Monday, October 31, 2011

20 Weeks Old

Little Hannah is inching towards the 5 month mark with a full social calendar. We had visitors last week and this week we are going to take her first flight! She was a wonderful little hostess and beamed her brightest smile to our guests. I have no doubt that she will enjoy seeing and meeting more of our family during our trip to Florida.

This week she has napped and slept a lot, although not straight through the night. She's battling a cold and is almost through it. I guess cold season came early this year, along with the snow! We ended up getting about 4 inches of heavy, wet snow. Of course we lost power, so we packed everything up and went over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house. We took her on a little trek through the yard and she watched the snowflakes intently through the window.

Her new skill is one that I love, she reaches for me. I'm not just talking about my hair or my finger either. As I change her diaper, she'll grab hold of my arm and try to pull it closer. It's so sweet as she falls asleep that she wraps her hand on mine when I gently touch her chest. I also sing her "Where is Thumbkin" because she is so interested in my hands. We didn't do much tummy time this week since she was sniffly, but she almost rolled from front to back. I'm sure she will perfect that skill in the weeks to come!

Baby's First Snow

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Mom, a Plan, a Blog

I have exciting news! First, I want to say thank you for your readership and support of this blog.  Based on the success so far, I'm going to break it into two sites. This one will remain the go-to for updates about Baby Hannah's growth and development. My new concept, will be the source for information on bringing sensible green living into a modern lifestyle. I'm going to start posting there now, but the official launch date is January 3.

I look forward to sharing more about this and about Hannah as they both grow!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Happiest Baby on the Block

One of the first books I read about raising a baby was called The Happiest Baby on the Block. In between morning sickness and exhaustion, reading it made me feel more prepared for parenting and confident about how I would care for my child during the first three months. The book not only explains how to create a "womb-like" experience for baby, but also why it works so well. It made sense to keep baby in a familiar environment at first. Plus, the two world cultures that continue to practice the techniques experience no symptoms of colic in babies. Not to mention, the baby on the cover of the book looked as happy as any I had ever seen!

Dr. Harvey Karp recommends techniques for building trust to reassure baby in her new home. He suggests using the 5 S's and consistently responding to baby's needs throughout the first three months. Of course babies need to be fed and changed, but after that you can comfort them with the cuddle cure- a combination of the 5 soothing suggestions detailed here. It's a challenge caring for a newborn, so I appreciated having a set of instructions that would ultimately help build a connection with my baby.

Now that Hannah is four months old, I'm happy to report that she is undoubtedly the happiest baby on the block. She's confident expressing her needs and responds appreciatively after they are met. I feel lucky to be the one who gets to feed her, change her diapers, and lull her to sleep because it has helped build a strong bond of trust between us. Our house is regularly filled with coos, giggles, and the sounds of excitement. It makes me the happiest Mommy on the block!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wrapped Around Her Finger

Hannah has a serious grip these days. I've got to keep my hair back because she can yank with real strength compared to the baby tugs of yesterday. She pulls blankets to her mouth and grasps at toys. Now, when I have her on the bed as I fold laundry she fumbles with the piles, too! She just pulled her pacifier out of her mouth and held it there for a minute with such conviction that it seemed like she was just about to put it back in on her own.

Sometimes I forget that she's a new baby because her actions mimic mine so well already. Other times, I realize how lucky I am to share this special time with her simply because she is a baby and everything is a new experience. It's so sweet to see the world through her eyes and encourage her to try new things. Watching her learning and exploring makes the simplest tasks exciting.

I love to pause at each mirror to show her that cute baby on the other side, take an extra minute to tickle her toes during a diaper change, and read the same baby book twice. Moms everywhere remind me how they miss their babies at this age. It is a time to treasure. So I'm slowing down to appreciate these sweet moments. Besides, it's helpful to balance out the rush to her room from chirps in the night.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Naturally Delicious

I had my first homemade baby food breakthrough. It was the moment I had been hoping and waiting for. All along, planning and preparing meals at home sounded like a good idea, but it wasn't giving me the satisfaction I thought it would at first bite. Finally, the delicious aroma of pears hit me square in the nose and I was so delighted about Hannah's next meal, I practically sang about it!

Using nature's best tastes of the season to help my baby grow and learn about eating is a treat. While I was cooking the pears, I couldn't help but think ahead to the excitement we will have baking, making holiday meals, and dining as a family. She already loves sitting in the kitchen with me while I cook and I can't wait to get her involved.

Next up, butternut squash!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

19 Weeks Old

After a full week of eating food, Hannah is really catching on! She can mow through a whole baby serving of avocados and is quite the enthusiastic little eater. In just the past week she has begun using those hands she recently discovered to hold onto things. She can grasp a toy and bring it to her mouth. We're doing tummy time more, but she still doesn't roll over independently. She's more playful with her new belly mat because it has crinkly toys for her to grab.

She loves to hear her voice and see her reflection. She talks to herself, she squeals, and she mumbles to us. It is so cute! Her Dada is getting used to carrying her in his new Baby Bjorn. It was an anniversary gift from us (Cotton- perfect!) We took her on a walk through the neighborhood and she smiled practically the whole time. I didn't know how she would react to the colder weather because she has been very vocal about her temperature preferences in the house. Maybe she loves the outdoors so much that she doesn't care if it's chilly- just like her Dada.

We're starting to experience a little taste of baby "Happy Hour" again. A few months ago she was often inconsolable during those hours, but she has been doing much better with a schedule and routine. Now she takes a catnap between 5 and 6 and hangs out in her bouncy chair while I cook dinner. If she doesn't like that, we take her outside for a little while and that seems to do the trick for now.

This week, she is meeting her Great Grandpa! He is so excited to finally get to see her as she is his first Great Grandbaby. We're going to try pears and butternut squash next. We're going to spend some time at the library, too. She loves looking at the rows of books while she stands on my lap. I'm looking forward to spending more and more time introducing her to the wonderful books she can read.

It has finally happened... Hannah's spikes are starting to lean over. Funny story about her little sweet pea shirt:

My cousin came to visit and took Hannah shopping a month ago.  When we brought the outfits home to show Zac, he exclaimed, "Look at the little Sweet Pea-ness." Not the right time to add 'ness' to a statement to make it cuter.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rule #5: Drink lots of Water

Don't forget to drink plenty of water and encourage your kids to drink it, too! Divide your weight by two- that's the number of ounces you need per day. If you're pregnant, drink extra and if you're nursing drink even more since it helps with milk production.

Face it, humans are made of about 60% water, so if we're growing babies we're going to need lots of it!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More Cleaning, Less Blogging

Ok, my husband called me out on the whole cleaning thing... I'm not doing a bad job, but he thinks the house should be kept to a military standard of clean. The thing is, I really only blog when Hannah is napping because she's not a very sound sleeper. It gives me something to do that doesn't make a lot of noise. The issue has never been that I've blogged away all my time, it's that LO wakes up to the sound of a pin and my cleaning time goes out the window! Fear not, dear readers, I'm still going to blog.

Now, I've got a new plan. Hannah is cleaning with me! She hangs out in my Baby K'tan carrier and gets to look around while I spruce up. Here's another scenario where this whole "going green" thing is working out better than I could have planned. My cleaning supplies have no toxic fumes, so they are perfectly safe for her to be around. Not only that, I can clean surfaces like her high chair without worrying about her ingesting chemicals.

How do my new Get Clean supplies stack up?  Healthy for family: Check! Saving money: Check, Check! Environmentally responsible: Check, Check, Check!! They're even saving me time because I don't have to shop or cut coupons for cleaning supplies. Honestly, it seemed like I had stumbled upon the greatest secret of all time when I met the local rep at an Air Show (of all places.) Then, I found out I won the prize pack and I felt like I won the lottery!

If you're still stashing bottles of Windex and 409 under your sink, check this stuff out. One 16 Oz bottle of super-concentrated cleaning solution can last for years. You add a 1/4 teaspoon to a whole bottle of water to make your 409 and ONE DROP to make your Windex. You'll even waste less paper towels because you use microfiber cloths instead. It came with a poster-sized list of all the stuff it can clean.

I'm not getting paid to promote this product, but it's awesome so I wanted to tell you about it. Oprah likes it, too. When I asked the rep how she makes money if the stuff lasts forever she said, "Well, you don't really." Now that's truth in marketing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Coupon Karma

Hannah has been an awesome sport trekking along with me through my coupon madness this week. You see, there's a great sale at my local grocery store for cereal and I figured I'd give the whole drug store reward program thing a try at Rite Aid. If I thought I knew anything about coupons before, the past few weeks have been an eye opener. I've been using the website to find out how to pair my coupons and sales. It's making a huge difference! Our cabinets are stocked and the bank account isn't empty.

I'm really excited about couponing (in moderation) because there are several positive things that will come out of it.

1. More savings means I can stay home longer with Hannah.

2. Following the sales is encouraging me to diversify my menu. I'm incorporating healthy, in-season foods and using my creativity to learn how to cook new things!

3. I can start making donations and care packages. This would be nearly impossible on a limited budget, but now I can collect extra items for the Ronald McDonald House and soldiers overseas- two causes near and dear to our family.

4. Extra coupons don't have to go to waste. Last week I sent all my expired coupons to a friend at a military base since they can continue to use them for 6 months! (If you don't know a military family, but would like to donate your coupons check out this site:

5. Today I handed out two dupes to other Mamas at the store shopping for the same stuff. It feels great to "pay it forward" and put a smile on a stranger's face.

One of the things that turned me off about using coupons for the longest time was having to cut them out. I finally realized I could use my paper slicer (like the one in the picture) and it is so easy now. I can zip through an insert in minutes and then I organize them in a photo album.

I'm pretty sure the coupon booklet in my mailbox this afternoon was a direct result of all my good couponing karma. If you've been turned off by Extreme Couponing, maybe this new point of view will show you that using coupons can be much easier and more beneficial than you thought.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baby's First Bites

Learning to eat must be such a challenge for babies. Sure, they observe us eating and have some reflexive actions that guide them along, but that still leaves a lot to figure out. I was a little overwhelmed to start Hannah on foods even though she was clearly showing an interest in eating. Let me tell you, feeding babies and feeding your own baby are two totally different ball games. There is also a big learning curve preparing baby meals from scratch.

A few months ago I started looking in to the idea of preparing meals for Hannah. I already had a Cuisinart, so I figured that might come in handy if I had something in the fridge to make for her. As I looked up a few recipes I found out it would be cheaper and healthier to make her baby food. (Does this sound like the cloth diaper path?) I talked to a few people who had made or been raised on homemade baby food and then I saw the Baby Bullet. My inner spendthrift reminded me the goal was to save money, but that thing was so darn cute! I put off the purchase, intending to get it after giving the whole "homemade meal plan" a go first. That worked out better than I planned because my Mom ended up buying one for us! Armed with the baby cookbook, bullet, and my newfound kitchen skills, I was ready to go. Or so I thought...

My first experiences with the Baby Bullet were comparable to Amelia Bedelia in the Kitchen. I doubled a recipe that I tried to halve, practically blew out the motor on the bullet the first time using it, and have made a bigger mess than she does with all the tiny cups and gadgets. Luckily, I've managed to salvage just enough rice cereal from the scorched pan to serve Hannah and make it all worth while. She puckered her lips, tasted a few bites, and got more on her shirt than in her mouth. I think she did a perfect job eating!

This face sums up the experience:

All told, it was very sweet to feed Hannah her first meals. Once I got over my New Mom Jitters and put to rest my concerns about choking, allergies, and disliking foods it hasn't been too bad. I'm comforted knowing that she is still getting plenty of milk from nursing, so we can just take this whole eating program at her pace. Hopefully it doesn't take me nearly as long to perfect my baby recipes as it did for me to learn the ropes around the kitchen. My husband may have been content to keep his mouth shut and starve for a year, but I don't think Hannah will put up with that!

18 Weeks Old

What a big, important week it's been in the life of Baby Hannah! It was a sleepless one because she went through a growth spurt, both mentally and physically. She quickly progressed to grabbing toys and making playful loud sounds. It's so funny to hear her squeal with delight. We even got to take her to her first mini beer fest. She napped for the first part, then danced with Mama and Dada to our song "Wagon Wheel," and spent the rest of the time observing and taking in all the sights. It must have been a pretty interesting place with all the brightly colored cases.

We visited the pediatrician and found out she has more than doubled her weight to 12'14" and she's two feet tall. She's a perfect little peanut with chunky thighs like her Dad. We got the go-ahead to try some foods and she had a few "meals" this weekend. Poor baby had to get her shots at the checkup, but I nursed her right away this time so it went much better than before. She let me hear her pain cry about once every 8 hours after that although she calmed easily with some baby Tylenol and a lullabye.

I finally got in Mom Time on Thursday and I am so happy I did that! My massage certificate has gone unused since I initially scheduled a maternity massage for June 12. Hannah's birthday took priority over that one ;) My therapist was terrific- she was enthusiastic about finding out about mommyhood from me and she helped me relax so much. Getting the massage for myself reminded me that it's a terrific way to be soothed. Every once in a while I do a little baby massage for Hannah and I kept thinking how nice it must be for her!

Here's a little video clip from this morning:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cloth Diapers: The Gateway Drug

Initially, hearing about cloth diapers triggered visions of the unhealthy babies in Angela's Ashes. However, learning that I could save up to $2000 for each baby piqued my interest enough to overcome that fear. It took about 4 minutes to figure out that it was something I actually wanted to do. Cloth diapers are healthy for the baby and super cute! After 4 months, I finally have them figured out and they are working well for Hannah. A lot of Moms find that cloth diapers are an addiction. It's fun to shop for them and you always have an excuse that you are already saving money, so why not buy more fluff? I was about to head down that slippery slope, too but I'm finally set with my stash and am now focused on what other ways I can find to save.

I'm embarrassed to even say how clueless I was about the world of reusable items. Don't ask me what I thought people did before disposable diapers, paper towels, or zip lock bags. I honestly don't think I could have figured out that other options existed for a modern family. Plus, it was always cost prohibitive for me to consider any sustainable options for the long term when I was living on a tight budget.

I'm saving a lot by making Hannah's Baby food, swapping from Zip Locks to glass pyrex containers, and keeping a filled Nalgene ready-to-go in the fridge. I've also made a huge change to the cleaning supplies I use because I won an awesome set of Get Clean products when we were at the Helicopter Air Show last month! I'll be writing about that soon.

Curious about cloth? Ask me a question in the comments or click the link below to purchase. I'll get some how-to posts up soon also!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Defining My Consumer Style

I've set an ambitious goal for this year; to save more money than I would have made working full time. I left my job as a photo studio producer to become a Full Time Mom because I absolutely wanted to devote myself to my daughter for her first year. Since this is the first "job" I've had that I truly enjoy, I'd like to stay in it for as long as possible. So, I'm going to save as much money as I can for my family. It's my way of ensuring my happiness and respecting my husband's hard work at bringing home the bacon.

At first I wanted to start couponing, but there is so much waste to that nonsense that it can't become my life plan. Granted, I'm going to use coupons, but I'm not going to devote more than 2 hours at the store at a given time and I'm certainly not going to bring home items that we won't ever use. I'm also peeved by the notion that you'll save more by buying smaller items. Smaller items = more packaging and more waste. You're talking to someone who's cloth diapering here, so I'm not about to fill up the landfill space that I'm saving! Basically, couponing wasn't going to become my overall life mantra so I checked out the other side of the spectrum.

Initially I avoided going green because I thought everything cost more. When I think about what I've learned in the last three months, I realize how naive I was. Yes, some of the products cost more but many of them are reusable or concentrated so the value is greater. I've gone from being skeptical of anything green to a borderline hippie. My husband is keeping tabs on me to make sure I don't take things too far and he's a great sounding board for some of the hairbrained ideas I find online.

If I'm not an extreme couponer or a barefoot treehugger, but I dabble in a few of both practices, where does that leave me? I call it a Conscientious Consumer. I've set my priorities to help guide me through the decisions I'm making about everything from the food we eat to the cleaning products I use:
  1. Health of my family
  2. Cost
  3. Environmental impact
  4. Time/Effort involved
With all this in mind, how are the finances stacking up? Pretty well so far! Since we would have spent 3/4 of my income on daycare, fuel, tolls, and taxes I'm left with a small amount to cut from our regular monthly expenses. I will keep you posted about how I'm pinching each penny over the coming months but I'll give you a hint, I'm using the age-old mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" to help figure everything out.

Christmas Pictures

We had a great time last week getting our Christmas pictures taken. I'm proud to say that I sewed that sweet little baby dress for Hannah! She was a terrific model and made me so happy to have made a special outfit for her. It took the better part of a day to make, but I know it will go a lot faster next time since I spent a bunch of time fumbling through the instructions and getting back into the swing of things. Some day I will kick my habit of attaching at least one piece to the wrong side! Fortunately, a seam ripper always makes those mistakes easy to fix.

A few of the things we did to make the photo session easier on her were to go for an AM appointment right after a meal. Sorry Santa, you're not in our pictures because she prefers Mama and Dada to hold her. It was also nice going to a studio because we could take a quick break to change her diaper as necessary and have the happy, smiling baby right back in the camera lights. The best part was that we had a Living Social deal so we saved a bunch of money on the photo package. No, that's not true. The best part is having adorable pictures of Hannah to share with our family and friends!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Maternity Shopping Tips

I just pulled my last pair of maternity pants out of my closet to stow, and I have to say I'm a little sad to see them go. I LOVED wearing maternity pants! The first time I tried them on I squealed with excitement from the fitting room. Shopping for maternity clothes is no easy business, and there's a lot of poor advice online. Think about it; you're shopping with an expanding waistline for 3 seasons. Pregnant women also have less shops to choose from, so it can be difficult to get started if you're not familiar with the territory. The hardest part is that you are about to have a baby, which is a huge expense in itself, so you need to curb every expense that you can.

Here are my tips to build a fantastic, fashionable wardrobe that will accentuate your beautiful bump!

Pre-pregnancy Shopping:

Don't wait until you are pregnant to plan your maternity shopping! When you're TTC, keep your belly in mind. Purchase knit dresses, long knit shirts or sweaters, and anything with an empire waist. If it doesn't fit into one of those categories... don't buy it! Save your money for baby clothes :) The benefit here is that you won't have to sub in new wardrobe items right away- which can be a giveaway that you are pregnant. Keep comfort in mind, especially with shoe purchases and don't be afraid to go a size up if you are between sizes.

Useful tools:

Black Goody Hairband- Purchase this in the beauty aisle to expand pant waistlines. Simply loop it through your buttonhole and around the button and leave your pants unzipped a little. This is where the long pre-pregnancy shirts come in handy! These are handy post pregnancy when you're on the way back into pre-preggo jeans. You can also slap one on your wrist to recall which side to use for nursing.

BellyBand- Purchase this at Target in your pre-pregnancy size and wear it over your unbuttoned bottoms. It comes in tan, white, or black. The benefit of tan is that you won't see it through a top layer. If you get black or white and they peek out below your shirt it just looks like a tank top underneath.

What to buy, when to buy, and where to shop... after the jump!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

17 Weeks Old

This week Hannah will be 4 months old! It is hard to believe how quickly she has grown into a delightful and playful little baby. She has an engaging smile, a sweet voice, and impressive baby strength. She easily brings her hands to her mouth and seems interested in grabbing toys, but hasn't quite mastered that yet. Holding her head up is no sweat and she really enjoys standing with support.

It's so nice understanding her needs and watching how she expresses them. Our days are much simpler now that we can just go with the flow. I partially follow her cues and keep an eye on the clock to help figure them out. This weekend we spent quite a bit of time out of the house and enjoyed bringing Hannah along with us. She was a real trooper! Here she is with her Dada enjoying the football game. He's so impressed that she just takes in all the sights while we're out and barely fusses. When she does start to chirp, it's easy to tell what she needs and fix the baby issue. It's amazing that she can sleep through a football game at the bar, but wakes up to every little click in the house when it's bedtime.

We're heading to the pediatrician this week and I'm excited to find out if she is ready to start eating food! I learned a bunch of ways to make her meals an enjoyable experience for the whole family from the Baby Whisperer and I can't wait to start giving her some tasty treats.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Dear Readers,

Thanks so much for your enthusiastic participation on my blog so far! I changed the template back to my original for the time being because Blogger is still ironing out some kinks with the new designer views. This look simplifies commenting, following, and a few other details I think are important. Hopefully the new version will be up to speed very soon and I'll switch over again.

Either way, the content will be here and I'll be starting with a new week recap on Monday about Hannah.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hannah's Birth Story: Part 2

By now, I hope you read the first part of my birth story here, so you know things were just about to get interesting!

At 6 AM, it finally hit me. I had no idea what to do next. Until that point, things had gone exactly as I expected and I really felt like I was handling the birth well. Sure it was painful, but it was a natural type of pain that I knew would have an amazing reward. Not only would I get to meet my daughter, but I would finally get to lose that belly! My problem was that I hadn't gotten a chance to really figure out how I wanted to deliver my baby. I didn't know what position to do, I had no clue how to effectively breathe through the pushes, and forget pushing in general- that was practically a mystery. When my Doctor explained that it was almost time for me to push I said, "I didn't get to that chapter in the book yet!" So she gave me a two minute crash course in what to do and we were off to the races in no time.

For as naturally as I sailed through the first stages of labor, you would have thought I was delivering a 12 pound bowling ball by the end of it. I also had the added bonus of experiencing a change-of-shift at 7 AM (mid contraction.) What's this like? Well, imagine the scariest party of "A Baby Story" and then double the number of onlookers. Oh, and add a NICU pediatrician on call. Of course, the two doctors don't have time to speak in the hallway about the patient status. Instead, one is at my side, the other pushing my leg up, and both are commanding me to push, Push, PUSH!! After another round of contractions that do not amount to a baby in my arms they begin debating:

D2 "Let me take over from here."
D1 "She's almost done I'll just stay."
D2 "Should we get the forceps."
D1 "NO... She's got so much hair, I should just grab it and pull."

I'm grateful that my first doctor decided to stay through to deliver Hannah. (A month later, I found out that she went to church in her scrubs *bless her heart.) All told, I pushed for an hour and a half. It was unquestionably the longest part of my labor. Yes, I was that woman, yelling in pain and feeling like I was sinking because I could not get that baby out! When I finally thought it wasn't going to happen, the team encouraged me through one last push (like you've never pushed before!!) and she was out. They immediately weighed her and I heard something about 5 pounds and some change. Then, the moment came when they handed me the squirming wonder. Of course she felt tiny, but I knew that if they were giving me time to hold her she would be just fine.

Hannah Marie, 5 pounds 13 ounces, born at 8:23AM

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baby Laundry Tips

My Aunt Jeannette is arguably the laundry pro in the family. She can get a stain out of anything and she fits her daily laundry loads into her schedule with ease. I've learned a thing or twenty from her, but I hadn't seen her wash very many baby clothes so I had to figure out a bunch of that process from scratch. These are a few of the things I've learned (most the hard way.) I'm hoping that both she and Martha Stewart would be proud:
  • Save trouble later: Fasten all velcro when it comes off the baby
  • Got a tricky or stinky stain? Wash first, then hang in the sun for about 3 hours
  • Secure socks and other mini items into a delicate lingerie bag
  • Use half to a quarter of the recommended amount of laundry detergent
    • Check your load when the basin fills; there should only be a few bubbles breaking the surface, no super suds.
  • Don't use fabric softener on baby clothes
    • If you're doing cloth diapers don't use fabric softener with any loads. The residue stays in the dryer and coats your items, making them water repellant instead of absorbent.
  • Dry on low to avoid shrinking

Mamas who cloth diaper take their washing routines seriously to protect their fluffy stash! Everyone swears by a different process, and I'm sure mine will change when we introduce solid foods. For now I run a cold cycle, then a hot cycle with detergent (Tide Free) and an extra hot rinse. I do a combo of hanging dry and using the dryer. Basically, if it's absorbent it goes in the dryer and if it's waterproof it gets hung. All-in-ones hang and then get fluffed in the dryer for 30 minutes. We've been fabric-softener free for 3 months and I don't miss it at all!

Sometimes, when I'm really ambitious I do this routine:
Workout and Washout

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fuzzibunz deal on Zulilly

Zulilly has a great deal on Fuzzibunz reusable cloth diapers today. I've had mixed experiences with these diapers, but some people swear by them. They take a bit of time to prep (follow the manufacturer's instructions) and I don't recommend putting them in the dryer at all if you use dryer sheets with any laundry loads.

Click here to access the sale.  Zulilly shipping times range from 14-20 days.

Who's that Ladybug crawling on the floor?

Yesterday I got an email from TheBump warning me that I may be in for some sleepness nights. They were right! It's obvious that the fourth month is a huge developmental leap from last month (She has hands! She sees across the room! She moves her head around independently!) and all those new, exciting skills can stir her awake. Not to mention, she's more aware of her surroundings so she would obviously love to play with her wonderful Mama and Dada all the time rather than sleep. I can't blame her for wanting to spend more time learning and playing, but I do hope she decides sleep is more important very soon!

I've decided to make 6AM my cutoff mark. If she sleeps past that point, it's fine. But if she's been in and out of sleep since 4, that's our wake up time. Of course 7 would be preferable (or 10 for that matter), but she's an early baby so it works.

My little Ladybug was ready to play this morning! Maybe next time the lucky ladybug PJs will mean more ZZZs for the rest of us :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hannah's Birth Story: Part 1

For some reason, I knew that Hannah would be early the whole time I was pregnant. Even at the end, when people would ask when she was due I would reply, "Sometime between tomorrow and July 13." Since I'm a planner and I have wonderful family and friends who helped set me up with a million wonderful baby items we were all ready for her when she decided to to make her early appearance!

Our birth story starts at about 10 PM on a dark, stormy night in June…

I had been feeling very tired and experienced some cramps earlier in the day, so I went to bed early after attending a picnic. A little after 10 I woke up because my water had broken. It wasn’t what I expected, so I didn’t even know that’s what it was at first. Zac called the doctor to let them know what happened. We waited about 15 minutes before leaving because we didn't want to rush out into the storm for no reason. Luckily I had been collecting things for my hospital bag and simply needed to transfer them to a suitcase instead of packing from scratch. I even folded and put away some of Hannah's new laundry that would be waiting for her when we got home. I realized that in that time I had 3 low-intensity contractions, so we left and I kept timing them. Lasting 30 seconds long every 5 minutes; this was textbook!

By midnight we were checked into the hospital and the nurse had hooked me up to the machines to start her observations. I told her and the doctor about my plan to have an unmedicated birth, so things were pretty simple on their part in the beginning. I decided to walk since I had heard that is a good way to keep labor moving. DH and I looped around the maternity ward a few times slowly with a stop at the nursery window each time. I could make it there just in time for a contraction, so I would stop and breathe through the pain while looking at the babies. The contractions felt like strong cramps that expanded through my back, but as long as I stood still they were manageable. After an hour, we returned to my room for the nurse to check on everything. She hooked me back up, but couldn't tell me about much more than the baby's heart rate because they like to avoid internal exams once the water breaks. She also ran an IV with fluids in case I changed my mind and wanted an epidural. I made the mistake of asking for a snack that would later come back up and then set on my way for another walk.

We continued that process (walk for an hour, go back to the room for a checkup) until about 3 AM. At that point the contractions had increased in pressure, duration, and frequency. It was time for me to lay down and work on breathing through the pain while trying to relax. Zac called his parents who were still awake on the West Coast and shocked them with the news that I was in labor. Of course his Dad didn't believe him at first, so he held up the phone to the beeping machine to try to convince him. When he was still doubtful, I got on the phone and said, "You know I wouldn't be awake if this baby weren't on the way! Do you believe us now?"

When Zac went to scavenge for food, my contractions quickly became more intense. Our nurse, Laurie, was wonderful and held my hand through them until he got back. She was quiet and peaceful, which mellowed me out. I was starting to wonder if I could really make it through without an epidural by 5 AM, so she did an exam and confirmed that I was well on the way to the third stage of labor. When she told me I'd be holding my baby early that morning if I stayed strong, I knew I could do it. I counted down the time through each contraction breathing evenly, and then closed my eyes and attempted to sleep in between them. Of course, you can't get much sleep in 2 minutes, but that's the best way to describe how to relax between contractions. It sure beats worrying about the pain from the one that's on the way!

More to come soon... If you haven't already read my introduction to this story it's here.

Balanced Bedtime

Whenever Hannah decides she's not quite ready for bed, I try to find ways to stay quietly in her room. It assures her of my presence, but it doesn't disturb her getting to sleep. I'm also close by in case she does wake up so that I can calm her right back down. Most often I fold laundry, sort diapers, or start blogging on my phone. If I don't have my regular set of distractions, I take five or ten minutes to enjoy a few Sun Salutations. If you're familiar with yoga, these are the series of poses you do at the beginning of class for a warmup. After doing 4 or 5 vinyasas, I feel refreshed and calm. It doesn't stress me out if Hannah wakes back up and it's nice to be close to her while doing something great for myself.

Think about it, if your kids take 2 naps a day (or more) and then lay down for bed- that's 30 minutes of exercise right there. You should still do some exercise that gets your heart rate up, but this is a fantastic supplement. If you need a refresher on how to do a Sun Salutation check YouTube or this website.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hello Diaper Whisperer Readers!

Five weeks ago, if you asked me how I diapered my baby I could talk for hours about the different cloth diaper systems I used, my process for doing laundry, the environmental benefits, or even how to find the best deals on the internet. If you asked me how I got my baby to sleep, I would have come up short of expert status. Maybe I could have fumbled about rocking her or the one time that she really slept well with the sound machine, but I certainly could not speak with any authority on a regular practice. I decided to devote the time I usually spent with the Diaper Whisperer to the Baby Whisperer instead.

If you'd like to read more about this, you can check out my archives:

127 Hours, Daytime Diapering vs. Nighttime Diapering, Winding Down

Thanks for visiting and please come back soon! I'd love to hear from you in the comments section :)

For my regular readers, check out my guest post on the Cloth Diaper Whisperer.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

16 Weeks Old

Snuggle-free at last! Luckily Hannah gained better control of her arms last week because she was about to explode from her sleep sacks. I have to admit that I'll miss "unwrapping" her every morning and seeing her adorable stretches as she woke up, but I'm proud that my little girl can sleep comfortably on her own. She's doing a great job fitting her hand in her mouth and swinging at toys. It's only a matter of time before she can reach and grab things on her own. Yes, she found my hair, but she lets go when I rub her knuckles. I guess it's just time for me to start pulling it back.

We went to a bridal shower this weekend and she did a great job. On the one hand, it's difficult keeping a regular schedule for her meals and naps. On the other, she was such a doll I can't imagine not keeping this up because it's obviously how she likes things. Plus, it is convenient to plan out the day in advance. 

She's always the most vocal during her diaper changes and she is learning even more sounds now. She can even trill her tongue! I know she recognizes my voice and face now and it's a delight to have such a friendly response to my presence :)

Here it is; a rare photo of Hannah AND Mama: