Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Catch-up

Well, I was in the middle of cleaning my living room, but my Hoover Hard Floor Cleaner decided to not work (the suction function isn't working so its leaving the water on the floor) and Nicky is taking a nap - that all means computer time for me! There is so much I need to catch you all up on since Thanksgiving. Luckily, Scott reviewed some of details from our Xmas festivities in his blog, so check that out. I also still have a few pictures and videos to download off my cell phone, so I guess Nicky will have to post those on his blog. Anyway, here's a quick review of the last month or so.
  • Fantasy Football: I finished the regular season in first place in my league with a record of 12-1 -- pretty damn good for my first season in fantasy I say! I went into the playoffs with some injuries and a bad feeling as I was playing the leading scorer in our league during the first round. Don't ask me why my opponent was in 4th place - he had the best team overall I think, and Scott and I agreed on this. I had called it early in the season when I told Scott I was gonna end up playing this particular team in the playoffs and I was gonna lose. Guess I'm psychic. I did lose (and horribly - my team just laid down and died that day) but won my next play-off game and finished 3rd in my league. My previous opponent in the play-offs went on to win the title. I did think it was cool that #2, #3, and #4 in our league were all women. Girl Power! Too bad the guy took the top spot:(

  • Nicky and I finally got over our 3 week long head cold from hell. It was pretty horrible for Nicky the first week with the congestion. He couldn't breathe at night which meant he couldn't sleep (which meant Mommy couldn't sleep very well) or nurse very well, the poor guy. After the first week, he felt better but the snotty nose and drainage went on for-ev-er. Finally, no post-nasal drip. It didn't keep us from getting outside a few times to get some fresh air and for Nicky to play in the snow. He liked watching it fall the first time he saw it, but he wasn't too amused with playing in it. I don't think he liked getting wet or cold (btw, he does have gloves but had taken them off before this picture to feel the snow)!

  • Despite not traveling and it being just the 3 of us for Xmas, there still seemed to be a lot of prep for the holiday season that I had to do. With Christmas shopping online and in-store, decorating the house in a semi-babyproofed way (Nicky still tried to destroy the Xmas tree), doing a little baking, taking Nicky to some of the Christmas activities around town, and just catching up with normal household stuff after being sick, I was so dang busy.

  • Nicky and I had a wonderful time at a friend's house last weekend for a bake and play visit. My friend, Amanda, invited us over so Nicky could play with her 16-month-old, Lexi, and Lexi's 15-month-old cousin, Aiden, and I settled in for some holiday baking along side the hostess, her sisters, cousin, and mom. We had so much fun! Her family was so warm and welcoming. We both had a great time and stayed all day - and night! There was sleet and blowing snow going on all day, so we ended up staying the night.

  • I took Nicky to the Union Station here in KC to see their huge toy train display and to let Nicky ride on the kids' train. He loved the train display!! He just giggled with delight and ran around looking at different parts of it. On the kids train, I had to keep reminding him not to stand up:) We even made the local paper's website - the roaming photographer captured us exploring (see here) and Nicky on the train (see here). We then went to Crown Center so I could get a few last gifts and Nicky could see Santa. Nicky was a bit wary of Santa so I sat with him. Last thing I want to do is have him wailing in the picture and contribute to a fear of Santa in the child.

  • Nicky has been attempting to go down from 2 naps a day to just one. He had it down for a week but then Christmas excitement and activities threw him off and he ended up needing 2 naps for a few days (including Christmas eve which made mass a joyful experience since Nicky was a total crab). Now, he's back to 1 nap which is nice. It gives me more flexibility in planning our days and that one nap is for a longer period of time so I try to get some things done while he naps. Plus, he sleeps a little longer at night and goes to bed a bit earlier - nice bonuses for us.

  • Christmas went well and I really enjoyed it. Like I mentioned, we went to Xmas Eve mass again this year at 6:30pm. Nicky was a crab and really needed a second nap so I spent the majority of the mass in the crying room with him. He was very active and trying to fight sleep. Luckily, there was another active 2 year old in there so I didn't feel so bad. By the time we got home and ate our Xmas Eve meal (the traditional lasagna:), Nicky was asleep so he didn't get to open presents that night:( However, the next morning, he went at it. He ripped some paper, examined his new toys, and played in the boxes everything came in. We gifted the kiddo some hooded animal bath towels (kid-sized to replace his baby ones), some alphabet magnets for the refrigerator, a cheap boombox to replace the one in his room that died, a bunch of board books, some wooden musical percussion instruments (so he can be a drummer like his daddy), and a bunch of wooden cars from the dollar bin at Target in his stocking. He also got a hilarious Tickle Me Extreme Cookie Monster from his Godmother, Tiffanni, which he was wary of at first, but has since warmed up to. His other favorite toy is a toy laptop of clothes from his Grandpa & Grandma Huizenga that he likes to pound, I mean type on. Along with the clothes, books, more toy cars, and money that he received from his other grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, and great aunts and uncles, I'd say he did okay! I am enjoying my new PJ's, silicone bakeware, watch, bluetooth headset, and book. Scott has made airpopped popcorn almost every day since Christmas when he received his airpopper. He is experimenting with different types of popcorn and toppings.

  • We did absolutely nothing to celebrate New Year's Eve since Scott was getting a head cold and didn't feel like having any alcohol. Dang winter cold season:( I hope we can get our immune systems back in line so this trend won't keep going this winter.

Anyway, happy new year to you all! I hope that 2008 brings us all health, love, and joy.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Gotta Remember This

A friend of mine and I were just chatting over instant messenger, talking about parenting and stuff. She passed on the following advice that another AP (attachment parenting) mom had given on a message board (I believe online (see blue text below). This lady is so right!!! So why do I always feel myself doing what she says not to do? I think its a combination of insecurity over worrying that others will think badly of me and my parenting, and once I get over that, it is driven by a want to inform others of alternative information and ways of doing things. I don't expect or need them to be open to the info, but just in case they are, I feel selfish keeping the information to myself. You see, I would have loved to have had access to this same information before I became a parent so I wouldn't have had to search so dang hard to find some of it and I wouldn't have felt so alone in practicing it. Also, how can I hope that certain things might change about how our society views parenting and kids and such if I'm not willing to do something about it? I guess its the activist in me or something. Problem is that I'd love to have my cake and eat it too - share the information but not have any negative reactions on how I personally choose to parent. I understand if others don't agree or subscribe to the information I pass on, but it doesn't feel so good when I personally feel attacked, belittled, or disrespected for how I parent. I know, I can't have it both ways! I think its just the growing pains of being a new parent and finding parenting to be so very complicated and interesting. I think its the most important thing a person can ever do so of course I feel very passionate about it, and watch out world when I feel passionate about something!

Anyway, read on for the very sage advice I mentioned. In the future if I ever ask you if you'd like some bean dip, you'll get the joke:) :

It's something I've learned in my years of parenting using alternative ideas. The specifics may change, but the principal doesn't. When setting boundaries, people (often moms) typically confuse setting the boundary with trying to convince the other person about how right they are in needing to set the boundary. In setting boundaries, we don't need to convince the other person we are right and they don't have to agree about the boundary. We just need to be prepared to enforce the boundary, at any cost, using progressively more firm responses (if need be).

I've found new moms often confuse boundaries and trying to convince someone of the *rightness* of their choices.

The best thing is to assert your boundary and *not* try to defend your choice.

Some family and close friend help....

First, I learned early on that most of my choices were on a "need to know" basis. Most people don't "need to know". If asked "how is the baby sleeping?" Answer: Great! Thanks for asking! Want some bean dip?”

"Are you sure you should be picking her up every time she cries?" Answer: "Yes! Thank you! Want some bean dip?"

"When do you plan to wean" Answer: "When she's ready. Thanks! Want some bean dip?"

Now, with some people you will need to set *firm* boundaries. They will need to be backed up with action (like hanging up, leaving the room or even the event) if it's a pattern of intrusion, for example. Practice kind but firm responses:

"I know you love us and the baby. We are so glad. Our sleeping choices have been researched and made. I will not discuss it again"

Also, don't confuse setting boundaries with trying to convince someone of the rightness of your choices. New AP (attachment parenting) moms often struggle with this. The boundary is that no one else has a right to tell you how to parent and create a hostile environment. You set boundaries by doing the above. Where new moms often invite problems is by citing authors, studies and sites to "defend" themselves. Each time you do so, you create more time for discussion and rebuttal and send the message that your decisions are up for debate. Don't defend your choices beyond generalities, and then only once or twice. "The doctor is in support of our choices. Want some bean dip?"

Finally, look them in the eye and say simply "I want us to have a good relationship. I want you to *enjoy* the baby. I'll parent the baby - you enjoy them. Let's not discuss this anymore. If you bring it up, I will leave the room."

p.s. Just a head's up: since I view this blog as kind of like a diary and as a place for me to vent, I think I'll keep posting my counter-culture parenting stuff here, if nothing else than to keep a record for myself and share with other like-minded individuals. If you don't agree with this type of information, cool, just don't read it. I have no interest in getting into a debate with you or watching you roll your eyes every time you reference something from my blog when I see you in person. But in real life, I vow to take the more "need to know" approach and keep my business to myself. Anyone want some bean dip?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fantasy Football and Other Random Thoughts

Hello everyone. Holy c*#p, Nicky turns 1 tomorrow! Where did the year go? My baby is gonna be a toddler. Wow. I could go on, but you get the gist.

Fantasy football. Why haven't I been talking about it you ask? Because I didn't want to jinx myself. No, I didn't suck it up:) I actually have been doing very well. I have a record of 9-0!!! I am the only undefeated team left in our league. So, aren't I jinxing myself now by talking about it now? Well, I might be, but with my win this last week, I have clinched a spot in the playoffs!! Yeah for me! Actually, my brother, Dusty, has helped me with lineups and such quite a bit so he deserve a bunch of the credit. Anyway, if I end up losing in the first round of the playoffs like Scott & I have been joking might happen, it is all this dang blog's fault! Keep your fingers crossed for me though. I am also very happy with the fact that the top 4 players in our 12 person league are female:) Go girls! I still think fantasy football is evil though. That has not changed. But, I might make some money out of this evil pastime. At least I hope so!

I am busy this week with getting ready for Nicky's party on Sunday. I am cleaning and running errands, plus Nicky has a doctor appointment tomorrow. Scott & I still need to buy him some presents. We do have one so far. Nicky's already got a few cards and presents in the mail. Thanks UPS, Fedex, and USPS men! Nicky's party is going to have a monkey theme. I just got all the supplies from Oriental Trading Company in the mail today (Edit - I thought I got that package today but it was actually another birthday present for Nicky. Turns out my party supplies might not get here in time or so says the tracking information from the company. Oh man, I'm gonna be pissed off it that happens!! Let's hope they are wrong). What's with all the monkey stuff you ask? Yes, he was a monkey for Halloween, too. Well, he is a crazy little monkey and we call him that all the time, so why not? Plus I found a recipe online for a sorta healthier banana birthday cake recipe that looks like a monkey head! So cute. I'll post pics of my version of it on Sunday. My only issue now is that I don't want to do chocolate frosting to give the monkey brown fur because chocolate is not baby-friendly and one of my friends and her kids are allergic to chocolate. So, instead, I think I'll make the monkey orange or purple. Haven't decided which yet. Only problem there is I don't want to pump the kids full of a bunch of artificial food coloring. Oh well, I'll just use a little bit or maybe look for some more natural stuff. We'll see what I find. Hope it turns out. I haven't planned a party in a while.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sesame Street - Buffy Nurses Cody

What a sweet clip from Sesame Street circa 1977 (the year I was born). Wish there were more positive images of breastfeeding on TV today. Sigh.

UPDATE: This video was taken off YouTube for awhile for some reason, but now it is back:)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Who Does Nicky Look Like More?

So, with the help of modern face detection and analysis software, we have confirmation of what I already knew: Nicky looks like both Scott and me, but me just a little more:) Heh!!

Monday, October 08, 2007

For the Love of Breastfeeding

As Nicky approaches 1 year old, I am bracing myself for the likelihood that I will receive more questions from strangers and loved ones as to how long I plan to continue breastfeeding him. My answer is simple - I don't know! I don't have any concrete plans or a set date in mind.

My initial goal after Nicky was born and our breastfeeding relationship was firmly established was to make it until he was at least one year old. One reason for this initial goal was that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that, "exclusive breastfeeding is advocated for approximately the first 6 months after birth and continuation of breastfeeding for at least 12 months and thereafter for as long as mutually desired." Notice the "and thereafter for as long as mutually desired" part. In addition, the World Health Organization says, "infants should be exclusively breastfed(1) for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health (2). Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production." I had always hoped that I could make it past the one year mark, but it is good to set smaller mini goals that make up a bigger goal you have in mind. So, starting out, I knew that breastfeeding was a good thing for my baby for the first year especially, but I also realized how challenging it can be so I didn't want to get too far ahead of myself.

Now that Nicky is one month away from being a toddler, he is starting to eat more solid foods, but breast milk will still continue to serve a role in his nutrition, overall health, and his emotional development as well as our relationship. Unfortunately, I think that extended breastfeeding is something that many people in this country don't understand and hence, don't support. For example, the other day at the mall, the saleslady asked how long I was going to keep breastfeeding. Upon hearing my lack a definite date, she said, "Oh, you're not going to nurse him until he's 3 are you? I find that just vulgar!" She knew that people in other parts of the world nurse until their kids are older, in some places until the child is 7 years old, but that didn't change her opinion. She said, "but that's not what we do in the United States." She's right on that for the most part, and I ended the conversation by acknowledging that we each have a right to our own opinions. The conversation made me a little sad (although I held no hard feelings - I made a purchase from that saleslady) because I think it hinted at the main thing that I think interferes with breastfeeding attitudes in the U.S. and that is our sexualization of breasts. It is like we have forgotten that the primary purpose of breasts is to feed children. We have focused on breasts as sexual objects so much that it is okay for women to walk around with low-cut tops or tiny bikinis, but many people still look down on breastfeeding in public, even if it is done discretely. Seriously, except for the occasional glimpse of nipple if the baby pops off the breast unexpectedly, you are going to see more skin from one of those before mentioned low-cut tops then you are from a breastfeeding mother. The baby generally lies against the mother's abdomen and covers the bottom of the breast and most mothers pull their shirts up just over the nipple so the top of the breast is still covered. The only thing that is exposed is maybe part of the mom's side. Whoa, so risque!

Another reason I think extended breastfeeding is looked down upon in our country is because of our focus on independence. I have stated before that I think we push our kids to be independent many times before they are ready to do so, and I think it may backfire and actually lead to behavior and attachment problems in children as well as some emotional problems in adults. In essence, pushing children to be independent before they are ready to be can make them anxious and clingy and result in less mature independence, not more. And I have support: Dr. Waletzky, a female psychiatrist, commented in her article that, "ironically, early forced weaning may actually hinder emotional development and increase dependency needs." This opinion is not a new one (her article is from 1979) and it has been supported by other, more recent research.

Plus, there are benefits to breastfeeding past one year. This is from a La Leche League article:

Research shows that babies may benefit from nursing beyond one year. One benefit is nutrition. Research has shown that second-year milk is very similar to the first-year milk nutritionally (Victora, 1984). Even after two years or more it continues to be a valuable source of protein, fat, calcium, and vitamins (Jelliffe and Jelliffe, 1978).

A second benefit is immunity to disease. The immunities in breast milk have been shown to increase in concentration as the baby gets older and nurses less, so older babies still receive lots of immune factors (Goldman et al, 1983). A study from Bangladesh provides a dramatic demonstration of the effect these immunities can have. In this deprived environment, it was found that weaning children eighteen to thirty-six months old doubled their risk of death (Briend et al, 1988). This effect was attributed mostly to breast milk's immune factors, although nutrition was probably important as well. Of course in developed countries weaning is not a matter or life and death, but continued breastfeeding may mean fewer trips to the doctor's office.

A third health benefit is avoidance of allergies. It is well documented that the later that cow's milk and other common allergens are introduced into the diet of a baby, the less likelihood there is of allergic reactions (Savilahti, 1987).

It goes on to comment on psychological benefits:

Any mother who has nursed an older baby knows the tenderness and feelings of closeness generated by nursing a little one who is old enough to talk about it. We don't need medical journals to tell us it's rewarding for mother and baby. But has anything been documented and published on these benefits?

One paper written by a female psychiatrist (Waletzky, 1979) recommends natural weaning. She refers to early forced weanings as emotionally traumatic for the baby and states that most weaning recommendations given by pediatricians are "based on personal feelings and prejudices and not medical documentation." In her words: "Suddenly and prematurely taking from a baby the most emotionally satisfying experience he has ever known could . . . lead to significant immediate and long-term distress.... Such an approach considers breastfeeding only as a source of milk and fails to understand its significance as a means of comfort, pleasure, and communication for both mother and baby." Well said! Yet Waletzky's paper is based on her impressions from her psychiatric practice, not on research.

One study that dealt specifically with babies nursed longer than a year showed a significant link between the duration of nursing and mothers' and teachers' ratings of social adjustment in six- to eight-year-old children (Ferguson et al, 1987). In the words of the researchers, "There are statistically significant tendencies for conduct disorder scores to decline with increasing duration of breastfeeding." The authors were cautious in their interpretation of the results, saying that they did not control for differences in mother-child interaction between breastfeeders and bottle-feeders, which could account for the differences they saw in later social adjustment. But it makes no real difference whether the improvement in later child behavior is due to breastfeeding per se, or the maternal behaviors that are typical of women who are open to nursing their babies for a year or more. The outcome is what matters; the children who nursed the longest were perceived later to be those with the best social adjustment. The link between duration of breastfeeding and social adjustment was stronger and more consistent when the children's behavior was rated by mothers rather than by teachers (although for both rating groups the association was significant), suggesting that mothers who breastfeed for longer periods may tend to view their children in a more positive light than mothers who do not.

It was not surprising to ready positive extended breastfeeding information from La Leche League, but I was happily surprised to read the following on my weekly ivillage Pregnancy & Parenting email (a fairly mainstream website):

As she nears her first birthday, you may be thinking of weaning her from the breast. If you are both enjoying your nursing relationship, consider continuing for another few weeks or even months. The benefits of breastfeeding continue far past her first birthday. Actually, the worldwide average age of weaning is between three and four years of age. Not only will she continue to receive a very beneficial boost of infection-fighting antibodies each time she nurses, she’ll continue to enjoy a wonderfully nurturing time with Mom. The act of sucking will continue to be quite comforting for her. The show of comfort and support you exhibit each time you offer her your breast will encourage her to grow into a confident, self-respecting child. Enjoy this relationship as long as possible!

So, there you have it folks. My two cents on extended breastfeeding.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hope I Don't Make a Fool Out of Myself

In approximately an hour, I will be taking part in my first draft for fantasy football. And remotely even, via instant messenger. Scott is running a league this year and I have joined. He decided that he couldn't wait to have the draft until I got back into town because opening day is coming soon and with this weekend being a holiday weekend, he just couldn't wait any longer.

I will be managing my team by myself; Scott has his own team. I feel like I still don't know what in the hell I am doing even though I have been reading up and looking at player ranking lists for over a week. Luckily, my brother Dusty is going to help me out and advise me so I don't make any super bonehead moves. As many of you know, I really enjoy watching sports, but football is not my favorite. Its probably the sport I know the least about even though both of my brothers played it in high school. And I have spoken before about how screwed up I think fantasy football is (it is not right to be cheering for one team's defense at the same time that you are cheering for the opposing team's quarterback or whatever).

So, why am I doing fantasy football then, you ask? Basically, I am hoping it will help me get into football more, learn more about the game, and enjoy watching it with my husband since he is basically going to take over the tv and computer every Sunday, Monday and Thursday anyway. The cool thing is that I think there are as many women in our league as men. Here's hoping I don't regret this...

Why I Don't Agree With Cry-It-Out

Okay, so I realize I am having an on-my-soapbox kind of day. So be it. Here is an article that explains why I don't believe babies should be sleep-trained by being left to cry-it-out. If you disagree and/or have done this with your child, I will still love you and talk to you, but now you will know why I disagree with you:)

'Crying it out' may damage baby's brain

Dr. Stephen Juan
National Post
Monday, October 30, 2006


Research suggests that allowing a baby to "cry it out" can cause brain damage. Some experts warn that allowing a baby to "cry it out" causes extreme distress to the baby. And such extreme distress in a newborn has been found to block the full development of certain areas of the brain and causes the brain to produce extra amounts of cortisol, which can be harmful.
According to a University of Pittsburgh study by Dr. M. DeBellis and seven colleagues, published in Biological Psychiatry in 2004, children who suffer early trauma generally develop smaller brains.

A Harvard University study by Dr. M. Teicher and five colleagues, also published in Biological Psychiatry, claims that the brain areas affected by severe distress are the limbic system, the left hemisphere, and the corpus callosum. Additional areas that may be involved are the hippocampus and the orbitofrontal cortex.

The Science of Parenting by Dr. Margot Sunderland (Dorling Kindersley, 2006) points out some of the brain damaging effects that can occur if parents fail to properly nurture a baby -- and that means not allowing them to "cry it out." Dr. Sunderland, the director of education and training at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London, draws upon work in neuroscience to come to her conclusions and recommendations about parenting practice.

In the first parenting book to link parent behaviour with infant brain development, Dr. Sunderland describes how the infant brain is still being "sculpted" after birth. Parents have a major role in this brain "sculpting" process.

Dr. Sunderland argues that it is crucial that parents meet the reasonable emotional needs of the infant. This is helped along by providing a continuously emotionally nurturant environment for the infant.

Allowing a baby to "cry it out" when they are upset will probably be regarded as child abuse by future generations.

- Stephen Juan, PhD, is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. E-mail your questions to
© National Post 2006

Info on Spoiling

Here's the information on the spoiling theory I promised a while back:

A Parenting Myth: Can I Spoil My Baby?
Danielle Z. Kassow, Ph.D.

One question we hear frequently from parents is, “If I pick my baby up every time he cries, won’t I spoil him? After reviewing a number of parenting books and research articles, I found that everywhere I turned the answer was the same. No, you cannot spoil your baby! According to child development expert Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, it’s impossible to spoil a child in the first year of life.

Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence that babies can’t be spoiled, a national survey shows that many parents still subscribe to this parenting myth. According to this survey, 57% of parents of young children (aged 0 to 6), 64% of grandparents, and 62% of future parents believe that a six-month old infant is not too young to be spoiled. However, contrary to this pervasive parenting myth, child development research shows that responding to an infant’s needs actually helps to create children who are emotionally secure and independent.

How did this spoiling myth come about?

The spoiling myth seems to have begun in the 1920’s, when experts began telling parents that they should refrain from picking up their babies every time they cried. These experts believed that if parents were “too responsive” to infant crying, the child would become clingy and dependent. But there was no scientific evidence for this theory. It was based on opinion, not fact, and subsequent research has proved the myth wrong. However, despite new information, it seems that the spoiling myth has been handed down from generation to generation and still influences many parents today.

What does research tell us about responding to infant crying?

When your infant cries she is trying to tell you that she needs something—food, a loving touch, a diaper change, or perhaps she does not feel well. Crying is her way of communicating with you. When you consistently respond to her crying and meet her needs in a positive manner, she learns that you are a reliable and safe source of comfort that she can trust. She feels connected to you and loved. This is especially important during the first year of life. Such positive parental response helps children feel emotionally secure, tolerate separation from their parents when they are older, and learn to trust themselves. It builds their confidence, assures children that parents and other caregivers will be there for them during times of need, and eventually helps infants learn how to soothe themselves, resulting in less crying and fussiness.

As your baby grows into a toddler, the security he felt when his cries were responded to as an infant increases his confidence in trying new things, because he knows that he can come back to you for safety and comfort when he needs it. These interactions help to strengthen the parent-child bond, or attachment, a life-long emotional connection between you and your child that helps him grow into an independent person and achieve success in school and in life.

You know your baby’s needs better than anyone. Ignore well-meaning advice from those who subscribe to the spoiling myth and trust your instincts when your baby cries. Pick her up and reassure her that you are there to help her learn how to manage her world. You may not always be able to decipher exactly what your baby’s cries are trying to tell you, but, with time, practice, and patience you will become an expert. And knowing that someone cares enough to figure out and respond to her needs will give her the foundation she needs to explore and grow.

Brazelton, T. B. (1992). Touchpoints birth to 3: Your child's emotional and behavioral development. New York: Perseus Publishing.

DYG Inc. (2000). What grown-ups understand about child development: A national benchmark survey: Civitas Initiative, Zero To Three, BRIO Corporation.

Sears, W., & Sears, M. (1993). The baby book: Everything you need to know about your baby--from birth to age two (1st ed.). Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Baby Food - What's the Point?

So, Nicky has been eating solid foods for about 3 months now. Its going just fine, although if I was listening to what some of the baby food companies, baby food cookbooks, or even some of the general baby books say about how to do it, I'd be going crazy. Why, because like a lot of babies, he really doesn't like pureed foods. At first, he would take anything I would give him because he was so eager to imitate what he was his parents doing. But as he gained confidence, he communicated that he preferred chunky foods, or even better, soft pieces of food that he could pick up and gnaw on himself. I have to laugh because I bought 3 (yes, 3!) baby food cookbooks that are very nice and did have great recipes for pureed baby food but I really am finding them useless now. I am not going to force soupy food down my baby's throat from a spoon when he is much happier sucking on a nice piece of soft peach.

So, for now, I am just giving him large chunks of soft fruits and vegetables to gnaw on, which he does very well with even though he doesn't have any teeth yet. Sometimes I even share a piece of fruit that I am having with him - I just peel the skin off one side and let him suck on that side while I eat off the other side. Its also helping him start to learn how to take turns:) Anyway, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this way of feeding a baby, called baby led feeding, below is a nice article about it. Nicky will be sticking fruits and vegetables mainly with a bit of meat thrown in (he is just starting to try that) and a limited amount of grains. He occasionally gets some Cheerios or puffed rice cereal to munch on, but I am trying not to give him too much of that since babies really don't need all the starches (and possibly can't even digest) in cereals, breads, and pastas. Since I am trying, more and more, to feed him what Scott and I are eating, he will likely get some though.

Still no dairy products for him, though. He has an allergy to cow's milk products. Its actually a quite common allergy that lots of people have but might not realize. Its an allergy to a protein specifically in cow's milk, not lactose intolerance, so he has no problems with mom's milk (as long as I haven't ingested milk). Ever since I eliminated milk from my diet about 4 months ago, his tummy issues have gotten much better. I've added back in some cheese and yogurt because they are easier to digest and have much less of the protein. Also, do you realize how hard it is to completely eliminate dairy from your diet? Its really hard! There is whey or other milk product in nearly every food. Its crazy. I think I most likely have the same allergy, too. I tried a few sips of milk today for the first time and I got all stuffed up, mucousy in my throat, and a tummy ache. Yuck! I think I'll go back to drinking mainly water. Don't worry - I eat plenty of calcium rich or fortified foods to make sure I get my calcium:)

Anyway, here's that article on child led feeding:

Guidelines for implementing a baby-led approach to the introduction of solid food


Implementing a baby-led approach to the introduction of solid food requires an understanding of what makes this approach logical and safe. The first section below explains the rationale and underlying principles which support this method of introducing solids and the last section, DO's and DON'Ts, provides a quick reference list of the key points. Adherence to these guidelines will maximise the chance that both the baby and his parents will enjoy the transition to solid feeding, and will help to ensure the baby's wellbeing.

Normal, healthy, breastfed babies appear to be quite capable, with the right sort of support from their parents, of managing their own introduction to solid food. However, parents of babies who were born preterm (i.e. before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or who have any medical condition that might affect their ability to handle food safely or to digest a range of food should seek advice from their health advisers before embarking on this method of introducing solids. Parents who are bottle feeding their baby should also consult with their health advisers, for the reasons outlined below.

Breastfeeding as the basis for self-feeding

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding is the ideal preparation for self-feeding with solid food. Breastfeeding babies feed at their own pace – indeed, it is impossible to force them to do anything else! They also balance their own intake of food and fluid by choosing how long each feed should last. Breastfeeding is essentially self-feeding, with the baby in control of the process. And, because breast milk changes in flavour according to the mother's diet, breastfeeding prepares the baby for other tastes.

It is not clear whether a baby-led approach to the introduction of solids is appropriate for babies who are bottle fed; more research is needed to establish this, since bottle-feeding seems to be more mother-led. It is difficult to predict how bottle-fed babies will manage solids, so we need to be careful. However, as long as care is taken to ensure adequate fluid intake (see below), there would be nothing inherently wrong in adopting this approach. It is recommended that parents of babies who are being bottle (formula) fed discuss the matter fully with their health advisers if they wish to use this method.

Understanding the babies motivation

This approach to introducing solids offers a baby the opportunity to discover what other food has to offer as part of finding out about the world around him. It utilises his desire to explore and experiment, and to mimic the activities of others. Allowing the baby to set the pace of each meal, and maintaining an emphasis on play and exploration rather than on eating, enables the transition to solid food to take place as naturally as possible. This is because it appears that what motivates babies to make this transition is curiosity, not hunger.

There is no reason for mealtimes to coincide with the babies milk feeds. Indeed, thinking of (milk) feeding and the introduction to solid food as two separate activities will allow a more relaxed approach and make the experience more enjoyable for both parents and child.

Won't he choke?

Many parents worry about babies choking. However, there is good reason to believe that babies are at less risk of choking if they are in control of what goes into their mouth than if they are spoon fed. This is because babies are not capable of intentionally moving food to the back of their throats until after they have learnt to chew. And they do not develop the ability to chew until after they have developed the ability to reach out and grab things. Thus, a very young baby cannot easily put himself at risk because he cannot get the food into his mouth in the first place. On the other hand, the action used to suck food off a spoon tends to take the food straight to the back of the mouth, causing the baby to gag. This means that spoon feeding has its own potential to lead to choking – and makes the giving of lumpy food with a spoon especially dangerous.

It appears that a babies general development keeps pace with the development of his ability to manage food in his mouth, and to digest it. A baby who is struggling to get food into his mouth is probably not quite ready to eat it. It is important to resist the temptation to 'help' the baby in these circumstances since his own developmental abilities are what ensure that the transition to solid feeding takes place at the right pace for him. This process is also what keeps him safe from choking on small pieces of food, since, if he is not yet able to pick up small objects using his finger and thumb, he will not be able to get, for example, a pea or a raisin into his mouth. Once he is able to do this, he will have developed the necessary oral skills to deal with it. Putting food into a babies mouth for him overrides this natural protection and increases the risk of choking.

Tipping a baby backwards or lying him down to feed him solid food is dangerous. A baby who is handling food should always be supported in an upright position. In this way, food which he is not yet able to swallow, or does not wish to swallow, will fall forward out of his mouth, not backwards into his throat.

Adopting a baby-led approach doesn't mean abandoning all the common sense rules of safety. While it is very unlikely that a young baby would succeed in picking up a peanut, for example, accidents can and will happen on rare occasions – however the baby is fed. Rules of safety which apply in other play situations should therefore be adhered to when eating is in progress.

Won't he start eating solids too early?

The babies who participated in the research were allowed to begin at four months. But they were not able to feed themselves before six months. Some of the younger babies picked food up and took it to their mouths; some even chewed it, but none swallowed it. Their own development decided for them when the time was right. Part of the reason for this study was to show (based on a theory of self-feeding) that babies are not ready for solid food before six months. It seems that we have spent all these years working out that six months is the right age and babies have known it all along!

It seems reasonable to predict that if parents choose to provide babies with the opportunity to pick up and eat solid food from birth they will still not be able to do it until around six months. The principle is the same as putting a newborn baby on the floor to play: he is being provided with the opportunity to walk but will not do so until about one year – because his own development stops him. But: everything depends on the baby being in control. Food must not be put into his mouth for him. Since it is very tempting to do this, it is probably safer to recommend that babies should not be given the opportunity to eat solid food before six months.

Ensuring good nutrition

Babies who are allowed to feed themselves tend to accept a wide range of food. This is probably because they have more than just the flavour of the food to focus on – they are experiencing texture, colour, size and shape as well. In addition, giving babies food separately, or in a way which enables them to separate them for themselves, enables them to learn about a range of different flavours and textures. And allowing them to leave anything they appear not to like will encourage them to be prepared to try new things.

The opposite appears to be true for a baby who is spoon fed, especially if food are presented as purees containing more than one flavour. In this situation the baby has no way of isolating any flavour he doesn’t like and will tend to reject the whole meal. Since his parents can only guess which food is causing the problem, they risk more food rejection until they track it down. In the meantime, the baby learns not to trust food and the range of food he will accept can become severely limited. This can lead to his overall nutrition being compromised. Offering food separately, but together on the same plate, allows the baby to make his own decisions about mixing flavours.

General principles of good nutrition for children apply equally to young babies who are managing their own introduction to solid food. Thus, 'fast food' and food with added sugar and salt should be avoided. However, once a baby is over six months old there is no need, unless there is a family history of allergy or a known or suspected digestive disorder, to otherwise restrict the food that the baby can be offered. Fruit and vegetables are ideal, with harder food cooked lightly so that they are soft enough to be chewed. At first, meat is best offered as a large piece, to be explored and sucked. Once the baby can manage to pick up and release fistfuls of food, minced meat works well. Note: babies do not need teeth to bite and chew – gums do very well!

There is no need to cut food into mouth-sized pieces. Indeed, this will make it difficult for a young baby to handle. A good guide to the size and shape needed is the size of the babies fist, with one important extra factor to bear in mind: Young babies cannot open their fist on purpose to release things. This means that they do best with food that is chip-shaped or has a built-in 'handle' (like the stalk of a piece of broccoli). They can then chew the bit that is sticking out of their fist and drop the rest later – usually while reaching for the next interesting-looking piece. As their skills improve, less food will be dropped.

What about drinks?

The fat content of breast milk increases during a feed. A breastfed baby recognises this change and uses it to control his fluid intake. If he wants a drink, he will tend to feed for a short time, perhaps from both breasts, whereas if he is hungry he will feed for longer. This is why breastfed babies who are allowed to feed whenever they want for as long as they want do not need any other drinks, even in hot weather.

This principle can work throughout the period of changeover to family meals if the baby continues to be allowed to breastfeed 'on demand'. A cup of water can be offered with meals as part of the opportunity for exploration but there is no need to be concerned if he doesn’t want to drink any.

Continuing to feed 'on demand' will have the added advantage of allowing the baby to decide how and when to cut down his breast milk intake. As he eats more at shared mealtimes, so he will 'forget' to ask for some of his breastfeeds, or will feed for less long at a time. There is no need for his mother to make these decisions.

Formula milk has the same consistency throughout the feed. If the formula-fed baby were to be given milk as his only fluid he would be at risk either of not getting enough fluid, or of consuming too many calories, or both. Parents who are implementing this method of introducing solids with a bottle-fed baby should therefore offer their baby water at regular intervals once he is seen to be eating small quantities of food.

DOs and DON'Ts for baby-led introduction of solids

  • DO offer your baby the chance to participate whenever anyone else in the family is eating. You can begin to do this towards the end of the sixth month. Around this time most babies start showing an interest in watching you.
  • DO ensure that your baby is supported in an upright position while he is experimenting with food. In the early days you can sit him on your lap, facing the table. Once he is beginning to show skill at picking food up he will almost certainly be mature enough to sit, with minimal support, in a high chair.
  • DO start by offering food that is baby-fist-sized, preferably chip-shaped. As far as possible, and provided they are suitable, offer him the same food that you are eating, so that he feels part of what is going on.
  • DO offer a variety of food. There is no need to limit your babies experience with food any more than you do with toys.
  • DON'T hurry your baby. Allow him to direct the pace of what he is doing. In particular, don't be tempted to 'help' him by putting things in his mouth for him.
  • DON'T expect your baby to eat any food on the first few occasions. Once he has discovered that these new toys taste nice, he will begin to chew and, later, swallow.
  • DON'T expect a young baby to eat all of each piece of food – remember that he won't yet have developed the ability to get at food inside his fist.
  • DO try rejected food again later – babies often change their minds and later accept food they originally turned down.
  • DON'T leave your baby on his own with food.
  • DON'T offer food that presents an obvious danger, such as peanuts.
  • DON'T offer 'fast' food, ready meals or food that has added salt or sugar.
  • DO offer water from a cup but don't worry if your baby shows no interest in it. A breastfed baby is likely to continue for some time to get all the drink he needs from the breast.
  • DO be prepared for the mess! A clean plastic sheet on the floor under the high chair will protect your carpet and make cleaning up easier. It will also enable you to give back food that has been dropped, so that less is wasted. (You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your baby learns to eat with very little mess!)
  • DO continue to allow your baby to breastfeed whenever he wants, for as long as he wants. Expect his feeding pattern to change as he starts to eat more of the other food.
  • If you are bottle feeding, or have a family history of food intolerance, allergy or digestive problems, DO discuss this method of introducing solids with your health advisers before embarking on it.
  • Finally, DO enjoy watching your baby learn about food – and develop his skills with his hands and mouth in the process!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Baby Avery Has Arrived!!

I am so very excited! One of my best friends in the whole world, Tiffanni Wax, just gave birth to her first baby this weekend. Avery AnnElla Wax arrived Saturday evening, the 21st (on her due date!) weighing in at 6 pounds 11 ounces and measuring 18.5 inches long. I am so excited to meet the little one and share the amazing world of motherhood with Tiffanni. She and I have been best friends since 2nd grade, and there aren't many people who know me better than she does. She is such a wonderful, loyal friend so of course I am just thrilled for her and her husband, Scott (yes, we both married guys named Scott:). I wish I could meet Avery right now! But alas, that will have to wait. But only for a few weeks! Yes, thanks to the charity of my parents (Grandma Kathy wants to see Nicky again), Nicky and I will be making another trip up to North Dakota in August. We will be flying this time so hopefully Nicky will do well on his first flight. We will be gone for 2 whole weeks - such a long time to be away from Dada, I know, but it will give us a bunch of time to relax and visit with friends and family that we didn't get on our quick trip to ND in June. Nicky and I will also be stopping for the first part of the trip in Glenburn to see the Huizengas. Then it is off to Regent to see the Laubs and meet baby Avery. So all of you up in North Dakota, mark your calendars for August 16th - August 30th and let me know when you might be available for a visit. I can't wait!!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nicky's Portraits

Nicky and I had a very busy day today. First, he had his six month portraits taken today. He did so well! He was very smiley and cooperative. Enjoy the photo below (don't worry - I bought the rights to it so I'm not ripping it off!). If you want to see the rest of the portraits, click on this link: portraits.

After portraits, we ran some errands around town in preparation for our trip to North Dakota later this week. At USABaby, I found a cool pacifier that closes when you drop it on the floor (great idea) as well as a teether that looks like a raspberry with a pacifier-type handle. Then we renewed one of my library books. When we went to Walmart, things took a turn for the worse. First, I discovered that I'd left my wallet in the car when I went to buy some Claritin at the pharmacy. I had to leave the cart there and haul Nicky outside again. When, we got to the car, I was horrified to find out that Nicky had had a major blowout and pooped out the back of his diaper. It was not only all over him and his clothes but also his car seat! After cleaning him up in the car, we were about to go back to the store to finish our shopping, but wait... Where were my keys? They were in the back-seat and we were locked out! In all the yucky poopy excitement, they had fallen out of my pocket. So I called Scott since it was almost 5pm by this time. He agreed to come bail me out. In the mean time, we went back into the store to finish the shopping But wait - now Nicky was hungry so I took him to the restroom to feed him. That was fine, but when I stood up, the toilet flushed automatically and quite loudly. It scared the bejesus out of poor tired Nicky. He was terrified (he generally hates loud noises) and screamed his head off. I was able to talk him down, and we went back to shopping again. Nicky fell asleep as I bemoaned what a horrible shopping experience it had been. On top of all of the unfortunate incidents that had occurred, I also could not find a number of items that were on my list. Scott arrived just as we were finishing up with check-out and we were finally able to go home. Ow, what a day.

Now, all I can think about it everything I have to do tomorrow before we leave Thursday morning. How do you prepare for a 9 hour car ride with a 6-month-old? Is that even doable? We'll see. We have a bit of flexibility in our schedule. Tomorrow I need to do laundry, pack, finish scanning some family photos so I can bring them back to my mom, and run a few more errands. We'll see if I can get it all done!

Monday, May 14, 2007

I'm 30!

Yes, today is my birthday, and I turn 30. Why am I publicizing this?!? I'm not sure... Whatever, I guess its not a secret, so why not. I feel strange about turning 30, but such is life. I definitely can't believe I'm 30 already because my 20's just flew by, but really I don't think 30 is that old. Its just weird to think of myself as 30. I'm sure I'll get over it soon.

As far as birthdays go, I can't complain. Its been a pretty good one. First off, I get my first Mother's Day and my 30th wrapped into a nice 2 day celebration. Happy belated Mother's Day to everyone. Yesterday, my brother, Daren, flew in from San Diego for a 4 day visit (notice the California tan). He and Nicky are having a lot of fun together being silly. Anyway, after we picked him at the airport, we drove to Platte City where there was supposed to a BBQ contest going on. But, when we got there, we found out it had ended the day before:( So instead we took Daren to Arthur Bryant's downtown for some authentic KC BBQ. Yum!! Then we headed to the River Market to check that out. Overall, a very nice day. I got a nice card from Nicky and Scott as well as a set of almond scented lotion, soap, and a candle. Just what I wanted!

Today, I opened my other present - some really nice and way-too-expensive clothes that Scott picked out for me. I love them, but have to exchange the jeans because they are a size too big:)!! I have never had a pair of jeans this trendy and nice before; I almost feel guilty about it and I didn't even buy them! I also got the cutest card ever from Nicky and Scott. It reads, "Pooh loves Piglet, Piglet loves Pooh, and Guess what Mommy, I love you!! Happy Birthday." Nicky even signed it (with Scott's help, of course). Tonight, we will go out for supper and have some cake. Thanks to my parents, my mother and father-in-law, my brother and sister-in-law, and my cousin Tyla for the lovely birthday cards as well as my friends Beth and Sarah for the birthday emails. And thanks to my Auntie/Godmother Arlene for sending me birthday wishes over the phone. It feels nice to be loved!

In other news, today the insurance adjuster came to look at our basement. Our finally tally of losses: a repair bill to fix the water heater, my Martha Stewart pre-lit Xmas tree, ALL of my Xmas decorations:( (2 rubbermaid totes worth that obviously weren't water tight), a big huge box of my old textbooks, and clean-up time and costs. Overall, not too bad. The only thing I am really bummed about is the Christmas stuff. I am going to try to salvage my Hallmark decorations. We'll hear back next week from the insurance company on how much they will compensate us.

Tomorrow, Daren, Nicky and I (and hopefully Scott in the afternoon) are going to the amusement park. I hope Scott comes so I can ride some roller coasters (someone has to sit with Nicky on the sidelines). I absolutely love roller coaster so I can't wait!!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Basement Flooding

My basement is filled with poop water. Yes, I could have stated that more nicely, as in "sewer water," but the more graphic language captures the horror better, I think. Let me explain... There has been ongoing heavy rain for the last week and many of the basements around here are taking on water. That's usually all fine and good - we have a sump pump and we know well enough to put up all of our things a few inches so the occasional stream doesn't wreck them. However, we weren't fully prepared for the current scenario. Last night, at its height (we think), the water was about 8 inches deep!!! And this isn't just normal rainwater, its sewer water due to the lack of a storm sewer system in this part of our lovely city. I'll let Scott explain how the city has been stalling on making this set of somewhat expensive but obviously needed improvements with his inside knowledge of the city. All I know is, yesterday in between deluges, when the water had subsided in our basement, there was actual excrement on the floor (see picture). Possible losses include our Christmas tree, a box of textbook that I didn't have high enough and some dress pants I had been drying on a rack. On top of that, we are worried that our water heater, furnace and washer and dryer might get damaged or ruined. This morning, Scott said his shower was only lukewarm.

Well, the water is draining right now so soon I will have to go downstairs and inspect damage and start clean-up. With 5 more days of rain forecasted, this will likely be an ongoing situation. Did I mention that I need a shower and have a ton of laundry to do...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Shoes and Other Excitement

Last night I did a little Internet shopping. As some of you might know, I have super narrow feet so I have to special order all my shoes. I can't go to a regular shoe store:( So, there is this pair of shoes that I have been eyeing online for a month that I love but they're $90 - my shoes are always extra expensive but I hate to pay that kind of money. Yes, I am cheap. Anyway, see the pic below. I like them because they are similar to tennis shoes so they should be comfortable, but they aren't too sporty and are casual enough to wear everyday with almost anything. Plus I just like how they look. I was hoping they'd go on sale, which they did, but at that point the ones in my size were gone. I've been searching the other online shoe stores since then to see if I could find them cheaper. Last night I finally found them on sale for $80 plus I had a code for $10 off. And then before I checked out I found out I got another 10% for registering with the website, so the final total for my $90 pair of shoes was $64!! I love saving money!! I like shoes, too:)

I'm also excited because my brother Daren is coming to visit in a week over Mother's Day and my birthday. I am excited to see him and for him to see Nicky again. It should be fun! And yes, my birthday is coming up on May 14th, but the yucky part is that its my 30th birthday. Dang, I'm getting old. But it will be cool to have my first Mother's Day on Sunday the 13th followed by my 30th birthday the very next day and be able to share both with Nicky, Scott, and Daren.

Lastly, despite my first playgroup never getting off the ground (the kiddo hosting the group got sick the day before its first meeting so it had to be canceled and it just hasn't been rescheduled since), I've finally found another parenting group to join. Its the Kansas City Attachment Parenting group, and I joined because the attachment parenting philosophy matches my parenting style and philosophy very well so I know I'd find like-minded parents there. The KCAP group has an online discussion board (which is nice for when I'm at home with Nicky) but also many meet-ups and activities. I went to a playgroup last Wednesday which was very fun. There was even one little girl there that was a few weeks older than Nicky and just as big as him. Both and I and the other mom enjoyed that fact. This week the group was canceled (due to illness again) but I hope to attend regularly each week. I'm also going to try to go the Mom's Night Out tonight where a bunch of the moms meet at a restaurant once a month. Its sure nice to have a social life again! Only problem is I'm a bit quiet and sometimes shy in big groups, but I'm sure that given time I will warm up and make some friends. So far, everyone I've met has been very nice. I'm already looking forward to the Spring Party they're having this Sunday as well as a big Fourth of July party that's already planned. Now if I can just get Scott on board, the scrooge:)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

More Crime Close to Home

The mall in the story below is only a few blocks from my house. Way too close! I shop at the Target in this mall all the time. Freaky. This happened today. Please read on...

Three dead in Ward Parkway Center shooting spree
DAVID EULITT The Kansas City Star

A gunman on an apparently random shooting rampage killed two people in the parking lot of the Ward Parkway Center this afternoon before walking into the crowded mall and shooting at least one other person

Kansas City police then shot the man to death outside the mall entrance to the Target store.
The person shot inside the mall was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, but is expected to live, police said. Another person in the mall suffered a shoulder injury, apparently when he dived to avoid the shooting.

The shootings occurred about 3:45 p.m. Police said the two dead were on either side of the shooter’s car in the mall parking lot. After shooting them to death, the gunman, who was carrying some sort of long weapon that may have been an assault rifle, walked into the mall firing randomly.

Police did not release a detailed description of the shooter but witnesses said he appeared to be a white man in his 50s.

Police have no answers for why the gunman headed for the shopping center. “It appears he came to the mall to shoot people,” police spokesman Tony Sanders said. “It was mass chaos on a Sunday afternoon, but it could have been a much worse situation. It’s a mall in Middle America on Sunday afternoon…it’s crowded.”

The mall wasn’t the shooter’s first stop, Sanders said. The crime spree actually unfolded over three crime scenes this afternoon beginning with a death investigation at a home in the 3700 block of E. 93rd St. in Kansas City.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Spring Was In the Air

The week before last was the first week of spring, but it almost felt like summer. Temps were in the 70's and 80's. The trees were budding, the grass was nice and green, and my tulips and daffodils were blooming. Nicky kept Scott company when he did his yard work, and he also played in his playpen outside on the deck while I put teak oil on our wood patio furniture. Scott mowed the grass for the first time this year, and I cut some of my tulips and put them in a vase to enjoy indoors. There were so many of them in my flower garden is year that even after picking this huge bouquet, there were still plenty left outside. Nicky and I went on many walks and trips to the park, we barbecued some of our meals on the grill, and the whole family was eagerly anticipating the start to the baseball season.

Nicky enjoying the outdoors

My tulip bouquet

Then, last week arrived and the temperatures plummeted. It went from 80 to 40 degrees and it was just too cold to take Nicky to the baseball park. He did wear his little Royals outfit at home, though, and as you can see, royal blue is his color! Scott went to a game and promptly got a head cold. And all those flowers I didn't pick suffered a hard freeze. Bummer. I just hope it eventually gets warm again soon and we don't skip straight from 50 degrees to 90 degrees or something. Anyway, we will be going to the ballpark a few times this summer as the weather permits. I can't wait! Its good that I have baseball to look forward to since college basketball and hockey both ended badly for me this year. Not only did KU lose in the Elite 8, but UND's hockey team lost in the Frozen Four for the second year in a row to Boston College. Glad we didn't waste our money on a trip to Saint Louis to see that!

Nicky in his Royals uniform

In other news, Nicky got his first haircut. I gave him just a little trim to even up his bangs. His older hairs on top were way longer and they made him look like he had a bad comb-over. The newer growth underneath was nice and even, so I just cut the hair on top to match it. And I must say, I didn't do a bad job!

Nicky's first haircut

The family also enjoyed a nice Easter yesterday. We had a bumpy start at church where it was so packed that we had to stand in the back because there were no more seats. Luckily, one of the ushers went and found us one folding chair which was helpful for when Nicky fell asleep. At home, Nicky got a baseball themed Easter basket. He really enjoyed sucking on the little stuffed bunny he received! He looked precious in his little Easter outfit. Check out his latest slide show on his blog for more pictures. Hope you all had a happy Easter as well! I really shouldn't complain about our temperatures here, I know; we could have snow like our family up in North Dakota.

Nicky with his Easter basket

Nicky in his Easter outfit

Also, Scott's birthday is on Friday, so I am trying to plan something for that depending on if I find a babysitter on time. Anybody up for that?!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Month Gone By

Sorry for the long time between posts y'all. Just everyday life as usual around here. I've really been enjoying the warm weather lately. Its been in the 70's and the average temp this time of year is usually the 50's so I keep feeling like its May instead of the end of March. When it hasn't been raining or super humid, Nicky and I have enjoyed outside time and have made another few trips to the park by our house. The stroller ride over there usually puts him to sleep. Once we get there, there isn't too much for him to do since he is too young for the playground, but we do get some swinging in together. The park is nice and big and there is a nice walking path around its perimeter so I make sure and walk that each time so I can get in exercise at least. I am happy that I have lost all my baby weight now (I think I have breastfeeding to thank for that), but I would like lose another 5 pounds or so and more importantly, tone my muscles. I think sit-ups are probably in order to suck in the baby belly, but I am not excited to do those yet. Carrying around an 18 pound baby does help a bit:) Nicky seems to like being outside, but he is a little young for sunscreen (its technically for babies over 6 months old), and I guess I'm supposed to try to put him in light long-sleeved shirts and pants plus a hat anyway, but that seems like so many clothes for my warm-blooded baby. I do the hat and try to keep him in the shade most times since we aren't out for long periods of time.

The month was also filled with lots of sports watching. I am now close to sick of it. I love watching sports but since my Jayhawks lost last Saturday, I am just not excited anymore about college basketball. Also, I think I will give up on filling out brackets for the NCAA tournament after this. I hadn't done so until last year and this year, and I always steered Scott to good picks for his brackets. However, when I've done my own brackets, I've totally stunk it up. I am currently next to last in our group this year and was in a similar position last year. I think the problem is that I get too analytical about it and look at the rankings and try to put in a certain number of upsets instead of going with my gut like I used to. Now, I never picked blindly or randomly like some people who pick based on the teams colors or if they know someone who lives in that state. I, however, used to rely more on my instincts. Next year I will either give up the brackets or maybe have Scott feed me the match ups verbally so that I don't have the stupid rankings there in front of me to screw me up.

In other sports news, Scott & I were excited that our Alma Mater, UND, was once again in the NCAA hockey tournament. Since our stupid cable company was showing the game but not until 2 days later, we decided to watch the game at a local sports bar and grill that had the game on satellite. Last year, we were in San Francisco where I was attending a conference and were able to watch the game in the bar attached to our hotel. It was really fun because our bartender was from Boston and we were playing Boston College. Unfortunately, Boston won last year. Well, the game we saw on Sunday was a good one, and luckily, UND beat our rival, the Minnesota Gophers 3 to 2 in overtime. Nicky seemed to enjoy himself and took a few naps during the game. Anyway, UND is now in the Frozen Four which is taking place in Saint Louis. Its so close that Scott & I have been tempted to make a trip of it to attend and write it off as part of his upcoming birthday, but so far, we just can't justify the cost to ourselves. It would have been fun... But guess who we play again - Boston! Maybe we'll beat them this year.

And finally, I have to make just a few TV comments again. I will say only a few things about American Idol. First, for the love of God, would everyone please stop voting for Sanjaya so I don't have to hear his horrible singing anymore!!! I get it, he was "cool" hair. Its pretty silly that that is what is keeping him in the competition as it is painfully clear at this point that his singing skills are far below everyone else's. It kills me that the votes of a bunch of pre-teen girls are screwing up the competition again. Scott & I have already lost two of our favorite contestants so far - Stephanie and Chris Sligh. It seems like Chris might have a bit of an ego, though, so Scott & I weren't as fond of him as we were in the beginning. Still, neither he nor Stephanie deserved to go this early in the competition. Besides Sanjaya, I think Haley and Phil should have gone first just based on their performances thus far. Ok, enough AI.

Scott & I have also recently started watching the TV show Jericho. Its about a small town in Kansas after a bunch of nuclear bombs have taken out the government and most of the major cities in the US. Why is it that all the nuclear holocaust movies are centered in Kansas? It creeps me out - its way too close. The 70's movie The Day After was set in Lawrence, KS, our former home and only 45 miles away now plus in that movie, KC was where the bomb went off. In Jericho, Lawrence was one of the places that got bombed. I swear I am going to start having nuclear disaster dreams. Not good, I know. But the show is so compelling that I am very much stuck on it. It is really good. We've watched all the past episodes on the computer because we didn't start watching it at the beginning of this season when it started, but now we are all caught up so we can watch it on live TV. I highly recommend the show. Check it out.

Happy Spring everyone!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My American Idol Picks

I was going to write a post last week about how I was disappointed in American Idol this season but I just didn’t find the time. Scott & I just aren’t as excited about this season’s contestants. They are kind of boring. Don’t get me wrong, many of them are good singers, but I just don't think they are that unique and I can’t see myself buying any of their future albums. And last week the guys especially sucked it up with their performances.

The good news is that last night the men gave much better performances and my excitement is somewhat renewed. Scott & I, like many others, name Chris Sligh as our favorite, both personally and to win the whole thing. He is a funny dude - both in his look and in his sense of humor. He looks like a cross between Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons and Jack Osbourne. At his Idol audition, he said he wanted to win so he could make David Hasselhoff cry (referring to when the Hoff did indeed cry at last year's Idol finale). He also has a great voice. I also like Beatbox-er Blake Lewis and the soulful Sundance Head (nice name, huh?). Tonight I was also impressed with Chris Richardson who reminds me of Justin Timberlake. The guys were so much better last night than last week, although who told Sunjuya to wear that hat? And I also thought that Brandon's song choice was bor-ing. Maybe this thing is getting better and they just got off to a bad start.

As for the ladies, they sang better than the guys last week but they still bored me. Everyone thinks LaKisha Jones and her big voice will win it all – she is the odds on favorite in Vegas. In second is Melinda Doolittle who used to be a background singer. I have nothing against her but I do think she looks kind of like a troll doll, poor girl. I personally like 17 year old Jordan Sparks. Scott likes Troll as well as Stephanie Edwards and Gina Glocksen, who he calls Gilmore Girl because he thinks she looks like one of the Gilmore Girls (Lorelei, not Rory). The embarrassment for the women is one Antonella Barber who can’t sing that well but is very pretty. Her looks along with the compromising pictures of her that were posted on the internet last week will keep her around way too long, I worry. I don’t know, maybe the women will bring it tonight like the men did last night so AI can once again be my guilty pleasure instead of just a waste of my time.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Parental Instincts Backed Up by Science

Hello all. In past posts, I have described my style of parenting some including holding my child a lot and responding as promptly as possible to his cries. I mainly do this because it just feels right and natural. I am following my instincts.

I recently found an article from researchers at Harvard that supports these practices and explains some of the repercussions for taking a more detached parenting style that currently seems to be the norm here in the U.S. (although not in the past and not in the rest of the world). Its from 1998 so this is not new news, but I think it is just now getting to the general public. I still think that parents are entitled to make their own decisions and will, undoubtedly, have their own styles of parenting based on their own experiences, beliefs, and personalities as well as their children's temperaments, but I still think this information is useful to consider. While I think that trauma and fear in children who are held less often or let to cry-it-out are rare, I think that if people knew that they weren't spoiling their babies, and were in reality helping them form healthy foundations for their futures, parents would feel less guilty and would follow their parental instincts more. I also think that young people in this country need to be educated that parenting is not for the lazy. Its a lot of work and that's how it should be. In a future post, I'll post some information on how this whole "spoiling" theory came to be in this country (for the record, I do think that toddlers and older children can lack discipline and have behavior problems, but the ideas about spoiling go so much deeper than that). But for now, here is the Harvard article:

Children Need Touching and Attention, Harvard Researchers Say
By Alvin Powell

America's "let them cry" attitude toward children may lead to more fears and tears among adults, according to two Harvard Medical School researchers. Instead of letting infants cry, American parents should keep their babies close, console them when they cry, and bring them to bed with them, where they'll feel safe, according to Michael L. Commons and Patrice M. Miller, researchers at the Medical School's Department of Psychiatry.

The pair examined childrearing practices here and in other cultures and say the widespread American practice of putting babies in separate beds -- even separate rooms -- and not responding quickly to their cries may lead to incidents of post-traumatic stress and panic disorders when these children reach adulthood. The early stress resulting from separation causes changes in infant brains that makes future adults more susceptible to stress in their lives, say Commons and Miller.

"Parents should recognize that having their babies cry unnecessarily harms the baby permanently, " Commons said. "It changes the nervous system so they're overly sensitive to future trauma." The Harvard researchers' work is unique because it takes a cross-disciplinary approach, examining brain function, emotional learning in infants, and cultural differences, according to Charles R. Figley, director of the Traumatology Institute at Florida State University and editor of The Journal of Traumatology.

"It is very unusual but extremely important to find this kind of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research report, " Figley said. "It accounts for cross-cultural differences in children's emotional response and their ability to cope with stress, including traumatic stress." Figley said Commons and Miller's work illuminates a route of further study and could have implications for everything from parents' efforts to intellectually stimulate infants to practices such as circumcision. Commons has been a lecturer and research associate at the Medical School's Department of Psychiatry since 1987 and is a member of the Department's Program in Psychiatry and the Law. Miller has been a research associate at the School's Program in Psychiatry and the Law since 1994 and an assistant professor of psychology at Salem State College since 1993. She received master's and doctorate degrees in human development from the Graduate School of Education.

The pair say that American childrearing practices are influenced by fears that children will grow up dependent. But they say that parents are on the wrong track: physical contact and reassurance will make children more secure and better able to form adult relationships when they finally head out on their own."We've stressed independence so much that it's having some very negative side effects, " Miller said. The two gained the spotlight in February when they presented their ideas at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Commons and Miller, using data Miller had worked on that was compiled by Robert A. LeVine, Roy Edward Larsen Professor of Education and Human Development, contrasted American childrearing practices with those of other cultures, particularly the Gusii people of Kenya. Gusii mothers sleep with their babies and respond rapidly when the baby cries. "Gusii mothers watching videotapes of U.S. mothers were upset by how long it took these mothers to respond to infant crying, " Commons and Miller said in their paper on the subject.

The way we are brought up colors our entire society, Commons and Miller say. Americans in general don't like to be touched and pride themselves on independence to the point of isolation, even when undergoing a difficult or stressful time. Despite the conventional wisdom that babies should learn to be alone, Miller said she believes many parents "cheat, " keeping the baby in the room with them, at least initially. In addition, once the child can crawl around, she believes many find their way into their parents' room on their own. American parents shouldn't worry about this behavior or be afraid to baby their babies, Commons and Miller said. Parents should feel free to sleep with their infant children, to keep their toddlers nearby, perhaps on a mattress in the same room, and to comfort a baby when it cries."There are ways to grow up and be independent without putting babies through this trauma, " Commons said. "My advice is to keep the kids secure so they can grow up and take some risks."

Besides fears of dependence, the pair said other factors have helped form our childrearing practices, including fears that children would interfere with sex if they shared their parents' room and doctors' concerns that a baby would be injured by a parent rolling on it if the parent and baby shared the bed. Additionally, the nation's growing wealth has helped the trend toward separation by giving families the means to buy larger homes with separate rooms for children. The result, Commons and Miller said, is a nation that doesn't like caring for its own children, a violent nation marked by loose, nonphysical relationships. "I think there's a real resistance in this culture to caring for children, " Commons said. But "punishment and abandonment has never been a good way to get warm, caring, independent people."

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Kewpie, Not a Sullustan

For those of you reading my husband's blog, you know that he is comparing my child to Star Wars aliens, namely the Sullustan. Yes, my child has jowls, or more nicely put, chubby cheeks. But I think he looks more like a Kewpie doll than an alien - you know, those cute little old-fashioned dolls that have big rosy cheeks, big eyes, and little wings like angels. Our friend, Beth Allin, who visited from Chicago this weekend made the same comment so I know I am not full of it. For those of you who aren't familiar with Kewpies, Wikipedia defines them as "based on illustrations by Rose O'Neill that appeared in Ladies' Home Journal in 1909. The small dolls were extremely popular in the early 1900s. Their name, often shortened to "Kewpies", in fact is derived from "Cupid", the Roman god. The early dolls, especially signed or celluloid, are highly collectible and worth thousands of dollars." I also found out from Wikipedia that a "Kewpie Doll" is also a derogatory term for a short person. Who knew? Anyway, I could get Nicky down to his diaper and twist his hair up into a Kewpie point and take a picture for you, but that is just too embarrassing. Plus, I've tried it before and he looks more like Ed Grimley because he isn't almost bald like most Kewpies are. So, just check out the comparative pics below and use your imagination on the hair part!