Saturday, August 11, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

The Working Dad and I enjoy a good blueberry muffin and a cup of coffee of a Saturday morning.  And I enjoy baking them.  The problem is that I feel sort of guilty carbing out in the morning . . . particularly this morning when I cannot exercise because I have to rest, having strained a ligament in my posterior doing a cartwheel this past Wednesday.  Yes, really.  Hopefully, I'll be back in my running shoes by Monday.

So I experimented this morning with stuff we had in the pantry and fridge in attempting to make a healthy-ish muffin, and it turned out pretty well!  Since it turned out so well, I decided to do a little self-congratulatory blog post and share my success.  So here we go!

The Working Mom's Whole Wheat Blueberry Carrot Muffins

1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c rolled oats
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1 c carrot puree (I made my own in the blender from some carrots we had in the fridge and a little water.)
1/4 c 1% milk
1 egg

1 c frozen blueberries

2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat oven to 375 degrees convection (or 400 regular).  Mix dry ingredients together.  Mix wet ingredients together.  Stir the blueberries into the dry ingredients until they are just coated.  Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients+blueberries until incorporated.  (It took me about 15 strokes.)  Spoon into your muffin pan.  Mix 2 tbsp of granulated sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the muffins.  Bake for 15 minutes.  And you get this!

They're quite moist and not at all chewy, like recipes that lack oil can sometimes be.  Here's my pig, Charlemagne, enjoying one with coffee.

And they even garnered the approval of the biggest food critic in the house, The Boy.

If it passes the 17 month old toddler test, I'd say I've actually done something good this morning!

And . . . according to this website, here's the nutritional information on them (which may or may not be accurate).

  Total Fat1.0 g
     Saturated Fat0.3 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.3 g
     Monounsaturated Fat0.4 g
  Cholesterol15.7 mg
  Sodium15.7 mg
  Potassium82.6 mg
  Total Carbohydrate22.8 g
     Dietary Fiber2.6 g
     Sugars10.2 g
  Protein2.6 g

Kind of on the high end with regard to calories and sugar.  (Carrots have a lot of sugar in them.)  But not bad on the fiber, huh?  You might be able to omit the egg and reduce the sugar to 1/4 c, which I might try next time, which would reduce the calories and sugar.

If you try them, I hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Ferberized Family

About a week ago, I wrote of how a mini-breakdown fueled by complete exhaustion impelled me and The Working Dad toward employing the Ferber Method of sleep training with The Boy, and I promised I'd report back on how things went.  (Click the link on the word "wrote" if you'd like to read more about how we got to Ferberland.)

So, here's a night-by-night synopsis of our Ferberization week.  The general evening schedule we planned out was as follows:

7:30 -- Bath
8:00 -- Quiet time, read books, listen to music, quiet play, cuddles
8:30 -- Bedtime

I will call this the "Evening Routine."

We chose 8:30 as The Boy's bedtime for the purposes of the Ferber Method because Dr. Ferber suggests that when you employ this sleep training method, you choose a bedtime that is no earlier than the time your child regularly goes to sleep.  The Boy typically would start to get drowsy at 8:30 -- and it had been his general bedtime when he was first sleeping through the night -- so we chose 8:30.

Monday, July 23rd, Night 1:
This day was discussed in my prior post, but to recap, we did the Evening Routine.  He started screaming immediately.  We went back to check on him at three minutes, then five minutes later, then seven minutes later, then ten minutes, ten minutes, ten minutes, ten minutes.  He fell asleep around 9:39 p.m.  He woke up at 12:30 a.m.  I checked on him after a three minute wait and then after a five minute wait, but he fell asleep before the next seven minute wait was up.  He woke up again at 2:30 a.m., but went silent before the first three minute wait had passed.  It was the same story at 4:00 a.m.  The Working Dad woke him up at 7:00 a.m. and he acted like he wanted to go on sleeping, but he was soon a cheery, smiley, happy toddler.

Tuesday, July 24th, Night 2:
We did the Evening Routine.  The Boy cried again when I put him down.  I waited five minutes to go check on him.  At the five-minute check, he was rubbing his eyes and voluntarily laid down to sleep when I went to place him on his back.  The next check was supposed to be seven minutes later, but he did not cry after the first check.  He was asleep before 9:00 p.m.  He woke up at 11:44 p.m. and 3:01 a.m., but was asleep again before the first five minute wait was over.  He woke up on his own at 7:24 a.m.

Wednesday, July 25th, Night 3:
We did the Evening Routine.  It was a bit of a struggle to get all the way to 8:30 p.m. because The Boy was so sleepy.  Now, that The Boy is sleeping longer hours, he actually seems to want an earlier bedtime.  But, at least for the first week, we strove to keep bedtime at 8:30 p.m.  When I put The Boy into his crib at 8:30, he flopped over onto his tummy, laying on his lovey.  He cried for a couple of minutes after I left the room, but was asleep before the first check, which was to be after seven minutes this night.  In other words, he was asleep before 8:37 p.m., which was extraordinary!  He woke up briefly in the night and cried out, but went straight back to sleep.  He woke up on his own at 7:30 a.m.

Thursday, July 26th, Night 4:
By now, we were really feeling like we were accomplishing great things.  The Working Dad and I, while still fighting off the colds we'd caught due to our prolonged sleeplessness, were getting more rest.  And The Boy was well rested too, which paid dividends we didn't expect:  Fewer tantrums.

We did the Evening Routine.  Despite the fact that it was becoming more and more difficult to get to 8:30 for bedtime, The Boy still did not want to go to bed.  It is a hard thing to deal with as a parent because, basically, The Boy does not want to go to bed because he wants to hang out with us.  Because we know that one day, he won't want anything to do with us, and because we really enjoy hanging out with him too, it takes some discipline as a parent to, nevertheless, refuse to give in to the temptation to satisfy your own desire and his and let him stay up.  The child needs his sleep.  And so do his parents.

One of the things the Ferber book recommends (and that I do), is to tell the child at certain intervals how long there is left before bedtime/lights out.  So at about fifteen minutes before bedtime, I tell The Boy that we have fifteen more minutes.  I also tell him that we can read one/two/three more books and then bedtime.  So this night, despite the fact that he was obviously tired, The Boy tried to prolong bedtime by handing me more and more books to read.  I suppose he thought that I really liked reading these books (which isn't wrong), and if he would just hand me more to read, I would just keep on reading and he could keeping hanging out with Mommy and not go to bed.  It's sweet, and a little heartbreaking.

When I stood up from the floor and said it was bedtime, he fussed briefly, but settled down when I put him in his crib.  He laid quietly on his back and resignedly turned his head to the side.  I couldn't help feeling a bit like I had somehow broken his will.  And that didn't feel great.

But, really, that is exactly what was happening.  It was a battle of wills, The Boy's versus The Parents'.  There will, I think, inevitably come a day when he will be in charge.  But, for now, The Working Dad and I are The Boss.  It is not the first time that I have had to remind myself that I am the grown up in the situation and it is my responsibility to make sure he gets enough of everything he needs:  food, shelter, sleep, love.  It is okay if he's mad at me every once in a while because, in doing my duty toward him, I have not done his bidding.  And I think that's what that little resigned head turn was about:  he was mad at mommy.

There were no night wakings by The Boy this night.  Unfortunately, The Working Dad and I were still recovering from our colds, so we woke ourselves up a few times in the night with our coughing.  The Boy woke up on his own at 7:30 a.m.

Friday, July 27th, Night 5:
We did the Evening Routine.  It was still a struggle to get to 8:30.  He fussed a little bit when I said it was bedtime, but did not fuss or cry when I put him in his crib, but laid right down ready for sleep.  There were no night wakings.  The Working Dad and I slept until 8:00 a.m.!  (But The Working Dad was up for a span of the night, coughing, poor hubby.)  I went to The Boy's room to check on him, and he way quietly laying in his crib playing with his lovey.  He was happy to see me and pleasant, smiling.

Saturday, July 28th, Day and Night 6:
This was our first Ferber day in which we had him all day and were responsible for naps as well as night sleeping.  The Boy typically takes a nap at school from about 12:45 to about 2:45.  It makes the most sense to keep him on this schedule for the weekends.  So, after getting him out of his crib at 8:00 a.m., I gave him breakfast of a cereal bar and milk, and then he and I went to the gym and let Dad get a little more rest.

We have consistently had difficulty getting The Boy down for a nap on the weekend, so we were hopeful that Ferber would help with our nap situation too.  At  school, there is usually a mid-morning snack before lunch, so I gave him a graham cracker and water while we were at the gym.  The Boy's class usually eats lunch around 11:00 a.m., so that's when he got lunch at home too.

At noon, we went up to his room and had quiet time just like at night.  I had had 12:30 pegged as the time I would put him in his crib for a nap, but at 12:22, he walked over to where his froggy blanket was laying on a chair, picked it up, grabbed his lovey, and then crawled into my lap ready for a nap.  I cuddled him for a few more minutes and then put him in his crib with absolutely no fuss.  I said, "love you, bye-bye," and as I went out the door and he called back to me, "Bye!"

Whew!  That was easier than I thought!

He slept until about 3:00 p.m. and The Working Dad and I got a few things done around the house.  (And I wrote a blog post about running skorts.)  When I went into The Boy's room to get him, he was all smiles and he said, "Hi!" I gave him a snack and we went to play at the indoor playground at the mall because it was 105 degrees outside.

At night, we did the Evening Routine, except that it was so difficult to get to 8:30 that we decided not to keep struggling.  We put him to bed at 8:20.  He did not wake in the night, except . . . .

At 5:09 a.m., he woke up.  The Ferber book says that if the child is awake at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, he is not likely to go back to bed and you shouldn't use the method anymore.  Just start the day.  Still . . . it was five o'clock in the morning on a Sunday.  And The Working Dad and I, inured to The Boy's sleeping so soundly until 7:30 a.m. or later, stayed up watching the Olympics and playing Words With Friends with each other.  Oh, we would have loved to have slept another two hours!

So I waited.  He quieted down by 5:14 a.m., so I thought we were safe.  Alas, he started yelling again at 5:24.  I went to check on him.  He was standing in his crib holding his Elmo puppet, rubbing his eyes, clearly still tired.  I debated whether to pick him up, as Ferber would advise, or lay him back down.  In engaging in this internal battle, I stayed longer than the 1 to 2 minutes advised by Ferber.  I decided to try to put The Boy back to bed . . . since he was clearly still sleepy.  I was back in bed by 5:30.  Still, he was up crying again at 6:03.  Dr. Ferber was right.  He wasn't going back to sleep.  We were up for the morning.

So here's what The Working Mom and The Working Dad learned in the course of this very early morning:  (1) when the child gets Ferberized, we all get Ferberized, and (2) any sleep past 5:00 a.m. on the Ferber Method is bonus sleep.  Never take it for granted.

Sunday, July 29th, Day and Night 7:
In an efforts to get The Boy to a noontime-ish naptime, we gave him breakfast around 6:30 a.m.  We let him play for a bit (until he pooped), then we went to the grocery store around 8:00 a.m.  Then we came home and while I gave The Boy a mid-morning snack of yogurt, The Working Dad unloaded the groceries.  Then The Working Dad and I got dressed for the gym and we all went to the gym.  At 11:00 a.m., we came home and gave The Boy lunch.  At 11:30 a.m., we had struggled long enough and The Boy and I went upstairs for some quiet time.  I put him into his crib at 11:50 a.m., and he giggled as I put the blanket over him.  He was ready for his nap!

At 1:10 p.m., he cried out.  We waited.  By 1:15 p.m., he was quiet again.  I woke him at 3:15 p.m. because we did not want him sleeping all afternoon such that he would not be sleepy at bedtime.  I offered him a snack, but he did not eat much of it.  As a consequence, he was pretty cranky until dinner, which was at his favorite Mexican restaurant.  (And smearing black beans all over your face has a way of cheering a body up.)  When we got home, it was a little early for bathtime, so he and I shared a single serve package of Goldfish graham crackers for dessert.  (He likes to reach his hand into the little bag . . . he also likes to feed me crackers, which is fun.)  Then we did the bedtime routine with one exception:  we put him to bed at 8:00 p.m. because he was so, so tired.  He woke up at 6:19 a.m. the next morning, crying, but was soon soothed with some milk and Cheerios.

And after the First Ferber Week . . . .
The second week of the Ferberized Family, we stuck with the 8:00 p.m. bedtime because he is obviously tired by 8 o'clock.  But he does not seem to go to sleep any earlier, seems crankier during the day, and seems to wake up more frequently in the night.  So as of this weekend, we have gone back to the 8:30 bedtime, which really does seem to fit his little circadian rhythm.

Final Thoughts:  The Ferber Method is not for everyone, but it has been a mostly effective means of addressing our sleep problem with our willful and persuasive toddler.  Fingers crossed that we all continue to get more restful nights' sleep.