Category Archives: Parenting

Parenting research and personal anecdotes.

Roxhill Park, Seattle

Ok . . . it’s been a while. So much stuff has happened and I didn’t have the time or energy to record most of it. However, I took my kids to Roxhill Park today1 and I got inspired to do another playground post. The last one was when Julian was a baby and we still lived in Boulder, CO.

We went to Roxhill Park on the recommendation of the Seattle Family Adventures book. It’s down in West Seattle so driving was the only practical way to get there for us. Google Maps took us to the southern side of the park. However, we did find both the playground and parking lot located near the northwest corner.

South side of playground with playground structures and swings.

Roxhill Park has two castle structures. One for ages 5-12 and one for 2-5. The smaller castle was cute and had a small double slide.

Small structure with double slide.

The structure for older kids was much bigger. Though, it also only had one slide.

5-12 Castle Playground Structure

While this playground does have things for smaller kids to do, it excels at climbing options for older kids. On the north side of the playground there is a large dome-like structure that has various types of climbing nets for kids to climb.

North side of playground. Shows the climbing options.

Then, there’s another structure that has plastic climbing holds to scramble up.
Structure with plastic climbing holds.

It also has more traditional playground equipment such as monkey bars and hanging rings. Julian particularly liked the balance poles.
Julian crossing the balance poles.

As I mentioned, the playground does have some things for smaller kids. In addition to the small play structure, there are also swings for all ages as well as a nice sand play area.


Features 5-12 playground equipment, curved tunnel slide, corkscrew climber, money bars, bucket swings, regular swings, molded plastic seat swing (without straps), 2-5 year old play structure, small double slide, sand, small climbing wall with rope, rope climbing structures, other climbing structures, new-style merry-go-round (seats 4), balance poles, small bridges, fireman pole (attached to rope structure), rope ladder, skate park, ball fields
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade Leafy trees. Depending on the time of day, significant parts of the playground are in shade.
Picnic area Yes, multiple picnic tables.
Parking Parking lot.
Coffee2 Starbucks in nearby Target.
  • Really nice climbing options
  • Target (with embedded Starbucks) one street over. Convenient for emergency diaper pickups and coffee.
  • Sand play area.
  • Not as much stuff for little kids to do compared to other playgrounds.

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  1. Yes, we now live in a Seattle. Everyone is still a little surprised.
  2. This is a new category for Jaeger.

Tentative Schedule as a Temporary Single Parent

Last fall we decided Julian wasn’t providing nearly enough excitement in our lives. Obviously, we needed to up the difficulty level. To accomplish this, Jaeger took Calvin to India for Christmas while Julian, our au pair, and I visited my mother in Washington state. Jaeger came home for a week1 and then left this week for China, this time by himself, leaving me responsible for both Julian and Calvin. After China, Jaeger will be home for another week before moving to San Francisco for his new job. I will be staying in Colorado with the kids, and our au pair, until the school year has finished. Though, I do have two trips scheduled to visit Jaeger in San Francisco2.

After Calvin and Jaeger left for India I worked for an additional week before flying to Washington. During that week I got a chance to try being a single parent with just one child. We do have an au pair but she works 8 hours a day taking care of Julian while I work for pay. Personally,I think 8 hours providing childcare is more than enough for anyone to have to deal with so only rarely do I use her as a recreational babysitter. Julian and I survived and the experience turned out reasonably well.

Then we went to visit my mom. Our au pair came with us but I didn’t work most days and took primary care of Julian. Then, Julian and I flew back to Colorado while our au pair took an official week of vacation. This meant that I was Julian’s exclusive caregiver for essentially two weeks. That, combined with Julian getting sick, made him especially clingy which toward the end was starting to make me feel claustrophobic3. However, we survived. The first work day our au pair was back Julian spent most of the day screaming, I work in my bedroom so I could hear it all. However, by the second day he had resigned himself to letting the au pair take care of him again. Being back at work was wonderful and allowed me to have more patience to deal with Julian the rest of the time. I’m really amazed by women who can spend all day, every day, with their children, and not go insane. I’m a good mom but I would not make a good stay-at-home mom. It’s not my gift.

On Tuesday Jaeger left for China. I’ve been using this time to prototype strategies for taking care of the kids by myself for the next 4 months. We’re only a couple of days in, and haven’t survived a weekend yet, but so far I think things are going pretty well.

Our schedule:
* 6:00-6:30 – Julian wakes up. Sometimes Julian tries to wake up before 6:00 but I really resist and refuse to turn on the lights. Depending on when he last ate, I may feed him.

* 6:30-7:00 – I wake up Calvin and then shower. Julian comes with me into the bathroom which is mostly baby-proofed if the closet door is closed. Julian amuses himself by playing with the bath toys on the bathroom floor. One of Julian’s favorite games is to drop a toy into the bathtub and see how long it takes me to pick it up and give it back to him.

* 7:00-7:30 – Calvin gets the choice every morning of granola, oatmeal, or fruit toast. He finds this boring but they’re all easy for me to make so he’s out of luck. Usually he picks fruit toast. I make the fruit toast and pack Calvin’s lunch while Julian crawls around on the kitchen floor trying to open the baby-proofed cupboards.

* 7:30 – Our au pair comes on duty. This is where I cheat as a “single parent”. She takes Julian, who is often ready for a bottle, or depending when he actually woke up, a nap, and leaves me free to quickly clean up breakfast and make sure Calvin is basically ready to leave for school. Calvin is allowed to watch TV before breakfast, once he has his school close on, or after breakfast once he’s brushed his teeth. This is his only TV on a school day.

* 7:40 – I take Calvin to school. We aim to leave at 7:40 but depending on how grumpy he is it may take longer to get out of the house4. Fortunately, his school is only 5 minutes away.

* 8:00 – I come back and start work. I usually try to start the work day walking on the treadmill as it’s very easy to triage email and catch-up on everything while walking. I find it a little harder to do thinking tasks while walking, not sure why. I think meetings would be great treadmill time except the treadmill is loud enough it’s distracting for everyone else. I also have to make sure Julian isn’t downstairs while I’m walking because he’ll get upset and want me to take care of him instead of our au pair. In any case, I try to work for an hour or two on the treadmill as this is often my only exercise of the day.

* 2:30 – I quit work and drive to pick up Calvin, leaving Julian with the au pair. I usually get to school 15 minutes before school ends and relax in the car reading a fiction book for a few minutes before picking him up.

* 3:00 I usually walk into the school to pick Calvin up, instead of using car line, because I seem to learn more about his day that way. Often I’ll find Calvin is writing, reading, or drawing and I will wait 5-10 minutes to allow him to finish up his project. Depending on how busy his teacher is I sometimes get to exchange a few words with her while I wait.

* 3:00-4:00 – This varies depending on the day. Toward the beginning of the week Calvin and I will do a quick produce run to the grocery store before going home5. On Fridays I usually pick Julian up and then we head off to the library to return books and pick up new ones.

* 4:00 – Calvin works on his homework. I start cooking supper, roughly following the menu for the week.

* 5:00 – My goal is to start eating supper around 5:00. This provides time to clean up before Julian has to go to bed.

* 5:30 – We’re currently taking a short break from solid food while Julian’s stomach gets back to normal. However, assuming he has solid food for supper, as soon as supper is over I take him up for his bath. I usually can read a couple of paragraphs while Julian baths. Right now I’m using the time to read house staging books.

* 6:00 – Bath time is over and we go back downstairs where I clean up the kitchen. Usually Julian is in a pretty decent mood at this point and Calvin will often play with Julian which both seem to find amusing.

* 6:30 – I feed Julian a bottle and put him to bed.

* 6:45 – I tidy up as much of the house as I can get to.

* 7:00 – I read to Calvin.

* 7:30 – Calvin goes to bed and I finish tidying up the house.

* 8:00 – I often will watch a half hour of TV. While taking care of Julian over Christmas I discovered that I cannot use this time to read fiction. It’s too easy to keep reading way past when I need to go to bed. TV provides some entertainment for the day without hooking me enough that I go drastically past bedtime. At the moment I’m watching The Expanse in half hour spurts, which is not how it’s designed to be watched. I’d really like to find a light-hearted, yet non-stupid, sitcom I could stream but nothing I’ve run across recently has inspired me.

* 8:30 – I go upstairs and read a non-fiction book. So far, it seems that non-fiction is sufficiently soothing without being engaging enough I’m tempted to stay up past my bedtime.

* 9:00 – I turn on my audiobook for the night and go to sleep. The audiobook is usually by Bujold or Pratchett and is something I’ve listened to many times before. It stops my brain from obsessing about whatever my brain wants to obsess about and lets me fall asleep and go back to sleep after dealing with Julian’s nighttime wakings.

* The rest of the night – Julian still isn’t sleeping through the night. Before Christmas he was down to once a night but since he was sick he’s currently at around 3 times a night. I’m hoping he’ll go back to just once a night soon.

So far so good. I’m not sure how the weekend will go yet.

What I’m really scared of is when we start trying to sell the house. While I’m trying to work lots of small tidying times into my schedule I’m afraid it’s not going to be enough to keep the house ready for showing. I suspect I’m just going to have to get up a little earlier in the day and probably sacrifice my evening time. Hopefully we can go under contract fairly quickly so I won’t have to keep up the intensive cleaning for too long.

(And yes, it’s past my bedtime now but it’s a Friday night so I can take a nap tomorrow when Julian does. At least, that’s the plan.)

  1. During which the entire family got the stomach bug
  2. Toward the end of February Calvin and I will go to “tour the area” and then in March I have a library conference coincidentally located in San Francisco so I’m leaving both kids with Jaeger’s mother while I go to my conference and spend the evenings with Jaeger.
  3. Jaeger was around the last week but Julian would refuse all food and scream louder and louder until I came and dealt with him
  4. I really can’t blame him, I’d usually prefer sleeping in too.
  5. I get most of our non-produce groceries delivered either weekly or bi-weekly.

Interesting Times

When this year started we expected that our major event of the year would be Julian’s birth. That did indeed happen. However, a bit more has also happened.

Towards the end of July Jaeger’s employer announced they were going to layoff about 15% of its workforce. Unfortunately, while they announced they were going to do layoffs, they didn’t actually decide who was going to get laid off until September. Thus, we had several months of uncertainty. I do not do well with uncertainty and dealt with the situation by trying to avoid thinking about it. This mostly worked but did leave a little gear in my head spinning without giving it the ability to do anything useful.

A Google recruited contacted Jaeger on the same day layoffs were announced. We’re not sure if it was coincidence or not (they have been contacting him a couple of times a year for a while now). However, possibly mostly to kill time, Jaeger decided to start the Google interview process. The job he was being recruited for was in San Francisco.

September came and Jaeger was told he was getting laid off. While we always knew it was a possibility it was still a bit of a shock. However, his last day wasn’t going to be till January and the severance package was pretty decent. So while it wasn’t the best news it wasn’t a big problem either.

By October Jaeger had progressed to an on-site interview with Google. He survived the interview only to hear they wanted another follow-up interview but could do this one in Boulder.

In November Google offered Jaeger a job. Of course this was exciting but it also meant this stopped being playing and meant we had to actually seriously think about moving our household. There were a number of drawbacks to the proposal. First, our original plan was to move to Asia at the end of the school year. If Jaeger accepted the Google offer this would put that plan on hold for at least two years. Second, San Francisco is fun but also really, really expensive. The Google salary would be extremely generous for most locations in the country but once you adjust for cost of living and taxes, our family will be earning less in San Francisco than we do in Colorado1. However, I did get permission from my employer to telecommute from California so at least I wouldn’t have to go hunting for another job.

Eventually, Jaeger decided to accept the Google offer. He got his current employer to pull in his last day so he’ll finish working at his current employer in December, take a break, and start work at Google in February. The rest of us will move to San Francisco at the end of the school year. I’ve started mapping out plans in my head for how to handle being the sole parent in Colorado. I’m also looking at our house and making a list of everything that needs to be done before it’s ready to go on the market to be sold.

Well, that’s pretty much all the facts. As to how I feel, the answer is complicated.

I’ve always enjoyed moving. I had a great deal of fun moving to different colleges and kept a fantastic spreadsheet that allowed me to graduate on time even though I changed majors and colleges many times. I’ve now been in Colorado for 13 years and am ready to move on. At this point we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff and it makes moving harder. One of the downsides of San Francisco is we’ll probably be living in a much smaller house. However, I’m hoping to use this opportunity to really reduce the amount of useless stuff we have floating around. My biggest fear centers around never living in a big city before. While I do ok with people, I much prefer being surrounded by trees. Even so, I’m relieved that my brain finally has a problem that has been refined enough I can start working on solutions.

In other news, Julian continues to develop. He can now crawl rapidly, stand, and looks like he might be getting ready to walk any day now. He has taken one or two very shaky steps but still has a way to go before he’s actually walking. Of course, Julian is still only 8 months old so he has a lot of time left before we would expect him to walk. Julian has also recently starting playing with solid food. Given Calvin’s extreme slowness in learning how to eat solid foods, I still had to puree foods when Calvin was 1-year-old, I was also expecting Julian to be slow. However, just this week he has started enjoying soft potato, sweet potato, Cheerios, and Asian pear. He hasn’t got the chewing/swallowing thing down completely but is shoveling food enthusiastically into his month.

Unfortunately, Julian still wakes up during the night. Calvin was sleeping through the night by 3 months but Julian still requires at least one bottle, and sometimes two. However, just within this last week he’s finally started eating better during the day so I’m hoping his nighttime eating might taper off soon.

Calvin excels at being a great big brother and is doing well at school. He finally seems to have gotten over the reading hump problem we were having last year and now reads for fun when we find the right (i.e. interesting) books for him.

Overall, it’s been a very exciting year so far and next year will also be full of new experiences for our family.

  1. At least for the first year. Their bonuses and stock do look generous but our family has always preferred to live on the guaranteed base salary and use bonuses for fun stuff but we’re going to need to adjust that somewhat for Google.

Tantra Park, Boulder, CO

Tantra Park was the first park we visited last Sunday. Based on the map I knew the park was tucked away behind the houses but the park sprawls in an odd shape and I wasn’t sure where the playground structure was located. I looked at the satellite image and misidentified a catch basin as the likely spot.


We parked by the tennis courts on W Moorhead Cir and crossed the street to enter via a path. The path curves behind the subdivision houses and marks the beginning of a dramatic elevation increase. As we walked along the path in search of the playground I saw a sign strongly advising against sledding down the hill because it was steep with no flat area to slow down before you hit hard objects. Of course, now that I’m back with internet, I see that Tantra is a very popular sledding hill in winter. Who knew?1 According to Boulder Families the hill can get quite packed. This site gives you a feel for how it looks in winter. While I can see how some parts of the hill may be too steep I think there are probably other sections that are fine.

After meandering along the path we found the playground structure backing up to the east curve of Tantra Park Circle. However, I’m not sure there is a way from the street to get behind the houses. Possibly the tennis courts are as good a place to park as any.


The playground structures are pretty good for such a hidden park. They have equipment for ages 5-122.


Overlooking the 5-12 play area is another area designed for younger kids that includes a play house and bucket swings.


I decided it was time to see what Julian thinks of swings: he approves.


Calvin was excited that Julian is finally doing something he can relate to and joined us on the swings.


If you look really (really) closely you can see Julian’s two brand-new teeth, discovered the prior day.


Beside the younger kid play area there is a covered structure with a picnic table. The picture shows steps from the 5-12 age play area but there is a path curved around the back that allows access to strollers and other wheeled contraptions.


Calvin played briefly with some kids but didn’t spend a lot of time on the larger structure.


Instead, he wanted to show off for Julian.


The playground equipment was mostly fairly traditional with the exception of . . . something I can’t find the name for. Basically it’s a raised flexible tube, with springs in the middle, that kids can jump on while hanging on to poles. It looks pedestrian when only one kid is on it but if you get multiple kids it can get quite bouncy.


Both Calvin and Julian had lots of fun at this playground and if we’re around for winter we’ll need to come back and see if we can do some safe tobogganing.


Features 5-12 playground equipment, curved slide, bridge, ladder, corkscrew climber, driving wheels panel, spiral slide, money bars, tube bouncer, tire swing, bucket swings, moving maze panel, 2-5 year old play structure (mainly house but also a sand tube oddly positioned no where near sand)
Surface Material Small gravel for the larger play area and poured rubber for the younger area
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Small shelter plus trees to the side of the playground
Picnic area Yes, one in covered shelter.
Parking Street parking – Parking across from the tennis courts on W Moorhead Cir about as good a chance as any.
  • Apparently a fairly popular sledding hill
  • Very long hike if you need a restroom in a hurry. Not for those being potty trained.

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  1. Actually, given my husband grew up here, I expected him to know but possibly it’s too far south for him to think it worth mentioning.
  2. Whenever I say “5-12” you realize I’m just quoting the official ages, right? My son was ready for the 5-12 equipment by 3 at the latest.

Martin Park, Boulder, CO

We went to two parks on Saturday: Tantra Park and Martin Park . I’m starting with Martin Park because it was a much shorter trip. Calvin seemed to get an attack of self-consciousness when he learned there was a birthday party happening and didn’t want to be around the other kids.

Calvin Despondent on Swing

Martin Park is a neighborhood park but it has a wide variety of amenities including tennis courts, ball fields, a good size shelter, and of course a playground. The playground has equipment for both younger and older kids.


The bigger equipment has several different types of slides as well as a bridge.


The little equipment has a slide and a tic-tac-toe panel.

Bear Creek runs alongside the park. The side of the park next to the creek has a fence (with openings) presumably to make it harder for children to bolt the moment their guardian looks away.

Overall, even though our visit was very brief it seemed like a nice park.


Features 5-12 playground equipment, tall spiral slide, regular slide, spiral climber, stacked circles that can be climbed but also rotate, covered slide, small double slide, bridge, spring riders, 2-5 equipment, tic-tac-toe panel, bucket swings, regular swings
Surface Material Small gravel
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Didn’t see one but could have missed it
Shade Large shelter with several picnic tables. Also trees that shade one edge of the playground
Picnic area Yes, covered shelter with several picnic tables.
Parking Street parking – parking in the culdesac on Dartmouth Ave is a good location
  • A lot of amenities for both adults and kids
  • Restrooms!
  • Nothing obvious

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North Boulder Park, Boulder, Colorado

North Boulder Park

Several years ago we visited North Boulder Park. There was a lot of construction fencing around the park and I kept meaning to go back and see what had been done. Finally, last Saturday, we visited the park again. It turns out they added an adult exercise area.


The exercise equipment was very popular with the kids. It is intended for ages 14+ and younger kids could get hurt if not watched carefully. No adults used it while we were there. However, that probably was because it was quite hot. The adult exercise equipment provides a pretty good view of the children’s playground equipment so, depending on the age and needs of your child, it might be possible to exercise while your kids play.


Naturally, since this is suppose to be adult equipment it was over-sized for all the kids.



The children’s equipment was traditional but in good repair.


It had an area for older kids and younger kids.


Calvin spent a lot of time in a lovely tree.


Aside from the playground, the park has a wide variety of activities. There’s a very large field next to the playground which is very popular as a cross country skiing venue in the winter. There’s also a fairly large shelter. It’s right next to the playground equipment but you can’t be under the shelter and see the playground at the same time. However, there are various benches shaded by trees scattered around the equipment area. There’s also a half-court basketball court and table tennis.


Features 5-12 playground equipment, spiral slide, spiral climber, fireman pole, monkey bars, climbing tree, basketball court, table tennis, 2 spring riders, digger, 2-5 playground equipment, small double slide, small covered slide, small curved slide, swings, bucket swings
Exercise Equipment Leg Extension, 2-Level Horizontal Bars, 2-Person Full Bar Exercise, 2-Person Incline Sit-Up Benches, Single Leg Curl, Single Elliptical, 2-Person Chest Press (Accessible), 2-Person Lat Pull-down (Accessible), 4-Person Lower Body Combo
Surface Material Pea gravel (concrete for exercise equipment)
Restrooms Yes (May through September)
Water fountain Yes (very lower water pressure though)
Shade Shade trees and large shelter. A lot of shaded benches but very little shade on the actual playground.
Picnic area Yes, covered shelter with several picnic tables. Also have a couple of picnic tables that aren’t covered as well as 2 grills.
Parking Parking Lot
  • Adult Exercise Equipment
  • Very traditional playground equipment, not very challenging for older kids.

View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

Summer Update

I was looking at my recent blog entries and noticed that, other than our feeding drama, I haven’t talked about life with a second child.

I don’t have postpartum depression this time. This makes a huge difference in all aspects of my life and how I relate to my children. I can’t even begin to describe the difference. I spent the first month after Julian was born thinking he was an easy baby. We had feeding issues but I wasn’t as obsessed with feeding Julian The One True Way and so was able to focus on nutrition over dogma. Having lived with Julian for four months I now believe that Julian isn’t what most people would consider an easy baby. However, he’s less intense than Calvin was, and we’re more experienced, so he’s easier for us.

The first couple of months after Julian was born I put myself on a very strict schedule. My order of priority was:

  1. eat
  2. sleep
  3. shower
  4. everything else

Julian would wake up for the day between 7:00-9:00am. I’d feed him when he woke up and then start down my to-do list until Julian was ready to nap. Usually I had time to eat before Julian had his first nap. Sometimes I showered. However, as soon as Julian napped, I religiously rested. I didn’t always sleep but I always laid down1. Then Julian would wake up, I would feed him, and we’d repeat until night time. Initially, it looked like Julian was going to sleep through the night2 quickly. However, Julian learned to wake up every 2-5 hours because the pediatricians told me I had to wake Julian up every 4-5 hours until he regained his birth weight.

I planned on twelve weeks of maternity leave. I was very fortunate to have enough sick/vacation combo that I could cover it all at 100% of my normal pay3. At four weeks postpartum everything seemed incredibly easy and I was getting bored. I took the opportunity to catch up on all my work email and started wondering if I could go back to work early. Then, all of a sudden, Julian started screaming unconsolably most evenings for an hour or so. Other things must have changed also, though I can’t put my finger on anything in particular, and all of a sudden I did not have the time or energy to go back to work early. The screaming tapered down a bit around six weeks but Julian was still on the fussy side.

At Julian’s two-month appointment I learned that he had a milk protein allergy. This meant we got to switch from regular formula to expensive formula. I’m not sure if Julian’s fussiness was related to the milk protein allergy or not. I didn’t see an instant improvement when we switched formulas. However, Julian hated the formula and possibly wasn’t drinking as much as he really needed. At around 3 1/2 months we switched to a different hypoallergenic formula which Julian obviously preferred and his intake doubled overnight.

At the beginning of June Calvin, Julian, and I flew to Washington state to visit my parents. Jaeger and I believe that one reason Calvin is such a good flier is because we started him early. So, of course, it was important to start Julian early also. I create all our packing lists on our personal wiki and so I was able to pull up my packing list from when Calvin was the same age. I was astonished to see that at the same age Calvin had been drinking six ounces of formula while Julian was only drinking two. This wasn’t because I was making more breastmilk this time, Julian was just eating less food.

We left for the airport with plenty of time and breezed through security only to learn that our flight was delayed. One of the flight attendants gave Julian a first flight certificate. The flight went well other than our plane being delayed and Calvin and I having a disagreement over whether our supper had been lunch. Julian slept most of it and I don’t think he cried at all once we were on the plane.

We got to my parents’ house a bit after midnight and I was horrified to discover that the first couple clothing layers in our luggage were soaking wet. This included Julian’s sleep sack. I’ve had planes delayed by weather before and sometimes the outside of the luggage has been damp but never the inside. Fortunately, the baby monitor survived unscathed4. A couple of days after we arrived my parents took us to the beach for several days. Calvin had a lot of fun but I mostly stayed inside the rented house because Julian did not approve of the wind. Still, I find coasts on the northwest very invigorating.

The following Monday I started work. We were going to have an au pair come from China to watch Julian but she wasn’t scheduled to arrived till late July so Jaeger’s mom watched Julian. I was really excited to get back to work but also nervous. I was worried because I had a hard time after Calvin was born being productive at work. I think it was different this time because 1) I was getting more sleep 2) I didn’t have to rush Julian to daycare before I could work and 3) I worked in the morning instead of the afternoon.

At about 3 1/2 months my mom came out to watch Julian. Julian continued to reject the first hypoallergenic formula. In fact, it had gotten worse since I started working because he started getting some breastmilk in a bottle. Easy delivery plus better taste must have made him decide he had no need for the icky formula. I was at my wits end because I wasn’t producing nearly enough to exclusively feed him breastmilk and Julian was getting crankier. I called the doctor’s office and they suggested I try a different hypoallergenic formula. I was dubious because it seemed, on the internet, that everyone preferred his first formula. However, Julian definitely preferred the second formula over the first. In fact, all the adults also agreed the second formula tasted better (yes, I tasted it, I wanted to know what I was giving him). Immediately Julian doubled his formula intake. I hadn’t realized until that point how much his feeding had been stressing me out. I was emotionally so much better than I had been with Calvin that I hadn’t really noticed the stress points that still existed.

Breastfeeding had been getting progressively harder. It had gotten to the point where Julian would only eat well at night when he wasn’t very awake. Since I now felt Julian was getting enough food from formula, I decided it was time to start cutting down on the breastfeeding. I did it very slowly as when I stopped pumping for Calvin I got mastitis. This time I was much more careful. Eventually I was down to only a couple of times a night, mainly as an enhanced pacifier, while we waited for the formula to warm up5.

Also at about 3 1/2 mounths Julian’s sleep deterioted noticably. He was having a very hard time napping during the day and also started waking up every 2-3 hours to feed. I was hoping that getting adequate amounts of food would allow him to start sleeping through the night. Calvin was sleeping through the night, a solid 8+ hours, by 3 months. However, more food didn’t seem to increase Julian’s night-time sleeping. Julian is now back to sleeping every 3-4 hours, which is a great improvement, but not where I’d like him to be yet.

Typcial schedule at almost five months:

  • 6:00-7:00pm – Julian goes to sleep
  • 9:30-10:30pm – Julian wakes up for first feeding
  • 12:30-3:30pm – Julian wakes up for second feeding (if I’m very unlucky he’ll stay awake an hour or two before sleeping again but this only happens a couple of times a week)
  • 4:30am – Julian wakes up again. I transfer him to the rocking chair and feed him, if needed, then both of us doze for the rest of the night
  • 6:30-7:30am – Julian wakes up (next week, when school starts, I’m going to have to start getting up at 6:30 so Julian will probably also)
  • Upon waking up, feed Julian his first morning bottle
  • Julian usually eats every 3-4 hours during the day and sleeps every 2-3 hours (though anywhere from 1/2 hour to 2 hours, usually on the shorter side).
  • Rinse and repeat

As long as I fall asleep by 9pm every night I usually get enough sleep. Naturally, Julian’s worst night are usually correlated with me cheating and going to bed late.

Our Chinese au pair was suppose to arrive at the end of July but two days before she was suppose to leave China we got a message that she had fainted and was having major surgery at the hospital. She wasn’t going to be able to come on time. Jaeger and I discussed it and decided that a recovery for that major of a situation probably meant that we needed to go ahead and find another au pair immediately. Jaeger’s mother was having surgery on her hand and would be unable to take care of Julian past the original dates we had agreed upon. Some frantic searching passed and we found an au pair that needed to transition from her initial host family due to personality and lifestyle differences (she’s vegan). We looked at her profile and thought she looked like she’d work out. She’s now been with us for about a month and so far it has worked out very well. She’s very good with Julian, which was my number one requirement, and being vegan her diet is also compatible with ours.

Next week Calvin will start 1st grade which will add different complications to our schedule. I think he’s also going to be joining cub scouts because one of his good friends will be in it so that too will be a new experience for us.

Speaking of Calvin . . . Calvin is doing incredibly well with Julian. Sometimes when Julian is screaming, and I’m not immediately available, Calvin will try to put the pacifier in or hand him a toy to play with. I decided not to put Calvin in any summer camp or daycare. I had some idea of making him read to me every day as well as doing a bit of math. That fell through once I went back to work. Calvin has spent most of the summer listening to audiobooks while playing with Legos. Right now he’s listening to The Odyssey6. I’m sure this books is too mature for him. However, I was so tired of loading multiple books every single day. At least The Odyssey is long enough he’s been listening to it for multiple days7. I do try to push him outside at least once a day and he does enjoy playing in the sandbox and watering everything but the plants. Summer hasn’t been a particularly stimulating experience for him. However, I think this may actually be a good thing because he’s looking forward to starting school. This would be a major advantage over last year when he went from a play-based preschool to a more classical oriented and traditionally structured kindergarten.

My biggest aggravation at the moment is my lack of reading time. I’ve listened to a ton of books but have read less than five since Julian was born. I love listening to audiobooks but it’s a different experience than reading them8. I have finished two books in the last week so maybe I’m slowly ramping up again.

All things considered, I don’t find the second infant experience nearly as demoralizing as the first. It helps that I can look at Calvin and know that some day Julian will sleep through the night and I won’t have to choose between reading and sleeping.

  1. Unless I needed to eat and then I stuffed some trail mix in my mouth before lying down.
  2. For the record, I consider this 8 hours. Possibly medically inaccurate but Calvin slept 8+ hours very quickly so I naively assumed Julian would also.
  3. My work also offers short-term disability for maternity leave but I think you only get 2/3 your regular paycheck. Definitely better than nothing but 100% is best 🙂
  4. For the return trip I zip-locked everything and of course nothing got wet.
  5. The second hypoallergenic formula is edible, which is a big plus. However, it’s also very lumpy when made with room temperature water.
  6. Translated by Robert Fagles and narrated by Sir Ian McKellan.
  7. This is also deepening my suspician that he’ll listen to just about anything.
  8. Though, for the record, I think listening to audiobooks is just as legit as reading the book. It’s just one can multi-task with an audiobook and reading a book requires some time when things are relatively calm

Crestview Park, Boulder, CO

Crestview Park suffered damage during the 2013 flood. The renovations were completed just this summer and the playground looks new and shiny.

Crestview Park

It’s a short walk from street parking to the playground structure. The original park trees are still there and provide several shady areas for sitting. While Calvin played Julian and I relaxed under one of the trees.

Julian on blanket

There’s also several benches and a shaded picnic shelter.

Picnic shelter and bench

The playground isn’t large but it has a nice combination of equipment. It has a basic slide that is built on a small slope.


There’s a bridge from nowhere.


From the bridge you can step on stones, then navigate a net which leads to a house play structure.

Calvin on net

Calvin decided he wanted to pose in the little house.

Calvin in play structure

Calvin ignored the swings.


But did walk over and examine the sand pit, play house, and “wood” table and chairs. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to include our sand toys.

Play house, sand, kid table

No one was there when we first arrived at the park so Calvin wandered around for a bit before laying out on the “log” and complaining there was no one to play with. Fortunately, a couple of kids arrived after that and we stayed until Julian started to get fussy.



Features 5-12 playground equipment, slide, bridge, net, play house, sand, kid table and chairs, stepping stones, stumps, and logs, one regular swing, two toddler swings
Surface Material Poured Rubber
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Shade trees and shelter. There is some shade on parts of the playground. However, there is quite a bit of shade off to the side of the play area.
Picnic area Yes, covered shelter with three picnic tables.
Parking Street parking, requires short walk to playground.
  • Nice and new
  • No restrooms or water fountain

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Sandstone Ranch (west side), Longmont, CO

Sandstone Ranch was my favorite park when we lived in Longmont. It has a bit of everything: playground for toddlers, playground for bigger kids, tire swing, and, most importantly in summer, a splash pad! When Calvin was young I adored splash pads because he could get wet without me having to be within arms reach of him the entire time. Today I had to run to Lowes in Longmont so we took a detour to visit the park.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get particularly good pictures this time as Julian was fussy. However, hopefully you can get the idea.

It’s a bit tricky finding the playground for the first time. Drive east on 119 past the Walmart and turn right onto Sands One Dr. Take the first right into the parking lot. Turn right again and follow the road as it meanders west until you end up in a parking lot with the skate park, adventure park, and restrooms.

From the parking lot, the first section is the toddler playground. It has a small teepee, cabin, spinner, spring riders, and musical panel.

Behind the first section are farm animal statues for the kids to climb on. There use to be a tractor and a log that the kids could climb through but those must have been damaged beyond repair at some point.


This section also contains a raised sandbox area. It use to have water hooked up which was fantastic. I’m not sure why but the water aspect hasn’t worked for years (possibly sanitary issues?). There’s also a sand area that is level with the ground. There’s a statue of a fish, a frog, and a turtle for kids to crawl on.


The one big downside to this park is it is impossible to watch kids in both the toddler and the older kid section at the same time. There’s wonderful landscaping around the play areas but they obscure the sight lines.


By the toddler section are bathrooms (open in summer), drinking fountain, and a fairly large covered shelter. There’s another shelter close to the splash pad. However, it looks like the other benches will often be in direct sunlight.

The splash pad is one of the best parts of the park. There’s a button to turn the water on. It turns on for several minutes and then there’s an enforced delay of several minutes where the water will not turn back on no matter how many times a child slams the button.


Behind the splash pad is the “tree house” play area. Calvin would play on this area, with close supervision, by the time he was two years old and it absolutely terrified me. The New York Times had recently published an article about the dangers of safe playgrounds which I theoretically believed but is much harder to put into practice. Parts of the structure are high enough I have trouble touching them with my hands over my head. Now Calvin is old enough to play in the tree house area without too much supervision and Julian isn’t mobile yet so our visit today was much more relaxing than prior visits have been.


The climbing options on the opposite side from the caterpillar slide always made me particularly nervous. Naturally, Calvin loved crawling up them.


It’s hard to tell from the pictures that I have but the tree house structure is connected to a small hill with a bridge. There’s a covered slide protruding from the hill.


There is also a tire swing and a rope climbing structure for older kids to enjoy. There are no traditional swings at this playground.


Sandstone Ranch is an entire complex that includes a skate park (close to the toddler play area but mostly hidden from view due to elevation) and sports field. On the east side of the park is a smaller playground area. It has a more traditional-style equipment and I think it has regular swings (though I can’t remember for sure). There are a lot of walking paths that connect various parts of the park and also connect to the St. Vrain Greenway trail.

We don’t visit this park much anymore due to all the great parks in Boulder. However, it’s still worth the occasional visit when the weather is hot.


Features 2-5 playground equipment, 5-12 playground equipment, spinner, caterpillar slide, corkscrew slide, covered slide, trapeze steps, leaf steps, small hill, tire swing, water/splash area, sand, spring riders, teepee, statues to climb on, play house, musical panel, rope climbing structure.
Surface Material Poured Rubber, some bark chips
Restrooms Yes, open in summer
Water fountain Yes, on in summer
Shade There’s several shelters by the park which are available as long as no one has rented them. There’s also trees and other landscaping that provides varying levels of shade. The toddler play area doesn’t have a lot of shade. The older kids’ play area has a bit more due to the height of the structure itself.
Picnic area Yes, two covered shelters with multiple picnic tables.
Parking Parking lot
  • Nice toddler and big kid areas
  • Splash pad!
  • Sand!
  • Hard to see older kids and toddlers at the same time.

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Breastfeeding: The Sequel

***Potential TMI warning***
(Parts of this have already been mentioned in prior posts but this one goes into the nitty gritty a bit more.)

Breastfeeding with Calvin was a debacle. He never learned to suck properly and I pumped so much, sleeping so little, I became suicidal. Even then, I never produced enough milk to fully feed him. I was determined that with Julian I would try to breastfeed but would prioritize my sanity above feeding method.

Like last time I researched breastfeeding but this time I took a different slant in my research. Before I was even pregnant I found a therapist and started meeting with her. I wanted to make sure I had a solid mental/emotional state throughout my pregnancy and postpartum. At Thanksgiving time I met with a lactation consultant to talk about the problems I’d had last time as well as figure out the best way to start this time. The lactation consultant came up with a “plan”. I like plans. Plans make me happy. In addition, I read Breastfeeding Made Simple, which my lactation consultant had recommended, and Guilt-Free Bottle Feeding.

Breastfeeding Made Simple had good information in it. However, I had read so many books last time that I don’t think I learned anything new from it. I was hoping that Guilt-Free Bottle Feeding would offer suggestions on proper bottle-feeding technique. In that regard, it didn’t work. However, I found its attitude toward bottle feeding very helpful and bought it just for emotional support.

Last time, because Calvin couldn’t suck, I spent a lot of time pumping. Looking back at that experience I felt like I traded bonding for pumping time. It’s really hard to sit and cuddle your child when you’re attached to a pump. As a result, I decided this time I would either breastfeed or formula feed. I wouldn’t pump.

Even though I decided not to primarily pump I wanted a pump to help with possible engorgement as well as when I might skip feedings. I looked at the pumps that my healthcare insurance were offering and didn’t feel inspired by any of them1 Eventually, I just bought a Spectra S2 off Amazon. Many reviewers compared it favorably to the Medela Symphony and it was very reasonably priced.

Julian was born via a planned c-section at 40 weeks and 6 days. It was wonderful having a planned c-section vs going into labor and then a c-section. I felt a lot more awake and able to enjoy having a new baby. Julian was fairly large at 10 lbs 6 oz. Unlike Longmont, BCH allowed Julian to start nursing as soon as I was in the recovery room instead of insisting on getting the results of his blood sugar test results first. Not surprisingly, Julian, just like Calvin, really liked nursing.

The first day went pretty well. Julian tried breastfeeding frequently and while it wasn’t comfortable it wasn’t excruciating either. He kept passing his blood sugar tests. On the second day I saw a lactation consultant who looked at Julian’s latch and said it looked fairly good, though she offered some suggestions to make it better. In the middle of his second day we had a complication. Julian didn’t pass his oxygen test. This could mean a number of things, including a heart defect. Julian was transferred to the NICU and two hours of tests followed. He had to stay on his back in the same position the entire time. He spent most of that time sucking on my little finger which kept him a little calmer than he would have otherwise. After all the tests were done he wanted to breastfeed. He seemed pretty traumatized by all the testing so I let him suckle for 3-4 hours without a break. In retrospect, I probably should have asked for a pacifier but I didn’t think of it at the time.

That evening, my left nipple was bloody. I stopped feeding on that side and instead just fed on my right side. Of course, that was putting extra stress on my right nipple and it was starting to look dodgy. I started supplementing to put less stress on my right nipple.

The third day I saw the lactation consultant again and she suggested I start pumping to try to get my milk supply to come in sooner. In addition, she told me to ask my doctor for APN ointment for my nipples. I did pump, though somewhat reluctantly as my nipples were still incredibly sore. In the afternoon they weighed Julian and noted he had lost 7% of his birth weight and they would have suggested I start pumping if I hadn’t already. In any case, I kept breastfeeding him and then would supplement with donor breast milk that the hospital provided.

Some people claim that bottle fed infants tend to me more obese than breastfed infants because the caregiver unconsciously try to get the child to finish the bottle, even if the child isn’t hungry enough to finish. With Calvin, I was very careful to watch and never force him to eat more than he wanted. However, I discovered with the donor breast milk I was much less likely to want to “waste” the milk. I remembered pumping for Calvin last time and every mL of milk I got was precious. “Wasting” the breast milk was almost like sacrilege. Finally one of Julian’s nurses pointed out to me that the women who donated breast milk had plenty and it was ok to not finish the bottle.

During one of the lactation visits, I don’t remember which, the lactation consultant suggested I try using a supplemental nursing system (SNS) to feed Julian. Before having Julian I had decided I wouldn’t try an SNS this time. I tried it with Calvin and it was a disaster. It didn’t do anything except make both of us upset. Because of this, I was prepared to dismiss the suggestion out of hand. Then I realized that Julian’s issues were different than Calvin’s. While Julian’s latch wasn’t prefect, he was sucking. I decided to give it a shot and found, to my surprise, that it worked pretty well.

Julian regained a little weight before checking out of he hospital on the 4th day but wasn’t up to birth weight. Upon discharge the hospital pediatrician told me that I needed to make sure to wake him up at least every four hours at night to feed. This was a little aggravating because he was sleeping so well and it seemed wrong to wake up a sleeping baby. We stopped by the hospital pharmacy to rent a Symphony. While I already had a breast pump at home, I wanted to be able to pump without thinking about it too much (since I used the Symphony for Calvin I could pretty much use it in my sleep). When we got home we started supplementing with formula since the donor milk was no longer “free.”

We had scheduled Julian’s first office visit for two days after discharge because at the time we weren’t sure if he was going to be coming home on oxygen or not. It turns out he didn’t need oxygen. His normal pediatrician wasn’t available so we saw one of the other doctors in the group. She said he was looking good but to continue waking him up every 4-5 hours to eat and schedule a weight check with his normal doctor in a week.

Even though I was determined ahead of time not to worry if I couldn’t breastfeed, I got a little depressed Saturday. This provided enough push for me to overcome my dislike of phones to call the lactation consultant and setup an appointment on Monday.

I noticed the SNS I was using seemed to be getting clogged. The lactation consultant at the hospital had given us an SNS that was meant to be used for longer term but I didn’t like it. On Monday Jaeger and I wandered down to Westminster to a breastfeeding shop that had the SNS that I liked. While there, we learned the one that I liked wasn’t suppose to be used for more than a couple of days but we got another one anyway. After buying the SNS I needed to feed Julian so we drove to a shaded spot in the parking lot and I breastfed Julian in the backseat. Weirdly, the latch that we had been struggling with just seemed to work.

We picked up Calvin from school and then got to the house just a bit after the lactation consultant arrived. She started by weighing Julian. Then she examined his mouth and noted that he had a high palate and a slight upper lip tie but other than that seemed fine. She watched him feed but it was nap time so he wasn’t very enthusiastic. She ended by coming up with a plan to try to boost my milk supply and suggested I ask my OB to check my thyroid and prolactin levels.

It was either Monday evening or Tuesday when I decided to stop using the SNS. It seemed to me that Julian’s latch was worse when we tried to use it and I felt that the more comfortable I was while feeding the more likely I would continue the attempt. I pumped some after each feeding for a bit. However, when Jaeger went back to work I stopped because I did not feel I could give Julian enough attention while I was pumping.

My thyroid and prolactin levels came back and were within the expected range for a breastfeeding woman.

Early the following week we went to Julian’s weight check. The doctor briefly checked him out and said he looked great but also mentioned he should be back to birth weight by that point. So, he also said we had to keep waking Julian up every 5 hours at night.

At this point I was breastfeeding Julian every 2-3 hrs during the day for 15 minutes each side and then, if he wasn’t falling asleep, offering him a bottle which he would often drink anywhere from 1/2 oz to 2 oz.

I went to the BCH breastfeeding club that Friday and weighed Julian and he hadn’t gained any weight since the doctor visit 4 days earlier. Our lactation consultant was concerned and said we should talk to the pediatrician again. We scheduled a weight check for the next week. By that point, he’d gained a couple of ounces so the doctor said to keep doing what I was and to come in the following week for another weight check. About a month after Julian was born he reached his birth weight again. Finally they told me I could stop waking Julian up in the night. Except, at this point he appeared to have gotten use to waking up and tended to wake up every 3-4 hours.

I returned the Symphony and experimented a bit with the Spectra S2 pump. While the actual pump was fine, I preferred how the Medela flanges worked. I used some of the extra parts I had and converted my Spectra to use Medela parts. After using it with the Medela parts, I agreed with the other reviews that it works as well as the Symphony. For a while I was pumping after a couple of feedings during the day and then an extra pumping session right before I went to bed. Based on both weight at the breastfeeding club at BCH and my pumping output I figured out I was producing between 1 1/2 to 2 oz every 3-4 hours. Like last time my right breast got slightly over 1 oz while my left breast got slightly under.

I reviewed what breast pumps my insurance would pay for and decided to order the Spectra 9 Plus Advanced through one of their suppliers. The advantage of this version is it could run on batteries. It also used the same parts as the S2 so the modifications I made to use Medela parts would work with it also. I was impressed when it arrived. It was very portable. I could slip the pump into my robe, put on my pumping bra 2, and do things around the house while Julian slept.

Unfortunately, after about a week of pretty steady pumping my nipples felt overworked. They weren’t getting enough break between feedings and were getting sorer and sorer. Regretfully, I cut out the pumping except when I missed a feeding for some reason.

At two months I was still feeding Julian 10-15 minutes each side and then supplementing with a bottle after most feedings. Breastfeeding was still quite uncomfortable. In addition to being uncomfortable, I was experiencing nausea when my milk first let down. My mother-in-law talked about how when she was feeding Bethany, she would have her arm around Jaeger and read stories to him. I tried that with Calvin but it was incredibly difficult for me. I really, really hate being touched when breastfeeding. I also don’t like being talked to or being expected to talk back. Basically, breastfeeding is like labor for me. I have to sit and concentrate until the experience is over each time.

I was talking to my therapist about how I was feeling guilty for snapping at Calvin when he asked quesitons while I breastfed. She asked me whether I felt better when I breastfed or bottle fed Julian. I told her bottle feeding was usually more relaxing. She then asked me what I hoped to gain from breastfeeding since it didn’t appear to help with my bonding and I couldn’t really answer her. Since I had to supplement, it isn’t any more convenient than straight bottle feeding. In fact, it’s less convenient. It was marginally cheaper since we weren’t exclusively using formula, but not a huge amount. I don’t put much stock in many of the other claimed benefits of breastfeeding. Calvin is remarkably healthy, has never had a single earache, and is quite bright.

Eventually, I decided that my biggest reason to consider breastfeeding was passing on antibodies. Most of the other benefits were negligible once you consider all the benefits Julian is already going to get because of his genetics and socioeconomic environment. I wasn’t sure that antibodies by themselves was a good enough reason to keep breastfeeding. I decided to talk to Julian’s doctor about it at his two-month checkup.

Julian’s two-month checkup was on June 1. About a half hour before Julian’s appointment I took him upstairs to change into a clean diaper before we left. To my surprise, I found blood in his diaper. There wasn’t a great deal, just a few strands intermixed with his poop but it was definitely blood. I confirmed it wasn’t from any sort of diaper rash or other skin cut. I was quite thankful we were already heading for the doctor. I took a picture with my phone and then packaged the diaper to take with us.

When we got to the doctor’s office he got his weight, length, and head circumference taken. Weight was 40th percentile (remember he started at 99th), length was 50%, and head circumference was 90%. Overall the doctor said he looked like he was in excellent health and everything looked fine. Then, we discussed Julian’s diaper. The pediatrician said this was most commonly from a milk protein allergy. He said I should cut all dairy out of my diet and change his formula to a hypoallergenic formula.

The pediatrician gave me a small can of Nutramigen. Since Target is right on the way home, I stopped and got a bigger can so we wouldn’t have to go back to the store as quickly. Not surprisingly the specialized formula is more expensive. It costs about 80% more per ounce than the regular brand name formula.

Julian hated the new formula. Jaeger was able to feed Julian some formula that evening. However, for the next two days he wouldn’t eat any formula. I started to think that maybe Julian didn’t need supplementation. Except he kept getting crankier and crankier even though I reverted to breastfeeding every two hours, the minimum period I could handle. Finally, after about 48 hours of trying, he took the bottle again. He finally ate and was much happier. Julian still doesn’t eat the new formula particularly well but he no longer outright refuses it.

While I had been seriously considering stopping breastfeeding, I’ve temporarily reconsidered, at least for now. While we luckily can afford it, the new formula is much more expensive. Also, while I really appreciate formula exists, food is really important to me. I have a hard time only giving Julian food that I think tastes terrible. While the formula certainly provides the nutrition Julian needs, he obviously enjoys the breast milk more.

I was originally hoping I could breastfeed while working. However, that isn’t going to happen. Both Julian and I have to be completely concentrating on breastfeeding to make it work. Instead, I will pump which I can do while I keep working.

I don’t know how long I’ll keep breastfeeding. However, I think I can make it work, without too many trade-offs, for a little while longer.

  1. Last time I’d never used consumer-grade pumps, only hospital grade pumps so I didn’t have any prior experience to draw on. In addition, my insurance company said they had researched and found no benefit to hospital grade pumps over consumer grade pumps so wouldn’t pay for a rental. I don’t know if I had pushed if they would have backed off this stance or not.
  2. A cheap Walmart nursing bra with holes cut in the middle for the flanges