Saturday, September 29, 2012

The ABCs of Motherhood: K


More specifically, baby kisses. I kiss my kid all day long. Seriously, he is probably going to develop a phobia he gets so many kisses from his mommy every day. Kisses on his little forehead and nose, kisses on his chubby cheeks, and kisses on his tiny toes. Ha - that rhymed! I spend too much time talking to a baby all day.

Usually, Alex loves kiss attacks.* He giggles and smiles with delight. However, since I'm doing the attacking, it's impossible for me to get a picture. So, I tried to take a picture of me giving him a regular kiss this morning. You can tell he just loves it, right?

Okay, maybe not so much.  But, I swear -- he does love the kiss attacks! Or, at least I do. Though I do not love the way my neck looks in these pictures...yikes! I probably shouldn't have written that since now it just draws attention to my neck. At least my blog visitors can feel like they are getting my honest feelings about this whole life thing.

*kiss attack - n. the act of covering a small defenseless child with kisses

Friday, September 28, 2012

Five on Friday: Unread Books on my Shelf

Baby genius. He's reading about why he babbles.
Having a theme is really helpful to my blogging, so, I'm going to start a Five on Friday series. Every Friday until I get tired of this series, I will write about five (somewhat) related items. This could be five things I saw on a walk that day, five people that pissed me off, or five baby boy birthday party ideas. Today, I'm writing about five of the unread books on my bookshelves.

When I lived near a Borders, I had an addiction to book buying. I would spend hours in that store browsing around. I loved looking at the covers, reading the synopsis on the back, and wandering around the different sections. I enjoyed all the different areas of the store. Some days, I perused the self-help aisle or the do-it-yourself aisle. Other days, I tended to mosey around looking at the biographies and literature. On particularly self-indulgent days, I would browse through the art books.

For the most part, I limited myself to just looking, but an occasional book would make its way out of the store with me. My bank account is happy that Borders went bankrupt, but I don't know that I really am. I have not looked up the nearest Barnes & Noble, because I don't think my bank account can really handle it right now. I do love my kindle fire, but it's not quite the same thing as going into a bookstore and actually holding the book.

There are definitely more than 5 unread books on my bookshelf.  But, I thought I'd list a few and see which one you guys think I should read. 
The five unread books on my bookshelf.

1. The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan: Every feminist should read this book. I have not read this book. I haven't even tried to read one page of this book. Does this mean I'm not a feminist? But, I am a feminist. So, this book sits on my shelf waiting for the day when I have the courage to read it.

Alex's choice.
2. This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman: A gift from my parents from a couple Christmases ago. It's a compilation of short philosophies that are about three pages long. This would probably be an easy read to pick up with a seven-month old running around the house.

3. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy: My mother-in-law loaned this book to me a few years ago. In fact, I don't think she was my mother-in-law yet. I have started this book. I was a few hundred pages in when life became too distracting to finish. Plus, everyone had the same name. I needed a diagram to keep the characters straight. Hmmm...I bet they have one on the interwebs. I'll find it and print it if I pick this book back up.

4. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel: Everyone raves about this book. I've read the first 10 pages at least three times. But, I haven't been captured by it yet. If you vote for this one, please tell me how long it took you to love this one!

5. How Language Works: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Languages Live or Die, by David Crystal: This book came home from Borders with me one day. I read a few pages and thought it was fantastic. I just haven't had the chance to read it yet. I would blame it on the baby, but that wouldn't be fair since I have had the book for at least four years and the baby is not quite that old.

So, which book do you think I should read?

Babies and books. Is there anything cuter?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The ABCs of Motherhood: J

J is for Johnny-Jump-Up! 

This thing was awesome. It was hard to actually catch Alex sitting/standing still in this thing. I would definitely recommend one of these contraptions to moms everywhere.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The ABCs of Motherhood: I

I, as in me, myself, and I. Identity. I've always felt that I needed to define who I am; I think most people do. Who am I? Am I really who I say I am? Or, am I just pretending to be who I am? Or, worse yet, am I trying to be someone I'm really not?

I have always known I wanted to be a mom. I may not know what I want out of my career, but I've always known that having kids was in the cards for me. If I wasn't able to get pregnant, I would have adopted. I couldn't imagine my life without kids. But, now that I have one, the quest for defining "I" is becoming more difficult.

I have started to hate to introduce myself. When people ask what I do, I'm half-ashamed and half-delighted to say that I'm a stay-at-home mom. I feel like a walking contradiction most of the time. I absolutely adore staying home with Alex, but I also hate being home all day. It's weird. I want to be a great mom, but I don't want mom-hood to be the only thing that defines me. Most days being a mom ranks high on my list. I love the snuggles, how no one but me will do when he gets hurt, the big crocodile tears, the "ma-mas" and "da-das" that are directed at me. Other days I wish I could be a little more free to forget. I'd love to go out and just have a crazy, fun time again. Now there's a part of me walking (or crawling anyway) around in the world that cannot be ignored, even when I know Alex is safe with a capable husband, grandparent, friend, or babysitter.

Defining "I" is more difficult because I cannot imagine myself without defining my relationship with my little boy. I think we all are defined by our relationships with others, but this is a little different. Never before did I have the urge to say, "My name is Jayme, and I have a husband." I did not introduce myself by saying, "Hi. I'm Jayme. I have loving parents and one sister." But, I feel like I can't help but drag Alex into every conversation. I guess I'll have to live with a "love me, love my kid" philosophy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The ABCs of Motherhood: H

Hurt. Happiness. Heart. 

I've been struggling with the letter H for about a week. I just was not sure what to say, or how to say it.

Alex and I have been going through a lot of hurt this month. His hurt is physical, mine emotional. Alex is climbing on everything: the buffet, the kitchen cabinets, patio doors, closet doors, trash cans, bookshelves, dressers, the crib, the dining room table, his stroller, the desk. With all this climbing comes a lot of falling. I'm of the philosophy that you should let a little kid explore as much as possible as long as they can do so reasonably safely. I don't catch him every time he falls, but I do snuggle him if he cries after bumping his head or scratching his hand. Alex gets hurt, but it doesn't ever last very long. He's resilient and on to something new, usually within a matter of seconds.

My hurt is not so quick to heal. I'm still hurting over the death of my dad. I've known for a long time that life is not fair, but this seems more unfair than usual. I'm also struggling with adjusting to California. It's beautiful here, but I'm finding it rather lonely. Ben works long hours. He's gone at 6 a.m. and usually doesn't get home until after 8 p.m. That's a lot of hours alone. On top of that, my job search has been pretty fruitless. I'm trying to get out and meet people, but it's rather difficult to make new friends. I feel like I had so many good friends in Madison. I'm sure there are good people here too, but it takes time to really get to know them.   

Despite the hurt, there is a lot of happiness in my day. Alex is almost always a constant source of joy. It's hard not to smile when he spends most of his day being so darned cute. He has no idea that I cannot sing, and he always smiles so big when I really belt it out. He giggles when I give him raspberries before a diaper change. He talks, and talks, and talks, and talks every morning when he wakes up. It's like he's been saving up all his dreams from the night before and cannot wait to start telling me about them in the morning.

I once read this quote:

Making the decision to have a child is momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart
go walking around outside your body.
 ~Elizabeth Stone

I do not know who Elizabeth Stone is, but I now I know how she feels.

Yesterday, I was working on a menu for the upcoming month. We are trying to cut down on our grocery bill, so I'm trying to plan our menus, use coupons, and make meals with less complicated ingredients. I'll post about the experience later. But, my attention was not completely on Alex. He was crawling around the living room and dining room. I could hear him babbling. I saw him climbing over his carseat, chewing on everything, and exploring his world. I was typing and trying to partially pay attention to him at the same time. I heard him go into the kitchen. I'm okay with him playing in there, because it's all baby-proofed. There's not much trouble he can get into. A couple minutes later, I realized he was being awfully quiet.

A quiet child strikes fear in a mother's heart. I quickly got up to check on him in the kitchen. Not there.


I quickly glanced around the dining room and living room. Not there. I checked behind every chair. I checked in the Moses basket. I called his name.  I checked the stairs. I start panicking, hyperventilating, heart racing. Under the desk. Under a blanket that is lying flat on the ground. I call his name again, knowing in my head that he won't respond in any way I can hear. He only turns his head when I say his name. He is not downstairs.

I run upstairs and do a check of his bedroom, our bedroom, and the bathroom. He's not upstairs.

I go back downstairs. I check behind the curtains.  I check the closets, even though the doors were closed. I check outside on the back patio. I check outside by the front door. There is something from the UPS man, but no baby boy. Now, I'm in tears. I am freaking out. Did the UPS man take him? Surely I would have heard if someone walked into my home and took my kid. But, now I'm starting to doubt myself. Yep, terrible parent. Plus, I'm sure my little guy is freaking out, or at least he will freak out when he wants his mama and she's not there.

I run back upstairs, dreading making a phone call to 911. I hear the tiniest noise. Hope! I go back into my bedroom, and there's my little guy. He's chewing on something. I scoop him up and hold him tight. I don't let go for at least ten minutes, and only then when he insists that I put him down. My heart...climbing up an entire set of stairs on his own. Thank goodness he did not fall. Thank goodness I found him. Thank goodness I have him. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: G

Grandparents are the best!

They come when you're born.

They are willing to hang out or snuggle.

They come for big life events.
 They make you laugh.

They carry your bottle when you ask. 

They are always really proud to show you off.

And they are snuggly and warm!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: F


Is anyone else out there attempting to feed their child solid foods? And, failing miserably?

We nurse on a very specific schedule, because we feel that Alex sleeps better when he has a more specific nursing schedule. Every four hours, Alex nurses. I attempt to alternate nursing with feeding him every four hours--so he's either nursing or being fed solids every two hours throughout the day. He usually acts hungry before it's time to nurse, but he often refuses to eat his solids when I try to feed him. 

We started giving Alex rice cereal around 5 months. Then, we switched to fruits. I had always heard that babies liked the fruits because they are a little sweeter. Well, not Alex. I attempted to feed him peaches, and he made a scrunched up, "yucky!" face.  I tried to feed him blueberries and bananas this morning.

This is what I got for my efforts.

He does like some vegetables. Despite the fact that they smell horrid, he apparently likes peas.

Ben has better luck than I do. Perhaps it's because I smell like milk. Why settle for less than the best?

The doctor says there is nothing to worry about; he'll take to eating in his own good time. But, I cannot help but worry. Is he getting all his vitamins and nutrients? Is he starving? Would he eat if I offered something different? Worry - that's the real work of parenting.

Then there is the whole ordeal of attempting to make our own baby food. I really need to get started with that. But, I hate making up a bunch of stuff just to have him scrunch up his nose at it. It's not like it only takes a few minutes to make something. I did buy an immersion blender. Now, I just have to get to work with making something. I'm considering just pureeing whatever we eat at night to feed to Alex the next day. At least then I'm not attempting to make a bunch of special food. Anyone out there have thoughts on that approach? Or, what did you do if you're making your own baby food?

Friday, September 7, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: E


I should do more exercise. This thought is not really unique to mommyhood. I thought this often before I became a mom. However, now the need to exercise is more imperative. I really need to lose the baby weight.

Believe it or not, I had actually lost all my baby weight. If you had asked me at the end of July, I would have happily told you that I was back to pre-baby weight. Yay! Go me! I had done nothing to deserve this. I was breastfeeding and avoiding exercise like the plague. Rumor has it that you burn 600 calories per day breastfeeding. I have not been able to verify that with any reliable source material, but it's a great story I tell myself each time I reach for another Oreo. Regardless of my terrible eating habits, I really had lost the baby weight. All 43 pounds of it.

Then, I went to Missouri. My dad was receiving hospice care at home. Since I don't have a job, I went back to spend time with my dad and mom. It was a rather difficult and trying time. That's a story for another day. I was home for almost four weeks. Four weeks in Missouri could wreck anybody's diet--and I mean diet in the loosest sense of the word. From February until July, I ate my fair share of sweets, but I also ate a ton of fruits and vegetables.

Then, there was August in Missouri. My parents are both well-liked in my small hometown. When people in small towns are suffering, their friends bring food and lots of it. There's nothing like homemade chicken and dumplings to help you through your grief, unless it's beef lasagna, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, brisket, pork loin, or ham. There was also any number of desserts to choose from: german chocolate cake, chocolate pie, homemade coconut creme pie, brownies with nuts, brownies without nuts, lemon bars, chocolate chip cookies, etc, etc. The fruits and veggies were sort of lacking, with the exception of fresh tomatoes out of the garden. Plus, there was more soda and sweet tea than we could drink. I gained 10 pounds in less than a month. Yay! Go me!

So, now I need to exercise. But, it's nearly impossible with an infant. My kid hardly ever naps, so I've decided I have to wake up early to get my work out in. Jillian Michaels and I had words this morning. Most of my words were not very nice ones. But, I have used my 30-Day Shred video twice in the last four days, so that's saying something. I'll keep the interwebs updated on whether or not I actually make any progress with exercising on a semi-regular basis.

I feel like this post was really about food, but that's way better than exercising anyway.

This is me about a week before Alex joined us.
Luckily, most of those 43 pounds really were
concentrated in my belly!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: D

Does anyone else out there have mixed feelings about taking the baby to the doctor? We went today, and I am now a total grump. I know that the doctor occasionally runs late, especially pediatricians. I tried my best to be patient. Doctors get behind when there are sick kids, so I'm very thankful that it's not my kid who is sick. But I still cannot help but be a little frustrated that I spent over two hours at the doctor's office today for a simple 5-minute appointment. Two hours of trying to keep a crawling baby still feels more like two days. My kid is a total wiggleworm. If he's not allowed to crawl on the floor, he will do his best to crawl up my belly/chest/neck. I'm exhausted! Plus, I hate how he cries when he gets his shots.

On top of all that, I think I am also annoyed at myself for becoming competitive over something that absolutely does not matter.  You see, when Alex was born, he was rather long - 21.5 inches. And, for his one-month, two-month, and four-month appointments, Alex was generally in the ninetieth percentile (or higher) for height. Today, he was only in the seventy-first percentile. Honestly, who cares? I care, that's who. The problem is that I hate that I care. This is one of the measurements that is notoriously inaccurate. Here I am being grumpy that I cannot brag about my tall baby anymore. I hope that I am not one of those ultra-competitive moms. Ugh. How do you find a good balance between being your kid's biggest fan and proudest supporter without pushing them to grow up before they have to? I want him to stay tiny and get bigger at the same time. No one told me that parenting is a constant battle in your own head!

My average-sized kid playing on the floor at the doctor's office.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: C

Today's letter is C. There are already tons of people out there blogging about it, but I'm going to give my two cents on cloth diapers. When you're a new parent, it really is all about the poop. You track your child's BMs more closely than you ever thought possible (or necessary).

I was first introduced to cloth diapering by my good friend Jenny. She is at home with two little ones and started cloth diapering with her oldest after he had been around for a few months. Thank goodness I had her to give me advice, otherwise I would have been L-O-S-T. There is a plethora of information out there, and it does not all make a lot of sense. Ultimately though, like so many other things in parenting, it all comes down to what works for you and your family. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. I can only tell you about my personal experience. If you're considering cloth diapering, I suggest you find as many people to ask about it as possible. I am certain everyone's strategy is a little different.

The primary reason I cloth diaper is to avoid the guilt that I have about using disposable diapers. Don't get me wrong, I do use disposables sometimes - primarily when we travel. But I feel guilty about spending so much money on disposable diapers. There are so many variables to consider, but various other bloggers estimate the cost savings at about $2000 over the diapering lifetime. And, you can use the diapers for multiple children, which results in additional savings. See, for example, or Note: you should never pay full price for cloth diapers - there is always a deal to be had. When you pay rent in the Bay Area, you have to look for as many places to save as possible! I also feel guilty about the environmental impact of throwing so many diapers into the trash. Granted, even cloth diapering has some impact on the environment; I do a lot of laundry. However, I ultimately feel a little happier about my decision to cloth diaper. And, I'm even happier that Ben also is happy with this solution.

So, what do I do? And, how do I do it? I have tried a couple different types of cloth diapers, but I prefer the Flip diaper system.  Why? Let me count the ways.

  1. For one thing, they fit babies from 8 pounds to 35 pounds. This means I have been able to use them since Alex was about 2 weeks old and can most likely continue to use them until he potty trains. 
  2. They have both a snaps option and a hook and loop (velcro) option. I have mostly snap diaper covers, but I do have a couple hook and loop covers, too. I've heard that the velcro option wears out faster, but I haven't had to deal with that yet. Plus, I figure I have enough sewing savvy to replace the velcro on my own if I must. 
  3. I also like that I can use the inserts that come with the diaper, or I can use a pre-fold. Pre-folds are a lot cheaper than the inserts. Once Alex got past about 4 months, he needed the regular insert and an additional smaller insert or pre-fold to absorb everything.
  4. They look cute!
  5. They are much less prone to leaking than the other kinds I have tried. I'm not sure if it's the shape, size, or material, but these work so much better than the others. There are occasionally leaks, but this usually happens in the morning if Alex hasn't had a diaper change in the middle of the night. The cloth can only absorb so much liquid.   
  6. These are easy to understand, idiot-proof diapers. There is a piece of white fabric (the insert) that lays inside the diaper cover. You put the diaper cover with the insert inside on just like a disposable. That's it. There's really nothing else to it. You don't need to learn any fancy folding techniques (which is necessary with a standard cover), and the insert doesn't get all twisted and bunched up (like it can in a pocket diaper).
I have about 12 Flip diaper covers and Flip diaper inserts. I have a dozen Indian hemp pre-fold diapers, and a dozen cheap pre-fold diapers from Walmart. I have about 8 smaller inserts that I purchased to go with newborn-sized diaper covers. I could probably diaper quite easily with fewer diapers, but this number allows me to take a break from laundry occasionally. I wash diapers every 2-3 days. It was every 1-2 days until Alex turned 4 months because little babies go through more wet diapers every day. 

So, here's how it goes: 
  • Put the diaper on the baby. There are no pins and no fancy folding. Just snaps or velcro. There is, however, a squirming baby boy. I understand that there really isn't anything that can be done about this. 
  • Take the diaper off of the baby when it's wet or dirty. 
  • When Alex was purely breastfed, there was no need to use the diaper sprayer. Now, the dirty diapers that contain any mushiness get sprayed with the diaper sprayer. I waited too long to buy this handy little device, which is actually a bidet.  The bidet's were about $20 cheaper than the items that were marketed as a "diaper sprayer."   
  • Everything gets tossed into a diaper pail (i.e. a plastic trash can with a lid). The covers can be reused without washing if there's no poop on them, so they sometimes get their own pile.
  • Every 2-3 days, everything in the diaper pail goes into the washing machine. 
  • I wash everything in a cold/cold cycle with a minimal amount of detergent.* 
  • I wash everything in a hot/cold cycle with a minimal amount of detergent. 
  • I line dry the diapers. Thank goodness for that good ol' California sunshine! This saves us money and is easier on the cloth diapers. Plus, it works as a natural whitening agent - all the diapers that have poop stains on them come back bright white after a day in the sunshine. 
  • I throw the diapers in the dryer for about 5 minutes with my felt dryer balls to make them nice and soft for the baby's tushy! 
  • The inserts get stuffed into the diaper cover. I use one Flip insert and a small newborn insert in most of the diapers. However, some diapers might get only a Flip insert or an Indian hemp pre-fold if I don't have enough of the preferred combination clean. 
  • The stuffed diapers go into a drawer. 
*You should not use Purex, Tide, or most of the other detergents that you find at the local Target or Walmart, because they contain chemicals that can break down the absorbency in the diaper. There are any number of detergents that you can find on the Internet, but I like the convenience of being able to buy at a  store. I use All Small and Mighty, which doesn't contain the brighteners or fragrances in most of the other stuff you can find on the shelf. I used this chart to figure out what type of detergent to use:

And that, my friends, is just about everything I know about cloth diapering. I search for deals on the daily deal websites, but I've also had really good luck with Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique. Feel free to ask any questions if you have them! 

Monday, September 3, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: B

There are so many possible B words when it comes to being a mom: baby, bottles, breastfeeding, burping, bouncing, Ben. I cannot choose a favorite, so you get a few words about a couple of these topics.

We were extremely lucky. We decided to have a baby, and then we were pregnant. Seriously. We discussed having a baby at the beginning of May. The baby came in February. If you do the math, you'll notice that there are just about 40 weeks between the beginning of May and the beginning of February when Alex joined our family. I am not a religious person, but I do think that the stars must have aligned perfectly. If God is making plans for us, then God knew my family would need all the babies it could get to make it through the months of July and August. My father passed away in August, but Alex and my sister's little 10-month old daughter, Taelynn, kept reminding us to smile despite our heavy hearts.

How babies are made...Hawaiian style
Beautiful family

Do I love breastfeeding or hate it? I had always heard that people were very opinionated about this little miracle, but I'm much more ambivalent. I do not love it - mostly because I get beat up by my kid almost every time he nurses. Some people may be able to gaze adoringly at their child while he calmly nurses himself to sleep, but that is not my child. One leg and one arm are almost always moving when Alex eats. The kid never sits still. But, I also do not hate it. Breastfeeding came relatively naturally to us. It took us a couple weeks to really get the hang of it, but I never had to deal with some of the major hurdles that other women have.

I insist on breastfeeding because I believe it's the best thing for my son. However, it works for us because I am at home with my son. If I worked full time or had a job that was not supportive, I think that it would be much more difficult to accomplish.

We used Dr. Brown's bottles right at the start. Then, I stopped pumping regularly after about a month, and Alex didn't take the bottle again for at least a few months. Once we hit June, I knew that I needed to get him to take a bottle again before I moved to California. He would have babysitters, including my friend Lauren and Alex's Gamma, Sonja, who would need to be able to rely on the bottle. I did not want him to cry forever while they watched him. He wanted nothing to do with the bottle when we first started. We tried many different kinds of bottles - Dr. Brown's, Medela, Nuk, Playtex. We tried giving him the bottle at different feedings. We tried giving it to him when he was not hungry, when he was just starting to get hungry, and when he was ravenous. It was one of the most frustrating things I have had to do yet. Ultimately, it came down to giving him the Playtex Nurser every day at dinnertime with milk that was really warm. After I traveled to Missouri, I didn't give him a bottle regularly. Now he hasn't had a bottle again in almost a month. If he doesn't take the bottle again readily, we're just going to move on to the sippy cup.

Walking in California
The best "B" word. Ben has been amazing throughout this journey. He's a great dad and an awesome husband. He gets up in the middle of the night to bring Alex to me. He changes diapers. He plays. He snuggles. He tells me that I'm a great mom. He reminds me that he loves me on a regular basis. He makes me feel like I'm a sexy woman despite the nagging thoughts in my own head that make me fear my body will always be a little lumpier.