3.28.2014

Teething and Our New "Family Bed"

Teething has been rough on us.
Sweet Little Mouse, finally asleep after some teething oil
and a nice walk around the house in our BECO carrier.
Here are the highlights: Terrible sleep, snoring sounds like a Mac truck engine, mega-clingy, and random outbursts of screaming and biting anything that is in arm's reach (thankfully not Mom...yet).

A little over two weeks ago, we had transitioned Little Mouse out of his Pack-and-Play and into a crib in his own room with little effort. A few nights before the "big move," I put a drop of lavender oil on the wheels of his Pack-and-Play, and did the same on the frame beneath his mattress on his first few nights there. I'm not sure if that helped or not, but it did smell nice! He continued his usual 3-5 nursings per night, which was a little more exhausting since I had to walk across the apartment to get to him, but he seemed to sleep better with more space. 

Cue the teething.

The first tooth came through without difficulties. HOORAY! 


But Mommy got overconfident. She started bragging about how "Baby Boy's tooth came through and he's no worse for the wear!" 

And that's when, only a few days after the first tooth really broke through that the second tooth decided to come.

But after much progress, that mean ol' second tooth seems to have decided to just sit tight for awhile and cause pain without actually going anywhere.

So it's been up and down all night, waking every 45 minutes. UNLESS he's in bed with us. 

Our mattress was already on the floor because he had slept with us before transitioning to the Pack-and-Play (seriously I need to make a chart for this - "Evolution of Little Mouse's Sleeping"). After three sleepless nights in his crib, we decided to bring him back to bed. PROBLEM: He's grown quite a bit since he last slept in bed with us. QUITE. A. BIT.

So I woke up Wednesday morning feeling like I was in labor. I AM NOT KIDDING. I must have slept weird or something because I couldn't even BREATHE it hurt so badly. But I DID get sleep that night, so I was at a terrible, terrible crossroads: Do I sacrifice both my and Little Mouse's sleep and keep him in his crib, or sacrifice my physical well-being and feel like I am DYING for the first 3 hours of every morning?

But neither options were "solutions" or even a little bit desirable. And that's when I remembered all those pictures of floor beds I had been pinning on Pinterest for Little Mouse's future room. "EUREKA! A FAMILY floor bed!"

So I side-carred Little Mouse's crib mattress to our mattress on the floor in our room. Problem solved!

Right? Wrong.

See, I *thought* it would go something like this:


Ahhhh...blissful slumber! And it does usually *start out* that way. But after an hour or two, it's this:
this... 
and this.
(Yes, he did at one point crawl over to me from his "bed" and attempt to sleep face-down on my stomach.)

Oh, well. I know he'll sleep on his own again soon, but for now, he needs a little extra comfort while we wait for that stubborn second tooth to get its act together. At least I get cuddles all night long from a cute little beebee. :)

Until Little Mouse lets me write again...









UPDATE: I wrote this blog post this afternoon as he was napping on me in his carrier. At that point his second tooth was significantly lower than his first. Daddy and I noticed tonight while we were getting him ready for bed, though, that the second tooth seems to have almost caught up to the first! That explains all the agony last night and today - that thing was getting ready for a sprint! Sorry to paint you in such a bad light, Second Tooth. Maybe you aren't such a lazy curmudgeon after all.

PLEASE NOTE: The bed looks nice and "made" with the comforter and extra pillows, but at night I only sleep with a light blanket and on the edge of one pillow. When Super Baby cuddles, it's always been instinctively at chest-level. The cute little stuffed animals on his "made" bed are placed on the floor at the end of his bed when he is using it for sleeping. Bedsharing and co-sleeping can be done SAFELY if done PROPERLY. Here's a good resource to start with.

3.25.2014

GUEST POST: Whoever controls the Media controls the mind

Since the birth of Little Mouse, hubby and I have made several changes in our lives - particularly in the area of media consumption - as a result of our growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We were both raised in the Church (me as a Catholic and Luke as an Evangelical Christian), but only began to really dig into our faith after my baptism two summers ago.

In Autumn of this past year (on Halloween, ironically enough) Lucas spoke at a school chapel on the topic of entertainment. He spoke boldly concerning the Word of God, asked some difficult questions, shared the testimony of how God has blessed us immensely for changing how we spend our time, and started a firestorm of conversation among teens and teachers alike. It is a difficult exercise to pull back the curtain and take an inventory of your heart: How are you spending your time? How are the things you're filling your time with affecting you? Because however much we argue otherwise, they ARE affecting us.

One of his students wrestled with this idea for months. She prayed about it. She asked questions. Lucas asked her questions in return (he's encouraging like that; he'll almost never give the answer, he'll just ask you to read your Bible, pray about it, and find the answer yourself!). She read and read. She thought and asked questions and prayed and read and thought some more. Then, she wrote a journal entry that she was brave enough to share. 

And with her permission, I'm sharing it with you:

Whoever controls the Media controls the mind –Jim Morrison

This is a very true statement. We can’t do anything to control our own mind if we allow those that control the media control us. The media tells teenagers that we are just raging bags of hormones and should do whatever we want all day every because if it feels good, that’s just what we should do. We watch movies about witchcraft. We read about the supernatural. We say that it doesn’t influence us at all and I think that is the most incorrect answer anyone could possibly give. We become numb objects that couldn’t possible care anymore because that’s all we see and we internalize it quickly. We read it. We hear it. Our peers tell us these things all the time; why would we not internalize it?

We are willing to listen to songs that have a great beat but they have terribly foul language that even a sailor wouldn’t use around his wife. Think of it like this: we wake up in the morning and the first thing that we do is put our music on because we don’t want to hear anyone else. We go to school and we have our headphones in. We never get off our cell phones. We don’t know how to talk to each other anymore because all we do is text and learn who a person is that way. We can’t understand why but we internalize this method of living like it’s all we can ever do. Our mind hears everything we give it. 

Our soul is fed with what we choose to give it every day. We choose to feed our minds with garbage, which is exactly what we get out of our own lives. We want to be more than a piece of useless garbage on the sidewalk but that is all we feed our minds with so why shouldn’t we be a piece of garbage? You are what you eat right? So I guess if that’s what we are eating, that is what we become. Those that occupy what we hear occupy our minds. We are fed with this every day and soon enough we will lose ourselves to the mind of the media, accepting what they are preaching. The media allows us to live through them. We slowly die in the midst of our own choices. Media has taken its toll and soon we will not be able to stop it. We will be its mindless robots that do whatever it wants us to do. 

Media is like a drug; it slowly makes us feel important and that we can relate to it. Only that’s not the case. We long for its presence and what it brings us and we want it to bring us that happy feeling that it once did and we begin to crave its true presence. Once it has its grip on us we are powerless. We lose ourselves in its strong grip and what it makes us do. We hear it, look at it, touch it, search it every day. We binge on it day in, day out and even while we are so drunk with it presence and we end our time together in a hangover, we still want it. We want all of it again, slowly making us dwindle into a slow epitome. 

Those that do end up in Media rehab wonder how they got there. What did this to them? It was the thing they thought could bring them happiness. The thing they thought could give them joy and make them a better version of themselves. Once they get back to the real world they see what it has done to them and those that they love. It will never leave them, but then they go back to their old ways because one taste isn’t that bad right? We slowly lose ourselves to it and we can’t stop. Soon we die because we keep doing this to ourselves and we never make it back to rehab. Only it’s the worst thing! It makes you remember why you fell in love with it in the first place. And it slowly begins to consume you again and you can never hope to let it leave. 

You chose to not go back to rehab. You choose to let it run you, you become okay with it, and then one day it chooses to take the life that you thought it nurtured so well carefully and kindly. Only it sucked your soul out. It kills many and takes them to a place they never thought they could go. But guess what? They went there and there is no one left to save them anymore.*

* IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION: Her point here is that the deeper we get into sin, the harder it is to turn around, and if we don't ever rely or haven't ever relied on Christ to cover and save us from those sins, then there truly is no one left to save us in terms of eternity - especially not ourselves!
JESUS is ALWAYS willing to save those who turn to Him! From a practical standpoint, too, filling your mind with muck can be devastating to our spiritual health - not our salvation, because belief in Christ takes care of that! But shifting our focus from God to grime can have a very negative impact on our earthly lives.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast..." Ephesians 2:8-9

3.10.2014

UPDATES | MommyCon, BLW, and the Neverending Thrush Bug

"Let me explain... No, there is too much. Let me sum up."


ONE:  The Never Ending Thrush Bug (or was it?) 

Last week was the first time in three months - yes, THREE WHOLE MONTHS - that I nursed Little Mouse without any pain. THREE MONTHS, y'all. Oy. Vey.

SO: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck, right? Well, maybe not after all.

After Diflucan, Nystatin, probiotics & all-purpose nipple ointment; after vinegar rinses, grapefruit seed extract concoctions, toy & laundry disinfecting, & letting the girls air out; and after nursing repositioning, Tylenol, warm compresses, or even cool ones, I was still having sandpaper-like pain with every nursing session. 

No matter how difficult or painful it got, though, I just couldn't give up on that sweet little face! Finally, I decided to treat this symptom as though it was simply dry skin instead of ultra-resistant thrush.

Since I can't tolerate lanolin or other natural ointments for whatever reason, I decided to go the simplest route I could think of: COCONUT OIL. I kicked breast pads to the curb, wore looser fitting nursing tanks, and slathered on coconut oil after each feeding. BAM. FIXED. HEALED. CURED. FIIIIIIIINALLY.

If it was thrush, I don't know why coconut oil of all things helped. But hey, whatever works, right?


UPDATE: It was a fluke. The pain has returned. POOOOOOP.


TWO:  Baby-Led Solids (aka "Baby-Led Weaning")

Little Mouse LOOOOOOVES feeding himself and loves new foods, as long as he's awake and alert. Hit a mealtime at the wrong end of his wakeful period, and it's a no-go. Otherwise, though, he's a happy and adventurous eater, as evidenced by the broccoli all over his face:

With broccoli, bathtime always follows shortly after...

So far he's had apples, sweet potatoes, mangoes, broccoli, sweet peppers, lentils, brown rice, carrots, bananas, watermelon, and Tilapia. He's also enjoyed his share of Baby Mum Mums and baby cereal puffs. His stand-out favorites so far are sweet peppers and broccoli, he's indifferent about bananas, and he's only had a reaction to "Baby Crack" aka those baby cereal puffs. He had a bit of an uptick in his eczema rash after those (perhaps the wheat?), so we're holding off on packaged foods and wheat/gluten until a later date.
 
He loves feeding himself with a spoon (oh what messy fun!) and usually hates being spoon-fed by me or hubby. He's a fiercely independent little boy. He's even decided bananas are to be eaten with spoons as well. Though not the most efficient method of banana eating, it is at least fun to witness!


THREE:  MommyCon Chicago 2014

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend MommyCon this year with one of my best friends from high school, Jess!


Little Mouse and I got there a little late due to some extra nursing stops on the way up and missed the workshops on essential oils and the healing properties of amber, but we were still in time to hear some of my favorite bloggers and pros in the industry! We heard Jessica from The Leaky B@@b (pictured), who spoke on normalizing breastfeeding; the founder of Cotton Babies, Jennifer Labit, who gave a seminar on cloth diapering; and Jaime The Baby Guy, who gave us the skinny on carseat safety.

We also got to try our hand at some different BECO baby carriers at the "Baby Wearing Lounge", check out the play room (and the hallway - Little Mouse loves crawling anywhere he can!), and hit up all the awesome vendors!

And of COURSE, what would any good convention be without SWAG? As Michael Scott so accurately put it, "SWAAAG! Stuff we all get. I basically decorated my condo [or in this case, pampered Mommy/raised baby] for free with all of my SWAG!"
 
The only trying part of the whole adventure was the drive home (6 hours because of treacherous weather and a baby ready to be home), but let's leave the past in the past, shall we? Suffice it to say God heard my prayer and delivered us from the fate of so many spun out to the left and the right of us. Amen!


ETCETERA...

While at MommyCon, we picked up one of those Baltic amber teething necklaces everyone is going gaga over these days. I was skeptical, but when Little Mouse's neck rash cleared up in less than 24 hours after THREE separate prescriptions and countless other remedies wouldn't touch it, I'm convinced those things work. Even other extremely skeptical family members have remarked at how amazed they are that it ACTUALLY worked! I wish I had a before picture of how bad it was, but I was so embarrassed by it, documenting it was the last thing I wanted to do! So here's a super adorable picture of baby boy loving his awesome Momma Goose Baltic amber necklace instead:


I've also been busy crafting:

Matching skirts and bowties for sis-in-law and family...

A nice, warm "harf" (hat/scarf all-in-one combo) for Little Mouse...

And some DoodlePants to fit that lovely cloth diaper bum!

Now back to keeping up with cloth diaper laundry, which Little Mouse has been more than happy to help with these days!
 

Until Little Mouse lets me write again...

3.07.2014

DIY Baby Laundry Detergent

Before Little Mouse was born, we did a lot of planning and preparation to reduce the cost of our growing family.  

We built up a stash of cloth diapers, attended the area's largest kids' consignment sale, and hit up lots and lots of garage sales. One of the ongoing things we chose to do to reduce cost was use our own homemade baby laundry detergent. 


Do you know how much laundry you end up doing in the newborn, crazy-breastfed-blowout stage? Ummm, a lot.

Not only did using homemade baby laundry detergent ease the burden on our wallet, it also gave me peace of mind knowing that nothing harsh, chemically, or possibly irritating (see: fragrances) would be touching my new baby's skin. Yes, even detergents formulated for babies like Dreft have fragrances! So, you can either go the expensive, organic and all-natural store-bought detergent route, or you can make your own.
 

The first batch lasted us about three months, but as mid-day outfit changes became a thing of the past, we got a little more mileage out of the recipe - about five months. Since it has served us SO well, I wanted to share our recipe as I set out making our third batch!

Step 1: Assemble your supplies
- (2) bars Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Castile soap
- (2) cups of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Powder
- (2) cups of 20 Mule Team Borax
-
A food processor, knife, and cutting board for the quick & easy way, or a simple cheese grater for the traditional method. 
- A container to store your detergent. A smallish Sterilite flip-top container works well, or an empty OxiClean or other detergent tub.


Step 2: Process your soap 
If you're going the traditional route, grate your soap against the cheese grater and pray you don't shred some of your finger along with it (You know as well as I do that it always happens. A-l-w-a-y-s. Usually toward the end when you start to think, "Hey, I made it without trauma!" and get a little cocky. SLICE!).

If you're trying your hand at the new-and-improved method - which I highly recommend! - prep your soap for your food processor by cutting it into chunks. You'll notice that the soap sort of flakes as you cut it, making this process even easier.

Drop the chunks into the food processor and process the soap until you're left with sweet little soap pellets.

Step 3: Mix it up
Mix your washing soda and borax together first, then add in your soap pellets. 
Mix well, toss in a scoop for measuring, and you're done!

Use 1-2 tablespoons per load of laundry (that's line 1 or 2 if you're using a scoop) for fresh, clean, odorless and chemical/additive-free laundry - perfect for delicate baby skin! This recipe works well for the whole family's laundry, and can even be scented with a drop or two of your favorite essential oils, if desired - geranium or lemon are my favorites for my & hubby's detergent!


Have you ever made your own detergents or household cleaners? Did you like it? Did you choose to DIY on cleaners to save money, live naturally, or another reason?


Until Little Mouse lets me write again...