and their kids usually turn out great. All parents should do what works best for their family.

Of course, with a 2nd baby this is all out the window. Beyond 1 child, as best I can tell, survival is about all anyone can hope for.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm writing in haste because she's in the crib strategizing

Every day is better. I feel it's safe to say I will NEVER be the mama who longs for times that have passed. One more day of holding a tiny sleeping infant when Wynne is older. Up to about 4 months, it was all just so much. And I do not miss it one. tiny. bit. I don't care if someone thinks this makes me a bad mama. I am just glad we made it through. At no point have I wondered where does the time go. It does not seem like just yesterday that I was pregnant or that she was brand new, and I am honestly glad when each day is over and we have one more behind us. Because we get closer and closer to being sleep trained, to being ready for real food and sitting up and talking and playing. Every new day is better. We get more smiles and giggles and sounds and motions. And we get more tears and fits and chances to fail, so when these days are gone I still won't wish to go back.

I hope I'll always be sensitive to other women's situations. Women who can't have babies, who have to wait for ages, women who parent alone, whose babies are sick or don't make it. I don't take for granted that my baby is healthy, is here, is in no danger except what might happen to her as a result of having clueless parents. My baby has a daddy, two sets of grandparents, lots of aunts besides just our two sisters. We have doctors for every possible body part and condition, books and websites and studies to learn from and help fill all the gaps. People who say all you need is milk and diapers ought to be stabbed. And I have some choice words for seasoned parents whose advice is to relax and enjoy it. Just find me ONE woman who felt relaxed during her first year(s) as a mother. Mike and I say that we'll know better the next time around and it will be easier. I can already tell you twenty things we are going to do differently, do better. It's a cruel system, having to practice and flounder and fail with the first one (and possibly subsequent ones). Only when you've done it all wrong do you realize there's a better way. Nowhere do your mistakes and shortcomings haunt you like they do in parenting. There's my mistake, crying in the crib for half an hour. Dirty (baby) dishes, piles of laundry and pizza boxes and new clothes in bigger sizes, filthy floors, days between pictures of the baby, weeks between updates to the grandparents. And what do we have to show for all of it? A list of what to do differently next time around. It's fortunate that parenting is heavy on the love, because it sure is heavy on the guilt. Amiright mommies?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

sleep training help us Lord

Sleep training is kicking our asses, guys. We have undoubtedly brought it on ourselves by always holding Wynne until she was completely asleep (and often for an entire nap). She never slept like you'd think a brand new baby would, for hours at a stretch and only waking up to eat. She was always awake for far longer at a time than I thought seemed right, but I had no idea how to MAKE her sleep. When she did fall asleep it was usually while eating, so we'd just hold her sort of upright until she woke up (since we never burped her before she nodded off and since we thought you were never supposed to wake a sleeping baby). Even then she'd only nap for maybe 30 minutes before an arm would fly up or the paci would fall out and she'd be up again. So for the first 3 months or so, we had a chronically overtired baby who had no idea how to self-soothe. Nighttime was never a real problem, likely because by then she was too exhausted to fight anymore, so I'm mostly talking about naps here.

I bet plenty of people diagnose babies with colic in situations like ours. It's an easy assumption based on all the fussing and crying, but really she was just way overtired. I knew she wasn't colicky, and after we ruled out milk sensitivity or anything in my diet, we finally arrived at the truth: we had a sleep problem. We started reading and watching lots of Dr. Weissbluth (I love him. Just listening to him talk makes you want to get under a blanket and nap) and agreed that we had made some mistakes. I don't mean to say it's a mistake for anyone else, but for us it has caused some serious strife that I suspect we could have avoided. If only we'd known. So now we're doing our version of Cry It Out- a mix of Weissbluth strategies and things I read on a blog I really like called Chronicles of a Babywise Mom, at And it is awful. Wynne got used to someone holding her until she was totally asleep, and that is a big no-no (according to many sources by which we now abide.) So she doesn't know how to get to sleep when we put her down awake. Her arms are unwieldy and her legs won't stay down and her paci falls out and there's nobody to put it back in and it's just more than she can handle. She grunts, then fusses, then cries, then cries hysterically. As per the guidelines of graduated extinction, we check on her after five minutes of crying, then give her ten and check again, then fifteen and so on. Many CIO parent testimonials say "we never got past the 20 minute check! She fell asleep and slept twelve hours straight!" Our testimonial would NOT include that statement. I think part of the trouble is that we don't have to cry it out at night, just naps, so there isn't an open-ended time period in which she can cry until she figures it out. After an hour or so of naptime crying, it's time to get up and eat and get on with the day so maybe she'll be tired for the next nap. The books don't seem to address this problem, so we really don't know what to do.

Crying it out is a snap in theory- put her down and let her cry until she falls asleep on her own. Next time there should be less crying, and the time after that even less, and so on until you lay her down and she drifts off to sleep without a fight. But man. In practice, there are so many variables. What if she gets hiccups? What about dirty diapers? Changing her gets her all roused up. If after the 10-minute check she's quiet for 8 minutes, then starts up again, do we start the 5-minute check over again or wait 15? If she's been wailing like a banshee for 45 minutes, and we know there's no chance she'll go to sleep in the next 15, do we just let her cry the whole time anyway before getting her up to eat? Has she learned anything if all she does is cry for the whole nap time and then we go pick her up? When the schedule is such that she's eating right before a nap and the bottle puts her to sleep, does it undo the self-soothing we want to teach?

Sometimes she goes down without much of a fight, sometimes it takes 20 minutes for her to get calm and drowsy. We never know if she'll sleep for 3 minutes, 15 minutes, or 40 minutes before waking up. She goes to bed around the same time each night, but we don't know when she'll first wake up (12:30, 1:55, 2:30, 3:45, 4:oo, 4:45- these have all been her first waking just in the last two weeks), so we don't have a routine so much as a pattern. It's a lot to manage, and factoring in how often and how much to feed her when we don't know what her sleeping schedule will be, and getting in play time and baths, it is truly a wonder to me that anybody ever does this more than once. Before Wynne I wanted 4 kids. Now I just want this one to make it to the age where I can reason with her about the importance of sleep. Or at least bribe her. What age is that?