Saturday, April 30, 2011

Best baby books

In our baby group meeting today, the subject of baby books came up.

There are a lot of books out there, but each baby seems to have favorites (and the parents too), so after a few million reads you start looking for some new book ideas.

Here are Layla's favorites:

This book was given to Layla by Grandpa M., and has a lot of fun stuff to play with



This was a shower present, and I thought it was goofy but it ended up being great for little tots who like to touch and feel and appreciate a (very) simple story


This was a present from Layla's cousin B, who I think loved this book as a child growing up in England. It's extremely cute and has a nice rhyme and very busy pictures that will capture her short attention span for many many reads.




This was also a gift from cousin B, and is also extremely cute. It has a short simple story with lots of pretty drawings of babies laughing and playing and one baby at the end gets kisses which Layla likes to contribute to.



This is another book about babies, given to Layla by her Grandpa L. She LOVES the baby pictures and I like to sing her the song and go through all the body parts (which she is starting to get).



Layla is no literary snob, and loves baby elmo as much as the rest of them. This is actually full of all the things she's been doing and thinking about (it's supposed to be for 6-12 months, but I think it's more like 6-15 months). Baby Elmo eats a banana, plays peek-a-boo, points to his nose, and at the end there's a big pop-out Baby Elmo surprise, which is her absolute favorite part.

I think our group is going to do a favorite book exchange, so hopefully we can mix it up some more soon and I will have some more recommendations. I feel like my knowledge of baby books at the moment is very limited. Maybe some trips to the library are on the horizon as well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our big toddler

We found out yesterday that Layla will be moving up to the toddler room at her daycare next week. They spend two weeks transitioning (she's already 'visited' quite a few times) and then she's a big toddler!! We can hardly believe it. I'm very conflicted - on the one hand, it's nice to have her grow out of some of the things that are hard, like waking up super early, drinking from bottles (so many bottles!), unpredictable napping, etc. But on the other hand, I'm going to miss her being my BABY!!!

At home, she's making big toddler changes too. She's becoming VERY demanding and throws fits all the time. Today she threw a fit because we wouldn't let her wander around outside all evening (it was raining! and cold!!). She LOVES going outside because when it's nice out we do all sorts of fun things.
Here she is driving her 'car' that we inherited with our rented house. She LOVES this car. I love it because it's tall and easy to push around.

She is also learning new big toddler things like how to get dressed. She can't really put on pants or a shirt yet but she can put things around her neck and over her head. She is particularly attached to my old YWCA staff badge which she wears around the house all the time. It makes her look like she's about to go to work. She also found my old heart monitor and likes to put that around her neck too, and her binki strap. Below she's got all three.


In the toddler room, they wear outdoor shoes and play on the playground, they follow a schedule for eating and napping, and they have a whole new set of toys and activities for big toddlers. I think Layla will love it, although she will miss her friends from the baby room. She likes to cuddle the babies and tell the daycare staff when they need milk or a binki (which she often steals). We might go visit the baby room and say hi for a while until she gets used to her new big toddler room.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sleep!

We've been struggling a lot with sleep, especially since about last November... the onset of the worst of all our colds this year. When Layla's sick, she doesn't sleep well, and if there are good nights between the colds we aren't always well ourselves. Plus she's been waking up SUPER EARLY (5 am ish) which may have been because of the colds or may have just been her insane internal clock. The 5 am wake-ups were the worst - I've learned that my 'power hours' at night are from 4-6 am, and constant 5 am wake-ups really wrecked me. Plus, our house is small so it was difficult to sleep while Layla tore the house apart under the care of the other parent in her early-morning vigor.

Well I'm tentatively excited because Layla's been sleeping a little later lately, even sometimes until 7 or 7:30. So far the Studly Hubby and I have been ecstatic and sleeping in to better enjoy the amazing and sublime change of schedule. And we're still going to bed quite early (9:30) so that means we're getting LOTS of sleep... which is SOOO wonderful. I think I could do this for another 2 weeks or more before I finally got caught up on all the sleep we've lost over the past year. Already after just a week of this I feel like a new person - I make sense when I talk, can walk in a straight line again, and I think I'm standing up straighter. Wow!

Layla on the stairs

Layla has been practicing going up and down stairs lately. Actually, until today, she just sat on the bottom step and cried, wanting to go up but not knowing how. But today, she completely figured it out - and crawled all the way up the deck stairs!! Here she is right before the big adventure.

Layla finds the skill very useful. After her bath tonight, she crawled out of the tub (with a little help from her dad) using the very same skills. And at the park, she will now be able to crawl up the stairs to the slide, which she has been dreaming about lately.

We don't have a fence around our backyard and I can't help but worry that my little girl is going to escape me and run someplace dangerous (and fall down the steps to the backdoor, or get knocked over by the neighbor's dog, or find a thorny vine in the driveway...). So, I hover over her like a worried hen and make her hold my hand all the time. Probably as the summer sets in I'll have to work out a better plan and baby-proof the yard. Or maybe I'll just make her keep holding my hand as long as she's willing, because it's so darn cute when she does.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Layla in the park!

After a wild night of pole dancing (see below), we had an early-morning park date. It was a rare and beautiful sunny day in Seattle and we went to an amazing park overlooking the water. Seattle has no shortage of those, and Layla had a fantastic time.

Whenever we go to the park, or anywhere new, it always takes Layla a little while to 'warm up' - she spends a bit of time hugging my leg first before she ventures out on her own.


As you can see, it's incredibly cute. Sometimes, when we go to particularly crowded parks, she wants to just sit in my lap the whole time and watch everyone. She never does this at home so it's a rare opportunity for me to cuddle with her.

We've been going to a lot of parks lately, to distract her from all her various illnesses. It works very well, but we're running into some trouble at home now - she always wants to go out! She tries to put on her shoes, goes to the door and reaches for the doorknob, sneaks out the back door if we have it open, and constantly points out the windows. When we start putting on our jackets and shoes she is beside herself with excitement. So, what can you do but oblige, and spend the weekend at the park? Thank goodness it's spring!

Pole dancing class!!


Even though I'm still sick, I couldn't turn down an invite to a pole dancing class at a local pole dancing studio - pole for the soul. I didn't know what to expect but thought it seemed like the sort of thing a stressed-out mom like me might enjoy.

It was pretty fun!! They really focused on 'sexy' - and also showed us some moves that I never would have thought I could do (it helps to have some upper body strength from lugging the baby around). When we arrived, we were told to take down our hair, and the room was lit with dim red lights, so everyone looked extra-sexy - even though I had forgotten to shave my legs and most of us had gym shorts on (there were 15 of us at an evening 'pole party' as part of a bachelorette party).


The teacher, who I'm pretty sure is also a stripper, started us off by teaching us how to 'sexy walk' in a large circle. Then we 'sexy walked' around our pole. Then we started learning the moves. For the most part, the moves were pretty easy (step-spin and turn with your back to the pole and then slide on one leg to the floor and then turn around and get back up, etc). It required some coordination and a lot of butt-wiggling and for the most part we were all so focused on the moves that we weren't being very sexy - but every once in a while someone would really get it right and we would all cheer wildly.

This is a picture from the Pole for the Soul website - we took pictures while we were there but I haven't seen them yet and I'm not sure I'd want to share them anyway.

There was one move, at the end, where we jumped up and spun around the pole, and it was a real taste for what pole dancing can be - my arms were wrenched from their sockets, my legs were bruised, my adrenaline was pumped - and I was assured it was sexy (hmmm really??). I did it a few times and then had to quit for fear I was going to cause permanent damage to something.

One thing of note was their 'sexy' approach - they were TEACHING us how to be sexy!! You're probably thinking, well duh, it's a pole-dancing class - but I have never been taught how to be sexy and I thought it was really neat. Seriously, it's not easy or natural for someone like me to coordinately wiggle my butt and chest and walk in a straight line at the same time - and it really helped to have some instruction and encouragement!! I think I would need about 6 months solid of serious training to be able to do it with any sort of real talent though.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First birthday gifts!

Layla got a lot of good loot for her birthday.

Here's what she got:

- A talking dog named Violet, that knows her name and sings songs to her about her favorite things like bears and cheese


- A tupperware ball with plastic shapes she can put inside it, which is finds extremely fascinating

- A giant tigger, and a soft doll, and a baby Elmo, all of which she LOVES to cuddle

- An amazing little banjo music box, and a Baby Einstein iPod that importantly provides Layla a toy like those her mommy and daddy are always playing with (our phones)


- A red wagon, which Mommy and Daddy still haven't put together

- An awesome spring outfit and gorgeous warm Seattle sweater, and a shopping spree at Hannah Anderson, where she got to pick out some colorful spring tank tops and shorts and a beautiful dress

We owe great thanks to the many wonderful people that sent us gifts for Layla (thank you cards are still on their way). You would not believe how helpful all these great gifts were during our long days at home with a cranky kid over the past few weeks.

GERMAGEDDON 2011

We have experienced nothing less than Germageddon this month.

First, Layla got a nasty cold that lasted something like 3 weeks (I got it too). During the cold, about 3 weeks ago, she got a horrible diaper rash, like nothing we'd ever seen before (she doesn't usually get rashes) - it turned out to be a yeast infection and cleared up quickly once we used the right treatment. Before that was over, she popped out another molar (#2) and started working on #3 and #4. Then she rolled right into the nasty horrible stomach bug (see below), which we all got. There was lots of puking, and way too much pooping, and the Studly Hubby missed the entire week of work (I fared better, but just barely). There was one day, a Saturday, when everybody felt ok and we went to the park.


Then, before the end of the day, the next thing - pinkeye (see below) - hit us like a ton of bricks and we were up all night with a screaming baby again. We went to the doctor Monday, she got booted out of daycare for another week, but by Tuesday she seemed to be doing better. Then out of nowhere, on Wednesday and Thursday she screamed all night again (Wednesday night, and all day Thursday, she only slept about 6 hours total). We were about to head back to the doctor, or import a relative to help out, or pay a stranger just to give us both two hours to sleep (seriously, I was on the phone trying to find someone), when suddenly she slept all night on Thursday night.

We were flabbergasted. Especially when she slept all night Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday too (and even Monday and Tuesday!). This is the longest run she has had since sometime in October.

Then I got hit. But not with pinkeye - our sneaky little girl went and caught another cold WHILE SHE HAD PINKEYE (probably at the doctor's, since we hadn't been out much other than that) - and as I went through two nights of the aches and the chills and a horrible sore throat and an extremely short lived but very high fever (on my birthday!) I realized our little girl was actually enduring it all quite well.

Thankfully when the week ended Layla hadn't had a chance to catch anything new and we were finally germ-free for the first time in probably five months... hence the amazing run of all-night sleeping.

So now, time for a recount (the old numbers are here):

Layla -
Total: 22, 1 rash, 1 pinkeye, 1 stomach bug, 19 colds
Fevers: 3
Days home from daycare: 12

Me:
Total: 17, 1 sinus infection, 1 stomach bug, 15 colds
Fevers: 4
Days home from work: 11.5 (including 7 half-days)

Derek:
Total: 10, 1 stomach bug, 9 colds
Fevers: 0
Days home work: 9.5 (including 7 half-days)

The whole year has been hard, but the last week surpassed my Worst Parental Experience So Far (sleep training, last July) by about two-fold. But, alas, most parents I have talked to (in Seattle) have had similar experiences - one other father said his kid was sick 24 times the first year, and he was sick 22 (amazingly, his wife was sick only a mere 7 times - likely a testament to how genetics might influence your chances of getting sick - although he's biased, since that's what he studies for his career).

Ugh, what a nightmare. Hopefully spring will bring a new beginning and lots of health to our household! We really need it.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Pink Eye!!

Poor Layla! Just as she was recovering from the stomach bug last week, she came down with pink eye. She was only in daycare for 2 days and she caught it the second it came through (they sent the other baby home as soon as they realized but... it was too late).

The Studly Hubby and I haven't caught it from her yet, thankfully - we all really took a pounding last week from the stomach bug and the sleep deprivation that comes with having a sick 1 yr old, so we needed a few days' break! But now we're ready. Today Layla looks like she's been hit by a train so by the weekend I'm expecting our whole family to be really scary looking. Maybe we can figure out a way to take advantage of it. I think Zombiefest is going to be in town...

Meanwhile Layla was kicked out of daycare for the week due to her contagion and we are juggling our work schedules and each staying home with her. And since she's sick, and it's cold out, we are really staying home - which could be rough. Fortunately Layla has been mostly good, and I bought a People magazine pre-emptively over the weekend, and the Studly Hubby has figured out all the good daytime shows to watch on TV (his favorite is Ellen) - so we aren't having too bad of a time, although I do miss work a lot (seriously).

The silver lining is that we are seeing a lot of Layla, and she's even in surprisingly good spirits most of the time. She's really trying to learn how to do things for herself. She wants to dress herself (without much luck yet), eat with a spoon, brush her own hair, carry around her own snacks, put her dirty laundry in the hamper (and everything else), pick out her own books (she's REALLY gotten into reading), and decide what to play with. She's also started 'taking care' of her stuffed animals, including a little baby her Grandma C sent her that she carries around the house, wraps up with a blanky, rocks, hugs, kisses, and reads books with, and a giant Tigger doll her Grandma and Grandpa A brought that she gently puts down for a nap with a pillow and blanket. I'm thinking she may have been paying very close attention at daycare... wow! She's also really communicating - she knows sign language for 'milk' and 'hungry' and is pretty clear about wanting to go down for a nap, all of which is super helpful. She also points at things and can clearly indicate when she wants something out of reach, and she's been keeping track of where some things are and where they go (like her binki, which is very important to her). She's also walking with no problem except when she's tired and stumbles around like she's been drinking a little too much (milk, of course). I feel like she's been making big leaps in her development over the past month, it's a little dizzying!

Here's one of my all-time favorite pictures of Layla and her Daddy. She's feeding him a banana in this picture, which is one of both of their favorite snacks. It was taken right before Germageddon.