Thursday, December 31, 2009

7 Months & a New Year


This past month has held so many milestones - as you can see in the New Years Eve photo above, our Barking Baby went from rocking on all fours to being a skilled crawler this month. He started sitting up and crawling the week of Christmas, and J and I's heads are still spinning as we learn the implications of his independent mobility. He has earned his new nickname, Mr. Wiggles, especially on the changing table where he likes to flip onto his stomach mid-diaper change, or in his crib where he pops up to sitting when we lay him down for a nap. While I'm not always sure how to handle that, it's amazing to watch him make decisions and then implement them, like "I want to sit up now and so I will - watch me roll to my tum and then get on all fours and then swing my legs and torso around and now I'm sitting. Oh, do you want to see me do it again? Is that why you put me back on my back? Sure I can do it again! I know how!" And then he smiles, so proud of his accomplishment. And I can't help but smile too.

More milestones this month:
BB was dedicated to the Lord at the Christmas Eve service at our church - so surreal to be the ones actually participating in this VCC tradition that we love. This tradition is a time where J and I commit to teaching BB about God and His Son and his ways and our church prays over us as a family.

And BB had his first Christmas morning.

Which of course means he opened his first Christmas presents! His very first Christmas gift was a Bible from Mommy and Daddy.

And then there were lots of toys from his family:



And this past month he has ravenously consumed peas and sweet potatoes and chicken and rice cereal and apples and pears and blueberries and bananas (his favorite) and gained almost 1 pound, rounding out at 16 lbs, and is 28 3/4 inches long.

And on his 7 month birthday he rang in the New Year:


Happy 7 months BB! and Happy 2010 to all of you from the Barking Baby Mama!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

So, what did I do differently this Christmas holiday? How did I follow through on my statements on my post on Black Friday for a Greener Christmas?

I simplified - We drew names for a gift exchange with J's family rather than buying for everyone (except the kiddos).
I thought sustainable - We got some of our nieces a wooden toy set and some books, rather than plastic toys. And we let it be known to the family that we were a fan of wooden, made-to-last toys for BB. In fact, his Auntie Leigh-Leigh even made him his very own custom wooden block set - such a special gift that he (and his future brothers and sisters) will enjoy for years to come! We are so grateful to have a large-scale artisan in the family!

I reused - This is not new, but I always reuse gift bags and tissue paper and ribbons and bows - I rarely buy gift wrap as it's expensive and I'm fairly cheap - instead I just stockpile and reuse what's given to us. Tissue paper gets all crumpled up on transport (from our house to the giftee's) anyway, so who cares if it's crumpled when it's gets packaged? Not me! Plus, my gifts are a million times prettier now, because I happily use bows and ribbons and other embellishments, knowing that I'm not spending any extra on them. Now that we have BB, I have big plans for him to color on butcher paper (or inside-out paper grocery bags) just like my mom had my brother and I do growing up, for some artistic and memorable wrapping paper.
Another way I reused was with some Trader Joe's paper bags for a Christmas craft! I was admiring the snowflakes, ornaments, and Christmas-y words printed in white on the brown paper bags and I decided to cut them out and see what they could become - I ended up displaying them in some clear glass jars (an alternative to framing) mounted on some red and green scrapbook paper and topped with (reused) ribbon - J and I love our newest holiday decor.

So these were the small steps I took towards a Greener Christmas for our little planet and our little boy this year. Did you do anything differently this holiday?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ho-Ho-Honundrums.....or, the Santa Debate

We knew we were not going to tell BB that Santa Clause was real (What!? Santa's not real?!)
Our thinking is that if we tell BB that Santa is real and then later he realizes that Santa is not real, BB might wonder what else we are pretending about - what about when we say God is real? How will BB know what to believe?
I thought we could just not talk about Santa, have a no-Santa clause, if you will, but turns out Santa is everywhere so that plan won't work. And then I realized that no Santa meant no BB-on-Santa's-lap picture, and it really bothered me to pass on a maybe-milestone, especially one that included a picture. He will never be 6 months old at Christmastime again, and I could never get this photo op back! And I decided that we better just go take a BB-Santa picture, just in case. And then on our just-in-case-BB-Santa picture mall trip, I went into Barnes and Noble and picked up The Night Before Christmas and suddenly felt panicked at the idea of never reading BB this beloved story from my childhood. What about the Santa-filled traditions I had grown up with? Could I share none of them with my own children? When I expressed this realization and sadness to J, he pointed out that we can still tell BB about St. Nicholas, and that that's where the story of Santa comes from, and that Santa is a fun story that people like to pretend at Christmas. And I felt very relieved that I didn't have to completely eradicate my Santeritage (Santa-heritage? HeritClause? Trantadition? Anyone?)
This solution doesn't deal with the materialism and consumerism issues that Santa brings along in his jolly red sack, but I have at least a year to work out the kinks before BB starts asking questions - I'm thinking I can work in the gifts that the magi brought to Jesus somehow :)
So here's the just-in-case Santa's lap photo:
Hope you enjoy the shot of BB sticking out his tongue - that's his latest way of telling us he's happy!
And yes, J and I have pretty much settled that BB will be that kid - you know, the one who makes the other kids cry by announcing "Santa's not real!" I can just see the annoyed parents now...

Casualty


BB's first casualty - the fault of an unsuspecting mom who thought her tiny son just wanted to touch the branches, and then WHACK!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cleaning with a Baby

So if you know me, you probably already know that I try to be environmentally conscious (cut to BFF A calling me because she saw a recycling truck and thought of me). It's true - actually, on a recycling sidenote, when we lived in an apartment for two years that didn't have recycling, every time our recycle bin filled up poor J would drive around looking for a recycle bin that he could dump our cardboard and cans into because it made me sick to my stomach to think of throwing it away. I feel antsy and a little nauseous just thinking about it now. So now you know I'm "green" and also a little crazy. And J is the best husband in the whole world.
Anyway, I liked the idea of cleaning products that were less chemical-ly and had less of an impact on the environment even before BB, but now that he's around shoving everything he sees into his mouth, it's even more important to me. So I thought I would breakdown what I have been using to clean nowadays.
When I thought of switching to green alternatives for cleaning, at first I felt overwhelmed, but then I realized that I didn't have to throw away all of the stuff I already had and start from scratch, all I had to do was integrate one new thing at a time as my current supplies ran out. This made the whole thing much more doable and I am still somewhere in the middle of the process. Also, I found some "recipes" (via www.passionatehomemaking.com) that make greener and cheaper cleaning products - yay for saving money and the environment at the same time!

Here's my cleaning supply round-up:
-A couple years ago I stopped using my Swiffer Wet Jet on our floors in favor of just attaching a rag (cut up old towel) to my Swiffer Sweeper "broom" and using vinegar and water (about 1/2 and 1/2) in a spray bottle on the floor. This is the only way I mop our house full of wood laminate flooring.
-Also a couple of years ago I bought some Shaklee cleaning products that my sister-in-law was peddling. They are supposed to be more natural and reduce waste because some of it comes concentrated. The only things I have left are the spray bottles and a big bottle of super concentrated Basic H cleaner, which is a concentrated super-cleaner. (I would have kept using Shaklee, but it is pricey, and my sister-in-law no longer peddles it). I use this Basic H on any stubborn thing and as "soap" in any of my natural cleaning "recipes". (Basic H appears to be worth the cost, since I still have 2/3 bottle left years later).
-On the mirrors I use a mixture of water and Basic H in a spray bottle - I'm sure vinegar would work just as well.
-One of my favorite switcharoos was to make my own disinfectant wipes. I cut up 2 of J's old T-shirts and soaked them in a mixture of vinegar (I use distilled white), tea tree oil (I buy this at Sprouts, a grocery store), and Basic H. The vinegar and tea tree oil both have natural disinfectant properties (I googled it!) and I use the Basic H in lieu of Castille soap. I keep these in an old plastic ice cream tub with a lid under the sink and keep the dirty ones in another ice cream tub with a lid (leftover from an ice cream sundae party!). When the dirty tub is full, I just throw them in the wash and can reuse them! I use these on counters and in bathrooms and love it. Sometimes I do have to dry the surfaces off a little bit if I have too much solution in the buckets making the cloths too saturated.
-I bought a Method brand wood cleaner (alternative to Pledge) on sale -it smells amazing, but our coffee table does get dustier quicker than it did with the Pledge. I just have to dust a little more often, but at least I know the scent I'm inhaling isn't noxious fumes!
-I have started using baking soda (in a salt shaker so that I can easily dust surfaces with it) to clean the toilet and bathtub - it seems to be working pretty well so far!
-I have two major non-green indulgences (they are disposable). I love Swiffer Sweeper dry cloths for sweeping and dusting - they make these jobs so much quicker and easier. I also have a paper towel addiction. I think it's reasonable to use paper towels on certain things like nasty raw chicken slime on the counter and certain bathroom clean-up, but I instinctively grab them to wipe up a spot on the floor or counter, when I could just as easily use a rag that I can reuse. I am trying to keep some of my t-shirt-rags dry to use for these purposes, which is working well for me. I think the key is to keep them in an accessible area next to the paper towels, like a bowl/jar on the counter.

Right now I still use commercial laundry detergent (All Free-and-Clear for BB) and dishwasher liquid and dishsoap (the mainstream, biodegradable ones). I tried the Trader Joe's brand dishwasher detergent, and it cleaned fine, except now my glasses have horrible spots on them and they never did when we used Cascade. Bummer. I read that you can pour vinegar in the rinse aid part of your dishwasher as a cheap alternative to prevent spotting, but I think that detergent just didn't agree with my glasses. As an alternative to these things there are apparently these things called Soap Nuts that grow on trees that you can make soap out of. (I read about them here). When I told J about these and making soap, he thought I was a little crazy and now anytime I talk about making anything, we joke about making it out of soap nuts.

I love knowing that the products I use are better for the environment and safer for BB - he is rolling, scooting, and wiggling his way all over the living room floor, and I love knowing that there aren't man-made chemicals rubbed all over my laminate, just good old vinegar, which is edible. As is the baking soda, and even tea tree oil is ingestible! And the vinegar and baking soda is cheap too! So that's my round-up! What do you think? Do you have any great "recipes" for cleaning?


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chicken

If you're interested in seeing the chicken in live action, here you go!
video

Sunday, December 6, 2009

He's just a little guy

At his 6-Month checkup, BB weighed in at only 15 lbs 1 oz, putting him in the 10% percentile, while he is still in the 90% percentile for length at 28 1/4 inches. This combo makes for one very long and skinny baby! He has always been less plump than some of his "colleagues" but he has never looked unhealthily so. J's mom said that J was very similar with his growth, tending to grow longer rather than wider. Still, when I spied a picture of his cousin K at the same age on his auntie's fridge the other day, I was shocked at the lack of chunk on BB.
We had started him on rice cereal right around 5 months, but since the doctor had recommended waiting until 6 months, we only fed him rice cereal inconsistently. So now we are feeding him solids twice a day trying to beef him up and we'll follow up in 4 weeks. Speaking of beefing up, the doctor actually said that nowadays they are thinking meat is a great first food for babies, as it contains higher levels of iron and zinc which breast milk has less of around 6 months, and that the zinc plays a role in skin integrity, so more zinc may help with his eczema! Unfortunately, BB did not think meat was such a great first food:

He was very upset when we put the chicken in his mouth - he had been happily enjoying his peas, leaning his head forward to take bites, and when I put the chicken in his mouth, he made this expression I had never seen before - he looked upset and a little betrayed.
But he has been a big fan of rice cereal from the start:

And peas are pretty yummy too.

I am looking forward to making baby food, and I did make the chicken myself, but the peas and sweet potatoes are from jars, as we just wanted to get him started as quickly as possible due to the low weight. I am paging through Super Baby Food at this point - any other great baby-food-making resources out there?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy 6 Month Birthday BB

Today is BB's 6 month birthday (observed).

Half a year? Really?

In half a year, he has gone from burrowing on the right side of my uterus to a wiggly, smiley, cuddly, teething, laughing sometimes-bottom-naked-if-he-has-a-diaper-rash little boy who looks like his Daddy and smiles like his Mommy.

In half of a year, we have become a whole family.

Happy 6 Months.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Green Friday

"We do not inherit this land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children".

When I think about how our society has changed just in the last 60 years and what kind of society and environment BB will grow up in, I am often fearful about the direction it is all heading. The new normal that has been created seems to be a very different picture that the normal of the 1950s. Today we all have to have two cars, a computer, an iPod or two, cell phones for everyone, et cetera - it's just normal. And we need two cars to get us to the two jobs it takes to pay for all this normal, and to get our children to the childcare we need so we can go to our two jobs. All to keep up with normal. Where did this normal come from? How did it become so different from a couple generations ago, when our grandparents were walking uphill both ways barefoot in the snow?
I am convinced that God has called me to be a good steward of all of my resources, including this amazing planet. I am worried about all the chemicals floating in and around all of the products we have surrounded ourselves with, products and chemicals that weren't around even when I was born, and the long-term effects of which we do not know. And I'm worried about where it will all go when we're done with it. What am I doing with the land (and the society) I am borrowing from BB?
I'm grateful I watched this video before starting the craze of "Christmas shopping". I am anxious to find ways to opt out of the consumerism mentality this holiday season, whether it's by creating or simplifying or reusing as best as I can and I am interested to hear about ways others have found to do this, so please share your thoughts and ideas on this!



Note: I viewed this video at www.under1000permonth.blogspot.com

Post Script: After a lengthy discussion with J, I've decided to add a note that yes, I am aware that I do not know who this woman is, where her numbers come from, or who paid her to travel the world studying these things for ten years and that this video is an "advertisement" of sorts in and of itself. I do not know if everything she says is true (J was especially ruffled by her inaccurate example of a computer as planned obsolescence-you mess with a computer, you mess with J :) ) But I think there is value in watching and weighing it against your own thoughts and research.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Gobble gobble, bark, er, gobble gobble"
Love, BB

*turkey shirt by Mommy

Monday, November 23, 2009

Falling Asleep

BB is finally getting over his first cold, and we think this little elephant cool-mist humidifier was a stylish helper in the healing process. Thanks to the stuffy nose and the teething, BB now seems to be rejecting his pacifier. It seemed like it hurts his gums to bite down on it, and once he couldn't breathe through his nose it was bye bye binky. Or more accurately, cry cry binky. cry. cry some more. get picked up. stop crying. fuss. put back down. cry. pick up and bounce and spin by daddy. cry. daddy puts baby back in crib and bounces mattress. baby falls asleep mid-cry from pure exhaustion.
He was really only using his pacifier when falling asleep but it has been a crucial part in the actual falling asleep process - sometimes it would only take a couple of seconds of sucking and he would be out. Now we have nothing more than some pats and bounces to soothe him. Sucking on his blanket for a moment seems to soothe him enough to quiet down and close his eyes. Hopefully that can continue to satisfy his soothing needs.
Another trend in falling asleep (or rather, in NOT falling asleep) has been BB rolling right over from his back to his tummy. This is a well-honed skill these days, and he loves practicing, while awake, falling asleep, and even in his sleep. He moves all over his crib when napping nowadays and often wakes up crying on his tummy, frustrated that he doesn't have room to roll himself back over (he is a one-way roller). I love peeking in his room and seeing him sleeping on his tum like a grown-up with a foot sticking out between the bars.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Grapes of Baby Wrath

BB has two little white dots on his lower gums - IT'S OFFICIAL! He's TEETHING!
Oh the dreaded teething. I have feared this day for many reasons, the paramount of which is the fear of one day being bitten. In a very. sensitive. location. Well, two very. sensitive. locations.
But there is also the fear of going back to waking up all night and a very cranky baby, some of which we've already seen the last week, as poor BB has been the subject of his own personal Bermuda Triangle: a cold, a heinous diaper rash, and teething.
In an effort to recover our cheerful, well-rested baby from the Triangle, this weekend J and I decided to try out this little teether - it vibrates when BB gnaws on it, which weren't sure would feel good, but it seems to be alleviating some pain and therefore some of the teething wrath.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Close to Me

Several weeks ago I began to feel the chaos set in again - my daily pace was becoming frantic as the anxiety began to permeate. Even though I don't feel "sad", I have learned to recognize these feelings as harbingers of depression. I realized that when BB was napping, I was cleaning or doing laundry, and when I wasn't at home caring for BB and the house, I was working, trying to serve my patients lovingly while optimizing their health. Trying to find time to work out has been challenging and I was feeling discouraged about my body. I remembered the days when I could get up and get a glass of water anytime I wanted and wondered how I felt so busy then when I could do anything anytime I wanted.

That weekend, the Lord knew just what I needed - I spent the afternoon with my little family at an outdoor wedding reception in beautiful weather, socializing as a family and taking BB on the dance floor for the first time. A social event that might normally make me feel ready for a nap was actually revitalizing. That night was a girl's night out - I drove away from the house feeling free, windows down and music up, grateful that J was enjoying a boys night in with BB. He was safe at home with his daddy and I was free to...anything! I had dinner with friends and after dinner we walked around the outdoor mall, debating continuing the evening. I was excited by any suggestion, and laughed when I realized I was just so excited I had the option to do any of it. The next day, I felt peaceful inside again. The anxiety was gone.

Driving to Target alone the other evening, I felt that same lightness of being (to borrow a phrase), a freedom that felt satisfying only because it was temporary.

Speaking with my sister-in-law recently we discussed "me time" and how as a mommy, it can be hard to come by.

In the afternoon I danced in the living room with BB, tears sliding down my cheeks as I sang "Wildflower" and realized how much I meant the words for him.
"You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worry
You belong somewhere you feel free"

This hope and anticipation and delight is even harder to come by.
He belongs close to me, and it's so worth it.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy 5-Month Birthday BB!

BB was 5 months old on Halloween! Here's the dinosaur with his Cave-Parents!

You've already seen pictures of some of his 5-month changes, like his laughs, and his first time in his high chair. Some other changes are that he reached out for Mommy for the first time, which made Mommy feel important; He has played in his exersaucer lots and had his first taste of somethings other than mommy-milk: formula and rice cereal. He has formula mixed with breastmilk on the days that I work (as he was eating more than I was pumping when I work) and he had his first taste of rice cereal just days before his 5-month birthday. He was a little indifferent to his first tastes, but last night was the third time he had rice cereal, and he anxiously cried out for the spoon every time it was taken away to scoop up another bite - we have to move pretty quick to keep him satisfied. BB has also begun lots of high-pitched squeals when playing - he just gets more and more talky all the time and we love hearing all the emotion conveyed in his little sighs and squeals. BB is also slowly becoming mobile - he got his knees under himself and launched himself forward when lying in our bed one morning!
Time just keeps launching forward too - Happy 5 Months.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Fall


It was a balmy 96 degrees out when we inaugurated the fall season with a visit to Buckelew Farms to pick a pumpkin. I intentionally picked this date because I thought it would be cooler! But we enjoyed ourselves despite the heat, and it only made BB a little extra cranky.

BB had hay stuck between his toes after taking these photos!

We took a tractor-drawn wagon out to the patch and searched for our perfect pumpkins, both for carving and for photo ops.


Our little pumpkin


This is when BB decided it was too hot to take any more pictures and also why are you forcing me to sit and stand on this hard, orange thing for so long?


This is now sans overalls, right before BB grabbed a leaf and aimed it straight at his mouth as J said "I think he wants to...!" You can see his plan developing.


And this is where they weighed our pumpkins to charge us - here's our 16-pounder!

J dropped our pumpkins off in the car and came back to check out the rest of the festival with us - he walked up as our nieces were picking marionette puppets and I was trying to cool BB off in front of a fan in the stand. Suddenly J shoved his forearms at me and yelped "Look at my arms!" I looked and saw a harvest of little red bumps, and nonchalantly said "Oh your arms are red". He said "LOOK at my ARMS!", and I said something like "What's that from?" and tried to discern some symptoms like is it was itchy? or burning? and all he replied was "LOOK AT MY ARMS!!" His mom, unaware of the flesh-mutilating outbreak, asked him for help with something and he squaked "I CAN'T DO ANTHING UNTIL I TAKE CARE OF THIS!! GIVE ME A WIPE!" He rummaged through the diaper bag and found a wipe and feverishly scrubbed to no avail, and I told him to find a bathroom and wash his arms. He left the stand and I saw him wandering the grounds in circles like he was deranged - I shouted to find an employee, and instead he stopped his father for directions. He finally found a bathroom and came back my rational, easygoing husband. On the drive home I mocked his panic and he told me that at the same time he noticed the rash developing, his asthma kicked up from being out in the fields and he thought "I can't breathe and I have this rash - I'M GOING TO DIE AT THE PUMPKIN PATCH! This is not how I wanted to go out!!" and I laughed the whole ride home.

A big thanks to Granacky for being our family photographer! I tried to return the favor with a shot of the grands


Laughs

BB has joined the cacophony in my life chanting "J is sooooo funny"

video

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mommy Must-Haves

Sling (or other babywearing device): look Mom, no hands! Sometimes your baby does NOT want to be put down. With a capital NOT. and sometimes you just need both your hands. Voila!

(This is a Taylor Made sling - a hand-me-down from my sis-in-law)

Paci-clip: no more digging around in the backseat desperately searching for the binky with one hand with your baby's sobs piercing your ears and inducing a slew of anxiety-provoking mommy-hormones, with the other hand on the steering wheel, trying to watch the road. While there are many warnings about strangulation hazards when attaching something to your baby with a strap, I think the dangers on the road not having a paci-clip far outweigh the remote potential of BB strangling himself with a 6 inch strap while in eye-shot (in the carseat mirror).


Happiest Baby on the Block: the 5 Ss (calming techniques) were my 5 best friends in the early days. While many of the points in this book come from an evolutionary worldview, I just replaced those ideas with "because God made it that way". A must read for mommies and daddies.


To Be Continued...

Monday, October 12, 2009

All dressed up

Here's BB all dressed up - we had a great time celebrating a friend's wedding at a beautiful outdoor reception. BB even took his first spins on a real dance floor with Mommy and Daddy!

His Highness

First time in his high chair!

Two of a Kind


That's just my baby's daddy.

Wheeeee

Two Turntables and a Rolling Pin

I am woman. I rule kitchen. I make pasta......from scratch.
That's right, scratch! Wicki-wicki *spinning my air-turntables*

I had been thinking about making my own pasta, but I was way too intimidated by the idea. And then I couldn't find pappardelle noodles and I didn't want to substitute with fettucine noodles like the recipe suggested. I decided to finally go for it.

All I used was flour and water, per the recipe found here . I peeked at a recipe from my cookbook to compare, but it had several other ingredients and I decided to keep it simple. I kneaded the flour and water together, and then rolled it out as thin as I could with my rolling pin (which was a major arm workout - I was actually sore the next day!) After that I cut it into strips with my pizza cutter. The pappardelle noodles were perfect for my scratch pasta experiment, because they are about 1 inch wide, easy to cut with the pizza cutter. After I initially cut them, I rolled them out again and was able to get them much thinner than before. Here they are, ready to pop in the water!

And after boiling them (until they float, and then for 5 minutes (and one taste-test) afterwards)

And finally, in our lamb ragu

The noodles actually looked and tasted like real pasta. The whole process took me about 1 hour, from looking up the recipe to finishing the cleanup. I did this during the day while BB was napping and then just refrigerated them until dinnertime. The whole experiment was fun and empowering. And after peeking at the ingredients list on the pasta package in my pantry, I love knowing exactly what is in my noodles - flour and water. Next on the wicki-wicki list - tortillas and bread!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Funny HaHa


The tub is always a joyful place for this little one, and as he slowly discovers that each of his limbs and even his bottom can be lifted and then resubmerged with a subsequent splashy effect, it's only becoming more fun. But that's not even why I'm blogging.

I'm blogging because mere minutes after this photo was snapped, I dried him off, diapered him up, rubbed (overpriced-for-it's-naturalness) moisturizing cream on his skin to combat the eczema, and then lifted him in the air and giggled at his 97th percentile-long-legs dangling off his torso, and do you know what happened next? There, up in the air, my BB emitted his first real laugh. Not just a squeal or a grunty-chuckle (or even a bark), but a real laugh.

Mommyhood is filled with everyday moments of joy, like a splash in the tub or a wet kiss. But there are also moments when life changes right in front of you, and there are only so many of those. Life changed today. And I was there, and there was laughter.