Monday, May 16, 2022


These pictures are still from Mother's Day, a week ago now...before we were all sore and sunburned and worn out. By now we're all feeling greatly recovered from our vacation. Part of me was a little sad that I hadn't planned to stay through the weekend, but you know how trips like these go—you really need a vacation from your vacation by the time you're done. 

Yesterday I shared our more action-filled parts of the day: wading in the water and playing volleyball and things. Today I mostly have Phoebe pictures. She's a pretty chill little thing.

Here she is chomping on her thumb and trying to squirm around so she's not facing the wind:

Here's Alexander holding one of the horseshoe crab shells Benjamin found. 

They wash up on the beach all the time when they're this big, as this is about as big as they manage to get before they die. I'd never seen a smaller ones on the beach, though it would make sense that they start out as tiny babies; we got to see some babies in a tank at the Coastal Discovery Museum. They're just as freaky looking as the adults...just smaller.

The idea of them molting is interesting. Obviously the exoskeleton can't grow, but the idea of shedding that seems to be, as Alexander might say, "wildly unsafe." And it is. So they hide, molt their exoskeleton and then crawl out of their shells...and then create a new exoskeleton, which they then grow to fill somehow. I don't really understand it, but somehow they've survived for millions of years this way (they're closely related to trilobites) and their copper-rich blood has proven quite useful to recent medicinal advances.

Okay, back to sweet Phoebe, who discovered how to snort a few days before we left for the beach. A charming skill to have mastered, she thought it was so funny that we thought her snorting was so funny that she decided snorting was the thing to do. This meant that whenever we tried to coax her into giving us a nice smile, she'd offer us a snort instead. 

Honestly, it was hilarious, but if Future Phoebe ever wonders why I wouldn't take any "normal" pictures of her smiling on the beach...tell her it's her own darn fault! Here are a billion pictures of Phoebe snorting for me:

And here she is taking a break from snorting to see if this new substance I sat her on tastes any good (that's usually her first question about anything):

It certainly feels funny...I wonder how it tastes!

A few more snort-y faces while she adjusts her balance well enough to lift a hand to her mouth:

Here she goes putting the beach directly into her mouth:

This is how we build our immune systems, right? 

With the ongoing formula shortage, I've decided to start pumping again. I've already given away about 400 ounces (to my friend with the preemie twins) but I stopped pumping in January semester got hectic. The semester is over now, though, so what else am I going to do? Kidding, kidding. I have plenty to do, but not quite as much as before and I figure...if I can help a baby or two...why not? 

Anyway, I was talking with my mom about the formula shortage and she mused about how her mom made her own infant formula when my mom was a baby. My grandma had nursed her first three children but because of some health issues she wasn't able to nurse my mom. I'd seen some recipes circulating online, so I knew what she was talking about (mostly it looks like evaporated milk, water, and straight-up corn syrup). mom survived and that's better than the alternative, isn't it?

Sometimes we regulate things so much that we come to think of them as overcomplicated when really they aren't that complicated at all. Andrew made salsa this weekend—roasted tomatoes, onions, peppers, and garlic, then blended them together. It was super easy! So now we wonder why we depend on canned salsa. It's just something we'd never attempted but once we attempted it, it wasn't so hard.

I'm not saying it's necessarily a good idea to feed your baby corn syrup. I am wondering why formula is so strictly regulated when it feels like probably something people could make at home. Or at least it's a thing that more than two manufacturers could make. Since, you know, people depend on it to keep their infants alive.

While I'm on this rant, I had a Twitter-friend recently rant about how formula is superior to breastmilk in part because she's always felt a little shamed about not being able to breastfeed her children. Or, if she didn't actively feel ashamed, she felt as if people were trying to make her feel ashamed. And by people I mean whoever came up with the "breast is best" mantra (when really, truly "fed is best"). 

Her argument for formula's superiority was that breastfed babies are supposed to get a dose of vitamin D once a day because breastmilk doesn't offer enough to promote good bone growth for all babies. This is a newish thing that I struggle to remember to do wasn't really a "thing" with my first few kids and they grew up nice and healthy so...yup...I am not great at remembering to give Phoebe her vitamins even though it's really easy and they're sitting right there by my nursing chair. I just have to give her one drop a day, let her suck it off my finger. Super easy. And we are...without even having finished up the "sample" vial we got at the pediatrician's office (let alone the bigger bottle we bought to use after we finished the sample vial). 

That was an interesting point for her to make. Formula-fed babies don't have to take supplements (because the supplements are contained within the formula). So my question was: why would mother's milk be missing such an essential vitamin? Turns out that's simply because most people suffer from low levels of vitamin D and if a mother gets adequate vitamin D, her milk will contain more vitamin D.

Somehow giving myself supplements is easier than giving Phoebe supplements (88% of mothers agree with me), so I went ahead and started taking a vitamin D supplement. At night.

But this same friend (who is studying to become a pharmacist) recently posted about not taking vitamin D in the evening because it interferes with the body's ability to produce melatonin. It's the "sunshine pill," so this makes sense. She recommends vitamin D be taken in the morning.

I didn't hop on her rant to suggest that mother's milk is just fine...and that if we fixed the mother's deficiencies we could also solve the infant's deficiencies (two birds, one stone). But, after doing an annoying amount of research (something I'm prone to doing), that's my conclusion about that particular argument: all mothers should increase their vitamin D intake whether they feed their babies with formula or breastmilk, but especially if they're breastfeeding. 

Dr. Bruce Hollis is a leading name in this kind of research, if you're interested in looking more into it. 

Anyway, my mom and I were discussing the infant formula shortage and she (jestingly) pointed out that babies can survive ingesting a lot more than we give them credit for because by six months old they're happy to dirt. 

And, like, she's not wrong...

Here's Phoebe's post-handful-of-dirt happy-snort face:

And here she is losing her balance:

And here's the aftermath of her losing her balance:

She's really getting pretty good at sitting up on her own, but falling over is also still pretty common.

Here she is sitting by a big piece of driftwood (a driftlog?) with Alexander:

And here she is—whoopsie—after falling over again:

Not very impressed with life or gravity at the moment:

So we brushed her off and then Alexander asked to hold her on his lap, which really gives you an idea of just how ginormous she's gotten. 

Weirdly, even though she now nearly rivals him in size and he struggles to keep a hold on her when she wriggles, I feel a lot less panicky when he holds her these days than I did when she was teensy-weensy and he would hold her (and I would hover nearby to make sure he didn't get bored and toss her overboard the couch or anything). 

Here's her little snort-snort-snort:

Such a clever baby. Snort!

And here she is looking pleased that the wind is blowing in her face (when in reality she was really quite bothered by it all the livelong day):

And here are her cute little toesies making itty-bitty footprints in the cold, mushy sand:

I love this baby so much.

Zoë wanted a turn holding Phoebe as well. She always wants a turn holding Phoebe. But for some reasons she wouldn't hold onto her properly (I think because Zoë's hands were sandy and she didn't want to get sand on Phoebe...never mind the fact that Phoebe'd just been stuffing fistfuls of sand directly into her mouth).

Phoebe ended up wriggling free-ish, forcing her legs ramrod straight, thrusting her torso into Zoë's chest, and throwing the both of them off balance:

So Zoë decided that meant Phoebe wanted to stand up in the surf, which is a possibility:

Phoebe wasn't too sure about this liquid that came rushing and roaring up to her, so she made her aggressive snort-face (rather than her happy snort-face; there's a difference, guys):

Here's Alexander demonstrating the water wheel for her:

She was more interested in figuring out what the orange boat tastes like, however:

And then she couldn't remember what sand tasted like so she sampled that substance again as well:

But the water wheel gizmo was interesting, so her sweet brothers took turns running to the ocean to keep the wheels spinning for her.

And here's this picture of Miriam with a shell she found while playing volleyball. She ran away in the middle of a game to go rinse it off in the ocean, leaving everyone else feeling rather confused. It's quite a beautiful shell, though, and these beaches are so clean that finding a shell is a real treat!

We stopped by the pool on the way back to the condo and the kids took a little dip. It was freezing

But they were happy.

And, of course, by "freezing," I mean it was warm enough for my baby to sit outside clad only in a diaper, without getting mottled or pretty warm, really. But too cold for swimming, in my opinion.

Here she is sitting poolside with Grandpa:

Here's the baby about to get "booped" by Daddy:

It was a lovely Mother's Day, in spite of the chill (which wasn't even that chilly) and I'm so lucky to have spent the day in the company of the people I love. 

I'm so happy I could...snort!

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