— sojourning, us

Tag "motherhood"

For the past few months, we’ve somehow managed to endure all four of Elisha’s first-year molars moving into their proper places in his mouth. It wasn’t always easy. Compared to the rest of his teeth, the molars were full of more crankies, more snot, and more restless sleep than ever before.

Well, that is until his incisors started growing in.


I will admit I’ve been happy there hasn’t been much in the runny nose department, but the restless sleep and crankies come and go and come and go on a day-to-day basis. Couple this with the force of a 16-month old blooming head-first into his toddlerhood and the adventure just gets more and more whine-filled.

I can’t wait for teething to be over. It’s a series of milestones I look forward to putting behind us all. Less long nights spent nursing (yes, we’re still breastfeeding … no, I don’t have a set-in-stone date for when we’ll wean) and more time exploring new foods will be something to enjoy together. Well, we may actually be able to start the weaning process if he’s ready.

Although, I really hate that phrase, especially now that we’ve come to love elimination communication and all it’s benefits. Potty “readiness” is very different, I think, from weaning “readiness.” During the worst of his teething, Elisha will sometimes refuse to eat anything (except for a bit of fruit here and there and maybe, maybe, maybe some yogurt). I just couldn’t dream of letting him go without eating, so during the worst of his teething days, he would always without fail nurse. Yes, toddler nursing antics (upside down nursing, nursing and dancing, etc.) can sometimes be a challenge to my patience, but it has been more than worth the delay in weaning to keep him full of something nutritious and so incredibly valuable to his development.

There are definitely days I am very ready to wean. There are other days that I know it will be bittersweet.

Given Elisha’s strong personality, however, I know that he will help me set the pace. He already has started putting himself to sleep at night (after nursing) instead of nursing to sleep. Sometimes, laying him in his own bed and sitting in the office chair across the room from him (singing) is the only way he’ll go to sleep. Some nights, when he wakes, I can rock him back to sleep after he goes to the potty. Other nights, he needs to nurse again. On the teething nights, he often nurses all night, but those are getting fewer and farther between.

It’s getting better. It’s been an awesome ride so far. I’m interested in seeing what the end of teething brings into our lives. It should be exciting.

His potty readiness has also been pretty amazing. Since we’ve been practicing EC over the past 10 months, it’s been crazy to see just how much babies are capable of. While he’s not that communicative while teething, he still has so very few misses these days. I’m not confident enough to go out for long errands in training undies, but we did go to church with them last Sunday without issue. He goes all day with maybe a miss or two, and he’s often dry all night long. It’s certainly lessened the burden when it comes to diaper laundry, but I have never considered washing cloth diapers to be much of a burden to begin with. Ha!

Anyway, time just keeps flying by. I still can’t believe I have a walking, talking, drawing, imagining, playing toddler.

Elisha loves to draw

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06242011 - The Garden So Far

06242011 - The Garden So Far

when i planted our garden in the beginning of June, i didn’t really have high expectations. i’ve never been much of a green thumb, and so i just figured things wouldn’t go as planned. luckily, it seems as though vegetables don’t really need much intervention or care about the color of my thumbs. they get watered every morning and a sprinkle of fertilizer every once and a while. i pluck weeds and bugs. i even invented a make-shift terrace:

06242011 - The Garden So Far

and, well, my veggies have done nothing but happily grow.

i love waking up in the morning and peeking out our bedroom window to the deck below to see how big our cherry tomato plant has grown in the night or how fluffy the cucumber foliage has gotten in the dark while we were all dreaming. it’s been really amazing. why haven’t i ever been brave enough to garden before?

i seriously have no idea.

anyway, my father in law built our two man raised beds and i converted two clementine boxes into little raised beds for lettuce (one container has mizuna and the other has mixed baby lettuces and three onions). all of the little plots are just set on the grass that was once our yard, coated in potting soil mix and fertilizer, and so far everything has been great. some of the plants are from a local little garden shop and the rest are from seeds i purchased here on Etsy.

i’ve got 4 cucumber plants, 4 gypsy pepper plants, one regular tomato plant, one cherry tomato plant, one japanese eggplant, and two banana pepper plants (one hot, one sweet). i’m excited to see little mini cucumbers growing and my first eggplant bulb peeking out of where a flower once was. the peppers seem to grow in inches over night. it’s amazing. wanna see?

06242011 - The Garden So Far

06242011 - The Garden So Far

06242011 - The Garden So Far 06242011 - The Garden So Far

i’ve always wanted a garden, so this was a big step for me. it’s been a lot of fun, and i really enjoy sharing it with Elisha. he doesn’t quite understand it all yet, but he’s getting the hang of the watering can (when he’s not busy splashing himself) and he’s learned that only i should be doing the weeding. he loves to point out the peppers growing and i have a feeling he’ll get excited about big purple eggplants.

having a baby and having a garden have similar lessons about growth—sometimes, you just have to let it happen but overall you are responsible for cultivating and directing. i can’t hover over my nasturtiums and make them bud or flower. i can’t helicopter over Elisha and expect him to turn out the way i want him to. he’s already an amazing boy, and i’m here to encourage that, to lay a foundation for him that is firm under his little feet. he’s curious and eager to learn in ways i never expected, and that’s taught me a lot about myself and my expectations of parenthood.

this “growing” of a human being (other than myself) is really quite an adventure. it’s often revealing of things i don’t like about myself, but it’s also often rewarding when i can reflect on just how much Elisha has helped me grow into a better person (though albeit sometimes a sleep-deprived one).

06242011 - The Garden So Far

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our first garden

loving the pool

our first garden

a garden visitor

What do I love this Monday? The feeling of summer that’s in the air. I mean, I’m not looking forward to the heat, but I love summer. I love sunshine and gardens and the pool. This year, we have all of those things in our back “yard” of sorts (it’s hard to call our tiny space in the back of our townhouse a yard).

We caved and bought Elisha a kiddie pool. It gives us something else to do during the day, he loves it, and we can all work on our tans together. He loves the bath (and the sink), so I figured the pool was the next logical step. It’s been very much a success, but I must admit I find a kiddie pool a bit high maintenance considering we don’t have a hose or access to one anywhere near our townhouse. Buckets of water from the sink are kind of annoying, let me tell you, especially since he plastic inflatable thing needs to be emptied and cleaned often because of things like bird poop and bugs. I don’t even think covering it would make a difference, but the smiling baby is totally worth it.

In fact, the baby smiling is really worth it after this rough month we’ve had. Three molars at once, some verbal milestones (he knows a lot of words and signs, even if he doesn’t always use them all when he could), and who knows what else have made sleeping rough and the crankies a constant battle. These past couple days have been on the up and up, however, and I’m not complaining about how worn out a dip in the pool makes little E.

He also loves to jump in first thing in the morning. It’s so cute.

A toddler is a completely different adventure, and I think I still cringe inside a little even when I type that word. He’s still my baby… but he’s gotten so big!

Another new adventure for me is gardening. We’ve got two raised beds out the kitchen door with eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, and various peppers. I’ve got some lettuce and mizuna to plant, too, but I need to knock the bottom off of two clementine boxes to fill with potting mix and seeds. I should hurry up before it gets too hot, really. Summer is creeping up on us fast … and I’m excited!

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Well, 14 months of Elisha have come and gone. Swiftly at that. I have to confess that these past few months after his first birthday have not been my favorite moments in parenting so far: first year molars and a lot of cognitive development have often left me tired and frustrated. Don’t get me wrong—we have an awesome baby—but his new abilities of walking and talking have brought with them a whole host of challenges very different from simply rolling over or crawling.

Elisha is a very sweet boy. He loves to cuddle, he gives kisses, and he is often very concerned about other babies when he sees or hears them crying. He’s a curious boy. He loves to explore and discover, especially if music, dogs, or the outside are involved in the activity. He is also a strong-spirited boy. He gets that from both myself and his father, whether it’s fortunate or not. Sometimes, it’s not a bad thing, but other times, it’s definitely difficult.

Overall, toddlerhood is a whole new set of experiences for both of us. A new chapter in parenting that has different ups and downs than having a newborn or having a mobile baby did.

Watching him grow and change is a special joy. There isn’t anything I’d want to change, even the hard parts.

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in process

in process

it was a blur of a weekend here at the house. i mostly spent it screen printing for a wedding invitation job for a friend’s sister who’s getting married in july. now that those are all done (150 invites and 150 rsvp cards, all with 2 colors screened by hand on my Gocco. whoo), i feel as though i need a weekend from my weekend.

my weekend my weekend

my weekend

my weekend my weekend

i did finally manage to spend some time relaxing yesterday, while all of my work was drying in the kitchen. please excuse the plumber’s crack on the boy … it’s somehow difficult to keep his training unders up. also, he loves the Bananagrams bag. sometimes, he thinks it’s food and will point at it and/or carry it around smacking his lips loudly (his own made up “sign” for food). other times, he’ll hold it to his head like a phone. bananaphone! i love it.

oh, an the fork. one of his forks went with him everywhere this weekend, and i mean everywhere.

little E will be 14 months old soon, and we’re just not in a hurry to wean from breastfeeding around here. one, he’s not a fan of cow’s milk, and two, i believe there are still definitely health benefits for the boy. lastly, he’s pretty much been teething like a maniac since his first birthday and when there’s nothing else he wants to eat as his first year molars claw their way through his gums, far be it from me to deny him the comfort and nutrition of breastmilk. don’t get me wrong, on good days, the boy can throw down food with toddler abandon, but on days that he is obviously in discomfort, chewing is not on his list of favorite things to do. yes, it can be frustrating for me to put up with the acrobatics of a nursing toddler, not to mention the occasional bite from an overtired, cranky boy, but, i know that the rewards are still there for both of us. he’s comforted and fed. i have a baby asleep in 15 minutes or less. no complaints there.

he no longer requests to nurse in public unless he’s tired. our nursing is now mostly centered around nap and bedtimes. before you explode with how terrible that must be for my child—how will he ever learn to sleep on his own? oh the horror!—i’ll just say this … i highly doubt my child(ren) will be unable to sleep on their own at 3, 4, or 18 years old. there will come a day that Eli sleeps on his own, and there will even come a day that he sleeps through the night (he still wakes up once to eat at night … sometimes twice).

there are definitely times that i want my body to myself. i get impatient and frustrated when there’s whining or biting or upsidedown antics. so, i’m no supermom in that respect.

to be honest, when Elisha was born i didn’t even know if we’d make it breastfeeding to begin with. it took 8 days for my milk to come in (instead of the standard 24-72 hours that all those nurses and baby books swore to me), and if it wasn’t for the assurance and help of an aspiring lactation consultant friend, i would’ve given in and supplemented with formula instead of enduring and waiting. instead, i was comforted knowing colostrum was all that my newborn needed, even though it never felt like enough. in retrospect, little E was just a hungry baby. he still is. he ate often, and i’m thankful that i was able to feed him on demand. after my milk came in and we all got to know each other better, E settled into a schedule all his own. we didn’t have to impose one, and my milk supply even endured my returning to work and pumping twice a day while at the office. i was blessed to be able to go home and feed him for lunch, and now that i’ve quit my day job to work for myself all these months later, i’ll admit i was happy to put the pump away.

i understand that not everyone will have or has had the great experiences i have with breastfeeding, but i do feel like so many new moms aren’t even given the choice to even try it. some are afraid of the whole thing, and others are simply pressured to supplement with formula when it’s not necessary or even to stop breastfeeding early. since breastmilk is a supply and demand sort of function (funny how that works out so well), i often wonder if my milk would have come in at all if i hadn’t endured the long wait.

i’ll admit that parenting has taught me a lot about patience from all sorts of angles. some of them, i wish i could’ve learned differently, but others have been worth it entirely. breastfeeding has been one part of this journey i have no regrets about. little E will wean eventually, and we’ll move on to new parenting adventures and hopefully more children.

i look forward to it all over again.

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oh no, more crazy whacked out ramblings on a Monday? really, must it go on? you ask.

well, so far, i don’t think i’m crazy, but i do have a bad habit of rambling …

i’ve written about elimination communication twice before already (here and here), but now that we’ve got over half a year’s experience of it under our belts, i thought i’d share more about it for the curious (or for those who think we’re crazy, which is more likely the case).

when i first read about EC while researching and purchasing our first (used) cloth diapers from the cloth diapering community called diaperswappers (a great place to find used cloth diapers, by the way), i’ll admit i thought it sounded really crazy, too. at first, just getting into the rhythm of parenthood was more than enough of a struggle for the hubbs and i, first-time parents as we were. however, as we got to know little E better, as we got to learn more about how he communicated with us his needs—hungry, tired, and, eventually, wet or dirty—i began to wonder if there was actually something to that EC stuff after all. since Justin was already on board with cloth diapers from the moment we found out we were expecting, i decided to share about what i’d read and see what he thought.

we bought the book, the diaper free baby, by christine gross-loh. i did most of the reading, ahem, but i did talk to hubbs about what i read (all the time, often while i was reading it …) and the basic methodology of part-time elimination communication. because i was still working full time when Eli was 6 months old, we decided to only give EC a try while i was around so Justin just kept changing diapers and washing diaper laundry as usual.

so, for me, i began to notice how simple things were right away. we gave Elisha naked time and watched for his own cues (and occasionally had some messes). he’d get suddenly loud right before (or during) a pee. or, if he was already babbling or playing, he’d go really quiet and still. he was already a regular pooper. catching poops was the easiest part of EC—he’d go every morning after waking up for the day and sometimes a second time after his first nap or before bed after meals. occasionally, he’d go a day without going or decided he’d rather just go in the car, but eventually these things both faded and he’s able to hold it to poop on the potty all the time at 13 months (well, except for that week of diarrhea, but we won’t go there … ew).

we’re at the point now where he doesn’t actually like being wet. except when he’s playing, that is. when he’s involved in something exciting, he won’t let us know he has to go (he signs his own version of “potty,” which is pointing to his diaper area or tugging on his training pants). in the car, he lets us know he’s peed in his diaper (our stash of GroVia AIOs for going out of the house; he’s not quite ready for full-time training pants) by getting very loud.

my point is, however, we started small. (and there are so many things anyone can start small on!)

we didn’t have big expectations.

it was just something new.

a parental experiment—one that, yes, we were learning, too.

he peed on his potty after naps and then before/after meals. as Justin began to witness that Elisha did cue and actually liked the potty, he began to join in. since he could sit up, he sat on a little baby bjorn potty or we’d hold him in what’s called an in-arms position over the big potty at home or while we were out. eventually, once i was working from home, we suddenly realized we’d become full-time with EC. it just kind of happened. something casual and experimental became a part of our lives as we learned to communicate with each other. Elisha learned to sign for milk and for food right alongside the sign for potty, so it was just another part of his vocabulary. did he always tell us? no, especially when teething or hitting big milestones like walking. he spent those days mostly in diapers instead of the training pants he usually wears around the house. he’d still use the potty to poop, but he never had the time or the gumption to tell us he needed to pee when major things were going on in his mouth or in his brain.

and that’s okay with us. we’re not potty training here. we’re just communicating.

what? there’s a difference?

yes. i believe so.

i get uncomfortable when people ask me how potty training is going when they see me ask Elisha if he needs to go potty or if he’s wet. i get frustrated when people tell me they must be lazier parents than we are because we EC (or even because we use cloth diapers). i dislike it when people complain that we’re the ones being trained instead of our child(ren) when it comes to learning life skills such as going on the toilet.

yes, there are things we as parents must learn about our children. we need to learn how they tell us they’re hungry or tired and how they tell us about their elimination needs is just another part of the puzzle. i’ve learned that babies don’t necessarily like being left to sit in their own waste—they like being dry and clean just like adults do. in my opinion (please note that), the rise of a convenience-oriented disposable culture has encouraged us to lose touch with some of the amazing things God designed babies (and their parents) to do. babies quickly lose touch with the sensations of being wet or soiled in a diaper as a bad thing when they spend hours in the same one, sagging to their knees. then, once they’re two (or  later depending on the when they’re “ready” as today’s potty training standards go), we begin the process of attempting to reverse what they’ve been, uh, well, trained to do. we suddenly tell them diapers are bad and the potty is good. we bribe them to change their minds with songs and candy.

what i’ve discovered is that we can keep them aware the whole time. there are still accidents. we still spend days in diapers. but, seriously, we’re never going to have to untrain and retrain. the potty is normal, not something scary and new. being wet or dirty is not ideal, though tolerable when it happens (especially at night when he still doesn’t necessarily wake in time to go potty), and Elisha knows that. e

to me, i think it’s amazing. like crazy amazing.

babies are capable of so much more than i ever knew and becoming a parent has, indeed, taught me a lot. the difference i feel from the mainstream of our culture is that i actually enjoy being “trained” to listen to my baby, encouraged and thrilled by the bonds we build. that’s something i signed onto do when i became a parent—i signed on to wholly becoming a part of my children’s lives in order to raise them into healthy adults.

well, i turned out alright, you say.

so did i.

so did a lot of people who were raised in disposable diapers and with formula (not everyone can breastfeed, and i know that. but i also think a lot of women aren’t given enough support and information and end up giving up way too soon). we did grow up into adults just fine, as far as we can tell … so what’s the big deal?

i guess, in my mind, it all goes back to some of what i shared when i talked about why we chose to use cloth diapers as a family. to me, it’s about living sustainably, about being good stewards, about avoiding harmful chemicals that are completely unnecessary, and not just for our planet but for the lives entrusted into our care.

when it comes to elimination communication, i can totally understand that it’s not for everyone, but i really have my caveats about saying such things as “you do what’s good for you and i’ll do what’s good for me.” i do believe that kind of subjectivity isn’t healthy all the time, but i have learned that parenting is a rather touchy subject in which is currently better to pick your battles over than to see people get hurt. i just always want people to know that contrary to what we see around us, yes, there are options and yes, many of them work just as well if not better than the status quo.

i understand that it’s a commitment in both time and process. i do think there are definitely some interesting things to be learned, both in simply choosing cloth diapers or even giving EC a try.

not that i’m saying you (yes you) aren’t taking care of your child. i’m sure you are. well, i hope so. i just like the idea of really jumping in, and i think more people should consider other areas of their lives they could commit to making stewardly changes in, what with eating local or recycling or buying organic or wearing earth-conscious clothing … why not?

so, things are going awesome here, and none of you are a bad parent for not following the paths we’ve chosen. i just like providing some food for thought, and i hope that you’re all thinking. if you’re ever prompted to make changes, let me know, as i’m always excited to hear about other parenting adventures!

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9 months!

everyone who meets Elisha says the same things over and over again:

“you have such a happy baby.”
“he’s always smiling.”
“does he ever cry?”

every time i hear these words, i don’t always know how to reply, but i do indeed treasure them in my heart. Elisha is indeed a very, very happy baby. he was an easy pregnancy, an easy delivery, and an easy boy. i hope and pray he doesn’t grow out of it any time soon.

we’ve been spoiled by his goodness.

no, we’ve been spoiled by His goodness. God has been so good to us by granting us this little gem of infancy. he’s amazing.

i cannot believe he’s 9 months old. he’s finally been out in the world as long as i carried him inside of me. pregnancy felt like forever compared to the flash BANG blur of weeks that these past 9 months have been. it’s slipped through our fingers, but all the smiles, giggles, and cuddles have made everything a joy.

indescribable joy.

happy 9 months, baby E. we love you so, so much.

9 months!

9 months!

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