Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Tis the Season

I've always been a big fan of this time of the year. I tend to get pretty wrapped up in the holiday spirit, what with with Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas all within one month of each other. I love traveling to Florida every year for Thanksgiving and gathering with all my extended family for a beautiful dinner in the Florida sunshine.

I try to light the candles in my menorah for each night of Chanukah, but honestly, I usually lose steam with the tradition after the first few nights.

I definitely get very excited for Christmas every year and cherish the traditions that both the Petersons and my family celebrate. But I must say, these holidays and traditions have taken on a new meaning now that Sadie is a part of our family.

There seems to be a new excitement in the air...not just in our house, but amongst our larger family. It's so much fun to be passing on the spirit of this season to the first member of the next generation. Somehow, everything seems so much more magical when you start seeing it through Sadie's eyes.

Those christmas lights and chanukah candles seem so much more beautiful when you realize how mesmerizing they are to a 10 month old baby.

And sweet potatoes never tasted so good....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It seriously doesn't get much better than this


Mountains, dear friends, wine, great food, chocolate, laughter, games, knitting, mandolin playing, big comfy beds, a fireplace, piles of books, dinner in our pajamas (because we never got dressed), freshly fallen snow, and endless hours in a most beautiful handbuilt, private, hotspring. Need I say more?



p.s., thanks to Charlotte for the beautiful pictures that captured our weekend so well!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SLEEP

Pronunciation: \ˈslēp\
Definition: the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored


Wow, what a crazy couple of months we've had. Way back at the beginning of October, things changed in our house and our family. Although there have been small challenges along the way, for the most part, Brian and I have had it relatively easy with this new baby of ours. Sadie has rarely been fussy, we didn't have any trouble with breastfeeding, she responds well to change, after a few hiccups she adapted to a bottle for the days when I'm at work, she's taken to solid foods very easily, she travels well, she's had barely a touch of diaper rash, and she's overall a very happy, sweet baby.

Sometimes I'd tell myself..."this is much too easy". This can't last....

And then back at the beginning of October, when Sadie was about 7 months old, she started having trouble sleeping. At the time, she was sleeping in her crib for naps and at night, after moving out of our room at about 4 months old. When she started sleeping in her crib, it seemed to be what she wanted. After waking up several times a night when she was sleeping right next to me, we decided to see how she did in her own room, as an experiment. And she slept through the night! Every single night for several months!




Wow, were we impressed. And thankful to not be experiencing the sleep deprivation that new parents so often talk about.

Well, starting a couple months ago, Sadie starting waking up at night, crying out to us from her crib. I would automatically do what we do when she's napping during the day, and what seems natural to me....immediately respond to her cries. I'd go into her room, pick her up, soothe her in whatever way she needed, and gently put her back to sleep. This was easy enough...and despite the interrupted sleep, she would go back down fairly quickly and I'd go back to bed.

Well, then things started getting a bit tougher. At first, she would just be waking up several times a night, and I was starting to get tired of getting up so often. But, we still felt like it was manageable. As it became clear that she probably didn't need to be nursing every time she woke up, Brian and I started alternating when she'd call out to us. After a couple weeks, however, she started taking a LONG time to fall back asleep. All our tricks came out of the bag, every single time she woke up. Nursing, rocking, bouncing on the exercise ball, singing, soft music and even being worn in her sling would eventually get her to sleep (sometimes after 2-3 hours), only for her to wake up again (sometimes within an hour after finally getting her back to sleep). This meant that many nights we were only getting a few hours of sleep.



At first we told ourselves that this is what having a baby is about, and we didn't worry or complain about it too much. Although we thought this might be a phase, or related to teething, we smiled, took naps when we could, and kept at it.


After weeks and weeks turned into months, we started to get worried. And seriously delirious. And frustrated. We recognized that it was time to start thinking long and hard about what was happening with our little girl, and more importantly, how we were going to respond to these new habits of hers. We were worried about how frustrated we were getting in the middle of the night. We worried that we were so focused on being good parents to her at night, that we weren't being the best parents we could be during the day. We were worried that the extreme sleep deprivation we were experiencing was affecting our marriage, our jobs, our health, and our sanity. We were worried about how long this would last....and if we could last as long as it took.

And in the back of our heads, we were wondering if we were doing the right thing. It certainly felt right. The most natural thing to me as a mother is to respond to my baby's cries. Every time she cries. No matter how often, what time, or why. Every time.

But there are very different schools of thought on this question. As we've been going through this journey, we've heard from friends, relatives, acquaintances, and perfect strangers...

LET THAT BABY CRY IT OUT!
She's manipulating you!
She doesn't need you for anything at this age!
etc...etc...etc...

And I don't begrudge these opinions and advice...in fact, I've sort of asked for them by sharing my struggles with anyone and everyone who has asked. I'm sure if I'd smiled, put some concealer on the bags under my eyes, brushed my hair and said, "Yes, my daughter is sleeping through the night...everything is just fine" I wouldn't have received these comments.

This issue is very controversial and I believe it is the personal decision of every parent. Of course, there is scientific evidence that letting a baby "cry-it-out" can be harmful to the baby and the effects can be longlasting (even into adulthood). However, I'm sure there is also scientific evidence to the contrary. As my pediatrician said (and he made sure to mention that he was quoting John Lennon...I LOVE our pediatrician!)...it's Whatever Gets You Through the Night.

Overall, I've been operating on pure instinct. I strongly believe that trusting in my maternal instinct is the only way for me to know what's best for Sadie. In modern times, there is so much information available, and so many experts trying to tell us what's best for our babies, that many people in our society have stopped listening to their own internal instincts when it comes to parenting. I find it interesting that the U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that routinely forces babies to sleep by themselves. I don't think that's because it feels right, I think it's because that what we're told is "best" for the baby. How can letting a baby cry until they vomit be what's "best" for them? How can I let the person I love most in the world cry and cry and ignore her? I wouldn't ignore another adult, friend, partner, parent, dog, or complete stranger on the street if they were crying out to me, so why on earth would I do it to my own daughter? I believe that when Sadie cries, it is because she is trying to tell me something, because crying is her best form of communication at this age.

Early on in my pregnancy I knew that I would be more of an "attachment" parent. Through the research I've done and conversations I've had with other parents, I believe that attachment parenting is the best choice for our family. Some of the principles of Attachment Parenting are:

Feed with Love and Respect: Sadie has been exclusively breastfed since birth, and I breastfeed on demand
Respond with Sensitivity: To me this means responding gently when Sadie cries. I believe that babies need their parents to soothe themselves. Although she can help soothe and calm herself, I believe that one of my roles as Sadie's mother is to calm and soothe her in all circumstances.
Use Nurturing Touch: Skin to skin contact, massage, and babywearing are common throughout Sadie's day and are important tools for soothing her both during the day and when she wakes at night.
Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally: Sadie's needs at night are no different than her needs during the day. My job as her mother is to meet these needs, whether they are for food, touch, company, or comfort.

The bottom line of this whole long response of mine is that we want Sadie to trust us...to know that when she needs and/or wants us, we'll come to her. No matter what. For the rest of her life.




So...where do things stand now?

Well, about 3 weeks ago, when Sadie started waking every 30-60 minutes some nights, I tried again to have her return to our bed. I think that cosleeping is great for babies and for parents, especially for breastfeeding mothers. Cosleeping (sleeping in the same room, not necessarily in the same bed) allows parents to immediately respond to baby's cries and can help the entire family get more sleep. After a few rough nights of having to teach Sadie that our bed is a place for sleeping (not for climbing, clapping, talking and/or pulling mama's hair), things have been SO MUCH BETTER! Although Sadie was still waking up several times a night, most of the time, she would snuggle up to me, and peacefully go back to sleep. This seems like the perfect solution to me and for the first time in months I feel like I can break out of this sleep deprivation fog I've been living in. I'm not sobbing every day in desperation, frustration and sadness. I'm not fighting with my husband for no apparent reason. I'm able to focus on my work and have the energy to run and play with Sadie all day. And I seriously love cuddling up and feeling the warmth of my baby next to me all night.

And then I left for 48 hours this past weekend. And after a rough Friday night, Brian was happy to report that Sadie slept all night in her crib Saturday night. She woke several times throughout the night, but put herself back to sleep each time, without crying! Hallelujah! I was sure that she had finally given up that her mama wasn't coming home and decided that it was probably time for her to get her act together with this sleep thing. And I completely expected that Sunday night, upon my return, she'd be back to her old habits.

But...
The last two nights, we've put Sadie to sleep at 7 p.m. and didn't see her smiling face until 7 a.m. Didn't hear a peep, didn't open the door, and slept soundly...all night... in our king-sized bed.

SLEEP, GLORIOUS SLEEP.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Typical Night in the Peterson House

Trying to make time for some pickin' these days, no matter what it takes. And Sadie's loving it!
She'll be picking up a fiddle in no time...


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Month of Firsts

October was a big month for Miss Sadie Caroline....lots of firsts.

Sadie's first high chair!

We'd been putting off this purchase, and now we're wondering why we didn't get one sooner. This high chair has made a big difference in our lives. Meals are much more functional for us now that Sadie can sit contentedly in her own chair, play with her food, make a mess, and let mom and dad eat their meal together....at the same time!!! What a novel idea! One of my favorite times of day is early in the morning when Sadie and I get up together. I'll wear her in one of her carriers while I get coffee and breakfast made for myself, and then she'll sit quietly in her highchair while we enjoy a peaceful breakfast together. I'll read the paper and share parts of it that I think she might be interested in. What a nice way to start off the day...

Sadie's first trip to the circus!


My friend Danielle and I took our little girls to the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus on its last day in Denver. Going to the circus was one of my favorite things in the whole world when I was younger. I went every year, right up through high school when my cross-country team would go to the circus every fall. Even though Sadie is a little young to really know what was going on, I think she enjoyed all the people, bright colors, and flashing lights. And she loved seeing her friend Marisol!

Sadie's first pumpkin patch outing!
Another Ingersoll family tradition that we're so excited to be sharing with the next generation!

And of course the day wouldn't be complete without a big plate of homemade spaghetti at the Blue Parrot. Sadie was in meltdown mode when we pulled up to the restaurant (as were her tired parents), and we couldn't help thinking that stopping for lunch wasn't the best idea we'd ever had. But I figured we'd give it a shot. And all it took was some plain noodles to keep her happy for the entire meal! I don't think she ate many of them, but she sure had fun playing with them!



Sadie's first Halloween!


Granted, she was asleep by 6 p.m. when all the trick-or-treaters came knocking. But she was so happy to spend the afternoon with her Aunt Suzie and Uncle Jeff.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook


FOR TODAY (October 21, 2009)

Outside my window...a peaceful snowstorm
I am thinking...about if and how to carve my pumpkin
I am thankful for...my mother.
From the kitchen...tonight....brown rice and a big wok full of veggies: bell peppers, broccoli, crimini mushrooms, carrots, and edamame
I am wearing...felted handknit slippers from my mom
I am creating...really beautiful socks...but suffering from single-sock-syndrome
I am reading...Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, a bit behind the group for last month's bookclub selection, but thoroughly enjoying it!
I am hoping...for a peaceful night...won't even allow myself to wish for Sadie to sleep all night...but hoping for peace, whatever that may mean for us tonight.
I am hearing...the Food Network, late night TV indulgence

Around the house...lots to read...books, magazines, newspapers
One of my favorite things...those pumpkin scented candles that I can get away with burning this time of year.
A few plans for the weekend: relaxing Friday night with the family, date night on Saturday night (dinner in downtown Denver and Steve Martin with the Steep Canyon Rangers at the Paramount Theater), and movies with my brother and Mari on Sunday (we're revisiting our two favorite movies from when we were kids and Mari's making her specialty hot beef sandwiches!) Yeah!!
Here is picture thought I am sharing...


Monday, September 28, 2009

A Season of Reflection

Oh my goodness, how did it get to be the end of September? How did my baby get to be 7 1/2 months old? How did I end up "well into my 30's" (as my husband would say about being 31)? Time is flying by so quickly that it's making me a bit uneasy. Sometimes I feel like I want to just run outside and shout at the top of my lungs....
STOP!!
LET'S ALL JUST SLOW DOWN A MINUTE SO I CAN CATCH UP AND ENJOY ALL THESE AMAZING, MIRACULOUS, BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS BEFORE THEY DISAPPEAR!!!!

But, alas, screaming at the sky won't slow things down a bit. Time will just keep passing more and more quickly every day. So I'm left with doing my best to take a deep breath, enjoy every moment, and make time for the important stuff. And wow, is that tough. Some days I'm not sure I'm doing so well with that. But....I'm trying. My mantra for this fall season is

BALANCE


Now that the "newness" of being back at work has worn off, I'll admit that I'm struggling with being a working mom. I've always been a great multi-tasker, which has allowed me to keep a handle on this busy life of mine. I've somehow always managed to kick ass at my job; stay involved in lots of extracurricular activities; grocery shop and cook most of our meals; be a voracious reader of magazines, books, and a couple newspapers; knit as often as I felt the urge; listen to, watch, and make music; watch TV and movies; sometimes practice my mandolin; keep a very clean house; spend time outdoors; keep up with my blog; stay in frequent touch and spend lots of time with my friends and family; spend quality time with my husband; and more. And I somehow did it all without feeling overly stressed out or exhausted (at least not all the time).

Well...these days, I feel as if I'm not doing so well at even one of those things, much less all of them. And it's unsettling to me. My priority is my family. Sadie and Brian are number one and I will sacrifice all of the other stuff in order to spend quality time with them. But, it's not quite that straightforward, is it?

To me, part of providing for my family is feeding them healthy, homemade meals. And that takes a lot of time. To me, part of providing for my family is to have a clean, uncluttered home where my family and friends can gather. And that takes a lot of time. To me, part of being a good mother is making conscious choices for (and with) my family about the food we eat, the products we use, the consumer goods we buy and accept as gifts, the chemicals we put in our bodies, and the impact we have on our environment. And that takes a lot of time (and research). To me, part of being a good wife and mother is taking care of myself by doing the things that are important to me. And that takes time too....

So, what do I do about all this? I prioritize. I make a schedule. And I take lots of deep breaths.


Some quotes I've been collecting as inspiration...

“What we are teaches the child far more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.” —Joseph Chilton Pearce


"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves." — (Holy Bible: The King James Bible)


"To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life." — Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia)


"Remember that life's a great balancing act..." — Dr. Seuss (Oh, the Places You'll Go!)


"If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?" — Milton Berle


It's so easy to love the easy, happy moments. How about loving all of it? Say to yourself a thousand times a day nothing else matters but this right here. (http://naturalparentingcenter.typepad.com/)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Big Changes!

Well, there have been some big changes around here! Sadie has two bottom teeth...and she's been handling it very well. She has some days where we can tell that she's uncomfortable, but for the most part, she's just as happy and cheerful as ever.

And the most exciting thing happening with Sadie is that she's mobile!! Here's a video I took a couple weeks ago.
video

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My New Toy

Well, I finally took the plunge and bought myself a new mandolin. It's a Weber Bitterroot F-Style mandolin and I bought it at the Denver Folklore Center...my favorite acoustic instrument shop, and a Denver institution since 1962.

In 1998, when I moved to Alaska, I recognized the need for some new hobbies to keep me busy during the long, dark Alaskan winters. I started knitting, and, inspired by the multitude of bluegrass pickers in Fairbanks, decided that I wanted to start playing an acoustic instrument. I decided that a mandolin was just my size, and nice and portable to match my roving lifestyle at the time.
My dad bought me a great little Epiphone mandolin that I have been very happy with for over ten years. That mandolin served me well....and has been all over the country with me. One of my favorite memories with it was my last night in Alaska, just before crossing the Alaska/Canada border. Rachel, Alan, and I camped out in a beautiful, remote spot. We sat around a campfire in the cool fall air, and I played that mandolin as some of the most amazing northern lights I'd ever seen danced overhead, bidding us goodbye.
My mandolin playing has always been sporadic, at best. The problem for me is that mandolin playing is not the only hobby I love. So, when I have some spare time, it's hard for me to decide between picking, reading, and/or knitting. And I'll be honest, for most of the past decade, reading and knitting usually win.

But lately, things have changed a bit. Brian is a dedicated banjo picker and is always encouraging me to play more often. We've tried off and on to make music together, but until recently we just couldn't make it happen.

And then....we found what we've always needed...a guitar player!!! Right across the street! And we've known him all along, but he just didn't know he was a guitar player until about 9 months ago.

And now...the neighborhood band is in full swing!Since Brian, Ryan and I have started playing together, I've found a renewed sense of excitement about my musical ambitions. I've been having so much fun making music in my living room with our good friends. I love that Sadie is growing up, just like I did, surrounded by live acoustic music in her home.
And then a little voice inside me told me that I might be ready to upgrade my instrument. Well, once that voice spoke up, there was no ignoring it.


Over the past few months, I've visited every acoustic instrument dealer along the Front Range, and one in Durango, CO. I narrowed down the sound I was looking for in a new mandolin. And then I found the one. It all came down to look, and feel, and emotions. As Harry Tuft at the Folklore Center told me...it's usually the one you find yourself thinking about. And boy, have I been thinking about this instrument.
This mandolin was an investment (ie: it wasn't cheap), but it's something I will have for the rest of my life, and will be able to pass down to Sadie. And in my opinion, there aren't many better things in life to spend money on than beautiful, handmade acoustic instruments.
Now I just have to name it....

Your World's About To Change, Sadie












Strange Folk

Another festival down, and it was a success!
However, with the late night campground drama, some loud lesbian lovemaking next door, a mountain rescue involving some new friends, and a suspected polygamist/cult leader, it was definitely one of the most interesting folks festivals yet.
Sadie was perfect yet again...I think she's officially a member of the festivarian nation. Dad joined us, as did Adam and Mari.

and how happy we were to have my dearest friend Rachel visit from Boston. She was feeling good and happy to spend some quality time with all three Petersons. We had what was definitely the best festival campsite to date, under a permanent shelter that Planet Bluegrass left in place.....which made the periodic rainstorms way easier to deal with.
And Brian even pulled a Number 4 for the tarp line one morning. Way to hussle Pete!!