Sunday, May 31, 2009

Graeme's first "official" haircut

Mark and Graeme went on a field trip yesterday. When they came back, my toddler looked like a little boy! (Mark says the whole PX knew that Graeme was getting his haircut...but he did it, and I'm proud of him.) It's not perfect - hey, she did the best she could. It'll be much cooler for the summer, though. Hopefully the next few times will go more easily for him :)

Just had to get a few of my snuggly boy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cole at 6 months

Hard to believe it's been half of a year already! Our littlest man is growing quickly - won't be long before he is sitting up on his own and crawling. His first teeth should be arriving shortly, as well...all this gnawing and drooling. By now, Graeme had 4 teeth!

The pediatrician said he looks great (of course!). He hasn't started solids yet, and she encouraged us to start those (which I knew). I was surprised that she even recommended putting juice in the dry cereal - why do juice before they know enough to want it? Anyhow, I'll probably be experimenting in the next few weeks with making my own rice cereal, if I decide to start with that - I may start with avocado as I did with Graeme. Cole has not been interested in the occasional bit of banana I've been offering.

Cole is at the 75% mark in height (26"), the 45% in head circumference, and the 51% in weight (16lb.12oz). I was surprised at the weight %, as he seems quite chunky to me! The pediatrician shared an interesting fact, that breastfed babies are often in the higher percentiles in weight in the first few months, and then as your breastmilk fat starts to level off, their weight also levels off to more modest numbers, even in the lower percentiles. I find that it is a common myth that breastfed babies are plumper - and she confirmed for me, that it's the great percentage of formula-fed babies that guide these "averages" she's not concerned with a breast-fed baby that appears healthy and is eating frequently, though they may be at or below the mid-range of the percentiles.

Cole's personality? Developing, that's for sure! We're getting more demonstrations that he does have a will (which I was wondering about for awhile here - he's been so sweet and laid-back!). When he doesn't like something, he's starting to make himself heard, if ya know what I mean! He loves to interact with big brother, often laughing at his antics. I can't wait to see this develop more in the coming months. He loves people, loves to smile, and loves to cuddle.

The nurse asked if he is grasping, and trying to go get things out of his reach - I had to laugh! Is he, though?!! He gets his sights set on something, and he WILL get to it. He is a very determined mover! I know he is going to crawl early (Ped. said 8-9 months is average, but I cannot imagine him waiting that long.). He seems to me to be a "conqueror" - whereas Graeme was content to explore and study things, Cole's goals seem to be more along the lines of overcoming, conquering, and then moving on to the next conquest :-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Trip to New Jersey

We went to NJ over Memorial Day Weekend (Mark got a 4-day weekend!). We've been wanting to get up to see his Grandmother and Aunt&Uncle. It was wonderful to finally spend some time with them. Last time we visited, I was barely pregnant with Graeme (in fact, I didn't know that I was pregnant yet, but kept feeling nauseous and ate like crazy LOL!)

Cole spent several naps like this:

Great Grandmother

Graeme has obviously missed our piano, and gave us several very nice "recitals". (Actually, he really does already have a nice touch - he doesn't bang.)

Went to the park several times

This is one of my all-time favorites of Graeme.

Isn't this too cute?

Graeme, always ready for a comfy lap and a good read.

Aunt and Uncle with the boys

It must be me....

My sweet husband bought me a Zojirushi Bread Machine for Christmas. I'd been wanting one for awhile, and the Commissary had them for $180 (they retail for $215).

But for the life of me, I seriously cannot get a consistently good loaf from it.

I've concluded that it is not manufacturer error or bad ingredients or anything like that.

It is user incompetence. I think I am just not cut out for a bread machine. From what I've read, each ingredient has to be "just-so" in order for the bread to turn out right...and I've tried being better, I really have. I spooned the flour (instead of scooping - that is very bad, so I've read). I carefully measured the liquids, even adding 2T because the Zoji is notorious for needing just a bit more liquid. I bought dough enhancer, vital wheat gluten.

The only thing I can get to turn out well is pizza dough.

So, I decided to try my hand (again) at making my own bread, and, well. See for yourself.

(This is Lindsay's recipe from Passionate Homemaking. I successfully halved it to make 2 loaves, froze one and we are eating the other.) It worked for me!

What to do with the bread machine is my next dilemma. I'd like to sell it so I can fund one of these.

Had some help in the kitchen :) (Granted, his "helping" wasn't all that helpful, but he sure had fun making bubbles!)

And since Mama was so happy to have finally created some beautiful loaves of bread, we celebrated with our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (altered with 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour and coconut oil to make them more healthy - at least, it makes me feel less guilty to eat them LOL!)
[prepare to drool]

Monday, May 25, 2009

My front porch

I just wanted to share how lovely my front porch looks these days :)

Remember my post about beautifying our home? This was my first project. It makes me happy every time I open the door! I'm really enjoying being a "gardener" (okay - just to be clear, a very, very humble gardener, like, I shouldn't even call myself that). There's something peaceful about grooming flowers and watering early in the morning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Extended breastfeeding, Part II

photo by Serlunar

Did you know...

.....that the WHO recommends breastfeeding continue at least until 2 years?

.....that a woman's risk for osteoporosis and breast cancer goes down significantly the more years she nurses? takes between 2 and 6 years for a child's immune system to fully mature?

.....that all of the research available (only up to 24 months) shows increasing benefits the longer you breastfeed?

Why I nurse my toddler

1. Nursing provides the most complete nourishment for an infant, and continues to be the best supplemental nourishment for a young child.

In addition to the facts I shared initially, there is a growing body of evidence that supports breastfeeding in general, and extended breastfeeding in particular. You can read more about those studies and facts in the resources I'll list at the end of this post.

Nursing offers me a peace of mind during this picky-toddler-syndrome. My oldest loves most any fruit, spaghetti, breads, mac 'n cheese, yogurt, crackers, dried fruit, etc....but he diligently avoids vegetables. At times, it has driven me crazy. I fear that he will never be a healthful eater, I worry about whether he's getting a sufficient supply of vitamins and minerals, I wonder if he'll develop a sweet tooth, I wish that he wasn't so addicted to dairy, and on and on. For me, nursing answers these dilemmas. While my son learns to eat his vegetables, nursing continues to "fill in the gaps", offering the perfect balance of vitamins and minerals, along with antibodies which boost his yet-immature immune system.

2. Extending the nursing relationship into the emotional toddler years provides both Momma and Child with a needed place of security.

If you're a Mother of a toddler, you know how difficult this period can sometimes be for your little one. I've found nursing to be such a boon - for both of us! There have been several occasions where he was having a meltdown and nursing rescued us. On his trip to the dr. in October, Graeme was horrified by them sticking the thermometer under his armpit. Oh my, he truly was *terrified*! Traumatized by the whole experience, he asked to nurse after the dr. left - in fact, he kept repeating "Mama Do" (which is his word for mama milk) over and over like a mantra to reassure himself.

There have also been moments when *I* was having a meltdown (yep, does happen occasionally!) and nursing helped me recover and gave me a chance to relax and remind myself of what mothering is all about.

Granted, nursing is not the only way to comfort a young one, definitely. However, for us, it has given us opportunities to re-group, re-vive, and the glances we share at these times (Kinda like "Whew, okay, we're going to make it") speak for themselves.

3. Nursing is a "miniature" of Mothering.

It requires all the attributes that Motherhood demands - patience, forgiveness, gentleness, setting boundaries, giving of oneself even when you don't feel like it. And I'd say this is more pronounced the longer you nurse - especially if you nurse through pregnancy and tandem nurse.

4. Nursing my oldest greatly helped with his ease of transition to being a big brother and "sharing" Momma.

I definitely attribute much of that success to his continued access to nursing. Graeme nursed a TON the first week after Cole came home - which, while I did feel like all I did was nurse for awhile, it actually did me a favor when I got engorged!, and, it seemed to be just the ticket to remind Graeme that I'm still the same Momma and I'll still be there for him, now there's just another baby for us to love.

I'll do a separate post on the benefits and fun of tandem nursing!

There you have it, my "top-4". I've got one more post planned on the myths surrounding Extended Breastfeeding...and I'll combine some aspects of Tandem nursing in that one as well.

It works for me!

LLI - Breastfeeding Toddlers
LLI - Extended Breastfeeding Resource Page
An interview with Katherine Dettwyler, Ph. D - Extended nursing: The human norm
Peggy O'Mara on the recent "The Case Against Breastfeeding" article in The Atlantic Monthly - Case Closed: Breast is Best
KellyMom - Nursing During Pregnancy/Tandem Nursing
Adventures in Tandem Nursing

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lots of new pics!

Here's a slideshow with recent pics from our Air and Space Museum trip.

Also is one of our new playroom rug (seen here in our living room surrounded by my attempt to organize our toys).

Graeme was helping me sort the toys, and created the very neat line you'll see of vehicles - notice that they are all facing the same direction. He is quite particular about such things, it makes me laugh!

And Cole is teething - don't you love the classic "ooh, cold!" face? I gave him a cold washcloth, and thankfully had the camera out for once ;-) He's almost able to sit by himself and is scooting all over - no crawling yet, but my guess is before we move!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Have to share...

this post on mothering, by Sheri of Large Family Mothering:

It has me tearing up - Sheri writes very provocatively, and this post in particular struck me in an important way. I was just confessing to God that I had not embraced His calling for me today - I've been going about my day kinda on my own terms, and this post brought me back to rejoice in my Creator's creativity and wisdom in making me a Mother.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Do you Delicious?

If you aren't familiar with Delicious, you should be! It is revolutionizing the way I bookmark. I've just been using my browser bookmark feature, but it gets SO full and quite overwhelming in a very short time. Simple Mom recommended Delicious, so I gave it a shot. Well, I've been using it for a month or so now, and WOW!

Delicious organizes your bookmarks based on tags that YOU assign each link. This adds not only organization to your bookmarks, but puts the power in your hands to make a system that works for you. Registering is free, and they don't bombard you with annoying e-mails or anything like that. Try it, I bet you'll like it!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Celebrate how small

On our meander through the neighborhood yesterday, we ran into several of the babies that are around Cole's age. The general conversation usually begins by one of us parents commenting on how big the other's baby is getting - "Wow, he's grown so much since I last saw him!" or "How much does she weigh now?" Then we comment on how fast time has flown, that they are already 6 months old or whatever. How big they are getting! How soon they will be riding tricycles or going down the slide!

But tonight, as my son's teeny hand gripped my thumb and he drifted off to sleep, I marveled at how small he is. What an amazing thing God has done to create a being in his image in such a tiny package. How quickly he will be a man - before I can blink, almost - and his hand probably larger than mine will do all sorts of incredible things.

So tonight, son, I celebrate how small you are. Small enough to yet cuddle in my arms, nurse you to sleep, and cradle you close to me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Blogs 'n things

I admire you bloggers out there that are able to keep up with posting, faithful and consistent. I've been silent this week, and rather unmotivated to blog anything much. I did promise to post a few more on Extended Breastfeeding, but just haven't taken the time to sit down and write them.

We have been busy! Beautiful weather, no lap-top (so just my upstairs computer - and we are so infrequently upstairs), dinner at the General's house (for TBS wives - it was neat!), a toddler teething (Graeme's molars are making their appearance, but they really bother him during the wee hours of the morning...sigh), and getting ready for a yard sale on Saturday. All these things do not add up for much blogging.

However, I can give much thanks to the Lord for continuing to change my heart and causing me to find joy in my home and ministering to my family during these busy and sometimes tiring times. (Not to say that I'm always joyful about it ;) I've purposed to be better this week about cleaning the kitchen, getting to bed earlier, and in general, allowing my household to have some sort of rhythm. It's been a good week in that way.

I have been reading some of your blogs here and there, just not much posting. And for those that are waiting for new pictures, I've gotten some good ones, and will try to get them up sometime this weekend!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Can you imagine?

Photo by Margaret Anne Clark

Do you have an imagination?

To digress, the sun finally came out this evening, so we went out for a run, then some tricyle-time for Graeme...after I put the boys down, I got to take a very leisurely shower (with no children awake, no rushing to get done before they wake up...) It was the most relaxing 20 minutes I've had for several days. Okay, maybe a few weeks.

During this time, I was contemplating the imagination, and realizing the importance of having a well-developed one. "Pretend" is not just for children. Consider these three complex qualities.

To care about another, to empathize, one has to be able to enter into another's sorrows. defines empathy as "a vicarious participation in the emotions, ideas, or opinions of others, the ability to imagine oneself in the condition or predicament of another".

When extending forgiveness, it can be really helpful to imagine the circumstances that caused the offender to hurt you. Not that it's a requirement to forgive - we must forgive regardless of whether we understand it or not. But, being able to put yourself in their shoes can surely help, granting you a measure of understanding, and consequently allowing forgiveness to happen more readily.

Or we might say "seeing the big picture". Life can be hard. People fail, circumstances turn upside-down, surprises (good or bad) knock us off our feet.

Being able to see beyond today, or beyond this week, or beyond this year, is a key component of hope.

And that requires imagination, doesn't it? Sometimes more than others! Many millionaires had very low periods in their life, when they had lost everything, and now they tell their story - and I've noticed that for many of them, they held on to a vision of a brighter future, even when they were living out of their car with no job and a family of four. Talk about imagination!

What about all the vocations that require imagination? Mothering, for example! :) Art, music, writing, designing, managing...these require the ability to actively see other worlds, and they require a "repertoire" of images and events that a curious mind creates.

Photo by Myk_Crypt

Imagination is not taught, it is innate. However, I believe it can be either encouraged or squelched. I'm thankful that I had parents that encouraged my imagination! (I'm sure they would attest it wasn't always easy! ;-)

The great thing about imagining is that it doesn't require materials, money, or planning. It's a fully-portable game that can be played anywhere, at any time. It engaged the brain and the senses. And it helps prepare our children to face adversity, to be curious, to love and forgive in a truly empathetic way.

So go pretend to be elephants or something with your little ones! Try telling stories. Ask them to imagine a place or a thing, and ask them what it feels like, what it tastes like, smells like, etc. Dress up. Have fun!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Extended breastfeeding - Part 1

I can't tell you how wonderfully tandem nursing has been working for our family. I understand that not everyone makes the same decisions regarding extended breastfeeding, and I fully respect the need for each Momma to make a decision that is right for your family (and in some cases, the decision is made for you!).

That being said, I love it :-) I decided to continue nursing through pregnancy, figuring Graeme would probably naturally wean as my milk dried up.

Well, he had different ideas! He continued to nurse even once my milk was gone (by around 20 weeks). With Mark leaving for OCS, along with our impending move, it didn't seem like the right time to wean. We both treasured the closeness while Mark was gone.

As I contemplated the concept of weaning, doing much reading and thinking about it, I couldn't really find a reason to stop nursing. If mother and child are both still enjoying the experience, why stop? It is the most natural form of comfort, security, and quiet (all of which are in high demand during the toddler years). Of course, a Mother can still offer those without nursing. But since Graeme continued to want to nurse, and I continued to enjoy it, we kept going.

I kept waiting for him to get tired of nursing and getting no milk. However, I think he knew that surely, eventually, it would come back. And did it! The first week after Cole was born, once my milk came in, Graeme was enthralled with the bounty :-) In fact, that was probably the most challenging period, as Cole was nursing, I was recovering, and Graeme wanted to nurse very frequently - who wouldn't, all that wonderful rich milk that he'd been holding out for all these months!?

We made it through that one challenging week, setting a few boundaries and getting settled with how to handle two nurslings. I tandem nursed several times (nursing one on each breast) - once I got the hang of it, I truly enjoyed it. I would look down at my two little ones contentedly resting their heads close to one another, and I believe that there are few things so sweet as being a Mother at a time like that. I praised God for giving me the opportunity to provide nourishment, both physical and emotional, to both of my children in this way.

So here we are, Graeme is 26 months old, and still nursing! He is showing some signs of weaning independence, as I've read is common between 2-3 years. Up to this point, he has nursed to sleep almost every day of his life. Now, he'll often sit up and want to read a few books before going to bed...I figure, if I get pregnant in the next year and wish to wean, this will be a natural way to do it. We'll continue to cuddle, and gradually shorten the nursing session and lengthen the reading time. (At least, that's what I have in mind...we'll see what actually transpires!)

Yes, I plan on nursing until either Graeme seems ready or I am ready to wean. I believe we will know when it is time.

What is it like? Why do it? What kind of boundaries do you set? Do you make enough milk for both children?
Well, I'm going to do 2 (or 3 :) more parts to this "series" and hope to answer some of those questions, and point you to further resources if you're interested. I'm not trying to convince all of you dear readers that this is the "only way" to go, or make you feel bad if you don't nurse beyond X point - but most of us don't run into tandem nursers every day, so if I can help clear up misunderstandings or misconceptions by sharing my experience, I hope to!

Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you've always wondered about tandem/extended breastfeeding - I won't mind answering, if I can. I'm not an expert, but I've done my share of reading on the topic :)

Do you nurse? How long have you nursed? What do you love about it?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Today's Yard Sale finds

Here's what $20 got me today:

A bunch of clothes for Cole this summer (12 month sizes, can you believe it? He's wearing 6-9mo. right now)

4 pants in 3T for the fall/winter for Graeme

A shirt for me :)

Handy-Manny roll-along backpack - perfect for taking books to the library!

A huge stack of books from a going-out-of-business sale at the on-base preschool.
I grabbed some of the curriculum books that caught my eye. Is anyone familiar with these?

Found some classics storybooks - 25cents each!

All in all, a very satisfying yard-sale adventure this morning.

Cole at 5 months

Cole's 5 month marker came and went so quickly, I quite forgot about it until this weekend! Look how much he is growing!

He's almost ready to sit by himself - he'll sit for a few seconds and then topple over. He's not crawling yet, but he sure can scoot and roll himself around quite well. Last week he discovered his screaming's hilarious, he likes to hear himself screech.

He's awfully handsome, isn't he? :-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

And the winner of my first giveaway...

...thanks to, which drew #20 as the winner...

Holly at A Mommy's Blessings!
Congratulations! I hope you get a lot of use out of it and enjoy it as we have :-)

Thanks to everyone for participating! It was fun to read your experiences (or not) with babywearing. I believe every mama should try a carrier - whether you plan on using it extensively or simply occasionally, there are always occasions when you're carrying your baby, right?

Thanks to Laura at Heavenly Homemakers for a fun Spring Giveaway!

A few good links from the week

Reading Lists (from DiscerningReader) - Lists of Most Influential Books from contemporary men of faith. Great for yourself, but I'm also thinking helpful for Father's Day gifts. There's a nice link at the bottom of 9Marks list of books for laymen (including theology, church history, etc.)

Pantry Talk - deepening the pantry to prepare for times of illness, recessions, and possible emergencies. LOTS of links on the topic in her sidebar.

8 ways to share your opinion
(fabulous article on this - I am far too quick to share what *I* think! Nothing wrong with having an opinion - but there can be much wrong in the way I share it.)

The article you should read about the Swine Flu "Pandemic"

Homemade Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup - made it yesterday and it is PERFECT! Finally, a recipe for something I refuse to buy from the can. Now I can make some of those "cream of..." recipes, healthfully!

Make your own Boys Ties - Very interesting website. I would love to have the guts to try to do this. Have you ever made your own boys ties? They are hard to find in the stores...or, at least, at a price I'm willing to pay.