Friday, July 31, 2009

A Month in Our Life: July 2009

My baby's skill sets expanded quite a bit this past month. He can now:
  • Stack blocks
  • Sort objects (one morning he tossed all his clothes in the closet into a pile on the floor, then picked out his socks from the pile and placed them in the drawer)
  • Climb up and down stairs (and throw things down the stairs)
  • Run down hills (not without a few face plants)
  • Balance one one leg (he practices by climbing over my legs when I'm lying on the floor)
  • Understand some of what I say (I especially love watching his eyes light up and a huge grin spread across his face when I say the words "mama's milk")
Some new skills in action:

My baby's interests also changed a bit this past month. Some of his favorite things to do include:
  • "Talking" on phones
  • Sitting next to the vacuum (it doesn't seem to matter whether it's running or not)
  • Playing with cleaning supplies (some days he doesn't even touch his toys in the office, but rather spends most of the day toddling around with a roll of paper towels or a bottle of homemade all-purpose cleaner)
  • Reading books (his favorites right now are two books from the library entitled Rojo and Amarillo - unfortunately the library doesn't seem to have any of the other colors)
  • Being outdoors on the grass or in the dirt (including in the rain)
  • Eating (his favorites include peaches and carob smoothies)
Some new activities in action:

Try my baby's new favorite recipe from Rejuvenate Your Life! Recipes for Energy by Serene Allison, published by Above Rubies.

Carob Delight Smoothie
1 handful raw sunflower seeds
1 cup water
1/2 T tahini
1 T pure maple syrup
2 frozen bananas (cut into chunks before freezing)
heaping 1/2 T carob powder

Blend and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Teething Remedies

My baby and I are not just experts at teething pain, we are also experts at teething pain relief. When I try and imagine how it must feel to have a cutting tooth, I sometimes picture a jagged rock slicing through the skin in my leg. But unlike your regular run-of-the-mill sharp object breaking the skin, then coming out and allowing the skin to heal, this jagged rock stays in place so you have to learn to live with the pain. Ouch!! No wonder my baby was waking up every 15-45 minutes during his sixth month. And those molars must really hurt, with four separate points plus a flat piece in the middle! Thankfully we honed our pain relief techniques. Here's what worked for us:
  1. Nursing - A baby don't just nurse for food and hydration. He also nurse for stress and pain relief, to feel safe, and to cuddle with his mama, among other things. This is hands down better than any "baby tranquilizer" on the market.
  2. Hylands homeopathic teething tablets - By far the best teething tranquilizer invented by humans, these tiny herbal tablets dissolve instantly in baby's mouth and provide immediate relief (within minutes or even seconds). Before my baby was about six months, I held each tablet in his mouth until I could feel it start to dissolve. Now I put a couple tablets in his hands and he feeds himself. If the first two tablets don't seem to provide complete relief, I give him another two every 15 minutes until the pain is completely gone. And if a few doses don't solve the problem, the problem almost certainly isn't teething. (Note: I also tried the Hylands homeopathic teething gel, but it didn't seem to work one iota.)
  3. Catnip and passionflower tea - Catnip and passionflower are both calming herbs. If mama drinks a cup of this tea immediately before nursing, the herbal properties will transfer to baby through mama's milk. As an added bonus, this tea also helps mama calm down after a rough time listening to her baby cry in pain. Just mix equal parts loose catnip and passionflower leaf.
  4. High calcium tea - This tea is less an immediate remedy than it is a general help during times of bone (and teeth) growth. I try to drink at least 1 cup a day, but sometimes brew a quart and sip on it throughout the day. The recipe comes from Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Remedies for Children's Health:
1 part nettle
2 parts oats
1 part raspberry leaf
2 parts lemongrass
2 parts lemon balm
3 parts rose hips
1/2 part cinnamon
a pinch stevia to sweeten (optional)

I make a big batch by adding the herbs to a ziplock baggie and shaking to mix. Then it's ready to go when I'm ready to brew! When brewing a single cup of tea, I fill my mesh tea ball half full and let it steep for 10 minutes. When brewing a quart of tea, I pour 1/2 cup of the herb mixture directly into a mason jar with hot water, steep for anywhere between 10 minutes and 10 hours, then pour the tea through a wire mesh strainer.

We also tried some pop-it-in-the-freezer teething toys, but they didn't really seem to make a difference. If you have another natural teething remedy that worked for you, I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Last time I was at the dentist I picked up a pamphlet called "The Teething Booklet." It reads, "Your baby's primary teeth will erupt in the order shown." Not "may erupt" or "will probably erupt" but "WILL erupt." Well, they were wrong...way wrong! The only accurate statement in the entire booklet says the back molars come in last - my baby turned 13 months today and he's got all but those back molars. He's bucking the system already! Here's our personal teething chart:

I think it's a little funny his left teeth always came in before his right teeth. I've long thought my baby was left-handed...could he also be left-toothed?

And lightning-quick, slightly dizzying video that demonstrates not only my baby's teeth, but also his newest fun sound:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Difference Between Boulder and Denver

A sampling of the type of comments we get when out and about in Boulder:
  • Oh, isn't the Ergo great?
  • He looks so comfortable in there!
  • I'm sure he loves being so close to his mama.
  • Six yards of cloth just tied around your body? What a great idea! (referring to the Moby wrap)
  • Where did you get that? My daughter/friend/neighbor is having a baby soon and I bet she'd love that carrier!
A sampling of the type of comments we get when out and about in Denver:
  • Are you planning on carrying him until he's out of high school?
  • Your back must be killing you!
  • When are you going to stop carrying him?
  • If you keep carrying him, he'll expect you to carry him forever.
  • Aren't you ever going to use a stroller?
Needless to say, I fit into the Boulder scene much more than the Denver scene!!!

(One noteworthy exception to the typical Denver comments was a Japanese lady who told me women in Japan carry babies on their backs so they can do housework without the baby getting in the way. She then proceeded to suggest I ask the next person I know who is going to Japan if they could bring me back a Japanese style baby carrier... Anyone taking a trip to Japan soon?!?)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Most Oft Heard Comments

The comment we hear the most while walking down the street, playing in the park, shopping in the grocery store, sitting in the office, and so on: "Oh, what beautiful eyes!" (or the Spanish equivalent "¡Oh, qué hermosos ojos!")

And the second most common comment: "What a beautiful smile!" ("¡Qué una hermosa sonrisa!")

It is most fun to hear these comments being spoken to someone else, like the gal in the airport describing my baby to her friend on the phone, or the lady at the coffee shop discussing my baby with her friend in a hushed voice, or the grocery store employee calling all his coworkers to the homeopathic aisle to see my baby. Of course I'm biased and think he's beautiful, but surely I can't be wrong if all these other people think so too, right?!?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kombucha Sweepstakes Part 2

I won! I never win anything, but this time I won! Click here to see the official announcement. I can't wait for my "mother" to arrive so I can start brewing again!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kombucha Sweepstakes

Originally from the Ural mountain region of Russia, kombucha is a traditional lacto-fermented beverage that for hundreds of years has been drunk as a daily health tonic. It is made from tea, sugar, and a kombucha scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The scoby basically eats up the bad stuff (sugar), and in the process creates tons of good stuff for your body: probiotics, digestive enzymes, antioxidants, and a host of helpful organic acids. It detoxifies the body, boosts the immune system, acts as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and normalizes the digestive system's pH level, among other things.

I vividly remember my first kombucha experience. My friend Jamie offered me a taste of some she was brewing, but I declined because she used the word "mushroom" while describing the brewing process, and I quite simply don't like mushrooms. A peek at this mushroom monstrosity that resembed a humongous floating pancake further reinforced my decision to abstain. But not being one to give up easily, she continued to offer me tastes and I finally agreed to have a little. With a tiny glass of kombucha in one hand and a large glass of water in the other (to wash away what was sure to be a disgusting flavor), I took an tiny sip, then another, and another, and then I asked for a large glass. It tasted like ginger ale but better - fizzy and refreshing and overall yummy! And no mushroom flavor! (Turns out the mushroom wasn't really a mushroom after all.)

I eventually started brewing kombucha of my own. But since moving in with my brother's wife's parents, I haven't had the counter or cupboard space to do any kitchen experiments. I've been thinking recently, though, that perhaps I should clear out some space in our bedroom closet and get a few jars going. It sure would cut down on my grocery bills not to have to buy it pre-bottled, and it would be a lot of fun! While perusing my favorite Christian natural health forum, I came across a link for a kombucha give-away on a fun blog called I can't decide. So I put in my entry and am crossing my fingers that I will be the winner!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What We Miss Most About DC

After our church and friends, the thing we miss the most about Washington, DC is... the Metro. Locals call it the Metro or the train; visitors unfashionably call it the subway. But no matter what you call it, the Metro allows DC-area residents to live pretty much car-free. In fact, many (most?) of the neighbors in my building didn't own cars. When they needed a set of wheels they easily rented a Zipcar by the hour.

Unlike the New York subway, DC's Metro is safe and clean. And unlike halfhearted mass transit systems in other cities, DC's metro can get you pretty much anywhere in the District and its Virginia and Maryland suburbs. No traffic hassles! No parking nightmares! No parking tickets!! No smashed windows! No calling the police to report your car stolen! But best of all - no need for a car seat.

If you're going to drive your baby around in a car, you'll definitely need a car seat. (Which also means cab rides are out.) But car seats have got to be one of the most unnatural necessities of mothering. Mama holding baby in her arms is natural. Mama strapping baby into a plastic seat is not. Mama being near baby is natural. Mama being just out of arms reach of baby is not. Baby being able to see mama is natural. Baby not being able to see mama is not. Baby being able to nurse and be comforted as needed is natural. Baby stuck by himself alone in the back of a car is not. My baby does not like cars, and I don't blame him!

With the Metro, just grab a well-stocked diaper bag, wrap baby onto your body, and go. Baby can watch the world, interact with others, fall asleep, and nurse as he wants all while "on the road."

Just outside our Metro station:

Waiting for the train:

Riding the train:

And please, on behalf of all DC-area residents, if you visit the city:
  • Stand ON THE RIGHT and walk on the left while riding the Metro escalators.
  • Stand TO THE SIDE and let passengers off BEFORE trying to get on the train.
  • Don't stand by the doors - move TO THE MIDDLE of the train.
  • Don't sit in an aisle seat if there is a window seat available.
  • Don't eat or drink in a station or on a train.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, America!

This time last year I had a 1 week old baby, so our 4th of July festivities were limited to watching and listening to home grown fireworks displays (quite impressive, actually - they probably rival many small town displays) from our bedroom window in the heart of DC. I got into the spirit by creating a little stars and stripes theme for the blankets on the bed:

This year that baby was a toddler, so we were able to expand our celebratory activities a bit. Late morning/early afternoon we joined some other neighborhood families for a picnic in the park. The strawberries were a big hit:

In the evening we headed to a friend's house down the street for a barbecue and some (illegal) kiddie fireworks. My favorite was a tank that blew smoke out the top, sparks out the back, and "drove" down the street a couple feet. I must say this suburban city has quite a different idea than DC does about what should and should not be legal:

And a few parting words from the star of the show:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What do babies really need? Part 2

I love this poem printed in The Power of Motherhood by Nancy Campbell. It is reprinted here with permission from Above Rubies.


With all the gadgets and labor-saving devices on the market for babies nowadays, I thought I'd try to find the best of each. I was not surprised to find that:

The BEST infant seat is mother's arms,
The BEST baby swing is mother's lap in a rocking chair,
The BEST stroller is mother's body,
The BEST nursery record is mother's own heart beat,
The BEST lullaby record is mother's singing, and of course,
The BEST food, pacifier, electric warmer, and tranquilizer can be found at the mother's breast.

by Sally Simmons - printed by Above Rubies with permission from LLL News