Practicing her letters

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We’ve been teaching M the letters in her name. (Actually, her school has probably done most of the teaching.) Daddy is convinced she understands how to make an M and an A, even if the execution is not quite there.

So far, Mommy has not been able to reproduce these results, but we’ll let her slide.

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Teaching manners

“Coo-kie?”

“Say, ‘Cookie please?'”

“Yea.”

“No, say, ‘Cookie please?'”

“Yea.”

<shakes head> “‘Cookie please?'”

“Yea.”

“‘Cookie please?'”

“Yea.”

<sighs> “Okay, here.”

“Taintu!”

“You’re welcome, baby girl.”

^^^^Improvement over the past week, where repeated attempts of “Madeline, say, ‘Thank you’?” were met with “Macom” (her word for “welcome”).

“Peek boo!”

With Madeline strapped in her booster seat (so as to stay out of my way), I began to assemble her teepee. She kept squealing “Wow! Eeeee!” as it took shape. Then Daddy inadvertently set her loose and she started playing in it before I was finished with assembly (note the ouch-waiting-to-happen slippage on the wood floor). For our small apartment, I suppose this teepee is an acceptable use of 9 sq ft.

Buckles

The toy of the week is buckles. Madeline has been playing with every buckle she finds, and she started buckling the straps on her booster seat:

I’m fairly certain she also UNbucked herself in the grocery cart this morning. If she really figures out how to unbuckle herself from various baby receptacles, we will have a problem.

There is nothing quite as serene as the quiet of a busy baby who falls asleep.

20140726_Wegmans_09

M helps with laundry

The things babies do that crack me up! Today, Madeline celebrates her toddling independence by “helping” with laundry:

I was folding/sorting Madeline’s clothes and ended up taking out all the stuff from her drawers to reorganize. I sat on the nursery floor with piles of clothes around me. After watching me for a bit, Madeline decided to transport her socks from her sock drawer (which I was not organizing) over to our bed down the hall (which we frequently use for laundry folding). She must have made about 5 trips to and fro, carrying her socks. When her sock bin was empty, she proceeded in reverse, carrying them back to her sock bin. She did all this without saying a word to me, very deliberate and focused on her task. She finally tired of this activity with about half the socks remaining on our bed, and we went downstairs to get a snack after all her hard work.

Please excuse the poor quality of the images; my iPhone is not up to performing in low-light conditions.

Happy 4th!

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Karla and Rob’s wedding

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My dear friend Karla married her longtime beau Rob in a beautiful ceremony and reception that reflected their cozy laid-back vibe perfectly. They were wonderfully accommodating to us with regard to Madeline, even welcoming her with a bucket of toys! They are going to be wonderful parents 🙂 Congratulations, newlyweds!

On another note, we discovered the following:

  • A wedding full of pediatricians makes the best baby entertainment/childcare ever. Period. For your tot’s next birthday, forget the magician, the balloon artist, and the live appearance by Elmo. Just hire a cohort of pediatricians.
  • Madeline LOVES to dance. We thought she might be overstimulated with the party and loud dance music, so we took her off to the side toward the trees and pond. She shrieked to be put down and toddled a beeline straight back on to the dance floor, where said pediatricians had previously been twirling around with her. We tried reigning her in at least twice, and each time she toddled back to the party. On the dance floor, she would bounce and sway and clap. Here’s hoping she has more rhythm than either Chris or me.

Toddling, exploring, and meeting Danielle, who would become Madeline’s best friend for the evening:

Roaming amongst the pants and skirts:

Playing with Danielle and meeting the rest of the pediatricians:

The bride and groom during their toasts:

By 7:30pm we thought Madeline might have been tired, but she protested leaving the party and headed straight back to the dance floor:

She ran back to the dance floor whenever we tried to carry her away.

We realized after several attempts to head home that we have a party girl, and she had several dance partners to bounce-twirl her around:

The next morning, she slept in:

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When Dad chooses baby girl’s outfit

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20140602_MBBatpark_2Onesie AND romper AND pants. I remember when the snaps on her newborn pieces baffled him. Therefore, I should not be surprised at the result we have today. All I can say is he exceeded my expectations.

 

London Artist Ron Mueck Creates Hyper Realistic People Sculptures

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Amazing sculptures. I was surprised to find among them a babywearer! I frequently wear Madeline like this, sometimes with my coat zipped around her — I suppose it is a bit odd to see a baby’s head pop up out of someone’s coat. Anyway, look at the rest of the artwork!

a sculpture of babywearing!

London Artist Ron Mueck Creates Hyper Realistic People Sculptures.

We’ve got a “I’ll do it myself”-er

Baby girl had trouble falling back asleep and repeatedly refused the pacifier (which seems to be the case of late). She finally fell asleep when she found the pacifier by herself and contentedly sucked away. (She must have good night vision, or good tactile sensory input, or both!)

BBC News – Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes

I like this so much, I’m reprinting the entire thing.

For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates.

For 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It’s like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.

It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life.

The maternity package – a gift from the government – is available to all expectant mothers.

It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.

With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby’s first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box’s four cardboard walls.

Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it’s worth much more.

The tradition dates back to 1938. To begin with, the scheme was only available to families on low incomes, but that changed in 1949.

“Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be but new legislation meant in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy,” says Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela – the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

So the box provided mothers with what they needed to look after their baby, but it also helped steer pregnant women into the arms of the doctors and nurses of Finland’s nascent welfare state.

In the 1930s Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high – 65 out of 1,000 babies died. But the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed.

Mika Gissler, a professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, gives several reasons for this – the maternity box and pre-natal care for all women in the 1940s, followed in the 60s by a national health insurance system and the central hospital network.

Contents of the box

Contents of the 2013 pack
  • Mattress, mattress cover, undersheet, duvet cover, blanket, sleeping bag/quilt
  • Box itself doubles as a crib
  • Snowsuit, hat, insulated mittens and booties
  • Light hooded suit and knitted overalls
  • Socks and mittens, knitted hat and balaclava
  • Bodysuits, romper suits and leggings in unisex colours and patterns
  • Hooded bath towel, nail scissors, hairbrush, toothbrush, bath thermometer, nappy cream, wash cloth
  • Cloth nappy set and muslin squares
  • Picture book and teething toy
  • Bra pads, condoms

At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women.

Reija Klemetti, a 49-year-old from Helsinki, remembers going to the post office to collect a box for one of her six children.

“It was lovely and exciting to get it and somehow the first promise to the baby,” she says. “My mum, friends and relatives were all eager to see what kind of things were inside and what colours they’d chosen for that year.”

Her mother-in-law, aged 78, relied heavily on the box when she had the first of her four children in the 60s. At that point she had little idea what she would need, but it was all provided.

More recently, Klemetti’s daughter Solja, aged 23, shared the sense of excitement that her mother had once experienced, when she took possession of the “first substantial thing” prior to the baby itself. She now has two young children.

“It’s easy to know what year babies were born in, because the clothing in the box changes a little every year. It’s nice to compare and think, ‘Ah that kid was born in the same year as mine’,” says Titta Vayrynen, a 35-year-old mother with two young boys.

For some families, the contents of the box would be unaffordable if they were not free of charge, though for Vayrynen, it was more a question of saving time than money.

She was working long hours when pregnant with her first child, and was glad to be spared the effort of comparing prices and going out shopping.

“There was a recent report saying that Finnish mums are the happiest in the world, and the box was one thing that came to my mind. We are very well taken care of, even now when some public services have been cut down a little,” she says.

When she had her second boy, Ilmari, Vayrynen opted for the cash grant instead of the box and just re-used the clothes worn by her first, Aarni.

A boy can pass on clothes to a girl too, and vice versa, because the colours are deliberately gender-neutral.

The contents of the box have changed a good deal over the years, reflecting changing times.

During the 30s and 40s, it contained fabric because mothers were accustomed to making the baby’s clothes.

But during World War II, flannel and plain-weave cotton were needed by the Defence Ministry, so some of the material was replaced by paper bed sheets and swaddling cloth.

The 50s saw an increase in the number of ready-made clothes, and in the 60s and 70s these began to be made from new stretchy fabrics.

In 1968 a sleeping bag appeared, and the following year disposable nappies featured for the first time.

Not for long. At the turn of the century, the cloth nappies were back in and the disposable variety were out, having fallen out of favour on environmental grounds.

Encouraging good parenting has been part of the maternity box policy all along.

“Babies used to sleep in the same bed as their parents and it was recommended that they stop,” says Panu Pulma, professor in Finnish and Nordic History at the University of Helsinki. “Including the box as a bed meant people started to let their babies sleep separately from them.”

At a certain point, baby bottles and dummies were removed to promote breastfeeding.

“One of the main goals of the whole system was to get women to breastfeed more,” Pulma says. And, he adds, “It’s happened.”

He also thinks including a picture book has had a positive effect, encouraging children to handle books, and, one day, to read.

And in addition to all this, Pulma says, the box is a symbol. A symbol of the idea of equality, and of the importance of children.

The story of the maternity pack

Pack from 1953
  • 1938: Finnish Maternity Grants Act introduced – two-thirds of women giving birth that year eligible for cash grant, maternity pack or mixture of the two
  • Pack could be used as a cot as poorest homes didn’t always have a clean place for baby to sleep
  • 1940s: Despite wartime shortages, scheme continued as many Finns lost homes in bombings and evacuations
  • 1942-6: Paper replaced fabric for items such as swaddling wraps and mother’s bedsheet
  • 1949: Income testing removed, pack offered to all mothers in Finland – if they had prenatal health checks (1953 pack pictured above)
  • 1957: Fabrics and sewing materials completely replaced with ready-made garments
  • 1969: Disposable nappies added to the pack
  • 1970s: With more women in work, easy-to-wash stretch cotton and colourful patterns replace white non-stretch garments
  • 2006: Cloth nappies reintroduced, bottle left out to encourage breastfeeding

BBC News – Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

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AKA mother’s wrist syndrome per Wikipedia.

From MayoClinic.com:

If you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, it will probably hurt every time you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist…any activity that relies on repetitive hand or wrist movement — such as working in the garden, playing golf or racket sports or lifting your baby — can make it worse.

Note the tendons of the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus muscles, mnemonically known in anatomy class as the snuffbox.

Note the tendons of the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus muscles, mnemonically known in anatomy class as the snuffbox.

So THIS is my problem!

Galactagogue cookies (which sounds way better than lactation cookies)

The first trial of motherhood I have encountered is suckling my child. Pregnancy and delivery were cake compared to breastfeeding. One of the challenges is maintaining an appropriate supply — apparently all kinds of subtle cues can throw it out of whack. And while undersupply is an obvious potential problem, I also learned that oversupply can be a frustration all its own.

Somewhere in my history of surfing the interwebs, I had come across lactation cookies. At the time, I thought, “Ummmm, weird.” How foolish and naive of me. Undersupply can be such a source of anxiety for moms, so what better way to address it than a baked concoction that both soothes and treats it?!

Below is a recipe I found at The Progressive Parent and adapted to my own preferences. I cannot attest to whether the cookies do statistically increase milk supply. I can attest only to their nutritionally dense yumminess.

sweet chocolatey oatmeal goodness.

sweet chocolatey oatmeal goodness.

Lactation Cookies

— with oatmeal and whatever goodies you like — my favorite is craisins and white chocolate/dark chocolate chips! For one 9″ x 13″ pan of bar cookies* (because I don’t have time to drop them into individual cookies — if you prefer normal round cookies, see variation below**):

Ingredients

  • 2 oz (4 tbsp) water
  • 2 tbsp milled flaxseed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (3 minutes on 20% power works for me, and then I use the wax wrappers to grease the pan)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.75 cups flour**
  • 4 tbsp brewer’s yeast
  • 1 tsp baking soda (or 4 tsp baking powder)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups thick rolled oats
  • 1.5-2 cups mixed chocolate chips/white chips/craisins, in whatever proportions you like — I do 1 cup craisins, 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and 2/3 cup white chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. In a small bowl, stir together the water and flaxseed. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and beat in the sugar. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flaxseed mixture from step 1 and stir.
  3. Stir together the flour,** yeast, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir this dry ingredient mixture into the large bowl to form the cookie dough.
  4. Combine the cookie dough with the oats and craisin/chip mix. This step requires biceps or a stand mixer — the dough will be thick.
  5. Spread in a greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are brown and inserted knife comes out clean. Don’t bake for too long or the cookies will crumble.*
  6. Wait for the cookie pan to cool, cut it into bars, grab a glass of milk, and enjoy!

*If you double the recipe to make two pans, they will take about 25 minutes to bake. I might or might not know this empirically.

**If you prefer the usual individual round cookies rather than bars, add an extra 0.25 cup of flour (total 2 cups flour). You can then drop teaspoonfuls — or, for the perfectionists who aim for pi-worthy circles, roll into balls — and bake 10-12 minutes. This is still too much work to me, so I prefer to spread the dough on a greased sheet of wax paper (cooking spray is quick and sufficient for greasing), roll it into a log about 2″ diameter, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 2 hours. Let thaw about 20 minutes at room temp and slice 1/2″ thick. Since they are frozen, they bake for 11-13 minutes.

 

 

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