Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

This year, I'm setting the bar high! These are my resolutions for a satisfying and healthy new year:

1. Gain 25 pounds.
2. Limit the intensity of exercising.
3. Sleep as often as possible.
4. Become more irritable.
5. Clean less.

I'm confident that I can be sure to fulfill all these goals because WE ARE HAVING ANOTHER BABY! I'm thrilled to announce that Baby Dos is due in August. On the one hand, it seems crazy to have our second baby so quickly after Hannah, but on the other I couldn't be happier. I'm looking forward to sharing the excitement (and trials) of this pregnancy with you while continuing to update you about Hannah.

Happy New Year!

Ever since 2003, I haven't spent nearly as much time thinking about the future. I suppose that spending nearly a decade looking forward to the year I would graduate high school formed an attachment to that year. It's not that I don't prepare for the future, it's that I don't yearn for it any more. I'm also not very nostalgic. As much as I enjoy thinking about how much Hannah has grown and how great this year has been, I'm truly happiest living in the present.

My wish for the new year is to continue this feeling of satisfaction and wholeness, and to hopefully spread the joy and peace by sharing about my family. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

28 Weeks Old!

I have been in a post-Christmas coma for two days and all I can says is, "Whew!" Selecting the perfect gifts, eating delicious food, visiting friends and family, and taking lots of photos have all taken their toll on me. Sweet little Hannah had a wonderful day! I'm delighted that we have lots of new books on the shelf to enjoy in the coming months. Although memorizing the books makes it easier to continue the story while she eats the pages, a little variety is welcome.

A few weeks ago, the pediatrician gave me false hope (again) that upping the amount of food Hannah eats during the day would help her sleep through the night. This little girl rarely leaves a drop of food behind and she still wakes up a few times for milk. It is taking a toll on me finally. I used to be able to make it on just one quick morning nap a few times a week, but now I nap whenever she does. Unfortunately this is cutting down my blogging time! Fingers crossed that the little one will make it through one of these nights in the (very) near future. Until then, I am fully becoming a zombiemom.

Speaking of things that keep me up at night, our new puppy is actually pretty good. He tends to wake up when Hannah does, so at least there aren't any additional night rousings in the house. All in all, he's a nice little pup and we're happy to have him home.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Motherhood the Musical

Motherhood the Musical is playing at the Society Hill Playhouse in Philadelphia through the rest of this month, then traveling to several other cities. It was a fantastic show with talented actresses! The candid perspectives of three experienced Mamas against the ambitiously naive mom-to-be produced a hilarious recap of Motherhood. Even with only 6 months under my belt, I understand a lot more about what these Moms are singing than ever before in my life. I especially relate to Amy, the Mother-to-be, with her high aspirations for Motherhood.

Although the worn out Mamas inspired side-splitting laughs, I'm worried that they are dampening her high hopes of being the best Mother. They laugh away her suggestion of cloth diapers, encourage her to choose a bottle over breastfeeding, and devote an entire song to taking "Good Drugs" during labor. I'm thankful that no one shot down these motives for me prior to Hannah's birth because I have had great experiences in the minority. Very few new Moms feel confident with their care choices in the midst of midnight wakings or hysterical newborn crying, so if you make the choice to follow what you consider the best option for baby- that's a great thing and no one should say otherwise!

Moms everywhere will enjoy this show, but moms-to-be should not be discouraged! You will be a great Mother to your baby no matter how you choose to feed, diaper, or deliver your child. Educate yourself and make your own decision about what will be best for your family.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Breastfeeding Support Group

Although a nursing bra is an important component to successful breastfeeding, it is not the only support a nursing mother needs. Since nursing can be real challenge, it is helpful to find a network of moms who meet on a regular basis. Our local library hosts a fantastic group for moms every two weeks. It's a very casual setting, that's moderated by a knowledgeable nurse. Mainly we just get an opportunity to talk, ask questions, and offer support to others going through the same things. I wish I had found this group sooner because I didn't feel that the La Leche League was the right fit for Hannah and me. Plus, the evening meetings would have been a challenge with her bedtime. However, I'm happy to go to a new group now to "share the light" that comes after a few months of successful nursing.

A very small number of moms experience no issues with breastfeeding and kudos to them! The truth is, nearly every woman (including myself) hits a wall with nursing for any number of issues that can creep up in the early stages. Working with a lactation consultant, calling experienced family members, and talking to other moms currently nursing are all great ways to find the information and strength needed to keep up with nursing. Luckily, beginning in 2012, insurance companies will be required to cover nursing-related medical expenses. I would encourage all moms to use this benefit and book a lactation consultation for the week after baby's birth. 

Once nursing is established, Moms can look forward to experiencing a wonderful "high" during nursing. Chemically speaking, the body is producing oxytocin and slowing down the mother to take a moment to enjoy the experience. In "lay-mom's" terms, this means you'll look at your baby and think, "Oh my goodness, she is the sweetest baby in the world. I love her so much." Of course, all Mom's feel this way, but it's nice to have your body reinforce the sentiment 6-8 times per day (especially during those wakeful nights.)

Look at this beautiful nursing mother!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

27 Weeks Old

Little Hannah has come a long way in the last 1/2 year. She's grown by leaps and bounds, developed mentally, and strengthened the use of her baby body. She shows her awareness of herself and the world by putting everything into her mouth as all babies do. Her curious eyes take in the surroundings everywhere we go and she listens inquisitively as I talk and read to her. With all these big changes, it's exciting to think that the next steps in Hannah's growth will be even bigger.

She hit her six month growth spurt this week, which meant NO sleep for Mama! It's funny that prior to her birth everyone thought Zac would handle the late nights, but that night owl has changed his tune. My friend couldn't help but notice that the part I laughed at loudest in Motherhood the Musical was the Mom's operatic lament that Daddy always sleeps on the couch and she knows he's pretending!

So, after two sleepless nights I spent the next day feeding Hannah nearly every hour and a half. Last night offered a little better sleep, and I'm hopeful we'll get back on track. During growth spurts I tend to revert back to some "attachment parenting" techniques. I "wear" her in a sling as often as she lets me. We'll take a nice long nap together and I'll feed her at the beginning, middle, and end. After all, the more she eats during the day, the less she'll ask for at night. But, I can certainly lament with other Moms who feel like a human pacifier during these growth spurts!

With only a week left before Christmas we are ready! We've almost got everything we need for our puppy. I just have to pick up dog food and then I can spend the rest of the week mentally preparing for a dog in the house! Luckily, I got to sit for a very sweet Bernese Mountain dog last weekend who reminded me how nice it is to have a furry friend around!

Blast from the (recent) past:

Hannah pictured at 5 weeks and 27 weeks. We had these pj's in two sizes. Her Dad called them "Hippy" pjs the first time she wore them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

First Christmas

Not only is this Hannah's first Christmas, but it's also my first Christmas being a conscious and green consumer. If you read my post about being a grinch, you know that I had a lot to make up for this year! In order to keep my husband happy, I had to make sure that our tree was stocked with gifts for him and baby Hannah and release the tight reigns on his budget so that he could delight in buying gifts as well. Overall, I've got a way to go to "green" my holiday habits for next year. To make up for that, I'm planning to take advantage of the post-Christmas sales to buy fabric so that I'll be able to make reusable gift bags. I also need to find a good space in my home to start keeping a reserve of household materials (such as empty spaghetti jars) so that Hannah and I will have fun items for crafting next year.

I can't tell you what I got Zac until after Christmas on the off chance that he reads this blog. (Except he accidentally opened his growler cover so that's no secret.) But, I can tell you what I got Hannah so that you will understand how excited I am for Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve, she'll get an ornament and a set of Trumpette Socks. These will be traditional gifts for every year.

In big news, Hannah is getting a pony! 

This was one of Target's Daily Deals and I couldn't pass it up. I can't wait to get a picture of her on it next to the tree. I also split my clothing purchases between Baby Gap and Positively Organic so that she'll have a few new outfits for the rest of the winter and early spring. We got her some books and I ordered a Sound Bird from Mama May I. I'm looking forward to telling you more about this shop and letting you know how Hannah enjoys the toy after we receive it. Last, but not least, I bought 6 new diapers on Black Friday to take advantage of the sales. Technically they could be a Christmas gift because they are so cute with owl and farm patterns, but I wanted to get them into the rotation right away to ease my laundry time.

I think Hannah is going to be a delightful little gift recipient on the big day and I'm looking forward to taking too many pictures and videos so that she can have a special keepsake from her first Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Early Eating

Choosing the right time to start feeding your baby solids is a little more complicated than it seems. Four months is the earliest recommended age, but some resources suggest waiting until 6 or 7 months. I've given it some thought and I'm glad I started feeding Hannah solids at four months for a few reasons.

October was the perfect time to start preparing homemade foods for baby Hannah because everything was ripe and in season. Apples, pears, squash, and yams are just a few of the wonderful, fresh foods I selected for her to enjoy. Even though you can buy all fruits and veggies throughout the year at the grocery store, it's more likely that the foods are locally sourced when you buy at the right time.

Because we started early, mealtime was enjoyable learning experience. I haven't worried once that Hannah didn't get enough to eat while she sampled her new foods, because her nourishment mainly comes from milk. She learned about eating slowly at first and happily experienced the time in her high chair. I know it was the right time for us because Hannah was very curious about foods. She actively watched me eat and began reaching for my cup or utensil if I held her while eating. She had the ability to turn her head away to indicate that she didn't want more and she sat comfortably in her high chair.

Although I initially hoped that feeding Hannah more during the day would help her sleep through the night, that didn't happen. Some breastfed babies just need the additional feedings at night and I'm ok with that. It's not easy waking up every night to feed her, but I'm happy to provide what she needs and I can't think of anyone else I'd want to wake me up at 2 AM (ahem, Zac!) The nice thing is that she instantly falls back asleep, so even though there are times she wakes up it's still peaceful in the evenings overall.

Here's an older video of Hannah eating. I don't expect you to watch the whole thing because it's really long. Mainly I'm just publishing it in the hopes that some day this will embarrass her in high school. Hehe :)

Laundry Break

I have been feverishly doing laundry nearly every day since Hannah was born. This is just something that comes with the baby territory and cloth diapering. Because of this, I had only one Christmas wish and it came true two weeks early! Thanks to my most recent Black Friday score of 6 diapers and Hannah's new ability to hold her bladder for more than 15 minutes, I can get through a day with no laundry!

Now we can just sit back on easy street and cloth diaper with the assurance that we have enough fluff. What's in the stash? I use two BumGenius Elementals, nineteen GroVia AIOs, and 6 Fuzzibunz onesize pockets for nighttime (with hemp doublers.) I also have 6 prefolds and one Flip cover in case we really get low in the stash. It's comforting to think that for the next two years, I don't have to buy a single diaper unless I want to... or if they release something too cute to resist! Did I mention we use cloth wipes so I don't have to buy those either?

I wanted to celebrate today by not even looking at the washing machine, but there were some towels in there from last night that needed to be dried of course. At least that was a quick swap and now I can take some extra time to relax! Lots of people talk about enjoying the simple pleasures that come with Cloth Diapers- and this is one of those moments. If you ask me, it's a true Christmas miracle!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

6 Months Old!

Hannah just turned 1/2 and life is good! It's funny to think how much things have changed in the past month; let alone three months, six months, or the last year. Now that Hannah and I have a pretty regular schedule down, our daily life seems perfectly normal, as though we've done it forever. I have a feeling that although I will love Hannah more and more as she grows, I'll always look at this last month as the "Golden Age." With the exception of sleeping through the night, she is an absolute dream.

It's funny, because I spend a lot of time thinking about what I might have done differently now that I'm an experienced parent. Although, part of me wonders if she is the way she is as an accumulation of everything we've done to raise her. I suppose every parent is destined to question the way they raise their child at some point and I'm no different. I'd love to go back in time to whisper tips to help get through the sleepless nights, or to demonstrate the easiest way to make baby food, or to suggest rinsing Hannah's new diapers a few extra times to boost the absorbency. As a whole, though, I'm very happy with the way I've cared for Hannah and her confident and trusting smile lets me know that she's happy with it, too.

I'm so excited for the next six months with Hannah. Watching her learn and explore brightens my day beyond explanation. I gain as much of a thrill as she does from rolling on the floor, singing songs, reading stories, and playing games. It might be her overzealous smile and contagious laugh that motivates me, but I think I'm just a kid at heart and I've finally found someone to tag along as I live through the childhood I always dreamed of.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Real Moms Love to Eat Review

Beth Aldrich is a Mom after my own heart. She is sharing her vast knowledge of loving and living in a healthy relationship with food through her new book Real Moms Love to Eat. I received an e-version of this book a few months ago to review and I'm convinced that this woman is one smart cookie (pun intended.)

This book contains wholesome recipes, thoughtful advice for understanding a healthful way to eat, and quirky rules that will inspire you to take the right steps for your body. She gradually introduces you to her important concepts with 5 easy steps per week. The book not only teaches you why you should eat this way, but it also encourages you to explore and learn about how to create a diet you will love and your body will thank you for. Some of her key teachings are to drink more water, eat foods that generate the most energy, and avoid foods that don't bring out the best in you. Did I mention that you have to eat a piece of chocolate every day? Yes, you have to!

I was happy to find that most of the rules were easy to adapt into my diet, especially since I'm already eating well for nursing. However, even I benefited from her suggestion to start each day with a smoothie. It gave me so much energy I was literally singing! I also love that she includes an entire meal plan in the book. There are so many delicious, healthy recipes you will never get bored! Plus, the meals are healthy for the entire family. Not only will you set a positive example for your kids, but you'll actually be able to cook one delicious meal for everyone.

If you're looking for a resource for your new year's resolution- this is it. You will undoubtedly find health, wellness, and energy from reading this book and adapting the plan into your lifestyle. Cheers and happy eating!


I like to think of eating well, for pleasure and radiant health, like having an affair with your own husband- you know he's good for you, so you bring back the joy, the excitement, the flavor of your first exciting encounters. You can trust him. Food isn't a quick fix, a fling- it's a marriage, but it can stay spicy forever. Savor each delicious bite and crave more. 

- Beth Aldrich, Real Moms Love to Eat

Share a Night

Last night we visited the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House for their Share a Night party. This Christmas Lighting ceremony is like no other and I was thrilled to bring my family along! The house pulls out all the stops to host a delightful party celebrating the Holiday fund drive that they call Share a Night. Since they only charge a nominal fee to the families that stay there ($15), they must raise the additional money it takes to cover the cost of the rooms each night ($75). The generous gifts also make it possible for families that would otherwise be unable to afford the room due to lengthy treatments to stay for free.

There are many reasons why I enjoy volunteering at this house, but the Christmas season always brings about the true spirit of the house and clearly illustrates that year after year it continues to be the House that Love Built. Donations pour into the house in all forms, from delicious treats, to toys for kids of all ages, to monetary gifts you wouldn't be able to count. People also happily give their time to cook dinners, assist families, and host tours of the beautiful home.

Twice a year, the doors are open to volunteers and donors for parties that include delicious fare, special guests, and words from families that are staying in the home while their children undergo treatment for serious illnesses at the area hospital. If you've ever wanted to witness a Christmas miracle, this is the place to do it. Each family (and everyone who walks through the doors) finds hope and love in this safe and helpful setting. At this time of year, I would encourage you to open your hearts and make a generous gift to a deserving charity such as The Ronald McDonald House.

Pictures from the party are after the jump!