Tuesday, December 3, 2013

25 Days of Christmas

As many of you know, our family is VERY into the whole Advent Conspiracy movement in which we spend the month of December focusing on Spending Less, Giving More, Worshiping Fully, and Loving All.  A big part of that is reducing the money we spend at the holidays so that we can do more charitable giving.  Since Ben and I are still in the midst of our Debt Snowball,  we're not so much focusing on charitable giving in large amounts yet.  But we do want to set up some traditions and teach these values to O.

A while back, I saw this idea floating around pinterest and I LOVE it.  So I decided to begin instating in this new tradition this year...

Instead of an Advent Calendar with trinkets, toys, or candy inside, I decided to wrap up our Christmas books!  Then, instead of looking at all of our Christmas books all at one time, O will have the opportunity to open one each day leading up to Christmas.

In order to keep this activity cheap, I've actually been on the look out all year for used and otherwise cheap Christmas books at the Goodwill and at garage sales.  You'd be amazed how many there are, even in July!  Sure, the ones I have aren't necessarily my "all time favorites" right now, but I figure as the years go on, we can weed out, replace, and add to this collection until it becomes Olivia's favorites from her own childhood.  The idea is that you wrap each one, and then number them, opening the one that corresponds with the date each day.

I'll admit that we don't have 25 of them yet… I only own 15 Christmas books at present.  But that works out nicely, since we're not starting until today (12/3), and we are going out of town on 12/18… so we won't be able to continue from 12/18 until 12/25 anyway.

It sort of seems counter intuitive to "teach" Olivia to open one present per day when we're also trying to teach her that the holiday season isn't about gifts.  But here's the lessons that I think are important for her to learn:

1) Being grateful - While Santa isn't going to spray our house with a million gifts on 12/24 and Mom and Dad don't believe in a ton of gifts bought at retail value, O will receive many gifts during her lifetime from family and friends.  It's important to learn to accept gifts graciously and be be happy with each one you receive.

2) Patience - the idea of delayed gratification is very hard to teach any child, much less a toddler.  We may not be totally successful at doing this, the idea of seeing 15 wrapped presents and only getting to open one each day might be hard.  But if we can start instilling this now, maybe it will reduce or prevent the obnoxious habit that many of us (me included!) had as a child to open 15 presents in a row, as fast as possible, and then be bored or disappointed 15 minutes later when it's all over.

3) Reminiscing - this year, all the books will be new for O.  But next year and in the years to come, these will be "old friends" that she remembers from the past and enjoys again, as if they were new!  I have fond memories of the time of year in which my family got out the Christmas books, set them out in the living room to be read over and over for the month.  It was nice to see so many "old friends" on the bookshelf that I'd forgotten about in the 11 months between holidays.

4) Quality Time - each day when we open a book, we'll sit down and read it together, as well as the other books that we've already opened.  Olivia loves to sit on mama and dada's lap and look at pictures.  When we do this, we're not just teaching about receiving a present, we're teaching about spending quality time with family during the holidays-- it's an interaction, not just an item.

5) The Joy of Reading - simply put, any time I can teach my child to love a book instead of a plastic toy that makes noise, I'm thrilled.  I could blather on about that, but it would be a whole post of it's own.  There are all sorts of 'pre reading' skills that are important for O to learn at this age though-- holding a book right side up, turning from left to right, pointing at the pictures and commenting on each page, etc.

And for your viewing pleasure, I thought you'd appreciate the beginnings of our other Holiday pictures from this week…

but before you scroll down, in what ways are you and your family giving less presents and giving more presence this year???

Friday, October 25, 2013

Baby O is 18 months!

I can't get over it.  She's 18 months old.  A year and a half.  I'll be honest, I'm not the mom who's in awe on a daily basis of her kid.  She's work.  And she's challenging.  And many times, I'm over it.  And even if I'm not over it, I'm often so busy, I don't stop to smell the roses.  But occasionally, I stop.  And look.  And remember.  And I'm amazed how far we've come.  So where are we?

Motor... Eh.  Gross motor changes aren't that exciting between 15-18 months.  She walks.  She practically runs.  She climbs.  I guess the "exciting" thing is that she goes a lot farther before she gives up and wants to get in the stroller.

Fine motor isn't too much more exciting... She's been self-feeding pretty well for 3 months or more, using spoon, fork, and straw cup along with finger foods.  Now when she does "fine motor" tasks, though, it seems more exciting about the learning tasks that are going with it, not just the motor movement.  She has a little toy, given to her by Auntie K, which has 4 different animals that pop up.  They pop up with different "buttons" - one left/right, one up/down, one just a push button, a 4th is a "turn key."  Over the past 3 months, she's figured out how to get ALL of them!  She's also now doing way better at putting wooden puzzle pieces in-- sometimes she's a little rough, but if she finagles 'em long enough, she usually slides them into the right spot.  Oh!  And she builds SUPER tall towers with her blocks.... and then smashes the blocks right onto the floor. :-)

Since the 15 month mark, we continued to wean toward full time real food.  I really thought for a while we were going to be night nursing until she was in kindergarten!  But this fall, she transitioned from home babysitter to day care.  Literally over night she started sleeping through the night-- no night nursing.  We've even had several day periods that O hasn't asked to nurse at all.  Once I thought our relationship was over and without warning.  But she still does ask to nurse occasionally... usually in the early morning when she wakes up and sometimes when she's sleepy or sad in the evenings.

Eating is becoming more challenging some times.  Her favorite foods are definitely dairy-- cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt.  Sometimes I worry that all she ever eats is cheese and fruit.  But when I'm lucky (like I was tonight), she will also dip little pieces of pulled pork into peppercorn ranch dressing and then ACTUALLY chew and swallow them!  Then I feel like a real mom... feeding her more than goldfish crackers.

And I guess that leaves learning/language stuff-- I'm amazed at Miss O's brain.  She can take all the puzzle pieces out and then put all 8 animals back in the right place in her farm animal puzzle.  She even does them in the order you request if you point at the spots-- her matching skills are amazing.  She follows a ton of simple commands/directions like "Take your diaper to the trash," and "Give the bowel to Nana."  But her expressive language is frustrating to me.  Somedays it seems like she's all vowels.  Sure, we get an occasional "baby!" and Mama and Dada are consistent at this point.  And "wa-wa" comes along with her WATER sign now.  But it seems like everything else is all intonation and no consonants.  "ah-ah!"  "ah-ooh!"  I just feel like we've never gotten a full "babble" and I'm (as an SLP) totally panicky about it.  Oh.  And then there's "pa-bo."  Eveyrthing is "pa-bo."  Its only been about a week, but I think I'm tired of "pa-bo" 'cause it seems to mean about 5 different things.  And I don't know how to tell which is which.

Okay... it's late.  I'm gonna leave it there.  If I haven't said it yet, this is hard.  But I love it.  And I love her!  And when I look at these pictures, I can't help but giggle and my wonderful, smart, kind, and challenging little girl...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Am I the only one that didn't know these existed?

Many moons ago (maybe when I was pregnant?) I saw these cute little guys in a store while I was window shopping:

"Cute, funny, intriguing," I thought to myself, but I'm trying to get out of debt here... I really don't want or need to spend money on these things.  But when I saw a similar product on a shelf at a CVS (or was it Walgreens), a few months ago for a lower price (I think I paid $3), I decide to go for it!  I mean, sure, the ones I got were plain yellow with no cute hedge hog face... but come on... I waste more than $3 on other things, even if this was a flop, it was worth trying.

Little did I know that The Dryer Ball would be my new favorite invention!  Have these things always existed and I just didn't know it?  We L-O-V-E our dryer balls.  Let me count the ways...

1) My mom always told me never to use dryer sheets with towels.  Not sure why.  Something about making them less fluffy?  Or less effective?  Yeah... less effective... which I never really understood, but did anyway.  But now that I process it, it makes sense because...

2) You're not supposed to use dryer sheets with cloth diapers, because the dryer sheet leaves a coating on the cloth diaper that makes it less absorbent.  So any load that I wash that has cloth diapers in it, automatically no dryer sheets.  And that means that the clothes in that load (I often wash my own delicates with Olivia's cloth diapers) don't get the benefit of dryer sheets either!

3) Here's the kicker... did you know... that... the dryer sheet not only coats your clothes, but it also coats the inside of the dryer?  So if you use a dryer sheet with one load, then the little dryer sheet particles will still be in there for the next load... thus even when I keep the dryer sheet out of my cloth diaper load, they're getting residuals from other loads!

and 4)... you all knew this was coming... not only is it a green choice (less waste, not disposable, made of good stuff...) but it's CHEAPER!  These things last supposedly forever.  So my initial investment of $3 divided over the number of loads I'll use them for???  WAY CHEAPER THAN DRYER SHEETS!  What a win. :-)

Ben and I have started using these little guys in all of our laundry.  We don't have a single issue with static cling.  I think we actually have less lint.  And our diapers are SUPER absorbent, rarely ever need stripping.

All in all, I HIGHLY recommend 'em!

What's your favorite green/cheap household product/invention?

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Weaning (the process of transitioning from breastmilk or formula to adult/table food) is, like many other things in parenting, something that each diad or triad has to figure out for themselves.  There's no "right" answer or way to do it.  So if you're reading this looking for advice, please don't feel like this is a prescription for what to do.  Just a description of how we did it, in case that's helpful for you and your family.

Miss O was fully breast fed or nursed until I went back to work at 3 months.  We did occasional bottles during that time, to get her used to someone else feeding her (see this post for an explanation).  But MOST of the food was with me.  At 3 months, I started pumping full time at work, which meant hiding out in my office 2-3 times per day with the double pump, so that O could have enough breast milk to last her during the day while she was at day care.  We continued on that pattern until 4ish months.

Between 4-5 months, we started giving O "tastes" of foods.  she'd lick a carrot (yes, raw) or we'd put a spoon full of something in her mouth for the flavor, knowing she'd push it back out with her tongue.  We did this just as she was beginning to sit up supported, such as in a bumbo chair or well supported in one of our laps.

At 5 months, the daycare provider told us "Olivia cries when other babies eat food and she doesn't have any!"  I know that her crying was about wanting to be part of the experience, not about hunger.  But it made me feel guilty anyway. :-)  Thus, even though we never really planned on doing purees at home (which reminds me I need to write a post about baby led weaning), I started sending 1-2 little containers of pureed veggies, fruits, or meats into day care for them to play with.  During this process, she still was getting all her required nutrition from breast milk.

Between 6 and 9 months, we started offering solid table foods.  This phase of the game took a LOT longer than I expected.  I thought my curious daughter would start eating food and really pull back on the breast milk... but no, she didn't.  I got more efficient with my pumping, so that I only needed to pump twice daily.  But I still was S.O.L. if I couldn't pump the 10-12 ounces she needed during the day.  That's why all of you who know me in real life started noticing how much weight I lost around 9 months!  I couldn't keep the girl satisfied with enough breast milk!

All of that leads me to the decision process on weaning.  By 12-13 months, several things had happened.  A, I was SO SICK of pumping at work. B, I'd increased from 20-32 hours, meaning that I'd have to pump even MORE than I used to.  C, Olivia had transitioned from day care 3 days a week to being home with our awesome summer nanny 4 days a week.  D, she was REALLY doing well with eating solid foods.  I could tell that she was doing more than playing with the food, actually eating it.  Our grocery bill was going up.  Table food was successful.  Thus, I decided the time was right to slow down on the breast milk and really increase the solid food intake to meet O's needs.  I felt like I needed to do one thing at a time-- night weaning or pump weaning.  And since I hated the pump so much... it was what I got rid of first.

The process of weaning from the pump was stressful to me.  I didn't know how much to pump, how frequently to pump.  I was worried about engorgement.  But it all worked out.  At 13 months, I started pumping less, but still twice a day.  A couple weeks later, I transitioned to pumping once a day but still on both sides.  And finally, I started pumping once a day, but only one side (alternating days).  At 14 months, I had a couple of really busy days at work, forgot to pump all together, and realized I survived!  Thus, I brought the pump home, sterilized it, and sold the darn thing!

Simultaneously, I weaned Olivia off bottles.  She went from 3 a day to 2 a day at around 12 months.  Then from 2 a day to 2 smaller ones per day around 13 months.  Then down to 1 a day at 13.5 months. By 14 months, she was getting a little 2 ounce bottle of breast milk, mostly just because she liked it and not for the calories.  Then, of course, I'd stopped pumping.  But I had this frozen stash of breastmilk that I'd been managing all along since storing up during my maternity leave.  So I decided we should continue with the little "snack bottles" until it was all gone.  I started defrosting 2 ounces at a time, and MOST days, O would drink one.  Though some times either the nanny or daddy would forget.  At this point (we're nearing 16 months), we have one week left with summer time nanny and then O goes back to daycare.  The timing is going to work out perfectly, because I have about 8 ounces of breast milk left in the freezer!  I can't believe how many transitions are happening this fall.  But at the end of next week, no more bottles, no more breast milk in the freezer will be one of them!  Crazy, right?

At 15 months, I also started getting tired of night nursing.  We were still waking twice per night (midnight and 4ish) to nurse.  And though we have a "family bed" and a montessori bed next to it, O can come and go as she pleases, the lack of consecutive sleep had begun to wear on me big time.  So, Ben and I flip flopped places in bed and we started night weaning.  It's taken about a month to get it down consistently, but O is going from 7pm to 6 am more often than not without nursing.  She frequently wakes and cries at which point daddy will soothe her back to sleep with a pacifier, back rub, and some water from the straw cup if needed.  But night nursing is essentially done.  Even on nights when daddy isn't home, we can get the same pattern with me (though I am more likely to just nurse her if she wakes... I'm lazy when I'm woken out of REM sleep).

All in all, it's been successful and by 16 months, I think we'll be consistently only nursing about twice daily-- morning before day care and evening before bed.  I hope we'll continue that pattern and relationship through the rest of this year (up until O's 2nd birthday in April), but I think she'll tell me when she's ready to be done.

How did you and your family decide to wean?  Cold turkey? Night wean first then bottle wean? Other?  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Toddler O is 15 months old!

I can't believe how fast time is flying these days.  Miss O is officially 15 months old!  There's been so many changes since the 1 year mark.  Let me see what I can recall...

Gross motor wise, I never thought I'd have a kid who played on a playground like this.  Miss O is walking and even running occasionally.  She climbs the stairs at the playground and loves to go down the slide backwards.  We have to really encourage her to go down forwards, but that makes sense to me, since she's been going down backwards off the bed and down stairs for months now.  She imitates movements like bouncing and dancing too.  She's just figuring out that she can march in place.  Legs aren't just for transportation... she can use them to do cool stuff!

Fine motor is beginning to teach us things about baby proofing as well.  Miss O, of course, has been feeding herself for a while.  She holds her own straw cup and can even push the little button that raises/lowers the lid.  She LOVES to use a fork to spear and bring food to her mouth.  And her little picky fingers can find the ONE piece of dirt on the whole sidewalk.  No problems with this girl's vision either. :-)

We're essentially weaned from a bottle completely, using straw cup for water only.  Miss O still nurses in the morning before I go to work and over night, but she is using real adult food for her primary nutrition!  Her weight gain has been good and she's stablized out at the 25th%ile.  Looks like she has more "small" genes from mama than "tall" genes from daddy and mama's grandparents.  Her favorite foods are still the basics - cheese and yogurt.  No way this girl could go full time Paleo or vegan.  But she's actually tried some new stuff recently too... things that I'm really proud of like raw baby spinach and oven roasted brussel sprouts.  She doesn't eat those EVERY day, but it's certainly more often than not that she's happy as a clam eating whatever we're eating.  She also eats scrambled egg with spinach almost every morning. And much to her mama's liking, the new pediatrician we saw at 15 months said only the following about her iron intake, "She eats meat?  She's fine.  She goes like the energizer bunny."

Oh! And I almost forgot to talk about talking!  Way to go, SLP mama... :-)  Miss O is gradually building her vocabulary.  First word was "uh-oh" if you count it as a word.  Next came "ga" consistently used for CAT both pointing at our cat and at a kitty in a magazine.  Now she also says mama and dadda (though not consistently), hi & bye (though they often sound the same) and is beginning to imitate a few other words inconsistently.  In sign, she says "all done," "more," and "help" with cute little approximations.  She also waves bye and blows kisses.  We're trying to add a sign for "water" to the vocab, though since she's headed off to day care soon, I don't know how well it will carryover...

More on the pediatrician later.  It's been quite the ordeal between the 9, 12, and 15 month visits at Children's Hospital Boston. For now, the pics.  Someone reminded me a long time ago now not JUST to save the happy, smiling pictures.  Some day, I'll be thrilled that I remembered these adorably sad moments too...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

First Year Essentials

Hello mamas out there!  I have SEVERAL friends who are getting pregnant or trying to get pregnant.  So I've been asked more than once in the last month, "what is YOUR list of essentials for the first year?"  I'm so glad you asked!  I think that the baby industry is second only to the wedding industry these days in convincing people to buy things they don't need at prices twice as high as they should pay.  Ick.  I hate it.  I did a lot of research before Miss O was born, but even still, I ended up owning some things that I didn't need.  Thus, more than a year in, I think I've finally fine tuned my "essentials" list for year one.  

Transporting Baby- we chose to get a car seat and a "snap and go" stroller (aka a frame stroller) for that car seat.  It was small, compact, traveled well on the T and via our small car, didn't take up too much space.  We used it for 1 year until O outgrew the bucket car seat and needed to size up.  We never felt we needed a "larger" or different stroller, except for a couple weeks where I daydreamed about having a "jogging" stroller so I could work out... then I went back to work, and didn't have time to work out with baby anyway... glad I didn't waste the money.  Now that we're on to larger kiddo, we have a larger/sturdier "umbrella stroller" and a convertible car seat.  Again, I don't feel the need for anything more/larger.  This fits all our needs.  We were gifted this Tricycle for O's first birthday and daddy loves to take her out in it.  But I always wish that we had the stroller instead.

Receiving Blankets- we LOVED swaddling Ms. O when she was tiny.  Despite that, we really only needed 5-7 max (had 10-12 and some never got used).  The normal cotton ones you can get at any baby store were fine, but we really loved the slightly larger, slightly stretchier ones that were available.  One brand example is aden and anais.  The larger size meant we could use it longer and the stretchier fabric felt more cozy and made swaddling easier.  Much to my surprise, I did NOT use any of the "pre folded" swaddling contraptions with velcro straps and stuff.  They collected dust and I re-sold them quickly.

Diapers - for the first 3-4 months, we loved our Gdiapers.  Now we use bum genius all-in-ones.  I think the "all-in-ones" make cloth diapers a really easy decision.  All of the inserts and snaps and things on other types are stressful, STILL, when I look at them.  I think somewhere between a dozen and 2 dozen cloth diapers is a good start, dependent on how often you want to do laundry.  We use the cheapest store brand we can find on amazon when we use disposable.  I've never met a brand that wasn't "good enough."

Diapering Accessories - if you're going to cloth diaper, I'd recommend you get these items from the start: a diaper sprayer, a wet bag for home, and some wet bags that are smaller/zip up that can go in a diaper bag for being out of the house.  Brand doesn't matter.  Buy the cheap one.

Breast Pump - get a good one.  It's worth the money and your insurance probably covers it.  I loved the Medela Pump n' Style.  I actually owned two (got them both used), which was PERFECT for having one at home (in case I needed to pump in a crisis, or I took it with me to Hebrew Rehab) and one at work.  I had extra pump parts too, which made the back and forth to work a little easier/less stressful on my new mommy memory.

Places for baby to sleep - even though we co-slept from night one, we really appreciated having a couple of safe sleeping choices for those first few months when O was in the "lump on a log" phase.  We used a Summer Infant Sleeper (great for tossing in the car to go to Grammie's house.  Also good for the back yard and the living room floor).  We also used a "travel bassinet" (not this exact one, but similar).  We used it only in the bedroom.  We were handed down a pack-n-play and didn't use it much because it felt so hard to rock her to sleep and then lay her down so low to the floor with such a tall wall.  It also took up more space than we wanted it to in our little apartment.  By Christmas (8 months), my mom tried to put her in a pack'n'play at Nana's house and O absolutely hated the cage.  It lasted about 5 seconds.  After the first few weeks, though, my favorite non-bedroom sleeping apparatus was a boppy with a blanket underneath it.

Places for baby to sit/lay when you're freaking out- we were handed down a baby swing which we looked at and thought it was too huge, too plastic, and we'd never use it.  But when O was fussy and I couldn't think straight, it was our go-to.  She napped in it once a day during my maternity leave.  I gifted it away by 4-5 months when she was more mobile.  I've heard other moms talk about vibrating chairs similarly, which have the benefit of being able to drag into the bathroom while you shower.  I think every mom should have ONE device that you can strap him/her into and walk away if you need to pee or cry. :-)

Bathing- we owned one of these little baby baths, but I don't think it was a "must."  I only recall using it a couple times.  When O was little enough to sit inside, she slipped, slid, and didn't have good trunk support.  It took two of us to bath her in there, so it wasn't helpful for me alone.  When she was too little to sit independently, I actually showered with her most often (daddy could help when he was home, but I could do it alone when needed).  Once she sat up, we bathed her in the kitchen sink.  Once she could stand, we use a bigger tub that goes down inside our bathtub... it is sorta like a big tupperware bin... that way it's more easily cleaned if she poos in the tub and it also uses less water to bathe her than filling the whole bathtub.  We also have about a dozen baby wash cloths and maybe 2-3 baby towels with the hood (which are SO CUTE).  Don't get suckered into other baby bath things like robes and slippers-- useless.

Bottles- I really wanted to be earthy and use stainless steel or glass bottles.  But the truth was, the day care wanted plastic only.  So I succumbed to that and just used the medela ones that came with/attached so easily to my breast pump.  I was always sad about it, though.  Switched to Evenflo glass as soon as we were using a nanny part time.  I used Evenflo, Gerber, and Medela slow flow nipples, as they were all interchangeable.  

Other feeding: We have daddy's old fashioned high chair.  We were gifted/handed down a Bumbo, but used it about 3 times total- don't buy it.  I'm craving a smaller high chair or booster seat that would sit on top of one of our kitchen chairs or attach straight to the table, as I'm ready for the high chair to take up less space in my kitchen.  We had about a dozen cloth bibs which we didn't use at all until she started eating solid foods (between 4-6 months for small amounts of purees, 6 months + for solids).  Now that she's bigger, we use larger easy wipe bibs and only have 2-3 of them, because they don't have to be removed from the kitchen for washing, so they get reused more and we need less.  We never really used specialized "burp cloths," but instead used about a dozen pre fold diapers as burp cloths.  Once O was eating solid food in the chair, we use about a dozen baby wash cloths to wipe her face/hands/the table, rinse out, and then wash at the end of the day.  

Dishes: we have found small glass bowls and real silverware at Bed Bath and Beyond, and don't really use any plasticware very often or dedicated baby dishes at all.  Plates are just distracting, we put food straight on the tray unless it's a puree.  We love our Foogo straw cups-- have 2 of those and essentially don't drink out of anything else except for the occasional open cup.

Clothing: My advice to moms is don't buy anything yourself until after a shower, if you have one.  Clothing will be the thing you have coming out your ears.  I'd say regardless of weather where you live, your 0-3 month sized set should include about a dozen onesies, 5-7 sleepers (with feet or the little elastic bottomed/dress kind), 2-3 caps, and 2-3 pairs of little mittens that keep him/her from scratching themselves.  ALL OTHER CLOTHING IS JUST FOR STYLE, so it doesn't count as a "must have" but OMG clothing shopping for babies is so much fun, so enjoy it once you decide to do it! :-)

Pacifiers - didn't want to use 'em, but O proved me wrong.  We have about 6 that are in the rotation and couldn't survive without 'em.  Brand doesn't matter.

Monitors - our house is so small, we didn't NEED one.  Were handed down a video monitor which proved nice once in a while, so if your home is big enough, the video was a cool feature.  We gifted this away after O was big enough to a) shout loud enough for me to hear her quickly or b) climb out of her floor bed and walk into the living room to find me.

General "health" supplies: baby nail clippers, baby thermometer (rectal is the only one that's reliable), baby snot sucker - you'll probably get one at the hospital-- ask for a spare.  Also have baby tylenol on hand in case you need it in the middle of the night.

Baby Wearing Devices: my favorite was the Moby Wrap until O was walking (11-12 months).  Daddy loved the Bjorn when she was little enough for it.  As she's gotten older and bigger, we transitioned to a Beco (I think we bought it in February at 10 months???), which is just like the Ergo.  I love that I can put her on my back in it.  I also love that it has a little hood that helps keep it dark to get her to sleep.

What things did YOU think were essentials in year one???

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Photoshoot with Kate McK.

Despite our "gazelle intensity" in attempting to get out of debt and our minimalist life, one thing I didn't want to pass up on was a One Year family photo shoot.  I'm blessed enough to be friends with this amazing woman, Kate mcKallagat.  She took our pregnancy photo shoot pics and was gracious enough to agree to take some pics of us and Miss O near her first birthday as well!  We returned to Lars Anderson, the site of our engagement and marriage.  It was fun to revisit places we've had other pics taken at different life phases...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Miss O turns ONE YEAR OLD!

Well, my baby is officially 1.  And while the term "toddler" often refers to a specific time period that is yet to officially start, this girl is toddling like you wouldn't believe.  After her first steps at 10.5 months, she didn't repeat the performance for weeks!  But between 11 and 12 months, she really learned to cruise!  As you can tell from the pics below, she can't and won't really sit still for the pictures any more.  I think we're going to start doing quarterly photos instead of monthly.  Along with walking, Miss O is progressing in all of her other milestones as well.  She's self-feeding nearly 100% of the time, which makes life a little more flexible for me.  We're also beginning the process of weaning, which will be the topic of a separate post, so I won't bother going through the details here.  

We're really looking forward to a whole week of activities for the birthday.  We're doing a photo shoot with Kate McKallagat.  We're also having a birthday party (with smash cake) up at Grammie and Grandpas house.  More photos to follow...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Breastfeeding while Sick? 5 things...

In February I had the inevitable happen... I got sick.  Really sick.  I spent 24 hours pukin' my brains out followed by a week or so of what my family would call "lower GI symptoms."  Ya know what I mean?    Lower G I ???  Anyway, not only did I feel like I wanted to die, and thus didn't really want to put baby's needs first, but I had a sudden drop in my breast milk supply.  I was panicked (once I finally had the energy to be) that this might be a sudden end to my nursing relationship with O, months before I'd hoped.  But in the end, we pulled through.  Here we are, several weeks later, no worse for the wear and with some advice for those of you who might go through something similar...

First, don't stop nursing!  Very few illnesses in the first world require you to stop nursing.  If you get advice from your doc to stop nursing, double check with your lactation consultant and/or midwife.  If what you have is viral, your infant has probably been exposed to the virus through your breast milk before you even have symptoms.  Besides, as you are fighting your illness, your body is creating antibodies to combat the virus... and baby gets those through the breastmilk too!  So it's a good thing to keep giving it to them.  But on a more 'systems' side-- even if your body doesn't feel like it's creating a lot of breastmilk, if you stop stimulating your breasts, you will reduce the supply.  So please please keep nursing, even if it seems futile, if baby doesn't seem satisfied afterwards, etc.

Secondly, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  It's important for you to be drinking LOTS of water and/or gatorade (with electrolytes).  You lose more water than you think when you have... lower GI symptoms... AND you lose lots of water when you nurse.  Ergo, you need to be replacing a TON of water when you're sick AND nursing.

Third, hydrate your baby.  While we're on the topic of hydrating... if you feel like you can't hydrate your little one enough because of your temporarily low milk supply, it's not a bad idea to think about giving her some extra fluids too-- pick up a little pedialyte from the store (preferably the non-flavored kind... they don't need random flavorings...) and give baby a bottle of it per day.  When I was sick, little O didn't love the pedialyte at first.  But by the end of my week of illness, she sucked the pedialyte down by bottle.  And it made Ben and I feel really good when she had nice, full wet diapers.  (I know.  Sad when life progresses to the point that a full diaper is what makes you feel good.)

Fourth, consider what medications you take.  Most of the over the counter drugs we tend to take in the US while sick (e.g., tylenol, antacids, cough meds) are either 'safe' or have a 'safe formula' that you can theoretically take while nursing.  However... most of these meds simply mask or reduce symptoms, but they don't actually make you well any faster.  If what you've got is a virus, it's gonna have to run it's course.  So please look up meds online -- I'm not going to go through which ones are safe here and which aren't.  But maybe consider NOT taking something that's just supposed to make you feel better.  'Cause if you know modern science at all, you know that we can't really do randomized controlled trials on mothers and babies, so we don't REALLY know what all the effects are.  So maybe a warm washcloth to soothe your headache is better than tylenol.  Or some natural gingerale could ease your stomach pains, or a neti pot could clear your sinuses without the dayquil.  You made it through labor and delivery... you'll probably survive a couple days of feeling like crap too.

Fifth, stay calm.  Stress will only make the whole thing worse.  I know that's so hard to hear and believe when you're in the midst of it.  But the mind-body connection is something that none of us understand as well as we should.  So if you can breathe and believe that you, too, will survive this drama... it will probably come true. :-)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Olivia was 11 months old!

I at least wanted to get photos up, even though I am woefully delayed in keeping up with the blogging. The more mobile O gets, the less time I have for computer stuff. Go figure. :-)  

Anyway... at 11 months, Miss O had officially taken her first few steps!  What a smarty.  She did it while we were in Florida for Ben's work.  Ben and I were both there and happened to both look over at the right time... bam!  3 steps between a chair and a coffee table.  We of course are "convinced we saw the first steps."  But who knows.  Maybe she'd done it before when no one was looking?  Regardless, we were thrilled.  

Will have more to say with the 12 month/birthday post.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Baby O was 10 months old!

Slightly less delayed... mama's been busy!

Miss O is doing so many more things now than she used to.  The biggest "thing" though, isn't an action, it's an INTERACTION!  O has always had a personality.  She has been a smiley, laughing baby throughout life.  But now we really watch her interact with us-- watch us, understand what we're saying, and react.  She loves to giggle and will repeat activities that make you laugh and then laugh along with you.  She also loves to cuddle and will curl up next to anyone on the couch or on the bed and push her head into yours and smile.

Motor wise, this girl is practically walking-- she holds onto your hands and then ZOOMS through the house on two feet, squealing the whole way.  She can move around the room, grabbing on to coffee tables and couches along the way.  And within the last few days, we've seen a few seconds at a time of independent standing.

Fine motor is also improving.  She definitely has a functional (if not yet perfect) pincer grasp.  She can pick up tiny items off the floor and put them in her mouth... a behavior we don't like.  And she can pick up tiny pieces of food and put them in her mouth... a behavior we DO like!  She's also gotten better at spoon feeding-- both tolerating us spoon feeding her and also attempting to spoon feed herself.  She's a total mess when she does it herself, but she's happy!

She eats just about anything you put in front of her.... cheese, scrambled eggs, chicken, pork, bacon, ground beef, yogurt, pureed fruits/veggies (from spoon or pouch), as well as hunks of fruits and veggies.  It's amazing!  If you really let her go, the food is actually GONE now a days, rather than just munched on, spit out, and pushed onto the floor.  But her all time favorite is little freeze dried yogurt drops.  They're like crack to her.  Once you feed her those, she won't eat anything else.  So they're served last. and only once a day. :-)

Enjoy the picks of my little darling.  She's amazing!

Friday, January 25, 2013