Thursday, December 15, 2011

Getting Crafty

Okay, so I have been on an insane craft kick today. And I'm blaming it all on Pinterest. I have become slightly addicted to Pinterest lately and have gotten a lot of ideas and inspiration for kid's activities from the other pinners. Top that off with a trip to Michael's this morning to stock up on craft supplies and we have craft addiction. Sometimes I think I enjoy having a toddler more than my son enjoys being a toddler... So, here's a sampling:

A puzzle made with popsicle sticks and a recycled holiday card:


Simply glue a photo onto some popsicle sticks, wait for it to dry, then use a craft knife or razor blade to cut.

Homemade bath crayons:


Buy some glycerin soap at a craft store. Melt it in the microwave, add food coloring, and pour into a mold. I used an ice cube tray. You can also add essential oils if you go for scents, though I find that a bit unnecessary for bath crayons. Takes about an hour to cool completely, then pop out of the mold and you have crayons!

Color activity:


Swing by your local home improvement store and pick up some paint swatches. Cut them into strips and glue some pieces onto clothespins. Easy and CHEAP!

And a pom-poms in a bucket activity:



So easy: use an old plastic container (mine is a yogurt container). Cut holes in the top that are just smaller than the pom-poms. Your little one will get lots of fine-motor-skills practice pushing the pom-poms through the holes! And the Eskimo literally had a meltdown when I took this away from him for nap time. 


What's that? You want to do all of these too? By all means! HAVE FUN!! Also, if you're not already on Pinterest, you should be. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm back

I have to admit, I've been avoiding my blog. Mostly because I've had a lot of really negative thoughts lately and I'm trying to think of a way to voice them without alienating every parent who puts their child in daycare. But I'm ahead of myself. Let's review:

The Eskimo and I did a stint in daycare. I got a job at a local daycare center, rated "the best in Austin". It seemed perfect. The Eskimo would be around other kids and I would be getting valuable experience for my future career as a teacher. The pay was awful, but I got an enormous discount for the Eskimo, so it seemed like a good plan. I lasted one month. The organization and administration was horrible. The training I was given was for some idealistic version of a daycare center and did not prepare me in the least for the reality with which I was faced. Promises for a pay increase, further training, etc, were made to me and then ignored. But worst of all, the longer I was there, the less I wanted my child enrolled there.

Don't get me wrong, the Eskimo had an amazing teacher. I trusted her with him and knew he was in good hands. But I also knew which class he would be moved up to in a couple of months and I didn't want that teacher anywhere near him. My son has a beautiful, kind spirit and I could see that being crushed if he stayed there. Aside from my concerns regarding my son, I was uncomfortable performing my job. During our training, we were told to have only positive interactions with parents. We were to find at least one thing their child did that day that was positive and communicate that to the parents. So, if their child spent the entire day crying, but drew a pretty picture for five minutes, I was supposed to keep my mouth shut about the sobbing and share only the picture. I found myself saying things like, "your child is having a little bit of a rough transition time, but this is totally normal and she played so nicely with her friends today!" to parents of a recently enrolled child who spent every single day sobbing all day. ALL DAY. If my child were crying all day, every day, I'd want to know the truth. True, some parents can't do anything about it. They have to work, and their child has to be in daycare. But if the Eskimo were having that difficult of a time, I would want to know and I would work something else out.

As it turns out, I did work something else out. I quit. After one month of working, I walked into the principal's office and gave my two weeks notice. She asked me why and I told her when you work at a job, you either have to be treated very well or paid very well. Preferably both. But if both of those elements are missing, it's not worth staying. And it's true.

I learned a lot in that month, but the most important take away was that I need to be home, caring for my son. Yes, it's difficult financially. There is absolutely no doubt about that. But he's my baby. And he doesn't care if we have a lot of money. I want him to spend all day, every day with someone who loves him more than the whole world. I want to be with him when he discovers little things. Just today he noticed that there were pictures of cows on his sippy cup. He starting pointing at them and saying "moooooo!". He made the connection between the pictures of cows he'd seen before and the cartoon cows on his cup, and I was there for it.

I also understand that for some parents and families, daycare is not an option, but a necessity. And spending all day feeling guilty about leaving your child in daycare will not help anyone. You do what you have to do. But my advice is to follow your instincts. Ask your child's teachers to be completely honest with you. Tell them that you want to know the bad as well as the good. Most of the individual teachers are very good people and will be responsive. And if you have a bad feeling about a teacher, trust your gut. Ask for your child to be placed in another class. Get to know the teachers; their likes, dislikes, their personality. See if it is a fit for your child. If possible, find a very small daycare run out of someone's home. Just be sure to do homework on them as well. Daycare centers are not ideal and I can guarantee you those folks are being paid minimum wage, or just above, and that the turnover rate is enormous. And believe me, minimum wage is NOT enough to deal with 10 2-year-olds all day long. Not even close to enough. Be informed, be involved, and if something doesn't seem right, make a change.

Lastly, if it is at all possible for you to stay home with your child, do it. Notice I said possible. I don't mean that it will be easy. Financially, it may be very difficult. But if it's possible, you should stay home. And being a stay-at-home-mom or dad is extremely difficult. I spend all day, every day with an 18 month old. Sometimes it's amazing, sometimes I want to put him in his crib, walk out the front door and never look back. But I'm here. And we have fun. We finger paint, we build with blocks, we go for walks to look at the cars and trucks. It's magical and he will only be young once. I have the rest of my life to work, I only have right now with my 18 month old son. I'm going to soak up every minute of it and file it away in my memories so that I can embarrass the hell out of him when he's a teenager. :)

And I'm sorry for the long hiatus. Aside from my quick time in daycare, I have also started work on my masters and I seem to spend every spare minute of my time studying or washing sippy cups and diapers. I have some really interesting future topics in the works, so I will try to post more frequently!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baby Proofing

If you have a child, chances are you've had to "baby-proof" your house at some point. Or perhaps you are trying to figure out how exactly to do this when your child becomes mobile. Here's my take on it.

First of all, I don't really care for the term "baby-proof". There's no such thing. It is absolutely impossible to baby-proof your house 100%. And just when you think you've achieved it, your little one will up the ante. So, I prefer the phrase toddler friendly. My house is not baby-proof, but it is toddler friendly. For the sake of clarity, I will continue to use the term "baby-proof" in this post as people are more familiar with it.

The first thing you should know is that baby-proofing is not a necessity. The Eskimo and I have spent long stretches of time at my parents' house, where there was no baby-proofing and we both survived. They put all the breakable items up and we kept an eye on him every second of the day. But let's face it, that's exhausting and stressful for everyone. No one likes to be followed 24/7 and I don't particularly care for following a toddler around 24/7. So, baby-proofing is a convenience that allows both you and your toddler a bit of freedom around the house.

When getting ready to baby-proof your house, realize that you don't have to proof every single room in the house. Decide where in the house your child will be allowed to play and concentrate your efforts there. For us, this was quite simple. We have a two story house with an open floor plan downstairs, so the Eskimo has the run of the downstairs. We have a sturdy baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. We started off with little plastic thingies in all the outlets, but that's incredibly inconvenient for everyone, so those have slowly, one-by-one, disappeared. We also have cheap plastic catches on all the kitchen cabinets except for the tupperware cabinet. This has been given over to the Eskimo as his cave of fun. That's it. That's all we've done. We have a huge box of baby-proofing items that were given to us that have never been used. We just haven't needed them.

Sure, we've removed the breakables from the downstairs. We also keep things like our laptops and phones out of reach. And there is a constant battle of wills between the Eskimo and me over him touching our TV. My goal in making our house toddler-friendly was not to create a bare, padded-room effect. This is our house. We live here. It needs to be usable space. My goal was to create a space in which my son could play with intermittent supervision while I go about my daily routines. He can play safely in the living room while I do dishes in the kitchen. He can climb into the tupperware cabinet while I vacuum. He has a bit of freedom (and in turn, so do I) and I don't have to follow him around saying, "No, not for the baby" all day long.

Most importantly, you do need to supervise your child and you need to flexible. Because just when you think everything is wonderful, they will take it to the next level. For example, today the Eskimo discovered that he can climb onto our dining chairs. This means he now has access to our dining table, formerly our dumping ground for items we didn't want the Eskimo to reach. And I have no doubt that by tomorrow he will have figured out that he can push those very same chairs around the house to reach other items formerly out of his grasp. So, today I will be spending the remainder of his nap clearing all these surfaces of items that are inappropriate for a 16 month old. 

One last thing: when baby-proofing, remember that your child is not the only creature living in the house. For some folks, that just means figuring out what works for the adults, but in our case, we also have dogs and cats. We have tried not to make their lives miserable with baby-proofing wherever possible. For example, the baby gate we have on our stairs has a cat door built into it. Our cats need to be able to escape upstairs when they are feeling stressed out by the shrieks and advances of the Eskimo. The dogs are a bit trickier. I have to put their water bowl up every time the Eskimo is downstairs. But, I watch them closely for signs that they need a drink. Usually, they will go stand where the water bowl is supposed to be. Also, if you have any particularly tricky baby-proofing items in your house, be sure to explain them to babysitters and other visitors. What seems routine to you may be a complete mystery to grandma and grandpa.

Remember, baby-proofing, while annoying, can also give you and your toddler a bit more freedom throughout your day. This is a good thing!


Carseat Update

I just realized I never updated our car seat situation. We ended up choosing the True Fit, made by the First Years. While its rear facing pound limit is a bit lower than some other seats (35lbs vs 40lbs), it has a very high shell and it is likely that the Eskimo will outgrow the seat in height before weight. The Eskimo loves his new seat and I feel much better knowing he's safe as can be.

We did hit a few bumps in the road attempting to purchase it, however. We bought it as Buy Buy Baby because it was vastly cheaper than Babies R Us AND we had a 20% off coupon. They had one left in stock and we bought it. We got it home, and after spending an hour trying to install it and cursing at it, I finally called the customer service number. Turns out it was actually missing a part! So, I returned it that evening, only to find they had no more in stock. The folks at BBB were super helpful, even calling around to other local retailers to see if they had any in stock and if they would price match. We ended up having to order it through BBB and it was delivered to our house within a week.

As it so happened, it arrived on a Friday and that Saturday there was a carseat installation event at the local children's hospital. So, I dragged my husband and son up there to have it installed by professionals. Hey, if you're going to do something, do it right. We got some free t-shirts and advice and everything went really well. The best part is that I saw a billboard on the way home from the event saying that 3 out of 4 carseats are installed incorrectly. That left me feeling pretty smug. :)

Anyway, my advice to you if you're ever in this situation is to go somewhere and put your kid in a bunch of different seats. Try them out. See how they fit. Then, ask your friends, both online and in person, about their experiences. They may know something about a particular seat that will be a deal breaker for you. Good luck, mamas!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Carseat overload

Wow, so I realized yesterday that the Eskimo had outgrown his carseat. Now, either I wasn't paying close enough attention, or he shot up a couple inches overnight. Or both. We have a Chicco Keyfit 30 infant seat that is good up to 30lbs or 30" tall. Well, the Eskimo is nowhere near 30lbs, but he is currently 31" tall. Another problem is that his head is now even with the top of the carseat, and it should be at least an inch below it. Oops. Bad mommy.

So, cue the flurry of activity and research. I have spent the last couple of days poring over convertible carseat reviews, reading forum posts and begging other mamas for information and advice. And I still have no clue what I'm doing. I know that I want to keep him rear-facing as long as possible. And this article really solidified that for me. I'd also like to purchase something that will last him until he no longer needs a carseat or booster. But, we're trying not to spend our entire savings on this thing either. Ack! Information overload!

I've found a handful of seats that are recommended by other mamas and have gotten good reviews online. We'll be heading to Babies R Us tomorrow to try them out and see how the Eskimo fits in them. He's a tall, skinny boy, so we'll need something that accommodates for that. I'm also going to need something that will fit comfortably in the backseat of my car, a Jetta station wagon. Not known for it's backseat leg room.

I'll let y'all know what we figure out. And for any other mamas in the same boat, here's a helpful link: http://carseatblog.com/carseatblogcoms-recommended-car-seats/

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's DRY out there!

I live in Texas. And as many may know, Texas has been in  an exceptional drought for a very long time now. We haven't had significant rainfall in over a year and there is no sign of relief in the near future. I recently returned to Texas after spending a month up north. In just a short month, there have been dramatic changes to the landscape. It was dry when I left, but it's downright crispy out there now. Big trees are dying, which is terrifying. A big tree has a very long tap root, and if it's not finding water, there's no water to be had. Anywhere. The other thing I've noticed is that the water coming out of our taps has a very "earthy" smell to it. My guess is that this is because we are scraping  the bottom of the proverbial barrel.

The City of Austin has just updated our watering schedule so that we are only allowed to use sprinklers once a week. Apparently we are allowed to water by hand anytime we'd like. I think this is ridiculous. Folks, we're running out of water here. A dead lawn will be the least of our worries if we can't get water out of the tap anymore. Grass can be replaced. Just think of how much our property values will plummet if there is NO water. Conserve, conserve, conserve. Let the grass die. If you're going to water anything, try to save the big trees on your properties; they're irreplaceable.

I'm really disturbed by the cavalier attitude many folks have about the drought. They don't think it can happen to us. We'll never run out of water. This is a very short sighted, and frankly, selfish attitude. It CAN happen to us and it is up to every single citizen to do our best to conserve until the weather patterns change. We can't continue living like it's going to rain buckets next week until it actually does rain buckets.

Okay, this concludes my rant. Sorry for the negative post. I've just been very disturbed by the attitudes of my fellow citizens. I'll try to post something a bit more positive tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reevaluation

So every so often something happens that gives you pause and causes you to take another look at your life. Yesterday, as I was trying to load up a pile of boxes into the car, the Eskimo was refusing to cooperate and insisted on standing on our front porch, staring at our neighbor who was loading up her own car. In an attempt to keep the Eskimo from wandering over and trying to climb into our neighbor's car, I started singing "if you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet". He immediately started stomping and dancing, which is adorable.

Anyway, my neighbor looked at me and said, "Your life is so much more meaningful than mine. All I do is go to a stupid job." My neighbor is a single, middle-aged woman who actually does some pretty important and valuable community outreach work. It's not a meaningless 9-5 desk job. So I've found myself thinking about her words over the past couple of days. Is there anything more meaningful than raising a child?

My neighbor's words made me take a step back and really appreciate how lucky I am to have been able to stay home with my son for the first 14+ months of his life. I've been here for everything. I've seen him grow from a tiny lump of baby to an active, strong-willed toddler. I've breastfed, cloth diapered, made baby food and been a nap-Nazi; all of which would have been nearly impossible if I hadn't been home with him.

Okay, so I have my days where I want to throw in the towel, stick the Eskimo in daycare and get a day job. Financially, this would probably be a pretty smart move. Because if you didn't know, I'm here to tell you, kids are freaking expensive. And I have every intention of finding a "real" job within the next few months. But until that day comes, I'm going to try to remember to enjoy this time with my son. He's growing so quickly it's almost frightening. Raising and shaping another human being IS enormously meaningful and I'm going to keep that in mind on the days when I feel like I do nothing but laundry and dishes. Or, at least I'll try. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Recycling leftovers

Every day people all over the world throw food away because it has been sitting in their fridges for too long and it has spoiled. I am, without a doubt, guilty of this. And I'm actually worse than most. I have a very low tolerance for leftovers. I generally feel that if something has sat for more than two or three days, it's no longer good. I can't help but picture icky bacteria and molds growing, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to poison my family and me. This is, in part, ridiculous. But, having suffered food poisoning a couple of times in my life, I am not eager to risk food mistakes (incidentally, my food poisonings were always caused by restaurants, not my own cooking).

But sometimes you open up your fridge and see nothing but leftovers in there and you know it's time to act. I have two ways of dealing with this. One is to throw everything in a big tupperware I keep in my freezer. Things such as rice, pasta, leftover veggies and pieces of meat are frozen for future use in a big pot of soup that will be, if nothing else, interesting. But today I opened our fridge and saw a lot of leftover mashed potatoes and half an onion. Those two things scream Shepherd's Pie to me!

I immediately looked up recipes. Most of the simple ones seemed to call for cream of mushroom soup which we don't have and my husband abhors. But we DO have tomato soup, and lots of it. When my husband got home from work I told him I was kind of "winging it" for dinner. He looked a bit concerned, and rightly so. I'm not known for my cooking prowess when not following a recipe. But I was feeling ambitious, and really, how hard can it be? Here's what I ended up making:

1.5 lbs ground beef
Half an onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
Frozen organic veggies found lurking in my freezer
Tomato soup
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer all of this together draining off any fat as required. Put in some sort of baking vessel. I used a round casserole dish. Top with grated cheddar cheese and mashed potatoes (I put cheese both under and on top of the mashed potatoes). Bake at 400 for approximately 20 minutes.

The end result was a nontraditional, but delicious, Shepherd's Pie.



There are a lot of different recipe search engines out there and many of them even allow you to search by ingredients. Take advantage and clean out your fridge! Happy cooking. :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Am I Crazy?

So, over the holiday weekend I had opportunity to spend time with family and friends who I haven't seen in a while. Inevitably, the question came up: "Are you still nursing?". Given my recent problems, the answer to this question is currently a bit complicated. It led me to telling the story of the Eskimo biting me and drawing blood and how he hasn't had nearly as much interest in nursing lately (incidentally, he seems to be regaining interest now, but that's not the point of this post). I was expecting perhaps some empathy from my family and friends. Both have nursed their children, though both weaned well before six months (no judgement here, just fact), so they have no experience with extended nursing. But what I got was pure, unfiltered shock with a touch of disbelief. They looked at me like I was crazy for continuing to nurse. I was not prepared for this.

Their reactions left me questioning myself. Am I insane for wanting to continue to nurse my son even though he has bitten me repeatedly, hits me while he's nursing and shows little interest anymore? He eats and enjoys plenty of solids, doesn't need to nurse in order to fall asleep and has never really used nursing for comfort. So why am I so stubbornly fighting this uphill battle? I have a few reasons.

My first reason is a bit selfish. I am not ready to be done nursing my baby. I don't know if I will have another child and this might be it for me. I am having a difficult time accepting the fact that my baby is now a toddler and is growing more quickly than I ever thought possible.Weaning seems like a very big signpost in the middle of the road telling me we have left baby-dom and are now entering the world of toddler-dom and beyond. Next thing I know he'll be headed to college. I kid you not, this is where my mind goes. I am not ready.

The second reason is the obvious health benefits for my son associated with nursing. He has been incredibly healthy throughout his first 13 months and I want this to continue as long as possible. If I can prevent or lessen the symptoms of one cold, then this has all been worth it. And I know he'll be receiving balanced nutrition from at least one source. I try very hard to provide healthy foods, but let's face it: sometimes it's frozen pizza night.

Another reason, and this is where the crazy comes in, is this sense of failure that comes over me when I feel like he's weaning too young. What did I do wrong? Yes, we've used bottles and pacifiers and I'm sure we introduced them too early. We don't cosleep. I introduced solids early and he took to them like a fish to water. We night weaned fairly early, too (though the Eskimo did this mostly on his own) and he's been sleeping 11-12 hours a night for a few months now. Check, check, check. But with every one of these actions, I was doing what I thought was best for my family. So who cares what anyone else might think, right? Except I do care what others think. I've established myself as a breastfeeder and I'm not prepared to fail at that just yet.

But, here I am, with my 13 month old, battling to keep him nursing. My friends and family think I'm nuts. I'm starting to think so too. No wonder so many mamas wean early. Were it not for my ridiculous stubbornness, I'm sure I would have given up weeks ago. But I'm one of those people who doesn't know when she's fighting a losing battle and who perseveres. Sometimes it's a waste of time and energy, but sometimes you end up with something amazing.

I've been told by multiple people, "You've done an amazing job nursing for so long. It's okay to wean." This is not what I need. I'm not looking for permission or an "out". I'm looking for support. For someone to listen and say, "It's awful that he bit you! How has it been going since then?". Choose your words carefully, mamas. Something you may think is supportive may actually be undermining another mama's confidence.

So, here's a final thought. Mamas, let's be supportive of one another. Parenthood is difficult on the good days and next to impossible on the bad days. We are all doing the best we can with the information and resources we have. Lend a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on when necessary. We all have our own ideas on parenting and I think that's amazing. And I'm not going to wean yet because, well, I'm crazy. :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Spoke too soon

There I go getting ahead of myself again. We have not weaned. I swore I was done after the Eskimo drew blood and my husband was very understanding. He listened to me vent and told me I'd done a great job getting to 13 months. Then, the next evening, seeing that I was actually pretty upset about weaning the Eskimo, he encouraged me to try again. So, at bedtime, we went through our normal routine and I sat down with the Eskimo to nurse him and it worked! He nursed and he didn't bite me! Okay, he was hitting me the entire time, but I'm going to go ahead and put this one in the "win" column. Same deal last night. And this morning I even got him to nurse a little bit upon waking. Still no interest the rest of the day. Friday nights are a bit different for us because I work Friday evenings and miss bedtime. The Eskimo was asleep when I got home this evening, but around 10:30 he woke up screaming. Who knows why, but I ran up to his room and he nursed for a really long time, on both sides. He hasn't done that in, I don't know, a month or two? I don't know if we're turning a corner here or if it was just a lucky break, but even if I can only nurse him at bedtime, I'm going to do that as long as I possibly can. I want what's best for him, I want him to be happy and healthy, and I feel like breastfeeding is a vital part of this.

I will be the first to admit that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing here and I'm winging it from day to day. And just when I think I have something figured out, the Eskimo goes and changes the game on me. I have control-freak tendencies, so this has been one of the more difficult adjustments for me in parenting. I guess the point here is, don't give up. Or, better yet, find a partner who won't let you give up. :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

End of an era

I always knew that the Eskimo would wean at some point. It's inevitable. Babies grow into toddlers, toddlers grow into children and at some point, they have to quit nursing. I just didn't imagine that at 13 months, the Eskimo would be finished with nursing. Let's go back and give a little history.

When the Eskimo was born, I knew very little about breastfeeding. We had a very difficult start and I set an early goal for myself of six months. Six months came and went and I set a new goal of one year. As I became more educated about and comfortable with breastfeeding, I decided I'd let the Eskimo guide the relationship and self-wean. But I never imagined he'd do that at just 13 months of age. From what I've read and gathered from other mamas, most babies will self-wean somewhere between 18 and 24 months, so I figured we had time.

But, over the past few weeks, the Eskimo has shown little to no interest in nursing. I treated it like a nursing strike. I figured maybe he was getting some new teeth and we've been through this before. I started pumping again. But days turned into weeks, and I was lucky if I could get him to nurse decently a couple times a day. Then, yesterday as I was attempting to nurse him and put him down for a nap, he bit me. He's bitten me before, many times, but yesterday he drew blood. Naturally, I had a very strong reaction. He scrunched his face up, started crying, I put him in his crib and walked away. He was asleep within two minutes, so I'm guessing he bit me because he was very tired, not out of anger. But the damage was done.

Lately I've had the most success getting the Eskimo to nurse in the morning when he first wakes up. That's usually the only time he'll settle in and take in a decent amount of milk. But this morning, he flat out refused me. Combine that with the whole "once bitten, twice shy" complex I've developed, and there's not much to be done for it. He doesn't want to nurse, and I'm scared to nurse him. So, it's over.

Part of me is very, very sad. I didn't know that the last time he nursed would be the LAST time he nursed. And I know that he could still benefit greatly from nursing. It provides him with balanced nutrition and antibodies to support his immune system. And after the first year, breastmilk actually increases in fat and protein to support your growing, active toddler. Not to mention the fact that a nursing relationship is completely unique. You are providing something amazing for your child straight from your body, and that cannot be replicated with a bottle or a sippy cup. Also, it is SO much easier to put a toddler down for a nap when he's nursed first. He drifts off into dreamland with a belly full of warm, yummy milk.

Now for the flip side. I also feel relief. I no longer have to wear a nursing bra or tank everywhere I go. Soon, I can wear an underwire again! I don't have to worry if this will be the time he bites my nipple off (can you imagine that trip to the ER?!). And I don't have to be the one to put him down for naps and bedtime anymore. Anyone can do it. My husband and I could have a weekend away (yeah, right!) if we wanted to and I wouldn't have to drag along my breast pump. All of these are good things.

All things must come to an end. The end of my nursing relationship with my son is being met with some tears and some relief. And I'm not going to lie. I'll probably try to nurse him again a couple more times before I truly give up all hope. But based on the past few weeks, I think we may have entered a new stage in our mother/son relationship. And that's okay.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A new addition

I'd like to announce a new addition to our family: a Vitamix! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the glory that is a Vitamix, it is basically a blender with super powers. What's so great about the Vitamix is it makes eating healthy food easy! I've been making a smoothie for the Eskimo and me everyday after his afternoon nap. It's usually made up of some combination of fruits with spinach, flax and yogurt. The spinach makes them look absolutely disgusting, but they really are delicious! Yesterday's smoothie was made up of strawberries, spinach, banana, flax, yogurt and grapes.


My goal is to make at least one healthy smoothie a day, using as many organic ingredients as possible. It's a great way to sneak a serving of veggies into your child and the flax provides Omega fatty acids. You can also throw tofu in there if you need additional protein.

And smoothies aren't the only thing you can make in a Vitamix. You can make anything from ice-cream to soup. They also sell a dry blade attachment that allows you to grind your own flour. No, I'm not a paid Vitamix salesperson, but I am really excited about how easy this is making healthy whole-food eating. In just the last week, it has greatly increased my fruit and veggie intake and I'm excited to explore all the healthy options with our new appliance!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Advice on how to give advice

If you've been pregnant and/or have kids, you know that advice, solicited or not, is plentiful. I've been offered some really good and some really awful advice in the past couple of years. And whether or not I heeded it had little to do with the validity of the wisdom. I found that the way in which it was presented to me had the greatest affect on whether or not it was followed.

I have never responded well to people telling me what to do. When someone comes to me and says, "You need to do X", I have to fight the urge to do the complete opposite just on general principle. Yes, it's very juvenile of me, but that's the way I am. So, if someone had come to me while I was pregnant and said something like, "You NEED to breastfeed your baby", I would have been tempted to formula feed just to prove them wrong. Luckily, I had already made my mind up that I would breastfeed long before I found out I was pregnant. The point is, telling someone what to do is out of line and will rarely elicit the desired response.

Another approach you can take is to tell people what has worked for you. An example: "Breastfeeding has been amazing for us. The health benefits are well worth it and it ended up being easier for us than bottle feeding!". In this scenario, no instructions have been given. You have simply shared with another mama your own experiences. You have opened up an opportunity to educate another individual. If she's interested, she can ask you questions. If not, she can just say, "Wow, I'm glad it was so good for you!".

Let's face it. If you're a cloth diapering, breastfeeding, babywearing mama, you're not swimming in the mainstream. As a result, you can expect lots of people to ask you questions. And you probably feel pretty passionately about these activities and would like to share the benefits with other mamas. I've found that when you approach people with respect and remember that you do not know everything, you'll get a much better response. No one likes condescension, but most people are open to learning from someone who's been there.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Let's talk Goodwill!

Okay, so I'm going to go ahead and admit it: I'm a Goodwill addict. I wasn't always this way. I used to be one of those who turned her nose up at Goodwill. Sure, it was good enough for my old stuff, but no way was I going to use other people's old stuff! Then, I had a baby and as most of you know, the world changed. It still amazes me daily how such a tiny creature can change every single belief you ever held dear. But that's for another post. We're talking Goodwill here. :)

Most of you know that kids' toys are expensive. I mean majorly expensive. And I simply cannot afford to buy the Eskimo everything his little heart (or at this age, I suppose it's really what MY little heart) desires. I also can't justify filling my house with toys fresh off the production line, surrounded by wasteful packaging. But what I've discovered is a treasure trove. I started out small. I was dropping some things off and decided to stop in just to see what it was like inside. I hadn't actually been in a Goodwill in years. I looked around and realized that I was surrounded by kid's toys galore for $1 and $2 a pop. And most of them were in amazing condition. Now that's something I can afford! Check out this adorable piano I picked up for $0.99 yesterday.



The list of toys I've gotten for the Eskimo at Goodwill is embarrassingly long. But here's how I'm looking at it. Most of these toys are headed straight back to Goodwill when we're done. So I'm actually "renting" the toys for pocket change. And when the Eskimo's done playing with them (provided he doesn't destroy them), another child will get to do the same. We've been staying at Grandma and Grandpa's house the past few weeks and I was able to pick up a ton of toys for the Eskimo at their local Goodwill. When we head home on Friday, most of them will head right back from whence they came.

The best part of all this (well, I guess it's the second best since the best part is the huge smile on the Eskimo's face) is that by reusing toys, I'm preventing new toys from having to be made. I'm preventing packaging from filling up landfills and gallons of gas used for shipping from being burned. So, if you're not already on board with secondhand shopping, catch up, mamas! It's crunchy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Laundry Disaster!

Have you ever had someone try to "help" you with your diaper laundry, only to completely screw it up? These can be really expensive mistakes, too! The Eskimo and I have been staying with my parents for about a month now. While it has been great for the Eskimo to be able to spend so much time with his grandparents, diaper laundry has become a bit more difficult. My parents' washing machine is smaller than ours at home, so that means more frequent, smaller loads so the diapers have room to agitate and really get clean in there. This means doing diaper laundry every day, every other day at the most. This is fine, except that there is only one washing machine in a house with three adults and a baby. A couple weeks ago, I had run the preliminary rinse cycle on the diapers, but hadn't gotten back to the machine to actually wash them. By the time I got over there, my mom had thrown everything in the dryer and dried it for me. Not the end of the world, but a bit of a pain.

However, last week, my dad thought he was being terribly helpful by throwing over the diapers into the dryer for me. Normally I appreciate people helping with my laundry, but in this case, he dried my entire stash on high heat. HIGH HEAT. This is bad for two reasons. First, everything that can shrink, does. Second, high heat is bad news for anything with PUL, ie, diaper covers, pocket diapers, AIO's... um, everything that isn't an insert or a prefold. High heat can cause the waterproof layer to separate and essentially render them useless. Yeah. Oops.

The good news is that most of the diapers were fine. The prefolds shrunk a bit, but I have tons and tons of those, so I'm not worried about it. It was my older Fuzzibunz pockets that ended up being worse for wear. These are actually my least favorite diapers anyway. They don't fit well and leave the Eskimo with a great big bulge in the front that is NOT attractive.

My dad was horrified that he may have ruined all my diapers and has offered to replace anything that was damaged. So, time to go shopping for new fluff! Hooray! This has actually worked out really well for me because I get to replace my least favorite diapers with anything I want! I see a couple new Bummis Easy Fits in my future! I've called around and it turns out a local shop sells them, which makes me incredibly happy. I'm all about supporting local business, especially ones that carry cloth diapering products. I want them to know that it's appreciated and that there are those of us out there who make cloth diapering a priority.

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is that it's important to educate all members of the household on your diaper washing routine. They don't have to do it for you, they just need to know not to mess with your diapers. If they need the machine, they can either come and get you or put everything in a basket to wait for your return. My parents now know not to mess with the diapers. They're pretty sturdy, but knowing that you could melt hundreds of dollars worth of diapers with a spin around the dryer should be enough to scare most people off. Don't touch my fluff! :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hiatus

Hi folks-

I have found myself (and the Eskimo) out of town for family related reasons. We are going to be away from home until the middle of June and I will have less-than-regular access to the internet. I'm going to try to post every so often, but don't be shocked by long gaps.


I also realized that while I posted about the Rump-a-Roos as a great overnight solution (these are still working, by the way), I never did post about the other solution we found! I ended up getting a SBish wool cover (it's ok to be jealous) off of Diaper Swappers and it's amazing. It's gorgeous for starters, but the best part is that it works. We put the Eskimo in a Bamboozle with an extra insert, put the SBish cover over it and his pj's are dry in the morning! I tend to alternate between the RaRs and the SBish cover now and have had to do a LOT less changing of sheets. It's wonderful. :)

The advantage to the RaRs is the super-soft fleecy lining wicks the moisture away from baby's bum. The fleece feels dry to the touch in the mornings, even though I could literally wring out the inserts. This would be a great thing to try if you had a baby who was prone to rashes. The disadvantage is the bulk. While RaRs fit great with only one insert in them (for daytime use), by the time I stuff three inserts in there for overnight, the Eskimo's butt is HUGE. I don't know that there's a good solution to avoid this problem.

The nice thing about the SBish cover is that you only have to wash it once a month. :) I mean, you can't beat that. And you can stuff almost anything you want under that thing to contain the moisture. So, if your baby has tough skin like mine, this might be a great solution for you. You'll probably need two covers so you have a backup for those days when your little one gets poop on the cover and manages to puke all over it. I promise this will happen at some point. Because they do need to be line dried, try to wash it in the morning so it has all day to dry before you need to put it on your baby for night time. I find that even with running it on a spin cycle in the washing machine to remove moisture, it can still take a good 24 hours for the cover to dry. What can I say, good things are worth waiting for, right?

Hope this info is helpful to some mamas. And if anyone else finds great overnight solutions, let me know! I love an excuse to spend some money on new fluff. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dry baby!

I'm so excited that we found an overnight solution, that I have to write two posts today! Kanga Care had a big sale a couple of weeks ago and I ordered three of their Rump-a-Roos pocket diapers. Let me start by saying their patterns are adorable and the inner lining of the diaper is quite possibly the softest material I've ever felt in my life. I have been stuffing three of their microfiber inserts into the diaper at night, and so far it has kept the Eskimo dry! This does make for a hugely bulky butt, but the Eskimo doesn't seem to mind and he's not exactly entering any fashion shows at bedtime. When I get him up in the morning, all three inserts are completely soaked, but his pj's and sheets are still dry.

At this point, I'm stalking their website, waiting for their hemp inserts to be in stock. I'm also thinking of ordering some more diapers, but may have to have a bit of a sell-off here first. Diaper Swappers, here I come!

Speaking of Diaper Swappers, I also bought a SBish wool cover from another mama. These suckers are pricey new, but I'm willing to try one out used. It arrived in the mail yesterday and I'm going to give it a go tonight, probably over a bamboozle and an insert (or two). A review to come soon. Wish us luck!

Illness strikes again

Apologies for the hiatus. Once again, a cold has wiped out the adults in the family, though the baby is healthy as can be. Makes me a little jealous that he gets all those yummy antibodies. (Side note: I wonder if drinking my own breastmilk would shorten the life of my cold.) I finally made my way to the doctor yesterday, which is an indicator of just how sick and miserable I am. I haven't been to ANY doctor since my postpartum check up. I've lived in Austin for 5 years now and I still don't have a primary care physician. I just don't do doctors. But, my trip to the doctor yesterday confirmed what I already knew: I have a severe sinus infection. The good news is that my doctor was able to recommend some medications that are safe to take while breastfeeding and gave me some antibiotics and nasal spray.

This leads me to the meat of this post. I started feeling sick last Thursday. I suffered for three days, assuming that I couldn't take ANY medications because I was breastfeeding. This is completely false, and if I had been in my right mind, I would have run over to kellymom.com at the first sign of symptoms and seen what was safe. As it turns out, there are quite a few medications you can take while breastfeeding. You can find the information here:

http://kellymom.com/health/meds/index.html

In my old life, before the Eskimo, I took the shock and awe approach to being sick. I blasted my body with every kind of cold medicine available in an attempt to drug the cold right out of my system. However, having a child has made me much more aware of what's actually in all of those medications and what they can do to your body. If it's not safe for him, how can it truly be safe for me?

Ideally, I'd like to treat all illnesses naturally and let my body heal itself. But sometimes you really do need help. On those occasions when you do need medication, make sure your doctor knows that you are breastfeeding and that this is a priority to you. I made it very clear yesterday that I was unwilling to take any medication that would impact my son. By maintaining an open relationship with your doctor and making sure your voice is heard, you can usually find a solution. But be sure to do your homework too, because not all doctors are as educated as they should be about breastfeeding. Good luck, Mamas!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Battery recycling

I assume that you are reading my blog because you have children. And you're interested in preserving our environment so our children have a nice place to live long after we're gone. Well, with kids, come batteries. It's seem like about half the toys that are made for kids require batteries these days. So does your digital camera and your video camera.

Now, I like rechargeable batteries. I think they're a great idea. But let's face it, they really don't last as long as single use batteries, and they seem to hold less and less of a charge the longer you use them. And, it's guaranteed that you've forgotten to charge them all when your child's favorite toy runs out of juice mid-play session. So, most of us end up using those nasty disposable batteries at some point. That's all well and good, but there's one thing you should know. Do NOT throw these suckers in with your trash. They contain heavy metals that can seep into the earth, causing a toxic mess. Plus, if you can recycle it, why wouldn't you?

You can do a quick Google search for places that accept batteries for recycling in your area. Where I live, a number of local "green" stores and Radio Shacks accept them. Where my parents live, you can actually schedule a pickup and they will come to you to get your batteries! How convenient is that?!

A lot of us might be so used to throwing out old batteries that it's a difficult habit to break. Make recycling easier than throwing away. I keep an old tupperware right next to the new batteries. When I'm switching them out, I toss the dead ones into the tupperware. I don't even have to walk over to the garbage can. Recycling batteries may seem like a small thing, but when you add up small gestures across a population, it turns into something huge.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Long nights, wet mornings

Nighttime diapers and leaks are a problem that most of us face. You finally get your baby to sleep all night (yay!), and then you realize that his diaper is not up to the challenge. While the leaks are bad enough, some babies also get rashes from sitting in a wet diaper overnight. We are lucky enough not to have to deal with the rashes, but the leaks are definitely an issue.

The Eskimo usually sleeps 11 or 12 hours a night, which is amazing. However, it does provide his diaper with quite a challenge. For a while, the bamboozles were working really well overnight. But the Eskimo has stepped it up a notch and is waking up most mornings with wet pjs and sheets. So now I'm on the hunt again for an overnight solution.

I recently ordered some new fitteds off of www.babysteals.com. They're called Bumboos and they're made by Earth, Mom and Baby. We tried one of them for the first time last night. While the absorbency is great on these (and this after only one wash), they are NOT user friendly. The design allows you to adjust the rise by folding the front down, but there is nothing to hold this in place. Trying to get that relatively even, while putting in the extra liner and keeping your 10 month old from flipping himself off the changing table is a pretty big challenge. The end result was not pretty, and I'm fairly certain that's why we had a leak last night. He didn't wake up soaked, like he normally does, but the waistband of his pants was definitely damp. I did order two of them, so I think I'll try the second one tonight and see if I can adjust the fit a bit better.

I also picked up some new hemp inserts at Mama Wise yesterday. Hemp is super absorbent and really soft. I'm looking forward to trying these out too. I will probably just line the bamboozles with these.

I'm going to keep searching for that perfect overnight solution. But the bottom line is, you need to find something that works for you and your child. Because the Eskimo doesn't really get rashes, it's okay if he wakes up in damp pj's. But if you're struggling with a rashy baby, you need to find a solution, ASAP. A lot of moms turn to disposable overnight diapers, and that's okay! If you're only using one disposable a day, you're still doing a great job of protecting the environment by keeping your baby in cloth the rest of the time! Do what it takes to keep your little one comfortable all night so that everyone can get their sleep. And when I find something that works, you'll be the first to know. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let's talk dirt

That's right, I'm dedicating an entire post to dirt. Not just any dirt, though. Compost! We have been faithful composters for years now. I remember the day we got our bin. I had read all about the proper ratio of green to brown materials and was very careful for the first few months. But, that soon wore off and I just started chucking everything in there. Turns out, it's still working just fine. :)

In our house, we compost yard waste, all vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grinds and the filters, tea bags and occasionally egg shells. Living in Austin, we have a lot of limestone in our soil, so we don't really need the added calcium from the egg shells. In other parts of the country, you won't need the added acid of the coffee grinds. Check out your soil and talk to people around you. Also, egg shells take FOREVER to break down, and I kind of hate having little bits of egg shells in all my gardens.

As it turns out, Central Texas is an ideal climate for composting. A heap of veggie scraps and yard waste will compost a lot faster in the heat. And you will end up with a rich, black soil; black gold for your garden. My parents live near Chicago, so their compost pile isn't nearly as active during the winter months. They've found a way to work around it though. At last count, they had three compost bins going in order to hold all of their scraps that accumulate during the long winter months.

This leads me to the most amazing part of composting. Day after day, you throw scraps into the bin, and every time you open it, the contents of the bin seem to shrink! I'm not a scientist, so I'm just going to go ahead and chalk this up to magic. To me, it truly is magical to have a big pile of "waste" turn into a little pile of black gold.

Compost bins can be as simple or as fancy as you like. We have one that is a cylinder laying on it's side on a stand. It has a hinged lid on the top for dumping in the scraps. Then, you give it a spin and walk away to let it do its magic in peace. If you don't have a compost bin, that's okay too! You can just start a compost pile in your backyard. This may attract pests, so be aware.

There are some other "strange" things you can compost as well. If you're using the gDiaper disposable system, you can compost the disposable inserts as long as there is only urine on them. You can also compost dryer lint if you and your family wears mostly natural fabrics! Newspapers and paper bags can also go on the heap. And some food companies are now coming out with compostable packaging. Keep your eyes peeled!

I will leave you with a composting tip: While we have a bin we keep out on our counter for food scraps, I try to use paper bags as often as possible, especially when I'm cutting up and peeling a large quantity of fruits and veggies. You can just throw the whole paper bag full of scraps in your bin!

Happy composting!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Struggles

We all enter our breastfeeding relationship with our first child with no experience. We've never done this before. Now, some of us have more information than others. The smart ones do their homework beforehand and read books (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a great one), check websites, and talk to friends and family (careful with this one, some of them might try to convince you that formula is best!). But, then the big day arrives and you're holding this precious little bundle and you think your heart might explode from love. How is it possible to love a tiny creature so much?

Some ladies (like me) panic immediately. My first day home from the hospital was spent running out to see a lactation consultant. I was breastfed as a baby, but my mom lives 2000 miles away and wasn't able to offer much help. And as for nearby friends? Everyone I know gave up on breastfeeding very early. I got the help I needed early on, and things have been going pretty well since then, though there are always going to be bumps in the road.

However, you can have a little one at home for weeks and suddenly hit a brick wall. I was speaking to a friend last night (you know who you are!) who is struggling with her 4 week old who has taken to screaming when he eats. And for a brand new mama whose hormones are still out of whack, this can be terrifying. You can feel like you're doing something wrong. I can remember feeling that way and the panic that settles into your gut. Sometimes it helps just to talk to another mama who's been there to find out that this happens to almost everyone at some point and it doesn't necessarily mean that anything is wrong.

Here are some signs that something is truly wrong and you should get to a doctor or lactation consultant:
-If your baby has a fever
-If you suspect your baby may have an ear infection (this can make nursing painful)
-If your baby isn't producing a lot of wet and poopy diapers
-If your baby is losing weight (aside from the initial weight loss right after birth)
-If breastfeeding is painful for you

Bottom line, even if your baby is fussing at the breast, if he is still eating, producing a lot of diapers for you, and is gaining weight, he's probably okay. Babies have VERY immature digestive systems and even the perfect food (breastmilk) can be difficult for them to process in the beginning. Infant gas drops can help a bit, and we definitely used those with the Eskimo. You can also try an elimination diet to see if your little one may have some food allergies. Remember, cutting out dairy for one day is not sufficient. It can take up to two full weeks before all the allergens work their way out of your system and your breastmilk. If you're going to go this route, do it right.

Qualifying statement: I am NOT a doctor. If you're worried, go see your pediatrician! That's what they're there for! And if you're having trouble with breastfeeding, find someone with experience to help you. It will put your mind at ease and may even make your life easier. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

If you haven't already heard about this, you should definitely check it out!

http://greatclothdiaperchange.com/

The cloth diapering community is going to try to break a world record with the most cloth diapers changed at the same time. On April 23rd at 11am CST people will be gathered all over the world, changing their baby's diapers. :)  There are locations all over the USA, so check and see if there is a local one for you. Then, all you have to do is show up with your baby in cloth and change his diaper! It's a great way to raise awareness and show folks that cloth diapers are going mainstream!

I'd love to hear stories of peoples' experiences at this event, so let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Traveling with your baby

I just read a great post on EcoLogical Mom about traveling with your kids:

http://ecologicalmomblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/complete-survival-guide-for-flying-with.html

However, this post was geared towards traveling with slightly older kids. Since my baby is only 9 months old, I have no experience with flying with older kids. But I DO have experience flying with a baby. Here are some basics you should know about flying with a baby:

1. "Lap children" fly for free. Your baby is a lap child until age 2. However, if you can afford it, I highly recommend buying a seat for your baby. It is much safer for them to fly strapped in their car seat. This also gives you somewhere to stow them during the flight.
2. You can bring your stroller all the way up to the plane. They will take it from you right before you get on the plane and will have it waiting for you as you step off.
3. You are allowed to bring breastmilk or formula onto the plane in quantities greater than 3oz. If they ask to inspect it, request that they change their gloves before handling the bottle.
4. You are allowed to carry on a diaper bag at no additional charge. This does not count as your one carry on.
5. Call the airline ahead of time and let them know you will be flying with a lap child. This is VERY important. While they probably wouldn't turn you away at the gate, it makes the whole process much easier for you. And believe me, if you can make even a small part of the trip easy in advance, do it.
6. Get an aisle seat. You'll thank me later.

The Eskimo and I have taken 3 trips together, for a total of 5 flights and one really long car ride. All of these have been on our own. I can only dream of how easy this process would be with another adult. :) His first flight, at about 3 months old, was a breeze. He was an angel. And, I was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me, so they let me bring his car seat on. While this was great for the flight, it was really challenging to get down the narrow aisle with a car seat, diaper bag, and carry on bag. The car seat is the safest place for your baby during a flight, but most of us can't really afford to buy a second plane ticket if we don't have to.

That first flight was the only one for which I used a stroller. Strollers are a pain in the butt. After that, I used my Ergo baby carrier. I'd throw the Eskimo up on my back, and suddenly making our way through the airport was "easy". But, without a stroller, you have to carry everything yourself. By our last trip, I had this down to a science. I found one small carry on with wheels and put EVERYTHING in there. If it didn't fit in that bag, it didn't go on the plane. When you're carrying a baby on your back, it's very difficult to carry bags with shoulder straps. Just sayin'.

So, what do you really "need" in your carry on? Diapers and wipes are obvious. We have always opted with 'sposies on trips. Packing up all our cloth, detergent, wetbags, diaper covers, etc is just not an option. You'll realize when you travel with your child that suitcase space is at a premium. I carry on enough diapers to get me through an ENTIRE day. I don't care how long your flight is. What if there's a delay? You can't buy diapers at the airport. And diapers are something you do NOT want to run out of. Bad bad bad.

Bring a few changes of clothes for your baby. There's nothing like having your baby puke all over himself and not having a clean onesie. Baby clothes are small, bring extras. I usually pack a spare shirt for myself too, just in case.

Burp rags! You will need these! I also bring my small wetbag to put soiled clothes and burp rags in. Much nicer than stuffing all the gross stuff right back into your diaper bag.

A bottle or two, either with expressed breastmilk or some formula. The Eskimo is a great nurser, but the activity of the airport and airplane can prove to be too distracting for even the best nursers. And it can be a bit embarrassing to be sitting there with your boob exposed while your little one stares at the passersby. Also, if you have a car seat on the plane, you are required to leave your child in it for take off and landing. It's impossible to nurse like this, so you will need a bottle if you're hoping to feed your baby and help his ears. I usually opt for some powdered formula and a bottle of water. Breastmilk only keeps for five hours at room temperature if it's freshly pumped and you probably won't have time to pump right before you leave for the airport. You may not need to use the bottle, but it is MUCH better to have it and not need it than vice-versa.

Toys! I always go out and buy a brand new toy that my baby has never seen before we hop on a plane. Whether I buy it at Target or at Goodwill, it needs to be something new to your baby. If it occupies them for 15 minutes, that's 15 minutes where you don't have to entertain them. Remember, babies go through a phase where they want to throw everything on the floor. And it can be impossible to pick things up in the close quarters of a plane. On my last flight, I tied pieces of string to a number of toys and held onto the ends. That way when the Eskimo threw them, I could reel them in again. You may want to avoid balls or round objects that will roll away down the aisle of the plane. Before we take off, I usually pull all the toys out and put them in my seat pocket for easy access throughout the flight.

Pacifiers and/or loveys. If your baby enjoys his paci, bring a bag full. They will throw them, they will get lost in the airport and you do NOT want to run out of these. And if your child has bonded with a stuffed animal or other lovey, be sure that you have this with you. Airplanes are strange, scary places for babies and they will need all the comfort they can get.

If your baby is old enough, bring some snacks on the plane. There aren't very many healthy options at the airport. Bring something simple and clean. Obviously a messy snack isn't going to be good for anyone involved.


Okay, so your diaper bag is packed, you've got your checked bag packed, and you're ready to go. Get a ride to the airport. You don't want to have to park your car in long-term parking and haul your baby and bags for 3 miles. Have a friend or family member drop you off. If this isn't an option, get a cab. Believe me, you'll be happy you made this choice.

If you're checking bags, use the curb-side check in if it's available to you. Bring a few dollars with you to tip the porter. This saves you having to wait in yet another line inside the airport.

Security really isn't that bad. Pull out any bottles and let the TSA agent know about them. I was always given the option to leave the Eskimo in the baby carrier, but was told they would have to do and individual pat down. Um, no thanks. Do whatever you can to make the TSA agents' jobs easier. Put your carrier through the x-ray machine with your shoes and you're good to go.

I usually try to get the Eskimo to take a short nap right before we get on the plane, because he does NOT sleep on the plane at all. I find a relatively quiet corner to nurse him, put him in the Ergo and walk with him. I want him to sleep long enough to charge up his batteries so we don't have a meltdown on the plane. Our last flight, I managed to get him to stay asleep right up until the moment we took off.

So, now you're on the plane. Smile at the people around you and feel them out to see how baby-friendly they are. On one flight, I had a middle-aged lady with her 10 year old son sitting across the aisle from me. I could tell by the look on her face that she was picturing her little boy as a baby every time she looked at the Eskimo. Later in the flight, she offered to hold the Eskimo for me if I wanted to go to the bathroom! Heck yeah! Flight attendants are another great resource. Take note of which ones make funny faces at your baby as they walk down the aisles. Those are the ones who will hold your baby when you need to pee, too. :)

There are changing tables in most airplane bathrooms, but I don't have to tell you that the quarters are tight. Try your to change your baby's diaper right before you get on the plane. Granted, this is tricky if they're asleep. In this case, follow the golden rule and don't wake a sleeping baby. If your baby is too big for the bathroom changing table, find a clear spot on the floor of the plane, and lay them down. Just make sure you're the one sticking out in the aisle and not the baby.

The last thing that most parents worry about are their baby's ears. Technology and pressurization has come a LONG way, and most babies won't even notice the pressure change for the most part. I had a lengthy conversation with a flight attendant who told me that the take off isn't usually the problem, but the landing. If you're worried, give your child a pacifier or bottle to suck on during the landing. This helps with ear pressure.

Even when you've made all the preparations in the world, things can go wrong. Maybe your baby won't nap, or is teething, or is just generally cranky. It's okay. If your baby cries the whole flight, it's okay. Do your best to entertain him and keep him calm, but remember, you'll never see ANY of these people ever again. Who cares what they think of you? And honestly, if you're making an effort, most people are very kind. Sure, no one wants to listen to a screaming baby, but most of them have been in your situation and they feel your pain. Do your best, but don't worry about it. If you're frantic, there's no way your baby is going to calm down.

Most of all, have a great trip!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Diaper addiction

It's true, I am a self proclaimed addict to cloth diapers. I can't help myself from buying and trying new things. I just ordered a two pack of bamboo fitteds off of babysteals.com today. Do we need them? Heck no! But, I'm always searching for something new and exciting that's going to fit my baby perfectly. :) Plus, I love our Bamboozles by Bummis so much, that I couldn't resist trying another bamboo-based diaper. Let me do a quick inventory here:

30 Regular Bummis organic cotton prefolds
12 Indian prefolds
5 hemp/microfleece inserts by G Diapers
3 bamboozles by Bummis
3 Fuzzibuns pocket diapers
2 Charlie Banana pocket diapers (these are my favorites!)
1 Happy Heiny pocket diaper
1 Tot Bots all-in-one
About a million diaper covers and some homemade longies
I know there are more, but the baby is asleep, and I'm not going to wake him up to do inventory. :)

Here's the thing about cloth diapering your first child: you don't know what you're doing or what works best for your family. That's why forums like Diaper Swappers are so great. You can go on there and sell the items that you're no longer using and buy the things you want. Or, you can turn into a diaper hoarder like me. Don't be surprised to see me on that TLC show Hoarders one of these days...

But this does speak to another point. Cloth diapering is just plain fun. It becomes so much more than a thing of necessity. I get excited about trying new diapers out and seeing how well they work. Can you see anyone getting excited about disposable diapers? Didn't think so. And the best part is that if we have another kid, I'm already fully stocked with diapers! I think part of the addiction lies in knowing you are doing something wonderful for your baby's health and for the environment. It's really easy to justify buying a new cloth diaper when you know it's not going to end up in a landfill anytime soon. So, happy shopping and swapping, mamas!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

And we're back!

For absolutely no reason that I can tell, the Eskimo is nursing again! After six days of striking, he just up and decided to nurse again. These past few days have been really difficult. All I could think last night was that I didn't know the last time I had nursed the Eskimo would be the LAST time. Then, as suddenly as the strike started, it was over and life is back to "normal". With one exception. I now have a much greater appreciation for my nursing relationship with my son. It's such a unique relationship nursing mothers and their babies have. I think a lot of people overlook what a privilege it is to be able to nourish your baby with the perfect food, made exactly as nature intended it. So many moms go the route of formula for various reasons, some valid, and some simply due to lack of education. But they never realize what they're missing out on. Ladies, if you have the opportunity to nurse your baby, take advantage of it, even if you only do it for the first few months. You're giving your baby the most wonderful gift in the world, but you'll also be amazed at how much you get out of it.

I'm sorry I can't offer any solid advice or tricks for ending a nursing strike. I tried everything that people had suggested to me. I even took a bath with the Eskimo yesterday. Not sure how this was supposed to help, but multiple people suggested it. He thought he had died and gone to heaven getting to take a bath in the real tub in the middle of the day. But he still had no interest in nursing. I did sneak into his room last night around 4am and did a dream feed. Sure enough, he latched on. And then he latched on again this morning when he woke up, before his morning nap and again before his afternoon nap! I'm still in awe over the fact that something that was causing me such stress for days can "poof", all of a sudden be gone.

Moral of the story, be grateful for the time you have with your little one, and never give up!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nursing Strike

So, I've kind of been avoiding my blog because the past few days have been really rough. The Eskimo has gone on a nursing strike. He went from being a great nurser, to wanting absolutely nothing to do with me. Ladies, this happens. And you will have people tell you, oh, he's just weaning. NO baby will self-wean at nine months, I don't care what anyone says. Babies generally don't self-wean until 18-24 months. And, a baby doesn't wake up one morning and say, I'm weaned, deal with it. Weaning is a gradual process, spread out over weeks or months. When your baby decides he's not going to nurse all of a sudden, it's a strike. And there is a difference. I've read other mama's tales of their babies going on a strike around nine months. At this age, babies are so busy, they often don't have time to sit down and nurse. They just can't be bothered. At this point, a lot of women give up and say, oh well, he weaned himself. And believe me, that thought has crossed my mind MANY times the past few days. How easy would it be to just give up right now?

The fact is, babies need to be getting the majority of their nutrition from either breastmilk or formula until a year of age. So, even if you decide not to nurse anymore, you're still going to have to provide bottles. We've been giving the Eskimo bottles for the past few days, and it is not fun. It's a lot of work. And I'm not pumping nearly enough milk to keep him happy, so we have to supplement with formula. Not the end of the world, but formula does seem to make him spit up a lot more than usual. Right now, I'm just trying to keep my milk supply up for the day when (not IF!) the Eskimo decides it's time to nurse again. I'm offering the breast often, but so far he just screams and pushes away.

I don't have any brilliant insights into how to end a nursing strike. But I do have insight into how it makes a mama feel. It's horrible. You can't help but feel your baby is rejecting you and that somehow that makes you a terrible mom. I know in my mind that this isn't true, but I have definitely burst into tears on multiple occasions the past few days. Since we're on day six of the nursing strike, I finally broke down and called a lactation consultant today. Incidentally, the Eskimo had his 9 month checkup at the pediatrician yesterday, and while she was able to confirm his ears are fine (ear infections can make it painful for baby to nurse), she was absolutely useless when it came to offering advice. She actually told me that he was probably weaning. Do NOT trust your pediatrician to give you breastfeeding advice. I'm sure some of them know what they're talking about, but most of them know very little. They are baby doctors, not lactation consultants. Seek the help of a professional and a specialist.

Anyway, here's a list of things you can try to end a nursing strike. Obviously, none of these have worked for us yet:
-First, make sure baby is healthy. Ear infections, injuries, etc, can make it difficult for baby to nurse
-Check for a new tooth. This can also cause a strike.
-Try different nursing positions, different locations, even walking around while nursing
-Nurse in a quiet, dark room with minimal distractions
-Make it as pleasant an experience as possible. You don't want to stress your baby, or he may never want to nurse again
-When using bottles, make sure you are using a slow-flow nipple. If baby is used to sucking down a bottle quickly, the slowness of breastfeeding won't seem attractive
-Get someone other than mom to give him the bottles (if this is an option)
-Forgo bottles altogether. Use a sippy cup, spoon, bowl, syringe, anything other than a bottle to get your baby milk.
-Try to nurse when he is sleepy

But above all, the number one rule is, feed the baby. Some folks will say, when he's hungry enough, he'll nurse. When he's hungry enough, he'll become hysterical and won't be able to nurse. Feed the baby. Bottles are a pain in the butt, but are not the end of the world. And keep pumping so you're ready for baby when he decides it's time to nurse again. Here's hoping it gets better soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

COOKIES!!

So for a lot of women, breastfeeding contains a lot of hurdles. My biggest problem is with supply. Granted, it's not a huge problem for me, but is definitely an issue during certain parts of my cycle. So, when I can feel my supply beginning to dip a bit (and I can tell because the Eskimo is no longer satisfied to feed on just one side. He wants both, and usually ends the nursing session screaming because he wasn't finished), I start drinking Mother's Milk Tea, taking Fenugreek and now, I'm trying out some lactation cookies! I figure if I'm going to breastfeed and supply my baby with all the nutrients he needs, then I deserve some cookies. Plus, they're "guilt-free" because it's helping your milk supply. Right? At least, that's how I'm looking at it. :) This is the recipe I'm trying:

http://www.food.com/recipe/oatmeal-chocolate-chip-lactation-cookies-by-noel-trujillo-192346

You'll notice they're chock full of good things like flaxseed meal, brewer's yeast and oatmeal. All of these are great things for your supply. However, I don't really like oatmeal, so I definitely need to hide it in a cookie. And have you ever tried brewer's yeast? It's nasty stuff. So, pour on the sugar and chocolate chips! I'm definitely going to tell my husband that these are lactation cookies and he probably won't like them. We'll see how long that lasts. ;)

I'll let you know if they help my supply!

Healthy Food on the Go

As your little one grows, your world (and theirs) starts to open up a bit. You're no longer a prisoner in your home and since they can stay awake a bit longer, you can run more errands and even grab lunch while out. This can get dangerous, too. Remember that you are setting an example for you little one, from day one. You'll be amazed at how much these little sponges soak up every single day.

If I'm out running errands, I never leave the house without the diaper bag. I am unwilling to risk a potential meltdown, my son puking all over his clothes, or a big old stinky diaper. I'm prepared for almost anything. I always keep snacks in the diaper bag, too. I bring healthy, organic snacks from home so that I'm not forced to buy something that my son really shouldn't be eating. At this point, the snacks are a bit more about learning and entertainment than they are nutrition. He is still getting most of his nutrition from breastmilk. But nothing quiets a cranky, distracted baby like some organic crackers or cheerios.

There will be times when you stop for lunch with your little one. Just last week, I had a craving for a big old Chipotle burrito. The Eskimo and I went in, I ordered my burrito and I ordered a side of black beans and plain rice for him. He was ecstatic to have his own food and enjoyed smooshing up the rice and black beans and trying to stuff it into his mouth. Almost any restaurant you frequent will have something for your little one to eat. And, as a bonus, if you order something healthy for yourself, you can just share! Even McDonald's has apple slices for your little one to munch on. But remember, you choice of restaurant and entrĂ©e is setting an example for your child, even if they aren't old enough to talk yet.

The other thing I realized as I was sitting in Chipotle and the Eskimo was throwing half his rice and beans on the floor was that I am now one of "those" moms. You know, the moms with the little kids who walk away leaving a huge mess on the floor. I was always shocked that people would do this, but the reality is, there really isn't much you can do about it. I clean up the best I can with a baby wipe, and I always wipe down the table and highchair when we're done, but let's face it, I'm not going to crawl around on the floor picking up grains of rice. Apologies in advance to the person who sits at my table after us. :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'm not "Super Mom"

A few days ago, my husband was sitting in his chair, reading my latest blog entry when he looked up at me and said, "If I were a mom, I'd hate to be friends with you". What?! He said, you cloth diaper, you make all organic baby food, you blog about it, etc etc. And that's when I realized that the perception held by most is that all of these things are difficult and take up ALL of your time. I'm here to tell you that this is NOT true.

Let's face it, being a mom is hard work, whether you're lucky enough to be a stay at home mom, or if you're in the workforce, trying to squeeze everything into a day. It's hard. But doing a few simple things like using cloth or making baby food really doesn't take up very much time. I'll admit it, I'm about one step above a lazy bum. I would be happiest if I were just left alone to knit all day, every day. But as discussed in my previous post, cloth diapers only create one extra load of laundry every 2-3 days. And they actually allow me to be even lazier because I never have to run out to the store to buy diapers. EVER. It's wonderful. :)

As for the baby food, I just pick up the extra fruits and veggies during my normal grocery run. Then, about once a week, I hand the baby off to my husband, crank up some tunes, and happily peel, steam and puree for an evening. This is kind of "me" time. No one can bug you when the blender is going at full volume. And, because it takes time for things to steam and puree, bring a book into the kitchen with you and you can really take advantage of this time.

And the blog? Well, consider this another way for me to ignore that pile of dishes in the sink. :) Really, the point of this blog is to show people how EASY all of these things are. It's not to make anyone feel bad because they're not doing them. And you don't have to do any of these things 100% of the time. You can put your baby in 'sposies at daycare and cloth at home. Or puree their veggies and buy their fruit in jars. You can cloth diaper without making baby food, and vice versa. I'm not going to lie, we have a pack of disposable diapers upstairs that I dip into when I just don't feel like dealing with cloth. And we have jars of baby food in the house for when I really don't want to puree anymore.

So, the point is, I'm not "Super Mom", but I am a super mom. We all are. Keep loving those precious little babies and doing the best you can. :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Laundry

Okay, the number one "excuse" I hear for not using cloth diapers is the amount of extra laundry it creates. If you have children, you already know that they create an obscene amount of laundry. You wouldn't think such a tiny creature could fill a laundry basket so quickly, but they can. Between bibs, burp rags, clothes that inevitably get spit up on, pj's, blankets, sheets..... etc etc etc, you probably need to do a load at least every other day.

Well, cloth diapers only add one load of laundry every two to three days. We're in the 21st century here, and you no longer have to scrub on a washboard. You do NOT spend all your time washing diapers. I hardly even notice the extra load every few days. It just fades into the background of a busy washing machine. And if you read my previous post on the washing routine for cloth diapers, you know that it's easy to wash them too. Nothing complex here, guys.

So, you are no longer allowed to use laundry as an excuse to stick with disposables. ;)  One of my pet peeves is when other people tell me how they can't believe I use cloth diapers because it's SO much work. First of all, I'm not asking them to do the work. Second of all, it's NOT that much work, and that's just their ignorance talking. I think a lot of people who would have cloth diapered have been turned off by their friends (who use disposables) telling them how much work it is. For me, the most difficult thing about cloth diapering was the information gathering. And, since you're lucky enough to have found this blog, you can check that one off the list too. :) Consider me your personal source of information. Feel free to email, comment, ask me questions.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's never over

Just when you think you've got all the diapering accessories you need, you find one more cute diaper cover and you just can't resist. Believe me, I've tried. So, say hello to the newest additions to my diapering stash:

On the left we have a Happy Heinys pocket diaper and on the right is another Bummis Super Brite diaper cover. Best part about the Happy Heinys? IT GLOWS IN THE DARK!!! I am SO excited to get this on the Eskimo's butt and turn the lights out. :) It's the little things, you know? I've not tried HH before, so we'll see how it goes. I mostly bought it because it was cute and the Eskimo had already drooled all over it and destroyed the packaging. I'm of the opinion that if your child has drooled on something, you should buy it.

I have another Bummis cover, but it's the Whisper Wrap, which doesn't have exposed PUL on the inside, so you can't wipe it clean. I've also found that's it kind of starting to smell like urine too, which is NOT cool. The Super Brite has exposed PUL on the inside, so you can wipe it clean in between washes. Plus I really like the gussets on the Super Brite. We had one in size small when the Eskimo was little and I really liked it then. And who can resist Bummi's patterns anyway? Definitely not me.

So, as you can probably tell from the picture, shopping for diapers can be really fun. There are so many cute patterns and options out there. I mean, who doesn't want glow-in-the-dark skulls on their butt? Am I right? And I'm in big trouble because a brand new baby store just opened up about a mile from my house. Today was their first day open, and I ran over there first chance I got. They're pretty tiny, but they had a lot of diaper options, which makes me happy. Check out the website: www.mamawise.com.

Time to wash these babies so I can put them on the Eskimo!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Babies and Pets

I'm not just a mother to an amazing baby boy. We also have two German Shorthaired Pointers and 5 (I know, I know) cats. There are a lot of concerns with pets and babies and you should take pause before deciding to have either.

If you're planning on having kids, or are already pregnant and you're thinking of getting a dog or cat, don't. Just plain don't do it. Wait until the baby is born and a little older. I love all of our animals, but they are a LOT of work and when it comes to priorities in our house, the baby always comes first. This means that the dogs don't get walked every day and that the litter boxes don't get scooped as often as they should. But most of all, it means none of the animals get the attention they deserve. Having a child is all-consuming. It leaves you with very few spare brain cells. I'm not saying you can't have pets and kids at the same time, but that if you can be pet-free during the newborn stage, your life will be a little easier. You're about to embark on a brand new adventure with a tiny human. Save the adventure with your furry friend for a time when you can focus.

Also, when picking a new pet for your family, do your homework. Read up on different breeds of dogs and cat and find one that will suit your family's personality. German Shorthaired Pointers are known for being amazing family dogs, but they are VERY energetic and can easily knock over a child in their enthusiasm. We know this, and have taken the appropriate precautions. Don't just wander down to the shelter one day and pick the first dog that strikes your fancy. You will have this dog for the rest of its life, so make sure you can live with it.

Okay, for those of us who already have pets and are unwilling to give them up: It's okay. Like I said, we have 2 dogs and 5 cats and it's fine. We didn't let any of the animals anywhere near the Eskimo for the first couple of months, but as he got older, there wasn't much we could do to prevent them from hanging out. One of our cats absolutely loves him. She sits next to him and will actually carry a feather wand over to him so he will play with her. But he's a grabby little boy and often will end up with a fist full of cat hair and an angry cat. Do NOT leave your pets alone with the baby. I don't care how much you trust your animals. They are animals and that is not their baby. In their eyes, it's just another tiny creature in the house vying for your attention. Supervise all interactions, watch for cues that your pet is getting stressed and intervene when necessary. The Eskimo loves nothing more than pulling on our dogs' ears, but if they're not in the mood, I let them walk away. I never keep one of our pets near the baby if they don't want to be there. I want nothing but happy thoughts for them when they're around him.

The supervision thing carries over into naptime and bedtime as well. I can't supervise pet/baby interactions at night. I don't let any of our animals into the baby's room, at all. It would probably be fine, but we've all heard horror stories of cats smothering babies and that is NOT going to happen in my house. Plus, it's a lot easier to keep the nursery clean without pet hair in it.


We've had a really good experience with our pets and our baby. We've not had any problems, yet. Just pay attention and do your best to set your pets up for success.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Elimination Communication

So, most of you have probably never heard of this. At least I'm assuming that since I had never heard of it until a few days ago. Elimination communication is a sort of "potty training" for infants. The idea is that from birth, your infant does not WANT to soil himself. Babies know when they need to potty and would rather potty somewhere where they aren't sleeping. They will give you cues when they need to potty and if you pay careful attention to your little one, you can hold them over a toilet, sink or training potty when they do their thing. This is meant to be done from day one with your little baby, but really can be started any time.

Admittedly, this whole concept sounds kind of insane to our diaper-crazed culture, but in some cultures, this is how it's always been done. And the thing that really struck home for me was the parenting aspect of it. As parents, we all know that consistency is the most important thing. But with elimination, we teach our kids to wet and soil themselves for 18 or so months. Then, one day, we say, "you can't do that anymore". How confusing is that for a baby?!

I'm always up for a challenge, so why not? This is definitely the luxury of a stay-at-home mom. Good luck finding a daycare who will hold your infant over a potty. ;) Now, I'm not going whole hog here. The Eskimo will not be running around the house diaper free anytime soon. But, if I can catch a couple of the Eskimo's pees or poops in the toilet, I think it's going to make potty training that much easier when the time comes. AND it might save me from washing a couple extra diapers! Sounds like a win/win to me.

We had our first attempt after his morning nap today, and it TOTALLY worked. He went pee-pee in the potty! I got him up, took off his diaper that was suspiciously dry, placed him on the training toilet and made his cue sound (I've chosen "pssss" to cue peeing). Sure enough, he peed! It was completely amazing. It might have been a coincidence, but I'm going to keep at it. Wish us luck!

Sick. And spread the word about cloth!

Our family was hit pretty hard by a nasty cold. My husband started it, and the Eskimo got a little fever and some sniffles and I was laid out for days. But what's amazing to me is that other than a tiny fever for an afternoon and some sniffles, the Eskimo has been fine while I felt like death warmed over! I'm chalking this one up to breastfeeding. I nursed the heck out of him for a few days there to stuff him full of my antibodies, and it seems to have worked! You always hear about how much healthier breastfed babies are, but now we've seen it in action.

On another note, cloth diapering seems to be spreading like wildfire! I had another friend who is expecting ask me about it yesterday! It makes me so unbelievably happy to know that more and more mamas are thinking about and choosing cloth over 'sposies. Remember, your baby will go through literally thousands of diapers in his lifetime. Think of how many disposables you'll keep from the landfills! Like I said, one person CAN make a difference.

I think just knowing someone who uses cloth is enough to convince people to use it. When we first started, we didn't know anyone and it was really difficult to get our bearings. There are a lot of options out there and it can be really confusing. But now that we're old "pros", I'm finding that a lot of friends ask for advice and help getting started (hence the blog!). So, those of you who cloth diaper, wield your power! Go ahead and be vocal about it! Spread the word about how easy, convenient and fun cloth diapering is! Post about it on Facebook, tell your coworkers, neighbors, friends. You'll be amazed at the response. Okay, you don't have to be as crazy and excited as I am, but you should be proud of yourself for taking what is perceived to be the more difficult and less traveled road. Don't hesitate to boast. :)