Monday, February 28, 2011

Memory Monday

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~From The Wonder Years
As retrospective, a blast from the past, a remembrance, a little history...

MamaQ in her 8th grade graduation dance dress. She swears this was stylish back then. As were the glasses and matching teal watch?

If you want to play along, leave a link to one of your memories here for all to read.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Little Things

Today was kind of a mixed bag for me.

Got to sleep in until 9:00 am since PapaD took the little one!

But then woke up with some really weird dreams.

Made the most of late church by having brunch (Frittata with Caramelized Onions and Fingerling Potato Home Fries with Garlic & Rosemary) and found this:(It was delicious too!)

Then my neighbors dropped off a huge bag of eggs from their backyard chickens!

Then got a slightly backhanded compliment at the end of church,
"Congratulations - you managed to control your daughter throughout the whole meeting."
I wasn't sure if this was a sincere and genuine compliment or this guy's way of judging me and letting me know that I haven't been doing a good enough job keeping Lucy controlled at church when it's boring for a toddler and her nap time!

I'll just try to focus on the good little things: sleeping in, Sunday brunch, heart-shaped potatoes, and free local eggs!

February Love

I know I'm anxious for spring to come, but I must admit that February has been quite lovely and I'm a bit sad to see it go. From Candlemas to Setsubun to Valentine's Day to President's Day, there was a lot of celebrating and creating going on around here. I think that is just what we needed to get us through this last bit of winter.

Such a short, charming little month. Hope you were able to keep warm and busy (yet tranquil!).

Dear March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat-
You must have walked-
How out of breath you are!

Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell.

Emily Dickinson

Friday, February 25, 2011

{this moment}

a friday ritual (inspired by soulemama).

a single photo capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment to pause, savor and remember.if you're inspired to do the same, share a link to your 'moment' in the comments!

wishing you a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Thoughts on Housewifery

I've always been a bit uncomfortable about the term "housewife." I'm not sure I even really know what it means - doesn't it seem like such an old-fashioned word? Does it bring to mind some kind of 50's image of a smiling woman with a skinny waist in an apron and heels, spatula in hand? My first impulse is to become defensive when I feel I'm being categorized that way because I have such negative associations with that word. "Homemaker" or "Stay-at-home Mom" are less grating, but I kind of cringe at those labels, too.

The truth is, I left a really rewarding and exciting career when I gave birth to my daughter. I was fulfilling my life-long dream of being a professional actor and I had also discovered that I also had a talent and passion for teaching. It was really hard to leave that behind, but I have never regretted it because I REALLY wanted to be the best mom I could be and for me, that meant devoting myself full-time to raising my daughter.

My decision to stay home with Mayumi coincides with my desire to return to a more simple, creatively-fulfilling life. In addition to learning things of scholastic import I want to teach her the basic principles of self-sufficiency and an appreciation for things that are beautiful and uplifting. That means that when I'm doing loads of laundry she is there beside me turning the knobs on the washing machine and measuring out detergent. She sits up on the counter while I cook and prepare our meals; she'll crack eggs or stir batters or we'll just talk about food and nutrition. She mops after I vacuum, and we dust together. We work in the garden together. We try to do everything together, and sometimes that makes it more difficult and twice as long to complete. But there is value in that, isn't there? Does everything have to be so rushed?

At times I have felt guilty that there are many parents out there who don't have the "luxury" of staying at home with their children. I know I am truly lucky in that way, but to be honest, it's not as if my husband is making buckets of money and i'm indulging in consumer whims and/or sewing decorative yo-yos all day (though I'm not critisizing anyone who does that). But to be fair and completely honest, I do choose to allot some of my time to nurturing the creative soul within me. I thrive on creating, I need to create. I lost some of that power and opportunity when I left my day job and now I find myself seeking it through traditional crafting arts like knitting and sewing, or through gardening, or just by decorating my home and keeping it clean and organized. My favorite are the days we don't leave the house and instead, we lug out the sewing machine and spend the day making doll clothes or sewing a dress for a beloved cousin. Or we create a card-making factory with paper and glue and stickers all over the place. We could certainly just buy things and it would take less time and probably less money. But then Mayumi would never learn to sew a button or the value of good craftmanship and she may take for granted the time and effort and funds it requires to make a unique, beautiful something for someone she loves.

I recently read this post from Shivaya Naturals where Heather voices some gripes she has about people who marvel at all the free time she has to do crafty, creative things. Her concerns resonated with me and I just wanted to publicly lift my torch beside her and say "amen, sistah." This housewife is also just trying to make this world a happier, more beautiful place - starting right here at home.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Memory Monday

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~From The Wonder Years

As retrospective, a blast from the past, a remembrance, a little history...

Dad thought this would be a good way of documenting our growth in our new house. It is fun to look back and see what we were like and how we changed... makes me want to find a place in our house where we can do the same thing with our little kid(s someday?).

If you want to play along, leave a link to one of your memories here for all to read.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oishii: Tempura

The Japanese are known for a particularly healthy diet rife with fish, vegetables and rice. But don't let them fool you--they like their deep-fried foods as much as Americans do!

One of the most popular fried foods in Japan is called tempura, or deep-fried vegetables (and sometimes seafood).

Pretty much any vegetable can be made into tempura, but my favorites are shredded carrots, corn kernels, chopped onion and sliced sweet potato. All you have to do is dip the veggies into tempura batter, fry on medium-high heat for a few minutes, drain excess oil and serve with tempura dipping sauce. Recipes for the batter and sauce are below (but if you're lazy like me, just buy them in the Asian foods section of your grocery store). 

Tempura batter
This is the recipe for homemade batter, but you can also find batter starter kits in the Asian food section of your grocery store. 

1 egg
1 cup ice water
1 cup flour

1. Beat egg in a bowl.
2. Add ice water to the bowl. 
3. Add flour to the bowl and mix lightly. Do not overmix. 

Tempura sauce
This is the recipe for homemade sauce, but you can also find ready-made sauce in the Asian food section of your grocery store. 

1 cup dashi stock
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tbsp suger

1. Heat mirin in a pan.
2. Add dashi stock and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Serve.

Mmmm. So good and so bad...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Preparing for President's Day

"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."
~Abraham Lincoln
I laugh to myself when I think of this quote because I tend to be the type to open my mouth (and insert my foot), removing all doubt in the minds of my listeners (or readers!). But at least I can laugh at myself!

We've been having some fun preparing for President's Day:

- reading President's Day by Anne and Lizzy Rockwell, Our Abe Lincoln by Jim Aylesworth (illustrated by Barbara McClintock, one of our favorites!), Farmer George Plants a Nation by Peggy Thomas, George Washington's Teeth by Deborah Chandra, Stand Tall, Abe Lincoln by Judith St. George, and Abe's Honest Words by Doreen Rappaport.

- fieldtrip to visit sites that honor Washington and Lincoln. Having the fortune to live in DC, we went to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument before stopping at the Lincoln exhibit at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History (you can check out their online exhibit, too!). And on Monday, admission to Mt. Vernon is free, so we'll hit that up as well.

- making snacks in honor of Washington and Lincoln: pretzel log cabins and cherry desserts (like these cherry coconut cupcakes)

- working on our President's Day lapbook (we used materials from homeschool share and squidoo).

- playing math games with money, particularly pennies and quarters!

- making tri-cornered hats out of black construction paper (it doesn't get any easier than this!).

I love focusing on holidays and building traditions around them for our little family. I heard some of my friends complaining that in their children's schools they are putting a lot of focus on black history month (which is wonderful!) but ignoring President's Day (which is tragic). Just by the simple study I've been doing with Mayumi I've developed a much deeper love and respect for Washington and Lincoln and I hope that I can pass that, along with patriotic zeal for our history, on to my daughter. If you have any other ideas for President's Day, please share!
The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.
~ George Washington in an address to the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island (27 August 1776)

Friday, February 18, 2011

{this moment}

a friday ritual (inspired by soulemama).

a single photo capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment to pause, savor and remember.if you're inspired to do the same, share a link to your 'moment' in the comments!

wishing you a lovely weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Great expectations

Do you ever feel like your baby just doesn't measure up?

I try not to compare Olive to my friends' kids because I know all babies are not built alike. It's okay for some to hit milestones earlier or later than others. But that still doesn't stop me from worrying that my baby might be behind.

Some of Olive's anomalies:

1. Chunky monkey. Though she was just 6 lbs. 14 oz. when she was born, Olive skyrocketed up to the 90th decile within a few months. This one wasn't one I worried about, though. I love me some chunky baby!

2. (Not so) solid as a rock. In line with the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation, I didn't attempt to feed Olive solids until she was six-and-a-half months old. When I did, she would have nothing to do with it. I tried feeding her a couple of times a day for two straight months and she never had more than about a teaspoon--and that was if I could force that much into her mouth. I worried she wasn't getting enough nutrition, that she would have a negative association with food, that she was still living on only breast milk while my friend's babies were chowing down peas and carrots at four months old.

Olive never did like pureed food, but did start eating table foods when she was about nine months old and got her first teeth in. Now she's a champion eater and I realize how silly it was for me to worry. Of course she would eat eventually! Anyone who looked at Olive would have realized she was getting, um, adequate calories through nursing and I shouldn't have even wasted my time worrying just because she wasn't on the same eating timeline as most other babies.

3. Creepy crawler. My BabyCenter updates kept telling me that around seven or eight months, my baby should be crawling. When eight, then nine months rolled around and Olive still hadn't showed signs of crawling (even with our aid), I worried that I didn't give her enough tummy time and maybe she wasn't strong enough to crawl. Turns out Olive was one of those babies that went straight to walking around 11 months. Yet another milestone I shouldn't have worried about because, like eating solids, mobility would eventually happen for my little one and if it didn't match up to other babies' milestones, it wasn't a big deal.

4. Sleeping Beauty. Or not. You may recall the post I did about our struggle with sleep in this household, as my one-year-old daughter still likes to wake up at night. Some of my friends say, "Still?!" or express their sympathy that my baby doesn't sleep 13 hours like theirs (lucky ducks!), but I'm trying not to compare. I know a lot of babies still wake up at this age and this, too, shall pass.

5. Milky way.  My latest worry is weaning Olive. I suppose I am in the "extended breastfeeding" club now, which is rare around these parts. My pediatrician says I need to start giving her cow's milk in a sippy cup and ditch the bottle. I've been mixing 1/2 cow's milk with 1/2 breast milk, which Olive will drink if it's warmed up and in a bottle. But when I try to give her any type of milk (even straight breast milk) in a sippy cup, she won't have anything to do with it, though she frequently drinks water from a sippy cup.

So of course, I'm wondering how I'll ever break her bottle habit and if I'll ever be able to wean her. You'd think by now I'd realize that of course she will eventually let go of her bottle and of course she'll eventually drink cow's milk; I just need to be more patient in letting things happen on their own time rather than forcing a somewhat arbitrary timeline on Olive.

I think I worry because I have zero experience with this stuff. I try to educate myself on these topics, but somehow the worry bug still finds its way into my head. If I'm honest, I know why: I tend to feel judged by others in that Olive's lack of timely accomplishments is a poor reflection on my mothering. I know this is ridiculous and I need to just let Olive go at her own pace (with some gentle prodding). Gaining more confidence in this area is something I'm working on. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stylish? Excuse us while we blush!

What a sweet surprise to be honored by Jill over at Elliemoon with the Stylish Blogger Award!

Since starting a blog a little over a year ago, we've been so honored and thrilled to find a little community of wonderful, like-minded bloggers who have embraced and supported us, including Jill. Jill is a super-creative mom of four who lives in my favorite state in the union (MASSACHUSETTS, the place that will always be our home) and she writes with grace and style. Many thanks to her for thinking of us.

And as this award works, here are the seven facts about the Wabisabi Mamas followed by a list of seven of our favorite stylish bloggers.

1. At one point in her childhood, MamaQ was determined to be the first female NFL player (Tom Brady has my dream job, {sigh}). Our brother never lets her forget it.

2. MamaQ can break an apple in half with her bare hands. It's pretty cool to see.

3. MamaM's bad habits include snapping gum obnoxiously, picking skin off her lips (I know, it's so gross) and interrupting people.

4. MamaM is the blindest of the Wabisabi Mamas with a prescription of negative 9 (pretty sure that's legally blind).

5. MamaD takes great pleasure in crappy rom-com and/or B-rated action movies (anything Jean-Claude Van Damme or Arnold Schwarzenegger is awesome!)

6. MamaD and MamaQ enjoy doing yoga, but MamaM likes to kick some trash cardio kickboxing.

6. MamaQ, MamaM and MamaD all sang the National Anthem at various high school sporting events.

Some mighty stylish blogs we love to visit:

Chaz and Ginger
Awesome homeschooling mama of four boys and radical homemaker extraordinaire! Also lives in marvelous Massachusetts.

Being Awesome
Another mama of four, but this one lives in NYC and is one of the funniest and warmest writers around. A talented actress and improv artist, she has brains and style up to her eyeballs.

Rachel is an uber-talented, San Francisco-based interior designer that blogs about her projects, style inspirations and her adorable baby boy Sam.
Pomegranate Girl is a sweet mama documenting her sewing, knitting and family adventures. Bonus -- she's got some Japanese in her and we love supporting our Nihonjin sisters.

Stitching Under Oaks
Lisa Q. from Maryland writes about her faith, her family and her creative endeavors. She also runs an Etsy store.

As Sistas in Zion
Funny ladies who tell it straight about what it means to be black and Mormon.

Dark Chocolate Daily
You know those food blogs with incredibly gorgeous photos that make you so hungry you could practically lick the computer screen? This is one of those, but with astute writing and all about chocolate!

Monday, February 14, 2011

happy valentine's day!

Much love to all of you. Hope you are able to share your love and affection with your sweethearts, little darlings and friends. And if you feel so inclined, let us know how you celebrated (like what delicious yumminess you indulged in - remember, I'm on my detox and must live vicariously through all of you!).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Produce and pesticides

A couple months back, I committed to eating better, including buying organic food. I've really been trying to stick to that commitment, but it is difficult to find organic produce where I live. I've been searching for a way to effectively clean my non-organic produce (especially those that are known to have the highest levels of pesticides) and discovered a few things (to learn more about #1 and #2, read this New York Times article):

1. Rinsing with tap water is just as effective as rinsing with a veggie wash--so do don't waste your money! Do be sure to rub the produce when rinsing; a study showed that friction was key to removing contaminants.

2. Even better than washing with tap water or veggie wash is soaking produce in vinegar. A 10% vinegar-to-water mixture has been shown to reduce bacteria by 90%, viruses by 95% and pesticide residue, although I couldn't find a percentage for that one.

3. Discard outer layers. Although pesticide sits on produce so long it often seeps through the outer layers, it can still be beneficial to peel the skin or toss the outer leaves of fruits and vegetables.

4. Even if your produce is organic, you should wash thoroughly. Who knows how many dirty hands have touched it in transit!

I tried out the vinegar wash on blueberries, Asian pears and apples and am happy to report that a good soak plus tap water rinse left no vinegar-y taste.

Oishii: Last-Minute Valentine Treats

I'm on a strict detox and won't be able to enjoy all the sweet confections of the holiday - oh torture to make them for my family and then abstain! But I still plan to make it special for their sakes. Lots of pink and red and hearts galore. And chocolate. Did I mention chocolate?

I'm planning to make raspberry cream cheese pan-crepes and strawberry smoothies for breakfast, dark chocolate and raspberry heart scones and chocolate-dipped strawberries for our afternoon tea, and then create a delicious dinner feast of valentine bread with roasted red pepper soup, chicken sandwiches and spinach salad with strawberries, goatcheese, pecans and poppyseed dressing.

And just in case that isn't enough, I may just whip up some chocolate peanut-butter heart cookies or maybe even these Nutella strawberry puff pastry hearts. Or cardamom creme brulee? Oh dear, whose idea was it to do this cleanse anyhow! Well, I'm sharing these ideas with you so maybe you can enjoy them and I can look back a year from now and know what my Valentine menu will be - for myself this time.

You may want to stop by today and eat my share these goodiess... because I don't know if I'll have the willpower to resist!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Giveaway Winners!

And the winners of the homemade herbal heating packs are:

If you haven't heard from me yet, it is because I don't have your email address and I need to get your mailing address to send you your prize!

Thank you to everyone who left a comment - we love getting comments and appreciate so much that you take time out of your busy schedule to stop by and say hi. Have a wonderful weekend and stay warm!

Friday, February 11, 2011

mamahood - keeping it real

I fell asleep in bed with Mayumi around 8pm last night and woke up two hours later to the sound of vomiting. I felt it splash onto my hair and run down my back and I called out to Mr. Q (who was downstairs watching TV) to come help. Poor Mayumi couldn't stop until the contents of her stomach were completely emptied. While her daddy cleaned her up and comforted her I got to work changing all the sheets (and blankets and duvet and pillows - yes EVERYWHERE!) and then while she went back to sleep I went ahead and disinfected the entire bathroom. I slept with her in the guest bed and a few hours later she woke up again with another throw-up fit. My poor baby.

Not much sleep was had and we all woke up a bit groggy this morning. But Mayumi has an extremely sweet disposition when she is sick - she is affectionate and cheerful, if subdued. She helped me do a few loads of laundry and then we laid down to take a little nap. I got up while she was still sleeping and checked some email and discovered that my friend Naomi has published a little guest post written by myself over on her wildly popular blog The Rockstar Diaries. I read it and smiled and was reminded - as I am a hundred times a day it seems - that despite these rough moments, being a mama really is quite spectacular, but in a more quiet way.

The house is an absolute disaster, I am hungry and a bit cranky as I wrap up week 2 of my cleanse, I'm having camera issues again, and there are a million things on my to-do list that are not making me feel tranquil and zen. But now Mayumi is cuddling into my chest with her finger in my bellybutton (her comfort mechanism) and I'm aware that my greatest treasure is here in my lap. How's that for keeping it real?

{this moment}

a friday ritual (inspired by soulemama).

a single photo capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment to pause, savor and remember.if you're inspired to do the same, share a link to your 'moment' in the comments!

wishing you a lovely weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

making valentines

Our studio (okay, it's really more like a computer/play/craft/guest room, but I like the way "studio" sounds) has been a flurry of Valentine preparations this past week. Celebrating love is a happy, creative process!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yarn Along: Clean and Checkers

Joining Ginny over at Small Things for my current Yarn Along project:

I'd been looking for a detox in my desperate attempts to nurture myself and jumpstart my fertility efforts (more on that in another post) and my acupuncturist recommended I check out the Clean Program. I ordered the book off Amazon and though I skipped most of the introductory explanation for the cleanse, I've found it to be an extension of my overall food and health philosophy; essentially, avoiding toxins, eating more alkali-forming foods, drinking excessive amounts of water and allowing your body to heal itself. I'm on week two of my cleanse and though it has been enormously challenging I am already noticing many positive effects. I've become much more mindful about what I put into my body and I'm paying more attention to what and how my body is communicating with me. The book is easy to read with lots of bullet points and helpful planning guides and recipes.

Knitting: Checkerboard from Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick
Using some extra cotton yarn from my stash (one brand is Japanese and the other I lost the label to) I've been working on this cute little checkerboard. It's my first experience with double knitting and I find it easy to do, at least in the checkerboard pattern with two contrasting colors (soft pink and mossy green). Mayumi learned how to play checkers over Christmas holiday and I wanted to give her a unique board. Originally I planned to try sewing one in a quilty-type way, but then I came across this and it has been the perfect project because I can work on it while sitting in church or watching a movie. Now I just have to find some unique playing pieces and knit or sew up a little drawstring bag to carry it all around in!

What are you working on and reading these days?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oishii: Quinoa Squash Casserole

I love kabocha squash and I'm always looking for ways to incorporate more quinoa (and other whole grains) into my diet, so this dish is a favorite of mine. You know my favorite way to eat it? With eggs over easy for breakfast. I love a warm, wholesome start to my day (it beats cold cereal any day!).

Quinoa Squash Casserole
1 medium onion, chopped

8-10 mushrooms, sliced (I like to use shiitake)
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups peeled and diced kabocha squash (or any other squash will do)
1 cup chopped kale
2 T fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line bottom of 9x13 casserole dish with chopped kale.
Saute onions in olive oil until soft. Add and saute mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, and garlic for about 5 minutes. Stir in rest of ingredients (except kale) and bring to a boil.
Transfer mixture to casserole dish and cover. Bake until liquid is absorbed, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and fluff with a fork. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 6-8 servings.

The truth is, you can throw in any veggies you have in the crisper - it's great for cleaning out your fridge. Such a versatile dish!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit...

Last year MamaD posted about the Japanese holiday setsubun, which is the ushering of spring by throwing beans to drive out the evil spirits.

There is so much about this that I love. Scaring away evil spirits ("Go away bad mojo, GO!"), welcoming spring ("PLEASE come soon and warm me up!) and BEANS! Besides throwing beans and yelling "Get out demons, come in happiness!" I'm planning to celebrate by cooking me up some delicious bean-ey treats. One of my favorite dishes is from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking. If you have access to it, I highly recommend "Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans with Greens", but any of her recipes available on her website will do.

So, my questions for you: what are your favorite bean-ey recipes AND what rituals and superstitions do you have to summon good luck (and keep the icky stuff away)?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Homemade: Flower hair clips

I'm not one for dolling my baby girl up in ribbons and lace, but I did like the idea of some hair clips to hold back her wispy bangs. I'd been seeing little girls with cute floral hair pieces and decided they were something I could make on my own. So I did, thank to these easy tutorials for frayed flowers and rounded petal flowers.

Seriously--they're so easy. My mom and I made all of these in no time!


Don't forget to enter our February giveaway for four herbal heating packs!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

K Grace Trunk Show coming soon

My friend, Kamilah, genius and creator behind k. grace clothing design (and one of our awesome sponsors) has a few trunk shows coming up in Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Shopping for clothes online can be a bit scary when you're not sure how something is going to fit and it can be such a hassle dealing with returns and whatnot, so this is the perfect opportunity to try on her gorgeous, eco-friendly duds. So if you're in the Phoenix or SLC area, please go and check her out in person! 

Here is the info:

Friday, February 4, 2011

{this moment}

a friday ritual (inspired by soulemama).

a single photo capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment to pause, savor and remember.if you're inspired to do the same, share a link to your 'moment' in the comments!

wishing you a lovely weekend!


Don't forget to enter our February giveaway for four herbal heating packs!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

On infant sleep training: crying foul

Olive was sleeping 10 hours straight by nine weeks old. I remember this because that was when I finished up with maternity leave and went back to work. When I shared this good news with a co-worker—a seasoned mother with several grown children—she laughed and said “We’ll see how long that lasts.”

I was sure the co-worker must be wrong—maybe other babies can’t sleep through the night, but I obviously got a good one who caught on to the whole sleep thing right away.

Ha ha ha.

As you experienced mothers know, my co-worker was right. Olive was only three months old when she caught her first cold and began waking at night. Add on several more colds, teething, traveling and growth spurts, and you’re looking at a baby—and a mom—who has spent the majority of year one waking up at night.

I was hesitant to admit this to anyone at first because it seemed so abnormal. I never heard other mothers complaining about how their babies didn’t sleep; on the contrary, I heard many bragging about what good sleepers they had. One friend of mine told me she had to check on her little girl after 13 hours of sleeping to make sure baby was still alive.

I was also hesitant to admit my child had trouble sleeping all night because I feared I would get the cry-it-out method shoved down my throat. Yes, I know (you think) that babies should be sleeping by this age and yes, I know (you think) babies won’t even remember crying themselves to sleep and I know (you think) it hurts the mother more than the baby, but still—it wasn’t something I wanted to do.

(Note: My definition of crying it out is hard crying for more than 15 minutes. Olive often cries when I put her in her crib, but it is more of a whiney cry that lasts just a few minutes--and I'm okay with that.)

Yet I really did want my baby—and, okay, let’s be honest, I wanted me—to sleep through the night. And after many nights of interrupted sleep, I began to wonder if the CIO moms were right. Maybe a few nights of torture would solve all our sleep problems.

So when Olive was only a few months old, I decided it was time to let her cry it out. After nearly an hour of listening to the desperate cries coming from that little baby’s mouth, I picked up my sweaty, crying baby and offered her my breast. She nursed ferociously, seeking to satiate her hunger and her trauma. I vowed never to let her cry it out again.

I went back to waking, nursing, rocking and soothing, sometimes several times a night. Though at times it got to be exhausting, I was actually surprised at how well my body and mind handled the lack of sleep. But it eventually caught up to me—and in my desperate, sleep-deprived state, I resorted, once again, to letting then-nine-month-old Olive cry it out. 

She cried for about 35 minutes that first night and just a few minutes the next night. And then—just like everyone promised—she slept through the night!

That lasted a few nights before she started waking up again.

Is this how it worked? Do you have to repeat CIO over and over and over again? Surely there was a more effective—and humane—way to help Olive stay asleep.

In Olive’s early months, I was really consistent with the Baby Whisperer’s method of feeding Olive after she woke up, engaging in an activity and then letting her sleep. But somewhere along the foggy, sleepless road, I reverted to nursing Olive to sleep, creating what I knew was a sleep prop. I determined that my first step to better sleep was breaking this “suck-to-sleep” habit.

About a month ago, I began making sure Olive was awake when I put her in her crib. At first, she fussed when I put her in there and would roll all over the place, cry to be held and stick her limbs through the crib bars. I patted her, rubbed her back, sang to her and occasionally held her in the dark to get her to calm down. Sometimes it took nearly an hour of this to get Olive to finally close her eyes, but we’ve got it down to about 10 minutes now.

I also remembered the name of the book my crunchy co-worker (we’re talking home-birth-nursing-‘til-age-four-eating-her-placenta crunchy) said she used to sleep train her children: The No-Cry Sleep Solution. I ordered it on Amazon and promptly dug in.

First good sign: foreward by Dr. William Sears. As I read on, author Elizabeth Pantley immediately resounded with me. She discussed how there are two basic schools of thought when it comes to babies and sleep: “cry it out” or “live with it.” She, like me, didn’t want either of those options and resolved to find a kinder, gentler way, “a road somewhere between nighttime neglect and daytime exhaustion that would be nurturing for my baby and for me.”

The book didn’t offer any revolutionary ideas, but combined common-sense solutions with tracking of sleep patterns. The best advice I’ve acted on in the book is creating and sticking to an exact bedtime routine that involves dim lights, quiet activities and soft sounds at least a half-hour before bedtime; continuing with my efforts to put Olive in her crib awake; giving Olive daylight playtime in her crib to create a positive association; using key words as a sleep cue and introducing a "lovey." Perhaps most importantly, I’m having my husband take over most night wakings, where he tries to coax her back to sleep instead of having me nurse her.

The results? We’ve only been at it a couple of weeks, but are making progress. Olive was waking up around 2 a.m. each morning for a snack, but those wakings have now been pushed to 4 or 5 a.m., with a few nights of no waking at all. Her overall length of sleep has expanded as well, from about 10.5 hours to 11.5 hours. And that hour does make a big difference! Additionally, Olive is napping about 30 minutes longer during her daytime nap.

I feel optimistic that Olive will soon be sleeping through the whole night consistently and am so glad I didn’t have to resort to repeated CIO. I feel that I am giving her positive, long-term tools to help her have a restful night’s sleep.


Don't forget to enter our February giveaway for one of four herbal heating packs! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February Giveaway: Herbal Heating Packs

I have some indulgences when it is cold out: sitting down with a book or to watch a movie with a cup of tea, my knitting, and one of these herbal heating packs on my belly. 
A few winters ago I started making them and they have become a staple in my house (and have been given as a gift to practically everyone I know). Toss it in the microwave or on a cookie sheet in a warm oven and soon you have some toasty goodness to throw into the foot of your bed to warm up those sheets, or to soothe away achy cramps.  They are made with cotton and stuffed with a blend of rice, flax, lavender and a little rosemary and measure about 9 x 8 inches.

I figure everyone must want one of these useful treasures, so for this month's giveaway I'd like to offer one homemade herbal heating pack to four lucky winners. To enter, simply leave a comment letting me know what makes you happy and comfortable when it's cold out. Comments close in one week, at 8om EST on Tuesday, February 8th.

Good luck and thanks for participating!