Thursday, January 23, 2014

Life through my lens

We've been busy lately. I'm finally recovered from my month long illness. I'm not kidding. It took that long to get better. I'm hoping to make some progress with the basement now that I'm feeling better.

Because I have nothing better to write about (i.e. no project updates) right now, I'm sharing a little more life through my lens. Enjoy.

Driving around.
smile Owen!
Can't turn my back for a second.

Going shopping at Lowes.
Naked time!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Basement Reno

I've managed to make my way into the basement of our home to do some renovations. It's going to be a long haul, but I'm ready. I was actually hoping to be further along in this process by now, but thanks to one heck of a cold that I can't seem to kick I've been unable to finish up the painting of the paneling as quickly as I'd hoped.

My hope is to turn the living room area into a hang out/man cave type room, the area in front of the windows will be office space, and the bedroom will function as a playroom. I've been staining the mantel and painting the main living area. I'll fill you in on actual color choices later. For now, I'll just leave you with some pictures.

Monday, January 13, 2014

12 Months

One whole year (yes, I'm a little late since his birthday was in November). I guess it's time for me to finish up the monthly updates. I'm not sure that I will continue to do monthly updates. I'm thinking I'll probably wait and do an 18 month post and then a 2 year old post. We'll see though.

Health and Growth
Owen is doing really well. He is a healthy and happy little boy. He moved up slightly in percentiles for height and weight at his one year check up. He weighed 21 lbs 15oz and was 29.5 inches tall.

Owen still loves to eat. He is getting a little more picky about vegetables though. He pretty much eats any kind of meat we put in front of him, any kind of fruit, and any kind of cheese or bread. We have said goodbye to pureed foods as well as breastfeeding and bottles. He only drinks whole milk and water from his sippy cup. It's fantastic. I may give more details on the breastfeeding later, but I can tell you that he literally stopped nursing on his birthday. He pushed me away. I tried again the next day only to receive the same response. He decided he was done I guess.

He is still going strong with two naps a day and sleeping well at night. Occasionally there have been disruptions and I'm finding that he can make it on one nap sometimes but it is a stretch. His first nap happens around 9:30 and lasts until 11:30. His second nap starts around 3:00 and varies at this point. Sometimes he will take a one hour afternoon nap and sometimes he will sleep until 5:00. I try to make 5:00 the cutoff so I do wake him if he is beginning to push into the hour. I do this mainly because he won't go down at night if I don't. His bedtime is usually around 7:30 or 8:00 and he's been sleeping until 7 or 7:30 most mornings.

We have a walker! Owen started taking several steps at a time the week he turned one. By 13 months, he was full blown walking everywhere. He is doing really well with signing for 'milk', 'more', and 'all done'. I've been working on the sign for 'eat'. He still isn't really saying a whole lot. He just babbles and says ma ma ma ma ma or da da da da da. Can't really count it as mommy and daddy just yet!

Christmas morning looking at our stocking stuff.
And now for some bonus pics from Christmas stuff...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Gear: Beyond the Newborn

I already posted a while back on gear that I found helpful during our first three months (you can find that here). I got to thinking that I should probably add a few things to cover some of our favorite gear that was helpful beyond the newborn phase.
For Eating
Bowls with lids
Having bowls with snap on lids make traveling with Owen a lot easier. I could measure out his oatmeal or rice cereal ahead of time and then just add water wherever we were. Someone just happened to buy them for me as a gift and I am so thankful. 

We purchased this fisher price highchair a few months after Owen was born. I was really torn over what to buy. There is such a wide range of options available. Did I want a seat that would attach to any chair and would be portable? Did I want a sleek looking chair? A chair that would become a booster seat later? I really had no clue. In the end, we went with this because I saw it in action at my moms house. She bought it after my brother and sister-in-law had their first.

I like that it has adjustable heights, the straps are easy to wipe down because they aren't fabric, the seat cushion is machine washable, and it has a removable dishwasher safe tray. The downside is that it isn't portable like I'd originally wanted. It has worked really well and given that we were without a kitchen table for a while, it was definitely the right decision for us. There is no way I would have been cool with putting a booster seat on my upholstered dining room chairs. I'm fairly certain that if and when baby number two comes along, I'll be looking into a booster type chair. However, I would want it to have the exact same features I listed above.

Snap-n-go cups
I love these. Everyone else in my family (aka: grandmothers) hate them. They do take a little getting used to but I'm very happy with them.

For Sleeping: 
Halo Sleep Sacks
We stopped using the swaddleme blankets when Owen rolled over onto his tummy the first time. However, I still wanted to make sure that Owen stayed warm. These sleep sacks are great for that since you're not supposed to put blankets in the crib.

He had rolled over to look up at me. The redness is from where he'd been sleeping.
Halo Sleep Sack
We ended up using our pack-n-play a lot during the summer months when we were traveling a good bit. For a short time, I had ours set up in the living room as a safe place that I can put Owen while I get a few things done like unload groceries, go to the bathroom, etc.

The Pumping Mom:
Hands free pumping bra 
This contraption is worth it. When I first went back to work I needed to pump during my lunch break. I could heat up my food, get hooked up to the pump, and eat my lunch. We only get 30 minute lunch breaks so it was critical that I get to do both. If you have a long lunch break, then you might not mind having to hold those things in place.

Sterilizer bags
These were so convenient to have. Because I was away from Owen for 13-14 hours when you really total it all up (including travel time), I needed to pump at least 3 times while I was at work (4 was really what I should have been doing but there was just no way). These microwave bags made by Madela were so helpful.

I would rinse and then sterilize my pump parts right after use and leave them in the bag (after draining the water out) until the next pumping session.

As I sit here and think about this whole pumping topic a bit more, I realize that I should probably write a whole post on how I managed it. Not because I did it perfectly, but I definitely want to remember my own tips and tricks. Plus, someone else out there might find it helpful.

Jogging stroller
This is really only necessary if you will use it for what it was made for. If you will only be strolling through the local mall or something, then you don't need this. I have a gravel driveway so it is nice. Plus, the park near our house has gravel. I just recently started jogging again and it has come in handy to have a stroller built for running. I went with a BOB mainly because I already knew so many people that had them and they always had great things to say.

Umbrella stroller
Yes, we have two strollers. Three, if you count the frame stroller we used in the beginning. I know, it seems ridiculous. However,  I love them all and wouldn't want to be without any of them. This is the go to stroller for quick trips through the mall, to the summit, to Starbucks, or to the farmers market where it is incredibly too crowded for the BOB. Also, it takes up way less space in the back of the car.

Owen wants nothing to do with this now that he is mobile, but it was glorious while it lasted. It was a fantastic place to put him while I cooked meals. He would bounce around happily and I could see him and talk to him while he played. I would hang it up right in the kitchen doorway. My advice would be to try and find one second hand.

Hard to get a non blurry pic of a bouncing baby

I finally packed up the swing in October. It was a wonderful thing to have as well. It got us through many fussy moments. I would say that it is especially helpful during that "witching" hour that everyone talks about. I would pull the swing into the middle of the living room, facing the TV, and turn on praise baby. Worked. Every. Time. Saved my sanity many nights.

7 months old
Praise Baby
I can't say enough good things about this DVD. It works like magic. It puts Owen in a calm hypnotic state. My sister and I have decided that there must be subliminal messages imbedded in it that should probably make it illegal. Whatever it is, it's amazing. It should be handed out in hospitals.

I think that about covers everything I can think of for now. If I happen to come across any other amazing baby gear that has helped make life easier, I'll pass the info along.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cloth Diapering

I realize that the title of this post is sort of an odd subject for some people. I also realize that it is a subject that can carry with it a lot of questions, judgement, and guilt. Let me preface this post by saying that I support caring for your baby- that's it. You know the saying "to each his own"? Well, that's how I feel about cloth diapering.

I've come to realize that I'm pseudo-granola when it comes to caring for Owen. I'm a blend of exclusively breastfeed until 6 months but give a bottle of formula on occasion, make baby food but purchase some of it, cloth diaper but only some of the time. Yep, we cloth diaper... sort of.

Patrick and I first discussed cloth diapers during a car ride a few years ago after I read a blog post by John and Sherry Petersik at Young House Love. You can read their post here. I had never heard of anyone (in this day and age) using cloth. Well, I was intrigued mainly because I like to save my pennies for fun things and disposable diapers just don't fit into that category. I was also impressed with the cloth diapers themselves. I mean, these aren't the cloth diapers that our mommas had to work with. I asked Patrick if he'd ever consider using cloth. I remember being shocked when he very quickly responded that he'd be fine with cloth diapers. First of all, I wasn't even sure I'd be up to the task when the day arrived and second, who was this man?

Fast forward a few years to when we were expecting Owen. I brought up the subject of cloth diapers again. At this point, cloth diapering had become the somewhat "hip" thing to do for your kids' tush. It was no longer uncommon to hear of people using cloth. In fact, we knew of several people that were giving it a go. Some of these people were successful and some weren't. I was still intrigued so I asked Patrick again what he thought. He didn't shoot down the idea, but he didn't jump at it quite as fast this time either. I guess reality had hit!

People can paint the prettiest picture of things on the internet (even if it is about pee and poop). I don't personally know John and Sherry. I began to wonder if they were just blowing sunshine from behind their computer screen. I usually only trust the opinion of people I know. Thanks to some of our friends who used cloth, we now understood the not so fun side of the cloth diaper journey. However, we were still curious. I did my research and we decided to give it a whirl.

I wanted to set us up for success so I  registered for 18 bumGenius 4.0 with snap closures. If I remember correctly, we ended up receiving 6 as gifts and then we purchased the rest from Cotton Babies. We bought two wet bags, registered for a diaper sprayer, and even bought some flannel wipes (we are still really bad about using the flannel wipes and have been using disposable ones). I really wondered what in the world we were getting ourselves into but once the items began making their way into our home I realized it was really happening.

Diaper Sprayer
The next decision I made probably saved our diapering from failure. I decided to delay cloth diaper use until Owen was older and bigger. We used disposables immediately after bringing Owen home from the hospital. I decided that there would be enough newness going on without having to learn how to cloth diaper and handle the laundry involved. Plus, newborns poop (at least Owen did) almost every single diaper of the day. Also, I had read that the one size diapers work best if your baby is over 10 pounds. So we waited it out. This did make the transition to cloth a little nerve racking because we had become so used to disposables.

I should also add that we do not use cloth at night. By the time we got Owen into his cloth diapers he was sleeping through the night. Plus, we always put ointment on Owen before bed due to the fact that he has sensitive skin and stays in one diaper for almost 12 hours. Ointment is a no-no for cloth diapers as it makes them repel liquid. Our solution was to just use a disposable at night.

We also don't use cloth diapers when traveling out of town. I just can't imagine trying to launder them while we're out and about. We also don't ask people that take care of Owen to use cloth diapers. I mean, they can use them if they'd like but not a single person has taken us up on the offer.

So, you may be wondering if they work. We think so. We really haven't run into any issues that are deal breakers. I do want to write about the reasons I have liked the cloth diapers as well as point out the downside of cloth. Like most things in life, there are pros and there are cons.

Let's start with cons...

Laundry. There is a reason this is listed at the top. It's true, using cloth adds to laundry duty. Cloth diapers are to be laundered every other day. There is no way around it. However, I haven't found the added laundry to be a deal breaker. While we use more water, we did upgrade our washer and dryer to more energy efficient ones. We hang the shells in the hall bath after washing and dry the inserts in the dryer. I've been surprised by how quickly they all get done. Stuffing the diapers does take time but I usually do it at night after Owen has gone to bed. It takes about 10-15 minutes but I'm getting faster at it. I should also add that we had to buy special laundry detergent for the diapers as well. We went with the powdered form of Charlie's Soap and it does well.

Stink. No matter how you cut it, as a parent, we deal with stink. No matter how you diaper, you still have to clean up poop. Does it stink when I open the wet bag to add a dirty cloth diaper? Absolutely. But it also stinks when I open the diaper pail to add a disposable. Either way, I think parents learn how to hold their breath at the right moment. We also follow the manufacturers instructions and use bleach every so often with our diapers and it definitely helps cut the smell when the diapers start taking on an ammonia stench.

Leaks. We used to have the occasional leak happen. We've had more leaks happen in disposables though. Most leaks in his cloth were user error- which is why I said we "used to have". I think it was just part of the learning curve.

Our errors which occurred early on were all related to proper placement of the liner and proper fit. Once, I allowed the insert to slip out the back of the diaper. Those inserts work like a wick so the urine just soaked right up his back. Also, we have to adjust the diaper as Owen grows and changes. I think I set the diaper too loose in the beginning before realizing that his pee could shoot right out the top or through a leg hole if I didn't get it snug.

I haven't experienced a leak in cloth diapers in months. I haven't had a poop blowout ever (now let me go find some wood to knock...).

Let's move on. I have found cloth diapers to come with a few perks. So now we have the pros.

Saving money. Besides the initial purchases made for the diapers themselves and the wet bags, we don't spend a lot of money on diapers. I can still count on one hand the number of times I've bought diapers. Now, I'll admit, we were given quite a few boxes at showers and from my parents so we would have bought more by now if it hadn't been for their generosity. When I do purchase diapers I buy a large box of target brand. I've read that if you exclusively cloth diaper, you save about $2,000. Of course, it will be less for us. I like knowing that we always have a diaper on hand though. We never have to worry about running out.

Cuteness. There is just something about a bum in cloth that I love. Some people complain about the bulkiness of cloth diapers, but I find the extra fluffy tush to be kind of cute. The colors are fun and some even have print.

No diaper rash. Cloth is more breathable than disposables and they don't have the chemicals that disposables have. Owen is a little on the sensitive side when it comes to his skin so I do wonder if using cloth has helped.

Easier to potty train. Apparently, children who wear cloth are easier to potty train because as a toddler, they can feel the wetness and dislike it. Whereas, children in disposables don't feel wet and can be reluctant to give them up. We'll see how that pans out for us later.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


When I have a tough day (or night) at work, it can haunt me. I have at times spent days thinking about and praying for a patient and their family. I still remember one patient in particular that I took care of for an entire shift who was living out her final days in a hospital bed, strapped to a fetal monitor, and receiving assistance to breathe. She was given a very poor prognosis that she would make it through the delivery of her baby girl. I can recall those 12 hours like it was yesterday. I remember the way my patient laughed, what we talked about, and her favorite candy she craved.

I left my shift that day clinging to the 4% chance she'd been given to live. I wanted her to see and hold her baby girl, to go home to her two boys, to recover and live a normal life again. I returned later the next week to discover that she did get to see and hold her little girl, but that her body gave out on her a couple of days later. I never did get to give her that Mr. Goodbar I'd promised.

My heart is often heavy and broken. It's a job hazard. I work in one of the happiest but also one of the saddest places in a hospital. That reality is surprising to some but others have an unfortunate and personal understanding of that statement. Now, I don't plan on bombarding you with devastating stories. I actually would rather share hope.

When I experience these sad circumstances along with my patients and their families, I can only come up with one word to describe it- broken. I understand where that brokenness came from. I understand that at the fall of man, sin entered the world and we now experience this broken world. I even experience it in my own broken trust of God. I also understand that my only hope through it all is to claim Christ.

A few weeks ago, I sat in church singing the following song. The very first line hit me hard. I was reminded again. There it was- my hope.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe
 This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

When  the fierce drought and storm come, when I experience the brokenness around me and in me, when I get to my car and the tears come, and when I fail, I will stand in the hope of Christ.