Saturday, July 25, 2009

I popped outside for a second and saw my sweet 2 year old washing her dad's car! I had to share - promise we are not promoting child labor... video

Wild

We have our own little nature preserve here, and have all been enraptured by our wildlife. We have seen tons of animals and evidence of animals unseen!

This morning, Peanut was helping me put the drying rack out in our side yard and we found a turtle in the stairwell! Since she is fascinated by reptiles for whatever reason, we stayed to watch Mr. T try to climb up the step. He stretched his neck and all of his legs s far as he could and worked to pull himself up. A few minutes later he was up one step. Whew! We checked on him again when we came back from the mornings adventures and he was back down at the bottom buried under the leaves. Honey moved Mr. T to the shade and Peanut and dad watched as he crawled away out if the sun. I tried to get a photo for you but he scurried off and was hard to find later on when I had a minute to put down the baby and grab the camera.

Since I missed this little guy (and I have missed several others - including a huge toad, tons of rabbits and bats, and a woodchuck that our crazy dog cornered), I thought I'd share some of the ones that did not get away...

Some robins built a nest in the pine tree right by our front door. These pictures are of the chicks when they were almost full grown and ready to leave the nest - I thought we were pushing it putting a flash into the nest with barely alive fuzz balls, so you don't get to see those - but they were so tiny when they first hatched! We got to see the eggs and the chicks as they grew. Peanut loved this and had to look in the nest every time we came in or out. I'm sure this factored heavily into how fast these guys learned to fly!



We also saw a red headed woodpecker and his mate one day on our tree out back by the bird feeder. It's not a great shot, but he was beautiful! He is the one on the front of the tree and his little lady is to his left.





A deer came to sit under our tree (that tree gets an awful lot of action!) one day when it was raining. He came by, spent some time giving himself a bath, and then laid down for a few hours. It was the middle of the day and he was completely nonplussed about us hanging around nearby.
All of this nature lends itself to exploring! Tomorrow we will see if we can find our little turtle friend again, but maybe we will meet someone new...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Then Your Heart Melts

The ups and downs of having a newborn are incredible, and they are magnified when you are trying to take care of your toddler too.

Yesterday, we went over to a friends house to tend their garden while they are away. This was the first time I had attempted to do this with kids in tow, so I wasn't sure how it would go, but I figured I'd give it a shot. Pumpkin was in the Bjorn, and Peanut was my helper. She helped me collect ground cherries and put them into our bag, and helped move dirt from one garden bed to another... well, you know, "help" is a broad term. But she is happy and busy and enjoying the day, as am I.

So I'm watering and getting to all of the plants and beds and of course Peanut finds a spot to dig and get messy. Well, I was expecting this, so no big deal right? We finish up what we need to/can do and I ask her to come over and get hosed off before we go. Now, I am pretty specific with directions and am really good about not making everything a request - so I said something like, "Let's clean off your hands and then we will go. When your hands are clean, we are all done with the dirt." She nods, then marches over to the dirt, waits for me to look, grabs a huge fistful, and shoves it in her mouth. AHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGG!! As she spit some of it out, it goes all over her, so I now have a thoroughly muddy toddler rather than one who is a bit grimy. (I really wish I hadn't been so mad - I would have gotten a picture to share!) I drag her out of the garden and into the car, where Pumpkin proceeds to scream almost the whole way home before he falls back asleep. When we get home, I plunk Peanut in the tub and drag Pumpkin's car seat into the bathroom with us so that when he does wake up and start yelling, I can at least be close by, which of course he does within a few seconds.

So I am so upset and angry about all of this and then I start questioning my level of anger - is it really worth all this stress? I'm not sure. As I pick it apart in my brain, I realize that I am upset not about the dirt (my kids can/do/will always get dirty - it's the way it is around here), or really about the 2 year old defiance. I'm pissed because it screws up my ability to take care of everyone at once. If something goes amiss during the day, someone ends up screaming or crying and can't be attended to immediately, which just kills me. I should be able to be supermom and take care of both kids with a calm demeanor at all times. What fairyland am I in? Really, the deal is that if you are going to live life and get messy, someone might cry. And they might need to deal on their own for a moment. And everyone will survive.

So I think that I just need to relax a little. I was always so focused on being patient, because it was something I felt like I needed to work on. Now, I can be very patient (if I have gotten some sleep, I can be really patient!), but I think it is time to focus on letting stuff go and going with the flow of the day. That's what I need to set my brain to do more of.

It helps that at the very times that you are seething, kids do the greatest things and just melt it all away. Last night Peanut decided to give her baby a bath, just like she saw mommy give Pumpkin. She even wrapped baby (this baby is mostly called "This" but now is sometimes called "William") up in a towel when she was all clean. I just love watching how she talks to her babies and shows them things, and imitates what she sees me or Honey do or what she has experienced herself. It is just fascinating and so sweet.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cleansing with oil

People ask how you can do all of these "green" things, and the answer is that you can't do everything, and you certainly can't do everything at once. So I am continuing on my holistic journey one step at a time, as I have always done. And when I start something new, there are always a few random reasons that it comes to the forefront. This one is completely based on logistics and money.

I have realized that I have gone several days without washing my face (by wash i mean doing my whole AM/PM cleanse/tone/moisturize routine that I have been wedded to for a very long time - I do wash with water when I am in the shower...) and my skin looks the same really. I spend an awful lot of cash on skin care products and I'm not sure it is much different than using nothing.

The last time I was seeking out new skin products was when I was pregnant with Peanut. My hormones went a little nuts and I had dry skin and pimples at the same time and I had flashbacks to college. Like most people, I had issues with my skin when I was younger and had a period of time where I really scrubbed it to get it clean. Now I know that I could have been so much nicer to it and it would have looked much better. I ended up finding some really wonderful products and have felt really good about my skin through two pregnancies and everything in between. I did have to relearn how to wash my face though - that less is more and gentle washing is way more effective than a scrub. Washing with a lotion or cream cleanser vs. a soap would have horrified my 20 something year old self, but it really feels and looks so much better! Oh well.

The other reason this is coming up now is that I am running out of my products and rather than go and order more I've decided to try the Oil Cleansing Method. I figure if I look the same, and it is less ingredients, less expensive, and it is easier, then why not? Basically, you use oil and very hot water to clean your skin. Sounds easy (a little scary though) and cheap - a bottle of castor oil and a bottle of sunflower oil should last the whole year based on the instructions. What is that - like $6? Compared to the several hundred I am sure the other stuff costs? Hmmmm. The cheap part of me likes this so far. This idea was discussed a lot a few months ago on the national loop of the Holistic Moms Network and I was intrigued then, but had all kinds of cleansers to use so...I shelved the idea in my brain for later use.

Well, now is the time. Last night was my first day of trying this and I have to say, it felt really good! A nice face massage, a hot towel - very relaxing. After I patted the oil off (it did come off without scrubbing) my skin felt dewy and looked like magazine skin - kind of airbrushed. Today, it feels neither oily or dry, not tight or saggy, but just nice. And it looks - well - the same as usual. Which is a good thing in my book.

So why is this holistic or green? Well, it decreases the amount of production and processing of all of the products I used to purchase. It saves my skin from all of those ingredients (ever read the back of your face lotion or toner? Can you pronounce all that?). It encourages my body and skin to balance itself (your skin is the largest organ of your body) and helps me be better in tune with my health in that way. I now only need to purchase two items that I can find easily in the grocery store, that come in glass bottles that I can recycle or reuse, so the waste from washing my face is less. And I save A LOT of money. Which is always green!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whole 'nother ball game

I know I am only 5 weeks in to this "having two kids" scene, but honestly, how do people do it? Once you have a second child, other people with two or more kids start to open up about how difficult it is - it's like you joined some secret club. I think most moms probably feel too guilty about how they feel to share it with people who are not in "the club". There are times I just want to walk out of the house and lock the door. Of course that won't happen, and of course it gets easier, or different , or both, hopefully. Anyway, know that if you are having a second kid, I'll be the one to spill the beans before you actually join the club.

My little man is having much less reflux and therefore less full out screaming sessions, but is now happily awake and wanting to play at 3am. He only screams now when we are in the car, which is really fun, especially in traffic. I am going to become a hermit I think and just stay home if it continues. I can vividly remember the ONE car trip where Peanut did this - I was coming back from the University of Maryland and was in 495/66 traffic and she screamed the whole way. I stopped several times to nurse and calm her, but nothing worked. I finally called Honey from 66 to have someone take my mind away from the crying. Well, Pumpkin pretty much screams at least part of every car trip, so now I am getting used to it and just gritting my teeth through it.

On the upside, Pumpkin is starting to smile and laugh, bat at toys, and he just loves his big sister. When he is not in the car, he is an absolute joy! And during the day, he is a superb napper. They are both napping now - and of course you ask "why are you not napping too!?" - excellent question. I am washing diapers, paying bills, cleaning up the breakfast and lunch dishes - congealed Mac and cheese is fairly gross (Gasp! yes it came from a box but at least it was organic) and I need to head out to the garden to survey the out of control cucumber situation.

Of course, we have to add into the equation an extremely jealous big sister who somehow senses when I am holding or nursing Pumpkin even if she can't see me, and chooses that particular time to have a major meltdown, run out into a parking lot, or find some other way to get me to drop everything (or at least try) and come to her aid. Yesterday, I had three grocery bags, Pumpkin in the carrier and was trying to get everyone in the car when she decided to bolt. OY! I have to keep reminding myself that they are little and they are (we all are) doing the best they can to figure out where they fit in this new dynamic. But oh boy is it hard.

I told Honey last night that I want a bath, a nap, a glass of red wine and a big bowl of coffee ice cream. Of course, that would probably make Pumpkin have awful reflux...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Taking the plunge!

I am a minimalist when it comes to baby gear - when you come into our house, there is nary a jumper or saucer or bouncer or swing. We have had babies for centuries without any of this stuff and they are all fine, so why start now? We've got a Moses basket that we can cart the baby around in, but that is really it. He's good - we just lay him on the floor or the couch or the bed or whatever.

I tend to feel that strollers are overrated too. Our stroller experience is limited as I prefer to wear kids and keep them close to me with my hands free. We did/do use a snap n' go that we borrowed from a friend when Peanut was little and are using it for Pumpkin now. I do like that because if the baby is sleeping you just keep them in the carseat and pop it into the stroller - nice. It stays in the car if we need it, but mostly I just use a baby carrier and wear the little one.

Once I was pregnant and it was harder to carry Peanut in her Ergo, we started to use our small umbrella stroller for walking the dog and longer outings, but this stroller still looks brand new and it is two years old so clearly it is not getting much love. Besides, although it is functional, if I take too big of a step I step on the back wheels of the stroller which is annoying. Also, if I do take it out, the bin for storage is minuscule so it is hard to carry anything without also having a bag over my shoulder. So, it is a cut stroller, but not for serious stroller users.

Well now that I have two little ones, I have been deciding what to do about the DOUBLE STROLLER DILEMMA. At first, I was just not going to do it. Those strollers are like steering a cruise ship - who needs it? Then, we realized after going to two family events/festivals that Peanut gets tired quickly and is getting a little heavy to be carried, so having a stroller for both kids may make more sense than we thought.

Here are the facts:
- I rarely use a stroller now - only for dog walks and the occasional mall trip
- Honey carried Peanut for at least an hour on each of two very hot days when she was truly tripping over herself at outdoor festivals
- I'd rather carry one babe - in the Moby or Ergo if I have the choice
- Pumpkin is not yet big enough for the Ergo (close though!)
- The Moby is too hot to wear outdoors until the fall
- The Baby Bjorn is the only good option for carrying right now because Pumpkin fits in it and it is the coolest (temperature) to wear
- I hate the Baby Bjorn
- I will have the occasion to wheel both kids around indoors and out
- I have stroller envy when I see really nice strollers and very well heeled people pushing them (maybe it is envy of other parents looking so polished when I just do not feel at all put together)
- I need to get out and exercise
- The dog must be walked

So the upshot is that we do need a double stroller. Simple enough, but do you realize the intricacies of this??? There are twin, tandem, and jogging strollers. There are 5 and 3 point harnesses, front swivel and locking wheels, jump seats, extended sun canopies, lay flat seats, and a myriad of other options to choose.

After really about two weeks of hard study (I'm totally serious - like studying for finals), I narrowed it down. We needed a side by side stroller, with 5 point harnesses, no center wheel in the back, swivel wheels in the front, big sun canopies, a decent divide between the seats (she they don't pinch each other too much) and we needed to be able to push and steer easily over indoor and outdoor even surfaces with the occasional grass, mulch, or rougher terrain.

I finally decided that I could get all of this in a jogging stroller, and since I can count the times I have been to the mall this year on one hand, I really need it for outdoors more than anything. Again, seems simple right? Double jogging stroller - how many of those can there be? You'd be shocked. I narrowed it down and have been combing craigslist for the deals. Well, of course, the ones I want are not there, and when they are, someone buys them in an instant. So, I did it. I bought a brand spanking new stroller for an absurd amount of cash. All of the reviews said it was worth every penny. All of the discussions in the mom forums, online groups and chats were positive about this stroller. It sounds like the people like me who want a stroller for the same purposes love this one. For what it costs, this stroller should make me look polished and poised while pushing two babes around the block. Let's hope so!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It Really Works!

I've been trying to get more vegetables into all of us, especially Peanut. She can eat a ridiculous amount of food, and always wants to eat, but at regular meals, her veggies are usually untouched. I've had some success when I happily chow my veggies commenting on how great they are, and she will always eat them if one of her little friends does (peer pressure even works at 2 years old). I always see these crazy good housekeeping Martha Stewart things where you make the food into a fabulous artistic masterpiece and it goes down the hatch just like that. OK, so finally I tried this - I'm not saying it was a masterpiece, but it was a creative way to serve veggies. We did carrot hair, cucumber and grape eyes, red pepper mouth, cheese ears and a little hummus for eyebrows and teeth. I only used things I know she has already enjoyed at least once, and next time I'll add some new things to the mix. It was kind of cute - and best of all - it actually worked! She ate almost everything on the plate as well as about 1/4 of what was on my plate! (I put all the extra cuts of veggies on a little plate and snacked along) So try the crazy artwork with food - a little extra effort might be worth it!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

TOP

I am not a big fan of buying new, especially if you can find it somewhere for free, or cheap. I have lots of reasons for this, one of course is just being budget conscious. also, if I reuse something, it stays out of the landfill, and my NOT buying something sends a message to producers that we need less. This is particularly true of children's clothing. Kids wear things once or twice when they are very small and then outgrow it. Honestly, how many newborn outfits do we need? I'm sure if we all looked in our closets and attics and garages, we could easily outfit the entire newborn population without making a single new item. Once kids get older, I do see how they can wear clothes out more, but still, I'd rather have my kids wear things that are already used and that I didn't spend a bundle on so that they can have fun and get dirty and I won't be stressing about ruining an outfit.

So how do you get cheap/free/used? Freecycle is one of my favorites. You join your local group on line and then you can give away, ask for, or see what others have to give that you might need. It's one big exchange that is organized in your area. It always amazes me what people will give away (we got an elliptical trainer for Honey's mom once) and what they will come to take (I have given away half used bottles of shampoo). Kid's items are very popular on these sites - I got most of my toys for Peanut from Freecycle, and lots of clothes too. I love Craigslist too. It gets a bad rap because some folks use it for unsavory activities, but I have found amazing deals on wooden toys, cloth diapers, clothes and other random things. I've also done my fair share of giving away and selling my stuff that would otherwise collect dust in the garage.

I always love consignment stores, and we have a great one here for kids items. I have bought lots of Peanut and Pumpkins stuff here and always marvel at what I can get that looks brand new for a few dollars. So, we come to the TOP. I got Peanut some jammies this spring when she was growing out of hers and always complaining and pulling at the ankles and wrists. I pretty much just bought all of the 2T stuff they had at Kid to Kid. She has absolutely fallen in love with one pajama top, and wants to wear it every day. She says "TOP?" and looks for it in the laundry bin, the dryer, and the pile of clothes to be put away if it is not in her drawer. We can't figure out what it is about this top, but she loves it! Of course, I have no way of replacing it once it is destroyed (which I am betting it will be eventually) since we got it through resale. There is a downside to buying used I guess.

The Chipotle Incident

We should know better. But these things happen, what are you going to do? When I was nursing Peanut, we went to Moe's and the poor girl pooped all night and was absolutely miserable. That was my first taste of how food eaten by me can affect a nursing newborn. Then, sometime this past year we all went to Chipotle and Honey was really ill afterwards. We looked up the ingredients online but found nothing we could point to and the issue was forgotten. This past weekend, we were out and decided to stop for lunch - that's right - we chose Chipotle. A nursing mom of a three week old who already has reflux, and a husband who is supposed to be cutting all kinds of things from his diet...went to Chipotle.

I know! It is owned by McDonald's - why would we do that? Anyway, poor Pumpkin was so blown away by whatever I ate that we had absolutely no sleep on that night. He was up and uncomfortable, wanted to eat and then didn't, spit up and pooped, and just generally was a sick puppy. If that doesn't whip your diet into shape, I don't know what will. Clearly food is medicine and if you don't believe the profound effects food can have, then talk to a nursing mama. And Honey was sick too - that's what made us remember the last time we had Chipotle. Ugh.

After the Chipotle Incident, my little man is back to normal - he even started to play, smile and have some fun again once it all cleared his system! Thank goodness, I had begun to think we were really in for it with the reflux, but we have raised the head of the co sleeper and that has helped greatly. We even let him sleep on his belly and side sometimes which makes a huge difference. *please do not flame me for not adhering to the "back to sleep" stance of the AAP... Having Pumpkin sleep on his belly has been a well thought out decision.

I had been thinking that my very calm, cool dude was beginning to be a little more fussy and "needy" than I had first thought. I know that we had some sleepless nights with Peanut, and there were things I couldn't eat while I nursed her, but it was so long ago that it all gets fuzzy. Something that occurred to me yesterday is that I was barely moving when Peanut was three weeks old, and now I am raring to go. I spent a lot of time with her at home, holding her and meeting her every need. I think she was really "easy" because of that and perhaps my perception of Pumpkin's routines is totally off. If I wasn't trying to chase a toddler, walk the dog, wash millions of diapers, and generally keep the house running I might be sitting still more often and paying better attention. I guess that is the deal with a second child - someone is always waiting for you...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fireworks - well kind of

On Friday night, the golf course behind our house had a fireworks display. We figured that since it was practically in our backyard, we would keep Peanut up to see them. So she took a late nap (She spent the day with Denise, who has watched her while I was at work since she was 4 months old! They had a grand time, and she took a good long nap over there) and we worked to keep her awake until we went outside at around 9pm. To pass the time, Honey found a Star Wars marathon on TV and we created a new addiction - she now loves Chewbacca ("Baca") and now randomly asks for him. The creation of a sci-fi geek is a whole other subject. Anyway, we went outside with the kids around 9 and Peanut kept questioning our sanity - "Dark?" like Hey - it's dark out here - what are you guys thinking? We put bug spray on, dragged chairs out to the fence, and wrapped Pumpkin up in the Moby to keep him warm and far from mosquitoes. While we were waiting, we noticed a rabbit, and several bats. Yay for the bats - eat those mosquitoes! Once again, we marveled that this little piece of heaven is ours. Lots of neighbors were popping over and under the fence onto the course to get good viewing. It looked very clandestine with folks ducking under fences!


While we waited for the show to begin, Peanut fell asleep in Honey's lap. When the fireworks began, she raised her little head for a moment and Pumpkin jumped with each boom - I could feel him in the Moby all wrapped up and sleeping. We walked around to see what the best vantage point was, but Peanut decided she was all done. So back into the house we go. Once we were in, she realized she could see them from our bedroom window, and had me hold her up for the duration of the fireworks.

So, she liked them enough to ask about them the next day ("dark?" "oworks?") during breakfast, but really they are better viewed from the comfort of home. I couldn't agree more.

Gosh they are beautiful!

I just have to say that it is truly amazing how you can fall in love with little faces millions of times in a day.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Small Victories and a Little Forced Independence

I set my sights high today. We were going grocery shopping! OK, so not really exciting, but necessary and what better way to deal with the looming scariness of shopping with two little ones than to just do it. So we got everyone dressed, I put on the Moby (by far the most comfortable baby carrier on the planet - it is like wearing a T-shirt with a baby inside), got my list together an got everyone in the car. Then, as I am starting the engine I hear a loud sound from the back seat. Of course, someone has pooped. I had forgotten about this part of Murphy's law - when you are all set to go, the baby always poops or spits up. OK, so we get on the road eventually, and make it to the store. It all went so smoothly! I think I got most everything we went in for, Peanut and Pumpkin were both happy and comfortable the whole time, and I still had the organizational skills to get our Chico bags to the bagger before he got everything into the store bags. Well done - we will celebrate the small victories each day! I even got both kids and all of the groceries into the house before someone started to cry, whine, need something, etc.



Well, I figure having any other goals for the rest of the day is pointless - we might as well just kick back and hang out. Once the food was in the fridge, we got ready to go hang out by the pool. I have to clarify - this is not a fancy pool, this is our tiny kiddie pool that Peanut will not get out of and wants to get into it whenever she sees it. She stands in there and dances and sings and generally has a good time. Pumpkin was nursing and Peanut was trying to get me to help her with her swim diaper and I thought - "OK, time to learn to do it yourself". I know now that there are so many things she can do on her own that she relies on me to do for her, because either a) she does them herself when she is with someone else or b) I have seen her do it when I am busy and can't help. I know she can pull her pants up and down, she just usually waits for me to do it. So today she did most of her getting undressed and ready to swim with just some coaching from me (and a little one handed assistance here and there) while Pumpkin chowed. Having a little brother does increase independence in the big sister - this is a welcome side effect!




Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oh What A Day

I think of the Shell Silverstein poem - Oh what a day, oh what a day, my baby brother ran away, and now my tuba will not play...

Today was a lot of holding children, being spit up on, pooped on, and generally feeling like I had accomplished nothing and was just hoping for a moment of peace and quiet. It started out with a late wake up for the kids and they woke up at essentially the same time. Usually Pumpkin is still sleeping when Peanut gets up, so I can cook breakfast and spend time with her for a while before the juggling begins. We did some cooking and nursing ( at the same time - I am getting pretty good at that by the way) and had really yummy blueberry pancakes. Then Honey left for work, and after he left I had the realization that no one was dressed. He usually dresses someone, so I had a little more to do than I thought. In addition, Pumpkin decided today was the day to show his reflux in full force and to be really crabby all morning. After a lot of putting one down and picking the other up, I wrapped him in the Moby and just carried him while I got Peanut dressed, hair done (mostly) and teeth brushed. That seemed to calm him so it is my new go to strategy.

We did get out to see the chiropractor and got to the bank. Mission accomplished. I do feel like I have an inordinate amount of crap to carry around with two kids. I'd love to reduce the contents of the diaper bag, but I know the minute I do, I will need whatever it is I've left behind. It seems like such overkill to have a suitcase though. So anyway, we decided to eliminate dairy from my diet to see if that helps with the reflux, which is awful since I LOVE yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir, and most dairy in general...but I love having a happy baby and getting some sleep even more, so it's a decent trade off.

This afternoon, I again ended up cooking and holding kids - this time it was Peanut in the Ergo while I made her lunch. She really loved that and it allowed me to grab Pumpkin and snuggle him when he got really fussy. So, the carriers work great - now I just need to figure out what combination will work to wear both of them at the same time - I know it can be done and have seen it done many times. I've just never made the attempt so it seems a little much for me. Oh what a day.