Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blackhawks Babe

I think Tyler might dress Tye in her Blackhawks jersey every day until
they win the Cup!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Favorite- Affirmations

There's nothing keeping us all from having this little girl's positive attitude.  Put on a confident smile and love yourself a little extra today!  We should all share the joy and appreciation for what we have like this girl.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rally Time

Yesterday afternoon, Tye and I went to Grant Park for the American Rally for Personal Rights.  We sat at the Holistic Moms Network table with two other HMN moms and their babies, both about 10 months old.  We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather, and just taking the L into the Loop and walking to the park was fun.  

During the two-hour rally, we sat with the kids in the shade.
Tye loves balloons, and was super excited to see all the yellow and red helium-filled balloons (happily, they were biodegradable).  
At one point, a band came on stage to rock out with some good old-fashioned protest music.  Tye was a fan!
I didn't know what to expect from the Rally, as many of the speakers have been labeled "anti-vaccine," but I was happy to hear from the start that the organization is strongly not anti-vaccine, but rather anti-vaccine regulations.  The keynote speaker was Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a giant in the vaccine world.  The crowd was small, but sizable for this being the first rally held by the Center for Personal Rights.  We handed out a few HMN pamphlets and talked with people about our organization.  If nothing else, people came by to check out the cute kids.  It's hard to beat a beautiful Chicago afternoon in Grant Park.


I just had to share this.  A doula and midwife apprentice named Amanda is raising money for the Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery by raffling off the most amazing hand-knit doll I've ever seen.  

The doll's name is Harriet, and she births a baby- umbilical cord and all.  (Don't you love the yarn birthing ball?)

What amazing work, and what a beautiful doll!  I think I would have loved this when I was little.

You can use paypal to donate here; $2 per ticket.  Just donate in appropriate increments before June 1. Photos from

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Drop-Side Cribs Legislation

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune Tuesday, Congress is considering legislation to ban drop-side cribs, which are responsible for at least 32 deaths since 2000.  Over 7 million drop-side cribs have been recalled in the past five years alone.  Obviously, there's something very wrong with them, but I didn't quite understand the details until I read an earlier article on cribs in the Chicago Tribune, which explained graphically, 
One broken slat, missing screw or loose mattress support can turn a crib into a death trap. That's because any of those hazards can create a gap in a baby's sleeping environment. Babies' small, flexible bodies can slide into the resulting gap. But their heads — too big to pass through — get caught. Trapped, the infants hang to death or strangle. Because their airways get blocked, babies often cannot cry out for help.
I literally covered my face in horror as I read that.  While I fully support legislation attempting to make cribs safer, I think what this story really does is remind me how happy I am that Tye sleeps with us. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Early Rising

Tye's sleep "schedule" is still far from regular.  She has a pattern, but definitely not a set schedule.  The past two mornings, Tye's been up bright and early- yesterday at 5:30 when Tyler left for work, and this morning a little after 6.  Compared to the past few weeks of waking between 7 and 8, this is early for her.  The upside is that we are accomplishing a lot each morning before the unseasonable heat sets in.  This morning, by the time we left the house at 9:30, we had apples and kale in the dehydrator, I had eaten a good breakfast (rare in itself!), we went on a run with Mico, and I showered and dressed.  

This morning was Tye's first run with me, and it went really well.  Prior to this, we'd only used the stroller twice, and both times we used the car seat adapter.  I was cautiously optimistic about the stroller, and now that's she's six months old, we can run together.  Because Tye can't see me now that she's facing forwards, I wondered how long she would go before she wanted some confirmation it was still me pushing her along.  Knowing  how much she dislikes being in her car seat, I wondered if being strapped into a different seat would be equally miserable for her.  On top of my concerns for Tye, I was very nervous about running with Mico next to the stroller.  He does well running by my side and the trainer worked with him on walking next to the stroller, but combining those two seemed a potential disaster.

I packed the borrowed Ergo carrier in the bottom of the stroller, leashed Mico, carried the stroller downstairs, spent 15 minutes adjusting the straps, and finally, we were off.  The run went really well!  I learned that Mico does a good enough job running close to me that I could loop his leash diagonally around my torso, over the shoulder, with enough slack for him to run and still enough leash for me to grab if I need to (but if you ever see me with a rope burn on my right shoulder, now you know how I got it!).  

Tye was great!  She made it almost two miles before we stopped so she could nurse in the Ergo, and I think she wanted to nurse because she'd had the hiccups for quite some time by that point.  We walked as she nursed, covered by the hood, and when she finished, she went back in the stroller for the rest of the run.  Mico was the reason we had to finally head back- he was finished running after about two and a half miles, and with the temperatures rising quickly, I decided to honor his puppydog "don't make me keep going" eyes.  Maybe tomorrow we'll drop him off and keep going!

If this is how we get to spend our early mornings, I'm all about it.  Besides, I couldn't ask for a sweeter alarm clock.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Solar Powered Tea

Growing up, sun tea was a summer staple in our family.  Even before I drank it, I watched as the water turned clear brown with time in the sun before the jug was moved carefully into the refrigerator.  I made sun tea quite a bit when we lived in Ithaca, where we had a huge porch with lots of sunny space perfect for safely brewing tea in glass jugs.  In our home in Chicago, for some reason, I've rarely made sun tea.  Perhaps I was thinking inside the box, imagining the only place sun tea could be made was the second-story deck, which would require a trip through the hallway and up to the deck.  The fact that I would make this journey for a glass of tea- not to mention a pitcher- certainly doesn't help explain the lack of sun tea here.  Whatever the reason, there hasn't been much recently.

Until now.  I have decided that this summer, our home will have iced tea again.  I finally decided to try making window sun tea, and it's working beautifully!  I'm experimenting with varieties of tea.  Here's my batch brewing this week- organic herbal sun tea using 5 bags of Trader Joe's Renew herbal tea blend.  

As you can tell by the red hue, there's a good amount of hibiscus in there.  I've also made green and pomegranate white teas, as well as a combo- which looked a little strange (green and red liquids make a weird color brown when combined) but tasted delicious.  By the way, if you're wondering about the cover over the pitcher, it's to keep Ziggy from drinking it.  I rubber-banded a paper towel over the top to keep her little kitty paws out of my tea.

I love having a tasty, naturally sugar-free, healthy alternative to water as I'm drinking for two.  The best part of sun tea is that I don't have to boil water to make it.  It makes itself!  

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Favorite- Babywearing International (and Ergo giveaway info!)

I recently discovered our local chapter of Babywearing International (BWI), which meets monthly at Be By Baby, a fabulous Chicago boutique.  At each BWI meeting, the group leader and other mamas are available to help teach new carrying techniques and answer questions.  By far my favorite aspect of the group, though, is the carrier library.  Our chapter has 30-40 different carriers in its library, all available to "check out" for a month.  This is a great way to try out new carriers before purchasing one.  The guidance is also a wonderful way to practice new carries, like trying out a back carry or learning to use a  long wrap to carry a growing child.

By leaving a deposit (in the form of a check that is never cashed), I checked out an ErgoBaby carrier last month.  We've been using it all month.  I was thinking Tyler might appreciate the buckles and snaps over the Kozy Carrier, which ties.  While Tyler said he doesn't have a preference, Tye certainly required some time in the Ergo to adapt to it, but now enjoys it.  I like the snap-on hood that allows me to nurse discretely (everyone assumes Tye is sleeping, which often follows nursing anyway!).  It was also a great carrier to use when putting Tye on my back for the first time because it's so simple.  

I still love our Kozy Carrier and Sakura Bloom ring sling, but having a selection is wonderful because different situations call for different carriers.  The Kozy can't be beat for comfort.  The ring sling is faster than any other carrier, perfect for running errands or taking Mico out briefly.  The Ergo is a great halfway point between the two.  Each carrier is expensive, though.  I've been incredibly fortunate to have built our family collection for very little cost because of some great searching and opportunity.  I purchased our Sakura Bloom ring sling from an online boutique that was clearing out the line and paid less than half the original price.  Then, I earned a $100 gift card to another online boutique by completing a 10 minute phone interview with a company representative, which I used to purchase our Kozy Carrier. 
images from,, and

This morning, I won our family an Ergo carrier!  The Nurture Center, another online boutique, is hosting an ErgoBaby giveaway.  Each day this week, continuing today, the 100th person to leave a product review wins an Ergo carrier.  Saturday, each review left this week will earn an entry into another giveaway for 3 more Ergos.  That's great odds!  Since I won, I'll let you in on some inside information:  I made my comment last night between 7:30 and 8:30 pm to become the 100th comment.  The Nurture Center has some good items that I own and enjoy, so leaving comments wasn't hard.  Next month, when I attend the BWI meeting, I'll be able to return the Ergo I borrowed knowing that we'll have one at home!  I think I'm still going to borrow a wrap carrier, though, just to try out another way to wear Tye.  Then I'll have to find a way to get one of those on the cheap!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hot Topics

When we lived in Germany during the 2004 presidential election, we avoided all political conversations by telling our German friends and acquaintances that in American culture, it's considered rude to discuss politics and religion over beer.  This worked brilliantly, perhaps because we didn't spend much time drinking coffee while we were there.  The idea was that we didn't want to create opportunities for offense- we wanted to concentrate on enjoying our time soaking up the amazing German culture (I mean, who wants to talk about Bush during Oktoberfest anyway?).  

In many ways, I want to keep Mama Em free of politics as well.  I believe good mamas come in all shapes, sizes, and political minds.  There are just some topics, though, in which politics and motherhood intersect.  Preserving our natural resources: political, yes, but my interest is on behalf of Tye and the future generations of babies.  It's the mother in me that drives my argument, not my political ideals.

Similarly, my interest in vaccine programs is fueled mostly by my concern for my children.  I want them to be safe, and I'm not convinced that our current vaccine protocol is safe.  I don't understand why infants are given the Hepatitis B vaccine (a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease; a vaccine tested on adult males, never proven safe for infants) within hours, even minutes, of birth.  I have serious questions about the safety of vaccine ingredients, and even more concerns about administering multiple vaccines in one day.  These are my concerns as a parent.  My political concerns are related, but different on this topic: I don't want to give the government power to decide what goes into my body.  That's my choice. 
Next Wednesday, May 26th, I'll be in Grant Park for the American Rally for Personal Rights.  I'll be uniting with other concerned individuals, parents and political minds alike, who want to defend their right to choose whether or not they vaccinate themselves and their children.  This is important to me as a mother, and it's important to me as an American Citizen.  Check out the web page and read what it's all about.  If you can't attend the Rally, sign the petition and look into all the ways you can watch the Rally live.  You may have a better view on your laptop than I will at the Holistic Moms Network tent, where I'll be volunteering.  If you can attend, come by and say hello!  Tye will be in her carrier, hanging out with us Holistic Mamas.

Okay, I'm stepping off of my soapbox now.  You may resume drinking your beer.  Prost!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Stages

These past few days have been rough ones for Tye.  She is only happy when held; she's nursing extra frequently but not hungrily, as if she just needs the extra comfort; and she's resisting sleep at night and during the day.  It could be that she isn't feeling well, but she has also begun to chew on new objects with great intensity.  Monday evening, I found her gnawing on the arch that holds up her play yard.  
I set Mico to watch over her like a good guard dog.
Within a matter of minutes, he gave in to her cuteness.  Hard to blame him.
Tuesday morning, she pulled herself upright and sat up in her chair so she could chomp down on the wood side rail.  
I could still be wrong, but I think this may be the beginnings of the teething stage for Tye.   

Tummy time

Yes, that is Mico's paw she's holding.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Even though the weather in Chicago has been mostly cloudy and cool recently, I'm already planning summer activities for us like the sun will be upon us tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to the weekday farmer's markets, the Lincoln Park Zoo, walks along Lake Michigan, the Botanic Gardens, picnics in the park...  and easier at-home activities, like water play by moving Tye's bathtub outside, wind chimes for our deck, and blowing bubbles, one of my favorite things in the world.

Have you ever wondered what is in liquid bubbles?  The ingredients aren't listed, so aside from the obvious artificial coloring, the rest are a mystery.  That doesn't make me feel good when that bubble want goes into the mouth or liquid-covered hands get their licking.

Here's an uber-easy recipe for homemade bubbles.  Use non-toxic dishsoap and the mix will be baby-safe!

1 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 tablespoons liquid dish soap

Mix together and allow foam to dissipate.  Dip wands and blow for beautiful bubbles!

It's fun to be creative in re-purposing items to use as bubble wands: cut the centers out of plastic lids, use beverage straws, or any other plastic items that have a honeycomb pattern or a circle cut out.  Try items from the kitchen like slotted spoons or potato mashers, and anything else with holes. Kazoos, harmonicas, and recorders are great, too! 

By the way, humid weather is the best for bubbles because the bubbles will last longer.  Maybe these gray days are good ones to start our summer activities!

Friday, May 14, 2010

To Tye, at 6 Months

Dear Tye,
You're six months old today.  Time has taken on an entirely new form for me since you were born, passing at once more quickly than ever and infinitely slowly.  

At six months old, you are such a happy baby.  You smile easily and almost constantly at me, at your dad, at Mico and Ziggy, at strangers we meet, at your Jumparoo, at my breast when you see it heading towards your hungry mouth.  You laugh when we sing to you and play games like peek-a-boo or the Itsy Bitsy Spider.  I'm relishing in every moment we cuddle now, knowing that all too soon, you'll be moving on your own and wanting to spend your time exploring your world.  Already, you're sitting on your own for short stretches and showing us that you're trying to figure out how to go about the whole crawling process.  As much as I look forward to those developments, I never want to leave these moments we have now.  

All my trusted friends with children insist that as their children grow, parenthood just keeps getting better by the day.  How is that possible?  How could anything be better than what I have already?  It's beyond the scope of my imagination, and yet I see that truth in you every day as our relationship deepens.  If our future together is going to be getting even better, bring it on.  

I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.  Happy half birthday, Tye.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Six Months Ago...

... I was still pregnant.  It was a Friday, and Tyler worked from home.  After a quick meeting with his coworkers, Tyler invited me to join them at Jerry's for dinner, knowing it's one of my favorite places to eat.  Tyler was so worried about me that he met me halfway on the 3 block walk to Jerry's.  I must have been waddling down the street towards him like an overstuffed duck.  I wore a yellow sweater and asked Tyler if I looked like a school bus.  He was sweet enough to tell me no.  I ordered the Baba R, one of my favorite sandwiches, with peanut butter, apples, basil, grilled onions, and sweet chutney on dark rye bread.  When we left the restaurant and were invited to continue on in the night with Tyler's friends, I politely declined for us, mentioning for the first time quite seriously, "I think tonight may be the night."  

How was that only six months ago?
The last picture we took of me pregnant.

Sweet Sleeper

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

EC Update at almost 6 months old!

Prepare yourself for information about bodily functions with detail only a parent can provide...

We've now been ECing for over three months.  Tye is a pro at ECing... me, not always.  When I take Tye to sit on her potty, she almost always goes, even if it's only a few drops.  We mostly take Tye on routine- upon waking, when we take her out of her carrier, and whenever we change her diaper.  I still have a hard time reading Tye's signs that she needs to pee.  The biggest challenge is Tye-who-needs-to-pee looks exactly like Tye-who-is-excited.  Now that Tye is interacting with her world in so many new ways, I'm really having a hard time telling those two apart.  When we're out and about, it's even harder because everything new is so exciting.  To add to the challenge of ECing while out of the house, Tye has developed a fear of some unfamiliar toilets, and I realize that not everyone wants baby pee in their sinks (even if I can't relate).  At the end of the day, our catching rate can vary from just a few pees a day to almost all of them, mostly depending on how much of our day was spent at home.  By the way, Tye peed in the hotel room sink each day we spent in Mexico, continuing our streak of catching at least one pee per day, no matter where we are, since we started ECing.

Catching poops continues to be easier, and very rewarding in that a poop in the potty is significantly easier to clean up than a poop in a diaper.  If it's been a few days since her last poop (Tye's averaging 5 days between poops now), and I can tell there's one coming (fussing + gassiness, gas that smells like poop, "wet farts" in her diaper- TMI yet?), I'll make the grunting noises we use to cue her while I gently squeeze her legs closer to her torso.  That physical prompt mimics her movement when she eliminates and also stimulates her bowels- a pooping double whammy.  She always imitates the grunting/clenching combination, quite frequently resulting in a caught poop.  Right now, this is the best way to be sure we catch the poop because Tye's signs that she needs to go are less obvious than when she was younger.  Apparently, pooping is an easier job for her now and requires less straining prior to the event.  

Even on the days that we only have a few catches, we're still saving diapers from being washed (or used, as we were using disposables in Mexico).  We aren't diaper-free, and we most likely won't be for a while.  But I'm happy with where we are.  We're doing our part to conserve energy and resources, and we're laying a good ground for toilet learning in Tye's future.  Who knows... perhaps someday soon Tye will initiate a trip to the potty herself using the American Sign Language I've been practicing with her.  If that happens, you'll be able to hear me scream with joy- from wherever you are in the world.  Until then, we'll catch what we can.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First kisses

I've joked with friends and family before that I sometimes fear I might literally smother Tye with all my kisses.  The poor girl gets about a million smooches a day from me.  When I heard the babywearing mantra "Close enough to kiss," I instantly connected with it and thought, So that's why I love wearing Tye!

According to the article The New Science of Mother-Baby Bonding on, when a mother kisses her babe, "Pathogens on a baby's skin are carried from the mother's lips into her system, and she produces made-to-order antibodies that boost his immunity."  How amazing! The way mothers' and babies' bodies continue to function as one organism even after birth is fascinating, and I never cease to be awed by the ways in which we've evolved to care for our children.  Even kissing them serves a function.

I'll never feel guilty about showering Tye with kisses again.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Mother's Day!  Mine was a happy celebration with family, including my own mother.

Motherhood has changed me in countless ways, but one that surprised me is my deeper understanding of my relationship with my own mother.  I look at Tye and love her so intensely that I would give the world for her.  It's the strongest, deepest love I've ever felt.  To think that my own mother loves me with that same love is truly special, and a sentiment I couldn't understand prior to experiencing it myself.  Understanding my relationship with my mom required becoming a mom.  I wonder sometimes if when Tye and I have disagreements in the future, if I'll be tempted to use the line, "Just wait until you have kids.  Then you'll understand."  I don't remember if my mom ever used that on me, but I'm sure she considered it.  

Sometimes I also think back to Tye's prenatal development and remember that prior to birth, her body's ovaries already hold all the eggs she will ever release during menstruation.  My future grandchildren's eggs were once in my body.  In the same way, the egg that became Tye was in my mom's body before I was born.  A tiny part of my mom became the egg inside of me that, many years later, developed into Tye.  What an amazing, intimate connection.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  Thank you for making such a beautiful egg inside of me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Favorite- Traveling Pashmina

While traveling with Tye, there are two things I couldn't live without: 1) a baby carrier like our ring sling or Kozy Carrier, and 2) my pashmina.  Technically, pashmina is a type of wool, but it is also used as a term for a specific version of shawl, the same way that Band-Aid and Kleenex have become synonymous for their products.  A pashmina is scarf-length but wide enough to be a shawl.
Product Image Adi Designs Pashmina Shawl with Fringe - Brown

Mine is a golden yellow color that adds contrast and pop to whatever outfit I'm wearing without clashing with many colors, making it a perfect wear-with-anything accessory.  Did I mention I paid $6 for it several years ago at H&M? (Clearly not authentic pashmina!) Here it is in hand on our trip to Dallas earlier this year.

Pashmina photo from

While traveling, this is the perfect all-in-one tool.  When not in use, I wear it as a scarf, which is, thankfully, currently in style, even in summer.  It is wide enough to sufficiently cover both Tye and myself on chilly planes, serving as a clean, free blanket.  When it's time to nurse, I just spread out one side of the  scarf to cover Tye in her carrier.  I can also make eye contact with Tye while she nurses in arms by leaving the pashmina draped over my neck and using one side to cover her head above the eyes and the other to cover below the eyes, leaving just a slit so we can see each other. (Having a nursing cover on the plane is nice because the seats are so close together that the space can feel very... intimate when a breast is exposed just inches from a stranger).  I've also used my pashmina as an impromptu sling for short trips to the restroom once my carrier is off.  This trip, it also served as a drool wipe and as a source of entertainment for Tye.  She gently investigated the fringed edges and laughed when we used it for peek-a-boo.  

Pretty good for $6.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Stamping Out Hunger

The National Association of Letter Carriers has organized the ultimate easy food drive (for us, that is)...  The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, the nation's largest one-day food drive.  Saturday, May 8, just leave your non-perishable donations in your mailbox or in a bag at your mailbox.  That's it!  Donations will be picked up and go to Feeding America to feed the hungry throughout our nation.  Those crackers you still haven't opened, that can of soup you bought just because it looked good at the moment... Pack it up and leave it at your mailbox.  Your Letter Carrier will do the rest!

For those of you on Facebook, when you go to the Stamp Out Hunger Facebook page and click "Like," Campbell's will donate a can of soup to the cause.  Go like it already!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Tiana took this video on our cab ride home from the airport Monday evening.  Tye is in a loaner car seat, given to us when our luggage didn't arrive on our flight (it was delivered later).  Tye loved the pattern on the new car seat, especially the yellow canopy when the sun shined through it.  I think she was laughing as much at that as at me!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Puerto Vallarta

Our trip was absolutely wonderful.  Tye traveled like a rockstar, with goupies fawning over her everywhere we went. 
We took full advantage of co-sleeping and babywearing while we were there, both of which made traveling a breeze for Tye.  As far as she's concerned, bed is where Mama is.  Although we didn't take Tye potty in too many public restrooms, she used the sink in the hotel several times- at least once each day we stayed there.  We traveled down with a bottle of breastmilk that I pumped the week prior, but still needed a couple bottles of formula for the nights that Tiana babysat.  All we brought, though, was one bottle and one tiny can of formula- much less luggage for a breastfed baby than a bottlefed one, thankfully.    
We took lots of naps by the pool and beach, spent some time in the water, and played with friends.  At night, Tye slept in her carrier until we went to bed, which amazed our friends.  Apparently, the carrier also amazed the locals- families stopped their cars to point at Tye in the carrier when we walked down the street.
Some momentous firsts for Tye: first bathing suit, first time in the pool, first time in the ocean, first time staying in a hotel.  She even waved for the first time when a friend waved at her!

Tye makes friends everywhere she goes with that smile of hers.  Everywhere we went, people commented that she was so quiet and so "well-behaved."  Truthfully, she was just herself- happy to sit on our laps or lounge in her carrier wherever we went.  Cooing in Spanish made her smile instantly.  One cultural difference we discovered is that Mexicans instantly touch and pinch babies' cheeks as they speak to them- from the lady at the taxi stand who reached through the little window in the glass wall to stroke her cheek to the housekeeper who pinched her cheek gently every day, almost every person Tye saw pinched her cheek at one point in the trip.  This took a little adjusting for Tye the first day, who isn't used to such close interaction with strangers, but by the end of the week she was loving it. 

The long weekend was a beautiful combination of good friends, delicious food, perfect weather, stunning views, heartfelt sentiments and time just relaxing.  We ended our time together trying to force the rest of our friends to marry each other in beautiful locations so we can have more weekends like this one.
And to Somee and Gary, we wish you a lifetime of happy travels together.

To see more photos of Tye in Puerto Vallarta, click here.  But just a warning, we went new-parents-on-baby's-first-vacation crazy with taking pictures.


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