Monday, December 28, 2009

"Holiday Traditions" or "The Obligatory Christmas Pictures Post"

I haven't blogged much about our holidays. Much of this is because everyone in our household was fighting a nasty cold the two weeks before Christmas. Sadly, I think Jonah got it the worst. This put a huge kink in our plans for holiday and winter activities, as I have a strict rule that if the kid (or anyone else) has the sniffles, we do not go out and spread our germs!

We did manage to recover in time for a few fun activities though! Right before the cold hit, we took Jonah and Paddington to see Santa at Petco. The picture was $10, and that money went to a local animal shelter that my sister in law volunteers at. Toledo is notorious for the rate that they euthenize strays, so I feel that it is important to support shelters in the area that have a "no-kill" policy. Plus, it's fun to have a Santa picture that includes our beloved doggie!
On Christmas Eve, it is a tradition in Daryl's family to go to dinner at the Toledo Club. The dinner is pretty formal, and so every family stops to get a picture taken in front of the main Christmas tree while they are wearing their dressy clothes.When we got home, we took some portraits of Jonah in front of the tree, and read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" before bedtime. Jonah got to open up his special "Christmas Eve" pajamas, and we took a couple pictures, but he didn't actually get to sleep in them because we've been having bed-wetting issues. We changed him back into them when he woke up in the AM, needing a fresh pair of jammies on. We are still trying to figure out why we are having this backslide in pottying. He was waking up completely dry.
I am going to save Christmas Morning for another blog post, because I have a bit more than a paragraph to say about it. So I will just skip ahead to the day after Christmas. We went to the Toledo Zoo for their "Lights Before Christmas" display. Nevermind that we went "after" christmas, I never really liked the name of the lights display, but it really is a fun thing to go and see. Jonah absolutely loves it. We happened to pick the warmest night of the week. All of the snow had melted that day, and we were able to enjoy being outside rather than freezing. Later that night, the temperatures dropped and it began snowing again, so we were really lucky that we had gone during that window of warmth!

The next day, all of our guests were put back onto their respective planes to the places they call home. It was a very busy holiday season, made even more stressful by the whole family falling ill. But it was also a lot of fun, and a good excuse to take a break from "real life" to enjoy our family and those who are closest to us. It is not over yet, though! We are having Christmas with my family this Friday (New Year's day!)

Becoming a "Big Boy"

Jonah is definitely moving out of his baby stage and into the toddler stage. I realized this more than ever last week, as I cleaned out his toy area in anticipation of our holiday guests. While I've been pretty good about switching out his clothes and diapers as he outgrows them, I have never packed away any of his toys. Still in his toy bin were rattles, and colorful "manipulative" toys. Things he hasn't played with for probably about a year or so. The day after Christmas came the big day for organizing. All of his rattles were replaced with puzzles, and his security blankets have been replaced by a basket full of board books. The more I look at his play area, the more I see toddler playthings rather than baby items. His bouncy seat was put into storage, as was the bumbo, and a series of stuffed animals that he won't even look at anymore.The rainforest toy that hung on the side of his crib, that he loved to look at before naps, is now the Twilight Seaturtle that projects constellations and pictures of animals around his room. My baby is becoming a big boy.

It's not just the toys that are changing. We are also going through a series of transitions to "big boy" stuff right now. From the high chair to his "big boy" chair (the booster) and from his pack n play (which he's been sleeping in ever since the crib was recalled) to the "big boy" bed. He is even getting a "big boy" potty seat to use in the upstairs bathroom, and eventually one for the downstairs bathroom to replace his tiny potty chair.

The transition to the big boy chair at meal times has been relatively smooth. It actually started by accident, during Thanksgiving. My family has a huge dinner party on Thanksgiving, with a lot of family and friends. This year, there were four tables packed tight, and no room for a high chair. We had brought along our fisherprice rainforest booster seat, which has a tray on it like a high chair but straps to a regular chair. It seemed so impractical to try to fit the seat in as a high chair, with the tray on it, so we just took the tray off and pulled it up to the table. Jonah handled it like a pro. And I noticed that several of the behavioral problems that we were dealing with at mealtimes, had disappeared. Jonah was not rocking his chair, trying to feed the dogs, or throwing his food and cup as much. I wasn't sure if it was just that situation, or if Jonah really did behave better in the booster seat.

Last week, we went to lunch at the Olive Garden with our holiday guests. My sister in law arrived to the restaraunt first, and ordered a booster rather than a high chair. Once again, Jonah ate like a pro. Every morsel went into his mouth. He even used the spoon! There was no screaming, banging, or rocking. Just a perfect little gentleman, eating his mac n cheese with tomato.

At home, I'm beginning to use the booster for breakfast, lunch, and snack. Because we eat dinner upstairs with the rest of the family, we have to follow my mother in law's wishes that he stay in a high chair for dinner. We are trying to convince her that the booster is the better choice. It is definitely much less stressful for me, when I know that Jonah is sitting happily, eating, rather than when he is rocking the chair hard enough to make the legs come up from the floor, or throwing his food to the dogs, or knocking everything down by throwing his cup.

I am not sure why Jonah behaves so much better in his booster seat. My guess is because he is closer to us, at the table actually eating with us rather than to the side of us. I'm hoping that if I get a big plastic place mat to put in Jonah's place, my mother in law will warm up to the idea of putting the high chair into the basement, and using the booster from now on. For now, we have it set up downstairs for a few select meals of the day. Which is fine for the time being, since it is still the transition period for the seat!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Boy and his Gorilla

Since birth, Jonah has gone through a number of different comfort items. You could call them lovies, snoodles, binkies, security blankets, or babies. Every child has some strange item that he or she has attached themselves to. At the preschool I taught at, there was a toddler who was attached to the very edge of his old recieving blanket. The blanket had frayed and worn away, until just one little patch of the silk lining was left, and Little D carried that patch around, rubbing it against his cheek. He called it his "mimi." And if he decided at any moment that he needed his "mimi" you'd better have it, or watch out!!!

For Jonah, his first "lovie" was my boob. No joke. He would sit in his sling, half nursing/half cuddling, 24 hours a day. I got to be quite good at hiding the fact that my nursing shirt was open in order to pacify my infant. With the ring sling, it was actually very easy.

Then, Jonah moved away from needing my breast all the time, to needing Seymour, the Musical Seahorse. Seymour was bought as a gift, from my best friend Elizabeth. Jonah would not nap without Seymour, would not play on the floor without Seymour, and absolutely would NOT ride in the car without Seymour!Seymour's batteries do not last forever, though. And we all know how some toys will get set aside to get new batteries "when we get around to it." The main problem is that Seymour doesn't take normal AA batteries. Oh no, he takes watch batteries. So, Seymour's music has been silent for quite a few months. Without the glowing belly and soothing music, Jonah quickly lost interest in Seymour.

Then, in the early spring, we went to the zoo with my mom. Jonah absolutely loves the gorillas at the zoo. He has ever since our first visit. He will sit and watch them swing and play for hours. I'm convinced that the large male gorilla at the Toledo Zoo recognizes Jonah when we visit now, because we spend so much time watching the gorillas. Sometimes, the male will come to the window to study Jonah. One time, a teenage girl pushed me while I was holding Jonah, so that she could get a picture of this gorilla, and he was so upset by her that he charged at the glass where she was standing. I'm convinced he was trying to protect Jonah, but that might just be me being sentimental.

At any rate, my mom thought I was crazy when I told her how much Jonah loves the gorillas. He wasn't even a year old yet, so I can understand this. When we went to the zoo, she saw how much he just loved them. So she insisted on buying him this plush silverback gorilla from the souvenier shop.

At the time, the gorilla was not much smaller than Jonah. We brought the gorilla home, and I expected to simply put him on the shelf in Jonah's bedroom. Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Within a couple of days, the gorilla had gotten quite a bit of playtime in. It became apparant that he needed a name. We picked Hank. Hank the Gorilla. Soon, Hank became the very first toy that Jonah would pull out every day.

Then, while I was shopping one day, I found a stuffed gorilla for $5, and the profits went to a charity that was helping children learn to read. I bought it, noting that it must be a female gorilla. I brought her home and introduced her to Hank. The chemistry was instant. Hank had a mate. We named her Gloria the Gorilla. While Jonah will accept Gloria as a substitute for Hank, he will sleep with her and be happy to have her along on walks and outings, Hank is still his favorite.

Now, Jonah is never anywhere without either Hank or Gloria. If we are playing with other children, and a curious tot comes and looks at Hank, Jonah gets very posessive. I've never seen him get posessive of any other toy or object. If anyone dares to pick Hank up, be prepared for some screaming!

What strikes me the most is how much affection Jonah gives to Hank. He hugs him, and gives him endless kisses, buries his face into his fur, and the newest form of affection for Hank is biting. Jonah will bite his nose and his hands while giving him a huge hug. I'm a little worried that this will translate into biting other people or our dog, but so far Jonah seems to know the difference.

Of all of Jonah's lovies, he is definitely the most attached to Hank. Hank and Gloria are now an integral part of our family, and we have managed to work them into all of our daily routines. I don't think anyone could imagine our lives without Hank anymore.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Update on All the Doctor's Visits

This past week, Jonah went to see the doctor for the fourth time in a month. The last time that I posted about a doctor's visit, it was because Jonah had broken out in hives, thought to be caused by an ear infection. After we treated the ear infection, the hives persisted. They had begun to appear on his face. And so, we went back to the doctor a week later, and then we bumped his fifteen month check up to a week earlier as well. The doctor prescribed Zertec, because Benadryl did not seem to do anything for the hives at all. She told us that she hated to subject Jonah to yet even more needles and tests, but if the hives did not go away within two weeks she would refer us to an allergist to have tests done. In the meantime, we were to cut out dairy completely.

We cut out dairy from Jonah's diet, which was difficult since sometimes the only things he will eat are cheese or yogurt! But even with a strict dairy free diet and the new allergy medicine, the hives kept spreading. I was at my wit's end. He had been having these hives pretty much since Halloween. Finally, Daryl's mom had a revelation. She had just had the carpets cleaned Halloween weekend. I thought she had them steam cleaned, so I was happy to give her permission to get the carpets in Jonah's bedroom and play area cleaned. We have a lot of pets in our home, so I really welcomed having the dirt and dander removed. However, it came to the surface that the carpets were not steam cleaned, but a cleaning solution was used on them.

We put rugs down where we could, and kept Jonah off the carpets. Miraculously, the hives went away. It was the cleaning solution that was causing the hives. This is one reason that I prefer natural cleaning methods such as steaming or using naturally made cleaning products. I just recently bought a book that has several natural cleaning remedies, including herbal and natural carpet cleaning solutions:
I've already used some of the all-purpose cleaner "recipes" and have been very happy. I think the next time that we decide the carpets need a cleaning, we will try one of the solutions from this book as well.

So this past week, we had the follow up appointment with the doctor. Sadly, the hives were not the only item that we were following up on. At the 15 month appointment, we discussed Jonah's cognitive development. I've been concerned about his development for quite a while now, but that little voice that says every child develops differently kept pushing me to wait and see how he does. While I agree very strongly that every child is different, I also believe in mommy instincts. If Mommy feels that there is something going on with her child, most often she is right in my opinion. When I felt that Jonah was too small and too skinny, everyone told me that all babies grow differently, and he is just the right size for Jonah. It turned out, he was *not* just the right size for Jonah, and there was indeed something very very wrong. Had our current pediatrician not listened to my mommy instinct, I get chills at thinking about what might have happened to our beloved little boy.

And so I've had kind of the same feeling about his development, really since about June. It's not even that he's meeting milestones later than most children in his age (he's coming pretty close to the 1%ile in both speech as well as gross motor skills)but it seems to take him a lot longer to get from one step to another. For example, going back through my facebook notes, I realized that I had posted in September that he was letting go of objects and standing on his own for a few seconds. I exclaimed in these posts "We'll be walking by Halloween!" It is just my experience and observations that when a child begins to stand on his own, it is only a matter of weeks before the first steps are taken. Jonah did not take his first steps until mid-november. Again from my experience and observations, it usually only takes a child a week or so to go from taking a few unsure steps, to walking in order to get to places or objects across the room. Jonah is still only taking two or three steps at a time. He has ben taking two or three steps for about a month now. I know he will walk eventually, I am not worried about that. I am worried that it seems to be taking him much longer than other children to "get" things.

He is also gradually moving from "slightly delayed" to "moderately delayed" in speech. At sixteen months, though he knows and uses fifteen ASL signs, he relies on only a handful of phonemes. Dadada, Mamama, and jeejeejee. He doesn't use these phonemes to refer to anything, he only babbles them. I have never heard him use the ba or ga or ka or la phonemes, all of which he should have mastered by now. I notice this the most, of course, because of my intense studies and interest in speech development and acquisition. He very obviously understands language, because he uses sign language to refer to objects, actions, and people. There is just something about producing the words that he isn't picking up on.

Other things that Jonah cannot do that are of concern to me and the doctor are: stacking three blocks (he lines them up in perfect rows, but will not stack them) scribbling with crayons when shown, looking at me or Daryl if someone says "where is Mommy?" or "Where's Daddy?" pointing to body parts, looking for an object after it rolls behind a screen (most babies will look to the other side of the screen to see the object roll out, by nine months) and grasping items such as a spoon. These are just small flags though, the walking and talking is what really has us concerned.

Also, although I am well aware of the ultimate mommy-rule "do not compare thy baby to thy neighbor's baby," I can't help but notice that when we go to music class or play group, that Jonah is just... well, different. Seeing him alongside of these other children his age, or even his cousin who is three months younger than him, I can really see that he cannot do what they are doing. The differences are enough to make me cry some weeks at our music class.

These are not things that Jonah has not been exposed to. I have worked with him for a long time on all of them, knowing that they are important developmental milestones. I am afraid that last winter, when he stopped growing, his development was slowed. The doctor referred us to a specialist who will come to our home to do a full assessment. While part of me feels that she will not be able to tell me something I don't know, I also am glad to have someone who is coming at this with fresh eyes. Depending on what she says, we may have to go to occupational therapy with Jonah. Perhaps I am over-reacting, but if there is a problem with his cognition, it is much easier to get him back on track than it will be later in life. Perhaps it will all play out on its own, but if he needs help now then we will do what he needs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick and Easy Pasta Meal for Picky Eaters

Jonah is a pretty picky eater, so I try to fit extra nutrients in wherever I can! Something that has helped me boost the health of his meals tremendously is substituting items typically made from wheat and other grains, with items made from quinoa. Quinoa is actually more of a leafy green than a grain, botanically speaking. But if it is prepared correctly, it takes on the same cooking properties as other grains. For those on a gluten-free diet, quinoa is a large dietary subsitute for grains. It provides calcium, protein, iron, vitamin E as well as B vitamins. When I was a vegetarian, quinoa quickly became a staple in my diet. Now, it is easier to find not only quinoa, but items such as pasta that are made with quinoa. I didn't have it so nice fifteen years ago as a vegetarian!

So when my young toddler began dismissing meats and other important foods, I turned to my old staple to sneak in some vital nutrients. This meal is not only healthy for Jonah, but it's fast and easy (something else essential in meal-planning for toddlers!) and I found all the ingredients at my local Giant Eagle.

Butter and Herb Pasta with Carrot Coins:
1/4 cup Quinoa Pasta (I found it in the organic section of my supermarket, with the other organic pastas)
a few cherry tomatoes quartered (use your judgement on how many tomatoes your little one will eat)
1/4 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp butter
Oregano to taste
garlic powder to taste
basil to taste
(if you want SUPER quick and easy, use one of the Italian Herb mixes, or Pasta Sauce spice mixes)
1 carrot, washed peeled and sliced into bite size peices

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and boil for about seven minutes, or until tender. Note that Quinoa pasta is a bit more dense then pasta made from flour, so the consistency may seem different to you when it is done.

While the pasta is cooking, place the carrot slices into a microwavable bowl and cover with water. Heat on high in the microwave for about five minutes, or until soft.

When pasta is done,turn the heat off on the stove. Drain the water and place the pasta back into the pot. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA. Add the olive oil, butter, tomatoes, and herbs while stirring. The heat of the pasta will continue to cook the tomatoes and melt the butter.

Serve the carrots along side the pasta

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree!

Typically when Jonah does an art project, it is open-ended, or at least semi open-ended. Open-ended art basically means that the child creates a piece of art based on their own choices. Instead of saying "we're going to make an elephant, here's how to do it" you simply offer the child the art supplies and allow them to create on their own. Semi-open ended means that you give the child a framework in which to create, but still allow them to have control over their choices. So in a semi-open ended project, you would say "we are going to make an elephant. You choose what the elephant will look like, what color he is, and what the elephant is doing in the picture." Very seldom do I do what is called a closed-ended art project. This would be telling the child "we are going to make an elephant with grey paint; follow my instructions."

All three are important for a child's development, especially at different age ranges. I'm not going to get into the benefits of each kind of art project, or the importance of offering all three to your child. If you are interested, it is a pretty easy topic to search on the internet. I will say that I don't feel that a child at Jonah's age or development benefits greatly from closed-ended art projects. So we rarely do them.

But they are fun. Especially around the holidays, when there are so many great projects to be done (and these projects also make great gifts for family members, or decorations around the house!) So today I did decide to do a closed-ended art project with Jonah. We made a christmas tree!

This is a very simple project. I tried to get pictures of the process, but having only two hands, I found it more difficult than I had thought. I did take pictures of the tree after each step though, so hopefully it is easy enough to follow along:
1. Put some non-toxic washable green paint into a pie pan or plate (you could use a paper plate, but pie pans are reusable) Place your child's hand into the paint and make sure the paint covers their hand print completely.

2. Start from the bottom of the tree and work your way up the tree. I found it easiest to place the paper sideways in front of Jonah, so that he didn't have to twist his hand in an awkward position to get the print to be upside down. Place two of your child's hand prints kind of spaced apart for the bottom layer of the tree. If your child has small hands, you could do three hand prints. For the next teir of branches, place two handprints close together. Then on top of that, place one handprint, and then one more on top of that. There are four rows of handprints altogether on Jonah's tree.

4. In the pie pan, seperately from the green paint, place a dab of yellow paint. Allow your child to squish his index finger into the yellow paint, and paint on the top of the tree for the star.

5. Wash your child's hands and give him a snack while you wait for the paint to dry on the picture.

6. Offer your child bingo markers, or "dot" markers* and demonstrate how to push the marker up and down to make a dot. Encourage your child to copy the movements, making christmas ornaments on his tree.

(*bingo markers can be found in most stores, near the playing cards and poker chips. They are about a dollar. You can also buy "dot markers" that are made especially for children's art projects. These are usually found near the children's arts and crafts supplies. While they are more expensive, they do offer a larger variety of colors, they are washable, and some brands are refillable. I prefer the cheaper Bingo Markers)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Toddler Bed!

A few weeks ago, I was very angered to learn that Jonah's crib was one of the 2 million cribs recalled in the US and Canada. Storkcraft, who manufactures cribs under the names of Storkcraft as well as Fisherprice, was recalling all of the models that have a dropside rail.

This is the second time, within a matter of months, that Jonah's crib has been recalled. The first recall was because the metal parts that hold the mattress board to the frame were bending and eventually would break. We sent away for the new parts that would fix the problem. It wasn't a big deal, just replace the faulty parts (which were relatively easy to switch out.)

This time, I am furious. Honestly, the majority of my anger is directed at myself as a mother. I have felt for some time now that this crib is not safe. Jonah fell out of the crib a few weeks ago when he was jumping, and the dropside rail lowered on one side. My husband lowered the crib mattress to the lower setting (which we thought that it was already on, but there was one more notch lower than where it was at) and tightened the screws holding the frame together. This seemed to fix the problem.

We've had problems in the past with the rail coming off of it's track, when we were tightening screws or moving the board, or sometimes when I was changing sheets. I never thought of this happening when Jonah was in the crib though, because it seemed to only happen when we were doing something to the crib like moving it around etc.

This current recall is because of this problem. The rail seperates from it's lower track while the baby/toddler is in the bed, creating a gap between the crib and the rail. The baby slips down inside this gap, and the rail snaps back trapping the infant, and in some cases suffocating or strangling the child.

Here is a news article with pictures that gives more information about the recall. It includes pictures (using dolls for demonstration) showing how the rail can entrap a child.
Please, if you do have one of these cribs stop using it immediately and contact Storkcraft. The company is offering a kit to make the drop down rail stationary, eliminating the problem of the rail coming off of the track.

We chose a different route. Because this is the SECOND time that the crib has been recalled in months, I was very upset to say the least. I was ready to dismantle the crib and toss it. Both pieces of furniture that I have bought from this company have been a total disappointment. Our changer/dresser combo is also a storkcraft product. The drawers have been falling apart since before Jonah was born (I know it was properly put together) so it is now being held together by gorilla glue. Just the drawers, not the frame. If we had issues with the frame, it would most definitely be not in use anymore as that would be a safety hazard.

Daryl decided that it would be more frugal to convert the crib into the toddler bed. I see his point- if we toss the crib, we will not only need to buy a crib for the baby on the way, but also a toddler bed for Jonah. The recalls were only for the bed being used as a crib, and really don't apply to the parts of the toddler bed since none of those parts are used. We converted the bed to a toddler bed last night. I inspected it thoroughly and am actually pretty pleased with how sturdy the bed is. The dangerous parts have been removed which makes me feel a million times better.

Jonah will not be using the toddler bed any time soon, however. He just isn't ready. Since we learned of the recall, he has been sleeping in his pack n play. I am glad that we have at least transitioned the bed to the toddler bed, because now we can introduce it to Jonah very gradually. Because he is so attached to his sleep routine, I know that this transition needs to be made very gently. For now, I am just letting him get used to it being in his room. Allowing him to sit on it for story time, and placing familiar bedtime objects in it. We'll see how long it takes us to get to the next step of transition, but I'm in no hurry. Jonah can take his time getting used to it!

Here is a picture of Jonah and our dog Paddington sitting in the "new" bed! It's the best that I could get, because Jonah was very eager to explore his new bed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

EC Away from Home

Tis the season for traveling and visiting family! When Daryl and I packed up the van to visit my family over thanksgiving weekend, there was a long debate about whether or not to take Jonah's potty. On one hand, we are trying to travel lighter, which isn't easy to do with a young toddler. We both find it hard to cope with the fact that our minivan becomes completely full when we are leaving for just a small weekend trip. The potty is just one more thing to add to all the other space-eating "equipment." Especially when he hardly ever uses the potty when we are away from home. He just seems too distracted, as are we, for elimination communication (EC) to work properly.

On the other hand, Jonah has been doing a really good job of telling us when he needs to use the potty at home. Also, he is getting bigger and so is the baby in my belly. It is becoming increasingly difficult and cumbersome to hold him over the toilet when we are away from home. His little tush is still way too tiny to actually sit on the toilet. Even with me helping him, he usually ends up with either a foot, or his bum, in the toilet. So even though we haven't been too successful with EC on the road, we decided that it is about time to start making more of an effort to use it when we are away.

We went to Thanksgiving dinner, and tried without success to use the potty. Every time that I would think he might have to go, I would take him to the potty and he wouldn't go. While he does sign "potty" when he has to poop, he has not quite gotten down when to tell us that he needs to urinate. I still rely heavily on his body signals to know when to take him to urinate. We would get him on his potty, and I could see him flexing his tummy muscles as if he were trying to go, but nothing would come out. But at least we were trying!

When we got to our hotel that night after dinner, I realized that we had left all of the diapers at my mom's house. Luckily, I always keep a spare disposable diaper in the car, just in case we are caught without one. Our plan was to use this diaper for the night (it was late, so Jonah was going straight to bed!) and I would bring the diapers back later that night. I was going shopping with my mom and sister, so as soon as Jonah was in bed, I would be heading back to my family's house. No big deal.

It would have worked perfectly, except I forgot to bring the diapers back! So, at 8:00 in the morning, I stripped Jonah down bare naked in the hotel room, and Daryl went out to get the diapers. I just prayed that if he had to go potty, he would let me know. Sure enough, he was on his game that morning. He gave me the signs for both urinating and pooping. While Daryl was gone, he went on the potty three times! For whatever reasons, after that morning a little switch was flipped, and he used the potty for the majority of the trip.

I am beginning to think that just as I once had to do for using EC at home, I just have to make the decision and say "we will NOT be using diapers on this trip" and if I make that choice, then we can make it work. I think that when we make the choice of taking diapers out of the picture completely, it forces us as parents to be more aware of what Jonah is telling us and what his needs are when it comes to pottying. We no longer have the safety net, so we have to leave very little room for error.