September 2007 Archives

Labor Day Mission Accomplished

May Gets a Back

If I ever had any doubt about what a good thing grandparents are, they were all set aside this weekend. Not only did the baby get a whole lot of love and snuggling, but I got to make some more headway on May, giving me hope that I might actually get this little sweater done while I can still enjoy wearing it.

Cables at an Angle

This project is reminding me how much I enjoy a simple, repetitive cable element. It's so nice to be able to work on something without having to refer to a pattern. This is a simple cable, but I've discovered that I'm much better at reading my cables than I am at reading lace. You'd think it wouldn't matter since the general concepts are actually quite similar when it comes to mirroring shapes and shaping. Maybe it's just the texture and geometry of cables that works better for me.

And I'm having all sorts of fun photographing this project -- I'm going to have to do more cable projects with lighter solid colored yarn that reflects light well enough to show off cables well.

Late Night Thoughts About A Baby


I'm definitely to that point where the consistent lack of regular sleep is beginning to take its toll on me. Last night Ms. Z decided that she didn't want to go back to sleep after her 3 AM feeding. I walked with her, I swaddled her, I rocked her, I put her down in her crib when she quieted down. She broke her swaddle (which is pretty much the kiss of death for her being asleep) and it was time to repeat the effort. Of course, at this point, she is wide awake and kind of fussy. I start walking up and down our upstairs hallway again hoping that she will calm down, wondering if I will get to go to sleep again when she lets out a couple of screeches that do exactly what I was hoping to avoid: wake up her father.

For the first time ever, John and I decide that maybe we will take her to our bed for a while and see if she calms down. We're pretty much opposed to the co-sleeping idea,* but we'd both like to get some more sleep, and sometimes, after her morning feeding, this strategy works well for settling her and getting her to nap.

No dice. It's now about 5 AM. And all she treats us to is wet sheets when her diaper leaks. John, exceptional daddy that he is, gets up to change her and then, unbeknownst to me because I doze off, tries to do some of the same things that I did to get her to go to sleep. When I wake up around 8, its because she's been through a second diaper change and is ready for breakfast. She's slept almost not at all since 5 AM.

At moments like this, I love my baby, but I don't like her so much. And I wonder why she's changing her schedule again. Why, just when we think we had gotten her to the point where we could get two 4 hour stretches at night, that she goes and decides that she doesn't like that arrangement. And then, of course, I get that great mommy guilt that wells up any time I start to feel annoyed with her. How can I get irritated at a small person who is just learning how to co-ordinate her muscles, who is taking in the world in a way that I can't even fathom? It pretty much sucks to get up in the morning and be tired and feel guilty.

So right now I'm struggling to put some things in perspective. Something made difficult due to the fact that while she was wonderful the day before, yesterday afternoon she decided to be fussy from early afternoon until about 7 -- I couldn't put her down, couldn't sit down, or the unhappiness began. Evolution has given babies a cry that is geared towards making sure that adult humans cannot ignore it. And the Z baby certainly takes advantage of that.

Right now I keep trying to remind myself that she's supposed to grow out of this sort of thing... I tell you... right now things are going by faster than I can imagine, but sometimes the days trickle by so slowly it seems like some kind of relativistic event is slowing down time in my locality.

It's a good thing she's hit another milestone...

Z Smiles

It can't be a coincidence that babies start to smile right around the time that they are supposed to be at the height of fussy behavior. It is hard to look at that happy little face and be upset or frustrated with her for too long.

*John and I feel strongly that our bed is our place... she can be invited into it every now and again, but we don't want it to become a regular thing. I know that co-sleeping is one of those hot-button issues that people feel very strongly about. I have no problem with people co-sleeping with their kids... but it isn't something that works for us.

P.S. Happy Birthday to my wonderful Mom! Have a good time in Mackinac City this weekend for me, Mom! I wish we could be there with you.

Another Piece of May

Only One More Piece of May to Go

I love watching raglan sweaters come together -- it's a little bit like spreading the pieces of a puzzle out on the floor and figuring out what edges go where. Of course, it's a little less challenging with the sweater, given that you've usually got a maximum of 5 pieces to work with. But now that I've gotten the front left piece done, I am beginning to imagine that I could actually get this sweater completed before it gets too cold to enjoy it. The fronts don't take long at all to knit up, so I have high hopes of actually maybe seaming this garment over the weekend.

But I'm learning one more thing about life with a baby -- it's great to have goals, but it's bad to get too hung up on them. Some days have to be about her, not about me.

I'd like to say thank you to everyone who commented on Friday's post (and the post from the past couple of Fridays as well). It's re-assuring to hear from people who have been there, people who are going through it right along with me and even people who might be thinking about what they could be going through in the future. And I'm not the only one who reads my comments -- John will often come home from work and say "the people commenting on your blog today had a lot of interesting things to say". And on a positive note, Ms. Z had a much better weekend than she did a week. She slept 6 straight hours on Saturday morning, and over 4 on Sunday morning which did a lot towards helping her Mom and Dad get enough sleep to stay sane and she's spent most of the weekend being smiley. The only exception was when Mom and Dad made a decision to try a Sunday evening outing that didn't turn out quite as planned and kept her from getting her nap. I'm hoping this weekend is a sign of good things to come and the gradual easing of the crying jags. It's so hard to believe that she'll be 8 weeks old on Tuesday.

But just in case things get crazy again, I've put away all my duct tape so that I can't follow another mom's example... (link courtesy of my husband who finds all manner of strange and wonderful things on the internet).

Still Life with Small Sock

Still Life with Small Sock

I didn't really need to start another project, but I've been jonesing to start a new pair of socks. Since I haven't finished my last pair, I couldn't justify starting a new pair for myself, but I could justify starting a small pair for a certain someone. There's a little chill in the air and baby socks mean that I can not only stash bust, but stash bust from my sock yarn remnants, of which there are many.

How sweet are baby feet when they are 3.5" long and 3.5" around at their widest point? So sweet the baby feet.

8 Weeks, Baby!


Can my baby really be 2 months old? Just like I feel that I just married my husband, I have this feeling like we just brought Z home from the hospital. But she's changed so much since then. When we brought her home, she was a mostly floppy sleepy little thing. Now she can smile, and hold her head up and she's beginning to experiment with vocalizations that don't just involve crying.

Z Holds Her Head Up HighM

Holding her head up consistently and for a long time is a real change for her. She's always been a lookie-loo baby, but now she can really go at it. When we take walks, that little head rotates back and forth, taking everything in. And when you put her on her tummy, she pushes herself up so that she can see more of what's around her. That wide-eyed expression is an almost constant one with her. Sometimes I wish I could be behind those eyes and try to understand what she sees and how she sees it. None of us remember our own babyhood, but I think one of the fun parts of being a parent for me is being able to watch my daughter go through hers and imagine what I must have been doing when I was her age.

Z isn't the only one who has hit some milestones... I have, too. This week marked my return to a more regular work schedule. I'm trying to do 50% time working from home, with one morning in the office until the beginning of November. Boy, oh boy, is this proving to be more challenging than I thought it would be. Honestly, it would be a lot easier just going into work! I love being home with her, even when she has her crazy fussy periods, which are beginning to diminish a little bit as she develops the ability to be more interactive. My dad always says "Nobody dies wishing they could spend another day at the office." and now that I have my daughter, that phrase rings true even more than it did before.

That said, it was awfully nice to sit at my desk this week and get to talk to adults about things that don't involve sleep cycles, diapers (and the contents thereof) or nursing schedules.

Like most working moms, I'm conflicted about the work vs. home thing. On one hand, I like what I do and working helps me feel like a whole person. On the other hand, I know that Z is only going to be at any given stage in her life one time. It's already distressing to me to think that her grandmother might be the first person to see her do something important. And sometimes I do worry if Z will suffer because I'm not home with her all the time -- even though she'll be in the very loving hands of my mother-in-law. My mother was home until my brother started school so I certainly had the benefit of having my mom always around during that critical time. But it's equally distressing to think about giving up my work life. I've invested a lot in that, too, and I am beginning to feel a little bit isolated in my daily baby routine since most of what we do still involves napping and nursing. So many things to balance as a new parent! Good thing I still have a month and a half or so left to think about it.

Z's First Christmas Ornament

A Maize & Blue Christmas Ornament

Well, my first baby sock experiment was pretty much an unequivocal failure when it comes to actually being a baby sock. So rather than rip and re-work (I'm just lazy that way, not to mention the fact that I have a fair amount of left over sock yarn to experiment with), I've decided to re-purpose this little sock into a Christmas tree ornament as a memory of Z's first months with us.

Where did I go wrong? Well, I had decided that, since baby socks tend to come off the babies who wear them, that I wanted the sock to have a relatively firm material that would have some give but would generally want to stay where it was put. I accomplished that goal by knitting this Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn on size 0's (which gave me a very firm fabric and about 9 stitches per inch). I also wanted it to have a relatively long leg portion that would hug her leg. The garter stitch cuff was meant to be stretchy at the top, but firm. But when I tried it on her, I discovered that while my size calculations were spot on, the stiffness of the fabric didn't work very well when combined with the length of the leg and cuff of the sock and the relative stiffness of Z's ankle.

So, next time around I'm going to work with larger needles to create a looser fabric, stretchier yarn (Shepherd Sock is a wool/nylon blend and I don't think it has very much give, a 100% merino yarn like Koigu or Socks that Rock might have bee a better choice) or both -- and perhaps a shorter stretch between the ankle and the cuff. I'm going to need to get cracking, because the cool weather has already made an appearance here in Chicago and a baby whose favorite travel method is a Baby Bjorn is going to need to have some extra insulation for her feet.

On the positive side, it was a small sock, so I didn't end up wasting that much time, and I did get to try out that magic toe up cast-on and once I got the hang of it, decided that it was a pretty good deal. It certainly beats the standard provisional cast on that I was doing before for toe-up socks.

Fraternal Limeola Twins

A Second Bobbin of Limeola Single

With the help of my daugher (she sleeps in her Baby Bjorn when I spin) I have gotten the second bobbin of my Bonkers Limeola superwash merino spun. The roving that I had shifted from the very limey green seen in the first bobbin to the pale aqua of the second bobbin, so I spun the fiber for the second bobbin so that I could demonstrate the extremes. I think the colors go well together, when next to each other, but I am curious as to what the resulting yarn will look like when plying occurs.

More Limeola Close Up

Plying, unfortunately, may take me a little while to get to. Not only is it hard to come by the two straight hours or so I will need to ply and deal with the final yarn, but I only have 6 bobbins for my WooLee Winder and now all 6 of them are in use... so I may have to work on some other things to free a few of them up before I can ply (yes, I do have the plying head, but for sock yarn like this, I like the results I get from my WW bobbins a bit better).

Which means I have to get back to working on that big bale o' moorit CVM....

Sleep, Baby, Sleep


When you have a baby, there are a lot of moments to cherish. When you are a mom working at home and caring for a baby, during the day, there are some moments you cherish a little more than others:

Snoozin' with Dad
Thumbs Up for Sleep
Mommy and Daddy's Bed is a Good Place for a Nap
Only Rarely Will I Sleep In Mom's Arms

A sleeping baby is always a wonderful thing. She always looks so beautiful and tranquil when she sleeps. John and I will often just stop and enjoy looking at her when she is taking a nap. Her calm makes us a little calmer. It's in those moments when, even when it's been a harrowing day, I feel like I've done something right. If this tiny baby can sleep so peacefully in my house, all must be well with the most important part of the world.

Z will sleep in many positions (tummy is her favorite) and at all times of the day except the evening. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a picture of my personal favorite nap. It's too dark between 12:30 AM and 7 AM to take a good photo... and besides, I'm sleeping.

Yep, about a week and a half ago (literally on the night of her "8 week birthday"), John and I woke up in the morning after putting her down and it was light out. At first, of course, we both got up worried that something had happened to her. But she was alive and happy. The night before, John had put her down to sleep on her tummy for the night for the very first time, figuring she'd be waking us up for her usual 3-4 AM feeding. We figured it must just be a fluke (she's tricky like that... we've had a few times where she did it and then was back to the usual schedule the next night), but a week and a half later (knock on wood), she's still doing it. Not only that, but her daytime nap routine has become very stable. And, even better, when she is awake now, we've got much less fussiness to deal with (it's not gone, but it's more like 30 minutes of continuous unhappiness instead of 2 hours and it can be diminished if she's entertained properly) and much more happy smiley interactive baby to enjoy.

We All Smile When Z Sleeps Through the Night

Clearly, space aliens have come to our house replaced our original baby with a new version. Or, at least, the transition was so abrupt, that that's what it seems like. We keep living under the assumption that they will come back and bring us the first baby, and that every day with this new baby is a blessing and not something we're entitled to*. Not getting up in the middle of the night has made me feel like a whole new person**. And the need to drain the feeding apparati after 6 hours of accumulation adds a special level of extra pleasure to nursing her in the morning (my favorite nursing session of the day). We'd love for her to actually sleep sometime between 4 and midnight, but if being awake for 6 to 8 hours guarantees us an almost equal amount of night sleeping and she's mostly pleasant, I, for one am completely willing to make the trade.

A pleasant, happy sleep-filled weekend to everyone!

* While we would love to take credit for this wonderful sleep transition, I don't think we actually did anything that made a difference, it was probably just good luck and the right timing for her. We have established a bed time ritual -- a bath, a change into her footie pajamas and nursing -- which I think helps her get ready for bed. But I don't think it has an impact on the length of time she sleeps.

**Strangely enough, I have developed the ability to wake up in the morning at hours that would have been incredibly early for me before (i.e. between 6 and 7:30 AM) and feel pretty good about it. I'm sort of baffled by this, and wonder if those mommy hormones have something to do with it.

All May's Pieces

All May's Pieces Complete

I was going to try to write something pithy and clever about how May looks like a caged butterfly on my balcony, but I've got a baby that doesn't like to nap, and I'm behind on work, dinner and some general house keeping. The pithy and clever neurons simply aren't firing at the moment.

But it is nice to have all of May's pieces complete and blocked. With any luck I'll have some time this weekend to start putting them together.

However, I'm anticipating a very fussy baby over the weekend. She's due for her first big round of vaccinations at her next doctor's visit on Friday and I'm anticipating a few side effects... As an immunologist, I know the importance of vaccinating for childhood diseases... but as a mom, these things just make me feel terrible, knowing ahead of time that she's going to feel pain and that the vaccines have side effects like low grade fevers and so forth.