Saturday, December 31, 2011

Baby Update - Not Born But Correctly Positioned

We just got home from the hospital, with our baby still inside me. We are probably one of the few families happy to leave labor and delivery without the baby being born yet. The reason I am so happy is that the baby was in a breech position (head up, more dangerous to deliver, usually lead to a cesarean) and we had a successful procedure to turn the baby head down! It was not painful, didn't take very long, and baby and I are both doing great! Husband is napping on the couch, while I am actually full of energy right now.

The procedure, called an external cephalic version, generally has a 50-70% success rate, but I had lots of factors in my favor including the fact that this is my second baby and I have plenty of amniotic fluid.

We found out on Wednesday of this week that the baby was breech, went in to a clinic for an ultrasound to confirm and do an anatomical scan to make sure a version would be safe on Thursday, and went in to the hospital for the version today. In between, we did final preparations for meeting this baby, including setting up the tub and installing the carseat and packing hospital bags. There were lots of possibilities and contingencies to prepare for, but by this morning I actually felt ready. I also have been doing physical movements that were supposed to encourage turning, talked to the baby about turning, got a chiropractic adjustment, and listened to a hypnobabies mp3 track about turning breech babies.

I was anxious about the version, particularly the part where I would have to get an IV, but that ended up being fine. I listened to hypnobabies and felt pretty relaxed during the procedure. I trusted the doctor, the nurse was experienced and kept giving me nods and smiles, helping me feel that everything was going well, and I felt like my body was ready for the baby to move around.

We had discussed trying to get labor going shortly after a successful turn, but now my midwives are both at another birth, and the doctor also felt confident that the baby has great chances of staying head down, so we are waiting on doing any natural induction methods. I am going out for a walk right now, to take advantage of my current energy and get my dog a little bit of exercise and stimulation. I am leaving my daughter watching Dinosaur Train on the couch with her sleeping dad (her choice). So, maybe I will try to do more communing/communicating with the baby during the walk and let it know we are all ready for it!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas morning excitement!





Playing with sidewalk chalk on Christmas day.


Decorating the tree a few weeks ago.
And still pregnant - due in just 2 weeks!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Precious Moments

After Stella's bath tonight, Joe picks her up and I come over and give her a kiss. She says, "I love you guys" and hugs us, one, then the other, then both together, again and again.

These are the things I want to remember forever.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pregnancy Complaints

First half of the post, written a week ago
I really wanted to LOVE being pregnant. I wanted to feel "better than I've ever felt," full of life, and beautiful. Well, I'm not as miserable as some, but a lot of things about being pregnant are difficult for me. There have been times I have felt inadequate because of this. Like, why can't I take better care of myself so that I feel more healthy and rested more of the time? But it is just plain hard.

I am still awake after midnight tonight because of awful heartburn/reflux. I have eaten tons of papaya enzyme pills, just drank a glass of milk, and have remained upright ever since I put Sweet Pea to bed, but am still having painful burps, that I know will become unbearable if I lay down before the acid subsides. This has been a rough week for sleep, and I was so tired last night after work that all I could do was put away a few dishes before settling down on the couch for the rest of the evening. I went to bed early and slept late so today was better, but now here I am missing sleep again! This week I was awakened by just about every pregnancy issue I've had the whole time, all squeezed into one week of bad sleep: many bathroom trips, heartburn, aching hips, weird dreams, racing thoughts, and leg cramps (the WORST!) And the worst thing about this, to me, is that all of these things wake me ALL THE WAY up so that it takes a while to fall back asleep. I only work 4 days a week, luckily, but I have a 25-minute commute to a job that is supposed to begin at 7:30 AM. I am not much of a morning person so getting up so early is hard for me normally, and extra hard after a night of restless sleep.

Continued today
Sleep did not get better for me over the weekend, in fact it got worse due to my husband's birthday, a new cough that Sweet Pea caught, and stressing about my annual observation at work. Last night was the first night in about a week I was in bed for 8 hours. AND last night I only woke all the way up one time. So, I felt great and rested this morning, but fading fast tonight! It's only 6:45, dinner is almost ready, but I feel like I could crawl into bed and sleep 'til 10:00 tomorrow. I am soooo glad I am not working up until my due date. Next week is my last week and then I'll be home until April.

So, back to the things that have been difficult this pregnancy, and some of the things I've done to feel better:
Sciatic nerve pain in my left hip - This started over the summer, possibly even before the end of my first trimester, which is unusual. It became especially bad after our trip to Eastern Oregon, with long stretches of time stuck in the car. For me, the pain is dull, and there most of the time, then shoots from the middle of the left side of my butt up into my back and down the back side of my leg when I try to do something like stand up after lying down, get out of the car, roll from one side to the other, put on pants, or do certain exercises. Sometimes the pain has been so bad that I've nearly fallen down upon standing first thing in the morning. More movement is actually good for this problem, but it is really hard to feel motivated to exercise when exercise often temporarily makes me feel worse. I have to do a lot of stretching before and after walking to avoid a completely locked up feeling in my pelvis. My understanding is that this problem is caused by some misalignment in my pelvis which causes tension in my muscles and pain through that major nerve. It only happens to me in pregnancy (so far) because the hormones of pregnancy cause looser ligaments so my bones are more likely to get slightly out of place.

What helps:
  • Chiropractic work - amazing results at the first visit, and still helps but not as dramatically
  • Massage - doesn't help immediately but has longer-lasting (about 2 weeks) results. Also, NOT covered by insurance, while chiropracty is.
  • Wearing a maternity support belt
  • Sleeping with a pillow slightly under my belly and between my knees
  • Memory foam mattress
  • Certain yoga moves including mama's pose, cat and cow, and basically wagging my butt around while on all fours
  • Icing my SI joints
  • Not riding in a car
  • Using a yoga ball instead of a chair

Heartburn / acid reflux - When I'm not pregnant, I never have this problem. So, I couldn't really relate when people would complain about it before. But now, oh boy do I sympathize! It's not just the burning pain in my lower and upper throat, but the disgusting-tasting burps that include bitter liquid, that really gets to me. Over the last month I have gotten a lot better at avoiding things that trigger it, which for me are anything with tomato, especially ketchup, anything spicy, and some acidic foods like oranges. Also chocolate is sometimes bad. Even if I don't eat any of those things, I can still experience it if I eat too much at once, or drink too much water after eating, or lean over too far too soon after eating. Close to meals, I can't unload the dishwasher or the dryer anymore unless I get into a squatting position to keep my upper body mostly upright.

What helps:
  • Eating small bland meals frequently
  • Taking papaya enzyme right after eating
  • Eating well before bedtime and drinking only before and after, not during dinner
  • Drinking milk
  • Apple cider vinegar might help but I'm not certain yet
  • The normal medicines, but only some of them are safe during pregnancy

There are many other things that I have to complain about, including worries about the future and finances, my awkward waddle, clothes not fitting, strange comments from stranger, indigestion, a limited diet, weight gain, and general fatigue in this last month of pregnancy, but I'll save you from a more in-depth description of those for now.

To end on a positive note, it is an amazing feeling to have another living being moving inside of me, and knowing that I am nourishing and growing a baby who will someday be a unique person and a welcome addition to our family does make it all worthwhile. But two times may just be enough for me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Busy Fall Days

What I have been doing:Working working working, cooking dinners, walking the dog, cleaning house, planning the baby room, visiting friends, going to yoga, playing with Sweet Pea, going to appointments (midwives, chiropractor, massage), reading, even watching a little TV. Basically, I've been just living my life. Mixed in there, I spent my first night away from Sweet Pea when Average and I took a "babymoon" to Ashland, OR to spend the night and see a play. I survived (barely) five days of single-working-pregnant-parent life while Average helped his dad with a building project in Eastern Oregon. I also went to a Saturday training on teaching Shakespeare, finished the first quarter of teaching, and had and recovered from a terrible cold.We went to the pumpkin patch multiple times and celebrated Halloween with parties and trick-or-treating.


In the coming month we will: host Thanksgiving at our house this weekend, go to Gold Beach for Thanksgiving with my mom, celebrate Average's birthday, celebrate our coming baby with a baby shower, and make it to my last day of work before maternity leave. I also really hope the baby settles into a more stable head-down position during this time, as he or she seems to prefer transverse or some odd diagonal position for the last few weeks.

Some of my favorite photos from the past month (or two?) since I last blogged:



Sweet Pea is all decked out in her new fall accessories, plus angel wings.
My costume for super hero day during homecoming week at school. 


(I made that for Average two years ago.)

One of Sweet Pea's 2 costumes this year.
Wigging out
With her best friend. These kids know how to smile for a photo!
I can't believe winter is around the corner. We are experiencing our first real fall stormy weather here right now, and I have to say, I haven't been missing the rain. Or puddles and wet feet. Luckily Sweet Pea is all set to go with her rain gear!


Time to go make dinner. I'll write again soon - promise!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Any Guesses?

This just might be the only photo of myself I post this pregnancy. Here I am about five and a half months pregnant, in the tank top and shorts I wore under a dress I wore to work. I have had a few people tell me I'm carrying the baby like it's a boy, but I feel like it's carrying the same way as I did with my first baby, a girl!

What do you think?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kids at Work

I just ordered a present for Sweet Pea online. I haven't done much online shopping in a long time since I'm trying to not really do much shopping at all lately, but I love the excitement of getting a package in the mail! I bought her these gardening gloves from Montessori Services. Whenever we are in the garden she wants to use gloves, because I usually am, but she only has two pair of mittens, and they are nice knitted wool ones that don't do so well digging in the dirt. I think these will be great! Sweet Pea LOVES helping me do things, and sometimes she's actually a help and not a hindrance :) The other night she helped put away the clean silverware.



She has been really into cooking in her kitchen ever since we got it, and will make us interesting concoctions like hot dog soup with mayonnaise and peanut butter (with toy food, not real). For now, her kitchen set is out on the back patio, but when the weather gets cold we may try to squeeze it into her bedroom.




Sweet Pea is on the left here, playing with two friends. Right now my favorite toys are the ones that either imitate or allow kids to participate in real tasks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weaning

Something that I dreaded, feared, and looked forward to all at the same time finally happened this summer: I weaned my daughter. Or, more accurately, we weaned together. It was a combination of her asking and needing less, my pregnant body producing less, and a very very busy itinerary through June and July that led to eventually completely stopping breastfeeding. I'm not even sure when our last yime nursing was. She started asking for a bottle of milk at bedtimes sometimes instead of nursing, and now usually drinks about 3 ounces of milk or water before going to sleep on a pretty regular basis. She also goes potty before bed now and hasn't had a night-time accident in a long time.

My big girl dancing
I am a lucky mom. I had no engorgement, no anger from my daughter, and just a few tears when I told her my momma milk was going away. That only happened once that I remember, and made me feel bad for a moment, but she was less upset then than she has been many times for something as small as "no gum right now." She was just under two and a half, and I think both physically and emotionally ready. So was I. I haven't had any sadness or regret, and I also don't think I waited too long. This could have gone so many other different ways, and has for so many other moms. And it might go quite differently for me the next time around! But for now, I am just feeling lucky that at least one thing on this parenting journey has been relatively easy. I guess we'll see how she reacts to me nursing a new baby, but we have talked about that as well and she seems to get the idea that momma milk, or "milp" is for babies. The other night some friends with a 3-month-old had dinner with us, and when the mother breastfed her baby, Sweet Pea explained to them that her mommy's milk is gone now, and milk is for babies.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Potty Post

Warning: Don't read this post unless you enjoy stories about toddler bathroom trials and antics. Poop is gross - but it's also funny sometimes.

I guess I never did that potty-learning update that I promised back in... oh... January I see it was. I guess I was waiting until we were really REALLY done with accidents. They are pretty rare now, but I can now see more clearly that like everything else, this is going to take longer and be more effort than I had initially expected. Not that things are going badly. Not at all. Sweet Pea has maybe one accident a week right now. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I'd say we're 95% there. She likes her underwear, loves picking them herself and even putting the clean ones away in her drawer. She wore diapers again for 4 days in July while recovering from the flu, then seamlessly transitioned back to "undies" with almost no prompting from us.

Here's the dirt, though: learning to poop on the potty took a LONG time. Like, months. I wasn't sure what to do about it. The problem may have been that during that "three-day method" time, when she was supposed to be learning how to do all her business on the potty, she didn't poop once. She normally goes once a day, or every other day, so this wasn't too extreme. Through all the soiled underwear, we never went back to diapers, and it never really felt more difficult than diapers either since we could just change undies and plop the poo in the toilet (the poop part wasn't too hard, that is - changing wet sheets is a pain). I still used a wetbag-lined garbage can for her laundry basket so that aspect wasn't a worry either. But still, I started questioning myself and my choice of method. How successful was it really if one form of waste only went directly into the toilet every fourth, fifth, or eighth time?

She has eventually gotten it, but the change has been gradual, not sudden as I wished it would be. One week she would use the potty for number two two days out of seven, the next week it might be four or five days. There were regressions and leaps in progress due to changes in routine, or for no apparent reason at all. We despaired, we were joyful. Through it all, we stayed mostly positive, and I'm pretty sure she's not traumatized by the experience. Even still, seven months into potty-learning, we have to remind her to go (when she's dancing around or pulling at her clothes) about half the time, which I did not expect. And sometimes she resists, which I did not expect. I might have to cajole or talk her through the reasons it's important to go, several times per day, or reward her with gum or a chocolate chip, or delay something else she wants because she is just too darn busy. This play food needs to be cooked now! There are leaves that need to be picked up on the way to the restroom! Or, a new one today: "I want to braid the tree's hair!" (tree hair = pine needles).

After she said she had to go while we were out on a long bike-ride with no nearby bathrooms, I started encouraging her to pee or poo in the grass occasionally, and she really latched on to that idea. There was more progress with self-recognition of the need to go poo, and she seemed happier to go. This led to some interesting circumstances and things I hope my neighbors didn't see in the front yard. I have also had to revise my explanations several times to help her to realize it's better to go in a potty if there is one handy, and if there's not, by a tree might be better, or at least not in the middle of a high-traffic play area, even if yes, it is grass. Although, I'm sure plenty of dogs pee and or poop on the grass our children are playing on.

Our most recent potty adventure happened during our camping trip last weekend. I knew that she had to poo while we were playing in the shallows of the river. We had already "tried" once or twice that day with no success. Suddenly, she ran to the grass on the riverbank and said she had to go. I rushed to pull down her bathing suit and hold her hovered over the more sandy section that looked easier to clean up. She went and went and went. I tried to keep her standing still off to one side while my mom went to get clean-up materials. We chatted about rocks, then my mom returned. Sweet Pea looked down at her creation, and exclaimed, "I did a number five!" We laughed a little, thinking she was just making a statement about how much there was, then I noticed that the poop itself was in the shape of a number five. Apparently we have a poop artist! I thought that the number might have just been a coincidence until the other night when she pointed out her "number one" shaped poop in our home potty. Great - she recognizes numbers! Weird - she's applying them to her poops! But best of all, she is now aware of when she has to go, and going in a (mostly) appropriate place.


Umm, I don't think I have any internet appropriate pictures for this post. I already feel like I just might be crossing a line by writing publicly about my child's pooping, so I won't go any further and include images to match. You're welcome.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Getting It All Done

I had a huge to-do list at the start of the summer, itemizing a variety home improvement, yard improvement, and personal improvement projects that I wanted to accomplish during my break from working outside the home (I am a high school teacher). I like a challenge. My personal motto, besides "Who dares to teach must never cease to learn" (John Cotton Daana), is probably "Go big or go home" (attributed to Eliza Dushku on the Internet, but used by coaches everywhere). I tend to plan big, and believe I can do it. Sometimes I can, but not always. So far, I have gotten a slow start on my list, but I am gaining momentum. I have exactly three weeks left before work begins again, and I think I'm going to get the majority of my list done.

This last week has been a big one for accomplishments. So far, I (with Average) have:
weeded, pruned, and beautified the front yard
built a kind of retaining wall for the flower bed next to our patio
bought blueberry bushes and a hydrangea to put in the garden
finally filed all of the papers that have been in piles for 3 months +
moved the printer to the living room and reorganized the book shelf
boxed up my non-maternity clothes and put them in the attic

Things we/I got done earlier in the summer:
steam-cleaned all the carpets
touched up the paint along the ceiling edge in our bedroom
planted our garden

Tomorrow night is my first night of prenatal yoga, which is also on my to-do list, and I have high hopes that we can at least accomplish re-surfacing and painting the hallway sometime in the next three weeks. Is that aiming too high? Go big or go home! Yes, I am already at home but you get the idea.

I feel like I am finally in the swing of staying home, and now I have at least two chunks of time per day that I can get stuff done: in the morning after breakfast when Sweet Pea is usually happy to play on her own, and in the afternoon when she is napping. If I can stay motivated and actually utilize that time well (no browsing other peoples' blogs or reading magazines!) I can get a lot done in those couple of hours. But see, here I am writing a blog post when I should be shoveling compost to put into my new garden bed, which currently has rock-hard dead soil and some dried leaves from last year, and some sand. I will try to take pictures of this project as I go, but can't find the camera charger right now (booooo :( ).

I guess the whole point of this post is that I always make these HUGE to-do lists (even daily, not just for the whole summer) and then NEVER get everything on them done. I aim high, and achieve somewhere in the middle. Do you use lists? Do you cross everything off of them? What are your tricks for "getting it all done"? - please share!

Monday, August 1, 2011

July

We only took about 100 photos for all of July, and we took three trips and went to a wedding reception. Not a very good photo month for me. I always like to have lots of photo evidence of what we've done, and of course the changes in my little girl, to help me remember in the future what our lives are like right now. Our trips were Eastern Oregon twice, and Ashland once. They were memorable, full of good times and learning (Ashland was a class about teaching Shakespeare's plays and I got to see 4 live performances!), and lots of fun with family. I just wish I had more photos to look back on from them. Even at my dad's wedding reception I only took a few photos, and they all seem a bit out of focus. I think there was some dust on the lens. Also, I am now 17 weeks pregnant, and I have very few photos of my growing belly! New resolution: take more pictures. My other resolutions, to exercise every day and clean up the piles around the house, have not been so successful lately, but taking photos is fun!

Here are a few of my favorites from July.

On July 4, Stella playing in the meadow at Average's family's Blue Mountains cabin with her second cousin, Ursula, and doggie Glen.
This is the view from the little covered patio at the condo we stay at in Pendleton.
I think it is the best spot in town, and I ate breakfast and dinner
looking out at this every day we were there.
The best hair-do I can currently do on little Sweet Pea. She is pretty patient with this one
because she likes braids. She always wants me to do braids in my hair too!
Just pretty much the epitome of a happy summer day for me: backyard time and a little splashing in the pool.
She runs everywhere she goes, if I haven't mentioned that already.
I prefer metal slides to the plastic ones, don't you?


Because of this fun rocking toy, this particular park is now known as the "purple dinosaur park" to my daughter. She loves it!
My brother and me at my dad's wedding reception. She what I mean abut the fuzziness? The friend who took this photo told me it looked like a 7Up ad - I do love Cherry 7Up and this was the first time I'd had it in years! Also, notice my daughter in the background, running as usual :)

That's it! I did take a few photos of my process of making applesauce with early apples from our backyard trees, and raspberries that Sweet Pea and I picked, and hope to get around to a post about how it's going raising food in our backyard this year - which is not as well as I'd like, but not too bad either. I also have a post about the wooden kitchen set that Average bought Sweet Pea at a garage sale, and her favorite toys at age almost-two-and-a-half. Oh, and one more planned post about weaning! It finally happened! So, stay tuned. I have lots to share, but little time to write, even though I'm not working outside the home at the moment. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Coast Trip

A week ago, Sweet Pea and I took a trip to my hometown, to visit my family. Average had to work, so it was just us gals. Sweet Pea did great on the drive both ways. It is about a 4-hour drive, and I learned my lesson from past trips and planned for about 3 stops, and to be driving during her nap. It worked out! I actually enjoyed her company in the car most of the time, as she pointed out sights along the road, motorcycles, and told me little stories (apparently everyone in our family, grandparents included, will be getting different colored motorcycles and riding around with bunnies). There was no screaming at all. Either she's growing up, or I'm getting better at knowing what is needed to keep little ones happy in the car. Probably both.

Here are some photos from our adventure:

She's all packed and ready to go
The viewpoint in Port Orford - our last pit stop on the way down. We decided we might as well go put our feet in the sand, so...

We did!

Barefoot is even better

Nice little waves
The next day - Playing with her fun new beach toys from Nana

A sunny spot! My mom and I had to look around to find the least windy spot, and found this little sand valley between a giant rock and a dune.

Nana helps with bucket-filling
The last day and the best day - swimming at one of my favorite spots ever, with Nana and Pop

Friday, July 1, 2011

Things That Made Me Happy Today

  • Finishing projects that have been on the to-do list for months, like cleaning the car and touching up the paint in my bedroom
  • Sunny weather after days of dreariness
  • Sweet Pea NOT throwing up today after being sick yesterday
  • I exercised!
  • Picking strawberries and raspberries in the back yard with my daughter
  • Sweet Pea took a 2+ hour nap (rare!), allowing me to shower, and accomplish the things on my to-do list
  • Making popsicles out of leftover fruit smoothie
  • No morning sickness or nausea today. I am 12.5 weeks pregnant :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Make Believe

Hanging out in bed the other morning, my child says to me:

"I'm a doggy, Mama. I'm a doggy."

Then she licks my face.


She likes to talk on two phones at a time. These phones are usually actually calculators, cups, toy walkie-talkies, toy food, or whatever is handy.


A funny joke right now is to point at me and say, "That's dada," then point at her dad and say "And that's Mama."


We eat imaginary chips and pretzels that she finds everywhere: on the ground, in the bath, under the table, in books.


Anything remotely counter-like becomes a restaurant from which she serves us. "What do you want, Mama?" then she runs off to retrieve the imagined item, goes back behind the "counter," and hands us empty air.

Make believe is fun!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Weekend: Here We Come!

After more than a week of dreary, rainy weather, the Willamette Valley is finally sunny and warm this afternoon. I should be outside, catching up on the massive amounts of weeding I need to do, playing with Sweet Pea and Glen in the sunshine, and brutally murdering the slugs and snails that are trying to eat my teeny tiny plants. Instead, I am inside, catching up on uploading photos to facebook, since I haven't updated in about two months. Sweet Pea is playing with my makeup bag. Even though I rarely wear makeup, she is obsessed with it. On Fridays at her daycare the big girls get to play with makeup, so she thinks it is the coolest thing ever.

Our plans for tomorrow include the final toddler dance class, family music time and new books from the library, a meeting with a possible doula client, and a 3-year-old birthday party. It will be a fun, full day! Sunday is open so far, which is good because maybe I'll actually get to some of the yard work that needs doing. I am just so happy that I can look forward to sun outside instead of shivering, dripping hair, and cold, wet toes.

A few weeks ago we had nice weather and got some play time outside. Here is Sweet Pea by our side gate, in one of the cutest outfits her dad has picked for her.




Happy Weekend to everyone!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The TV Habit

My husband and I both lived large chunks of our own childhoods without a television. We talked about it before we even planned on children of our own in any kind of concrete terms, and agreed: kids don't need to watch TV, and shouldn't watch it very often.

We managed to keep Sweet Pea TV-free until a month or so before our flight to Hawaii. My brilliant plan for entertaining her on the flight was watching shows on the iPod touch, so we started warming her up to the idea well in advance.

Somehow, between then and now we have progressed to her watching an episode of Sesame Street or Cat in the Hat on Neflix on demand (we don't have cable and only get a couple of channels) most days. How did this happen? As with most habits (and vices), it was gradual. She started asking for Elmo more often, and we started turning to it more often as something to occupy her while we cooked, cleaned, etc. Confession: I have even left her inside with the TV while I mowed the lawn (I used to carry her on my back in the ERGO while doing that, but she's not into it any more). I do check on her often, and our house is tiny so I can hear her call from any room, but I still feel guilty about this habit. I have a soft spot in my heart for Sesame Street, and I justify it to myself a little because we still haven't let her watch commercial TV - some of those commercials are just awful!

Note: Sweet Pea is two years and three months old and is highly verbal, active, and also likes to read books every day. Basically, where I'm at now is that I don't think our daily TV habit is necessarily a good thing, but it doesn't seem as bad as I used to believe.

Be honest - do you or would you let your toddler watch television shows or videos? Do you think there's a difference?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Plastic: The Scourge of My Front Yard

"Rose, do you have a plan?" Average asked, as I began aggressively yanking sheets up plastic up out of our front flower bed. No, I didn't. All I knew was that I didn't want plastic in my way anymore as I tried to plant my three new flowers, and I didn't want to see it poking up out of the ground, or pull chunks of it up as I was trying to weed, as I had been doing all afternoon. I can accept that plastic has many uses, but I don't want my garden to be one of them. Over time it loses its functionality as a weed deterrent, and slowly breaks down but never goes away. I have ranted about this before. By the end, I had filled half of our garbage can with plastic, unearthed a broken section of drainpipe for our gutters, and turned over all of the bark mulch (apparently barkamulch is not a real word) in the area next to our house so it looks like new again! Luckily I married a man who can make a plan, and he brought out a rake and a shovel and helped me move around the bark, so I didn't injure myself trying to pull up the plastic sheets. He also repaired the pipe. Thank you, husband!

We bought our house a little over two years ago, and according to our neighbor, the owners put plastic on all the beds that border our front lawn before covering them with bark chips, in an attempt to "beautify" the yard. The people didn't really know what they were doing, as evidenced by the fact that the geraniums that were lining the front walk the first time we looked at the house were dead by the time we closed and moved in. They planted them under the overhang then never watered.

If you want to eliminate weeds from your flower beds, there are many other options besides burying plastic in the ground, such as:
  • lay plastic down on a hot day and it will cook everything underneath. Remove it after a few days or weeks.
  • cover the area with newspapers, which will eventually compost
  • cover the area with leaves or straw, which will eventually compost
  • fill the area with plants that you want!
  • let the weeds live. Dandelions have many uses, and can be pretty if you look at them the right way. Read about the positive side of the dandelion here. (I do dig up dandelions myself.)
Plastic is a fascinating material. I heard parts of an interview on Fresh Air yesterday with a woman who wrote an entire novel about plastic. You can listen to the interview here. According to Susan Freinkel, author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, it is both a blessing and a curse. She tried to go one day without touching plastic, and didn't make it any farther than the first moments of the day (her toilet seat is plastic) before realizing she'd be better off just recording a list of everything plastic that she DID touch. I am trying to use less plastic in my life, particularly in meal preparation and food storage, but it is pretty difficult to find alternatives at times. Plastic can be a very useful material, which saves lives, as the commercials say. It also leaches chemicals, and never goes away. The Pacific Gyre is a testament to that. I recommend that website if you want to learn more.

Enough complaining, though. Here are some flower photos from my front yard! It is finally spring!
One of the new flowers


One of the tulips I planted last year
This bush is by our front door. I bought it years ago and kept it potted until last year.

This is actually my neighbor's tree. So pretty!

Happy Earth Day on Friday!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Worst New Product

I saw a commercial for an absolutely idiotic product the other day. Sorry to the people who invented these, but seriously?

Disposable paper towels for your home bathroom?

Don't we already use too much paper with our kitchen paper towels, our toilet paper, and our paper napkins? I have been trying to get away from using disposable products, not trying to find ways to bring more into my life. We do still have paper towels in our kitchen, and I use them occasionally for greasy or dirt messes in the kitchen, but I mostly try to use cloth towels, napkins, and cleaning rags. They do just as good or better of a job, don't fall apart in your hands, and don't need to be constantly replaced (costing money and natural resources). Why in the world would you want to add ANOTHER costly disposable product to your bathroom, when most people already have plenty of good hand towels? The commercial shows many people using the towels after not thoroughly washing their hands. OK, that is kind of gross, but shouldn't you only be drying your hands after you've actually cleaned them?

Perhaps there are too many questions in this post, but I really don't get it.

Even in public restrooms, I've found that I can often skip using a paper towel. I am the kind of person who usually just shakes my hands dry and/or wipes them on my jeans to dry them after using a public restroom. I did a highly professional, laboratory controlled (not really) experiment one time and found that my hands dried nearly as quickly from just rubbing them together as they did from rubbing them together under one of those air blower things. Try it out sometime and let me know what you think. I do use a paper towel on Sweet Pea's hands when she uses a public bathroom.

The other day I cut up some of Average's old holey boxer briefs to use as cleaning rags. I do the same with his and my old t-shirts as well. They work great, and when I use something like this I don't care if it gets stained in the cleaning process, because I'm not leaving it hanging up in my kitchen, the way I do with dish towels. I am kind of picky about my dish towels.

What do you think -- would you ever buy disposable paper towels for your bathroom? What disposable products have you found you can replace with re-usable?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Toddler Photographer

A few years ago Average bought a digital camera. He searched for a while to find the most indestructible (least destructible?) one out there. He ended up with an Olympus Stylus 770 SW that is shock and waterproof. It quickly became the main camera we used, even though I already had a nice Nikon film camera, as well as a digital camera. This one was indestructible! And it fit in our pockets! Why would we use something else?! An added, fun benefit of this camera is that Sweet Pea can use it without scaring us too much -- except that one time she started swinging it around her head...

So, for your entertainment, here are the artistic photographs of two-year-old

self-portrait
portrait of mommy
portrait of dada
Ok, she didn't take this one, obviously, but isn't she cute?



That last photo is watching Saturday morning TV, while I do the dishes from the night before that I was too tired to do at the time.

Do you ever let your kids use the camera? Interesting results?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Catching Up

I believe this will be a multi-topic post. I don't normally like to do that much but it has been a while and I have a lot to share!

First, I'd like to explain the reasons for the long delay between posts (besides me just being lazy and feeling like watching a TV shows on Netflix on demand with Average after Sweet Pea falls asleep at night, rather than blogging). I had bronchitis for A MONTH. It has been awful. I am still coughing a tiny tiny bit but I have gone running twice in the last few days and didn't die or need to use my inhaler so I think I am pretty much better. I used a variety of homeopathic remedies, took vitamins, and ended up also taking antibiotics, Robitussin with codeine, and using my albuterol inhaler multiple times per day. I drank a gallon of elderberry juice. Nothing seemed to really work more than anything else, except the inhaler, which would allow me to breathe, without coughing until I gagged (I even vomited one time), for a while. During this bout with illness I took three days off of work. I worked the rest of the time, including weekends. Hmm, perhaps what I really needed to get well was rest? Yes, I am lucky to work part-time, but for me being a part-time teacher means that I only work 5.5-8 hours per day instead of 9+ hours per day. I was working on the weekends this month making an extra paycheck by scoring the Oregon state writing tests. Sunday was the last day of that and I am so glad! I worked while being sick, and worked through Sweet Pea's second birthday and my 6-year wedding anniversary.

Here is my self-care lunch tray I made one of my days home from work:

I just laid on the couch and slept and watched TV while I was home sick those three days. I even still took Sweet Pea to daycare part of the time so I could take naps.

Mmm, naps. Sweet Pea now takes a nap only every few days. We got to the point where it was very difficult to get her to sleep for naps, and then even more difficult to get her to sleep at night at any kind of a reasonable time. We aim for 9:00-9:30 and some nights she was up until 11:00 or later. So, we discovered if we skip naps then she falls asleep easily before 9:30. She generally gets up between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning, as hubby works 10AM to 6PM in the winter. I didn't think that we would be done with naps this young! Many kids her age are sleeping 3 hours in the middle of the day but we are not so lucky. I have recently been reading Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and the self-test in there shows Sweet Pea to be an "angel/textbook" baby combined with a "touchy" baby. I broke down the results and she is touchy only in areas of eating and sleeping, and always has been. That book could be an entire blog post of its own, as I have very mixed feelings about it. I am learning some things, and also completely disagree with some things. So anyway, most days we have no nap but if she seems tired then we of course will let her have a nap, as long as it is before 4PM or so.

Sometimes Sweet Pea seems so grown up for a newly 2-year-old: not napping, using the potty, talking in full sentences and using "I" correctly. Strangers consistently guess that she is three years old. Of course, not everything is going perfectly and I do have doubts about some of my parenting choices, particularly on those days when all she wants is to be held much of the day (have we held her too much? or is she clingy because I've been working so much? or do I need to be firmer with her? or do I need to pay more attention and play with her more? Or, maybe this is just completely normal and part of being a toddler). I tried a time-out with her the other day and I have no idea if it was good or not. She threw a bunch of stuff from a drawer onto the floor and refused to pick it up. Usually she's pretty good at picking things up when we ask and I just was not in the mood to back down on my request. I tried a few creative ways of getting her to do it, then decided to give the whole time-out thing a shot. I took her to her room, explained what this was, set her down and walked away for a minute. She cried nearly the whole time, but not with tears, which generally means crying on purpose to just tell us she's upset. What do you do, readers, friends, and family? Do you like time-outs? Or time-ins? Purely natural consequences? I had recently seen about 5 minutes of Super Nanny on TV and she is big on time-outs so the idea was maybe more fresh in my mind.

All of this is just rambling related to the fact that my little baby turned two years old! I was sick, exhausted, and distracted, and trying to pretend I wasn't and be a good host during the party so I took very few and mostly poorly focused and framed photos, but I will share what I got. We had the party at a local place that has indoor mini golf, laser tag, an arcade, and most importantly for us, an indoor playground. We reserved tables in front of the playground and Sweet Pea loved it! We had Elmo balloons and hats, pizza, fruit, and cake. Sweet Pea had a mostly fantastic birthday except when she had an accident during the party and had to get a new outfit.

I baked the cake and Average frosted it with home-made chocolate cream cheese frosting.

Here she is feeding her new baby-doll (they are all named "Baby") with some new baby food toys that were a gift from one set of grandparents. Sweet Pea got an amazing assortment of fun gifts this year. Thanks to all our family and friends! She has been having tons of fun with her new toys and books!

Sweet Pea loved climbing all over the play structure during the party, going down the slide, and playing with her friends. It was a little chaotic because the place was packed full of people since it was Saturday night, but the kids didn't mind!

That's all for today. Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any comments or advice on the time out thing. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cough Cough

Cough Cough Cough
That's what I sound like all day long right now. This whole week I have only worked 2 days, and when I am at home I am either laying on the couch or in my bed coughing and coughing. I have had THIS cough for over two weeks, following a different cough-cold that lasted nearly a month but was much milder, and I'm going to the doctor tomorrow. I really really hope he has something helpful for me since we have a high deductible heath insurance plan, meaning anything non-preventative comes straight out of my empty pockets. This cough has made me grumpy. Sorry to my family, friends, co-workers, and students. It's not you, it's the cough.

In other news, Sweet Pea turned two years old last weekend! I plan to do a whole post about that sometime soon, complete with adorable photos (hopefully - I haven't even looked at what we took yet). Our little angel is two years old: a walking, talking, potty-using, kindly bossy, occasionally screamy, but mostly fun and sweet and hilarious, tall, blondish, curly-headed child.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Toddler Hairdos

We have never cut Sweet Pea's hair, and it has gotten longer than shoulder length, and is pretty wild with a cowlick in the back and some curls. She doesn't like to spend much time sitting still, so we have always had a hard time getting it pulled back nicely. Luckily, our daycare provider is amazing with hair and so Sweet Pea comes home in the afternoons with such pretty creations as these:
Double french braids (pay attention to the hair only, please)


Pigtails with zigzag part

Ponytail with headband
She LOVES having her hair made pretty by her daycare provider, and I have learned a few tricks about how to get the hair smooth, how to not pull, and how to get it to stay in. I still am nowhere near as skilled as I'd like to be someday, but I have gotten better! The tips I've gotten so far are: use a spray bottle to mist the hair as you brush it out; hold the hair above the point where you are combing or removing a hairtie; and use the tight rubber bands.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Little Mama

My daughter amazes me every day. Sweet Pea says complete sentences like: I'm sitting down; I want some milk; Dada eat that. She sings songs, "reads" books, and rocks her babies to sleep. She has strong opinions: "turn it off, Mama" "I need that!" but still says thank you and please most of the time, which makes me so proud. She tells us she's "going running" then takes off down the hall, and spills things and then says "oops, I dropped it!"

The rough times lately, that feel like we are entering the 'terrible twos,' are the occasional ten minutes of crying over something as small as not getting a second squirt of toothpaste on her toothbrush, or having a pen taken away that she was about to use to draw on the wall. Most of the time we can avoid this kind of total emotional over-reaction by offering a trade, explaining an alternative, distracting, or making it a game, but sometimes she is just too focused on the thing that she wants. And sometimes I am just too busy, distracted, or frustrated to provide those alternatives and we all suffer for it.

The last few weeks her number one activity is to play mommy with her dolls, known as her babies around here. She has two that are her favorites right now and she likes to take them everywhere with her. She wraps them a blanket, puts them to bed, changes diapers, shushes and kisses, and puts them in a car seat many times a day. It is so sweet to see her replicate the things we have done with her a thousand times and see how she interprets the actions. My favorites is when she rocks them in her arms and shushes because it is just so gentle and adorable. Just now she asked to me to give one a nap on my lap and wanted to put the other one on her back. I helped her use a blanket to tie the baby onto her. She is now bustling around the house doing "chores" and looking over her shoulder at the baby doll. Sweet Pea no longer wears diapers herself, but she likes to put her baby dolls in diapers still. Such a good little mama!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Officially Done With Diapers

We started potty training on Saturday, today is Wednesday, and we have only had 1 full accident per day Monday through today, not counting during sleep. Pretty successful I feel! Yesterday at daycare she held it all day then peed during her nap, and today she peed in the potty for her daycare provider. Yay! The method we are using is kind of a cold-turkey thing but Sweet Pea hasn't requested a diaper except for getting ready for bed the first night. So, I am selling most of our cloth diapers! It was a hard choice because we would really save the most money in the long run if we just kept all of these ones for the next baby, and it will be hard to say goodbye to some of our pretty pretty Goodmamas. Is it weird to be attached to diapers?

The reason I decided to go ahead and sell now is that #1 we could really use the cash now, #2 we have very very limited storage space in this house and I don't want to buy yet another storage tub to hold items that we won't use for more than a year, #3 this way I will get to have the fun of picking out new (and/or used) diapers for that next child, #4, that next child could be a boy in which case I would have saved all 12 pink BumGenius and 12 flowery Goodmamas for nothing. Yes, boys can wear pink but I went through too much annoyance with people assuming Sweet Pea was a boy when we dressed her in gender neutral or somewhat boyish clothes, so I will likely go for more gender-specific clothing the next time around.

I have started posting photos of the diapers I'm selling on Flickr, and will be posting them on DiaperSwappers once I get approved as an official seller.

I will be keeping one green pocket diaper, a couple of boyish fitteds, and most of our wool, for use a second time around or in case of emergencies. I'm not sure what those emergencies would be right now but I just know I feel more comfortable with the idea of keeping a couple of dipes around.

This is a really exciting time as a parent, but I do also feel a sense of sadness that my little baby is growing up. It will be so great to not have to deal with a diaper bag or washing diapers but I am going to miss that cute diaper butt. It is also one more tiny step towards the ultimate independence that our children eventually achieve. It's hard to imagine how the tiny baby at my breast will one day be a kid, and then someday be an adult with a job, house, and family of her own.

P.S. I did take a few adorable photos of Sweet Pea on the potty but won't be sharing those... The photo at the top is just a picture that I happened to take tonight while I was taking pictures of the diapers to sell. It is the most recent one so that's what we're going with to add some visual interest to this post.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Big Girl

Tonight is our second night of a three-day focused effort of potty learning. We have been through probably 30-40 pair of underwear, 2 sets of sheets, and many M&Ms. About an hour ago Sweet Pea sat on the potty and peed more than just a trickle for the first time since she was under  a year old. So exciting! She has definitely been getting the idea over the last couple of days but for some reason has a hard time really letting go when she's sitting on the potty and will pee again a few minutes after she gets off.

We are using the three day method and I have really positive feelings about it. I will share more later but just wanted to dash off a quick update since it's been a while.

Happy three day weekend!