Saturday, February 26, 2011


Mama just discovered my new favorite meal- tomato soup with cheese bunny crackers.  Mmmm, I could eat these all day!   Good to the last drop, if I do say so.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Favorite- Computer Time

Sometimes the tiniest glimpse of a person's life tells a great deal about them.  I've always loved looking through other blogger's blog rolls.  It's like a peek into their medicine cabinet or a rummage through their purses.  I feel like I'm snooping through their online life.  

I've never kept my blog roll on the sidebar here, mostly because- like the contents of my purse- the list changes pretty frequently according to what is currently fascinating me most.  I don't read every post on every blog, mostly because I'm constantly working on spending more time away from my computer.  Today I thought I'd share the blogs I've been reading recently- an unedited list, perfect for snooping into my reading life.  I considered dividing them into categories- friends, food, mothering, etc., but too many of them overlap categories, so you'll just have to read through them, though I did highlight a few of my favorites.  Happy exploring!
What are your favorite blogs to follow?  Some of these are very rarely active now- so I wouldn't mind adding a few more to my reading list.  Please share!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Oh, just look at those cheeks on Tye!  I can't stop sneaking peeks at this photo- it just  melts my heart.  Marquise and Tye are so sweet together.  What do you think they're saying to each other?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crib Dangers

An article in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Pediatrics examines new data on crib safety in effort to combat manufacturers who are pushing to relax recent bans on drop-side cribs..  For the shocking numbers included in the study, it's receiving very little press coverage.  Remember the chaos that ensued after Infantino recalled their bag slings due to 3 infant deaths?  According to data from the past 19 years, cribs cause an average of 112 deaths per year.  If today is average, 26 American children will be rushed to the Emergency Room for injuries sustained from a crib-related incident.

We fell into co-sleeping- it happened more naturally than by conscious decision.  Statistics like these are terrifying to me, even though we don't use a crib (Tye's bed is a crib mattress on the floor, or else she's in bed with us).  I'm the type of person who believes that parents should use common sense, be aware, and be responsible for the safety of their child.  However, these numbers make me think that something else is going on with crib safety.  How could 9,560 families each year be purely negligent?  Is it because families have left their children alone in their bedrooms to cry it out, and are therefore unaware of the dangers situations that arise?  I wonder if parents who leave their children unattended in their bedrooms (as most do for naps and the night) realize the risk posed by the crib in the room.   In a nation that blames manufacturers for any incident involving their products, how have crib manufacturers not been held more accountable for this number of injuries, or at least for being associated with them? 

Critics of co-sleeping are quick to cite dangers of smothering when bedsharing, but completely omit the dangers of putting a child in a crib.  Unfortunately, neither option is without risk- but I know that in our home, we can practice safe co-sleeping and eliminate risks for smothering and, by safely sharing our bed, be constantly aware of our child's safety.  According to research presented in the September/October issue of Mothering, children who sleep in a separate room from their parents are twice as likely to die a sleep-related death than those who co-sleep, but bedsharing, especially, has to be done safely.  (Dr. Sears has a truly exceptional article on how to co-sleeping and safety here.)  

While it's easy to turn this into a crib-versus-co-sleeping issue, I hope that all parents can rally together to demand stricter safety standards for crib manufacturers.  Not all families can safely bedshare, whether the issue is a medicated or obese parent, formula feeding, or other concerns.  For these families, the safest place for a baby is still within the same room as a parent/parents.  Those families need a safe place to lay their children to rest, a bed that won't result a trip to the ER.  Perhaps the scariest aspect of this new data on crib injuries is that parents don't know how frequently children are hurt when using cribs.  Hopefully with the release of new information, more parents will become aware of the risks associated with crib use and think twice before leaving a child in a crib unattended.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Doctor Doctor

Our trip to the pediatrician for Tye's 12 month 15 month checkup on Friday went beautifully!  Yes, it was 3 months late, but it wasn't for lack of planning... Our doctor was out of town literally from Tye's birthday until Christmas.  Then, he cancelled our appointment- twice (frustrating, but I don't think that's common).  After that, we cancelled our appointment scheduled for the day after we received 2 feet of snow because we couldn't drive out of the garage.  So that's how you end up with your 12 month check up at 15 months.

Anyway, the appointment went perfectly well.  Tye was given a full check up and then a clean bill of health.  We've been fortunate to have found an amazing pediatrician who understands and appreciates our parenting decisions- a rare find, at least in Chicago.  However, as the nurse asked me, "You're still breastfeeding?  Is she still sleeping in your bed with you?" I couldn't help but thinking You know you're seeing a crunchy pediatrician when his questions are phrased like this.

We now have proof that Tye is growing, too.  At 22 pounds 10 ounces, Tye is in the 47th percentile for weight.  For height, she's in the 75th percentile, and for head circumference, she's taking after her mom's side of the family, placing in the 98th percentile(!).   Like the proud parents we are, we've been telling every soul we've seen this weekend how Tye stacks up against other children.  Sure, the thought that perhaps every person doesn't care about Tye's measurements flitters through my mind as the words are coming out of my mouth.  I just rattle off the numbers to them anyway and tell myself that if I were in their shoes, I at least wouldn't mind pretending to care.  Somehow, that makes me feel better.  Or maybe it's talking about Tye that makes me feel better.  Hmm, somehow I'm okay with either one.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hand-Dyed Play Silks

Monday, we had a few friends over for a Valentine's Day play date.  As a Valentine's Day gift, each child took home a play scarf dyed in pinks and reds.  I ordered raw white silk scarves online and used this brilliant recipe for dying silks using Kool-Aid.  The process was as easy as dying Easter eggs, with more room for creative variations like tie-dying and color blocking.  The results were beautiful, and the kids had a great time playing with the scarves, even if most of them were oblivious to the holiday theme.  
These simple, inexpensive play scarves aren't just for playing dress-up (though they are cute for that, aren't they?).
They're perfect doll blankets, pretend bandages, tea party tablecloths, or whatever unlimited use imagination inspires.  
They'll also make beautiful multi-use gift wrapping for birthdays and holidays.  I'm already looking forward to doing this with Tye when she's a little bit older.  Until then, she seems to appreciate the end results.
By the way, check out the rest of the Clean blog- it's an amazing source of inspiration!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

To Tye, at 15 months

Dear Tye,
Just when I think you can't possibly squeeze more growth into a month, just when I think you can't amaze me any more than now, just when I think you can't possibly get any cuter... You do.  What a month!  Let me just tell you about you, because even though this will be no big deal by the time you read this, your developments this past month make me so proud I want to shout it from our rooftop.  And if I were telling other people, this might be taken as bragging, but I can tell you about you and not worry about that.  So just humor me and let me boast a bit about how awesomely wonderful you are.

First of all, you now know the sign for "potty" and use it to ask me to go potty.  Um, that's pretty amazing, deary, for 15 months.  Recently we've been having pants-free parties around the house (you're the only one pants-less, but still, it's a party), and you'll walk right up to the potty chair and sit down to pee or poop whenever you need to go.  When I ask if you're all done, you'll either sign all done and say "aaaah duh," or shake your head "no" insistently.  Your little head shake is super cute, too.  You want to make sure we understand that you're saying no, so you maintain eye contact as you drop your chin to your chest and sway your head side to side until we acknowledge your denial.  

Knowing how to answer yes/no questions opens a whole new world of communication for us. Even if you can't express what you want, now I can ask what it is, 20-questions style, until I finally earn that excited head nod and smile from you that means I've hit the jackpot.  Best of all, we've yet to reach the stage in which you tell us "no" for everything (I'm hoping we don't have to endure that, but it may be inescapable).  For now, you tell yourself "no" more often than we do- as you walk up to something you know you shouldn't touch, you shake your head "no" as you look at it before walking away.  Being able to watch your thought pattern so clearly is pretty amazing.  You're good at listening to yourself, too, even if your impulses do sometimes get the better of you- like when someone leaves a glass of water on the table and you just really want a sip.

You look older now, too.  Your hair is coming in with wisps curling over your ears and around the nape of your neck.  When you laugh, we can see your 9 1/2 teeth, including three molars way back there.  All those winter clothes we bought you last fall are barely fitting you now, though that makes it easier for you to lift up your shirt and show off your belly in hopes that someone will tickle it. 

Do you know what else has been so much fun recently?  Taking walks- because you now walk right along with us.  If we drop the pace a bit, you love nothing more than walking down the street by our side and saying your excited high-pitched "Hi!" to each passerby.  You have such a drive for independence that you'll walk by yourself seemingly forever.  We've yet to find your tiring point.  Watching you bravely explore new places is at once both thrilling and saddening- you're so grown up.  When did that happen?  When did you grow so tall that when I hold you, you are now half my own body length?  When did you realize you're such a big girl that you can explore the world without holding my hand?  As you continue to grow and venture out on your own, remember that there will always be a hug here for you, ready and waiting.  Baby Girl, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.



Tuesday night of last week, Papa passed away.  After many months of poor health, he finally took his last breaths at home, in his own bed.  This weekend was an opportunity for family to gather and celebrate his life here and his contributions to our world.  

When I was in grade school, a Sunday school teacher asked us to define the characteristic gentle. Of course, we all responded with words like "soft," and "kind."  When our teacher explained to us that being gentle is actually having great strength but restraining from using it, my mind instantly flew to a mental image of Papa.  He was a very tall man (especially to a young child), strong from his work as a pipe fitter in Chicago's monumental buildings.  His hands were so huge that, according to Grammy, he didn't join our tea parties because his fingers were too big to hold the dainty cups.  And yet, Papa was mild-mannered and carefully calculated.  When my brothers got into trouble, Papa never lost his temper or raised his voice.  A quiet reprimand from such a large man appropriately intimidated my brothers because it was obvious Papa was showing such great restraint.  He may have been descended from violent vikings, but the Danish man I knew was quite the opposite.  Papa was my own definition of gentle, personified.  

This weekend, as we shared our memories of Papa, his 13 great-grandchildren ran around, lightening the mood.  Tye loved chasing her cousins (once removed? second cousins?) and playing along with them, including an especially sweet game of pretend sleepover in which two of the 3 year old girls moved all the couch cushions and blankets to the floor and pretended to sleep.  Tye laid down right between the two girls, placed her head on the pillow for several seconds, then popped up and said her trademark high-pitched "Hi!"  Later in the weekend, Tye ran down the hotel hallway after my mom, yelling at her "Guh!  Guh!  Guh!", her best effort at calling out Gram.  It's amazing how a hug and a smile from a young one, or hearing your name called for the first time, can raise spirits.  

Tye only met Papa once this past fall, but she'll grow up with his patriarchal legacy.  When we have tea parties, I'll tell her about the tea parties Grammy and I had when I was young and why Papa didn't join us.  When we gather with family on the weekends and our thoughts travel to the generations before us, we'll tell our children about Grammy chasing her cousin Gordon and his friend, our Papa, around the lake house and how their family shared meals on the weekends.  When I make Swedish pancakes, I'll remind our family that Papa turned his over before he filled and rolled it so the "pretty" side was on the outside when he ate it.  And when our children ask what gentle means, I'll have far more to share than just a definition.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cuteness Squared

I think it's universally accepted that babies and puppies are two of the cutest things in the world. When we combined the two this weekend, it was a cuteness overload.  Tye met Tyler's cousin's 7 week old pitbull puppy, DeVille, and instantly fell in love.  Tye ran around giggling breathlessly as DeVille chased her, and if he became momentarily distracted, she chased after him.  When DeVille finally collapsed in a puppy heap for some much-needed sleep, Tye sat next to him and hugged him through his entire nap.  I haven't heard this much ooh-ing and cooing from a bunch of grownups since we brought Tye home.  See for yourself- cuteness squared.

Mama, can't we take him home?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Healthy Mama

In the past, when Tye has fallen ill before me, I've eventually caught whatever bug she had and we both ended up simultaneously sick.  I don't know if she passes the cold along to me or if her immature immune system caves in faster than mine, but somehow, she falls sick first, with me trailing close behind.  On the other hand, when I had the flu this winter, even cuddling under the covers didn't pass my sickness on to Tye, who was provided the protection of my own immune defenses, already hard at work defeating invaders, through my breastmilk.  

When Tye came down with a fever last a week and a half ago, I feared we might be in for the same pattern.  Then Monday morning last week, I barely woke up and felt achy and exhausted- clearly fighting Tye's bug.  To protect myself, I chopped 4 small garlic cloves into pill-sized pieces.  Then I swallowed them with water, raw, as if I was taking several pills (some people prefer to chew it with a piece of bread).  I chased that with a sweet spoonful of Manuka honey, renowned for its healing antibacterial properties.  A couple hours (and a short, fitful nap with Tye) later, I felt an incredible difference- I went from feeling 30% of myself to probably 85%.  At noon, I swallowed another two cloves and stirred a large spoonful of Manuka honey into my warm green tea.  Dinner was lentil soup, with extra garlic and ginger for immune-boosting power.  Before bed, I downed another two cloves of garlic. 

The next day,  I felt completely healthy!  Once again, I took two cloves in the morning and two in the evening, just to continue supporting my immune system as it fought off any lingering illness.  By this point, I was starting to smell like I belonged in an Italian restaurant (I wonder how my breastmilk tasted...).  I also made some iced green tea sweetened with honey to drink throughout the day, a natural remedy that worked wonders for me as a teacher.

I've been good about using natural remedies to help relieve Tye's symptoms and boost her immunity when she's sick, but in caring for Tye, I sometimes postpone self-care until it's too late.  I also think it can be easy to forget, in our world bombarded with prescription and OTC drug commercials and a-drugstore-on-every-corner, that natural remedies work on adults, too.  Just because we can take decongestants and antihistamines doesn't mean we need to, or should.  In this case, I was able to prevent the cold from coming on and didn't need any medication to mask my symptoms later- because there weren't any.  To top it off, my entire 100% organic treatment cost just two or three dollars.  Having a healthy mama to care for her sick babe, though, is priceless.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day!

We survived last night's thundersnow and 70mph gusts and are now enjoying the snow!  Last night was like a scene from a snowy hurricane, with sustained winds at an incredible speed, blowing snow straight sideways. 

It's now 5pm and our street still hasn't been plowed.  Our neighborhood has been busy today, with camera-wielding pedestrians out enjoying the opportunity to walk in the middle of ordinarily-busy roads.  Most of the day has looked liked a scene from an armageddon movie, the roads busy with people walking but completely devoid of vehicles.  The cars in the photo above belong to the brave employees of the local coffee shop, which was not only open but slammed with people in ski gear, some even with cross country skis or snowshoes.  I guess some of us will do anything for those vanilla bean lattes- or perhaps they were just an excuse for the trek.  Either way, a beautiful way to spend a snow day.


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