Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

We here at the Zschunke house are celebrating New Years by doing nothing special - well, unless you count family time as special...which we do!  Cecelia and Jeff took their first (of many I'm sure) outing yesterday by themselves.  Jeff was very excited to take his daughter out and show her off.  They went to a bookstore, the bank, the library and a coffee shop.  It can be tricky heading out with an infant during the cold weather months.  Do you take the carseat in, or carry her, or put her in a carrier like a sling or the Baby Bjorn?  Once inside, do you keep her in her snow suit, or take her out to cool her down?  And if she's sleeping...well, these days we definitely don't mess with that!  She's getting bigger now and her eating is spaced out to a slightly more predictable routine so that we can trust her to "last" in between feedings without me.  Not that she couldn't before, it was just one more thing to plan for then, just in case.  At the same time, I got a much needed rest.  Since we've been trying an earlier bed time, Cecelia's fired back with a (very) early morning wake up - approximately between 3 and 4 AM, so I've been trying to catch up on some rest with some day time naps for me too.  And since this increase in wake ups, I'm scrapping the very early bed time for a slightly later one to see what happens.  Hopefully the new year will bring some more sleep.  Not what most people are probably thinking this evening as they toast each other and watch fireworks, but we're not most people.  Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Age: 24 Weeks

This week I am 24 weeks old and what a week it's been.  Let me tell you about Christmas.  First I celebrated with my daddy's family the Sunday before Christmas.  Then we went to my mom's aunt and uncle's house on Christmas even, church, and then another aunt and uncle's house after church.  On Christmas day, I had lots of visitors to watch me open presents and eat breakfast at our house and then we went to my dad's uncle's house.  Then, there were even more parties and people to visit after Christmas.  I am tired!  But I still don't show it when it's time to sleep...but that's another story.  On Monday, I started really sitting up by myself.  I still topple sometimes, but I can hold my balance for a bit.  Mom will have to get some video of that excitement.  Have a Happy New Year, everyone!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Experts: Part I

In honor of the approaching new year, I'll be posting about one "expert" each day and what I do/do not like about what they have to say.  It is my resolution to follow my gut - actually, in the course of my half year of motherhood I've already resolved this a few times...but then I second guess myself.  All part of the package.  Coming soon: Dr. Karp (The Happiest Baby on the Block), Dr. Sears (all three of them), Elizabeth Pantley (No Cry Sleep Solution), Lu Hannessian (my bff), and more.  Of course tomorrow will be our weekly update, but from there I'll try to tackle one of these at a time.  Trust your gets really big when you're pregnant for a reason.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Professional Pics

So, when you have a baby you are also gifted coupons to get "free" portraits at every imaginable place.  Three of these coupons were set to expire December 31st, and I'm not one to pass up anything that's being offered for free.  So, first we went to JCPenney.  I packed a TON of outfits as it said to bring multiple outfits.  When I asked the photographer, she indicated that we could do three not quite as many as I may have imagined.  We started off with her Christening outfit, since on that day we never ended up with any pictures of her in her cap.  The photographer took a bunch of pictures.  Then, when she went to the computer, she realized that the cord had come out and only three of the photos she'd taken had been sent to the computer.  Awesome.  Cece was already out of her Christening gown and the photographer asked if I'd like to do those over again.  I wouldn't.  So, next we did traditional first photos with a towel over her head, with a stuffed animal, etc.  When I saw the final results, I wasn't over the top excited about any particular one, so I chose one with the hooded towel for my free 8 x 10 and stopped at that.  When we got back out of the room a family had been waiting the whole time we were having photos taken.  Their appointment was 20 minutes before ours but they had arrived late.  I felt horrible that they had been waiting that whole time.  There were others waiting to pick up their photos.  You could feel frustration in the air.

On next to Picture People.  I nursed the baby in between to try and curb any frustration.  During our first photo shoot, she was happy, smiling, making eye contact.  The whole 9 yards.  At Picture People, she'd had enough of all that smiley, happy business.  I felt like there was no way they had gotten a good shot out of that.  Fortunately, I was wrong.  And Picture People really know how to give the hard sell.  You wait a bit, but then they come out with a framed set of blown up photos of your little darling and walk you through the digital shots.  For this coupon, I was able to get two free 8 x 10's...and so I did.  You can see their shots here: Picture People Photos 

And finally, the following week we went to Target for a family photo.  There we found a deserted studio.  The photographer let us know it was our lucky day because no one else was scheduled until 7:30 at night and she was bored, so we were now her entertainment.  She was great with the baby and got some great shots too.  We got our free 8 x 10 and also 2 5x7's for some lucky grandparents.  When we came out, there were people waiting to pick up venting their frustrations again.  I guess that's all part of the experience though, but it's good to hear from some (dissatisfied) customers.  You can see these shots here: Target Photos
When you click on the above link, my name is now Ellen Zschurike (note the even funnier spelling) and the access code is: LTTT0940102833TAR

And, upon picking up our JCPenney portrait, I was told that my daughter's picture was selected by the photographer to showcase as a sample of work for others planning to get pictures taken.  So begins her modeling career and my role as a stage mom.  PS - I am TOTALLY joking.  We did get another free portrait sheet out of it though.  I won't quit my day job.  Wait...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Babies Movie Trailer

I referred to this trailer in an earlier post and I'm very much looking forward to seeing the full feature in theaters.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Cecelia's always had a knack for getting out of things, and conversely, getting into things too.  In the hospital, she successfully wiggled her foot out of her super security Lo Jack ankle bracelet...twice.  She was also an excellent de-swaddler.  There would be one possible flap to get your leg shimmied through and she'd manage.  She'd flail and thrash until her arms were free and by the end it just looked pretty comical.  We decided perhaps swaddling wasn't her bag.  I'm sure we'll likewise find socks all about the house shortly and once she can undress herself - look out.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snow Days

This past weekend, PA experienced one of its biggest snowstorms...ever.  So, Cecelia did too.  Now, as a teacher, I relish in snow days.  A surprise day off - who doesn't love that?!?  So, over the past weeks/month, when every snow fall occurred on the weekend and was easily cleaned, I mourned for those that I knew were frustrated that that snow could be easily cleaned by Monday morning.  Please, don't get me wrong.  I don't want there to be unsafe driving conditions for anyone, ever, especially those that still have to brave the roads regardless.  But, isn't it helpful to not have school buses on the roads in addition to the rest of the traffic on mornings like that?  All part of the package.  This past Monday, even though it snowed on Saturday, the clean up was enough to warrant a two hour delay (a close second...but still nice) in the district where I work.  My cousin's district got the full day - yay!  Long story short, next fall I'll return to the classroom and I know that I'll be an even more avid promoter of snow days.  Not only will it be a surprise day off.  But a surprise day off with my baby girl and my hubby - bliss.  Top that off with hot cocoa.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Age: 23 Weeks

Christmas, Christmas...and more...Christmas!  And in the middle of all that madness, my mom and dad are trying to establish a bed-time routine.  Hah - as if that's going to work this time of year.  But, I'm getting older and mom wanted to try to establish this between 5 and 6 months old and, here we are!  I'm sure she'll tell you more about that soon.  My evening spa treatments (bath and massage) are just lovely.  I'll write next week to tell you all about....PRESENTS!  And tissue paper of course.  Don't forget the tissue paper.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Watched Pot

You know how a watched pot never boils...well, a watched baby doesn't sleep.  And I've been doing a lot of watching :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Similar to the "Friends" couch going up the stairs, Cecelia's new favorite movement is the "pivot".  She seems to move in a circle at times.  Often, we'll step into the kitchen for just a moment and return to find her in an entirely different spot/position/direction from where she began.  The other night, I actually set up the video camera on a tripod to try and catch some masterpiece of movement since it always seems to happen when we're not looking.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

She don't wanna miss a thing

Cecelia's a champion fighter of sleep.  She doesn't want to miss anything that's going on - she's a very curious baby.  This past week, she's started rubbing her eyes when she's tired.  Which is good in a way, because it's a clear cut sign to me that she is tired, but keep in mind those nails and eye rubbing and ...bad.  But I digress.  She feels sleepy and she'd rather not.  She used to enjoy being cradled in arms and rocked, but now if you cradle her body she arches her back and resists that too.  As if she's saying, "I know your tricks, lady."  She still likes to be bounced, but don't dare lay her down in your arms - she'd prefer to sit up where she can see what's happening in the house and keep her eye on things.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nooks and Crannies

When Cecelia was first born, baths were a relatively delicate process and a baby's neck is a tricky area to begin with.  Even when you think you're being quite thorough, sometimes you miss a spot.  Cecelia's first crevice that was collecting dust was the front of her neck under her chin.  You remember the spit up.  That was collecting, getting gunky and getting gross.  When discovered it was promptly cleaned and lotioned and healed.  Next up - the hip crease.  Since Cecelia pulls her legs up, this area got sore, but found, cleaned and lotioned.  Yesterday, Jeff pulls Cece's ear back and comments on how dirty it is behind her ears and I say, noooo, I clean behind her ears.  But...yet again, I missed a spot.  Not the behind the ears I was thinking of, but behind the lower part of the ear.  Again, dust collected, was cleaned, and lotioned.  There should be a checklist.  For the record, our daughter is quite clean - she's just found every imaginable hiding space on a baby's body.  Good news is that now that she's not spitting up, there's less stuff to collect under her neck, but I'm sure when solids are introduced we'll get some new crusty stuff to find.  I hope no one was eating just now.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mini Mani/Pedi

Cecelia's nails seem to need trimming quite often and one day I'm sure she'll appreciate her long lovely nails, but right now she just seems to attack herself (and us!) with them.  So keeping them in check is a bit of a chore.  When she was first born, a nail file was the most effective tool, but now her nails are ready for the clippers, but since she's strong and rather unpredictable in her erratic movement, I try to clip her nails when she's sleeping.  Getting her to that point and then remembering to do so is another story all together.  And when her nails are trimmed, they still seem sharp.  Any tips from the trade?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Giggly Girl

Our new favorite thing to do - giggle. Here is Cecelia at 19 weeks and then 20 weeks and her developing laugh. I'm sure there will be lots of this happening in our household in the future. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Eco-Holiday Greeting Card

We've been trying to do more of our holiday greetings via online sources such as Scrapblog or Hallmark's Smilebox and here's what we came up with for the Winter Holiday season.  Besides using less paper, both to print our greetings, and utilize an envelope, we also save on postage.  This greeting and sent through email, facebook and this very blog.  So, enjoy your holiday greetings from our family to yours!

Age: 22 Weeks

This week - nothing is immune to getting chewed on...including Fred.  Poor Fred.  Mommy put him slightly behind me in order to get a picture where I wasn't trying to eat the monkey.

So, as you can see from above I'm developing a taste for chewing.  Two reasons - one a tooth is coming...well, it has been coming for quite some time, so who knows when it will actually cut through.  And teeth come two at a time, and mom doesn't see any others, so this could be quite the process.  Also, I am now 5 months old!  And I'm still exclusively breastfed.  Mom is waiting until I'm 6 months to test my taste buds with food...but I may be showing her I'm ready by putting everything in my mouth.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tissue Paper - Coming Soon Under a Tree Near You

Since we're headed to the doctor's today for Cece's 5 month shots (she's 5 months TODAY!!) I thought I would post some video of one of our trips to CHOP and her fascination with tissue paper in general. So, enjoy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The End of an Era

The spit up that I will not miss one bit! Cecelia's been a spitter since very early on. In the hospital she had exactly no regurgitation. I know this because we had to mark it on a sheet. When she got home, she gradually decided that giving a little (or a lot) of each meal back to us would be her MO. We tried lots of things, keeping her upright, different feeding amounts...all to no avail. I thought it was something I was doing/eating (so egocentric). She was not so much fussing and spitting up as she was happily and go-luckily spitting up. I remember in the first three weeks or so, telling my sister about the spit up...she reported to my mom who promptly called me and told me not to worry (I wasn't THAT worried, but I digress). My mom told me I would eat and spit up everything and then eat again and it would help increase milk supply. The next day my mom was over and witnessed the projectile spit up and said, " should talk to the pediatrician about that." Then I got upset with her and told her that she couldn't tell me not to worry and then tell me to worry - that simply was not allowed and I was not going to worry. It all turned out ok, obviously, we're all here and she gained her weight...somehow. Cece would projectile on the carpets, couches, shoulders...not picky. Jeff was holding her once with a burp cloth in one spot...she turned her head to get it all on his shoulder and down his back instead. Girl makes a statement when she does things like that. It got to a point where I was holding her over the sink after each feeding to avoid the mess. So we've acquired lots of bibs and burp cloths and they got some excellent use. Sometime last week, I realized that I was having to change her bib less often and most of the time I was changing it because of teething drooly mess instead of curdled milk. I'm also washing far fewer, if any, burp cloths. It's funny how things can change so quickly with very little fanfare. It's not as if she turned to me and said, I'm not going to spit up anymore. Now, this is not to say that Cecelia NEVER spits up, because that's just a statement I'm not ready to make yet. She still does on occasion - that occasion seems to happen most often right after I tell someone who's holding her that she really doesn't spit up anymore...and then she does. Murphy's law should really be re-named Ellen's law. That's just my opinion...maybe it'll catch on.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Video Catch Up

This is a video from when Cecelia was 16 weeks old playing on her play mat. I uploaded a bunch to You Tube yesterday so I'll get them on here one day at a time (or so). I'll try to get at least one activity on video a week from now forward.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Cecelia's a very interesting eater. Most babies, when fed at the breast, get very content and happy, and drift off to sleep and smile up at their mother with a little milk spilling out the side of their mouth. But not our angel - she is there to get the job done and move on with life. No time for that. A lot of babies will also take comfort there, even if they're not necessarily hungry. But Cecelia will only go "there" to eat. In fact, if I think she might be hungry and try that, she has a fit that I haven't understood what she was clearly trying to communicate. And when she is hungry, look out! If there is a pause between sides, which there inevitably is, she often screams at me as if to say, could you hurry it up please, I've got people to see and places to go. Sometimes she'll screech after she's eaten until she burps, at which time she becomes just as pleasant as can be. I was on the phone the other day when she ripped off (yes, ripped) and started crying (at which point, I always think...well, you came off...) and I explained to my friend on the phone that this is what a well fed baby sounds like in our house. As with all my posts, I may make it sound like this is her behavior ALL the time and it certainly is not, but when it is like this, it's all the more memorable. I sometimes wonder if she'll grow up to be a 6 year old girl who screams and cries and stamps her feet when she's finished one carrot when there's a plate-ful in front of her. We'll look at her and sigh, and say, well...pick up another one and eat it. I realize that this will, most likely (fingers crossed), not be the case, but it's amusing in those moments to wonder what the future will bring.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


We went for our second trip to CHOP today for Cecelia's ultrasound and both of our appointments. Good news - she does not have hip dysplasia...and neither do I! Dr. S checked her U/S results and explained that her hip bones are ossifying from the outside in making it appear at first click that the femur and the hip socket were pretty far from each other but upon closer inspection, they'll be just fine. So, long story short, she's fine and will not necessitate a harness or brace. And now we can resume jostling her about in a rough manner without fear of permanent damage. (we're not really rough...or jostle-y)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Age: 21 Weeks

This week, I am 21 weeks old and as it is December, mom felt it was time to break out any and all Christmas wear. I'm wearing my elf in training shirt and my reindeer rattle socks. Santa, I've been very nice. Daddy told me all about this naughty/nice business and I'm working on it. I'll be visiting with multiple Santas this weekend to try and catch a good lap shot and I'll be at multiple holiday parties. This is a busy season!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weight Watching

I've never been someone who was thoroughly obsessed with weight. As long as I feel healthy, I'm happy with whatever the number may be. But, I am happy to report that I am currently tipping the scales back around pre-baby numbers. I'm actually at the number I always reported, which was just slightly less than the truth. For example - the number that's listed on my driver's license and forms and what-not. During pregnancy, I gained approximately 40 pounds, so getting back down to size in the time frame that I did was somewhat surprising to me. Though I'm not quite finished. With the advent of Wii Fit came a better understanding of my healthiest BMI. I was aware before, but am now more or less constantly updated by a hopping, talking balance board. Regardless of my conscience's form, I was working toward the "ideal" BMI for my weight prior to getting pregnant the first time around as it is reported that it is best to be that size for the healthiest pregnancy and I was very blessed with a healthy and relatively uneventful pregnancy the first time around. Now on to how... after my life changing college credit course, I was pretty diligent about getting in some form of exercise each morning, usually in the form of a yoga or pilates video. I continued this when I was pregnant (except during those extremely tiring first few weeks when I could barely lift my head from a pillow) right up until I delivered. And afterward, you're supposed to wait 6 weeks to exercise, but I tried to get some walking in and low impact wii fit activities until my a-ok from the doctor. After 6 weeks I tried to make time to exercise (mostly through wii-fit and post-natal videos) but with a baby that can be a bit tricky. Fortunately, I was able to work out with Jeff different times that would be set for him to keep an eye on the baby so that I could exercise almost every morning.

When I came home from the hospital, I still looked VERY pregnant. The key to weight loss as a new mom is...breastfeeding! You knew I'd work that in somehow, didn't you? Breastfeeding releases a horomone called oxytocin and in addition to other things, it stimulates contractions which get your uterus back down to it's original, much smaller size. Until you do that, it continues to take on a balloon like shape as if still holding a fetus. Once the milk came in and Cecelia was actually eating, I could literally see a difference in the size of my belly after each feeding. It was shrinking before my eyes. Women who choose not to breastfeed (which is, of course, a personal decision) need to get that stimulation through artifical, and less efficient means. Breastfeeding actually burns 500 calories a day. While you're supposed to add 300 calories a day when you're pregnant, if you choose to breastfeed, you are more literally eating for two and burning the calories to prove it. Now, some women's bodies, while breastfeeding, actually hold on to a few extra pounds until their baby weans. It's believed to be a natural instinct of the body to preserve a layer of fat in order to keep providing for the baby in the case that the mom can't get food (i.e. out in the wild..our bodies haven't really caught up to current technology in that way). I am fortunate that my body did not seem to hold on to any extra pounds and breastfeeding has definitely helped me to shed a good bit of weight.

What breastfeeding can't do, however, is tone what's left. And for that, healthy eating and exercise are still a good choice. I was fortunate to attend an information session on a program called "One Fit Mama." While I was there, I answered a question and voila - I was give a week free pass to try it out. Anyone gets one free class as well, so I did my initial class and the following week did an unlimited week and...I loved it! It was really nice to get out of the house and have a program of exercise that involved the baby too. I thought that Cece wouldn't tolerate being in the stroller for that long, but she's starting to get better and if she fusses, I take her out, strap her on and continue on my way. I wasn't originally (i.e. before I tried it) planning to continue, but now I am. I actually asked family members for gift certificates for the program instead of other gifts for Christmas. I'm planning to wait on that and start after the holidays. They also start another program that time of year with a team challenge, similar to the Biggest Loser, only it's not just about weight loss. And I think that will be very fun too. When I first decided to do it, I was planning to do a small package and go once a week. When I priced out all the different programs for the time frame I'm looking at (before I go back to school in the fall) it ended up being least expensive to do an unlimited year. I also have a 10% off coupon that I plan to use, but it was interesting to look at all those options. I hope to continue with post-natal videos and wii fit at home too, but doing a class like that will give me the incentive through the winter months to get out of the house. When I first tried the post-natal videos, many involve the baby and during those first few months, Cecelia was not having it, but as she gets more active and mobile, I think she'll enjoy that more too and I'm looking forward to that.

Another key to keeping moving, in my case, is having a daughter that frowns upon sitting down. When she's fussing and wants to be held, she doesn't JUST want to be held. She wants you to get up and move around, walk, bounce, sway, jiggle, etc...and all that motion does a little something for you too. Though at times, I felt like all I wanted to do was sit/lay down, it certainly didn't hurt my figure to be holding a growing baby and moving with the incentive of a soothed baby - that is quite gratifying on many fronts.

While I'm still not someone who's obsessed with weight or body image, I think it's important to stay active. When I'm teaching, I'm constantly moving around the classroom, crouching down next to students, and getting up and down from the floor (it is first grade after all). But at home, it can be easy to slip into a much more sedentary lifestyle, especially as it gets colder outside. I'm hoping to instill in my daughter the importance of activity and be a good role model for her in that way, as well as others. A good rule of thumb for new mothers is 9 months on, 9 months off, so don't take my situation as the norm - everyone is different and weight loss is certainly not the most important aspect of being a new parent. Loving every moment you get with your baby is.

P.S. I know that I shouldn't end a sentence with the word is...but I did. Get over it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Scream

Unfortunately I'm not referring to the Salvador Dali painting. Cecelia's discovered a new vocal talent. On Thursday we went out to lunch with a friend and Cecelia decided to start screaming very shrilly. She wasn't unhappy. She didn't need to be held or calmed. She was perfectly happy to flex her vocal muscles. And now she continues to do so...often.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Baltic Amber

So, the necklace Cecelia's wearing in this week's picture is made of Baltic Amber and according to quite a few people, it helps babies while they are teething. Let me start at the beginning. I was at a La Leche League meeting and there is a mom there with a daughter about two weeks younger than Cece. She was wearing a necklace, and I said, "Is your baby wearing a necklace?" And she said, "Yes." She told me it was for teething and I assumed that she must be supposed to chew on it, but no. She continued to tell me about Baltic Amber and how she used a similar necklace with her older son when he was teething and he would cut teeth without experiencing the typical symptoms of teething. i.e. pain, drooling, and general unpleasantness. I thought that sounded good, but to be honest - these days many things are in and out of my brain faster than you'd believe. That weekend, I went to the La Leche League Eastern PA conference and, I kid you not, there were about 40 babies with these necklaces on and that stuck in my mind! I asked their parents if they felt it made a difference, how much they cost, and where they got them and later that weekend, our necklace was on its way! Now, this is not a case where I believe the necklace to have "healing properties." I'm not that naive...though it may seem that way sometimes. The principles behind the beads makes sense. They release oils on the skin that act as a natural analgesic. Worst case can't hurt. Though some may disagree. "Babies aren't supposed to wear necklaces. That's a choking hazard. Etc." One of the dads at the conference commented on how he thought his daughter would grab at her necklace but he noted that she doesn't and never has. He thought it might be a bit of an "out of sight, out of mind" deal. Also, on the website "Inspired by Finn" it notes that the necklaces are made to break if there is pressure put on them in that type of way. And finally, I went to the movies and saw a trailer for a movie/documentary that follows four different babies from around the world for one year. I'll have to look into that further and put a link because the preview/trailer was ADORABLE! But I digress...what was the African baby wearing but...a decorative necklace. And she didn't choke. So, back to - it can't hurt. And it might help. If you've heard this child scream and thought...teeth, it might be teeth'd want to do something to help too. My parents used whisky and while that may have been very effective that's not the route we're planning to go. Not judging...just saying. And finally, this morning we went to the Campout for Hunger at the PM Metroplex and Jeff was trying to stay back from the crowd towards the end to keep Cece away from all the germs when lo and behold someone approached him to take a closer look at and touch the baby and what did this nutty lady say..."Oh, a baltic amber necklace for teething." So, here's to being a crazy lady. Let the good times roll.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Age: 20 Weeks

Today (well, yesterday if you want to get technical about it) I am 20 weeks old. So, this is approximately half the time I spent growing inside my mommy's belly - wrap your brain around that one! Check out my bling - mommy will be posting about that sometime this week. If she gets to it. If you just can't wait, go to to learn more. This past week was Thanksgiving and we have a lot to be thankful for in our house. Let me tell you about what I'm thankful for at the ripe old age of 4 months. Milk, the sling, the busy box, my mom and dad, my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, and...milk. Peace.