Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2 months!

My dearest Baby O turned 2 months old this week (and 9 weeks old, but I'm thinking I'm just about done counting in weeks).  She had her pediatrician appointment... 11 lbs, 12 oz (68%ile) and 23.5 inches long.  Supposedly.  The length would place her in the 90th percentile or higher.  Which honestly, wouldn't be surprising since her daddy is so tall and I have tallish genes on both my maternal and paternal sides of the family.  However, I'm 100% convinced that the nursing assistant who measured her accidentally gave her at least an extra half an inch.  So I'm not going to go around being all proud of that 90th percentile just yet.  We'll wait and see what happens at the 4 month appointment.

This week, O has really added a lot of noise to her smiling-- it's not a full out laugh or gafaw... but she vocalizes when she smiles, which is so darn cute. We otherwise haven't really made any remarkable developmental improvements this week.

Olivia did get her 2 month vaccines on Monday... they didn't go so hot.  The rest of the day (and a good part of Tuesday), she was either lethargic or really fussy, neither of which are typical for her.  But she's come out of it okay and should be in good spirits for her trip to see family this weekend.  I owe you all posts about all kinds of things-- a flight to IN, vaccine opinions, new montessori toys, etc.  But for now, it's bedtime in Boston.

Enjoy these pics from the 2 month birthday:

Love from Boston!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

8 weeks!

We're creeping up on the two month mark here, people!  This week, Olivia has learned to track items visually... If you present an interesting toy like a little rattle or colorful stuffy, she'll make eye contact with it at midline and follow it up/down/left/right for a few minutes before getting tired or disinterested and looking away.  She's not yet trying to grab/hold items.  And while she occasionally sees it out of the corner of her eye and turns, she's best if you present it at midline first. So exciting!

Today for the 8 week birthday, we went to visit daddy at work.  She always falls asleep in the baby bjorn when we're on the T... so she was a bit cuddly when we arrived.  Enjoy!

Love from Boston!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Attachment Connection by Ruth P Newton PhD

Today I finished reading The Attachment Connection by Ruth Newton, PhD.  I was so engrossed by this book, actually, that I missed my T stop on the way to go work out this morning!  So "finished" may be a bit of an understatement.

The book was exactly what I was looking for.  And I highly recommend parts of it in a few scenarios:

Chapters 1 and 2- AWESOME summary of some basic pediatric neuroscience with lit based references about how babies develop and why they need close connections with their parents.  It was detailed enough to not feel "dumbed down," but simple enough that anyone could read it, even if they're not "the scientific type."  I'd recommend these two chapters for anyone who's a parent or wants to understand parenting and considers themselves a bit of a nerd about it, wanting to know the science behind it.

Chapter one highlights the differences between securely attached (this is what you're aiming for), insecure-avoidant (don't approach parent for reassurance, even when they want it), insecure-ambivalent (seek out parent, but get confused and angry because parent isn't reliable/consistent), and disorganized (inconsistent, no pattern) children.  There are case examples and a history of early attachment literature.

Chapter two goes through details of all the brain parts-- The left hemisphere controlling language and the right hemisphere being associated with body regulation, control of emotions, etc.  It also talks us through the amygdala (which integrates info from threat/fear/anger), the sympathetic nervous system (stress, threat), the parasympathetic nervous system (involved in calming and sleep), and the orbitofrontal cortex.  Chapter two focuses on how parents help regulate their infant/toddler's emotions before the child is able to do so independently through synchrony and resonance with the child's feelings and actions.

Chapters 3-12 apply all of these theories to different age ranges, starting with pregnancy and slowly ramping up to 4 year olds.  There are, again, case examples as well as literature citations explaining his thoughts and theories.  I'll be honest, I skimmed most of these chapters-- there are boxes highlighting what children can do at each age group, which I've read thoroughly in other sources.  And I wasn't really in the mood to read about 3 year olds!  (I did read the two month chapter word for word though). I think these chapters are an excellent overview of ages/stages of development if there's someone out there who hasn't gotten this info from another source yet.

Chapter 13... controversial chapter 13.  This one talks about the day care controversy, highlighting the drama that came in the news when early articles in the 70s and 80s said that children who'd spent time in day care were more aggressive than those cared for by their mothers.  And when she introduced the topic, I thought for sure she was going to debunk that myth.  But she didn't.  She addressed it relatively politically correctly, but does come to the conclusion that
   "1. The quality of parenting predicted higher levels of social skills and positive social-emotional outcomes than did child care experience.
    2. Children in higher quality center-based care had higher vocabulary scores in fifth grade than children in lower quality center-based child care.
    3. Children with more center-based care, in particular, had more behavioral problems in sixth grade."
Definitely the scientific argument for staying home as much as possible within the first 3 years of your child's life.  Hm...

My favorite nugget from the book came all the way up in chapter two, though, when she was talking about sides of the brain.  She explained how infants and toddlers are predominantly right brained during years 0-3 while they're pre-verbal or have low levels of verbal communication.  And that parents (and adults in general) responded to children in this age group first with their right brains.  Additionally, due to the way our eyes and brains are connected, inputs from the left are processed in the right brain and vice versa.  Thus, when one craddles their child on the left side, they are unknowingly connecting the child's right brain (left visual field) with their own right brain (left visual field).  And did you know that 83% of right handed and 78% of left handed mothers craddle their babies naturally on the left?  hm...

Monday, June 18, 2012

The dark side of "reusing."

" one estimate, used clothing is now the United States’ number one export by volume..."  


Take a look here:

The Afterlife of Cheap Clothes

It makes me think that I might possibly never shop in a 1st hand clothing store again.  Why would I when I have such awesome resources here in Boston for 2nd hand clothing anyway?  Some of my current favorites:

Goodwill - close, convenient, easy to drop off things I don't want or need anymore.

Savers - a little bit farther out of the way from my house, but in comparison to my local Goodwill, they sort their store more, so I can more quickly find exactly what I'm looking for-- a certain size, a certain length of sleeve, etc.  And they have member discounts frequently.  Discounts at a 2nd hand store?  Now you're talking my language...

Kid to Kid - a franchise 2nd hand store, focused on children.  Interesting.  And a very accessible website.  

Two Little Monkeys - like supporting local businesses?  This is your gold mine.  She closed the shop on father's day!  How cute is that?

Boomerangs - like your proceeds to go to a good cause?  Check out Boomerangs!

Where do you do your 2nd hand shopping?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Baby Sleep Book by Dr. William Sears

A friend complimented me a couple weeks ago about the amount of research I was putting into parenthood (and pregnancy, labor, and delivery).  I reminded her then and I will state for the record now, I tend to decide what I want to do, then look up books, articles, and websites who will provide me support for the decision I made.  I am not so good at reading both sides of a debate and then deciding between them.  So please, don't feel like my support of certain authors is an unbiased, researched view point.  And other mothers (or future mothers) out there, please don't let my seemingly researched opinions make you feel bad for any decisions you've made or want to make.  I pick and choose what I like and cite it.  Not the other way around.

That disclaimer aside, I wanted to tell you all how much I really enjoyed reading Dr. Sears' The Baby Sleep Book.  I picked it up for a couple reasons.  First, it was on the shelf at my local branch library in the parenting section... and it's a small branch, so pickings were (relatively) slim.  Second, I'd heard of this Dr. Sears guy with regard to vaccines and I wanted to read something (anything) he had to say.  And third, I thought, "maybe I should start reading in advance rather than reading about stages of Baby O's life that have just past.  So, knowing that we were still well in the stage of "sleep when the baby sleeps" and "there is no such thing as schedule," I thought I could get a head start on understanding sleep now so that I could be prepared when we move into the next stage (whatever that may be).

For several days, I could not put this book down!  I really liked it.  Dr. Sears (and his family of docs and nurses) is one of the biggest proponents of Attachment Parenting.  So from the very beginning of this book, I knew that it would be providing me some detailed information that was in line with things I already wanted to do and theories I believe.  The chapter on co-sleeping (chapter 5) was reassuring to me and provided me with a little bit of literature reference for what I already knew to be true-- the news splash on how evil co-sleeping is because it's dangerous was just that-- a news splash.  He goes through the literature, explaining how the big study that made co-sleeping known as dangerous was not randomized (of course) and didn't even have a control.  They found a few hundred kids died when sleeping in adult beds.  But did you know that there's no reference in that article to the few thousand kids who died in cribs within the same amount of time?  Very interesting.

I also really liked the importance this book placed on fathers.  Just because I'm nursing (and co-sleeping) doesn't mean that my husband isn't a very important part of Baby O's life.  And long before we read this book, Ben has been great at taking turns with me attempting to calm her when she cries and rocking her to sleep when it's bedtime.  Sure, because I'm nursing, I get more of the middle-of-the-night duty than he does... but he's by no means absent.  Just as reassurance, though, chapter 8 of this book is all about night time fathering.  And it's full of good advice!

Finally, I'd say that I liked this book because it clarified the difference for me between "Cry it out alone" (which I don't want to do) and "cry it out in the arms of a parent figure," which may be important some day in the near future!  He lists out the basis for not following a stereotypical sleep training/cry it out method, and I'm fully in agreement with not crying it out.  However, he also calms my nerves by saying that yes, some times my child will cry.  And sometimes it will be for no reason.  Or because the answer I give her is "no" (e.g., if we were night weaning and she wanted to nurse for comfort... just as one example).  And in those scenarios, when they happen, it's perfectly okay for me to let O cry while we're cuddling and loving her in other ways.

I will confess, though, that just because I love his theories and ideas now doesn't mean I'll love them after I [try to] put them into practice in the future.  Maybe I'll learn that his ways are too simple, not realistic.  What do you guys think?  What tips do you have for night time parenting and sleep management?  Are there other theories you like more than Dr. Sears'?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Good Karma

Last fall I wrote a short post on a company I'd discovered called Thred Up, which was an online clothing swap company.  Well, without ever using the service even once, I've discovered this week that they have changed their business model and no longer are doing swaps.  Instead, they're now a platform for consignment!  Interesting change.  I wonder how they're business is doing now with the switch.

Anyway, I've meanwhile found another interesting "reused" children's clothing site.  And given that I seem to be writing about reduce, reuse, recycle this week, I thought I'd share it all with you!  Warning, I've not used this service and I have no attachment to them... I'd love to hear from any of you who have/will though!

Good Karma is a web based business where you can, for a small monthly fee, get a rotating wardrobe for your wee one.  It seems like a great idea, as baby clothes are rarely ever "worn out" before their out grown.  Sure, it's not the most frugal option -- and since I have frugal options at my finger tips, I'm more likely to pursue those than this -- but for a mama who feels reusing and reducing our overall consumption is important but doesn't have the budget restraints that I have, this might be an excellent option!

I also love that they have a system for your church/school/organization to host a fundraiser by donating gently used baby clothes toward Good Karma.  Maybe I should consider this with some of the organizations with which I work!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

7 weeks...

I confess.  I lost my energy this week for intentionally taking a picture in the bassinet.  But I did take a couple pics yesterday on Olivia's official 7th week birthday.  She's getting SO BIG!  I can't believe it.  As I told my boss earlier this week, we're switching over from just trying to eat/sleep/survive into trying to figure out how to do those things along with returning to normal life activities.  I'm working on scheduling at least one thing per day out of the house so that I get comfortable traveling around with her and so that I'm getting at least a little physical exercise beyond moving from the kitchen to the living room. :-)

Yesterday Baby O played on the playmat her Jefe picked out for her.  The excitement this week is that when she lays there, she makes eye contact with herself in the mirror hanging above her head and smiles at herself.  Take a look:

Of course... doing all that playing and looking and smiling is tough work.  Some people needed a nap afterwards...

Love from Boston!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The frugal side of "Reusing"

I'm happily spending part of my maternity leave doing my best to be a frugal mama.  This feels especially salient to me as I enter the half of my maternity leave that is unpaid!  I've become obsessed with craigslist as well as the JP Moms, Garden Moms, and DotMoms groups on Big Tent.  I stalk the classifieds for free items that can be of use to me... sort of obsessively... maybe too often. :-)

But this spring, I've successfully brought home 3 trashbags of infant clothes, a boppy, a breast friend, a nursing stool, an infant travel bed, an (unused) nursing sports bra, and a pack of 30 size 1 diapers... FOR FREE.  All I had to do was go to the person's house and pick them up!

On the other hand, at 7 weeks old, Baby O is getting big enough that she's outgrown some of her clothes as well as a few of the house hold items that we acquired for her arrival.  Thus, I'm also selling some of my own items on the same sites!  I've sold tiny gdiapers that she's outgrown, a bag or two of unisex newborn sized clothes, and a spare playmat that she doesn't need since she ended up with two.  And I've brought in $70 and a gallon of organic milk in return!  Not bad, eh?

I've got many other items posted and am hoping to continue the trend of buying or obtaining for cheap/free and re-selling the items after Olivia gently uses them.  In this way, I hope I can continue to minimize the cost of having my little treasure and teach myself (and others) that providing for your child doesn't have to be a million dollar industry.  I love that I'm keeping things out of landfills, reducing the USA's overall consumption, and also connecting with some other moms near by in the process!

In what ways do you benefit from hand-me-downs and "reusing" with your kids?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Baby Dedication

I'm more than a bit delayed in posting these pictures of Baby O's Child Dedication.  For those of you who don't know, my church ( chooses to perform baby dedications instead of infant baptisms, choosing the adult baptism or "baptism of believers" method instead.  I won't get into the differences here, but I was baptized at REUNION in 2008 and I think it's awesome!

So on Mother's Day this year (5/13/12) Ben and I brought Baby Olivia to be dedicated, the same way Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord (Luke 2:22).  It was a sweet moment.  I hope you enjoy some of the pics!  And btw, I don't often think about how much shorter I am than the men in my life... here we are all together: Ben, myself, Baby O, and our pastor, Hank:

Olivia Margaret Warren
"The Lord gives His people strength.  The Lord blesses them with peace." - Psalm 29:11

Thursday, June 7, 2012

6 weeks!

Hello out there!

I'll probably stop the weekly pictures soon and replace them with monthly pics.  But I thought this one deserved a special post.  Today was our 6 week post-partum visit with the midwife.  Got a clean bill of health and I don't need to see her (unless something comes up) for another year... I'm gonna stay with the midwife practice for my girly needs moving forward and will only see my PCP (who used to do my girly stuff for me) on an as-needed basis for my other general medical needs.  I figure I wasn't ever really good at seeing the PCP annually anyway, so if the midwives see me annually, I might not see the PCP at all really... (though I'm sure the midwives would discourage that habit of not seeing a PCP regularly).

Anyway, little Ms. O is 6 weeks old as of yesterday and doing GREAT!  This week she's officially started the "social smile."  If Ben or I makes funny faces/noises and then starts talking to her, she smiles with her whole darn face.  It's adorable.  She's also occasionally looking toward items that are making noise-- they have to be pretty close and she has to be in the right mood, but it's happening.  And the other new development is that she's increasing her variety of sounds-- she has a little yell/scream that sounds like a "faker cry" to me.  She uses it when she wants attention but she isn't particularly upset about anything.  Oh!  And her head control is getting awesome!  When laying on my chest or sitting upright in my lap, she can hold her head up for up to 30 seconds sometimes.  My daughter is a genius!

Took this one yesterday:

Love from Boston!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Diapers Diapers everywhere!

One of the main reasons to avoid disposable diapers is the environmental benefit.  As detailed on the Real Diaper Association as well as a variety of other places, disposable diapers take forever to decompose, they make up 1/3 of landfill material, and are made of awful awful things such as oils and plastics.

However, one month into my attempts at green parenting, I'm fully convinced that diapering will be the most expensive part of raising baby O for a while.  We don't think we need a million toys (and what we do want we can get used), we've found great sources for cheap and free clothing, I'm nursing (so food is "free").  But diapers... they're gonna cost some money.

Various sites out there suggest that disposable diapers for the average baby will cost at least $1500 and maybe as much as $4000 between birth and age 2 and a half or 3 when a child is potty trained.  Where as, dependent on which brand you use, they argue that cloth diapering can cost as little as $200 to $300 for the same amount of time.

Unfortunately, these calculations don't take into account laundering costs.  Folks that do cloth diapering typically do laundry every 3 days or so.  And given that I live in an apartment where laundry costs $1.50 for each wash and $2.00 for each dry... for that 3 years, we're talking about increasing the cost of cloth diapering from a few hundred back up to a few thousand.

Hmm... that's a lot of math to think about.  To make the math even more complex, Ben and I started out our cloth diapering life by choosing the brand gdiapers.  I really like they're company's environmental view point.  And they sell one of the most popular/commonly known brands of hybrid diapers.  Hybrid diapers have a cloth outer layer but a disposable inner layer.  And in this instance, the disposable inner layer can be disposed of either by putting it in the trash, flushing, or composting it.  And to top it off, little Baby O looks so darn cute wearing the little things.  The picture on the right is her, just a few days old, in her first tiny gdiaper.

Now that she's a little bigger, she wears size small.  Which comes with a bit more variety on color.  But the cost of the disposable inserts is quite high.  They're more expensive than a disposable diaper... which makes sense to me since they're a specialty item-- most organic and environmentally healthy choices are more expensive than the opposite option.  However, what I'm beginning to realize is that if I did an extra load of laundry every 3 days for the next 3 years, that's only $1277 in quarters.  And the cost of inserts for gdiapers will probably be closer to $2000 for that three years, even if I buy them on sale (hello Amazon Moms!)

So my question now is... am I really ready to commit to cloth diapering not only for the environmental reasons that I knew, but now also for the financial reasons?  Do I really want to be washing diapers every 3 days for the next 3 years?  What types of gear do I need for the house and the diaper bag to make cloth diapering 100% of the time successful?  And can I figure out the answers to these questions before my current case of gdiaper disposable liners is all used up?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor

I recently finished reading this book, Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor and Kathleen Huggins.  I'd picked it up at my local branch library, because I thought the title and topic were particularly relevant for me.

I'm not going back to work full time, but I am returning 20 hours a week after the end of my maternity leave.  And because of the length of my work days, I will certainly have to pump while I'm there.  I thought, based on a brief scan while standing in the stacks, that this book might offer me a bit of support, advice, and encouragement, specifically about the pumping part.

After having finished it, I'd say that it certainly is well written, but possibly a bit repetitive if you plan on reading it word for word.  In addition, the early chapters were very basic/familiar to me from previous reading I'd done on Attachment Parenting. However, for anyone who isn't obsessed with reading parenting books but is just looking for 1 or 2 basic ones to get started, those early chapters are a nice summary.

The 2nd half of the book was more relevant to me... providing advice about the different factors involved in being a nursing mom who works, pumps, etc.  And overall, the book gives a nice background history on women's rights with regard to being a mother in the workforce and also some interesting cultural information about breastfeeding and different parts of the world.  For instance, in one of the early chapters, the author sites a study from Tanka in South China.  According to this book, women who nurse typically do so with their right breast only.  And 80% of the breast cancer that develops in older women occurs in the left breast.  Pretty decent argument for breastfeeding, eh?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

First Time Mom by Dr. Kevin Leman

A year or two ago, I read Sex Begins in the Kitchen by Dr. Kevin Leman during the first months/years of marriage that we all know can be so hard.  I recall liking it, especially because of it's Christian edge.

Thus, when I found First Time Mom by Dr. Kevin Leman on the shelf at my local branch library I was really excited!  So I brought it home and it went in the pile to be read.  And I finally got to it this week!

Dr. Leman is good... I like most of what he has to say.  But in terms of useful books for me right now, this one wasn't.  The scope of the book was too long and broad... talking about both the first 10 days at home as well as toddlerhood and what to teach your child about baby #2 when/if it comes.  I also got a little frustrated with it's constant clarifying tone about how everything in the book was true with both birth children and adoptive children.  Sure, mention that once or twice... but in every single chapter... it got old.

I would recommend this book to you if you're looking for one of a couple things:

a) Something to read while pregnant before you bring baby home... the first two chapters were certainly "too late" for me (Welcome Home and the First 10 Days), and the 3rd chapter (Eating, Sleeping, Crying) was all pretty familiar too.

b) You're looking for encouragement to stay home instead of working.  Chapter 6 (To Work or Not to Work) definitely argues for mom to stay home... and then makes a decent argument that if mom can't, dad should.

I would not recommend the book if you're looking for biblical references for any of this... the thing I was most disappointed about.  He discusses "Christian values" but doesn't site anything in the bible.  Disappointing to me.