This past weekend my friend Lisa from grad school came for a visit, after the canceled trip due to me getting so sick in November. It had been almost a year since we had seen one another and in that time lots has changed in both our lives. Lisa lived a weekend in my life since we didn't do too much more than love and play with Olivia. Well, not exactly a typical weekend in my life since Olivia isn't usually such a bad napper. I think she was just too excited about Lisa being here that she didn't want to sleep. Three naps a day since Lisa left.
Nicholas watched Olivia Saturday night so we could sneak off to a movie and have some girl time without baby girls. Lisa's flight was canceled on Sunday because of the winter storm in Chicago, so we got one more day to spend together and then it was off to the airport at 4:45 AM on Monday morning.
Before that, though, Olivia showed Lisa how to play with blocks:
And how to love dogs, which Lisa already knew since Ringo remembered her and kind of wanted to go home with her:
It was great to see you, Lisa! I miss you! Jay, where is that worm whole when we need it?
I wanted to wait and let these be a surprise for family at Christmas (who will be getting prints), but they are so fun! The Christmas cards are out, so I couldn't wait any longer! The last one was the only good one from the "grumpy session" where I had my hair up, but Olivia was too tired to smile. Olivia looks so beautiful there, though. I think I should have used that one on the Christmas cards.
Olivia is seven months old today. I measured her at the doctor's office and she weighs 18 lbs 8 ounces and is 28 inches long. Wow! Time flies and so does her growth-- an inch and a pound this month!
In other news, I've figured out how to keep Olivia warm on our walks: For cold days, a blanket, jacket, hat and mittens are in order.
For cold and windy days, the car seat in the stroller so that she is protected from the wind and the car seat cover. She had her doll in there and seemed pretty happy. I think I will hang toys above next time.
Sleep training continues for both me and Olivia. I bought the book "Healthy Sleep Habits: Happy Child," and am reading it. The doctor says if your timing is perfect, you can have no crying. Hmmm... Well, Olivia takes two short naps a day--20-40 minutes each. But then she is tired around 5 or 5:30 in the evening. Friday through Sunday, I decided to go ahead and put her down at that time. Waking every three hours for milk and in between because she lost her pacifier, she slept until 5:30 am the first two nights. Last night, she slept until 7 am, only waking at 10:40 for 4.4 ounces of milk and 4:20 for 4 ounces of milk and a pacifier emergency around 11:30. We're doing better. Tonight, though, she wouldn't go to sleep until 7, and I figured as much because she napped in her cozy lair in the stroller while we walked at 3:30. Usually she doesn't nap that late. So far, I haven't let her cry more than a minute at a time. I understand what the doctor means about perfect timing--not just about when to start the bedtime routine, but also about when to end it and put her down "sleepy, but not asleep." Sometimes I miss it, she falls asleep in my arms, and I have to wake her up before putting her in the crib. Still working.... probably always will be! Who knew sleeping could be so hard! (And I am trying not to believe that if I don't get this right, Olivia will have sleep disorders all her life as my book says. I've decided just to be confident and move forward optimistically.)
I've never loved cold or rainy days, except when the weather is dangerous and exciting. This week we had rainy days at the beginning and cold ones at the end. Olivia and I hate for our morning and afternoon walks to be disrupted! So, on Tuesday, we drove to the mall in Birmingham to finish our Christmas shopping and walk inside. I timed it so Olivia took an hour nap on the way up, we "shopped" for about 2.5 hours, and then she took an hour nap on the way home. I say we "shopped" because at least half of that time was spent just walking, playing, eating, or drinking. I packed the baby food and fed her in the food court; we had a break for prune juice and a break for formula. So, Olivia was a pretty happy camper. Later that day at home, Olivia helped me find my Christmas CDs so that we could listen to them and dance around the house. I figure I have to start early with her to get her to like musicals and old Christmas music since Nicholas isn't into them.
As the week got colder, we postponed our morning walks until after Olivia's first nap. I don't like doing that because we end up playing trains in the dark instead of getting ready for our walk. But, I think it's been too cold to take her out in the mornings...29 degrees a couple of mornings. It was 37 and windy this morning, and after bundling her up, putting her in the stroller, getting the dogs ready, and walking down the driveway, I relented and turned back. In the afternoon it was 48 and windy and Nicholas and I took everyone to the playground. It was still pretty cold. We didn't stay long. Here are some videos:
I don't know what we are going to do when it gets too cold to walk at all during the day. When I lived in Indiana and jogged, my rule was that if it was below 20 degrees I wouldn't go. That's been my rule here, too, and I have only had to use it a handful of time. I'm not sure what a good rule is for a baby.
For all the hard-core followers (I know there is at least one), this one's for you. I'm busy trying to get work done at work and work done at home, but all I really do is love and take care of Olivia. We have a dining room table full of presents to be wrapped, curtains to be ironed and re-hung, and Christmas cards to be sent. The floors need to be vacuumed and mopped and the bathrooms need to be cleaned. It's bothering me, but tonight I must work again as I will be taking some time off to go up to Kentuckiana and don't want to work while I am there. During the day Olivia consumes me. I love it--the smiles, the play, the eating, the discovery, the walks, the attempts at talking and walking and crawling. She does something new every single day and it surprises me. I'm SO glad to have this opportunity to be with her. But, I must admit that it is exhausting, especially with Nicholas working so much. He, lately, hasn't been making it home before she goes to sleep. I know he misses her and she him.
Here are a couple of videos of bath time:
And me trying a new way to get Olivia to nap. She is getting so that she fights her naps. Three naps are out now. I am lucky to get two thirty minute naps out of her.
I'm catching up a little. Monday I took Olivia to her first puppet show. The library had a Thanksgiving puppet show, complete with a story, singing, and dancing beforehand. Olivia loved looking at all the other kids--at least 50--and the puppets. She liked the music, too, and bounced in my lap. Unfortunately, this week was a week full of me forgetting my camera. So, no pics.
Thursday, Nicholas, Olivia, and I went to Thanksgiving dinner at his colleagues and friends' house. It was great to not have to cook the whole meal myself, and Susan did a fantastic job on Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes. I made the green bean casserole and cranberry sauce. Olivia did really well around all the new people. She got tired by the end, though, and got grumpy on our walk around the lake in their neighborhood. I can't blame her; we got stuck in the rain. (The weather went from 75 degrees on Thursday to a chilly high of 45 on Friday. Brrr! I love Alabama! The kids in my neighborhood were playing roller hockey in the street in shorts and T-shirts on Thanksgiving.) Again, no pictures.
Friday, Olivia and I went to tailgate at the Alabama vs. Auburn game. She loved being strolled through the crowd and seeing everyone and everything. However, after the twenty minute walk from where we parked to where we were going to tailgate with friends (who, I must say, do it right--big screen TV, trailer, fire barrel for warmth, grill, yummy food, good drinks), she was done. We stayed about five minutes when it was clear that the music, the smoke from the fire, the cold weather, and all the people who wanted to hold her were just too much for her. From that five minutes of crying she went right to sleep in her stroller on the walk back to the car, even though she had just woken up from a nap an hour earlier. Poor little baby. No pictures there, either, even though I did remember my camera that time. I didn't want to record Olivia unhappy.
In other news, we have moved Olivia to the next bathtub. We got this one at our shower, and it is awesome! Olivia loves it being deeper because she can splash more and there is more room for her toys to float. I love it because of the soft sides. I don't worry about her slipping because if she does, she isn't going to hurt herself.
And, my confession is that I am not going to decorate for Christmas this year in the house because Olivia and I are making our way to Kentuckiana on December 16, with Nicholas joining us before Christmas. The only decorating I am doing is done, all $4.50 worth of bows that I bought on sale at Publix... Actually, I am considering putting white lights on the little topiary evergreens right outside the front door. That is, if the lights box is handy in the garage closet.
And, I've been meaning to write down a few Olivia anecdotes:
Olivia can take her own diaper off now. When I have her on the changing table, I tape the diaper shut, and she immediately reaches down and starts ripping the tape off the velcro part. Oh, my! I have to be fast to get her onesie buttoned.
Olivia is loving this new formula...and taking a lot of it. She just drank almost 9 ounces before bed tonight, and that is usual for her last meal of the day. She usually takes four ounces during the day and night, but at least once a day will take six.
Olivia is doing really well with her solid food now, too. I discovered this week that by heating up her oatmeal, she will take 1/8 cup or more of it. Before she would barely take two teaspoons. So, she is eating at least three times a day--once cereal, once fruit, and once vegetables. When we do another feeding, I usually give her more veggies. She takes about 3.5 ounces of fruit or veggies per feeding.
Olivia almost has the pincer grip going. I give her Cheerios on her tray while she is eating to give her hands something to do instead of trying to take the spoon away from me. She gets 2-3 into her mouth during the meal, and this week has started picking them up with her thumb and forefinger instead on only raking them in.
Olivia is almost crawling. I kind of want to say that she is, but it is still in early stages. She still mostly moves with her belly on the floor, and forward is the most difficult direction. She can go backwards and rotate pretty well. She often lifts up her bottom to get momentum. She often goes from a sitting up position into the real crawling position, but she usually makes it just one move before being on her belly again.
The sleep saga continues. Olivia is going to bed about seven and usually wakes up between twelve thirty and two thirty to eat. Then once more. If she wakes up at two thirty, she usually makes it to her morning wake up of five thirty to six before eating again. Otherwise, she will wake and go back to sleep between three thirty and four thirty. We are still working on the going to bed sleepy but not asleep. Last night I let her cry for one minute. Then I went in and comforted her and she went to sleep. One minute is about all I can take at this point.
Olivia can now swing in the bucket swings at the playground in our subdivision and she loves it! It is so fun to take her and the dogs up there on these beautiful fall days. Today, while I was at work, Nicholas made the trek up there with Olivia in the stroller and the dogs on the two-pronged leash. He took some photos on his iPhone. Look at our big girl:
And speaking of swings, we put this one away a few weeks ago. It kind of made me sad since Olivia really liked it that first month. This is another photo we found on Nicholas's iPhone when he was downloading the ones from today. This one's from May.
Olivia is becoming such a little girl. She gets the giggles and it is SO cute. Tonight as I was getting Olivia ready for bed, Nicholas came to the back guest room where Olivia was playing on her play mat and I was reading. I said, "Watch this. Olivia loves this!" Then I proceeded to jump on the bed and make the play mat and her shake. Then I tickled her. Yes, that is bad parenting when it comes to a bedtime routine, but look at the pure joy in her face! And, Olivia went down sleepy but not asleep at seven o'clock. I had to go in a few minutes later to give her pacifier back, but otherwise she fell asleep on her own.
Olivia and I had friends over on Tuesday. My friend Rene and her 2 month old Colton came over for pizza and visiting. We had a good time talking and playing with the babies. Rene calls her son Master Colton and called Olivia, Queen Olivia. I thought it was cute, but not something I am going to keep up. I'm not sure if you can spoil a six-month-old, but I'm guessing the answer is yes. I do think this is the time that you have to start showing your baby that you have needs, too. A la, "Mama has to go to the bathroom and she cannot hold you the whole time while she is in there."
In part because of the photographer's reprimand, "You really have to be careful as a stay-at-home mom not to let your children become only attached to you. You need to let other people be with her." And in part because I do want to be able to leave Olivia with someone to babysit her and not have her cry the whole time, we have started going to Sylvia's house so that Sylvia can play with Olivia. Today we did 30 minutes, 15 of which I was outside. Olivia did great. Next week I am going to drop her off for the whole 30 minutes. The following we'll go to an hour. One of my other neighbors has volunteered to do the same thing. Hopefully this will work so that when we go up to Indiana/Kentucky for the holidays, all the relatives can hold and play with Olivia without her crying for Mama.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures of the Tuesday visit. So, at Heidi's suggestion, here are some crib shots and a funny video. Yes, I know Olivia looks like a rag-a-muffin because I didn't brush her hair for the video.
Olivia can stand supported, but she cannot pull herself up yet. She has just started pushing herself up from laying down to sitting up. She is going from sitting up into the crawling position with her knees under her, her elbows straight, and her belly off the ground, but she hasn't quite figured out how to move after that. She usually ends up flat on her belly or face.
We are getting back into a routine after being sick. I'm still tackling my big list while Olivia naps, which doesn't lend a lot of time since she is transitioning to two naps a day -- each about 30 minutes long. Of course, she goes to sleep for the night between 5:30 and 7:30. We still haven't worked on the waking, though, so she is getting up 2-3 times each night and then waking in the morning around six AM.
Yesterday we went to the photographer for family Christmas pictures. Olivia would not smile and was out of sorts; we rescheduled. Today, she hams it up for the camera:
Prior to Thursday, as a stay-at-home mom, I hadn't had to ask Nicholas to stay home from work. One Wednesday afternoon when I had to go to work and Nicholas did, too, we hired a babysitter for the first time. This past Thursday morning, though, was rough.
If we back up to Wednesday evening, you'll find me getting chills and having Nicholas heap the blankets on top of me. I felt HORRIBLE. I hadn't felt that bad since 2008 when I wound up in the hospital after catching something on the way back from Belgium. And because I was so achy and so miserable, I said to Nicholas, "If you have to take me to the hospital, call Sylvia to watch Olivia. Her number is in my phone." He asked, "Are you serious?" I said, "Kind of." (Sylvia is our German neighbor who I have become friends with over the past three years. She, Olivia, and I walk almost every morning around the neighborhood with Puck, Ringo, and her Old English Mastiff, Fiona.)
I made it through the night, getting up twice to feed Olivia. In the morning, Nicholas had to leave the house by 7:50 to get to his first class. He asked if he should stay home. I said to go ahead and go to work, just come home as soon as possible since I knew he had classes and meetings. I called Sylvia and said I wouldn't be walking since I didn't feel well. Nicholas went to work, and Olivia and I did some low-key playing--reading, playing on the play mat. (This is the time that I wish I allowed her to watch TV!) By 9:30, I felt pretty horrible. I was talking to Stephanie on the phone, holding Olivia, and putting away dishes when I thought I was going to faint. I didn't. I sat down on the floor and vomited. Yuck. And vomited. And vomited. And I didn't feel better. Olivia was crying; she was still in my arms and I was vomiting over my shoulder onto the kitchen floor. Ringo was eating the vomit. And I was literally sick. I called Nicholas between gasps. I said, "Help." He said, "I'll come right now." He was in the middle of class. Thank goodness he kept his phone on. I called Sylvia next to come over and keep Olivia while I changed and cleaned up.
Anyway, long story short (okay, that was already long), I had an awful bug. I stayed in bed for three hours and then got up and went to the doctor. She said it has been going around and don't eat ANYTHING for 24 hours. Then do 4 saltine crackers. Then broth. Then the BRAT diet. When I got home from the doctor, Nicholas wasn't feeling well. He started throwing up hours later. Thank goodness Nicholas gave me those five hours to rest, because he was sick after that. And Mama has to take care of everyone. This was a time when I REALLY wished we lived closer. The doctor said you could only get this if you ingest it. I was worried about Olivia because everything goes in her mouth now. But, we have been washing hands and disinfecting everything and so far, so good. Today is BRAT diet day. Tomorrow I'm hoping that real food will go okay.
It turned out to be a lovely beginning to 31. Olivia's fever broke about 3 AM and she took four ounces of formula after that. Thank goodness; I was relieved since I was worried about dehydration. Olivia and I recuperated together since I had a cold, too, and stayed at home all day, which is more rare than you may think between grocery shopping, errands, doctors appointments, play dates and story time. (Yes, I realize that last sentence officially makes me sound like my late grandparents who had a big day when they went to grocery and the bank. I now totally get it!) Here is a picture of Olivia in her going out for a walk on a crisp afternoon outfit:
Nicholas surprised me with a beautiful cake, and it was wonderful to celebrate with our little family!
In a blink of an eye, Olivia is six months old! Today was her 6-month well-visit, although she has a cold. She is 17 lbs 7 ounces (although she didn't eat yesterday or today almost anything, and she was 17 lbs 9 ounces last week when she was at the doctor for a rash), which is the 75 percentile, and 27 inches, which is the 90th percentile.
Some of my questions for the doctor included -- 1. Why is Olivia waking up screaming in the night, but not actually awake? The doctor said that babies can get night terrors at this age, where they scream in their sleep, but aren't awake. When you go in to comfort them, they wake up and go back to sleep and don't even remember the crying/screaming. Wacky.
2. Is it time to put the crib low? Yes, since Olivia is sitting up and starting to pull up, the mattress needs to be on the lowest setting.
3. When can we start finger foods--Cheerios, cut up fruit, etc.? Soon. When her grip changes from the raking grip to the pincer grip to pick things up.
4. Should Olivia still be waking up 2-3 times per night to eat? Probably not. It's hard since she doesn't eat much formula at a time, but the introduction of solids should be helping with her calorie intake now. So, we are going to try to nip a night feeding or two in the bud in the next several weeks.
5. Can we try to get Olivia off Nutramigen? Yes, we're trying Enfamil Gentle Ease. We'll see how it goes. Tonight she wouldn't touch the stuff. But, she really would touch anything.
We've had a rough few days because of this cold, which has made Olivia not want to eat or drink. I'm hoping for a better day tomorrow.