Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Favorite- Peek a Boo!

This is Tye' favorite book right now! She generally sits and looks at the pictures in books as I read. This book, however, makes her smile and wave her arms and legs in the air and do her almost-giggle. The pages inside have large flaps that are lifted to reveal animals. Between the moving flaps and the hidden faces and the "peek-a-boo!" phrase, Tye is in baby heaven. I really didn't believe until now that a 3 month old could have so much fun reading a book.
But still, her favorite activity: munching on those fingers...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy Thursday!

We had the best time this morning... folding laundry. That's right, folding laundry was amazingly fun. I turned on an iTunes mix I made titled "Tye's Singalongs," consisting of all upbeat music to which I know all the words- lots of oldies, like the Beatles' 8 Days a Week, and old high school favorites. While I folded laundry, Tye sat next to me in her rocking chair on the counter and smiled as I sang to her. She is so close to a real giggle that I can hardly stand it!
Another great Mama-daughter day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marley and Mico

Before Mico, we had a Boxer named Marley. Marley had his issues, but he was a great dog to have at home.
One year for Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me the book Marley and Me. I read the stories of the disobedient, destructive yellow lab and was thankful that our Marley was such a good dog. I followed the tales and could relate to the ups and downs of pet ownership and the bond that develops between owner and dog. I cried at the end- huge, choking sobs- while I hugged my Marley. Marley passed away last February, while the Marley and Me movie was still in theatres, and I still haven't seen the movie. I know it would break my heart more than any movie should, and I just don't want to spend an hour and a half crying.
Mico entered our lives just weeks later, weighing roughly 90 pounds less than he currently does, and was such a needed source of laughter in our lives with his floppy gray ears and massive paws.
He's been a handful, though, to say the least. More than a few times, I've mentally referenced Marley and Me and thought, He could be worse. Maybe I shouldn't have been pressing my luck all those times. Yesterday, while visiting my parents in the suburbs, I left Mico in their bathroom as we've done so many times so he can't access the whole house and destroy at will. When I came home, I opened the door to find this.
I think we named the wrong dog Marley.

Nap time

Those cheeks...

Monday, February 22, 2010

The scent of a baby

I recently found a fabulous article at denverpost.com about a Boulder, CO hospital that has made significant efforts to reduce its environmental impact. Included in its new program is cloth diapers for infants! Quite a development considering diapers at many hospitals are provided by the diaper manufacturer for advertising purposes with the idea that if a family starts with a certain brand of diapers at the hospital, they'll look for the same brand at the store. At West Suburban, we were given a package of Pampers Swaddlers. I'm sure many hospitals have Infamil formula provided too, with the same branding process in mind (I received four containers of Infamil formula, unsolicited, free in the mail before Tye was born- obnoxious!). I imagine having cloth diapers at the hospital has a bit of the same effect, though, and parents who are exposed to cloth diapers are hopefully more open to pursing them in the future.
I've thought several times about my next birth (already!), and one detail I think I'll pursue is bringing our own cloth diapers to the hospital for those first few changes. As it was, Tye went diaperless her first 24 hours. We kept her wrapped in hospital blankets, and whenever she went, we knew right away- and celebrated like only parents can celebrate bodily elimination. The Pampers Swaddlers that we received were nice diapers, soft and tiny, with a little cutout for the umbilical cord. And they smelled wonderful, like baby.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why we can identify a certain scent as a baby scent? Personally, I can identify two baby scents: 1) the smell of warm breastmilk and soft human skin, which I had never smelled before having Tye and my milk coming in, and 2) the smell of the baby isle at the grocery or big box store- what I thought babies smelled like before Tye. Most baby products, including diapers, come heavily fragranced with that "baby" scent. Fragrances are listed on ingredient lists as just "fragrance" to protect secret formulas, but that also keeps consumers in the dark as to what is included in the fragrance. Along with other toxic ingredients, almost all fragrances in products include pthalates, which are believed to be carcinogenic hormone disrupters. If you walk into a baby isle, almost every product, from baby lotion to diapers to wipes to diaper cream, all contain "fragrance," and it's that fragrance that we all are led to believe babies smell like. Suddenly, that smell in the baby isle is slightly less appealing, isn't it?
I also recently read an article on WebMD that linked disposable diapers to asthma, which has increased threefold in the past several decades. Childhood asthma has reached an all-time high, affecting of 9.4% of children, or 7 million children, in the US, according to the CDC. When I read the article, I immediately thought of our bedroom mirror. Tye's changing station has been set up on a low dresser in our bedroom, right under a large mirror. When Tye was still itty-bitty tiny, none of the cloth diapers I bought for her fit tightly enough around her skinny little legs to keep anything in the diaper. During that newborn phase that included peeing every 15 minutes and pooping 8-10 times a day, the leaky cloth just wasn't working, so we decided to use disposables short-term and we switched to cloth when Tye reached about 9-10 pounds.
When we were using disposables, we discovered a thick, white film developing on the lower mirror above the changing table. When we switched to cloth diapers, the white film stopped collecting on the mirror. I couldn't believe that the disposable diapers were creating so much dust! Just what was in that dust? And how much of that were we inhaling? Now I wonder how much of that contributes to the development of asthma, and how much of it is that "baby" fragrance. Either way, I'm very happy to be using almost exclusively cloth diapers now. Now that we're ECing and using cloth diapers, Tye is very uncomfortable when she's wet, so we still use disposables when we're on the road so Tye can be a little more comfortable until we have the opportunity to change her. But now, the disposables are Whole Foods 365 brand, which are unfragranced and unbleached, which makes me feel better.
In case you're wondering, we also use baby wash, lotion, and diaper cream free of "fragrance." California Baby makes a line of baby products scented with only essential oils that is available at Target, and Whole Foods has other options for naturally-scented, organic baby products. While they don't capture that "baby" smell like other brands in the baby isle, they also don't overpower the true baby scent of warm milk and skin. I'll take Tye's true scent over a mass-produced fragrance any day. She smells delicious, and she smells like only my baby smells. Mmmmm.... Tye. Yum.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Feet

Within minutes of Tye's birth, we recognized several features as being inherited from Tyler- namely, her little upturned nose and her long, narrow feet. Take a look at her feet here. That pink triangle in the middle of her foot is supposed to be on her heel. I need to buy Tye some bigger socks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tye's voice

Tye has been talking quite a bit recently! It's mostly cooing, with a little bit of babbling (cooing consists of vowel sounds, and babbling uses consonants), and I could listen to her all day. She often coos back to me while I sing to her, as if she's singing along.
Tonight I caught some of the talking on video! The room was dark, so the video is too, but you can hear her voice, which is the important part. To think about what this little voice will be saying some day blows my mind.
video

When words aren't enough...

Remember Jen, the mother of my former student, who writes the blog that I first started reading? She wrote about the Bucktown Baby dress, knit lovingly for a baby in Chicago, and even wrote an entry about her daughter and me that brought me to tears. She sent the Bucktown Baby dress to Tye, and it arrived yesterday.
I've learned that in life, sometimes words can't express what we are trying to say, especially "thank you." We have learned to say "please" and "thank you" with such frequency that the phrases have lost much of their meaning. We train our kids to say the phrases courteously, but just try asking a three or four year old what they actually mean. When our lives are forever changed by someone's contribution, using the same phrase we repeat, often mindlessly, countless times a day, it just doesn't feel appropriate. Mere words don't seem to capture the deep gratitude we feel.
This is one of those situations for me. To receive a handmade gift is to receive the time and love that was put into it, and I am fully appreciative of all this dress really is. Even more, I'll forever hold in my heart the kind words so publicly posted about my time teaching Olive. She and I certainly had a fantastic connection, and it was my joy to be able to teach her. I don't have words that say "thank you" enough for everything that this dress will bring to mind every time I see it. With each wearing, I'll think of Olive, of your kindness, and what a knit hem facing actually says. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
And so, pictures to say "thank you" to Jen.
A box as big as she is! Already smiling in anticipation... maybe she could tell how excited I was!
When I first put the dress next to her, Tye wouldn't take her eyes off of it. But I missed the moment, and she was more interested in her feet in this moment. You can get a bit of an idea of how big the snapsuit and pants are in this photo- they will fit Tye in a few months. Already, though, the dress looks stunning! I love that this style will continue to fit her as she grows.
Look at the details, the pattern!
Look at the love that was put into the faced hem, also done on the sleeves and collar. (Sometimes more people than just the wearer get to see the hem!)
All smiles, all around. Thank you, Jen. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Natural Remedies

Last night, I went to the Chicago Chapter Holistic Moms Network meeting. Each month, there is a new guest speaker, and this month's was Dr. Andrea Rentea, MD. She and her husband practice Family Medicine in Chicago, but their practice is a unique one here. They use natural remedies that they learned studying in Germany and Austria to help guide the body's healing process. Dr. Rentea's presentation was fantastic. She's a warm, friendly grandma-type who believes fully in treating, and parenting, the whole child. She showed us several natural home remedies for common childhood ailments, such as a fever, cough, sore throat, and ear ache, using grocery store produce and compresses. If a lemon compress or onion pack can relieve a child's painful symptoms, I'll try that before resorting to medications every time. There's no risk in applying a lemon water compress to my feverish child, and no side effects. Some of the members of the Holistic Moms Network take their children to see Dr. Rentea, and they vouched for the effectiveness of these remedies. It's amazing to me that something so simple, so completely harmless, can be effective in healing. Dr. Rentea also presented some herbal remedies using oil compresses and herbal steam baths. After the presentation, Dr. Rentea was kind enough to answer my question about Tye. About 2-3 weeks ago, she started having mucous in her stools, and for the last week she's had slight diarrhea. Dr. Rentea asked me about my diet and suggested that I start by taking birch charcoal (carbo betula), which will help Tye because I'm nursing her. She had some on hand and gave me a small pack of capsules with directions for taking them, as well as other home remedies I can try if the charcoal doesn't work. Hopefully this will help Tye. So far today, no diarrhea. If the charcoal doesn't solve the problem, I think there's a good chance I'll make an appointment with her in office to see what other ways we can address poor Tye's tummy troubles. The practice of trying natural remedies before prescribing antibiotics is one I'm interested in following.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To Tye, With Love, at 3 months

Dear Tye, Today is yet another milestone in your already-too-fast development. Today, at three months of age, you are no longer a newborn. You are now an infant. I have a hard time believing that your life can be captured in one single measurement. I can't believe that you're already three months old. You look so big compared to your baby pictures, even the pictures we took at Christmas which seem so recent. You have grown so much. The other night, as I was feeding you before bed, I looked down and realized that you had almost doubled in length in the blink of an eye. When you nursed when you were first born, you fit across my chest, even when you weren't curled in your little frog-legged ball. Now, suddenly, your bum is where your feet used to be and your legs curl around my side. I can't hold you in one arm while you nurse any longer. And you're outgrowing some of my favorite 3 month clothes for you already. When I folded the 3-6 month clothes just after you were born, I was sure you would need almost the 6 months to fit into them, but somehow you've just grown that quickly. Your little squished-up newborn face, with your upturned nose and squinty eyes, has smoothed out, and your skinny arms and legs have filled out (thank goodness). Where did the time go? And yet, haven't I known you my whole life? I find it hard to remember my life without you. You are what I've been waiting for my entire life, building up to and planning around before I even knew you. I think I've been a mother my whole life, and now that you've arrived, I'm finally complete. I've spent my whole life waiting for you. For Christmas, your dad gave me a beautiful gold necklace with a calendar on it. It's the month of November, and there's a diamond where your birthday, the 14th, is. It is a commemoration of your birth day. Just as much, it's my own birth day. That day marks the day that I became a mom, the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. I can't believe that you're already three months old, but even more, I can't believe that I've only really known you for three months. Before you were born, I had a dream about your birth. I dreamed that I had a completely pain-free delivery and you just squirmed your way out. When you came out, I looked at you and you looked right into my eyes with your big, dark eyes, and I felt a surge of love for you and felt that we were already completely connected. When I woke, I relived the beauty of the dream over and over, but I was sure it was just a dream because my baby would have blue eyes, just like her daddy and me. Then you arrived for real, with your big, dark eyes, and I knew I had seen your face before, looked into those eyes before. Look at your baby pictures. You had such dark eyes it was hard to tell what color they were. Now, they have turned bright blue. When I think about how you've only been here for three months, the only way I can explain the incredible bond we have is that I've known you for longer than three months. Maybe it was that dream. Maybe it was from the first time you kicked me, listening to crazy 80's music on the Edens expressway. Maybe it's because I've been praying for a baby since I was four, when I asked my mom where babies come from and she said that a mommy and daddy pray really hard for a baby and God sends the baby into the mommy's tummy (thank goodness God waited until your daddy was in the picture!). Whatever it is, I have a new understanding of time's passing. Somehow, a single measurement can have two very different meanings. Three months can feel like a day, and it can feel like a lifetime. I can't wait to keep learning from you, my Baby Girl. I love you more than words can say. Love, Mama

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Formula free!

Today, Tye consumed only breast milk!!! It's taken two long months of supplementing formula, washing bottles, and for me, feelings of inadequacy. Finally, we're back in balance. Here's to boobs!!!

The Life of a Grandchild

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow day = pajama day!

Mico 2.0

Saturday, we picked up Mico from his dog training! We had our first lesson with the trainers and they taught us how to work with Mico. Mico certainly gave them a hard time. Normally, the owners sit in a room next to the training room and watch the dog perform his new skills through a clear window without the dog knowing they are there. However, as soon as Mico entered the training room, he looked right through the glass and saw us. There went his concentration! The trainer had been explaining to us that his biggest challenge is distractibility. Our presence was the strongest distraction possible at that moment, and Mico gave the poor trainer a run for her money.
The biggest change in Mico is that he understands what a correction means. When he isn't following a command, a light tug on his collar is enough to change his behavior. He now heels really well, which makes our walks actually quite enjoyable. It's a wonderful experience! Mico still has some work to do in perfecting his skills, but he has a great set of base skills upon which we'll build.
Now that he's home, Mico is back to himself. He still loves to lay right next to Tye! I think he's going to be a great buddy when they both grow up.

Family Sleeper

Check out this Family Sleeper by Humanity Organics. It prevents a child from rolling off an adult bed. This would be perfect for us when Tyler is traveling once Tye starts rolling around in her sleep. I'm so worried about that development! We've been saying that we'll just need Tye to sleep in her own crib by then, but I'm not sure I'm ready to give up co-sleeping. I'm thinking we could probably use the body pillow that helped me sleep throughout my pregnancy, but this looks much more secure for that stage when kiddos are tossing and turning all night. What a brilliant idea!

It's another cold one...

Chicago is in the middle of a 36+ hour winter weather advisory, and we're supposed to receive 12-14 inches of snow by tomorrow morning. Taking Mico out this morning was chilly! Tye stayed cuddled up against me, barely visible, her wide eyes taking in all the whiteness. Just wait until later this afternoon, when we're supposed to have whiteout conditions!

Monday, February 8, 2010

On blogging...

I haven't always been a blog reader. During the original blogging craze, I heard bloggers described as people who spend their lives writing about their lives, and I was certain that anyone who lived in front of their computer had little interesting to share. The few blogs I came across were just that, and so I decided that blogging and following just weren't for me.
A couple years ago, while teaching in Northbrook, the social worker on our team stumbled across a blog kept by the parent of one of our students. I read several posts and found it charming, insightful, and witty, and because much of it revolved around the student I taught, I found it highly interesting. And yet, I felt somewhat uncomfortable reading it because it was such a personal view into the family's life. Reading it felt almost like eavesdropping on a family conversation to which I wasn't sure I was invited. I believe I complimented the mother on her beautiful writing at the time, but I decided that our communication should happen in modes that encouraged two-way dialogue, like the communication notebook that went home every night.
As a Special Education teacher, I always worked very hard to establish deep connections with all of my students. Even in a population known for difficulty showing and interpreting emotions appropriately, a strong relationship can motivate a student to work hard when little else can. With some students, this bond takes months of effort to establish. With others, it happens easily, as if you just know that this child would have been your own best friend had timing been different. One of my students in Northbrook was like this. She was a tiny, sensitive-skinned girl with a beautiful mess of brown hair that seemed as big as she was some days. She ate the foods I liked, like spicy curries, salads with dried cranberries and blue cheese, and salsa by the spoonful, and we preferred many of the same activities- finger painting, swinging, cooking, and walking the therapy dog. She wore hand-knit dresses and home made coats that made me enviously wish the same items were available in my size. It was her mother who kept the blog, beautifully intertwining stories about her daughter's growth with her passion for knitting intricate works of wearable art.
When she left our program, I missed this student like I would miss a friend. I began reading her mother's blog daily- the first I ever followed. I chuckled when my little friend used scissors to take some length off her own hair, cheered on her progress with her private speech therapist, and literally screamed with joy when she was accepted into an excellent new school... but I never commented on the posts for fear her mother would think, for any number of reasons, that my continued interest in her daughter was somehow crossing the line. Two years later, she posted her first video of her daughter. You know how a picture is worth a thousand words? I think a video is worth several million, and I just had to comment on it. It was a big move- I was loosing my anonymity. Much to my relief, instead of posting about how creepy it was that some teacher never stopped following her child, the mother wrote me a friendly email in response to my comment. I was grateful to receive it, to re-establish two-way dialogue, and to be accepted as a blog follower.
Yesterday, I checked my email and discovered that I had a comment on one of my own posts- the student's mother, Jen, asked for my address so that she could send something to Tye. I checked her blog for her email address, and when I did, I saw her most recent post, titled "Bucktown Baby Dress." As I read it, looking at the photos of itty-bitty patterned stitching, my eyes welled with tears. Could it be for Tye? Really? I started following Jen's blog, the first I ever read, because I loved her daughter. Now I have my own daughter, and my own blog, and I'm reading a post about a beautiful dress that might be for my daughter and writing my own post about both of our daughters. I've decided that blogs can be pretty great after all.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oh, laundry...

The first night Tye was born, the three of us cuddled together on our queen-sized bed in the birthing center and slept skin-to-skin. Co-sleeping wasn't something Tyler and I talked about. I had thought about it, but I decided we would do whatever came naturally when Tye came home (perhaps that decision was a decision to co-sleep, but I didn't know it then). When it came time for us to go to bed for the first time at home, Tyler said definitively, "She's sleeping with us tonight." Ever since then, we've been co-sleeping.
For the first few weeks of her life, Tye's breathing was sometimes irregular, which is apparently normal for newborns but scary for parents regardless. Not only did Tye's position asleep atop my chest those first weeks comfort me by confirming she was still breathing, but co-sleeping is actually proven to help regulate an infant's breathing and heart rate, as well as body temperature. Even now that her breathing is normal, I still worry constantly about Tye choking. I've never talked to other parents whose children dealt with this, but Tye actually chokes sometimes when she spits up as the milk fills her throat and nostrils. At times, Tye has gone 20 to 30 seconds without being able to take a breath. This happens probably five or six times a week. By holding her upright and tilted forwards, and sometimes using the bulb syringe, we can help Tye clear her airways and breathe again. But what if we don't know that she's choking? Often when this happens, Tye is completely silent, unable to pass air in or out. By sleeping with Tye on my chest or face-to-face on our sides, I know I'll have the best chance of waking if she chokes. So far, every time Tye has had one of these episodes in the middle of the night, I wake up either just as it starts or a minute or two before it starts. Call it what you will-- mother-child bond, maternal instinct, or Divine Intervention-- I am forever grateful that she's beside me when it happens. Co-sleeping has kept me sane through the nights.
Hands down, the best part of co-sleeping is the cuddle time. Waking next to her squirmy little limbs and smiley face in the morning is wonderful. In the mornings, we cuddle and play for a few minutes until she's ready to eat, and then she has her breakfast in our cozy, toasty bed. I feel like we're very intimately bonded because she's with me all day long, every day. By the time she wakes up from her long mid-day nap (which she takes in her cradle, thank God for video monitors), I really miss her. I can't imagine sleeping away from her all night long. Co-sleeping has such clear benefits for children, but I think it's helping me as much as it is Tye.
The down side of co-sleeping? Leaked diapers mean changing the sheets and mattress pad on a much, much bigger bed, as happened yesterday. I had to wash the sheets and the down-alternative mattress pad. On the topic of laundry, can I share my new favorite laundry product? I found these Nellie's Dryer Balls at the Crate and Barrel Outlet a while ago and am loving them.
Along with our Charlie's Soap, which we started using for cloth diapers but I love for all our laundry, these Nellie's leave our laundry soft and just slightly scented of natural lavender (not too much for my still-sensitive-as-a-pregnant-woman sense of smell). Of course, I would prefer not to use my dryer for energy-saving reasons, but unfortunately, winters in Chicago just don't lend themselves to line-drying items.
Anyway, I washed everything and put it back on our bed and we enjoyed nice clean sheets last night.... and I realized that I would change the sheets on our bed every day if it meant Tye could sleep with me every night.
Not that I want to, but I would.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

HILARIOUS!

A spin off of Beyonce's Single Ladies...

I heart Etsy

I came across these beautiful slings by Get Carried Away Baby on Etsy.com this morning. They are stunning, and right now, half price (less than half what we paid for ours at sakurabloom.com). There's even a camouflage sling for "Mr. Wonderful." I'm considering adding another to our collection...
I also fell in love with these felted wool teethers by Babus. The soft but dense wool will provide a totally different texture than other toys, and they are just so cute. Look at this collection!

Monday, February 1, 2010

What a CUTIE!

taken Friday

ECing!

Today has been our first day of ECing. As of 5 pm, we have had 6 catches and 4 misses. In non-EC language, that means Tye has peed in her little potty 6 times today and in her diaper only 4 times so far (and one of those misses I saw coming, but let's just say, only one girl can potty at a time...). I didn't keep her on the potty chair all day, either- we only had 2 uneventful trips to the potty. To make ECing more convenient, Tye is wearing one of her SwaddleBees diapers with easy on-and-off snaps, full-length leg warmers, and an oversized fleece jacket over a t-shirt. This leaves her diaper uncovered, easily accessed for removing or checking. It's not waterproof, but it's super absorbent. Tye doesn't urinate much at one time, so any misses are easy for me to discover early and change right away, without risking a puddle or wet lap. While we get ECing figured out, this may be Tye's new uniform!
ECing is supposed to be about the process and reading your child's needs, not the outcome. However, I am extremely pleased with the outcome so far! At $.33 per disposable diaper (a number that will only increase as Tye grows into larger diapers), we've already saved $1.98 today over using disposables. Saving a couple dollars a day will certainly add up quickly. Compared to cloth diapers, I'll be doing much less laundry each week. And in terms of environmental impact, we're only using a small amount of toilet paper to wipe and a little water to rinse the potty chair- a huge savings over the garbage created by disposables or the soap and hot water used to wash cloth diapers.
Perhaps the best part of ECing, though, is already evident to me. I'm reading Tye's body language and her attempts to communicate with me and responding to those in a way that will keep her more comfortable. As she learns that I will respond to her signals, she'll make her needs known in more obvious ways, deepening the natural communicative process. The increased, intimate two-way communication builds a deeper bond between us.
More good news- I heard today that we are two-thirds of the way through meteorological winter. Spring is coming!

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