Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mommy and Me Lunch

I took today off of work to have an extra day to relax after the holiday weekend since we hosted 4 friends for the Indy 500. Ava and I just had lunch with my friend, Helen, and her baby that is only 1 week younger than Ava. Helen and I met in Lamaze class when we were pregnant and in the first week's class we discovered we had very similar views. She's from the Bay Area also, which right there goes a long way since we're in Indiana! And we're both career-focused, educated and driven women. We have taken different paths since becoming mothers. She is a stay-at-home mom (for now) and I'm a working-outside-the-home mom. We love to talk about the differences because we're curious how the other side of the coin would be. She wonders about daycare and the time apart from her son and I wonder what it would be like for me to be with Ava all the time.

Between the "Mommy chat" we were surprised how different our babies are with eating. When Ava and I arrived a few minutes late, she had already put in an order for Dominic's meal. It arrived and he went crazy! He wanted to eat it so fast that she could barely cut up the fruit and sandwich fast enough for him to gobble it up! It was like a race! Ava was staring at him very quietly. I gave her some crayons. Not much of an eater herself, she started to reach for his sandwich so Helen gave Ava the crust since it was long and skinny and easy for her to hold it. Being inspired by Dominic, she put it in her mouth and tried the bread. She had a few tastes, but then started to throw things on the floor. Little toddler hands were everywhere and Helen and I had to work quickly to prevent accidents and keep our sweeties happy. When my food came, it got more interesting. I put Ava in the high chair and she got busy. Not eating, but throwing pineapple, flowers, crayons on the floor. Busy little hands were on both sides of our small table. Then she got antsy. I offered her tastes of my gazpacho and sandwich, but she didn't want any of it. Pineapple was spit back out. It was crazy!

Dominic ate cereal O's, most of a sandwich, fruit, crackers, yogurt, and drank milk. Ava ate a couple bites of bread and a handful of yogurt bites. I nursed her for a few minutes at the table before we paid the bill. I wish she would eat a bit more like Dominic. We tried to pick up the crayons and big pieces of food off the floor as best as we could.

Then outside of the restaurant, with our newly calm and sleepy babies, we made the decision to get together at one of our houses next so the busy toddlers can run around safely and we can relax more. Turns out both babies were asleep in the first few minutes in the car ride home!

Between all that action, we did enjoy a nice talk about the reality of motherhood in your 30's. I'm realizing that balancing working and mothering is just as hard as not working and just mothering and everything in between. There's so many choices for women and their families. At the end of lunch we agreed that you have to try it out to see if it works for you and if not, then change it. I'm so glad to have girlfriends that I can talk to about these things!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Ava and I have been playing a cute game together. She thinks is really funny when you put something on your head and then take it off and put it on hers. Ava's daycare made this cute Easter Bunny hat and since we brought it home she's had fun playing with it, which is remarkable because some of the other babies instantly ripped and ruined their hat on the spot! That Bunny hat has been on my head, Aaron's head, and even the dog's head at times. Ava asks for it and then puts it on her own head and then takes it off.

It's the same game we play in the bathtub. When Ava is taking a bath, we put her cups on our heads. She cracks up because she knows the cup doesn't belong on our heads. This game comes in handy when she is getting her diaper changed. Right now she's too busy to get her lay down for her diaper change. Sometimes it's nice to have some fun distractions.

Here is Ava with her bunny hat. She's wearing a T-shirt from her daycare picture day. They give you a T-shirt with the child's picture on the front. It's roomy and comfy so she enjoyed hanging around the house with it that morning. Her pictures turned out great! She looks like a little lady.

She's only in the daycare nursery for one more month. By the end of June, Ava will transition in the toddler room where they take naps in a cot and have more activities like puzzles, drawing, and hand painting. I know she'll enjoy those, especially because dinner time features lots of hand painting on her tray! I'm a bit worried about the transition since she already has trouble napping in the afternoon at daycare. I've prepared myself for a 3-4 week adjustment period like it was when she moved to the older baby nursery last Fall. At least she'll know most of the babies in the room since they travel together as they grow.

This last picture is from last Friday afternoon when Ava sat next to her friends watching the daycare version of the Indy 500. Last year, Ava was the Indy 500 Queen! They daycare has push toys for toddlers and toy cars and trikes for the older children to race around a small course. Ava didn't race, but her caregiver told me that earlier that morning, she walked with push toy for a very long distance while they were setting up. So she got to have her fun! She will use that push toy forever at home! I need to take some pictures of that! She's making lots of progress towards walking on her own each day. She's now able to stand on her own for several seconds, but then when she realizes she's not holding on sits down. We are working on her body rotation to help her with skills for walking. Usually she plays with her shoulders, hips, and legs all in the same direction. We are helping her with rotation by sitting her on the bottom of step and encouraging her to rotate her shoulders to play with the toys. She's definitely getting the hang of it. Playtime is getting fun these days!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cloth Diaper Plunge

Last month, we took the cloth diapering plunge! We love it! I wanted to do it from the beginning, but I my daycare provider told me that I couldn't. Then after witnessing the mounds of diapers in the last year go in the trash, I realized that even if we did the cloth diapers at home, it would still be better. To be sure, I asked the daycare director to confirm and to my surprise, they allow cloth diapers and she apologized that I was told the wrong information when I started. I wish I had asked her instead of the caregivers from the beginning. That sealed the deal! Aaron and I are always looking for ways that we can recycle, re-use, and reduce our waste so he was on board.

I called my friend, Jill, who sells cloth diapers as part of her natural parenting business. I love her hilarious blog post when her family made the big switch to cloth diapers when their daughter, was the same age as Ava is now. Like Jill, I was a bit hesitant at first handling the poopy diapers, but it turns out that now that I'm a mom I seem to be immune to tackling clean-ups of all kinds related to my daughter. Maybe it's that sweet smile and loving snuggle that makes me forget that I have snot, drool, or throw-up all over my shirt.

Exclusively breastfed baby poop is even easier. You can toss the entire diaper right in the wash because it's water soluable. Now that Ava is eating solid food, I have to do a swish in the toilet for her bowel movements. Aaron's idea is the best. We put the diaper in the water as we flush and the gush of the water is good enough to take care of the clean up.

We got two different organic cotton styles from Bummis to try them and see what we like best before making an investment. Jill told me that I'd like different diapers for different occasions and I agree. We have the covers with the cloth prefolds inside, which are great for home and the all-in-ones are easy for on the go since there is no fiddling. And the diapers are so cute! Lady bugs, flowers, stars...how can you resist?

We still have disposable diapers to use up so we're going to finish them at daycare. At home we use cloth diapers. I take a wet sack to daycare, which they use for her soiled cloth diaper from her first diaper change at daycare. My daycare gave me a list of cloth diapering guidelines. Basically, I have to provide a clean diaper, including the cover for each diaper change. So eventually I'll need to add a lot more covers to current stash of 3. One of the La Leche League moms has lent us a bunch of prefolds and some covers. For now, we're the only cloth diapering family, but I suspect that I'm starting a trend. Another breastfeeding mom at my daycare asked me about it this week.

Cleaning the diapers isn't bad at all! I got an antibacterial cloth diaper pail liner, which I wash with the diapers. They should be washed every 2-3 days so we do the diaper wash 3 days a week. There's little folding involved so it's no big deal! Before you use the diapers for the first time, you need to wash/dry them 3-8 times to help boost the absorbancy. When you're washing soiled diapers, you run a cold rinse cycle and then a hot, extra rinse cycle with soap. On my HE washer, the whitest white cycle is perfect. You can't use commercial laundry detergents because they decrease the absorbancy. I use a couple tablespoons of the Rockin Green and it works like a charm! Remember not to use a fabric softener. For drying cycles, sometimes it takes more than one cycle, but I can add a towel to help bulk up the dryer. My dryer seems to work better with more in it. So far, they've been coming out really clean and even fresh smelling.

Besides the eco-friendly and cost-savings benefits, many of cloth diapering friends believed potty training was smoother because they could feel the wetness in their diaper. The toddler feeling a wet diaper can start to realize what's happening easier.

The one downside to cloth diapering is now Ava's tush is so much bigger and some of the clothes she has are too small. Disposable diapers are trimmer under pants. I have to account for that when we're getting her dressed. The LLL moms warned me that onesies can be too tight for cloth diapers and may cause leaks. They suggested to dress Ava in regular shirts and the baby leg warmers are fun when we're home!

Our next adventure is food composting at home. Aaron is going to create a container system for the yard that we can use for the composting. Since we have a lot of land, it won't be too smelly - we hope!

Cloth diaper resources:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Update

Spring is finally here in Indianapolis! We're enjoying the mild weather and between rainy days, Aaron is getting lots of planting and yard work done.

We had a low-key Easter weekend. We planned to get in the spirit by doing an egg hunt in the yard, but with the cool rainy day we just put our her Easter eggs in the house. She loved it! Daycare made a cute paper sack version of an Easter basket and it had plastic eggs filled with baby snacks. Because of the fun noises the eggs made, Ava shook them up like musical instruments.

We got this dress for Ava's birthday from our friends Kylee and Brittan and we just love it on her. It was a perfect Easter dress.

Ava is having fun these days moving all over the place! She is an accomplished scooter. Ava scoots on her bottom very fast and has even mastered holding two toys as she scoots around on the floor. She does a little cruising, but mostly prefers to have hold on to our fingers, very tightly, and walks all over. In fact, she likes to walk up the stairs that way! Baby gates don't fit on our wide stairway so we have to use the baby gate to keep her in her bedroom or ours. Ava likes to sit in her rocking chair and inch down to stand up. Sometimes she stands up and freaks out because she realizes she's not holding on to anything. But she's really stable actually.

Now that the weather is milder, she enjoys going outside to look at the new flowers and leaves on the trees. Our girl loves the wind and likes to watch the leaves move in the wind. We can see her comparing the trees in the yard and she wants to touch the leaves on the bushes.

Slowly but surely, Ava is becoming more adventurous with foods. She is a huge fan of fruit and yogurt. We buy our yogurt by the 32oz tub because we all eat it. By far, her favorite is mashed banana with plain yogurt with a touch of maple syrup. She loves beets, which are a great source of iron, and sweet potato, carrot-dried apricot puree, and homemade cinnamon applesauce. We've discovered that she likes almond and peanut butters. I mix the almond butter with her banana and yogurt sometimes. We're encouraging Ava to do self-feeding by offering her what we're eating for dinner. And lately, she has started to enjoy pineapple, orange slices, wheat pretzel sticks, and freeze dried strawberries. I put olive oil in her food to add some good fat to her diet. We discovered that she is sensitive to mango and papaya, though. I'm amazed by how much Ava has added to mealtimes because it's only been a couple months that she wanted to eat solid foods. Still, she prefers to nurse most of the time when we're together so most of the solid foods she eats is at daycare.

Last weekend, we participated in the Mutt Strut charity walk on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to benefit the Humane Society. With our 3-year old Vizsla, Bena, and 13-month old, Ava in the stroller, we walked the 2.5 mile "Track." May is a big month in Indy with the 500 Indycar race on Memorial Day weekend. With Aaron's influence, we are all racing fans now! We took these pictures at the winner's podium. Even though it was a rainy day, we enjoyed the rare access on the track! Here's a peek at last year when Ava was the Indy 500 Queen at her daycare.

Aaron is going to the Indy 500 qualifying in a couple weeks and we're hosting a house-full of friends on Memorial Day weekend for the big race weekend. Usually Aaron camps out with the guys, but this year he's having a tamer weekend like a true Indy local. They'll get to the track about 6am and tailgate before the race starts at noon. I'm planning to have my own "Girls Indy 500" viewing party here at the house with Ava and our friend, Lauren, who's coming with her husband for the race from Chicago.

Ava learned to blow kisses to say goodbye this week! She is saying new words all the time, too! She can clearly say Bena now. Her favorite words are: dada, mama, dog, Bena, and bye-bye. At daycare, she's obsessed with a fish decoration that hangs from the ceiling and after hearing the word fish many times said "fi." She is now pointing at things she wants to know about and says "dat" to ask what it is. We did an entire grocery shopping trip last weekend doing that routine. It's fun to see her curiosity develop!

I've been trying to get more sleep! I blogged a few weeks ago that I've been getting very little sleep since I'm working and doing a couple other important jobs - being a mother and wife. I know moms do it all the time all over, but since I'm only 13-months into motherhood, I'm still finding my balance. Ava sleeps well, but I have a hard time getting to sleep at night because it's my only "free" time. I say free, but really I spend it reading, doing chores, making lunches, blogging, or working. Then get up early for the next day all over again. I've been making an effort to get sleep and Aaron has been reminding me to get sleep and leave things alone.

On that note, I'm going to sign off so I can go to bed! We have a busy May coming up and I'm so excited for summer!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Product Review: Eco-Friendly Baby and Toddler Tableware

Last month, I got a sampling of these adorable and very functional eco-friendly, BPA-free baby and toddler tableware from Dandelion. We had been using the metal spoons with the plastic coating on the tip and it's such a big difference since we switched these these spoons, which are made from a renewable resource - corn!

The yellow tableware is ultra modern and hip by design, but also ergonomic. The infant spoons (in the middle) are a perfect fit for tiny mouths and the curve of the tip holds soups really well. They are lightweight, which is nice because I think the metal option might to be dangerous if your child likes to play with the spoon as a toy, which mine does! I take her spoon to daycare and our caregiver loved them so much she asked me for the website so she could buy some for a gift. A 6-pack of spoons costs $6.99, which s pretty good.

Ava isn't ready for the plates or the toddler fork and spoon, but the chubby style will fit nicely in small hands that are learning to use utensils.

The only downside is that the tableware is not dishwasher safe. We follow the instructions to wash with warm soapy water and let air dry. With all the dish washing we do by hand, it's not a problem for us, but you have to be careful not too put them in by mistake.

We haven't used the divided plates yet, but they are going to be great when Ava starts using plates and the toddler utensils. At 13-months, she's at the stage that everything hits the floor so we serve her a few items on her tray and let her experiment. Everything is lightweight enough so if your baby threw it, it wouldn't harm anything.

Give it a try! I think they are a nice gift item for a new baby or 1st birthday for the eco-friendly parents out there.