Monday, December 30, 2013

Anniversary Night

Today was our seventh wedding anniversary. Thanks to my auntie's generous offer to babysit, my husband and I went out for a nice dinner sans the Blueberry. When we returned home, since we were all dressed up and the Blueberry was still awake, I decided we should take a nice family picture with the tree in the background.

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However, it took about 50 shots to get one just right because the Blueberry wasn't really in the mood.

First he just wanted to look at the tree.
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Then he decided he was tired.
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He wanted to thrash about a bit.
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And by a bit, I mean a lot.
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Then we were back to tired.
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Finally, just as we were about to give up, he looked up and smiled.
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Thank goodness. Time to call it a night.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Back to the Library - The Thank You Bear Series

Greetings, Folks! It's only been nearly two and a half months since my last post. I know this entire year I haven't been the greatest with blogging--it's been so easy to become lazy and just rely upon Facebook to share pictures and special moments with family and friends. However, I love the ability to share more in the form of a blog post, as well as stuff that not all of my Facebook friends are particularly interested in. Thus, I'm not abandoning my blogs. I just have to figure out how to get back on schedule.

My excuse for my latest blogging absence is another move! Given that it was my fourth move in three years, you'd of thought that I'd have everything down pat, but somehow with the Blueberry it was much much more. We're still settling in, but are about 95% unpacked. Unfortunately, that 5% doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.

My husband's work took us from Northern Virginia to Central Maryland. So far it's been fantastic. I could go on and on about how we love that there are more than two major roads, how there are continuous sidewalks, and a wealth of family-friendly things to do. But I didn't log on to gush about our new home, so maybe I'll do a moving update a little later. Maybe. One of the biggest perks for the Blueberry and I is all the things we can walk to. Farmers markets, parks, play lots, grocery stores, a major mall, and TWO libraries! This month we've been to the library several times and discovered a new series that was made for me. (The Blueberry seems to like it a lot too, but I love, love, love it!) Naturally it's about a bear.

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The Thank You Bear series is a five book series by Greg Foley. The first, Thank Your Bear is a sweet story with teaches that you should have confidence in yourself and trust your own instincts. (That's kinda loaded for a kid's book, I thought, but it's done amazing well.) Basically, Bear find something that he thinks will be perfect for his best friend Mouse. The other animals scoff at his present, more or less saying that it is a worthless thing. By the time Bear sees Mouse, he's full of self doubt, but Mouse loves it. The illustration is simple but adorable. With only a few lines per page, it's perfect to hold the Blueberry's attention and love of page-turning. This book appears to be available in hard cover, paperback, and board book. I'm definitely planning on adding a copy to our collection.

Next is Don't Worry Bear. In this tale another of Bear's friends is introduced--Caterpillar. When Caterpillar disappears inside his cocoon for what seems like ages, Bear worries. Caterpillar (from inside the coccoon) and the other animals reassure Bear that Caterpillar is quite all right, but Bear worries. Then suddenly, the cocoon is empty. Another cute story. Not quite as poignant as Thank You Bear, but definitely a warm and fuzzy read.

Next is Good Luck Bear. Similar to the first book, Bear along with his good friend Mouse embark on a task that the other animals think is impossible, silly, or otherwise not worthwhile. Just as they become disappointed, they do even better than their goal. Self-confidence is reinforced. Another touching story.

Finally, we read I Miss You Mouse, which is the Blueberry's absolute favorite. No doubt this is because it is a lift-the-flap book. I was so impressed how gentle the Blueberry is with this book, even though the paper is much thinner than most of his other beginning peek-a-boo books. He also is quite partial to red, which makes it easy to spot this book even when Mommy buries it in a stack of library books. Unlike the other stories, this book tells the tale of Mouse as he looks for Bear. Though we only see Bear in a few pages at the end of the story, I found this story quite charming, even though it's a bit sad when Mouse despairs that he might not find Bear. The theme of friendship is stronger than ever in this book. I also liked that for once the other animals aren't perceived as mean or otherwise uncaring. Definitely this book and the first are the tops of the series that we've read so far.

The last book in the series is called Make a Wish Bear, which we haven't borrowed yet. I paged through it at the library and decided to wait a bit because it's a wintery story and reading about snow when it's 90 degrees out rather depresses me. Greg Foley also has a stand-alone children's book called Purple Little Bird and two-book series featuring a character named Wiloughby. We'll likely be checking those out soon.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Are We Smarter Than Our Parents? Likely, Not. But Why Did They Do Such Stupid Things?

My husband has this saying that may not be original, but rings true: "We won't make the same mistakes our parents did; instead, we'll make all new ones." As a new parent, it's a near-daily struggle to wade through all the advice and "research" available to help us raise our new little one. Until recently, I hadn't encountered much of the "when you (or your husband) were little, we did X," nor the accompanying suggestion that such methods must have been "right." Living hundreds to thousands of miles from relatives has a few perks, I guess. However, in the just last few months, especially as my son has really begun developing new skills, that changed and I've heard quite a number of anecdotes about how I or my husband did this or that at such and such an age and/or what the corresponding parent did in response. Indeed, many of these stories are cute, heartwarming, and/or of interest. For example, knowing when my husband got his first tooth, rolled over, or learn to crawl might give me a rough idea when the Blueberry might do the same things. A story about how I used to hide my shoes in my toy box is cute. However, less helpful and frankly quite perplexing are the tales of which baby commercial baby food I was fed or how alcohol diaper wipes were used constantly for the antiseptic/sanitizing purpose of preventing diaper rash!

If you've done any research on babies on how to raise a child in the last ten years, you know that the recommendations are very different than when we were raised. Formula is no longer king. Putting the baby to sleep on his tummy is a huge no-no. Making your own baby food is easy. Organic or minimally processed ready-made food is ubiquitous and cool. Avoiding the use of harsh chemicals on a baby's skin is a must. Drugs, including those by prescription, are potentially dangerous and to be avoided whenever possible. In efforts to explain and excuse the sins of our parents' generation, it's said "this is all we knew at the time", "this is what was recommended by the doctor," and so forth. I've said this myself numerous times as I try not to judge parents who raised now-healthy, intelligent children. But I can't help but wonder, especially with things I find so incredible (like putting a baby in laundry basket in lieu of a car seat), what were our parents thinking? Didn't they question the advice they were given? Didn't they have any common sense?

I suspect that one of the biggest changes in parenting and lifestyles in general in recent years is that we question more and have more information at our fingertips. Commercial products are no longer magical things. Instead, we question what we eat, put on our bodies, and even the air we breathe due to our cars or the power plant down the road. But it doesn't seem like our parents did that. Brand loyalty and dogmatic belief in their chosen method of parenting seem to have been the order of the day.

As you know, we've taken a crunchy-natural approach to raising the Blueberry. I breastfeed, cloth diaper, avoid as many chemicals as possible, and serve my son mostly organic homemade baby food. All of these things are choices I've made based upon available information, financial means, and lifestyle choices. In no way do I think they're the ideal/perfect way to raise a child. Nor do I think he'll necessarily be any healthier or smarter than the child raised on formula and Gerber jarred foods. While I think my choices are smart ones, I believe I'm aware of the consequences of such choices. For example, by not formula feeding my child was not provided with extra iron. Current research asserts that babies are born with a certain amount of iron reserves and such reserves are depleted around 6 months. Breast milk has less iron than formula, however it is absorbed more easily so it might be a wash. Moreover, the medical conclusion that babies need X amount of iron might be incorrect assuming they child is otherwise growing and healthy. My choice in exclusive breastfeeding was based foremost upon convenience and the belief that something naturally produced to sustain a baby by the same body that grew him in 9 months was highly preferable to powdery stuff containing God-knows-what made in a factory in China. By making my own food, I am taking what I can get at the grocery store in terms of freshness. By purchasing organic and providing a variety of fruits and vegetables, I might be buying pears from Chile or mangoes from Mexico. The evils of processed food are arguably tempered by the fact that the processing might begin with much fresher vegetables than I can buy as I have not found a good farmers' market near me. By cloth diapering, I trade avoidance of man-made chemicals for the risks of occasional ammonia or bacterial buildup due to my wash routine (in which I've chosen to depend upon commercial soap). I clean mostly with baking soda, vinegar and water, but don't kid myself that they're as powerful in germ-killing as bleach. In short, I've made my choices, know at least some of their weaknesses, and investigate alternatives regularly.

I don't hear any of that inquiry or trace of doubt in the vast majority of the stories from our parents' generation. Were they not taught to question? The surely must have been given the monumental political chances that occurred in their lifetime, even in the years before they had children. Or is it simply that time has allowed memories to become rosier than the actual events? Or that their children are now successful adults serves as some objective proof of good choices? Maybe in 20 or 30 years, I'll be telling my children what I used to do in the same holier-than-thou manner way I've had advice given or stories recounted. But I hope not. I don't consider myself any more humble than most, but I always hope I keep questioning and looking for new ways to do things. For now, I'll do my best to take what I can from these anecdotes, which are likely well-meaning. I'll try not to roll my eyes or snap when I'm told that there must have been something special in jarred baby food chicken that made the baby want to eat it (with the obvious suggestion that I'm stupid for feeding my child organic chicken rather than the processed stuff).

Monday, May 20, 2013

VTech Sit to Stand Learning Walker

The Blueberry received the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker as a Christmas present and I must say that it's proven to be an exceptionally versatile toy. The colorful panel detaches from the walker part and makes a great floor toy, complete with carry-handle. Lights and music engaged the baby at first, then soon he moved on to spinning the gears, closing then opening the little shutter to play "peek-a-boo" with a hen, shaking the phone rattle, and playing with the connected shapes.

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When he began pulling up, the wide handle of the walker part was perfect for him to grab onto--provided an adult was stabilizing the device. Otherwise, it would simply tip over. When I bought a couple other walkers, I realized how great the VTech wide design was as the Blueberry cannot yet pull himself up on the much narrow handles of this one by Playskool or this one by Fisher Price. These other two walkers have the advantage of converting to ride on toys, which means he will hopefully get use of them as a toddler, but they're not suited for pulling up on now. The VTech walker also has two "speed" settings on the wheels, which the other two lack.

It took the Blueberry at least a couple weeks after learning to pull up before he grasped the concept of forward movement. He would jump up and down, but that was it. After much practice with Mommy and Daddy leading him about the apartment like a marionette, the Blueberry finally managed it on his own. Even on the lower "speed" settings on the toy, until the Blueberry gained more balance, a parent had to stabilize the walker and move it very slowly forward or it would roll right from under him. Finally, this morning he managed it on his own!

In this video, here's the Blueberry walking on his own with the walker. He still has some work to do in the balance area as he face-planted a number of times as he started to tire (or when he became distracted by things such as track lighting), but he's definitely on his way to getting about on his own!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

In going through the drafts folder, I found this mini book review which just needed a picture and some links. I must confess that Mom has been buying books like crazy at consignment sales where they're often just a couple dollars for multiple books and we haven't been to our local library in months. As the weather becomes consistently nicer, hopefully the Blueberry and I will start making regular trips.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff (New York: HarperCollins, 1991) is from the same author as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie which we read last June and very much enjoyed. In this story, rather than a cute little mouse, the visiting animal is a huge moose. Tempted into the home by a boy who offers him a muffin, the moose soon makes himself quite at home, asking for the boy's mom's special blackberry jam, then more muffins. When the boy agrees to make more muffins, a trip to the store is first required and naturally the moose wants to go along. However, first the moose needs a sweater, then needs to sew a button, then make finger puppets and so on. It's quite hilarious with colorful illustrations to engage any early reader.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Walking the Baby

For unknown reasons, the Blueberry has skipped certain traditional development steps and is rushing full steam towards others. Sure, many kids skip crawling and move right into walking, but who skips sitting up and goes right to standing up? Apparently, my child. He can sit for ages if we place him in a sitting position, but his tummy muscles just don't seem to be strong enough to lift his upper body more than 45 degrees. I'm fairly confident that he'll eventually learn the missing skills, and his pediatrician wasn't concerned, so we'll just let him progress at his own pace.

For nearly a month now, the Blueberry has demonstrated a love of standing and is already on his way towards cultivating the independence that comes with it. Now when I put him on his feet (or he gets there himself) and I attempt to support him under his armpits, he pulls my hands into his. It's like he's saying, "No, Mommy I don't need you to hold me up. I just need a good pair of walking sticks."

Numerous times a day, his Daddy and I walk him around the apartment. His favorite trips are when we go all the way from one room to another. He still needs some prompting to move his feet forward, rather than simply up and down but he's learning.

Here's Daddy walking the Blueberry from the baby's room to the living room.
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Sometimes he doesn't make it very far into the next room.
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But the Blueberry is happy to be finally on the move, all the same.
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Trying Out Shutterfly

As you know if you've been following the Blueberry's blog, I've fallen far behind on posting what I had once hoped would be regular (or at least weekly) updates. Luckily, picture-taking of the Blueberry has not suffered anywhere near the same amount of neglect as the blog. Thus, I have a ton of pictures gathering virtual dust by the day. I had to do something to preserve them in an organized fashion. With Mother's Day fast approaching, all of the major photo-printing websites have offered numerous coupons and incentives to try their products. With a great deal from Zulily, I made this photobook on Shutterfly. It covers ages 6 - 9 Months. I've also made another book covering birth to 6 months, but that website wasn't neat enough to provide a link to embed the book.

Click here to view this photo book larger

According to Shutterfly, baby photo books are the perfect way to preserve your baby's precious moments.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

More Holiday 2012 Pictures

Hmmm, these are only about 4 months late being posted. I started this post in early January, but somehow just never finished it. These pictures are from our Christmas visit at the grandparents'. My auntie braved the cold and flew in from Hawaii to spend time with us. In addition to the excitement he had on Christmas day, the Blueberry was extremely busy during his Christmas vacation.

He went for a spin around the living room in his new jogging stroller, which was built by Grandpa.

He played with Grandma.


He played with his Auntie.

He napped during a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Isn't he too adorable in his little fleece hunter's hat and JJ Cole BundleMe?

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He also got this nifty rocking lounge chair (aka another place to nap) from his Uncle.

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The Blueberry was extremely fascinated by the froggy.

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On New Year's Eve, the Blueberry finally got eye to eye with Grandpa.

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I'm not sure who amused who more.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

New Skill!

Last night, I left the Blueberry with his Daddy while I prepared his bath. This is what I found when I went to get the baby.

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He pulled himself up using the side of the crib!

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Apparently, he was trying to reach the mobile.

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We attempted to convince him to try again for a video, but he was only interesting in gnawing away. Little mouse!

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Suffice to say, I lowered the crib mattress before bedtime. (Daddy took care of the bath!) At the new height he hasn't managed to pull himself up, though he's tried. When he does manage it, he hopefully won't go toppling over the side for at least a few more months or until he learns to climb.

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Dance baby, dance!

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Aren't you finished taking pictures yet, Mom?!!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hanging Out in the Exersaucer

Wow, I knew it had been awhile since I posted, but not that it had been more than a month! Yikes! I have a number of "things" to post as the Blueberry provides content on a daily basis, I just need to find the time to catch up. In the meantime, here's a video I snapped this evening when I noticed he was simply leaning his head back every time the music stopped and hitting the keys with his noggin. He mastered the 360 degree turn some weeks ago, so this is definitely laziness. Or cleverness...

Please note that this video may not be viewable using an iPhone or iPad.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cranial Helmet

It's been nearly two weeks since the Blueberry was outfitted with his cranial helmet. It's officially called the Doc Band and is used by the folks at Cranial Technologies. Let's just say that's I'm unimpressed. I'm not entirely certain what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. The helmet is essentially styrofoam covered in a layer of plastic. It's extremely ill-fitting and causes red pressure marks all over his head. (So much for the super fit they claim to get as a result of their 360 degree picture.) We've been back and forth a couple of times already to get the fit acceptably right. At first, they instructed us to inform them if red marks lasted for more than an hour. After two "adjustments", which simply means sanding down some of the styrofoam, the tech said she was okay with "light pink." Boo.

Oh, and little details no one mentioned before we got it: that it will take a week or better for him to get used to sleeping with the helmet on; it will smell like a dirty sock over time; and it will pinch his eye. Though the sleeping aspect is annoying (I think he might have slept one night it in it thus far and wakes up every 30-60 minutes when he does sleep in it), what I'm bothered most is the pressure it places on his eyes, particularly his left. It makes him look like he's frowning! My happy baby now has a near perpetual frown. I also worry that it might cause him to have a lazy eye or in some way inhibit the proper development of that side of his face.

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Here he is at the "fitting" appointment. They made a little more room for his eye than shown here, but not much.

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Despite Mom's worries, for the most part he ignores the helmet during the day.

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Obviously, he has more important things to concern himself with. "Enough picture-taking, Mom!"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Irony of the darn helmet

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7 months

Supposedly letting him sleep in places other than his crib led to his flat head and a need for the cranial helmet which I currently hate. The irony of it is that since getting it he's fallen asleep in places/positions he never has before. Poor little guy...he's probably exhausted from the crappy night's sleep in that thing last night. We made it till 130am sleeping in 30-60 minute increments or less before Mommy gave up. Argh!

In other news, I can't believe how much he's grown!
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3 months

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sitting in the Sun

I know this blog is in desperate need of an update. Unfortunately, I don't have time for that now. However, I just checked my camera for recent pictures and had to share this one from yesterday. After about a week of yucky weather, yesterday was bright and sunny. As you can see, he's doing great sitting up. It's a matter of whether he wants to or not. He can go for 20 minutes or more of sitting up when placed in upright, but still hasn't quite grasped the consequences and will suddenly slump over to the side or kick back with a thud (and cry). However, just this past week he began using his tummy muscles to return to a fully upright position from about a 45-60 degree angle. Sitting all the way up can't be too far off.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

7 Months Old!

On the eve of his 7 month birthday, the Blueberry had a wonderful treat for his mommy...semi-solid poop! In the world of cloth diapering, this is a joyous occasion where the poop just plops off into the toilet with no spraying, dunking, or scraping required. Did we actually weather through the storm of the yucky peanut butter poop or was this a mere teaser to give me hope? Sort of how he slept through the night around two months, then didn't do it again for another two months or so? Either way, I'll take it! Here are a few milestones we celebrated this month...

He started solids exactly a month ago and wasn't too sure about them at first.
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But now he's eating two meals a day and clamoring for more! In this video, you can see him devour his carrots. (Note: This video may not be viewable on an iPhone or iPad.)

He sat in his first restaurant high chair without any difficulty.
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He became a bouncing fanatic.
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He's began examining everything intently.
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But most importantly, he's still getting cuter and cuter every day!
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With a little help from his Dad.
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Happy 7-month birthday, Blueberry!