Tofu Lentil Loaf

Tofu Lentil Loaf

TOFU LENTIL LOAF

This Tofu Lentil Loaf is full of flavor and has a soft-formed consistency with a slightly crispy “crust.”  Depending on your oven, feel free to increase the baking the time for maximum crust.  The key is to let it go as long as possible before it starts to burn.

Pre-cook the lentils ahead of time for quick assembly.  I cook 2 cups dry lentils at a time, then freeze the cooked lentils in 1 cup portions.  That way, I have enough for several recipes (or other uses).  Thaw lentils before using.

I also portion several recipes’ worth of seasonings in separate jam jars.  It saves future time because the spice jars are already open and the measuring spoons are already out!

INGREDIENTS

2 T olive oil

1 C ground oats (measure after ground)
1/4 C ground raw sunflower seeds (measure after ground)

1/8 t sea salt or celery salt
1/4 t ground pepper
1/2 t thyme
1 t paprika
1 T nutritional yeast
1 T dried parsley (or use fresh chopped parsley, to taste)

2 garlic cloves
1/2 medium onion
1 large carrot

14 oz organic firm/extra firm tofu, pressed to remove excess liquid
1 C cooked lentils

2 T ketchup
2 T soy sauce/tamari
2 T tahini
2 T vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 T dijon or yellow mustard

ASSEMBLY

  1. Pour the oil in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass pan.  Set aside.
  2. Combine the oats, seeds and the dried seasonings in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Using a food processor, process the garlic, onion, and carrot.
  4. To the food processor, add the pressed tofu, cooked lentils and the wet condiments and process again until smooth.
  5. Stir the wet mix into the dry mix.
  6. Spread into the glass pan and bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes.
  7. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Todd at 5 months + 1 week old (23 weeks) - January 30, 2015

Todd at 5 months + 1 week old (23 weeks) – January 30, 2015

SIXTH MONTH
(JANUARY 21 – FEBRUARY 21)

I’ve been thinking this every month– but it seems like each month there’s more going on than the last!  Baby development fascinates and entertains me!  Let’s dive in…

WEEK 23

There’s lots new to mention this week about sleep and food!  (Two of my favorite things, you too?)

Todd grabbing at his loose bedding - January 22, 2015

Todd grabbing at his loose bedding – January 22, 2015

Sleep–

  1. Todd started out his 6th month with 2 more record-length night time sleeps (10.75 hours on January 21-22 and 11 hours on January 23-24).  In general, 10+ hour night time sleeps are now a regular occurrence and not just outliers.
  2. Now– when I put Todd in his crib for the night, he’s generally wide awake and no longer practically asleep.  He shows that he’s tired by arching back and waving his head from side to side during his before-bed feeding.  In bed, he makes little moaning/squeaking noises and then usually falls asleep without crying.
  3. Check this out!  Todd took some day time naps in his crib instead of the swing.  I tested it out on January 23rd, not out of necessity, but because I’ve been feeling increasingly nervous knowing that Todd will soon grow too big for the swing.  I didn’t know how he’d react to the crib for naps…

That morning, I dressed Todd in his usual (warm) nap clothing, I put on a lullaby music CD, I turned on his Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother, and I gave him a blanket friend to play with.  He didn’t cry.  He chatted and played for a few minutes, then went to sleep!!  Unfortunately, I had to wake him up after 1.5 hours because we had to leave the house for my doctor appointment.

In the afternoon of that same day, he took a 45 minute crib nap.  On January 24th, he crib-napped 30 minutes.  On January 25th, he crib-napped 45 minutes.  On January 26th, he crib-napped 30 minutes, but it was broken up by some crying.  But…

On January 27th, he protested his crib nap…so I put him in the swing.  And the little turkey fell asleep almost instantly and slept for 2.75 hrs…which is a very typical swing nap length.

After that, I decided that I wanted my “über-napper” back, so from that day onward it was back to swing naps.  So…we’ll face the day Todd gets too big for the swing when that day comes.  For now we won’t fix what isn’t broken!

1st Crib Nap - January 23, 2015

1st Crib Nap – January 23, 2015

Food–

I know, I know– Todd isn’t 6 months old yet!  But this week we started experimenting with solid food.  I started reading a book about Baby Led Weaning (BLW).

On January 25th, Eric made some guacamole (we use just avocado and lime, nothing else).  I was going to just put a dot on Todd’s lips for him to taste.  Well, Eric got a little excited and grabbed Todd’s spoon to feed him a bite…and another…and another.  Todd seemed excited to eat it up.  After several bites, though, something triggered his gag reflex, and out it all came.  I was taking pics so I caught him mid-gag, haha!  The Great Guacamole Feed was over!

Right before the guacamole came up! - January 25, 2015

Right before the guacamole came up! – January 25, 2015

On January 26th, I went shopping at Babies R Us.  We needed some new nipples for our Philips Avent Natural Bottles.  Avent’s been our preferred bottle ever since I tried the one I got for free from Target for starting up a baby registry.

If you can believe it, Todd was still using the #1 Newborn Flow nipples well into his 4th month and he only started using the #2 Slow Flow nipples (recommended for ages 1 mo +) well into his 5th month.  (We didn’t start the #2s sooner because the formula would run out of his mouth too fast.)

After the shopping trip, we retired the #2s and started using the new #3 Medium Flow nipples (recommended for ages 3 mo +).  I bought some Fast Flow (#4) nipples (recommended for ages 6 mo +) for future use.

Todd was ready.  After that, he started guzzling 8 ounces in a feeding, without excessive leakage.  He purposefully grabbed at his bottle with both hands, pulled it to his mouth, and, for the most part, held it on his own when reclined.

Also on January 26th, we started offering Todd finger foods.  At this point, the goal is “food play.”  He was definitely interested in all the new textures, smells and tastes.  He liked rubbing the firm fruits/veggies against his toothless gums, and he can “bite” off small pieces.  His gag reflex worked well when small pieces found their way to the back of his tongue.  Yes, I’m being very careful about choking prevention!

Sucking on an apple slice - January 26, 2015

Sucking on an apple slice – January 26, 2015

Highlights:

  • 1st 10.75 hour & 11 hour night time sleeps (1/21 to 1/22 and 1/23 to 1/24)
  • 1st crib nap (1/23)
  • 1st rollerblade using the 3-wheel stroller (Centennial Trail, 1/25)
  • 1st trial spoon-feeding solid food (guacamole, 1/25)
  • grabbing his loose bedding and pulling it over him (1/22)
  • funny tongue protruding (see video)
  • falling asleep at night without crying despite being wide awake
  • started using medium flow nipples
  • holding own bottle if reclined
  • kicking at mattress in his crib (can hear him through the wall)
  • new finger foods this week:  apple, avocado, steamed broccoli, romaine leaves, spinach leaves, raw red pepper, raw celery.
Walk at Langus Riverfront Park & Spencer Island Regional Park - January 24, 2015

Walk at Langus Riverfront Park & Spencer Island Regional Park – January 24, 2015

Rollerblading on the Centennial Trail - January 25, 2015

Rollerblading on the Centennial Trail – January 25, 2015

WEEK 24

On February 3rd, I heard some new scratching sounds coming from the baby monitor in the morning.  My suspicion was correct:  Todd had rolled himself onto his belly and was scratching at his sheets.  When I walked in, he was also fingering the monitor (sitting in the corner).  Time to move the monitor!

1st time on his belly in the crib - February 3, 2015

1st time on his belly in the crib – February 3, 2015

Highlights:

  • 1st time rolling back-to-belly in his crib (2/3)
  • I nicknamed him “thumper” because of his mattress kicking.
  • Visit from Eric’s parents and our friend, Ellen (2/4)
  • new finger foods this week:  rotini pasta noodle, pancake, banana, pizza crust, yam
  • spoon-fed pureed food:  yam, banana, green smoothie
Munchin' on a pancake - January 31, 2015

Munchin’ on a pancake – January 31, 2015

WEEK 25

We had a sad start to this week because our ~15 year old cat, Millie, died on Friday, February 6th.  You can read about her in the previous post, Missing Millie.

Millie and Todd - February 6, 2015

Millie and Todd – February 6, 2015

Todd was getting noticeably way more active!  He’s a high-energy guy, especially in the evenings.  Here’s some new things in the “motor function” department this week:

  • On his back, he started doing a “hip-wiggle-wiggle” marching thing, and one time he spun himself around in almost a complete circle while on his back.  Imagine a clock hand going around!
  • From his back, he very quickly rolls to his belly.  From there, he can now spin ~90 degrees on his belly to reach for toys.  He started doing a “pseudo-crawl” to propel forward.
  • At the end of the week, he did more rolling from belly-to-back than he’s done in previous weeks.  Now it’s more smooth and coordinated.

Food–

On February 5th, I gave Todd a sip of my green smoothie, and he wanted more, so I gave him a couple tablespoons from his own “cup” (a mini silicone pinch bowl).  That started a regular habit of giving him green smoothie most mornings.  He slurps while I pinch the sides.  He loves it, and he tries to pull the bowl into his mouth with his hands.  Our green smoothies contain kale or collard greens, banana, orange, avocado, celery, berries, tropical fruits (pineapple, mango) and pea protein powder.

Todd watches me closely from his ExerSaucer when I’m in the kitchen.  He knows when I’m preparing his “formula milk” and gets visibly excited when he’s ready for some (he bounces up and down).

Slurping up green smoothie - February 7, 2015

Slurping up green smoothie – February 7, 2015

Sleep–  AKA…Transition to Tummy Sleeping!

  • February 9…I put Todd to bed at 7:30 PM and he was wide awake.  He quickly rolled to his tummy in his crib.  “Oh, no,” I thought!  When he fell asleep that way I was shocked!  Two hours later, I heard him crying and I knew why.  I turned him back over and he slept on his back for the rest of the night.
  • February 10th…I put Todd to bed at 8 PM and he immediately rolled to his tummy.  I put him on his back again, then he fell asleep.  He woke up at 2:45 AM and he was on his tummy again.  I fed him and he returned to sleep on his back.
  • February 11th…I put Todd to bed at 7:30 PM and he was actually asleep for a change.  He woke up crying at 2:30 AM.  This time, he was on his tummy with his head in the corner.  There were some red abrasions on his head from the crib rails.  After I fed him, I put him on his back.  Within just a couple minutes, he turned onto his tummy AND got himself facing the opposite direction!  He was picking at the loose edge of his sheet where his feet normally would be.  I put him on the floor so I could fix his sheets.  Within minutes on the floor he rolled from back-to-belly and then belly-to-back.  It took until 4 AM to get us both back in our beds.
  • February 12th…I padded Todd’s crib so that he wouldn’t create more abrasions on his head.  (Previously, the rails were lined with just a thin mesh crib liner).  I did a pretty good DYI job, using some old folded bath towels.
Todd's Padded Room - February 12, 2015

Todd’s Padded Room – February 12, 2015

That evening, we went to our condo in Wenatchee and I lowered the “mattress” in the Pack ‘N Play travel bed.  Todd went right to sleep at 10:30 PM, but he woke up crying an hour later.  Sure enough, he’d wiggled himself into the corner.  I fed him and he fell asleep on his tummy.  At 3:45 AM, he wasn’t crying but it sounded like he was struggling.  Head in the corner again!  I moved him to the center and he fell asleep.

Highlights:

  • 1st tummy sleeping (2/9)
  • Visit at Eric’s parents house (2/10)
  • gets more distracted by his feet/socks (or other items) while sitting on the toilet
  • new mouth/tongue sucking thing he kept doing
  • “hip wiggle wiggle” on back (see video below)
  • pseudo crawling to propel forward
  • more rolling belly-to-back, more smoothly and coordinated
  • tries to do a sit-up when on his back
  • new finger foods this week:  pancake (made with wheat flour, cornmeal, pumpkin), Baby Mum Mum cracker
  • new spoon-fed pureed food this week:  taste of lentil/tomato soup broth, baked beans

WEEK 26 (AND PART OF 27)

It IS still ski season, although there isn’t much snow…

Todd & Eric at Mission Ridge - February 13, 2015

Todd & Eric at Mission Ridge – February 13, 2015

This week Todd settled into his tummy sleeping routine.  Now, I don’t have to “rescue” him, for the most part.  He’s often seen sleeping with knees drawn up underneath him…so cute!

Sleeping in the Pack 'n Play travel bed - February 15, 2015

Sleeping in the Pack ‘n Play travel bed – February 15, 2015

Sitting in his FIsher Price chair - February 15, 2015

Sitting in his FIsher Price chair – February 15, 2015

At our condo, the papasan chair is a favorite!  He loves being assisted to stand up against the side “wall,” then tries to let go, and falls backward.  It’s been a great chair to have because he can also sit and play in it while we fix meals and such.

More “firsts” in motor function this week:

  • Todd got up on hands-and-knees from his belly for the first time.
  • From sitting, Todd can now reach way out in front for things, and he did his first transition (in control) from sitting-to-belly when reaching for a toy.
  • Todd stood for a full 4 seconds completely balanced and without any support.  He likes to practice standing using the “rails” of his play mat.  He needs help to get “placed” but then we let go.  Then, he lets go with one hand and then the other.
  • From hands-and-knees, Todd pulled his left knee and foot way under him for the first time (February 20th).
  • Briefly presses up into a “plank,” from belly.
Hands & Knees - February 19, 2015

Hands & Knees – February 19, 2015

On February 18th, Todd had his 6 month pediatrician check-up, including receiving his 6 month vaccines.  Todd was 15 pounds, 6.5 ounces (14th percentile), 26″ long (25th percentile), and head circumference 42.5 cm (27th percentile).  Growth in all areas picked up since the last visit!

The doctor said to start feeding solids twice a day and that no food is off limits (from an allergy standpoint), if properly prepared.  (Honey is the exception but we don’t eat honey!)

Closing out the 6th month in style–> Todd has been on a roll with pooping in the toilet.  There were ZERO poopy diapers for the entire month!  As I complete this post (on February 23rd), it’s been 39 days in a row and we’re still counting.  The last poopy diaper was January 15th!  The little bit of solid food that Todd’s been eating hasn’t changed the consistency, although the color (of the digested green smoothie) is noticeably darker.

Highlights:

  • 1st time getting up on hands and knees (2/15)
  • 1st time going from sitting-to-belly (2/16)
  • 1st “crawl” from one end of the couch to the other (2/16)
  • 1st standing without any support and completely balanced (for 4-seconds, 2/16)
  • Record sleep, 11.25 hrs (2/18 to 2/19)
  • got startled when he tooted on the toilet…haha! (2/20)
  • pooping in the toilet for the whole month
  • examines fingertips of both hands and touches them together, etc
  • making sounds:  “bom,” ba” and “ma ma”
  • lots of smiles and giggles
  • wearing 6 and 9 month clothes
  • very driven/motivated to challenge himself; likes to show off
  • now prefers to be on his tummy rather than his back, because he’s more mobile that way
  • new finger foods this week:  pancake (made with wheat and oat flours, applesauce, almond butter), vegan burger patty (from Costco)
  • new spoon-fed pureed food this week:  sweet potato, peas
  • 1st time using the Fisher Price Healthy Care™ Booster Seat (2/13)
6 Months Old - February 21, 2015

6 Months Old – February 21, 2015

Millie - February 6, 2015 - 11:55 AM

Millie – February 6, 2015 – 11:55 AM

Our sweet cat, Millie, died on Friday, February 6, 2015 at ~3:15 PM.

As I’ve been working on this very long post for the past 5 days I’m continually reminded of her absence.  I look around the house and I still can’t believe she’s gone.  I sure do miss her a lot.

I’ve already looked under Eric’s bed several times, but she’s not there by the heat vent.  When I stand in the kitchen and look over to Eric’s room, I still expect to see her slipping out from under the bed.  As I play with Todd in the living room, I wait for her to walk past.

When I sit on the couch, I really miss her.  The computer sits where Millie should be.  I’m no longer contorting myself to type with the computer on my right side while Millie occupies the center of my lap.  I can’t hear the sound of her breathing, her faint snore, her quiet purr.

Millie’s food and water dish are now gone.  She’s not going to get up, have a drink, crunch on some food, then come back to me.  I remind myself that it’s “good” that now Todd won’t be able to get into the cat food…but still I miss her.

Now– when I’m on the couch and I ask Eric to get something for me, it’s not because Millie’s on me and I don’t want to disturb her.  And the other way around.  I miss seeing Millie on Eric.  I’m so glad she let him love her, too.

I look toward the front door, and I can’t see her walking around the corner.  There are no more sounds of her light tapping in the litter box.  Yes, that’s another good thing, right?  We don’t have to worry about Todd getting into that…

More “good” things–  No more rubbing her goopy left eye all over my computer.  No more itchy skin welts (mine), when she’d try to rub her face on my hands/arms and I didn’t pull back fast enough.

No more sounds of puking.  No more cleaning up cat barf on a regular basis.  No more gross discoveries of poop on the carpet (at the end).  Poor Millie.  I knew that it wasn’t her fault.

Every time I’d clean up messes part of me was looking forward to the time when we could replace the carpet.  Obviously I knew that meant after she died.  Of course, then I’d feel bad for thinking that.  Then I’d wish I could just have her forever but without the barfing.  I didn’t want her to die!

I loved Millie so much.  Writing this blog post is helping me grieve.  Even though there are several things that I won’t miss, I still want to remember all I can about her.  I’ve written it all down here because I don’t want to forget her.

“THE EARLY DAYS” – END OF 2011

Millie came into our lives in November 2011.  She was already ~12 years old.  Millie was cared for by Ellen, of New Moon Farm Goat Rescue & Sanctuary.  Ellen and I became friends after I started volunteering at her rescue.  I volunteered there from Fall 2008 (shortly after going vegan) to December 2013 (when I got pregnant).

We used to go out to lunch after I completed my volunteer shifts each Friday.  Toward the end of 2011, Ellen started mentioning that she really wanted to find a new home for her cat.

Millie and her littermate had been with Ellen since they were kittens, but, over the years, Ellen also had other cats and dogs.  Although Millie used to integrate with the rest of her “family,” something happened that made her afraid.  For several years, Millie basically lived a life of isolation in the house.  And it bothered Ellen more and more.

Millie at Ellen's house - November 11, 2011

Millie at Ellen’s house – November 11, 2011

One woman offered to take Millie in for a trial period, but the woman returned Millie to Ellen.  “I couldn’t love her,” she said.  (Whaaaat?)  After that, I told Ellen, “Well…maybe I should take her.”

Eric and I hadn’t planned to have another cat after our last cat, Stuart, died in Fall 2004.  But something compelled me to help.  I knew that we had the home environment that Millie needed:  a quiet house without any other animals.

On Saturday November 12, 2011, we picked up Millie at Ellen’s house.  When we first brought her home, I set her up in our spare bedroom (now Todd’s room).  I closed the other bedroom doors.  Not surprisingly, Millie was very scared and timid.  In those first days and weeks, I worked hard to gradually win over her trust.

On Day 1, Eric accidentally left his bedroom door open, and Millie took her first opportunity to race under his bed to hide.  She didn’t come out until 7:30 PM the next day.  From that point on, Eric’s room was Millie’s room and Eric’s bed was Millie’s bed.  (Underneath, that is.)

Millie got brave enough to venture into the living room on Day 3, she jumped up on the couch on Day 4, and she was a lap cat on me for two hours on Day 5.  She also trusted Eric enough to go over to him.  From then on, I looked forward to my daily “Millie Time.”  She loved it, too.

Day 5 - November 16, 2011 - 2 hour couch time with Millie

Day 5 – November 16, 2011 – 2 hour couch time with Millie

Within a month, Millie started using the scratching post and she felt comfortable enough to sometimes stay on the couch even if I got up.  She was still very nervous, though, and it didn’t take much to set her off running under the bed to her “safe zone.”  In general, she stayed under the bed if she wasn’t on my lap.

At the very beginning, I had to coax Millie out from under the bed by stretching out on the floor, saying her name, and then gradually crawling toward the living room.  Next, I was able to remain standing and just come into the bedroom and say her name.  Finally, within a month, she started to come out on her own, anticipating that it was “couch time” because we were developing a regular cuddle routine.

Millie - November 29, 2011

Millie – November 29, 2011

Millie sat with Eric while I decorated the Christmas tree - December 2, 2011

Millie sat with Eric while I decorated the Christmas tree – December 2, 2011

Elisa & Millie - December 5, 2011

Elisa & Millie – December 5, 2011

Millie - December 5, 2011

Millie – December 5, 2011

Cuddles with Eric - December 14, 2011

Cuddles with Eric – December 14, 2011

THE PRE-BABY YEARS – 2012 & 2013

Millie cuddled with me on the couch and not so much Eric.  Eric always tried to win her over, though, and he did this by coming over to her every evening when she was on me.  She let him pet her, blow bubbles on her belly, smoosh up her face and generally act silly.  The look on her face said, “not impressed,” but we both knew that she liked it.

Eric smooshing Millie's face - March 15, 2012

Eric smooshing Millie’s face – March 15, 2012

Eric & Millie - July 29, 2012

Eric & Millie – July 29, 2012

Eric & Millie - July 11, 2013

Eric & Millie – July 11, 2013

I was always glad when she did go to Eric.  That’s why I have a lot of pictures of them together.  There was a time when Eric had a better chance of getting Millie to cuddle with him if he used my couch instead of his.  Later, it didn’t matter.

Eric & Millie - May 6, 2012

Eric & Millie – May 6, 2012

Even still, once I was available, Millie always came to me.  She was my girl.  I tried to give her as much of my time as I could, while still living my life.

Before I left for work in the mornings, we’d enjoy at least 30 minutes of couch time.  After work, after dinner– I’d try to get as much time with Millie as I could before I went to bed.  There were countless times when maybe I wanted to do “this” activity or “that” chore, but I made sure that couch time with Millie was a top priority.

Except– I did feel really bad every ski season, because we’d leave her from Friday evenings until Sunday evenings pretty much every weekend. (One reason we weren’t going to get another cat after Stuart died was because of our ski season routine of leaving every weekend.)  But still, I knew that Millie’s quality of life was so much better than it was before, even factoring in our winter schedule.

At the condo for a ski weekend and missing Millie - March 8, 2013

At the condo for a ski weekend and missing Millie – March 8, 2013

Millie’s needs were so simple: food, water, safety, and couch time. On warm sunny days, she liked to sit on the sunny patches of carpet.

Enjoying the sun - April 13, 2012

Enjoying the sun – April 13, 2012

Millie was rarely seen “playing,” but a couple times I caught her in the act of batting around a plastic grocery bag that had dropped on the floor.  It was refreshing to see her not so serious!  A few other times I saw her chasing her tail.  She had zero interest in catnip or cat toys.

Millie didn’t meow much, but when she did, it was very soft and meek.  It always melted my heart and I know for sure that it was her quiet plea for some couch time.

Most often, though, she would simply stand and stare at me from the couch while I was busy in the kitchen, or else she’d stand and pause next to Eric’s bed.  The look said, “Are you ready for me yet, or should I go back under the bed and wait?”

She had several white whiskers over her left eye but just 1 white whisker over her right eye. Her left eye was runny all the time and it must have been an annoyance for her because she was constantly rubbing her face against hard surfaces like the corners of our walls, my computer, chair edges, etc..

Millie - March 29, 2013

Millie – March 29, 2013

More things about Millie:

  • When we’d do yoga, Millie would come out and circle around the mat and maybe meow quietly.
  • Millie would sometimes sit under our dining table, and she would use that location to “stage” herself.  From there, she could make a dash for the bed if she felt scared.
  • Millie’s 2nd choice for a “safe” place was under Eric’s couch.  We bought new beds in May 2013.  Before the delivery guys got here, I pulled Eric’s old mattress and box spring off the frame while Millie was out in the living room.  When the guys arrived, I knew she was going to freak out.  Sure enough, she ran into Eric’s room, panicked, and ran back out and under the couch.  There were a couple other instances when she ran under there, too.
  • Millie wasn’t a barfy cat when we first got her, but later it was a regular problem.
  • She liked to stand with her butt in our faces.
  • We had to have a blanket or a towel on us for her to sit down.
  • Sometimes she got her claw stuck in the couch and she struggled to free herself.  She’d panic and I was always afraid she would rip it out.
Millie - July 29, 2012

Millie – July 29, 2012

MILLIE’S 1ST MEDICAL ISSUE – AUGUST 2012

Millie was treated for a urinary tract infection (UTI). We knew something was wrong because she wasn’t peeing in her litter box. We thought she wasn’t peeing at all, but I later realized that she’d been peeing on the carpet.

After treatment, her health was back to baseline. We tried feeding her wet food, since the vet said cats are prone to dehydration and urinary problems. She accepted it for a while, but then she stopped eating it.

Psychologically, she was set back by the experience. Getting her into the box to take her to the vet was traumatic for all of us because she really fought being handled. Millie was never (for us, anyway) a cat that you could pick up and carry.

After the incident, Millie didn’t act differently toward me, but she definitely lost trust in Eric.  It took a long time for her to regain it.

Millie - November 16, 2013

Millie – November 16, 2013

PREGNANCY TIME – 2014

After I got pregnant with Todd, our general routine changed a little.  I had a new job and I was working longer hours (and I started working 5 days/week instead of 4).  I went to bed earlier than usual.  All this cut into our couch time.  I felt bad.

Fortunately, Millie got used to having couch time with Eric before I’d get home from work.  If I went to bed before he did, she’d have that time with him, too.  It was a good transition, in preparation for Todd.

Eric said on more than one occasion that Millie responded to him differently (better) after her medical event in March.  She opened up to him like never before.  (I detail that event below.)

As my belly grew larger, Millie had to accept her new spot on my thighs instead of my belly.  Increasingly, she’d try to sit right on my chest, but that wasn’t happening!  I got annoyed with her sometimes when she kept trying and trying to go there.  She was persistent.

We moved Millie’s litter box out of Todd’s bedroom in late April, to give her plenty of adjustment time.  We rented a Rug Doctor in late May.  There was an incident or two of peeing in my bedroom that seemed behavioral so we permanently restricted her access to that section of the house with a baby gate.  Thankfully, we didn’t notice anymore inappropriate peeing in other parts of the house.

Eric & Millie - February 13, 2014

Eric & Millie – February 13, 2014

My pregnant belly & Millie - May 15, 2014

My 27 week pregnant belly & Millie – May 15, 2014

Eric & Millie - June 3, 2014

Eric & Millie – June 3, 2014

Ashley & Millie - June 14, 2014

Ashley & Millie – June 14, 2014

MILLIE’S SECOND MEDICAL ISSUE – MARCH 2014

At about 3:30 AM on Saturday March 1st, Eric suddenly came into my room crying while holding Millie, saying there was something wrong with her. His crying told me that it was something serious. My heart sunk.

When I asked what was wrong, he said that for a while he heard her meowing under his bed. He first ignored it but then he realized that something wasn’t right. Millie wouldn’t come out on her own, but she let Eric help her. Then he noticed that her head and eyes were bobbing back and forth, she was staggering/couldn’t really walk, and her breathing was labored. When I saw this, I thought maybe she had a stroke. I thought it was the end.

We called the Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital, where Millie was seen in 2012. They offer 24 hour emergency care, so we brought her right in. The result of various tests revealed dehydration and abnormal kidney function values. She was diagnosed with chronic renal failure.

Millie was treated with IV fluids and electrolytes. One overnight stay turned into two, which turned into three nights, because her levels weren’t improving very fast. When I took her home on Tuesday morning, her kidney levels were better but still not within normal limits. It wasn’t “about” the money, but the bill came to ~$2000.

The vet recommended feeding Millie a wet food formulated for cats with kidney disease (she wouldn’t eat it). We offered her a kidney support supplement (she tried it a few times but then rejected it).

Visiting Millie at the vet - March 2, 2014

Visiting Millie at the vet – March 2, 2014

Then…

In the evening of that same Tuesday (March 4th), Millie was on the couch with me when she exhibited the same neurological symptoms which prompted our initial vet hospital visit. This time I suspected a seizure.  We weren’t about to subject her to another stressful vet visit this time, so I prepared to say goodbye to her for a second time in less than 4 days.

I brought her head close to mine, held it gently but firmly, and I just kept telling her that it was okay to go. The head stabilization seemed to help re-focus her gaze, and gradually her respiration rate returned to normal. I stayed up until 11 PM just holding her, and when I went to bed she appeared somewhat normal again.

When we woke up the next morning, she still seemed okay. Inexplicably, there were no further incidents. Odd. From that point on, though, we assumed that she might not live a whole lot longer.

Millie - March 6, 2014

Millie – March 6, 2014

Eric & Millie - March 9, 2014

Eric & Millie – March 9, 2014

BABY TIME – STARTING AUGUST 2014

My sister and niece stayed with us for 2 weeks before/after Todd was born and then my parents and nephew added to the number of people in the house for a few additional days.  Naturally, Millie stayed under the bed more often than usual.  However, since they stayed so long, Millie started to warm up to them.  I’m pretty sure she enjoyed some couch time with my sister and niece.

After Todd’s birth, Eric was Millie’s only consistent source of 1:1 attention for weeks and months.  I’m sure I don’t need to explain the demands of a baby!  I was so glad that she actually got a fair bit of evening couch time with Eric, especially when I was busy with Todd’s bedtime routine (it used to take an hour).

During Todd’s daytime naps in his swing, I had to prioritize what I got done.  I didn’t stay on the couch as much as I would have liked.  But– I did feed Todd on the couch and she took advantage of that.  In the early weeks, Todd would snooze on me after he ate, so there was that time, too.

It was never good enough for Millie to sit next to me– she always had be somewhere on me.  She had to settle for my lower legs when I had Todd.  She acted a little neurotic because she would repeatedly jump up, circle around me, and sit down right where she started from.  Frequently, she’d get too close to Todd and try to walk over him.  (Of course I didn’t let her!)  There were plenty of times when I was annoyed by her behavior.

Deep inside, I felt like I was neglecting her since she wasn’t getting from me what she was used to getting.  I felt more emotionally distanced from her after Todd was born.  It’s hard to admit, but there were times when I even questioned whether I still loved her as much as I used to.

Honestly, now I realize that my detachment was possibly a coping mechanism for feeling such intense guilt.  Now I know that I never stopped loving her.

Todd was 3 days old - August 24, 2014

Todd was 3 days old – August 24, 2014

Todd was 1 month old - September 26, 2014

Todd was 1 month old – September 26, 2014

Todd was a little over 1 month old - September 30, 2014

Todd was a little over 1 month old – September 30, 2014

Todd was almost 3 months old - November 13, 2014

Todd was almost 3 months old – November 13, 2014

Todd was almost 4 months old - December 14, 2014

Todd was almost 4 months old – December 14, 2014

Todd was almost 5 months old - January 19, 2015

Todd was almost 5 months old – January 19, 2015

LEADING UP TO MILLIE’S LAST DAY

Because I’ve been so focused on Todd, I didn’t realize the full extent of Millie’s weight loss until literally the past week.  She used to weigh about 8 pounds, but at the time of her death I’d be surprised if she was half that.  Sure, I noticed even a couple months ago (or more?) that she was getting quite light to move, but it didn’t register that I could be witnessing her terminal decline.

The thing that was suspicious was that Millie started a pattern of not pooping for a couple days at a time, followed by going multiple times within a day (a combo of formed and loose poops).  We discovered poops all over the house and under the bed.

THE LAST WEEK

On the morning of Thursday, January 29, 2015, Millie had yet another poop-on-the-carpet incident.  Then, nothing for 3 days.  We thought it was the “new normal.”

But– she still hadn’t pooped by Wednesday, February 4th.  That was the day that the truth of the situation suddenly hit me.  I finally noticed just how bony she felt.  And I got that sinking feeling that we really had to make some decisions…now.

Our last cat, Stuart, died in our home just a few hours before his appointment for euthanasia.  He was failing for too long and I’ve been living with the regret of not letting him go sooner.  I didn’t want to repeat that with Millie.

“Other than” the extreme weight loss and change in bowel habits, Millie was still eating, drinking, peeing, walking around the house, and generally behaving like herself. She was spending most days all day on the couch and of course she would immediately sit on whoever sat down.

I'd just gotten off the phone with my sister - February 4, 2015

I’d just gotten off the phone with my sister – February 4, 2015

I sent a text to Ellen to inform her of what was going on, and I asked for her advice because I was having a hard time knowing if the time was right.  I didn’t want to do it too soon, but I didn’t want to do it too late.  I was struggling.   Since she has the goat rescue, she has to make tough decisions all the time.  Ellen offered to come over after work that day and her visit was exactly what I needed.  Plus, we had a nice time catching up over dinner.

I cried a lot that night before I went to sleep.  On Thursday February 5th, I cried off and on all day.  It took me several hours to summon the courage to make the dreaded phone call.  I didn’t think I could talk without crying and I still wasn’t sure what day to make the appointment for.  Meanwhile, I sat on the couch with Millie as much as I possibly could.

I sent an email inquiry to Kraft Mobile Veterinary Services and Dr Kraft called me almost immediately. He offered me an appointment the next day or the following Wednesday. I knew I needed to take the Friday 3 PM opening.

Ugh. Tomorrow? So soon? More crying.

Millie - February 5, 2015

Millie – February 5, 2015 – 6:30 PM

PREPARATIONS

Unfortunately, Eric expected a busy Friday at work, so he was unable to get away.  It was a bummer that he wouldn’t get to spend one last weekend with Millie, but he agreed that we shouldn’t wait.  Eric and Millie had some time together on Thursday night while I was putting Todd to bed.

My goal– obviously– was to be on the couch with Millie as much as possible Friday.  I knew that I could count on a long nap from Todd in the morning, but I knew that the afternoon could be unpredictable.  I was so thankful to Eric’s mom (Diane) for agreeing to come over.

Millie spent the whole day on the couch.  We had quality time during Todd’s 9-11 AM morning nap and I focused only on her.  She got up a few times to eat and drink.  I scooped some pee out of her litter box in early morning and replaced the litter, but she didn’t use it all day.  She still hadn’t pooped.

After Todd woke up, I fed him and played with him on the couch while Millie sat on my lower legs.  I took final pictures and a couple movies.

Todd & Millie - February 6, 2015 - 11:45 AM

Todd & Millie – February 6, 2015 – 11:45 AM

Millie & Todd - February 6, 2015 - Noon

Millie & Todd – February 6, 2015 – Noon

Between 12:30 AM and 2 PM I became increasingly anxious.  I hoped that Todd would accept an afternoon nap.  I hoped that Millie would stay on me when the vet came.  I hoped she wouldn’t try to run under the bed.  I hoped she wouldn’t experience fear.

My perfect (!!) baby started his nap exactly according to “plan” at 2 PM, coinciding with Diane’s arrival.  I was able to spend a full hour with Millie.  I was grateful for Diane’s company.  It was exactly what I needed because we chatted while I focused on Millie.  The casual conversation kept me calm and prevented me from spending the hour sobbing.

LETTING GO

Dr Kraft and his tech, Kerri, arrived at 3 PM.  I had a note on the door instructing them to come right in as I remained on the couch.  I doubted Millie would get up when they came in, as long as they approached slowly.  I was right.

Dr Kraft did a brief assessment and he immediately saw how bony she was.  His few words and look gave me more confidence that I was doing the right thing for Millie.

Millie had been lying on me with her head toward my head but Dr Kraft needed her facing the other way so he could access her front leg.  With the handling, she got a little scared and tried to flee, but Kerri was able to gently stabilize her while I also held her.  The shaver startled her a little, too.  After that, she seemed to calm down.  I think she was too frail to put up much fight.

Dr Kraft initially tried to inject the euthanasia drug intravenously (IV), but that didn’t work after 2 attempts and trying a smaller needle.  He said Millie was so dehydrated and her blood pressure was so low that he would have to “do it the other way”…which consisted of an intramuscular (IM) injection of a sedative (in the hind leg), followed by an intracardiac (IC) injection of the euthanasia drug.

That told me Millie’s condition was worse than I thought.

Dr Kraft said the sedative can cause some vomiting.  Millie had a tiny bit of heaving but at that point she seemed pretty unresponsive.  I couldn’t completely see her face because her head was toward my feet.  I was a little tearful during their whole visit but I think I finally cried when he injected her heart.

My sweet girl was gone.

Millie’s diaphragm relaxed and there was some final reflexive muscle twitches.  Dr Kraft checked for a heartbeat.  A couple minutes later he checked again and found a weak pulse, so he gave her a second injection just to be sure.

Even though I knew the answer, I still needed to asked Dr Kraft if he thought Millie had been close to death.  Was it good that I didn’t wait until Wednesday?  He said definitely yes, he wouldn’t have waited for the weekend.  I felt a big weight lift off me at that point.

I thanked Dr Kraft and Kerri for their kindness and they were on their way.  I’d definitely recommend them to anyone in need of a mobile vet.  Since I was feeling okay, Diane left a short while later.

REFLECTIONS

After the stress of the previous days, I initially felt relief that it was over.  I felt confident that we did the right thing.  (Though, if anything we might have waited too long.)  I was thankful for in-home euthanasia.  I was glad that things played out more or less how I’d hoped.  It’s just too bad that the IV route didn’t work.

Todd woke up from his nap at about 4 PM.  I didn’t expect him to notice her absence, but still it felt strange.  He had no idea what just happened.  His bright, naive smile upon waking immediately lifted my spirits.

An hour later– I felt a deep sadness creep back in.  Suddenly the house felt empty.  And so it goes with the grieving process…

I miss Millie.  I miss looking at her sweet face.  I miss her company, her affection, her warmth, and her complete devotion to me.

Overwhelmingly, I’m dealing with my guilt.  I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I can’t help it.  I keep thinking back over the past months when maybe I could have spent more time with Millie but instead I chose to do “X, Y, or Z.”  Sounds silly, right?  She had it good.

Finally, I think about recent times when I was on the couch with her, but I was too busy typing on the computer to just pet her and enjoy her.  As I process my grief, it’s a good reminder to never take the ones we love for granted.  I should strive to “focus” more and multi-task less.  You never know when they’ll be gone.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Despite these pesky negative thoughts, I do know for sure that I poured my heart into Millie during the 3+ years that we had her.  Eric did, too.  She was well-loved and well-cared for.  She had a very good quality of life here with us.  So many animals don’t get a fraction of the love and attention that Millie got.  She was one lucky cat.  I feel good about that.

We can see Millie’s grave from our kitchen window.  She was buried in our yard under a piece of granite rock,  between two Russian Sage plants.

Millie's Grave

Millie’s Grave

Todd at 4.5 months old - January 5, 2015

Todd at 4.5 months old – January 5, 2015

FIFTH MONTH (DECEMBER 21 – JANUARY 21)

WEEK 18 (Partial Week)

Todd started his fifth month by having a breakthrough in his sitting balance abilities.  Prior to this week, I could let go of Todd in unsupported sitting for only a few seconds at a time.  On December 22nd, I was able to let go for 30 seconds, 50 seconds and 75 seconds.  On December 23rd, Todd sat unsupported for 1.5 minutes.  Something just clicked for him!

On the 23rd, I was helping Todd open up a present from Eric’s mom (“Grammie”).  I don’t know if it was the gift (a LeapFrog “lap pup”) or the cute Santa paper, but Todd suddenly burst out giggling/laughing.  He did it 3x…so cute!  The last time (the 1st time) we heard him spontaneously giggle was November 17th.  Eric and Eli (Todd’s cousin) were able to provoke more giggles on December 24th (and after).

Coffee break on the way to Oregon - December 24, 2014

Coffee break on the way to Oregon – December 24, 2014

On Christmas Eve, we drove to Bend, Oregon for an extended family visit.  Todd met my aunt Elaine & uncle Jeff and my sister’s parents (“Nana & Grampy”) for the first time that evening.  I cried on Christmas day when I looked at the hand-sewn alphabet book that my aunt made for Todd.  She put so much love and work into it!  We will treasure it forever.

Todd with his grandpa - December 24, 2014

Todd with his grandpa – December 24, 2014

Todd with his great aunt Elaine - December 24, 2014

Todd with his great aunt Elaine – December 24, 2014

Todd's ABC Book from Aunt Elaine

Todd’s ABC Book from Aunt Elaine

Sample page from the ABC book.  Every page so creatively planned and expertly sewn!

Sample page from the ABC book. Every page so creatively planned and expertly sewn!

Todd’s “main” Christmas gift was an Evenflo ExerSaucer® Beach Baby Saucer.  He also got his first baby doll, several books, toys and clothes.  I’m thankful for my generous family!

Todd in his new ExerSaucer - December 25, 2014

Todd in his new ExerSaucer – December 25, 2014

Highlights–

  • 1st unsupported sitting for 30 seconds & longer (12/22)
  • 2nd spontaneous giggle/laugh (3x – 12/23)
  • 1st time using potty seat in public restroom, at my sister’s house and my parent’s house (12/24)
  • 1st time meeting great aunt Elaine & great uncle Jeff (12/24)
  • 1st Christmas (12/25)
  • getting very “wriggly”
  • arches back in bouncy seat
  • holding onto both feet with hands
  • tried bringing his toes to his mouth

WEEK 19

In Bend, Todd’s sleep routine was upset because his overall daily routine was different.  Duh– I’m stating the obvious, right?  Todd resisted sleeping in the Pack ‘n Play travel bed.  For the first 4 nights, we didn’t fight him and he ended up sleeping at least part of each night in the swing or car seat.

On the 5th night (December 28th), I put my foot down because I really want him to learn that the bed is the bed at night time!  So– after he was fed, burped, diapered, etc., and after I picked him up twice, I finally Iet him “cry it out.”  It took about 30 minutes of crying before he finally slept.  On subsequent nights (4 more), he went to bed without much trouble.

In Bend, we cross country skied 3 times (at Virginia Meissner Sno-Park).  On December 28th, Eric and I took turns watching Todd.  On December 29th, my parents babysat Todd in the ski shelter.  Eric and I got to ski together for the first time this season…Yay!  On January 31st, my mom babysat Todd at the house while we went skiing.  On January 1st, my sister watched Todd while we did a short snow hike along the Deschutes River.

Highlights–

  • 1st scrape (forehead bled when he fell forward and hit a Lego piece – 12/26)
  • Tough love “Pack ‘n Play Training” (12/28)
  • 1st times leaving Todd with a “babysitter” (12/29, 12/31 & 1/1)
  • after being propped, sits unsupported with more confidence…i.e. he moves his arms and legs and “rocks” himself…until he falls over.
Eric & Todd playing in the snow at Meissner - December 28, 2014

Eric & Todd playing in the snow at Meissner – December 28, 2014

Cross country skiing at Meissner - December 29, 2014

Cross country skiing at Meissner – December 29, 2014

Cross country skiing at Meissner - December 31, 2014

Cross country skiing at Meissner – December 31, 2014

Snow hike along the Deschutes River - January 1, 2015

Snow hike along the Deschutes River – January 1, 2015

WEEK 20

We drove home on January 2nd.  That morning, we found Todd sleeping on his side in the travel bed.  Leading up to this day, Todd seemed increasingly frustrated by having his legs “trapped” inside the sleep sack.  That night, I started dressing him in footed sleepers for bed.  He proceeded to sleep for a record 10-hour stretch!

On his side in the travel bed - January 2, 2015

On his side in the travel bed – January 2, 2015

We stopped at a Chipotle Grill for lunch on January 2nd.  Inside the restaurant, I sat Todd on my lap while I ate most of my Sofritas salad.  Then it occurred to me that he could probably sit up safely in one of the high chairs, with close supervision.  Todd looked pretty proud of himself sitting up like a big boy!

1st time sitting in a high chair - Chipotle Grill - January 2, 2015

1st time sitting in a high chair – Chipotle Grill – January 2, 2015

At home, on January 3rd, we tested our own high chair.  Eric tried feeding Todd some formula with a new spoon that Todd got for Christmas.  It was cute to see Todd’s reaction.  At least one time he actually sipped and swallowed.

On January 6th, Todd saw the pediatrician for his 4-month check-up.  He was 13 pounds, 6 ounces, 24.6″ tall and had a 41 cm head circumference.  His growth trends have remained unchanged since the 2 month appointment, except that his height is up 2 percentiles.  (Weight = 6th percentile.  Height = 12th percentile.  Head circumference = 18th percentile.)

Todd was given the same vaccines as the 2-month appointment, and he only cried for a few seconds.

This week Todd started making a variety of sounds.  For a few consecutive days, he literally seemed to practice a different sound every day.  It’s fascinating to witness his language development!

Highlights–

  • No more sleep sacks. Started wearing footed sleepers to bed (1/2)
  • 1st 10-hour sleep stretch (1/2 to 1/3)
  • 1st time sitting in a high chair (Chipotle Mexican Grill – 1/2)
  • 1st time being spoon fed (formula – 1/3)
  • Moved swing from living room to bedroom for naps (1/4)
  • 1st time visiting family at Eric’s parents’ house (1/4)
  • 2 fast rolls from belly-to-back (1/5). (He still doesn’t roll belly-to-back very often.)
  • 4-month pediatrician appointment (1/6)
  • making distinct “m” sounds with lips pursed together
  • making “b” sounds
  • sticking tongue out and/or blowing spit (and grinning about it)
  • making “squeak” sounds and squealing

January 4th audio clip, “m” sounds:

January 5th audio clip, “spit blowing”:

January 7th audio clip, “squeaks”:

3 Generations - January 4, 2015

3 Generations – January 4, 2015

WEEK 21

On January 10th, we took Todd on a short hike to the Big Four Ice Caves.  He seemed to enjoy his first trail ride in the 3-wheel stroller and checking out the scenery (including the morons down in the cave).

Big Four Ice Caves - January 10, 2015

Big Four Ice Caves – January 10, 2015

Big Four Ice Caves Trail - January 10, 2015

Big Four Ice Caves Trail – January 10, 2015

This week, I decided it was time to get a library book and DVD on baby sign language.  On January 12th, I started learning signs and teaching them to Todd (and Eric).

Here are some of the signs we’ve used so far:  mama, dada, “formula milk,” eat, toilet/bathroom, diaper, love, more, “all done,” bird, frog, cat, fish, monkey, animal, ball, book, car, snow and apple.

This is a good website resource:  Baby Sign Language. Highlights–

  • 1st giggle provoked by mama (1/9)
  • 1st time using the 3-wheel stroller on a hiking trail (Big Four Ice Caves – 1/10)
  • 1st 10.25 hr sleep stretch (1/12 to 1/13)
  • making “growl” sounds
  • making sounds:  “om-pa” & “up”
  • silently opening and closing his mouth & “mouthing” sounds:  “ma”
  • waking up “chatting” to himself in his crib in the mornings

January 11th video clip:

January 15th audio clip, “chatty”:

WEEK 22 (Partial Week)

On January 16th, we went to our condo in Wenatchee once again for a ski weekend.  I’m pleased to report that Todd slept in his Pack ‘n Play travel bed without a struggle:  On the 16th he cried for just a couple minutes and on the 17th he went to sleep without any crying.  Phew!

Both days at the ski area, we put Todd in the day care for a couple hours.  He did just fine and Eric and I got to ski together.  Win-win! Highlights–

  • “accidental” quick belly-to-back roll (1/18)
  • making sounds:  “ba”

January 20th audio clip, “baba”:

FIFTH MONTH WRAP-UP

Sleep–

After we got back home from our Christmas holiday in Oregon, Todd had a span of 7 out of 9 nights when he’d wake up crying/hungry after only being in his crib for ~2.5 hours.  Just as I started getting used to this “11 PM Wake-up,” it suddenly stopped.

Todd closed out his fifth month with a super awesome night time sleep pattern.  On January 12th, Todd started a record, 9-day stretch (and we’re still counting…crossing fingers!) of sleeping from the ~8 PM hour to the ~5/6 AM hour without interruption (8.25 hr minimum per night and 9 hr average per night).

Since I’m an “early to bed, early to rise” person, I go to bed shortly after Todd does.  Seriously– I’ve never felt more rested in my adult life!  And it is nice that Todd wakes up before Eric leaves for work so that they can spend at least a few precious moments together in the morning.

Daytime naps take place in the swing (at home) or car seat (away from home).  The morning nap is the more predictable, longer nap (up to 3 hours).  The afternoon nap is shorter and really unpredictable.  Sometimes Todd “decides” he doesn’t need it.  To his credit, if he declines his second nap, he usually stays pleasant and then he zonks out real quick when it’s time for night night!

Ready for bed - January 2, 2015

Ready for bed – January 2, 2015

Toileting–

There’s not much new to report regarding Todd’s toileting.  We continue to “potty” him on the toilet throughout each day.  This month, he peed up to 10x per day in the toilet (average ~6x per day).  Occasionally he pees on me, on the way to the toilet!

Todd pooped in the toilet on most days.  There were 13 “misses.”  That includes a few times that he went a little bit in the diaper and then finished in the toilet.  For 3 mornings in a row (1/3, 1/4 & 1/5), Todd woke up with messy poopy diapers, which was very unusual.  Fortunately, that didn’t last! As I’ve mentioned before, his soy formula poops are typically formed “logs.”  A couple days recently, Todd had a couple “pudding poops,” and he did have his first legitimate “blow-out” on January 15th.  Fun stuff, huh?

Todd has shown that he is comfortable going “pee-pee” or “poo-poo” in toilets in a wide variety of locations (public restrooms, family’s homes, and friends’ homes).  In fact, the “tide turned” during the Seahawks playoff game on January 18th right when Todd did a big poop in our ski friend Scott’s toilet…haha!  AKA “Todd’s Magic Poop.”

As of month’s end, Todd is transitioning into size 3 disposable diapers for night time.  He’s wearing mostly 6-month size clothes.  Some 3-month clothes still fit but they won’t for much longer.

Physical Skills–

Presently, Todd prefers to sit and play on the floor or stand and play in his ExerSaucer.  He can sit unsupported with close supervision and stay balanced for several minutes at a time.  He can maintain his balance a lot of the time even when he turns his head, looks up, moves his arms and legs, rocks himself, and reaches out for toys.  Of course, once he does lose his balance he can’t stop himself from falling over fast (usually backward).

Todd tolerates some tummy time but that’s about it!  He can press up with arms extended and hold his head up vertically.  He can roll both ways but he doesn’t roll every day.

Playing in Todd's bedroom - January 13, 2015

Playing in Todd’s bedroom – January 13, 2015

Todd actively seeks out anything he can put in his mouth.  If I read a book to him, I make sure he has a toy in hand or else he tries to suck the pages.  When I put him in his bouncy seat, I make sure he has a toy to hold.  When I put him in his swing for naps, I give him a toy to play with before he falls asleep.  He sucks on any part of his clothing (or mine) that becomes accessible to him.  If I put a bib on Todd, he just gathers it up and puts it in his mouth (I don’t use them much for that reason).  He sucks on his “face wiper” washcloths.

With his hands, he tries to “pick” the prints off fabrics.  He tries to pick the moles off my arm.  He grabs at my hair (ouch!).  He’s starting to be able to hold his own bottle.

January 16, 2015

January 16, 2015

Feeding–

Todd drinks ~4-8 oz of organic soy formula at a time, totaling ~30-34 oz per day.  We’re looking forward to introducing solid foods in another month.  He seems to be getting interested in our food. That’s all for now!

Snuggle pile - January 19, 2015

Snuggle pile – January 19, 2015

Todd at 17 weeks old (almost 4 months) - December 18, 2014

Todd at 17 weeks old (almost 4 months) – December 18, 2014

FOURTH MONTH
(NOVEMBER 21 – DECEMBER 21)

WEEK 14

It’s the sleep week!  Todd started his 4th month with an epic 9.25 hour sleep on November 21st to 22nd.  Then, on November 28th to 29th, he set another record!  I actually had to wake him up at the 9.75 hour mark because we had leave the house.  I didn’t get to find out how long he would’ve gone.  In the same week, he also had an 8.25 hour sleep, an 8 hour sleep and a 7.75 hour sleep.  Yay, Todd!

On November 22nd, we took Todd to our condo in Wenatchee for the first time.  That afternoon, we took him to the Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort for the first time.  We had a couple beers in the Hampton Lodge to kick off the season.

Todd in the papasan chair at our condo - November 23, 2014

Todd in the papasan chair at our condo – November 23, 2014

At the condo, Todd slept in the Pack ‘n Play in my bedroom.  It was rough that night because he woke up at 2 AM to eat and then he cried and cried before he went back to sleep at 3:15 AM.  Fortunately, this crying-in-the-middle-of-the-night-episode was just a “one-time thing.”

On November 23rd, we skied for the first time this season.  Eric and I took turns in the lodge.  We love Mission Ridge for many reasons, but especially because there are so many people that we see and ski with year after year.

Todd meets some of the boys at Mission Ridge - November 23, 2014

Todd meets some of the boys at Mission Ridge – November 23, 2014

 I’d been sick with a cold since November 18th.  On November 24th, it seemed like Todd was getting his first cold.  He had an obvious runny nose and more frequent sneezing.  The next day he was back to “normal.”  Odd!  Meanwhile, my cold was awful and lasted >2 weeks!

We drove to Bend, OR on November 27th for Todd’s first Thanksgiving and second trip to Bend.

A Vegan Thanksgiving - November 27, 2014

A Vegan Thanksgiving – November 27, 2014

Highlights:

  • 1st 9.25 hour sleep (11/21 to 11/22)
  • 1st visit to condo (11/22)
  • 1st visit to ski area (Mission Ridge – 11/22)
  • 1st 9.75 hour sleep (11/28 to 11/29)

WEEK 15

On November 28th, we took Todd to the Juniper Swim and Fitness Center for his first pool experience.  He’s always been content in his bath, and he reacted similarly in the warm children’s pool.  We all had a blast!

!st pool swim - November 28, 2014

!st pool swim – November 28, 2014

On November 29th, Todd visited Santa for the first time.  He was calm in Santa’s lap and just checked out everything around him.  Ashley and Eli have been going to see this same Santa since they were tiny.

1st Santa Visit - November 29, 2014

1st Santa Visit – November 29, 2014

Todd seemed to discover his feet (visually) for the first time when my mom (“grandma”) was playing with him.  He also started playing with a new toy during our visit.

Playing with a new toy - November 28, 2014

Playing with a new toy – November 28, 2014

Back home again, Todd rolled from back to sidelying a few times on December 1st.  He was getting sooo close to rolling fully from back to belly.

This was the week that I started doing Elimination Communication (EC) with Todd, with consistency.  See my last post for all the poop!  Baby Todd’s First Week of Potty “Training (3.5 months)

Highlights:

  • 1st time in a pool (Bend, OR – 11/28)
  • 1st Santa visit (Bend, OR – 11/29)
  • 1st poop and pee in sink (12/1)
  • Visitors at home:  Eric’s parents (12/2)
  • 1st pee and poop in toilet (12/3)
  • rolling from back to side
  • tries to “pick” candy cane off his pants
Showing off his new Christmas outfit from Grandma - December 2, 2014

Showing off his new Christmas outfit from Grandma – December 2, 2014

WEEK 16

We spent the weekend in Wenatchee and we skied both days.  On December 5th, Todd possibly said the word “hi” to Eric.  On December 7th, I noticed that Todd was touching his left foot (with his left hand) for the first time, while on the changing table.

Mission Ridge Ski Area - December 7, 2014

Mission Ridge Ski Area – December 7, 2014

On December 8th, Todd was doing a lot of rolling from back-to-sidelying to attend to his toys.  During tummy time, he was lifting his head to vertical and propping himself up with his forearms.

He started grabbing his left foot and toes regularly.  It makes it much more difficult to fasten his diaper because he wants to keep his legs drawn up.

Todd plays with his foot - December 9, 2014

Todd plays with his foot – December 9, 2014

On December 9th, Todd had a major breakthrough!!  He rolled fully from back-to-belly (toward the right) for the first time.  I was too slow to catch it on video.  After Eric got home, Todd graciously repeated the feat another 2 times, and it was funny watching him get hung up on a toy that I named “Mr Pippins.”

Right after rolling from back to belly for the first time - December 9, 2014

Right after rolling from back to belly for the first time – December 9, 2014

And get this– Not only did Todd roll from back-to-belly for the first time, but he also rolled from belly-to-back for the first time that same day (and Eric was home to see it!)  I wonder how common that is?

On December 10th, Todd repeated his back-to-belly (toward the right) and belly-to-back rolling.  It took Todd a lot of time and effort to achieve his belly-to-back rolls.  One time, though, he did it quickly and by accident.  He was on his belly, up on his forearms with his head vertical at the time.  He must have turned his head and somehow that “flipped” him over.  It happened super fast!  He had a very surprised look on his face and I laughed!

After Eric got home from work on December 10th, Todd managed to roll from back-to-belly toward the left for the first time.  From the 11th onward, Todd readily rolled from back-to-belly toward both sides.  He did not repeat the belly-to-back rolling for another week, though.

Highlights:

  • 1st pee in condo toilet (12/5)
  • Possibly said “hi” (12/5)
  • 1st time “sledding” (in car seat at Mission Ridge – 12/6)
  • 1st poop in condo toilet (12/6)
  • 1st time touching foot (12/7)
  • 1st pee in public restroom toilet (12/7)
  • 1st time rolling from back-to-belly, toward the right (12/9)
  • 1st time rolling from belly-to-back, over the left shoulder (12/9)
  • 1st time rolling from back-to-belly, toward the left (12/10)
  • new sound, “gee”
  • holds head up high and supports himself with forearms on tummy
  • looking at his groin in the mirror without a diaper on
  • sitting with assist from boppy pillow

WEEK 17

On December 13th, we took Todd to the Lynnwood Pool, for his 2nd pool experience. There, they have a session called, “Beach Swim.”  We used the shallow pool/play area and family hot tub.  Todd is very content in the water.  He doesn’t seem to mind when we float him on his back with his head in the water.  He loves to be zoomed around on his belly.

Swimming in Lynnwood - December 13, 2014

Swimming in Lynnwood – December 13, 2014

After the swim, we went to Babies R Us to buy a Graco Contour Potty Ring ($11.99).  This allows Todd to face the “normal” way while sitting on the toilet, and it makes it easier for me to hold him there.  At home, Todd demonstrated that he could “pee pee” and “poo poo” on the new seat.

Using the new toilet seat - December 14, 2014

Using the new toilet seat – December 14, 2014

On December 14th, we set our hot tub to 98 degrees and we enjoyed a family soak.  It was the first of a ~twice weekly routine.  Todd is a water baby!

1st time in our hot tub - December 14, 2014

1st time in our hot tub – December 14, 2014

On December 16th and 17th, Todd finally repeated his belly-to-back roll.  (He hadn’t done it since the 10th.)  It’s still a struggle for him.  He can do it with or without a diaper on, but it’s easier without, since he can draw his knees way up underneath him.

Highlights:

  • 2nd pool swim (Lynnwood, WA – 12/13)
  • 1st time using new potty seat (12/13)
  • Eric’s 6 week post-op date (Dr. Snip). He still has live “swimmers” (12/13)
  • 1st time in our hot tub (12/14)
  • Visitors at home:  Eric’s parents (12/17)
  • when sitting, uses arms more to prevent falling forward
  • “couch standing” with supervision
  • haven’t noticed him playing with his left foot anymore
  • Eric plays the keyboard and sings to Todd

WEEK 18 (Partial Week)

On December 19th, we drove to our condo late in the evening (a 2.5 hour drive).  Todd had a hard time settling for bed so he ended up sleeping in his car seat for 5 hours that (Friday) night.

I’m finding that I really miss not having my rocker/glider chair when we’re away from home.  Even if Todd is super alert and physically “hyper” before bed at home, once I start rocking and feeding him in the chair, he turns to putty in my arms.  Away from home, it’s not as easy to settle him without that chair.

Todd rolled from belly-to-back over his right shoulder for the first time on the morning of December 20th.  (Before that, he could only roll belly-to-back over his left shoulder.)

We skied on the 20th and poor Todd didn’t nap for very long that day.  Although he was clearly tired, he had another rough time getting to bed that (Saturday) night.  He was eventually able to fall asleep on my bed, with me.  I moved him to his Pack ‘n Play bed a couple hours later.  I feel bad that our weekend ski routine seems to disrupt his smooth weekday sleep “schedule” at home.

As of now…

During weekdays at home, Todd typically gets a really long nap (~2.5 to 3 hours) in his swing every morning, and then a somewhat shorter nap (~1.5 to 2.5 hours) in his swing every afternoon.  Alternatively, he may sleep for one of his naps in his car seat, when I take him in the car for shopping or outside in the stroller for a walk.  He typically goes to bed very easily at home, at about 8:00-8:45 PM.  He sleeps until about 4 or 5 AM.

Todd’s toilet use continues.  He pees and poops every day while sitting with support on his potty seat on the toilet.  Since December 3rd, only 3 small nuggets of poop didn’t make it into the toilet (on 12/7, 12/17, and 12/20).  Eric and I typically try to sit him on the toilet upon waking from nighttime sleep, upon waking from naps, after eating (a few times), and other times when awake.

He’ll usually pee on the toilet about 5-9 times per day. The most he’s done in one day was 15 pees on the toilet (on 12/19).  I keep track of dry diapers and I get excited when he has them!  I still wash a large load of cloth diapers every other day, but the diapers I do wash are not saturated.  Sometimes I can skip the pre-rinse cycle.

FOURTH MONTH WRAP-UP

Other things to remember about Todd’s fourth month:

  • More spitting up
  • Grasps and manipulates toys. Doesn’t drop them as much.
  • Everything goes into his mouth.  Lots of drool.  Using bibs now.
  • Still has an eczema rash on his head and bilateral limbs (elbows, knees)
  • Makes “exclamation” sounds on changing table
  • Prefers to play with toys in sitting rather than lying down
  • Eric sings and plays music to Todd
  • Getting close to being able to sit unsupported
  • Still wears some 3-month size clothes, but fits best in the 6-month size
"There are those who are appalled because I am so vocal about injustice, yet I am equally appalled by their silence." Lujene Clark

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