Sep 27, 2011

Garden: Gearing Up

In the continuing saga that is my backyard we have moved onto phase 2, landscaping. By landscaping I don't mean adding a couple of pretty flowers. We are moving, no, making mountains (aka berms). Check out phase one in the post Garden: Revolution. The plan is to flood irrigate grass from the canal behind our house, so it was important that the land be graded for that purpose. We took bids from 3 local companies. One was really low but wasn't willing to grade the land the way I wanted. The second was full of great ideas, but would have cost a small fortune. Thankfully, Cutting Edge Lawn Company came in with a reasonable bid and was perfectly happy to grade the land accordingly. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for landscaping/gardening help here in the Treasure Valley. The project took two days and I didn't have to lift a finger. That's the kind of landscaping help I can appreciate!

Here comes the mighty Bobcat Excavator! And a quick glimpse at the yard before the destruction.
Misty, checking out the heavy artillery.

This is David, our friendly landscaper. He's setting up his fancy grading gizmo which beeped accordingly. He was friendly, professional, happy and has a 1.5 year old daughter, so he got along with Porter really well.
Plucking dead trees from the ground.

Porter was in big machine heaven.

Midday it looked like this. There was a lot more topsoil than the gardener expected so he was able to do some really big berms around the edges. It's awesome.

Meanwhile, Porter ate raspberries. Hurray!

Hands down his most favorite food of all time.

Isn't it the prettiest soil you've ever seen?! Okay, so maybe it doesn't look like much, but in person it's a huge difference. There is a huge basin in the center of the yard, awaiting grass to be installed this Saturday. There is compost laid and it's graded perfectly. Tomorrow I plan on putting plants in the ground.

While this is totally off topic, it's also totally cute. I've been trying to get Porter to feed himself for the last couple weeks and he's finally taken. In fact, he won't eat anything unless he can shove it into his own mouth. Tonight he looked like the last of the  Mohicans with applesauce/pea/sweet potato puree smeared on his face. Sigh, I wanted this independence from him, I just didn't expect to need so much Spray and Wash!

Mmmmmmm, dinner. I started this meal feeding him from a spoon, which he quickly forced from my fingers and threw onto the ground. He then proceeded to grunt and screech like a monkey. I thought he didn't want to sit in his booster seat. Turns out that he just wanted to feed himself. It then quickly became face paint, but he had genuine intentions of getting it into his mouth. Bigger boy!
I couldn't decide on one video of Porter feeding himself, so here's two.

Sep 26, 2011

Self Soother

If you're a parent and have read any sleep books in the last few years you know that if your baby is a self soother, they will put themselves to sleep at night. Both at bedtime and anytime they may wake in the middle of the night. It sounds good doesn't it, self soother. Especially when you're talking about your child. I mean, really, who wouldn't want their child to be a self soother? It sounds like self control, ease, and for a new mom with nerves frazzled by lack of sleep something soothing sounds idyllic. I have, however, come to abhor the term self soother. I felt judged since my baby wasn't self soothing. Who were these book writers (who I chose to read) to tell me what kind of baby I had? Plus, secretly, I wanted my baby to be a self soother so I could sleep at night, but I didn't have the cajones to deal with it somehow. I didn't want to admit that I needed to be selfish in this area of my life.

Since I am a new mom I have read my fair share of baby sleep books, 6 of them actually, and there are many many more out there. The one's I've read have varying methods of how to get your child to sleep through the night, and each one of them stresses that if your child doesn't get the required amount of sleep, you're probably going to raise a psychopath or at least some lesser form of human being. Needless to say, there is a HUGE pressure for parents to get their baby to sleep regularly. When you're a tired mom you'd give anything for your baby to sleep for an entire night (not just the requisite 5 hours that constitutes sleeping through the night either) you really want your baby to be a self soother.

When I was a wee babe, I co-slept with my parents for years. It worked for my parent's little family and as a baby it certainly worked for me. Nestled next to my mother was exactly where I wanted to be, without a doubt. That is, until it ended in a few angsty nights between my 2 year old self and my dad, who was ready to reclaim his bed, rightfully so. It was because of this experience (which I only remember through stories I've heard) that I thought as a new mother I would also enjoy co-sleeping with my little family. To an extent I did.

For the first few months, through the dead of winter, I couldn't imagine my new tiny baby sleeping on his own. The only place I felt he could be kept warm enough was next to me. And who wants to get out of bed in the middle of a cold winter night to feed a baby that needs to eat every three hours? We were content. Then my baby grew. He got stronger and started to move, a lot, with kicking and punching movements directed mostly at me. I found it increasingly difficult to sleep, and by 5 months my husband gently asked if maybe it was time to move the baby to his own bed? But how? He was still so little and neither of us were ready to let him out of our room yet. We decided over the next month to get a bigger bed, surely that would be the solution, and it was. Only, Porter ended up sleeping in his own room on the old queen mattress while I leap frogged every night between the two beds.

This arrangement worked for awhile, but as Porter got older (we're talking weeks here) he inevitably got more mobile. I found myself sleeping with him all night long because of my overwhelming fear that he would crawl over my barricade of pillows and land head first on the floor. Which he did incidentally, during the day, while I was a foot away. He was fine, I felt pretty crappy, but I was once again reminded that this wasn't a safe place for him to sleep alone. It was still difficult for me to sleep through the night, constantly nursing this active baby boy and contorting my body in an effort to get comfortable. My chiropractor noticed my nightly circus act too. It felt like I had a newborn again, nursing every three hours, and I got increasingly less and less sleep. Then there's the relationship with my husband to consider. Let's just say he's a better and more considerate bed partner than my son.

A truth that I have learned since having a baby kept ringing in my head, "I am not my mother and this is not her baby." This is a lesson I've been learning over and over since Porter was born and here it was again. I couldn't co-sleep with my baby for the next two years and feed him on demand all night long, it's just not healthy for me. Then it happened, mind and body wasted on baby love and lack of sleep, I hit bottom.

There is always a disclaimer when you read the sleep books and talk with any wise older parent or doctor, and it sounds like this: Only do what is right for your family. This is true for any parenting job, not just sleep. It's another one of those comments, like self soother, that sounds so nice. Sure, of course! I'll do what right for my family, duh! Now what exactly is right for us again? Not as easy to answer once your faced with difficult decisions, like how to get sleep in this case.

Anyway, I hit bottom. Porter got off the very loose schedule that he had been keeping in the first place, and mama didn't get any sleep for 2 days, not at night or napping during the day. Hell broke loose on Monday and I had a tired mom breakdown. It involved crying sobbing at my 8 month old to please, please, PLEASE go to sleep. He thought I was hilarious and laughed right in my face. Then I did it, like a hurt 4 year old I sobbed back, "Don't laugh at me, it's not funny!" I felt like an idiot child crying uncle to an older brother. I had had enough, mama needed a mental health day. I called my husband Luke when I calmed down (ha! still crying!) and like a modern day white knight, he rearranged his afternoon at the office and came home to watch the baby so I could sleep. My hero! It was then and there that I realized I could not be the kind of mother that my baby deserves on the sleep schedule we were keeping, and we can't afford for Luke to start working part time either. It was time for sleep training, ugh.

I decided to use the Ferber method called "The Progressive Waiting Approach" that is very popular among different groups of mothers I know. It involves letting your baby cry. Something I, like most mothers, cringe at the thought of. Then a parent goes to the baby at progressively longer intervals and reassures yourself and baby that everything is alright. The goal is that your baby will fall asleep on his own and then sleep through the night. This is not the warm cuddly mothering approach that I had anticipated for myself and my baby, sometimes reality sucks.

Let me tell you, this has been the hardest bridge I've had to cross so far as a mother. I essentially had to tell my baby no. No sleeping nestled next to your mother's warm breast (sorry dude!), no midnight snacking, no overnight cuddles (my heart is breaking just writing the words) and then I had watch and listen to him throw tantrums until he fell asleep. It was as bad as I imagined and I couldn't have done it without Luke to go in and reassure Porter. I certainly couldn't have let him cry if I was in the room. The first night it took 30 minutes at bed time and another 40 in the middle of the night. The second night it took 10 minutes at bedtime and he put himself (dare I say self soothed) back to sleep in the middle of the night. For the last 4 night's he's gone down with 2-3 minutes of protest and slept for a solid 10+ hours. It's true and quite surprisingly has worked consistently. Porter wakes up happy and is the same smiling, boisterous baby he's always been. Oh happy day he doesn't hate me!

Every night we stick to the same bedtime routine and bedtime. Hopefully it sticks indefinitely. Who woulda' thought? Now I understand all my friends with children who practically run out of gatherings when bedtime rolls around, consistency works, for my family. Would I have done it sooner? Nope. For my family 8.5 months was the right time, not 5 months or 2 years.

The justification in my mind goes like this. I pictured my son at 35 in a therapists office, under hypnosis. He says,"I was abandoned as a baby by my parents." The therapist responds, "Okay, where are you and what's happening?" Porter, "My parents bathed me in a warm bath, rubbed me with oil, dressed me in pajamas, read me a book, my mom nursed me and held me and then she left me alone in my bed to fall asleep, ALL BY MYSELF! While I got my dad as a consolation prize every 5 minutes until I fell asleep." This is a scenario I'm willing to accept, I'll even pay for the therapy if that time comes. It's better than going to therapy because his mother had to be committed for going crazy because of lack of sleep and couldn't actually be a good mother, right?

I knew it was the right time because I had reached a critical point in mothering where my hand was forced and it was time to make the hard decision for me and my family. Before I had a baby it was those parents who made the difficult, but correct, choices that I admired. For the crying and pain that I forced upon my child for a couple of nights, that he may only remember subconsciously, the benefits were marginally better than the cons, but overwhelmingly important. No one can be a care giver without taking care of themselves. To be human, to be a mother, is to be selfish in this way. This mothering job gets easier and harder simultaneously. Sheesh, we've only just begun! Here's a video of Porter from today, just to show you what a lovely baby he still is, only more rested.

Update 4/24/2012: When I wrote this post, Porter was 8.5 months old and he's now 15.5 months old. I'm happy to say that he consistently sleeps through the night (10.5-12 hours) in his own bed. The exception is when we go on vacation. He doesn't sleep as well on vacation in new surroundings and when we return home we have to go through the whole sleep training process again. Thankfully, it usually takes less time then the first and I found Jodi Mendell's book Sleeping Through The Night, it is similar to the Ferber method, with the initial bedtime routine except instead of letting your baby cry in the middle of the night, you put them back to sleep any way you know how. For Porter, that's nursing. It takes a little longer to get back to sleeping through the night, but I prefer less crying in general. I will also say that since Porter has gotten older, and I'm getting more sleep myself, the whole process seems a lot less daunting and less stressful. Nothing like experience, time, and decent sleep to put it all in perspective.

Sep 16, 2011


It's been 8 amazing months of Porter Rainn!
We went to the park for the first time this week and he LOVED it. He loved watching the other kids, seeing the huge playground and especially the swing. Don't worry, he hasn't lost a leg, he just likes to keep one tucked up.

Entertained by the hot pink iPhone cover.
Two peas in a pod.
Classic Porter enthusiasm. Yes, he is this happy on a regular basis.
No kitty! That's MY birdie wrist bobble!
Pull up a stool partner.

Porter loves singing and dancing to his dad's guitar playing. He's also picked up a pretty gnarly spitting and slapping habit that we're hoping he grows out of. But, it's funny and hard not to giggle a little when he does it. Have I mentioned that he's a yeller, he is. Love this baby more each day!

Sep 14, 2011

A Little Heart Attack

I thought this short film was great. The best public service announcement that I've ever seen, in fact. Now I'm sharing it with you! It's from the American Heart Association and their Go Red campaign. Funny and informative. Watch it!

Sep 11, 2011

Outta Town

This weekend we took our first family solo camping trip and it was great fun. We drove out of town about 2 hours and did some serious car camping. It was a little tricky trying to set up camp and cook with a baby, but we managed. For the trouble we were rewarded with a breathtaking view of a pine canyon to wake up to, without having to leave our toasty bed. We successfully cooked over the campfire, and the best reward of all was a trip to the hot springs a mere 15 minute walk away. We're still working out the kinks so that my super tall husband can comfortably sleep on the air mattress, but it was the perfect ending tribute to summer and a tender time for family bonding.

For my birthday I got the "garage" attachment for our Hobitat tent. Luke thought it a bit much when we first set it up, but then understood it's beauty as the weekend progressed. I will say that the spot we set up in didn't allow the garage to fully extend, which is why it looks a little weepy in the middle. We were working around trees, you know, nature and all.
Here it's partially opened. As you can see we used it to keep our luggage and as a changing room.

It's fully opened here, on both sides. If we really get into it we can get poles to hold the flaps out and then it creates a shady spot to hang. I love it!

Almost to the hot springs!
Luke recently rafted this part of the Payette river and they came upon the hot springs that we soaked in. He was a good hubby and remembered the name and location so we could camp here.

We had to ford the shallowest part of the river  on the left to get to the hot tub, but it was entirely worth it.
Hot spring shower anyone? We shared the "hot tub" with a lovely couple who adored Porter.

The spring had been dammed up and had a sandy bottom. The shower of warm water was a little intense for Porter initially, but it felt SO GOOD!

He came around.

Ready to make the 20 minute hike back to the campsite. Have I mentioned that I LOVE our Deuter Kid Comfort 2 hiking backpack? I DO! It makes experiences like this one possible, and even easy, with an 8 month old. Not only did it carry our child, but we packed in a change of clothes, a towel, water, a sarong, camera, keys, diaper necessities, sunglasses and there was even a little space left. LOVE IT! And love that my baby loves riding in it. Quality family time camping and soaking in hot springs...tender.

Sep 6, 2011

Birthday Bash

My birthday is on September 2nd and that tends to fall right around Labor Day. We've gotten in the habit of celebrating my birthday weekend in Capitola with my parents, and this year was better than the rest because Porter was here to share it with us. I also want to add that 3 of my friends had their babies on my birthday this year and another just 2 days later. They don't call it labor day for nothin'! Congratulations to all my new mommy friends, I'm so glad to have you on this side of motherhood, finally. The more the merrier!

This visit was great because Porter is crawling around and charming as ever. Even though the weather in Capitola was foggy most of the time, us desert dwellers were more than happy to enjoy the cool damp air. My brother Steve and his boyfriend Kumar were visiting too. They're from LA and were also glad recipients of Capitola's cool summer climate. We were also joined for a day by Porter's Granny Alton and aunt Anna, my mom's friend Ginny, neighbor Gwyn and our friends Liam, Cera and their kids. Porter got lots of attention by the neighbors too and was fantastic about everyone and everything. He even started to climb stairs by the last day!

A special moment for Luke and I was when we took Porter up to the place where we first met, UC Santa Cruz at Porter College. It was so nice to see how things have changed there in the last 10 years and to share with Porter our old stomping grounds. The best part is that Porter was absolutely giddy and excited the whole time we were there. He filled the quad with laughter and squeals of delight for no apparent reason. It was awesome. All of it made for a busy weekend, but a wonderful visit and a very happy birthday.

Before we left town Porter got to watch hot air balloons fly through the sky during the Spirit of Boise.

One landed right at the end of our street!

Surf was up at the Capitola beach. We watched surfers all weekend long.

Playing with Ginny and Granny Alton

A very surreal moment when Porter met my old doll, and BFF, Big Baby. I think he felt it necessary to proclaim his authority as the new big baby in town.

Practicing standing and walking skills with Gramma Mikie.

Double bonus, we borrowed some toys from neighbor Mara, which Porter clearly LOVED! Then Raiden and Sephora came over to play which made his day. Porter loves other kids.

Offering Porter to the Porter College Squiggle gods in Lion King fashion.