Sunday, September 30, 2007

Alex Van Winkle

Yet another record smashed to pieces! Alex slept seven hours straight last night, from eight to three, beating his previous record of six hours by a whopping sixty minutes. (And wouldn't you know it, I had trouble sleeping last night and only slept about two and half out of those seven hours. Bummer.) He went back to sleep after I nursed him at three, but apparently decided that four sounded like a good time to get up and going for the day. I insisted he stay in bed until five, but after some negotiating, we compromised on four forty five. So up we were.

His sleeping/eating schedule is fairly consistent - when he doesn't decide to sleep instead of eating, that is. There are no holds barred when it comes to daytime naps. His early morning nap often lasts more than two hours (almost three, this morning). But on more than one occasion I've had to cut his evening nap short to preserve the sanctity of his bedtime routine. To all of you that are thinking "Never wake a sleeping baby", allow me to explain my motives. The last time Alex took a nap at 5:30 and continued to sleep well past his next feeding time, I decided to let him be and hope that he had just decided to have an early bedtime that night. Once he woke up for the first time around eleven, he woke up every hour after that until morning came around at five. Needless to say, I regretted that decision.

And I learned my lesson. Last night, when Alex's afternoon nap stretched into the evening and threatened to encroach on his bedtime routine, I did the unthinkable and roused him from a near comatose state. He was sleeping so soundly that it took him nearly five minutes to wake up. Pictured below is Stage 3 of the Alex Evans Wakeup Process, which occurs immediately after I undo his swaddling blanket. (BTW, notice the insane-looking mobile rabbit floating above his head. It's like a creepy version of a sweet sleep fairy from a children's story. Only not sweet. Just creepy. For some reason it cracks me up.)

Now let me be clear - I get sick to my stomach at the thought of having to interrupt a perfectly good nap. But it had to be done. And that decision was validated as it was followed by a most excellent night of record breaking sleep.

Timothy spent the night at the Primms last night because he was singing with Seth and Joy at church and needed to be there at the crack of dawn. So Alex and I were on our own this morning. It was Alex's first day of church since he was born and he was pretty excited to get dressed up and go see his daddy perform onstage.

He was quite adorable, if I do say so myself, but the reason I've posted two pictures is to illustrate the powerful effects of strategic camera angles. The first picture depicts my sweet boy Alex, with his petite little body, chiseled chin and skinny limbs.

This second picture is of Alex's chunky secret clone who we had made in case anything happens to the original. However, a genetic mutation has caused an obvious difference in stature. With his husky body, chubby cheeks and spare chin, it may be difficult to pass him off without raising eyebrows...

Alex did pretty well at church, meaning he sort of slept through most of the service. I had to stand in the back and jiggle him around for most of the hour, but Timothy and Seth and Joy sang so beautifully that I was inspired to dance and didn't mind holding A in the process. He really seems to love music and was quite riveted by Uncle Seth's piano playing.

He was exhausted by the day's events and took a superlong nap this evening that again had to be cut short. I'm hoping for a repeat performance of last night, only maybe I'll be able to sleep this time. Speaking of which, I should be going to bed right now instead of blogging. Good night, y'all!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mommy's Little Couch Potato

Do they make blinders for kids like they do for horses? For the love, we can't get this kid to stop watching TV. He'll watch anything, but seems to be particularly fond of America's Next Top Model and college football. (Hmmm, models and football. Guess he takes after his daddy after all.) It doesn't matter where we put him in the room - his eyes inevitably find their way to the screen. We've witnessed many an Exorcist moment where his head appears to have turned completely around in an effort to take a peek at the boob tube.

I'm not totally neurotic about it - yet - but I am trying my hardest to prevent him from becoming brain damaged (or brainwashed) at such a young age. Although only 26 percent of parents give a hoot, experts are now advising against letting kids under the age of two watch TV, suggesting a link between early TV viewing and various cognitive development issues. (Don't buy it? Check out the following articles: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/, http://www.whitedot.org/issue/, http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/) Of course Timothy and I don't help the situation considering the television is on 24/7 in our house. Do as we say, Alex, not as we do!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Okay, okay, so maybe all of you who said "it'll get better" were right after all.

Alex is eleven weeks old now, and though it may be premature to say so, I really think that ten weeks may have been a turning point for him. It seems like so many things have changed since just two weeks ago!

Recently, he has become fascinated with watching us talk and is much more vocal when responding to our voices. He is literally mesmerized when Timothy plays the guitar and sings, and he seems to be making the connection between noises and what is creating them. He will often hold a conversation - either with himself, with us, or sometimes with a blank wall - and his coos have become much louder and more inflective than they used to be.

He is so much more interactive and is more deliberate about grabbing onto things. Unfortunately he prefers my hair, my necklace, or my shirt.

He has been sucking on his hands for quite some time, but lately he is very intent on putting other things in his mouth as well. Anything he can get his hands on, really - blankets, burp cloths, toys, etc. When we were in the car, his pacifier had fallen out. A minute later, he had a hold of it and was staring at it, trying to figure out how to get it back into his mouth. Of course he had grabbed it by the nipple so he was attempting to shove the handle into his face. But he was making the effort, nonetheless! One of his favorite chew toys is a fun stuffed banana from Grammy, aka Banana Boy, that has removable peels that make crinkly sounds and has all kinds of fun (and tasty?) things attached to it. It doesn't look very appetizing to me, but Alex says "Don't knock it 'til you try it." It is a banana, after all...

He has always been pretty physically active, but this is getting ridiculous. Unless he is completely unconscious, his arms and legs are almost always moving a mile a minute. He still wiggles about in his bed, even while swaddled, and now I am convinced he does it in his sleep. The other day, during tummy time, he had worked himself into this awkward position. I thought it looked pretty uncomfortable but he just hung like that, without complaint, until I eventually moved him.

Thankfully, his sleeping habits have also changed for the better. He still isn't super consistent, but he has had several good days recently where he went down for most of his naps with little to no fussing. His naps have been averaging an hour and a half long, and at times he has slept over an hour past his scheduled feeding time. Of course on those days, I was convinced that Pod People had invaded my house and traded out my baby for a sleepier version. And I was okay with that. Is that wrong?

Bedtime is usually fairly uneventful, as he often goes down without much of a fuss. He's been going to bed between seven-thirty and eight, and on a "typical" night, he will sleep for four or five hours for the first stretch of the night. His record is six hours, which is great, but it would be even better if he did it from midnight to six instead of eight to two!! After that, he usually wakes up once to nurse, a habit that I hope to break him of sooner than later. Overall, a vast improvement. I am such the proud mama!!

When he's awake he's not so bad either. His wake times have stretched out somewhat, so he tends to be happier and more alert for longer periods of time. For example, we went to lunch with the girls from work this week and he giggled and smiled right through his naptime. When he did get tired, he fell right to sleep without a fuss and slept all the way home.

He used to get restless when waiting to eat, but he seems to have acquired a bit more patience lately (something mommy herself is still working on getting more of). Now, when he waits for his bottle, he sits patiently in his chair and sucks on his hands until it is ready.

As odd as it may sound, diaper changing is usually a more pleasant experience, too. Here he is chilling while I gather diaper changing-related paraphernalia. He had just eaten and his belly needed a little extra room, hence the already unbuttoned pants. Little did I know at the time of this picture what awaited me on the other side of those pants. Let's just say whatever it was required a complete wardrobe change...

I'm so excited to see what changes the upcoming weeks bring. He's really starting to be so much fun now that he's realizing how fun we are!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pachelbel's Bedtime

My good friend and fellow mommy Adela forwarded this video to me and I just had to share it. I think this dad puts it pretty succinctly...

This Is How I Roll

Well, he didn't end up getting up at 3am after all. He got up at 11, 12:30, 1:30, 3:30, and 4:30. Apparently I didn't make the right decision about letting him sleep. Oh well, lesson learned...

The good news is, I finally have video evidence of Alex rolling over! I think he did it two or three times today, and I was lucky enough to catch one of them on film. He has only achieved the belly-to-back roll, although I have noticed that he often rolls from his back onto his side, so the back-to-belly roll can't be too far away. Geez laweez. First comes rolling, then creeping, crawling, walking...pretty soon he'll be asking for his own car. I'm already reminiscing about last week. Maybe not the week before. That one was kind of hard. But I definitely miss last week. Ahhh, they grow up so fast...


video

Monday, September 24, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me, cont'd.

Holy cow, Alex has slept more today than since he was born! He napped for a total of seven hours today, twice sleeping past his typical feeding times. His schedule was so funky by the afternoon that his typical nap at three-thirty didn't happen until five-thirty, which somehow turned into bedtime. He slept from five-thirty until eight, so I was conflicted about whether to let him wake up and do his typical bedtime routine or to feed him and put him back down for the night. I decided the latter might be a safer bet, but we'll see if that decision kicks me in the butt when he wants to start his day at 3am...

Although I did start to miss my baby because he was asleep half the day, my birthday did continue to be wonderful. I got a lot of blogging done and some other things that I have been too time-deprived to work on. I also received a big package in the mail that made my day. My mommy and daddy sent a freestanding porch swing that I have been wanting, which I will put on the back patio so Alex and I can swing together during the day. There are days when he and I are both itching to get out of the house, but on days when a car trip seems too daunting, we can retreat to the backyard and swing our stir-craziness away...

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Alex decided to be a sweet boy for my birthday and dropped a midnight feeding last night! Normally I am up two times with him after I put him to bed, but last night, he slept right through his second feeding! As usual, he got his bath at 7:00, I nursed him and gave him a bottle, and by 7:50 he was in bed and asleep without a bit of protest. He slept until 1:18am, nursed, then went back to sleep. He woke up for the morning at 5:00am and we started the day. Hopefully this means he is well on his way to sleeping all night!

His naps are getting better as well! The last two days, he went down for his early morning nap without fussing at all and slept for an hour and a half each time. His second nap doesn't usually come as easily, but once he is finally asleep, he often sleeps way past his typical eating time. I hate for him to get so far off of schedule, so it is so tempting to wake him. I know, I know, never wake a sleeping baby...Ah, the irony. I finally get him to sleep well and now he sleeps too much! I guess he's making up for the first two months...

I can't complain, though. He's taken such great strides recently and I am so proud of him. He'll even fall asleep in our arms without much of a fight, which has made life easier in general, but particularly when we want to go somewhere that doesn't have an exercise ball!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

So Fresh and So Clean

Alex loves a bath. Here's proof:

video

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pretty Boy

I was looking through the images from Alex's photoshoot at the beginning of the month and for those who have yet to see them on Flickr, I decided to post some gratuitous pics of my darling boy. You're welcome!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Reality Check

I have a confession to make...

Before I had Alex, I could never understand what was so all-consuming about motherhood. New moms would say, "I'd love to, but I just don't have time." Of course I'm thinking, it's just a baby. He's hungry, so you feed him. Big deal. Maybe he has a dirty diaper now and then. That's an easy problem to fix. And he sleeps eighteen hours a day! Girl, if you can't get anything done in eighteen hours, you've got problems...

Ha. Ha-haha. Hahahahaha. HahahahaHAHAHA!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! Oh, how I am amused by my own naivite.

Sure, Alex sleeps a lot. Maybe too much, in fact! As I've mentioned, we have decided to adopt the Babywise approach to developing a flexible routine, which means Alex eats every three hours, then has a short period of playtime (around 1 1/2 hours or until he starts acting sleepy), then we put him down for a nap. If you do the math, this amounts to a grand total of 5 naps a day! Although we have seen great improvement as of late, getting him to stay asleep in his own bed can still be quite a time-consuming process. Ironically, I think I'd have more time to do other things if he didn't nap so much!

But having a flexible, yet consistent routine has worked really well for us because we never have to question why he is upset. If he's fussy and it's been three hours, then he's hungry. If he starts to get fussy an hour and half later, it's because he's sleepy. Simple. Plus, we are totally seduced by the notion that we will eventually be able to lay Alex in his crib, awake but drowsy, and have him drift off to sleep with little to no fuss (see, I can be optimistic). And at this point, we feel like this goal can only be achieved by eliminating sleep props as much as possible. In a short period of time, we have observed a vast improvement in his ability to self-soothe when he is encouraged to go to sleep on his own as opposed to when he is nursed or rocked to sleep. As a result, he generally takes longer and more satisfying naps, which leads to a happier and more alert Alex. And I think that Granny B would agree that if Alex ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Small Victories

I know you all are used to me complaining - and I hate to upset tradition - but what a great two nights we've had! Monday night, I gave Alex a bath and a bottle and put him to bed around eight o'clock. He didn't make a peep until 12:30. That's four and a half hours - the longest stretch he's gone so far without waking up to nurse! He woke again at 4:10, so I fed him and put him back to bed. Still nothing! Instead of waking up at 5am, as usual, he took mommy's advice and slept in until 6:41. We couldn't believe that he didn't protest one bit the entire night!

Assuming it was just a fluke, we didn't get our hopes up for last night. His schedule was off a bit because he had slept in so late, so I ended up putting him to bed around 7:30 instead of his usual bedtime of 8:00. I had to make a Walmart run, so Timothy was left to fend for himself. When I got back an hour later, I made him give me a complete report. He said that Alex had fussed a little after he had been down for ten minutes, so he rocked him for a bit and laid him back in his crib, drowsy but awake. We didn't hear another sound out of him until 12:30. Yup, that's five hours between feedings! Another record smashed! A feeding at 3:30 followed, then he was up at 5:45, but I was still on cloud 9 from another low-stress night and didn't mind getting up so early.

Despite what seems like great progress at night, daytime naps have been a little more challenging. At times he will go right to sleep in his crib without a fuss, but will only nap for twenty to thirty minutes. When he fusses, I assume he his simply done with his nap, but as soon as I pick him up, he calms down and starts falling back to sleep. When that happened Monday, I put him in his swing, where he didn't fuss at all and fell asleep for over two hours. Yesterday, he wouldn't stop crying so Timothy laid him on our bed, where all four of us fell asleep for almost two hours!! I guess keeping up with Alex has exhausted the entire family and we all needed some rest.

So either this crying it out thing is starting to make a difference or Alex is simply growing up and catching on to this sleeping thing. We have been trying to develop a more complex bedtime routine to encourage him to expedite that process. Whereas previously he got a bottle and got sent to bed, I have started giving him a long bath, a quick massage with lavender "bedtime lotion", then a bottle before swaddling him and putting him to bed. The last couple of days, I also put a fan in his room set on full blast, which I'm sure is doing terrible things to his respiratory system but seems to be helping him sleep better. I will replace the fan with a white noise CD as soon as I get one, but I have little faith that an imposter will have the same effect as the real thing...

I am always a bit cautious about getting too excited because baby behavior is so erratic and I don't want to get too discouraged when (not if) he decides to shake things up. I find myself with my ear glued to the monitor (which I hate, by the way) every time I lay him down, waiting anxiously for him to fuss. I find I am constantly on edge wondering when he will cry as opposed to enjoying the fact that he isn't crying. Seriously, I think it is giving me an ulcer. So I am working hard on taking it one day, er, nap at a time and hopefully I will learn to take pleasure in the good times instead of constantly dreading the bad ones...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Teeny Houdini

We are still working out the kinks of this "crying it out" thing, and Alex has recently presented a new challenge that I was not expecting. He still has a wicked startle reflex that tends to launch him from a sound sleep into a state of wide awakeness. Therefore, before I put him in his crib each time, I swaddle him in his Miracle Blanket - basically a straightjacket for babies - and wrap him as tight as I can without cutting off his circulation. Yet somehow, during the course of his tantrums, my little escape artist inevitably gets his hands - and often his feet - out of that thing and ends up flailing them around in frustration, propelling his fit into epic proportions.

I had gotten used to having to rewrap him when that happens, but I was not prepared for what I found this morning.

I heard him crying around six and I went in to get him so we could start our day. He always sleeps in a foam "sleep positioner" that is designed to keep the baby in place and to make him feel like he is being snuggled. The positioner has a slight incline to elevate his head, and on occasion, he will work himself down the incline until his head is where his belly is supposed to be. However, this morning, he hadn't worked himself down the length of the positioner. Nope. He had wiggled his way clear off of it and I found him in the back left corner of his crib, on his side, with his back facing me. I could hear him fussing, but instead of reaching for him instantly, I stood open-mouthed in awe of this feat. When my shock subsided, I finally reached in and flipped him over to find that his Miracle Blanket was still completely intact, with his arms and legs securely bound to his body. That means he somehow wriggled his way, without the benefit of limbs, about a foot and a half from where he started. Needless to say, I was impressed...

Operation Cry It Out

So we have been implementing Operation Cry It Out over the last couple of days and it seems to be going pretty well. I don't know if Alex will say the same if you ask him, but that is my assessment. Morning naps usually go pretty well. He might cry for fifteen minutes or so but will often sleep for over an hour, as compared to the twenty or thirty minute catnaps that he had been taking before. Afternoon naps...not so good. I usually end up giving in and holding him so he doesn't get too overtired to sleep at bedtime, and as a result, bedtimes have been pretty good on the whole. If only his little belly could hold more than three hours worth of milk!!

Grammy and Papa took advantage of the lovely weather this past weekend and rode the hog up from Eldo. We were merciful and didn't make Grammy listen to Alex cry...this time. The Hogs played football on Saturday, so Grammy and Papa hung out with Alex while Timothy and I had some alone time...with the rest of the diners at Logan's Steakhouse, that is. Alex's Great Granddad Poppo used to live in northern Arkansas, so he called in some favors and scored Alex some awesome Razorback gear to wear during the game. We are working on getting him to call the Hogs. His "soooiiieeee!!!" is still a little weak, but it will come with time...