The Dawleys

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's Twilight at the Dawley Household

Yes, our sweet little girl is biting! The first time Ella bit me, I was absolutely shocked. We have taken great care to parent Ella in a responsive and loving manner in all situations so I was shocked to feel those little teeth pierce my skin. If all she's known is love and responsiveness, I didn't understand how can she know to bite especially since she is not in daycare. Because let's be honest -had she still been in daycare, I would have totally blamed it on that.
I have thought a lot about Ella's biting lately. I mean, the bruises on my arms don't exactly let me forget about it! After reading the toddler chapter in the Dr. Sears Discipline Book (a book I highly recommend that deals with disciplining the attached child in a gentle way), I was able to put this all in perspective and realize that I am not failing as a mother. The book made me feel better by saying that a lot of the annoying behaviors at this age are just phases and children outgrow them without the parent really needing to worry.
The more Ella bites, the more I realize that they are like love bites! They happen when Ella crawls into my lap to hug me or give me a kiss, which is really just opening her mouth wide and slobbering on me. :) She likes to bury her face into my shoulder and bite as she's hugging me. So for now, I tell her in a firm voice, "Owie. No biting. That hurts Mommy!" and give her a sad face. Then I give her a toy she can bite. Here's hoping this little phase will pass quickly!
This current issue we have has caused me to think ahead to the coming years and read about Gentle Discipline. Caring for an infant was so easy for me. I trusted my instincts and ignored what most books, pediatricians, and other people had to say because I am the expert on my own daughter after all. As we move away from this easy infant stage though, my confidence is a little shaky. I want to keep that strong attachment we have achieved this past year, and I know that I want to parent Ella in a way that allows her to learn from her mistakes, validates her feelings, and never makes her feel fearful or intimidated. I think this will generally be easy if I continue to listen to my intuition, but let's face it. A lot of negative behaviors in children can bring about negative feelings in adults. Feelings of frustration or even anger can cause parents to react in ways that are less than ideal for a child such as spanking or yelling. Because those behaviors are based on instinct and reacting first, thinking later, I want to know how to avoid them. I have found some great resources on Gentle Discipline:

Dr. Sears Discipline Book
Gentle Christian Mothers
The Parent Vortex
The Natural Child Project

So whether it's biting at one, temper tantrums at four, or back-talking at thirteen, I want to always make sure that Ella is treated with compassion, respect, and understanding.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why I can't let my daughter cry-it-out...

*Disclaimer: I hope I do not offend anyone with my opinions. I know we all love our children and want to do what's best for them. This is just what works/doesn't work for our family.

Despite saying we would never cry-it-out (CIO), we have done so on two separate occasions when we felt we had exhausted all other options and we ourselves were exhausted. The average mainstream parent would probably laugh at our CIO attempts and say they don't count, but to us, it was pretty traumatizing. The first time only lasted less than 5 minutes. I was in the room and Ella was so upset that I was rubbing her back instead of picking her up that she puked. The second time Dave tried it because I couldn't put her through that again. His attempt lasted a little longer, but he was in the room with her and gave her breaks. She eventually ended up falling asleep exhausted from the fight. Dave and I hated it so much that we decided that no matter how desperate or exhausted, we would never try it again.
You might be thinking to yourself, "What is the big deal with CIO? Toughen up and just do it. She'll turn out just fine and she will sleep through the night." I've heard that a lot from my dear friends and family. It is hard for me to explain to people why I am anti-CIO so I decided to dedicate a blog post to this controversial topic.
Here are some reasons why I am against CIO:
1) People say that letting a baby CIO will teach them to self-soothe. I find it very hard to believe that a baby that cries himself to sleep at night has actually soothed himself to sleep. I believe that he's fallen asleep due to exhaustion and eventually due to the realization that no one will respond to his cries (learned helplessness).
2) There is scientific evidence that CIO causes physiological damage and might also cause psychological and emotional damage.
3) I can't in good conscience leave Ella to cry alone. What if she's hungry? What if she's cold? Or sick? Or teething? Or just scared or lonely? I would never ignore these things during the day so why should night time be any different?
4) When Ella cries out for us at night, I believe with all my heart that it is to communicate not manipulate. I would never ignore an adult trying to communicate with me and I will treat my daughter with the same respect.
5) So much research supports that being responsive to your child rather than pushing them to independence before they are ready promotes more independent and secure people. If we go with the flow now, Ella will show appropriate independence when she's ready. This goes for both daytime and nighttime independence.
6) It goes against everything that feels right to me and that is the most important reason. If it doesn't feel right, it must not be.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ella's Favorite Eats

Ella has been a great eater so far. I know that could change at any time, but for now I am enjoying her good eating habits. I am very picky about the foods I feed her. As you know, I am a health nut, and it seems to be magnified even more with Ella. I hope the healthy habits I'm starting now will stick with her through her childhood. Here are some of her current typical and favorite meals:

Breakfast:
*homemade or Earth's Best waffle topped with Earth Balance and Trader Joe's superfruit fruit spread and sliced banana on the side
*scrambled eggs (with a little nutritional yeast mixed in) with veggie sausage and potato pancakes (usually on Saturdays with Daddy)
*omelet with nutritional yeast mixed in and soy cheese and bell peppers and mushrooms(once a week)
*Baby Muesli
*Green Smoothie (banana, frozen mango, frozen peaches, spinach, flax seed, soy milk, a little bit of molasses for iron and calcium, and a little agave nectar for a healthy sweetness) with Apple Cinnamon Teddy Puffs

Lunch:
*Peas of Mind Eat Your Greens veggie puffett
*veggie dog and sweet potato sticks
*baked tofu or tempeh with mixed veggies
*Happy Baby veggie tots with veggies

Dinner:
*Polenta Casserole (beans in a sauce of tomato sauce and spices topped with quinoa polenta and nondairy cheese)
*Mac and "Cheese" (whole wheat pasta with a sauce of silken tofu, nutritional yeast, soy milk, nondairy cheese, dry mustard, a very small amount of salt, and pepper...and sometimes I sneak in some veggies...for Dave's benefit, not my veggie-loving little girl:) ) with veggies
*Rustic Pasta (whole wheat pasta, veggie crumbles, cabbage, carrots, onions, and celery in a sauce of a few tablespoons of marinara sauce and Bragg's Liquid Aminos)

Snacks:
Earth's Best Crunchin' Crackers
Earth's Best Sunny Days Cereal Bars
Kamut Puffs
Healthy Times Teddy Puffs
Ezekial bread toast spread with flax or olive oil
Brown rice cakes spread with hummus
Apple hemp muffins (sweetened with agave nectar)

Although Ella eats a great variety of food, we do have a lot of trouble getting Ella to eat fruit. She definitely did not inherit her mommy's sweet tooth! The only fruit she will eat is bananas, grapes, and blueberries - and the occasional bite of applesauce. She doesn't like juice either. So I am trying to find creative ways to get her to eat fruit! Green smoothies are a great way to do this because they are full of nutrients and I can add a variety of fruits. But most days her only fruit is a banana. This girl loves her bananas and will eat almost a whole one!
I look forward to feeding Ella even more foods as she gets older. It will be interesting to see as she gets older and can make her own choices if she sticks with her current vegetarian diet or ends up eating meat like her daddy.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

11 Months

It's so hard to believe that in one month, we will be celebrating Ella's first birthday. This past year has flown by faster than I ever could have imagined. I am so excited for her to enter toddlerhood and to start talking and walking. But I am so sad that this baby phase is almost over. I feel an ache and longing in my heart. I wish I could hold on to these sweet infant moments for just a little bit longer.
Lately we've had a few warm days mixed into the cold wintry days. Spring is almost here. We have been lucky enough to open windows a few times. It is so nice to feel the warm breeze rushing into the house. It floods me with memories of Spring last year when Ella was a tiny newborn and the awe of motherhood was so fresh and new to me. I remember sitting with her in her room rocking her and looking out the open window at the beautiful tree in our front yard that was blooming with purple flowers. Savoring that sight, the feel of the warm breeze, and the sweet smell and warm softness of my tiny daughter, I wanted to be sure that I would remember these simple, but beautiful moments forever.
I spent a lot of Ella's first year holding her while she slept. Staring at her tiny features. Watching her peacefully inhale and exhale. Smelling her sweet scent. Cherishing each precious moment.
These days Ella is on the move and is busy exploring her world. She hardly has time for me to hold her anymore, let alone sleep which is something she wants nothing to do with! And help her do things? Forget about it. This girl wants to try everything on her own. These moments are so different from last year, but I cherish them all the same. I love watching her independence and curiosity emerge. I love her sweet and loving personality and how she likes making Dave and I laugh. I love that stubborn streak in her that is so much like her mother.:) I love the look of pride and happiness on her face as she learns and accomplishes new things. And I love that despite her newfound independence, she always has time to come hug me or sit in my lap for a few minutes before returning to exploring.
This last month of Ella's first year will be busy as I chase her around, plan for her party, and prepare for a much-needed visit from my family. This last month of Ella's first year will be a bittersweet one as I reflect in the past year and look forward to the next. I will continue to cherish each day that I have with this awesome little girl.