C is for (Play) Corner

>> 6.30.2012

I've been groaning about the lack of a good-sized baby-proofed play space for months. When we got back from NJ this afternoon, we had a lot of unpacking to do. Ada was taking a nap upstairs, though, so Stephen and I found ourselves with an hour or so to kill.

I sat on the couch for a minute. Then glanced over at the corner of our family room, which look liked this:

And . . . light bulb moment! I decided to stop whining, clear out the -- roughly 4' by 6' -- space, and create a play corner. I'm extremely happy with how it turned out. Best of all? It cost us ZERO ($0) dollars.

I'll break it all down for you in just a minute.

What we used (and what's similar):

  • Cube Storage Cabinet (similar to this one on Amazon) from our entryway
  • Cube Storage Bins (they come in all colors!) -- again, from the entryway
  • Faux Shag Rug (3 x 5 -- we've had it for years, but I have my eye on this ultra-plush one, too)
  • Wooden Children's Chair (it's similar to this one) -- we bought ours at a yard sale when I was pregnant for $1
  • Bunting Flag (there are some lovely ones on Etsy). I couldn't resist. I picked it up at TJ Max on clearance when I was pregnant
  • Busy Town Activity Center (by Alex, a few people were wondering where we bought it -- Buy Buy Baby, but I found it on Amazon, too!) which we purchased with a gift card this weekend
The rest of it is just full of toys, books, games, and photos we had around the house. Now when Ada is downstairs, I have all her toys organized and in one corner of the room. It helped me clear out some traps that we was attracted to (like our magazine stand).

(From Ada's point-of-view:)

There's so much going on in her nook, she doesn't seem as inclined to chase after the cats or chew on the cable box. Yet.

Do you have a room totally dedicated to play? Or have you creatively carved out space in another room? I love hearing what people do to make it all work. Especially in smaller homes with little room to spare!

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Buying Organic: Weighing the Costs

>> 6.29.2012

I've written in the past about how we don't buy everything much at all organic at the grocery store. Part of the reason why has to do with our current budget (though our CSA share is certainly helping us stock or shelve with great, organic produce at a reasonable price).

Another -- bigger -- part is my own skepticism.

I have read about the "Dirty Dozen" and wonder if produce and other items, like canned goods, dairy products, etc., that fall outside of this list necessitate the higher price tag and organic label. Most people don't have the privilege to buy all organic foods, after all.

Too, I have started to consider how important it is to feed Ada organic. Of course we want the very best for our daughter, but I know I was raised eating the standard Gerber jars (and I was a formula-fed baby). I (think) I turned out pretty well. Organic baby food costs a good .40 cents more per jar, at least at our grocery store. If we fed Ada entirely from jars, that nearly doubles the cost to feed her.

It isn't that I don't value organic. Quite the opposite.

But in our new money situation, I can't necessarily justify the added expense. Still, I feel like I have a lot of preconceived notions about buying organic that I haven't explored. To be fair, I need to find the the truths and misconceptions myself.

So, I have decided to bite the bullet for a week (likely this week coming up) and buy organic for absolutely everything in our cart. E.v.e..r.y.t.h.i.n.g. I want to compare the cost of each item and the overall total to our normal haul. From there, I intend to see what might make sense for our budget and our health.

This is the point where I'd usually write something like: "What do I have to lose?" This time around, I'll lose a couple dollars or more. I imagine it will be worth it to figure out how we can best feed our family and more creatively stretch our money each week.

I'll be comparing this shopping trip to a previous post where we bought groceries for the week within our $60 budget. (The only complication is that our CSA share now takes up $20 each week.)

While I'm at it, I'd like to involve you as well. Do you have any curiosities related to buying organic you'd like me to address? Do you have any tips to share for getting the most bang for my buck? I know on Twitter there was some interest over this whole idea.

Let me know! Just leave a comment below or email us at writingchapterthree [at] gmail [dot] com.

Like what you just read? Stay connected! You can subscribe to the feed of these posts, chat with us on Twitter or Facebook. And you can always email us with your questions and comments.


Splash Zone

>> 6.28.2012

Ada's been swimming a few times. In her backyard tub. In a lake. But never before in a proper pool. Today was way too hot to not dunk into water. So we packed some towels and met up with some family for some splashing.

(You'll have to excuse my strange swim getup. We didn't intend to visit the pool on our visit to NJ -- so I had to piece together odds and ends from what I haphazardly tossed into my bag.)

She loves water, just like her daddy. Actually, she's growing into quite a mini-me version of Stephen. I still get comments every now and again from store clerks and other strangers about how much she looks like me. But I know people are just being nice.

I mean, look at this:

She is definitely her father's daughter. There's no question. It's fun to see how her looks and personality change as the days, weeks, and months tick on. I try my best not to wish away the days, but I am so curious how she'll be at a year old and beyond.

What I can tell you is that, in this moment, life is fun. Stephen and I often look at one another on a lazy Sunday afternoon when we've done absolutely nothing of significance, and we can't help but remark that THIS -- Ada -- was what was perhaps missing from our lives.

Not that we weren't complete people or that our relationship wasn't whole, but with all the ups, downs, and all-arounds -- we're starting to forget what life was like before Ada.

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Our Adventure (Month) Begins!

>> 6.26.2012

This week begins our month of adventures. We've got a lot on tap this summer, including a 3-night camping trek to a music festival, a week-long trip to the shore, and a few other jaunts here and there that require a shift from the normal schedule we keep at home.

I tried to be laid back. And it worked. I hadn't been terribly concerned about any of it . . . until now. In the moment. As I listen to Ada babble over the baby monitor as she attempts to sleep in a new place. So far, a 1-1/2 hour shift in bedtime hasn't proved disastrous. Yet.

But this is just day 1. How will Ada react to shifted nap times over several days? Later bedtimes? Different Pack 'n Plays, high chairs, and toys? Sleeping in a TENT sans white noise machine. For THREE days.

I have read time and time again in baby books about how consistency is key. I guess we'll see if that holds true in practice. What I feel like I might find out is that Ada is far more adaptable than I think she is . . . or than I am.

My motivation while planning all of these trips was somewhat selfish, truth be told. A sort of "I-can-still-have-a-life-after-baby" attitude. Oh, the mommy-guilt. I hope I'm not asking too much of Ada. Again, I guess we'll see. I feel confident that we can make it fun for us as well as Ada by paying attention to her cues and trying our best to meet her needs wherever we find ourselves in this world.

Enough serious stuff. Here are some snapshots from our day:

Any of you seasoned moms have any advice for me? Like I mentioned, I haven't rocked the boat too much with Ada's schedule these first 7 months. And if you've camped with your little one -- please HELP US!

Like what you just read? Stay connected! You can subscribe to the feed of these posts, chat with us on Twitter or Facebook. And you can always email us with your questions and comments.


Ada: 7 Months

>> 6.25.2012

We're getting to this matter somewhat late, as Ada turned 7 months on the 16th. Still, I think it's worth a dedicated post. It's funny. When Ada was first born, I tried my best to savor those newborn moments. Inside my head, though, I couldn't help but look forward to summer.

She'd be bigger. She's be DOING things. Babbling. Crawling. The weather would be nice. Sun. Warmth. Stephen would be home. By the time June and July rolled around, life would be perfect. I feel like I always set up topics like that and then say something like: "But life isn't perfect these days because of x, y, and z."

What's cool this month? (Besides Ada meeting the young Bob Dylan? Oh, wait! That's Stephen with a haircut.) There really aren't any complaints. Life still isn't perfect, but it never is and never will be. But we've reached this groove, Ada and me. Stephen, too. We can go out and know how to handle things if they don't go swimmingly.

I think it's confidence mostly. It feels good.

We got a question about how Ada and the cats are getting along. I talked about it a bit in the FAQ Video, but Ada absolutely loves the cats. They, on the other hand, are scared of her. Or sometimes indifferent . . . but they are that way with us sometimes, too. We try our best to keep the relationship positive.

We have let Ada "pet" the cats and she's progressively getting more gentle about the whole thing. But if we notice they feel threatened, we split the three of them up to avoid creating a negative association pattern. So far, not catastrophes (see what I did there?).

Ada is able to sit on her own now, but not for long stretches of time. What has been the most remarkable in the past month has been her ever-advancing mobility. I feel like that sentence sounded so pretentious. I don't mean that Ada is advanced. I just can't believe how quickly babies go from slowly creeping along to speeding, climbing, and standing. Blows my mind.

As you can imagine, she's taken some spills. We are trying our best to prevent her from hurting herself. I find myself pining for a carpet-padded playroom more and more each day. For now, it's wood floors and lightning-fast reflexes. We may pick up one of those play mats, we're heard this one from Skip Hop is great.

I guess that's what gift cards are for.

Ada is mostly eating purees these days, but after trying her on some Cheerios, we re-tried some chunks of food. Now we give some her at the start of dinner each night and see how she does. We follow up with, like I said, purees.

At 7 months, Ada's food consumption is the following:

  • 1/2 jar of fruit with 1 tablespoon oat cereal mixed in (for iron) 
  • Snacks of a few Cheerios or Happy Baby Puffs (Greens) 
  • Some steamed veggies or avocado, etc. in chunks, maybe 1 tablespoon 
  • 1/2 jar of veggies

And if you missed the day-in-the-life post, you can check out Ada's typical schedule. We're still on about two naps a day of 1 to 2 hours each. 12 hours of sleep at night. I am trying to figure out if I should still wake her for a dream feed when we go to sleep at night.

Right now, she breastfeeds 6 times a day, so cutting it down to 5 seems like too low to me. But I don't really know what's right.

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest difference for me at 7 months is my level of confidence. I can go out and about without worrying anymore. If Ada starts getting fussy, I know relatively what I should do to help. Of course, my confidence is put to the test when she's sick, but overall -- I am getting there.

Like what you just read? Stay connected! You can subscribe to the feed of these posts, chat with us on Twitter or Facebook. And you can always email us with your questions and comments.


Choosing the Right Caregiver

>> 6.24.2012

We left off with a fantastic selection of med-free birth stories that took place in hospitals. I have a few more to add to the collection, but need to continue on with the rest of the series.

If you're just joining us, we've been discussing Zero-Intervention Birth in the Hospital Setting. And, of course, the very first step in all of this is examining personal goals. Today is all about choosing the right caregiver.

I write caregiver because, and as most of you know, there are a variety of ways to approach prenatal care in those long nine months and beyond. I think many of you might expect me to go through and define the differences between choosing an obstetrician or midwife, etc. Really, that's been done a million times over and -- if you're interested -- you can check out all the info here.

For me, choosing the right caregiver wasn't some involved, lengthy process. I talked to some of my mom-friends. I did some research online about difference practices. I examined the type of care I wanted to get. How did I know what I wanted? Basically, I only had a vague idea at first.

Once I had time to think about it -- consider my goals -- I made a list:

  • I wanted a caregiver who would explain what was happening to my body and my baby, not just if everything was OK from week to week.
  • I wanted my care to be a dialogue. To not be told what to do, but to, instead, participate actively in my care.
  • I wanted someone who was OK with exercise during pregnancy, specifically running.
  • I wanted a caregiver who was all for natural, med-free birth, breastfeeding, etc. -- but who also assessed the situation at hand versus any ideal scenarios outlined.
  • I wanted the practice or office to be located near my home for convenience (and in case of emergency).
Long story short, there aren't 1,000,000 options in my area. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I ended up choosing a midwife in a OB/GYN practice after being referred by a friend. Bonus: The office is located in the hospital where I wanted to deliver. My midwife was not overly natural and not overly medical. I knew immediately upon meeting her that she would be the right fit. She took a lot of time to answer my questions, was extremely knowledgeable about natural birth and alternative pain management, etc., and didn't seem pushy.

I really didn't want someone to tell me either way how to do things. A sense of adaptability was key for me in feeling good about my choice.

I also had the option to switch to an OB if my pregnancy became complicated. In the event of something out-of-the-norm happening during my birth, an OB was on call. It helped put my mind at ease. So many births are non-eventful. But as I learned during my experience, things can turn frightening, fast.

As with everything else during pregnancy (and, as I'm finding out now, parenting), it's all about personal choice. Only you can know if it feels like a good fit, and you need to listen to your instincts. Mine somehow kicked into high gear when I found out I was pregnant.

Another note: It's all about the PERSON and not his or her title. If you find a caregiver OB, midwife, or WHATEVER, who is on the same page as you are -- that's more important than anything else. You need someone who will support your individual needs and desires. Ask friends, search online, visit offices . . . and then switch if you aren't happy. It's better to start on the right foot, so that first appointment is really important.

I could go on about this topic for days. But I thought I'd ask you moms out there: How did you choose your caregiver? Good experiences? Bad experiences? Please share!

Like what you just read? Stay connected! You can subscribe to the feed of these posts, chat with us on Twitter or Facebook. And you can always email us with your questions and comments.


Foto Friday

>> 6.22.2012

Those of you who follow us on Twitter know that I am, however super late to the game, addicted to Instagram. We've had some intense topics lately. So, I thought as a nice, lighthearted way to round out the week, I'd share some snapshots from what's going on in my day today.

1.) I think I mentioned that the city is replacing our street. It's been loud here all week, but got especially bad today. Thank goodness we have lots of summer plans. 2.) I was surprised last week when Ada's middle two top teeth started peeking through. They're both old news now, though. This morning I found yet another one poking through the gums for a grand total of five! 3.) I have been wearing the same outfit for the past three days. That is all. 4.) Another sign I need to do laundry: After Ada's second diaper change of the day (Stephen usually does the first before work), I realized we were down to one diaper. How does that happen when you have 22 of them? 5.) Stephen is officially home for the summer . . . but not without lots of books to read and work to complete before fall. We're still thrilled he's home! PARTY TIME! 6.) Ada had her first snack ten minutes ago. Cheerios. She fed them to herself. 7.) It was a huge success. I think we might try a bit more Baby-Led Weaning again after seeing her enthusiasm with the whole process. 8.) Scully (not Rivey -- who is in this photo with the socks) has this habit of finding matchless socks upstairs and bringing them downstairs. She meows really loudly and then offers them to us, almost as gifts. She does this at least three times a day. So weird!

What's going on in your world today? And what do you have planned for the weekend? We're cleaning, relaxing, and celebrating.

Like what you just read? Stay connected! You can subscribe to the feed of these posts, chat with us on Twitter or Facebook. And you can always email us with your questions and comments.

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