Monday, April 8, 2013

Potty Learning Begins at One!

For Althea's first birthday, we ordered a handmade wooden potty from a local momma and daddy. It is cute, unique, and we appreciated supporting a small local home business. I ordered it not having specific intentions about when the potty learning would begin, but thought we would have it around for the next 6ish months to help ease Althea into the idea, have a place for her to sit when we are in the bathroom, encourage her curiosity, etc. The opportunity to order presented itself and I did so just to be prepared way ahead of time.

When we brought it home, Althea sat on it immediately like it was her high throne! Not surprisingly, we decided to try it out diaper free, "just to see." We sat her on it for the first time, and without even a second delay she was going potty. Wow! Okay, how can you not be a little motivated by that? Our perspective on it changed fast.

This process has taken minimal effort on our part. We sit her on the potty 1-5 times a day depending on how busy the day is. She potties 1-5 times a day. My best guess is that she has peed 90% of the time that she sits on the potty. Less wet diapers, less laundry, can't complain about that. She is proud of herself too!

Last week, we did our usual ritual of removing diaper and helping her take a seat on the potty with a toy or a book, when Althea became very focused. 30 seconds later, we had a poop in that potty! Never before have I wrapped my mind around the idea that I would one day be celebrating poop! Althea was totally proud of herself this time. She kept crawling back into the bathroom to look at what she had done!

This morning, Althea woke up, climbed off the bed, walked into the bathroom and stood at her pottym and looked back at daddy and I. I thought to myself "How old is our child?!" Daddy disrobed her, sat her on the potty, and within 2 minutes we had another poop! I can tell you that Dad, without a doubt, celebrated the ease of clean up from that one!

I have no idea if Althea will be out of diapers "early" or where this path is going to take us, and right now I don't care so much. That is the best part about it! There is no pressure to get this "training" done so that she can be done with diapers in a certain amount of time. It is fun for all of us, and Althea is clearly learning. And there certainly is nothing wrong with having less diaper laundry!

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Letter: 11 Months

Inspired by my friend and fellow blogger over at Pleasure in the Pathless Woods, a letter to Althea:

Our Baby Althea,

You are well into your second week as an 11-month-old. How is it possible? We are in full-swing birthday party planning mode and I just can't wait to celebrate all that this year has meant to me as your momma. You and I went to pick up your party invitations this morning and on the drive back home I was thinking about how there is nothing in the world that could be more important to celebrate. You have changed my life forever in ways that I may never be able to describe.

We recently went through your first illness. It sure helped me realize how fortunate we have all been so far in your life. Poor baby, you got hit pretty hard with a very high fever for four days. You were sick with cold symptoms for about 10 days! None of us were sleeping well, and my heart hurt a lot when you would cry and cry because you were uncomfortable. We got lots of cuddle in, at least.
Once you were feeling better again, you were back to your happy self and we were all so relieved and grateful. On your first day feeling better, it's like a switch flipped! You started saying dog ("duh!") and dada, pointing at everything, blowing kisses, and using your sign language for nurse, eat, and more. All of this started happening in a matter of a day. How exciting for us! We are so proud of you and this new ability to communicate is so amazing and rewarding. You love saying "duh!" and pretty much point and call everything that word. You definitely know Quincy is a "duh!" though!

You have always been advanced with your motor skills, and you took your first steps when you were about a week over 10 months. At 11 months, we are really calling it walking and we have seen you take up to 7 steps at a time. You are so brave and proud of yourself! I can't wait for walks together outside and being right beside you as you explore. It is only a matter of time, baby! Everyday is an adventure with you, and there is nothing better.
You still love to eat, which is fun for mom and dad because we have always been foodies. We are working on being more creative with the kinds of snacks we have on hand for you, and snacks that travel well when we go out and about. That is one challenge of prioritizing whole foods; sometimes those kinds of foods aren't as easy for transporting, but you love pulling your pears and apple pieces out of the food dish we have for you. So independent! Your newest love is raisins and sometimes you enjoy a few rice crackers. You also love gnawing on a cold carrot. Not without sharing with Quincy though! He even likes the carrots! We recently got a new blender and drink fruit/veggie/yogurt smoothies almost daily. You love them! We are so excited for gardening season at our house, so we can grow our own meals and share garden fresh produce with you.

The weather has been starting to get warmer and sunnier, so we go on lots of walks and have made it to the park a few times. You love riding in the BOB stroller, you zone out and just relax on our neighborhood walks. You also LOVE to swing! What a joy. Your face lights up and you giggle and smile with the wind on your face. We found a lovely park within walking distance of our house, and I see lots of picnics there in our future.

 You are well on your way to toddlerhood. Wow. Your dad and I ask each other everyday how we got so lucky. A frequent conversation that we have in our family is something like "I love her more everyday. Isn't she amazing?" "Can you believe we made her? How is it possible she even exists?" "I can't remember what life was like without her." Sometimes I wonder how it was possible life had any meaning before you. You bring so much joy to our hearts and your daddy and I love working as a team to be your parents. There are so many smiles at our house everyday.

I am working on a photo book in honor of your first birthday. Of course I have thousands of photos of your first year. When I look at photos of you as a newborn, my heart aches a little for that time. It went by so fast. I do miss my maternity leave sometimes, because it was a slower time where I was more able to soak up every moment with you. It is hard to believe how much we have experienced as a family of 3 since last year. There is nothing better than watching you grow and learn and with us as your role models. It is always my goal to cherish every moment. There is a renewed inspiration for me in life to be the best person I can be. I can see the world through your eyes now, and that brings me so much gratitude. I simply can't wait to see what the next year holds.

I love you always, Althea!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Self Care for Moms

I made it back to pre-pregnancy weight recently. I've heard about the idea that "it takes 9/10 months to put the weight on, it can take 9/10 months to take it off." That rang true for me, although I haven't been  putting a tremendous amount of effort into taking off the pounds anyway. I have been fortunate for the simple process I have had with weight loss since giving birth. I like to eat healthy and play with Althea. That has been pretty much "it" for me. We stay active in nature, but that slows down during the Winter and prior to Winter I was still recovering and experiencing an intense transition to motherhood. Ah, but I do sometimes miss the days of making exercise a top priority. The days when Scott and I would spend 3-4 days a week at the gym together are a blur- a foggy memory.

With this current absence of regular strenuous exercise in my life,  I cannot wait for Spring and Summer in our little family of three. The joy is going to be unsurmountable this year. Althea will no longer be a tiny fragile baby and the possibilities are endless.

In the meantime, my desire for finding my personal fitness (because, let's face it...weight loss means very little and pregnancy brought me some distinct areas on my body that are squishy proof that I'm a MOM) has brought me back to my quiet place with yoga. I did yoga for the first time in many months recently and I was bursting from the seams afterwards with thoughts along the lines of "Yoga is a destined exercise for moms!!" Our gym membership has expired, and I had the grand idea of purchasing yoga DVDS to use at home; I then had the even grander idea of finding free yoga videos online.

Do Yoga With Me is one of my new favorite sites on the internet. It is a comprehensive website with hundreds of free yoga and pilates videos from beginner to advanced. The site even has great meditations and breathing exercises and provides instructional clips about every yoga pose you could possibly want to learn. Nothing is better than free yoga! Find the site here.

I forgot how grounded I used to feel when I did yoga regularly. I've always been a busy person, and we've never been busier ever before in our lives than now. Yoga is that quiet place, that centered place. Why, oh, why do I let myself forget about the power of yoga?

Not only have I been pleasantly sore this week, but I have more positive energy flowing through my mind and heart. This is positive energy I didn't even know I was missing!

I jump into my roles and rhythms whole heartedly when I commit to do something. You can imagine how invested I instantly became once I entered motherhood. I can honestly say that I haven't thought much about self care for momma since Althea was born, which isn't good. Hello! I'm a therapist...I know a little bit about the importance of taking care of yourself. And, yet! I am not always great at it.

Thank you free yoga videos for reminding me of my desire to be strong, to be flexible, and to stay in tune with my heart and body; for reminding me that I am radiant and I can let go of anything that is stagnant within me; for helping me to get back to my fitness and for ultimately keeping me the best mom I can be!

Althea is a born yogi:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Illness Remedy

Something about having a baby has caused me to live in fear of illness entering our home during this winter season. I have never been a germ-phobe, and I don't think I qualify as one even yet, but I do slightly obsess over taking precautions to prevent illness. I can handle getting sick, but I seriously would love to avoid having Althea ever experience illness in her entire baby life! I hope I'm not jinxing our good fortune! Althea has been healthy her entire 10 months of life so far...I am so grateful, and it seems some of our prevention efforts have probably worked. I work with sick kids constantly and Althea is exposed to illness at daycare every week, and somehow she has managed to avoid it all. Even Scott and I have been sick, but not Althea. She is tough!

Last week I woke up in the middle of the night with a sour stomach and of course felt panicked. I spent the entire day at work on Friday somehow holding back my urge to throw up. I managed to last until Friday night before bed. Fearful that I had some kind of gastro "bug," I remembered a recipe for "flu tea" that I had seen on Facebook. Thank you to Homemade Mommy for this great recipe, and thank you to my husband for making a run to the store and whipping it up!

I drank it around 11am Saturday morning. It was seriously tasty, and I felt better by 1pm. We even went out running errands on Saturday. With how short-lived my ailment was, it is possible it was food poisoning of some sort. Nonetheless, I'm already a believer in this recipe as a way to prevent and respond to illness. All immunity-boosting ingredients!

No Flu 'Tea' by Homemade Mommy

Here was my mug of 'tea.' We added cayenne pepper as well, and of course I chewed up all of that raw garlic, because raw garlic is amazing for immunity!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cloth Diapers: Cleaning

We love cloth diapering. Neither Scott nor I can imagine otherwise. We have our routines and it is all pretty straight-forward. We wash a load of diapers everyday. Actually, there seems to always be a load of diapers "in process" in the washer or dryer. For each load, we do a rinse cycle, followed by full wash/rinse cycle with detergent, followed by a rinse cycle. Diapers are washed on "hot" and our cloth wipes are washed too. For the dirty diapers, we also have a sprayer on the side of the toilet that works like a charm! For us, the expense of disposables along with the amount of trash we would have going out of our house, would be more of an inconvenience than the situation we have now. We definitely wouldn't be able to get away with taking our trash to the curb only twice a month like we do now!

Over time, cloth diapers can get a "build up" on them, which often comes from the detergent (hence, the added rinse cycles in attempt to avoid this). We are recently experiencing this for the first time, because Althea has been in this diaper size longer than any other size. The build up results in stinky diapers! Sometimes we expect a poo in the diaper and change Althea to realize that the stink is coming from urine on top of this detergent build up (glamourous, I know). There are a variety of ways to "strip" diapers. It isn't unheard of to use bleach as a way to strip, but we aren't going there! I can't imagine using bleach on anything that is going to touch my babe's precious skin. Adding vinegar to the wash cycle is said to work also, but we've tried that on several occasions without much luck. Using Biokleen Bac-Out is another method. We use Biokleen as a stain remover and it is the best there is, in my opinion, so I can imagine that it might be effective to strip diapers. A friend adds vinegar to every wash cycle, to avoid the ultimate stink. We might try that now the that diapers are stripped.

Boiling your prefolds is a surefire way to get them completely clean. I did this for the first time this weekend, and while tedious, it worked just as I had hoped! No more smell. 3-4 diapers in a pot, boil each pot for 15-20 minutes or longer, change out or add fresh water, and repeat! Highly recommend for any other cloth diaperers out there.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A New Year

I have been so absent from the blog world! I never even completed my blogger photo project. If anyone knows me, you know I don't just flake off on my commitments (no matter how small) easily! I don't know how professional bloggers do it, posting on a pretty much daily basis.

I got wrapped up in the holidays, with visitors, traveling, and lots of fun times. So many wonderful memories. Now I need to take a moment to get my sea legs back. I thought I should write a post to say that I did it, and hopefully that will bring some momentum. Hey, I'm always one to be really honest!

I love love love the New Year. It has always been my favorite holiday. I love the symbolism of a new year, and all of the inspiration and positive intention it can bring. It had infinite more meaning this year than ever before. Our first new year through the eyes of our child. Breathtaking. Heart-warming.

Whenever possible, I like to do something really special to honor the holiday, which also happens to land very close to my birthday. This year was no exception to that goal! We visited Ft. Klamath and Crater Lake. Going to the snow and playing, witnessing the beauty that was so intense it seemed unreal and spending time in the bright cold outdoors and the cozy warm lodge was such an amazing time for our family of three plus pup! I love that we are showing Althea a life of safe adventure from early in her life. 

2012 was the best year for us for many obvious reasons. My cup is overflowing, my heart is full of gratitude. I could not have more joyous anticipation for 2013.

We took hundreds of photos on our trip, and many of them landed on Facebook. Here are a few simple iPhone shots. No matter the number or quality of photos, not one captures the feelings I had in my heart to witness and experience so much beauty this weekend.

Heading to the base of the mountainside, where we would find the lodge that awaited us. I was in awe by the abundance of sunny snow...a rare sight for those of us living in Western Oregon!

The anything-but-icy, Crystal Woods Lodge.

It was a marshmallow world in Ft. Klamath, Oregon. Sunny, 3 feet of fluffy snow on the ground.
The. Perfect. Day.

Two days in the snow with my two loves. 
Althea and Scott both had this expression on their faces the entire time!

Of course, our other love Quincy came along too. Snow is his favorite thing in the entire world, so he was in heaven just like the rest of us! The lodge we stayed in was dog-friendly, and Quincy got to roam the whole place off the leash just like it was his own home.

 No words.

Welcome, 2013.