Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve Eve

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and we've had a VERY busy week. I'm trying to remember what all has occurred since I last posted. We spent most of the last week laying low. Brad worked Monday and Tuesday and has been off since Wednesday. Emma and I are loving having her Daddy home. We've been finishing up some final Christmas shopping and just enjoying lots of time together.

On Friday we had a very special day. Brad's stepfather, Tony, had a big surprise 60th birthday party! The day started with us meeting lots of family at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We were all standing there waiting when Brad's mom and Tony walked in - he was SO surprised! His sisters flew in from around the country (and even Mexico!) to be there. It was very special. We had a great lunch. Emma mostly napped in her sling and took in the sights. She wasn't so sure what she thought of all those people!

That night, after a big afternoon nap, we went to Brad's parents house for the actual party. There were TONS of people! Emma visited for a little while before bedtime. I was a little concerned because it was going to be a late night and I knew we were bringing her pack and play to put her to bed in. However, she has a very rigid schedule of rituals that we do before bed. I KNEW she was going to think it wasn't bedtime. I was right. It took her Daddy and I both rocking her (with no rocking chair!) to get her down. She slept for exactly 1 hour before waking back up. Luckily, that was enough time for her Daddy and I to enjoy a nice dinner and some Italian wine and dessert before she woke up. The best part is that she woke up in a GREAT mood. She was passed around most of the night without making a peep. She DID however, show a touch of "I want my mommy!" I was holding her and someone took her from me. She cried until I held her again and she stopped immediately! This might not seem like much, but usually, if she's very upset, it takes me rocking or nursing her to calm her. It was the very first time that just holding her calmed her. It made me feel like a million bucks.

Like I had predicted, it WAS a very late night. We got home late and got her in bed late, and her mood the next day proved that that was a bad idea. Oh well. Stuff happens!

On Monday we met Brad's family at Discover Mills for a date with Santa. It was Emma's cousin, Luke's first Santa visit and he did great! After he got his picture, we sat them both on Santa's lap. So cute! I'll scan the picture and post it as soon as I get a copy!

I went to a memorial service for a co-worker from Midvale yesterday. Emma's Daddy kept her while I was gone. He did a great job! He hasn't babysat by himself very much, mostly because when I leave and Emma's not with me, Brad is! My mom has kept her a bunch, but it was Daddy's turn. She "helped" him do some vacuuming and was a good girl.

Today she has seemed like she might be coming down with a little cold. Still not sure. She's coughing a little (a dry cough) and has sneezed some, but seems to feel great otherwise. We've been expanding her horizons with baby food. She LOVES pears, sweet potato, and carrots. She tolerates applesauce when it's mixed with something. Bananas are ok when mixed with something too, but when she eats them alone - GAG! She's so funny.

We've had a great day today. We had Joe (Brad's step brother) and his wife Fylicia and baby Luke over for dinner and a play date. Luke is 3 weeks older than Emma and a LOT bigger! He weighs 25 lbs and Emma is somewhere around 15! His little thigh rolls are just the cutest thing I've ever seen. They rolled around in the floor and had a great time. This was really the first time that they noticed each other and it was precious. Pardon the blur. Brad took the pictures and the lighting was bad!

Playing together - Luke's a bit handsy!

Emma decided to get him back! Chomp! (just kidding, there was no actual biting - but it DOES look like it!)

Checkin each other out!

Tomorrow we will be going to Holy Cross for the children's Christmas Eve mass. Last year I was pregnant with Emma and it was so hard to believe that I would have a 6 month old by the same time the next year. Christmas was such an emotional time. It's still hard to believe. I can't wait to dress her up in her Christmas dress and bring her to church. She loves the music, so I'm hoping she'll be a good girl and behave herself. We'll see!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Party

We went to Emma's first Christmas party on Saturday. It was the annual Holiday Party for my mom's job. All of the kids who go to Lekotek or FOCUS for services are invited and it was a BIG turnout. Emma even got to meet 2 of my previous students. Emma was a little out of sorts. When she was a teeny tiny baby she would fall asleep whenever new people were around, sort of her little defense mechanism when she was getting overstimulated. Well, even though she had JUST woken up from a nap, and even though my Mom, Brad, and I were the only ones to hold her, she played possum anyway!

Here she is meeting Jack, one of my students who is now in Middle School. I feel old! Can you tell he wasn't all that thrilled to see his teacher??? I like to think he was being coy......not sure! Miss Susan is one tough cookie in the classroom! I got a sweet reaction from Alex, my other student though - a big smile!

We had a good time and Emma even got to see Santa again! It was GREAT! We still didn't get a smile, but I think what we got was even better....

Emma's sleeping is SOOO much better! It's still not as great as it COULD be, but we'll take it! Last night she woke up twice, and a few nights ago she only woke up once - Brad and I BOTH woke up to check on her! We're keeping our fingers crossed that it continues.

On a sadder note, I'm afraid that another paraprofessional from my school that I've known for 4 years or so is about to pass away. She had a heart attack last week and was unconscious for an unknown length of time. Apparently it took it's toll because test show that she is likely brain dead. The machines were supposed to have been turned off this morning. Please keep her family in your prayers. I can't believe we lost 2 staff members within a matter of months. So sad. I still feel so much like a member of the school family. It's still hard to believe I'm not there this year, but I wouldn't trade being home for anything in the world!

Christmas is just around the corner and we're just about ready! We're leaving the day after Christmas to go to Gatlinburg, TN for a mountain vacation with my parents. It will be Emma's first vacation. I'm praying that the car ride goes well! That's really the only part that terrifies me! We're excited to go though.

Today's been busy already - I've been busy making baby food! So far Emma's tried carrots, sweet potatoes, and banana. She had a little rash that may have been from the banana, so we're taking a few weeks off of that one. Today I made organic carrots and applesauce. Can't wait to see what she thinks of the applesauce! She's a great eater. It's hard to believe that within a matter of weeks she went from spitting out rice cereal that was VERY runny, to now eating an ounce of rice cereal mixed with breast milk, a serving of sweet potatoes, and still wanting more! She's a big girl!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Too soon to call??

As I've mentioned in previous posts, we've been having MAJOR sleep issues around here. Emma would lay down for a nap, only to wake up 10-30 minutes later (and every 10 minute increment after THAT) screaming, and needing to be soothed back to sleep. Nighttime was just as bad - sleeping great until around midnight when she'd start to wake up some nights every hour.

THEN I purchased these books....

Wow. I'm REALLY scared to say that our problems are gone, so I won't. But you get the picture! She has a lot of really great information on "setting the scene" for naps. She points out that, while we often have great routines that are set in stone for bedtime, we don't usually have them for naps. She also has a great chart that details how long babies should go in between naps, and how many hours of sleep they need total.

So here's what I changed....Emma went from taking 3 naps, down to 2. I keep her up a MINIMUM of 1 1/2 hours (trying to make it to 2) between naps, rather than an hour and 15 minutes, which had been her limit without melting down. Before I lay her down for a nap, I swaddle her, turn on the box fan in our room (where I feed her before nap - she has a box fan in her room as well for the white noise). I turn off all the lights, feed her until she's good and relaxed, and put her in her crib while she's still awake, but drowsy.

She has been taking 2-3 hour naps without waking up for about 3 days now!!! She is also sleeping MUCH better at night. She has woken up once or twice a night now for about 4 nights!!!!! Now, if Brad and I can get used to getting to sleep OURSELVES a little earlier, we'll feel like actual people again!!

It's amazing how 2 little books can change so much. The things that she points out in the books are simple, common-sense ideas, that I had never even considered! Just a few simple changes have changed Emma's little life. It's incredible how important sleep, or lack thereof, is to a little baby - and her mommy!

We met my friend Rachel and her little baby Juliette at Chick-Fil-A a few nights ago for a quick dinner. Rachel and I both went to St. Pius, both taught (she still does) kids with severe and profound disabilities, we're both going to send our girls to Catholic school, AND our little baby girls are only 2 weeks apart! What amazed me was that, even though Juliette was around 6lbs at birth, and Emma was 9, they both are almost the exact same height and weight now! It's amazing what a little breast milk can do.

We got the girls together when Emma was around 8 weeks old or so, but they weren't really "into" other people at the time. This time they were so cute - they sat on the table and just STARED at each other! Emma would look at Juli and then back at me like "do you SEE her Mama??" It was precious. We've GOT to get them together for a play date soon - I think I need the company of another young mom just as much as Emma needs a friend! So much fun to look forward to in the years to come!

Once again, I have no pictures. I've been spending my days making homemade baby food, washing clothes, diapers, and trying to keep up with a little housework. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my baby food maker?? SO far I've used it for sweet potatoes and carrots - we're trying the carrots tonight. Last night Emma had a little mashed banana with her cereal - she LOVED it mixed in, but hated the bite without cereal! Love the funny faces that came along with that. She had a little rash on her belly after the banana, so we'll wait a little while and try it again. Hopefully the carrots don't have the same effect! Anyone have any good baby food recipes????

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I honestly don't have too much to report on this week. It's been very laid back. Emma's been having a bit of a rough time again/still with sleeping. She goes down between 7:30-8:00 and does great until around midnight. Then she starts waking up screaming. On a good night, she's up twice to eat. On a bad night, she's up once an hour. It's a nightmare. We're not sure what her exact issue is. Like I've mentioned before, we've tried the "cry it out" method with no avail. I've read a TON on the internet and it seems like the best method so far is the "No-Cry Sleep Method." It's a book that aims to solve sleep issues in babies and toddlers. According to what I speed read last night (got the book yesterday morning), it seems that her issue is the pacifier. The author explains that when you have a baby who wakes up frequently at night, they have sleep associations that are issues. A sleep association is basically something that the baby has been trained to think that it needs in order to sleep. When the paci falls out in the middle of the night, she wakes up because she thinks she needs it. We've done the Almighty Paci dance for about 3 months now. It's no fun.

Anyway, the author explains how to gently teach Emma that she doesn't have to have the paci to sleep. We've just started the removal process (you basically take the paci out of her mouth very gently once she's falling asleep. If she cries, put it back in and try again.) She's pretty good with us removing it after she falls asleep for the first time. Not so great after her first wake up. We'll get there.

I wish that I could say that her naps are better. She has actually had some pretty good naps lately, but it's not consistent. Another thing the book says is that for a nap to serve it's purpose, it needs to be a minimum of 90 minutes. Any shorter doesn't count. It also says that Emma needs to be taking 2 naps rather than the 3 that she currently takes. That's what we worked on today. She did pretty well. No big meltdowns - she frequently has huge screaming fits before bed when she's overtired, usually starting around 6:30. Tonight she did great missing that nap, up until time to put jammies on, but it was short-lived. She was EXHAUSTED when we put her down, so we'll see if she sleeps any better tonight. Keeping my fingers crossed. We've got a lot of activities coming up because of the holidays and I'm praying that we get Emma back to being her sweet, happy little self before then! Could make for lots of cancelled plans!

Like I said, we haven't done much this week. I've been trying to catch up on some much needed sleep, which hasn't worked out too well! I got our Christmas cards mailed out much earlier than I usually do. Proud of that!

A lot of people have mentioned lately how much Emma is starting to look like me. I've noticed it too. I'll be the first to tell you that up until now, she's been a little baby Brad. She's had moments of looking like me, but just barely. She has my fingers, feet, nose, and mouth. Lately her eyes have looked like mine as a baby as well. I'll let you be the judge. Here's a picture of Brad as a baby, then one of me at 6 months, then Emma. I've been remiss in taking Emma pictures this week, so here's one from fairly recently. I'll take some soon and post them so you can see how much she's grown.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Brad and I decided to take Emma to Discover Mills on Sunday to get a little Christmas shopping done. For years we've gotten a special ornament each year to go on the tree that's somehow symbolic of the year. Brad got me our first ornament on our first Christmas together in 2000. Each year we add to the tree and it's neat to look back and remember each ornament. This was last year's ornament, when I was pregnant.

This was 2006's ornament.

This year we had to get a special "Family" ornament!

I can't wait to keep this tradition alive with Emma as we watch her grow.

Anyway, we went to Discover Mills because that's where we typically get the ornaments. While we were there we did some Christmas shopping and decided to get Greek take-out to bring home for dinner. While we were waiting for it to get ready, I realized there was no line for Santa! We hadn't really planned to see him that day, but the stars aligned and we decided to go ahead. It was really important to Brad that he be there, so rather than take her during the week when there are fewer people, we decided to go ahead.

She LOVED Santa! This picture was the first one they took - the first expression that she had the FIRST time she saw Santa! So sweet. She sat there happily while they took several pictures, but would never smile for us! We thought this picture was even more precious than a smiley one. She sat there and rubbed her face on the fur on his coat, stared up at him, snuggled. He was in no hurry to give her back! He kept saying "no, we can get her to smile!" So cute! Judging by some of the other babies we saw, I'm pretty sure next year's picture will be a "crying" one! I hope not, but we'll see.

Here's the tree this year. We've had the angel ever since we started dating and had our first Christmas tree in our apartment in Carrollton. We just can't retire her. We also have some holiday houses around the tree skirt.

Here are some of our Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer houses. Rudolph is hands-down my FAVORITE Christmas movie and I love these houses. Emma does too!