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Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Fever

...And no, I don't mean rabid excitement over everyone's favorite holiday!

We spent Christmas Eve and Day with my parents and brother in Huntsville, per tradition.  This year was a bit different for several reasons:  We were all trying to save money and buck materialism, so gifts weren't as big as usual; we're all trying to eat healthier (and still recovering from prepping our giant Thanksgiving meal), so the food was pretty basic; and--oh yeah!--this year we had a baby to enjoy Christmas with!

But baby Charles' body didn't know it was supposed to feel good for such a joyful occasion, and so Christmas Eve he woke up with only his second fever ever.  His first fever was a couple of weeks ago, and had he not been too warm, I never would have known he was ill.  This time was a bit different--he obviously didn't feel well at all, and he was pretty pitiful for the rest of the day.

Both fevers seemed to be related to constipation and teething, and the Christmas fever added some congestion to the mix.  Both were under 48 hours, and both were relieved when he finally did have a good diaper-full.

I didn't run for a fever-reducing medication at the first sign of a temperature, though I monitored it fairly closely.  We've learned that fevers are a symptom, not a disease and that you should treat the baby, not the symptom.  That means that 1) fevers have a purpose and are a vital part of our body's immune response, so suppressing fever is actually suppressing the immune system, and that 2) since in both cases Charles was handling the fever just fine--no screaming, no extreme lethargy, no glazed eyes or bulging fontanel--we should let it run its course while trying to keep him as comfortable as possible and supporting his little body's efforts to heal itself.

I'm still learning how to do that well, but these are the measures we took to help him:

  • We wore him a lot while he was feeling icky, which both comforted him and helped his body regulate its temperature and immune response.
  • Since he still nurses for over half his food, we went back to a "liquid only" diet of breast-milk and sips of water to allow his body to focus its energies on healing rather than digesting food (and since constipation was also a problem, he didn't need to be packing any more solid food in there!).
  • We pulled out our new Essential Oils and boosted his immune system with Thieves, comforted him with Lavender, and helped manage his fever with Peppermint.  We applied the oils (diluted in coconut oil) to the soles of his feet, the back of his neck, and behind his ears, and we also diffused the same blend into the air.
  • We tried to keep the atmosphere calm and relaxing--soft lights, no extra noise, and little stimulation.
  • Since constipation seemed to be the main known issue, we tried to help him have a BM by massaging his little tummy with Peppermint oil and encouraging the intake of liquids.

That's about it!  Both times he's recovered well and seemingly quickly--and by Christmas morning, though not 100%, he felt well enough to enjoy opening his presents!  Hopefully we'll post pictures of that fun time soon.

How do you help your child when he/she has a fever?

This is his "I really don't feel good, and this silly hat isn't helping" face

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Almost walking!

My 10.5 month old Charles is so close to walking, and I am so not ready.  The week of Thanksgiving when we were with my family, he really seemed to take off on some skills.  He's much more expressive and varied verbally, he learned to drink from a straw, he can munch on little rice-cakes, he began playing peek-a-boo spontaneously (moving something to cover his face or hiding behind a stationary object before popping out again), he figured out how to carefully propel himself along on my old wooden Radio Flyer toy, and he began walking all over the place using the "walker" my mom got him.  Since we've been home, he's also learned where his tongue is, and we have some giggles taking turns sticking our tongues out at one another.

Note the concentration ;)

We spent some time with my family watching old videos from when I was exactly Charles' age, and it was really neat to see the similarities and note the differences.  He is definitely my son, but he is also definitely his own little self.  I just love my little guy so much!

Mom of twins, you're my hero!

I went to my local baby-wearing group today ("The Magic City Slingers"--how's that for an awesome name!), and while I was listening to Susie, our "master baby-wearer," teach us about wrapping (hopefully photos of Charles and I in our borrowed Didymos will follow in a later post), I realized that a young mom sitting in the floor nearby had newborn TWINS wrapped up on her chest!  They were facing each other and sleeping soundly in their woven wrap, so I'd just assumed there was only one baby in there.  She also had a toddler with a "Big Brother" shirt snuggled up next to her.  She couldn't have been older than I am, yet there she was, mother of three, serenely snuggling her three little joys.

I kept an eye on her for the rest of the meet-up (trying not to seem too stalkerish), because I was so fascinated that even when both newborns started crying and wanting to nurse, she still kept her cool and simply responded to their needs.  When I had one baby that age, I was not nearly so cool about meeting his needs in public (or even at home).  I was more likely to burst into tears!  Watching her with her tiny loves was such a peaceful experience, and so encouraging to see.

I know that I only saw a slice of her life, that she probably has bad moments, or gets overwhelmed, or just cries right along with her babies--but for that hour, she was an inspiration.  So thank you, momma of twins + 1, for loving your babies and demonstrating joy and peace in motherhood to a bunch of moms who need it!  You rock!  If I see you there next month, I'll make sure to tell you so in person.  :)

This is not the mom from the group, but very similar to how her babies were wrapped!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Not a day, but a lifestyle.

Thanksgiving, that is.  

I saw that on a church sign today:  "Thanksgiving is not a day; it's a lifestyle."

How true, I thought.  But then, Is that my lifestyle?  Do I live a life of thanksgiving?

If I have to be honest, I know the answer is generally "no."  I'm a selfish, whiny, lazy person, and recently I've realized even more that I take some of the most wonderful blessings for granted:  my serving husband, my loving child, my accepting family, my warm house, my loyal friends, my cuddly kitty, my nutritious food.  How often do I thank God for these things?  I more often find myself wishing something about one of them were different.  How often do I thank my family and friends for loving me?  I more often remind them of their faults.  How often to I show gratitude to my husband for providing a place to live and good food to eat?  I more often look at other houses online or ask to go out to eat.

I want to change that.  I want to live a live of gratitude and joy and contentment--I want to be those things for my children's sake, for my husband's.  Change my heart, Lord--make it more like Thine.

I hope all of you had a fabulous holiday; I know we did.  We spent the week at my childhood home with my family, and it was a wonderful balance of time in the house and out of it, cooking and eating, resting and activity, family and friends.  We had a gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner, which was really quite delicious.  Mom and Trevvor both got pretty creative to make some fun gluten-free pumpkin treats for us throughout the week.  Being there with them all week made me realize how valuable it is to be near family, especially with a little one.  Praise God for placing me in a family that loves each other and sticks together and wants to be around one another even when we don't have to be!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ten Months!

My boy is ten months old today.  It's already been ten months since my little love entered my life in a very real way.  It's been incredible.  It's been hard.  It's been exhausting.  It's been worth it.

The past couple of months he's really exploded with new skills and abilities--his personality is blossoming and filling out more every day.  I love getting to know him again each morning, and putting him to bed wondering what the next day will bring in his little life.

(The rest of this post will probably be very boring if you're not related to us, but I wanted to record and share it somewhere.)

Charles can wave bye-bye (in a very beauty-queen type manner), rock back and forth to music (which is always fun while nursing, apparently), likes playing peek-a-boo (though not spontaneous with it yet), and rolls over on his belly to sleep.  He's not a fan of getting his diaper changed, and always rubs his fuzzy little head while he nurses, especially when he's tired.  Speaking of hair, he loves pulling other people's, and also enjoys biting (we're working on that).  Favorite games are rolling the ball, knocking over stacked blocks, and "reading" touch-and-feel books.  He doesn't like it when I leave the room--very much a mama's boy lately--and gets giggly and goofy as bedtime approaches.

He started crawling at seven months, began pulling-up shortly after, and it wasn't long before he started "creeping" along furniture and adult's legs.  Just this week Charles began "walking" with us while we hold his hands.  Soon after he turned nine months, he started pointing in the direction he wanted to be carried and at objects he wanted to reach.  He's still learning how to be gentle with the kitties (and gentle in general).  He loves being tossed on our big bed and rolling all over the place--all our floors are hard, so I think he likes being able to flip around without fear of getting bruised.

A fun little quirk (or maybe all babies are like this?) is that he likes to have a graspable object in each hand, like straws, spoons, pens, or popsicle sticks.  This is great for keeping him entertained at restaurants, though lately he's been joining us in eating at meal times.  He eats egg yolks, avocados, bananas, and a few other veggies and fruits.  He has four teeth now (two on top and two on bottom--that second top one finally came in a couple weeks ago), so we recently introduced some kale puffs for his first finger food.  About a month ago he learned how to suck food out of those fun pouches--perfect for tossing in the diaper-bag and feeding on-the-go.  He's now an expert at drinking from his sippy-cup, so we managed to avoid bottles almost completely.

Most exciting for language-nerd me is that he's starting to learn that sounds can have meaning, and he's expanding his phoneme "vocabulary" almost daily.  About nine months he started saying "ma ma" when he wanted me, which of course makes my heart melt every time.  He's also consistently said "AH-ma" when fussy, so I'm not sure if it's just a variation, or if that's his nursing word.  He'll grunt and "hmm" to get our attention and often when he's reaching towards something.  Not really linguistic, but he's also learned this little fake laugh that is the most adorable sound ever, and he does it all the time.  I'll laugh back, and he'll laugh again, and we just go back and forth like that for a while.  Fun times in the Clark house.

I think that's the end of the updates... If you've made it this far, you're either a grandparent or child development specialist.  ;)  I'll try to blog more this month and not wait for another skillz update!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fleeing Negativity

I guess I'm just weird.  ("Well, duh," you're thinking.)  But it seems that I am fighting a lot of battles on Facebook, battles which have no victor, no matter who gets the last word.  Whether it was religion, politics, mommy-decisions, health, or just daily observations, it seemed that whatever I posted, someone would usually respond negatively, either in a comment or message. (I want to know:  Where are these repeat-challengers when I try to find sponsors for a child in need?  Hmm...)

And that's okay.  I mean, I posted it, so if I didn't want a discussion, well... I shouldn't have posted it.  But I couldn't let things drop, so I would get all worked up, and things would go on and on, and when that battle was over, there would be another waiting just a short scroll down my Newsfeed.

It's just not worth it.

It was draining me, pulling me down.  Were some of these discussions worth having?  Sure.  Does that mean that it's the best thing for me to continue having them?  Maybe not right now.  I am just so tired of having my every decision and opinion and viewpoint challenged by someone somewhere for some reason.  So tired.  Not as in "annoyed," but as in literally "exhausted."  I want to be able to relax and not constantly be on the defense for everything I believe in.

So I'm taking a breather.  I'm trying to figure out how to temporarily delete my account for at least the rest of the month.  First my Droid, now Facebook... I guess I really am a (weird) hippie.  ;)

If you need me, you know where to find me!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Let My Heart Be Broken

About four years ago we began sponsoring two children through World Vision--Dushankini (11, Sri Lanka) and Juan Carlos (11, Guatemala).  Beginning relationships with these children made me aware of the very real need in this world, and it showed me that though I couldn't meet every need, I could meet their needs.

In early 2012, we had been wanting a baby for several years, but were yet childless.  "Alright," I thought, "If I can't care for my own baby, at least I can help more mommas care for theirs!"  So I became a World Vision child ambassador and began sharing sponsorship and the stories of dozens of children with the people in my community.  Praise God, I was able to connect six children with sponsors last summer--that was six lives changed.

About that time, the Lord blessed us with a baby!  We were pregnant!  My focus shifted to my child and preparing for him, and once he was born, I was overwhelmed with meeting his needs.  Recently, though, as I've finally settled into motherhood, the needs of World Vision children began pressing themselves upon my consciousness.  As a new mother, it broke my heart to think of mommas all around the world who could not meet the basic needs of their babies.  I wanted to help them care for their children just as I would hope someone would help me.  It was time to get back out of my bubble and share their stories.

So that's what I've been doing.  I've been telling as many people as will listen that sponsorship not only changes the life of a child, it impacts the lives of their families and communities.  That World Vision works hand-in-hand with a community's leaders to cast a vision for the future and take steps to make that community self-sufficient, so that its members can live lives of independence and dignity.  That over 20,000 children die every single day from preventable causes related to poverty, and we can help lower that number if we work together, changing one life at a time.  That World Vision has been working towards this goal for over 50 years, helping over 100,000 people in more than 100 countries around the world.  That you can trust World Vision to use your gifts with wisdom and integrity, because 85% goes directly to the people in need, with only 5% going to management and 10% going to fundraising.

Needs such as a community well, new or rebuilt schools, public latrines, agriculture, animal husbandry, prenatal & baby care, improved nutrition, health care, literacy programs, and assistance with starting small businesses are being met every day because of people like you.  People who aren't "rich" in society's eyes, but have so much to give to people in need.  People who have decided to make small sacrifices in their monthly living so that an entire community can be impacted, so that Christ's love can be shown to the poorest of the poor.

Because Christ loves the poor.  This is evident throughout the New Testament, and throughout the Old.  Should our hearts not be broken by the things which break His?  Will you be the one to change a life today?

There are several ways you can sponsor a child.  I have picture folders of children around the world who need sponsors, and for the next month it is my responsibility to find sponsors for 30 of them.  There are also two websites you can visit:

Pray about this, and know that though $35 a month may seem like a lot to us, it means even more to these kids.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

On Disconnecting

I got my first Droid at the end of 2010.  It was great.  I downloaded all these apps, stayed on top of things on Facebook, found my way around with Google Maps, discovered geo-caching and Yelping, calorie tracking, Instagram, Pandora in my pocket, etc.  It became like a third arm or something.  A tool for my life.

But over time I noticed that it was stealing my life.  In little 30-second blips.  Ten-minute breaks.  A check-in here, a tweet there.  Tick, tick, tick.

I considered getting rid of it before Charles was born, but then when he arrived, I absolutely relied on it to get anything done at all.  He was a very "in arms" baby, and my days at home were spent in our ugly but oh-so-comfy plaid rocker, holding him as he nursed and slept, with phone in-hand.  It was great, and I'm glad I had it during that time.

But as he started needing more interaction, more eye-contact, I started to realize that I was putting him off so I could scroll a bit more through Facebook or finish watching that YouTube video.  But I didn't want to give it up!  I used it to upload pictures of him to Instagram, right?  And to stay in touch with other mommas and get advice about him, didn't I?  So really it was good for Charles that I had it... wasn't it?

Yet the feeling that I was loosing moments of his babyhood to this hypnotic screen kept nagging me.

It didn't take long for Charles to become preoccupied with the screen too, and to reach for it and stare at it right along with me.  I didn't like that at all.  I didn't want him to be like all those kids--even toddlers--with the iPods glued to their hands all day.  I didn't want it to be a digital pacifier, an easy way to keep him quiet while ignoring whatever real need he wanted met.  I don't want him to be the two-year-old that's fluent in touch-screen-ese.

So last week we bought a used flip-phone on eBay.  Today we went to the Verizon store and "down-graded" my account.  And I am now the proud user of a Samsung Convoy 2.  I feel so free--it's such a relief to be un-tethered.  It's been a strange afternoon; I keep pulling it out to "do something" with it, but there's nothing to do except text folks (because who actually uses to a cell phone to call people anymore, right?) and take the occasional picture with the okay-camera.

I want to be fully present with my family, just as I want them to be fully present with me.  It will definitely be an adjustment, but I feel I've made a good decision.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Big Changes for Little Charles

Well, Charles turned seven months old a week ago today.  I can honestly say that I can tell a difference--he seems like a different baby.

This week, Charles:
- learned to crawl,
- started pulling up to standing in his crib,
- dropped from three naps a day to two,
- began to babble ba ba ba...
- and has discovered he has a will of his own.

Crawling began in earnest on Monday, and each day he's progressed more and more from commando to all-fours.  He's not all that adept or quick quite yet, but he's mobile.  It's definitely upped my game (and made me so much more aware of how dirty my floors are--eww).  He can also switch from sitting to crawling and crawling back to sitting, which has made my life a bit easier since I don't have to stop and rearrange him every few minutes.

Pulling up in his crib is adorable, but has caused a problem in the whole napping department.  Before, if he woke up after I laid him down, he would fuss for a bit and go back to sleep.  Now, he pulls himself up, so obviously that makes falling back to sleep a bit more complicated....

Dayime sleep in general has been rather elusive for the poor kid, and I finally realized he was dropping that third nap.  He's sleeping a bit longer at night and typically only wakes up once or twice between 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM.  Some days he fights taking any naps--he either won't fall asleep in the first place or will quickly awaken when put down and not fall asleep again like he used to. His room is pretty bright during the day, but that hasn't seemed to be a problem until, possibly, now.

He's also really starting to add consonants to his babbling, though no definite "mama" or "papa" yet.  It mostly sounds like he's trying to say "ball," which I suppose is possible (a favorite game is rolling the ball back and forth).  He's at about the point where babies start realizing sounds have some real-word counterpart (i.e., symbol and reference, to get all academic).  I'm kind of geeking out about it.

Most challenging and also exciting is the fact that Charles is discovering he is himself.  We've seen a few temper fits this week (he's not a fan of being taken out of his bath-time splashing).  I'm beginning to tell him no and set some boundaries (no yanking on momma's nose, for example).  The easy part of parenting is over, and the training--for parent and child--is just beginning.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Just because we can...

I had a conversation the other day with a fellow believer who pointed out that the Lord has given us the ability to grow more crops per acre, grow bigger animals for more meat, etc., so therefore we should use that ability to provide more food for a growing population, seemingly no matter what the long-term cost.  The end justifies the means, as it were.

(We were discussing how conservative believers aren't very "green," and those of you who know me are probably pretty aware that Trevvor and I are something of Christian Hippies.  I had been saying that our bodies are temples and the earth is the Lord's creation, and it is possibly sinful to knowingly fill either with toxins.)

I've heard this argument before--God gave us brains, so let's use them!  Well, yes.  I agree.  But we can use those brains for destroying just as easily as for building up.  We have the mental capacity to come up with all sorts of creative ways to kill people en masse (atomic bomb? gas chambers? chemical warfare?--modern man is not immune to creative atrocities any more than our barbarian ancestors).  We have the mental capacity to both kill an unborn child and find a way to make it seem reasonable, even moral, to do so.  We can use stem cells from aborted babies to make medical breakthroughs that would help thousands, tens of thousands!  God gave us brains--let's use them!  Right?

Perhaps not.

Such farming practices such as the ones that allow us to feed more people now are simply unsustainable and will make the earth unable to feed a greater population later.  Do we not have a responsibility towards our children's children as much as we do to ourselves?  Especially since it is false that the current population cannot be fed using sustainable means?  If we focused more on nutrition rather than calories, on growing vegetables and fruits rather than excessive meat and sugarcane, we would have more than enough truly healthful food for everyone today without poisoning the land for everyone in the future.

(As a side note, I'll take the opportunity to throw in here that Westerners are selfish to demand that completely unnecessary food-stuffs such as sugar--which has NO nutritional value and is drug-like in addictive powers--be grown on such a scale.  Not to mention meat, coffee, and chocolate--and don't get me started on corn and soy!--which are not completely devoid of value but are over-consumed to such an extent to have ruined traditional farming practices all over the world in undeveloped countries, which grow luxuries [and nutritionally empty calories] for us at the expense of not being able to grow necessities for themselves. Moderation, people!)

And while I'm already ranting a bit, let me address another argument against caring for creation.  I've heard it said that man will not destroy the earth because God will one day do so, therefore it doesn't matter what man does, the world won't be destroyed until God wills it so.
That's like saying, "I'm not going to die until it's God's time for me to die, so it doesn't matter what risky behavior I engage in, what I eat, how active I am, or how I care for my body at all.  God's in control, so I don't have to take care of myself--I'll just die when He's ready for me."
In both cases, the speaker is correct.  God will destroy the earth of His own accord, and He will bring us home when He wants us home.  It doesn't matter what we do.  But that doesn't remove from us the burden of caring for that which He has created, be it our fleshly temples or the entire world.

Back to the original point.

No, I do not believe that God gave us brains so that we could poison ourselves, so that we could be so short-sighted as to think that what we do now to maintain our current comfortable lifestyles--Western diet included--won't be devastating for the future.  We have the brain power to have our (lightly sweetened) cake and eat it too!  We can use the brains God gave us to keep His earth pure and our bodies along with it, while still feeding all the precious souls which fill His creation.  It does not have to be one or the other.  Don't use God as an excuse not to dig deeper, to keep searching for more sustainable solutions, to admit that maybe those liberal pagan tree-huggers could have a point.

Yes, we can do all these toxic things in the name of God and science.  But just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

'“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.' - 1 Corinthians 10:23

Friday, August 2, 2013

My Six Month Old Guy

Like my last post dwelt upon, my Charles is changing every day.  He's over six months old now, and it seems like every day is different.

He cut his first two teeth in the last week (on the bottom).  It's adorable seeing those tiny pearly whites peeking out when he smiles.

My grandmother (right) with her two sisters

He's sitting completely unassisted now.  When he starts to tumble backwards (which is rare nowadays), he either balances himself or he uses those tiny core muscles to slow his descent so he doesn't hit too hard.  He can scoot and twist and and lean and wriggle his way to fetch a toy he'd "accidentally" tossed just out of reach... Crawling will be discovered any day now (I'm not ready).

          My cousin, Truitt, who shares Charles' birthday

Yesterday he played a mimicking game with Nana (my mom) for several minutes, which is the first time he'd really done anything like that since he was about two months old and would stick his tongue out at me when I'd stick mine out at him.  Mom would make a little sound in her throat and he would giggle and do it back to her, and back and forth they went.  Thank goodness the video-camera was nearby!

He rolled himself off the bed a few weeks ago--it was heartbreaking and totally my fault.  I think it scared him more than anything; he was calm again in a few minutes and I never discovered any bumps or bruises.

Sleeping through the night is still somewhat elusive.  The best we've had so far is sleeping 10:00 to 6:00 (which has only happened once), and a few times he's made it that long only waking up once for a feed.  Most of nights he wakes up twice, and not infrequently (like last night) he woke up three times.  He's not in our room anymore, which is sad, but I think we're all getting more sleep.  For the first five or so months he was mostly in our bed, then he was in the cradle beside our bed, but after weeks of poor sleep (whether in our bed or in his cradle), we finally moved him to his crib and learned to let him fuss for a few minutes to see if he'd drift off before going to get him.  So, it's better.  Definitely better than waking up every hour to half hour throughout the whole night like he did for almost two months before the new arrangement.

For playtime, his favorite thing is just sitting on the floor with a few toys.  He loves things that make noise when he bangs them on something, like his stacker.  We've been rolling the ball back and forth together too, though it's mostly me rolling it to Charles, him trying to eat it, then dropping it and it rolling (sometimes) in my general direction.  But hey, it's a start!  Sometimes he's in the mood to gum on one of his softer fabric toys or teething rings, but these aren't nearly as popular as they were a month or two ago.

My dad (aka Grandpa)

My mom (aka Nana)

I haven't officially started him on solid foods yet; I just love nursing him and I don't want my milk supply to go down.  We've given him some banana chunks, which were a mess--er, success.  ;)  He's also enjoyed gumming on peaches, apples, and blueberries through a mesh feeding thing.  That gets pretty sticky pretty fast, but he can really get most of the substance through it and seems to like it.  We're going to try some avocado soon too.  But I'm in no hurry as long as he seems satisfied from nursing.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cherishing my child

This is going by way too fast.  He's six months old now. I really just want to pause him where he is and sit back and enjoy him for a few days.  Then I think, One day he'll be a teenager, he'll be a man, and Lord willing, he'll have a family of his own, and then my heart hurts for a moment and in that moment I want to pause him forever.

But I can't.

So I'm trying to learn how to cherish him.

Really, I thought I would be a natural at it.  Mommyhood.  Showing my kid I love him.  Those important things.  But as he's gotten older and easier and more willing to be put down (and put off), I've found myself doing just that.  He sits on the floor with toys or in his exersaucer while I check off my to-do list.  Nothing is wrong with my to-do list, and he needs some independent play-time of course, but I'm realizing that I leave him alone a little too much, a little too long.  And then I turn to get him and he's learned something new without me noticing, he's grown again, he's been fussing for ages before I ever noticed.  My heart breaks, I cuddle him, then do it again.

Apparently some priorities don't come naturally; they require practice and purposefulness.

The problem, I believe, is that the value I place on my day is based on my visible productivity, not how loved my child feels at the end of it.  That must and will change.  When you're a momma, there's more to making a home than making the bed in the morning and dinner at night.

Lord, grant me humility, that I may place my child's need to feel loved and valued above my own need to feel productive and busy.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Oxford Trip 2007

So this isn't really mommy related, but I finally finished my photo album for the study abroad trip I took to Oxford in 2007. Yep, six years ago. Better late than never! Anyway, I just thought I'd share my album with y'all in case you're interested. :)

Shutterfly photo books offer a wide range of artful designs and embellishments to choose from.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Clay States - Musical Performance

Just thought I'd share this lovely performance.  Saw this duo perform at an event last year and they were fabulous!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Teething Time! And other random tidbits.

Whew--this is the beginning of a fun ride!  Our normally content, happy-go-lucky baby has become quite a cranky-pants over the weekend.  I've been blaming minor fussiness on "teething" for weeks simply because it was so strange for him to be fussy (unless he was hungry or overtired, obviously, but once his needs were met he was fine).  But this is something else entirely!
So far we've given him a frozen wet washcloth to chew on, pulled out the chilled Green Sprouts teether from the fridge, had him wear his amber necklace, and yesterday finally resorted to giving him two Hylands teething tabs.  Gave him two more again this morning, and after both doses, he was immediately ready to fall asleep.  Poor guy.  :(

On a more positive and cuter note, Charles has been quite the chatterbox the past few weeks.  He was a silent baby for a while, but when we got home from our West Virginia/Pennsylvania trip at the beginning of June, he found his precious little voice.  Every day his sounds get more purposeful, articulate, and varied.  I love hearing him jabber!

He's also just started reaching out towards us.  Often when Trevvor is holding him and he's fussing because he's ready to eat, he'll smile at me and reach towards my face with his precious hands when I come into view.  He's also begun to lift his arms up when he's ready to be picked up--not obviously or insistently like older babies, but there's a definite reaching toward us.

Right about when he turned five months old last week, he started to show signs of "stranger, danger!" mode. It's so pitiful, but also gratifying that he sometimes feels safe with Trevvor and I when he doesn't with anyone else.  I've waited so long to be preferred by a baby as only a momma can be preferred.

I'm really excited to start solids with him in a few weeks.  I'm trying to resist.  Not because I'm tired of nursing--I LOVE nursing--but because Trevvor and I love food and we can't wait to share it with him!  I've got the bibs, little bowls, spoons, and sippy cup all ready to go.  (I am letting him experiment with some water in his sippy cup, especially since it's been so hot.  Not sure how much he's actually swallowed, but he enjoys gumming the nub.)  I also want to get one of those mesh feeder things so I can give him more raw, fresh food to gum on before introducing cooked items.  Apparently they're also great for teething since you can freeze fresh fruits and let them nom on them through the mesh without risk of choking.

The other day he started opening and closing his mouth, working that little jaw, kind of like a fish.  He often does it while watching our faces, so I'm not sure if he's trying to copy us talking or eating!  Either way, it's kind of adorable.  :D

One more cute thing!  He's just started rubbing his soft head while he nurses.  It's precious.  His little hand just rubs and rubs his hair, especially when he's sleepy.

He's also begun chewing on his tiny toes!

Anyway, I suppose that's enough random gushing for one post!  I just feel like I need to be doing so much better about documenting and sharing all these adorable developments!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My little guy is five months old today!

Time flies when you're having fun.  And also, apparently, when you become a mother.

It's so hard to believe that Charles is five months old today.  He is the joy of my life--I never knew how much I could love another person, how immediately and deeply, until I became a mother and got to know my little miracle.

Motherhood hasn't been a cakewalk, and I never expected it to be.  We've had rough days and rougher nights, but it's mostly just been a process of adjusting to the "new normal."  The fourth trimester (i.e., the first three months) was definitely really hard, but it's gotten so much easier like everyone assured me it would.

Breastfeeding has gone really well overall, though the first two months saw a few plugged ducts, mastitis, and two weekends of high fevers.  I've enjoyed being a part of the local La Leche League group most months, and the leader said I'll make a good LLL leader myself one day, which was hugely gratifying (but also humbling as I realized how much I didn't know).

We made the switch from disposable diapers to cloth when he was about two months, and I've loved it!  It's just as easy to wash an extra load of laundry every few days as it was to keep up with buying diapers (especially since we used the "green" ones and those are only sold at far-away stores).  We have been using Green Mountain Diapers pre-folds and Thirsties covers (and Snappis, of course, which have been amazing). We also bought some hemp boosters which made it so much easier to use cloth overnight and when we'll be away from home for a few hours.

Baby-wearing has been really fun, but not as "easy" as I thought it would be.  Charles doesn't always like being worn.  He was never a fan of being swaddled, and I think wearing him is sometimes too restrictive for his active little self.  We used a Boba (stretchy) wrap at the beginning, which was great for distributing weight and keeping him warm and close in the cooler months.  Our Maya Wrap ring-sling has been great for running quick errands since it pops on and off so easily, and recently we've enjoyed using the hip-carry (and the back-of-the-hip carry as he's gotten grabbier).  As summer hit full-force, we've mostly switched to using the Ergo now that he's big enough not to use the infant insert.  It doesn't surround us with as much fabric, and it has a pocket where you can put an ice-pack for super hot days (you can also put a "boo-boo" ice-pack between your bodies).  I learned the ice-pack trick at a meet-up of the Magic City Slingers, the local chapter of Babywearing International.  Southern baby-wearers have to get creative this time of year....

I haven't done very well keeping up with Charles' milestones like I intended to on here.  So far he's been on track or slightly ahead of what the books say he's supposed to be able to do.  He's always loved standing on his own two legs and looking around while holding on to our fingers.  We introduced a borrowed exersaucer last week and he has absolutely loved being able to stand and see what's going on while playing with his toys.  The past week or two he's really started to be able to sit up mostly unsupported (though the Boppy or a pillow behind his back helps him from leaning too far over to regain his balance).  Also for the last few weeks he's gone from being pretty quiet to wanting to join in the conversation at every opportunity (especially at church, haha).  Charles is very ticklish, and that's the surest way to get him to laugh.  He also gets a little "punch drunk" when he's sleepy, and goes from fussing to laughing and back again very rapidly, which is hilarious.

Speaking of sleep, that's been a bit funky lately.  For the past two or three months he's had his little schedule of bedtime at 10:00, nurse at 2:00, then again about 5:00, then wake up about two hours later for the morning.  But starting last Friday night he began waking up every hour to two hours and not being able to go back to sleep on his own--I either have to nurse him or Trevvor has to walk him.  We started aiming to get him in bed between 8:00 and 9:00, thinking he might be overtired, and that's helped a little, but he's still waking up three to four times a night.  Anyway, I don't know if it's teething or a growth spurt or what, but it sure is exhausting for all of us.  Any tips from veteran moms?  I don't mind dealing with it, I just want to help him sleep more peacefully.

Charles is a very happy, alert, and active baby.  He is an absolute joy, and I've already had many people inform me that "he's going to keep [me] on [my] toes" when he gets older.  His favorite two toys right now are a little green car (already all boy), a little teddy bear that crinkles, and Sophie la Girafe.  The first few months he was definitely an "in arms" baby, but since then he's really seemed to enjoy more independence on his play-mat or in his exersaucer (this is both a relief and somewhat heartbreaking).

Anyway, I guess that's all for the five-month update!  I'll definitely try to do better about posting more.  I don't want to forget anything!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Charles' Three-Month Photo Shoot

Here are some of my favorites from Charles' three-month photo shoot, taken by our good friend Rachel Stricklin (  Yeah, I know he's almost five-months old now.  :P  Better late than never!

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