Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Travel Crib Saga

First, let me say that I hope no one perceives my quest for the perfect sleeping solution while we travel as (a) bragging or (b) complaining. I am an information gatherer by nature, and have to get lots of info before I feel satisfied in a decision. (You can just ask Ma' Chauffeur and she can tell you the in-depth conversations we have over text about EVERYTHING!) I feel so blessed that we are able to travel as much as we do. I owe most of that to my amazing husband.

Since I was unable to gather the information I wanted online, I turned to my trusty mom friends on Facebook. Here is the summary of the advice.

1. The Pack n' Play is much too large to take to Europe. We have the Grayco travel play yard - which is the lightest of the series, but it's still quite bulky. Many moms were concerned that it would be too large when opened for many of Europe's small B&B's.

2. The Baby Bijorn is the top-rated travel crib by Baby Bargains and a few other sites. While it comes in around 11 lbs, it folds up like another suitcase. It is bound to take up valuable room in our rental car and other forms of transportation we may need to use.v

3. Kids either love or hate the PeaPod - and it may have some recall issues. I'm currently trying to get my hands on one to try it out and see how Baby Peach does with it. It is certainly the lightest of the options, but may not curtail my active kid.

4. Jury is still out on the Phil &Ted's travel cot. I found one person who has used it, and a bunch of mixed reviews on Amazon.

5. The best suggestion, though, is going to be our back-up plan. If all else fails, train the baby to sleep in the bed with us before the trip. It's the cheapest of the options.

I was able to procure the Phil & Teds travel cot, and I think it's our big winner. Although the official dimensions are the same as our travel pack n' play, it is quite smaller and much lighter.  (See Comparison Photos) When packed into its bag, it will easily fit into our rolling duffel. The online reviews say it's hard to put together, but I had no trouble. I had no directions and it took me about 20 min. Now that I've seen it together once, I'll be able to do it in 5min.

I'll have to get back to you on how Little peach likes sleeping in it, but he has enjoyed playing in it. It has a side and top zipper, so I will be able to zip him completely into the bed.

*Update 2/23/12* So far Little Peach is a fan of the Phil and Teds Sleeper. I bought mine used, but just found this one on Zulily today.

Take a look at this phil&teds Black Traveller on today - it will be there till Wednesday (while supplies last!)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Finding my moment of Zen...

I've had quite a few frazzled moments lately, thanks to separation anxiety, teething, and working on a nap schedule.

1) About a month ago, Lil Bee's separation anxiety kicked into high gear. At first, I couldn't even leave the room to grab something to eat let alone take a shower without him screaming his head off. Luckily I got a tip from another mommy friend to play Peek a Boo. This seriously worked! I would say boo and peek around the corner, then progressively get farther and farther away from Lil Bee. Now I can proudly say I just have to do this occasionally (and his little yelps now signal either boredom with his latest set of toys or that he's due for a nap).

2) He's still working on those stubborn first two teeth. I've tried everything from refrigerated teethers, to teething pacifiers, to frozen washcloths, to celery sticks, to baby Tylenol, to teething tablets (both the Hyland's and Orajel Natural tablets). His solution has been to mouth his favorite set of Melissa + Doug blocks, a blanket, or the teething bead necklace that we were gifted for Christmas. At this point, it keeps him happy so I roll with it (especially since I know now that this cruel process will last until he's about 25-33 mos of age... siiiiiggggghhhh...)

3) We've successfully established a nap schedule which is HUGE since sleep has been an ongoing battle with Lil Bee. At the very beginning, Lil Bee had his days and nights mixed up which took about 9 weeks to resolve. We read the Happiest Baby on the Block before he was born so every time we put him down, we made sure he was changed, fed, then rocked him to sleep in the recliner/swing/Rock and Play sleeper and kept him asleep with the Sleep Sheep (for the white noise). As he got bigger, he slept in his crib mostly through the night by 3 mos (with some hiccups here and there thanks to growth spurts). But with the recent teething fussiness, some days the old tricks wouldn't work as well (or even at all). I ended up following the Baby Whisperer method (a very simplified version is here). He now naps at 9, 2, and 5 (this can vary depending on what we do during the day) but always goes to sleep by 9 PM. He whines at first when I put him down but as long as he has his Peter Rabbit stuffed toy and Sleep Sheep going, I can wait it out and know he'll be out within 10 minutes. Some days teething can still throw him off but for the most part, I have a little bit of my sanity back haha.

Throughout all of this very stressful time, I've been very fortunate to have great friends I could chat with, regular playdates that give me & Lil Bee a reason to get out of the house (because a change of perspective can be all it takes to lift my mood), and a supportive husband who would watch him and give me the occasional night off.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Paper and glue sticks

Last Friday, I had an amazing experienceworking with some kids who have been adopted (or are in the process of beingadopted).  A dear friend of mine worksfor a private, non-profit agency that helps kids and families transition duringand after placement in this state.  Inaddition to many of the services this organization provides, they alsoroutinely have get-togethers on Friday nights; as it is important for kids tosee and interact with others who have also been adopted because they feel less “weird”about their experiences. My friend coordinated with me so that I could help thekids on their lifebooks.  A lifebook is aspecial scrapbook that relays the story of adoption from birth to placement orlonger. 

There were six kids ranging from 5to 15 on Friday night.  I had preppedgoody bags for the kids—glue sticks, paper, markers and some stickers.  My initial plan was to go over some basics,like what to include and to encourage them to write down (or journal) what theyremembered.   My plan quickly got thrownout as I watched the kids open their goody bags.  Almost every one of them said something tothe effect of “this is for me?”   I gotvery emotional as I watched their excitement grow.  Each one carefully pulled out all the paperand looked through their small stack and it was fun to watch them plan.  Especially for these kids who have bouncedbetween foster homes and their birth homes, it was also important for me togive them ideas on writing about their experiences because pictures may nothave traveled with them.   As they cutand pasted, some began sharing some of their own story with me.  A twelve year old girl, with the mostbeautiful smile was showing me pictures from her finalization…which happened onChristmas Eve 2012.  No doubt, she hasseen a lot of heartache in her life, but felt loved now.  Her mom was there with her and hugging herand giving her a hard time. This girl had been with the family for only twoyears, but it was sure fun to see the love they shared for each other.  As the parents worked with their children onpreserving history, I soaked up as many of the smiles and shows of creativityand completed pages that I could.  Whoknew that paper and glue could bring out so many smiles in such a short time?  I didn’t get any “teaching” done but I wassure blessed beyond comprehension. 

I think that I will be able toreturn and help them again and will probably start pestering my friend for thenext date soon. I was reminded of how seemingly effortless it can be to make someoneelse’s day; those kids probably aren’t going to remember my name, but I betthey remember that one lady who came on a cold, rainy Friday night.  I think wherever the USAF takes us; I willtry and find a similar agency to volunteer at. Again, I was reminded of the blessing of foster families. It certainlytakes special people to love on a kid for an unspecified amount of time; I’m thankfulfor all of them. 

Friday's Favorite: Bottles & Sippy Cups

Baby Peach boycotted the bottle pretty much from Month Four on, so I have no strong opinions on bottles. I do, however, have an opinion on sippy cups. Since Baby Peach started using one, I have been searching for the perfect cup, which means (a) he can use it on its own and (b) it limits spills. I finally found one: The Safe Sippy2. The cup has handles, which means H can use it. It has a choice of a straw or a sippy valve (we use the straw so he doesn't have to tilt the cup back) and it has a replacement valve that keeps it from spilling when we are on the go. It can be a bit annoying to have to replace the valve when I travel, but I have been unable to find a cup that doesn't spill... so this is a winning combination for us.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Great Travel with Baby Blog

I'm way behind on updating everyone on Puerto Rico with the baby, but I am already planning our next adventure!

I'm planning a trip to Europe with the hubs and little one, and just came across this great travel with baby page recommended by Rick Steve's:

I love reading blogs and, now that I've got an RS feeder on my iPad, I can read them when the little one is sleeping in the car or wherever we may be. I also love reading tips and tricks about travel with the baby - I can never be too prepared for a situation. So if your looking for reviews or other information check out Delicious Baby!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Friday's Favorite Thing: Travel Accessory

I went walking with a dear friend this morning. (We will call her Mrs. Orange, as she hails from California and was stationed there with us). Mrs. O just found out she will be expecting Baby O in September. Inspired by our discussion, I thought a run down of favorite baby items each Friday might help her with her registry.

Mr & Mrs. O love to travel. They love heading back to CA whenever they can and are always out on an adventure. I am a true believer that you can still travel even when you have a baby - it's just different. My favorite travel accessory is the ERGO CARRIER. I love this sucker. It is comfortable and I can take Little Peach with me everywhere I go: I use it in stores, hiking and even around the house to get some work done. Mr. Peach finds it quite comfortable as well. I have figured out how to nurse while wearing it  - which makes airports and other adventures a bit easier. (It's a bit of a feat though!)

Ok... I couldn't just list one. I'm also in love with our Inglesina 2012 travel high chair. It puts Little Peach on our level and clips to everything, thanks to arms that screw instead of clamp. (We have even had it fit on a picnic bench and a bar!)

Alright... lets give Mrs. O a nice little list of favorite travel things!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The adoption agency

One of the first things folks ask when they found out we are adopting is “how did you pick your agency?”  That answer has several facets, as do many big decisions.  First of all, it is difficult to compare agencies; while each agency is required to do mostly the same things, each agency is not required to call each step by the same name.  In fact, several agencies use similar titles for different steps in the process.  As you can imagine, it was extremely difficult, if not nearly impossible to compare apples to apples.   So, we had to prioritize what was most important to us in regards to the agency.  We decided it was of the utmost importance that our agency was on the up-and-up and honest as far as we could tell, (which would decrease the chances of them being involved in child trafficking),   we wanted the children to be well cared for—whether in an orphanage or foster care system and we wanted the option to get a child as young as we possibly could.

1.        Reputation was a huge selling point for this agency.  This agency’s founding couple went to congress to get laws passed for international adoption 50 years ago.  As far as we could tell, the social workers at each branch worked diligently to follow the law and in some cases, the agency shut down an office in another country because of workers suspected of pushing the legal limits (notice I didn’t say breaking the law, ethics are not the same from culture to culture...i.e. bribing is not acceptable behavior here, but in other countries it is. Our agency wanted nothing to do with questionable behavior.)  There is the hope that they can reopen those branch offices, but a child’s safety is paramount to how they run their programs.  Also, this agency's first priority is to keep the child with his or her biological family, second priority is to find an adoptive family within the country and international adoption is the last option. We agreed with those priorities as well. We eventually went with this agency based on a personal recommendation, their current reputation and historical reputation. 

2.       Our agency provides three meals a day to children living in orphanages and some children (such as ours) have been in foster care their whole lives...with an assumed high level of care.  Also, our agency provides children with regular medical check-ups (well baby checks) and medical care as needed.  

3.       Our agency follows country laws in regards to adoptable ages.  While S. Korea used to send out kids at 4 or 5 months, 18 months to 2 years is still pretty young in the grand scheme of things.

I’ve noticed in the last few weeks, there have been a few of those dreaded horror adoption stories in the news.  Parents spending time and money to go pick up a child from a “private” agency in another country only to find out the agency had shut down or “moved.”  Or worse, they bring home a child and later find out the child was kidnapped from his or her parents. Sometimes children are even sold to a “private agency” to put up for adoption. I don’t write all of this to scare you away from adopting, just be wary of deals that sound too good to be true.  If a private agency can place a kid in your arms in weeks instead of months or years—do some more investigating.  The agency you choose does a great deal to provide peace of mind, both in the short term as you wait and in the long term after you have your child home.   Happy agency shopping!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ma Chauffeur thinks Dr. Ferber is a genius

In my humble opinion, Dr. Ferber is a genius! I only paid $12 for his book, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, and after reading it and practicing his methods, I would have gladly paid a lot more. I could literally write a book myself about solving my 5-month old son’s sleep problems using Ferber’s methods, but I would need to find a publisher and like I have time to do that.  

Since transitioning from sleeping on our chest, B co-slept between my husband and I in our bed.  Typically B would wake up every two hours, we would change his diaper, I would breast feed him, and he would go back to sleep. This routine would happen from 8PM to 5AM every night.

For some reason (I now call it a blessing), three days before Christmas, B wouldn’t fall back to sleep after I fed him. For three nights my husband and I walked with him, desperately trying to catch some z’s. I’m pretty sure this is how sleep walking starts with adults.  Maybe I should check to see if Ferber has also written Solve Your Adult Sleep Problems. 

Anyway, we paced so much around our bedroom until he fell asleep until his next feeding that we may need new carpet.  But ultimately the tipping point these nights is when we laid him back down to sleep in our bed, he woke right up and demanded to be walked again.

Then a light switch went off, literally.  On the third night at 2 A.M., I turned on our bedroom light and told my husband I had had it and we were starting “sleep training” that night, or rather that wee early morning. Before that night, we didn’t agree on when we would start sleep training, but we agreed that B would still sleep in our bedroom in his port-a-crib.  But on that third night, I was so sleep deprived that I said he’s going into his big boy crib in his own room.  

In order to save B from the impending fate on a big boy crib, my husband rushed to assemble B’s port-a-crib while I flipped through the table of contents in Dr. Ferber’s book to see what chapter addressed the sleepless child and how to solve it.  It was almost like a race to see who could finish first.

To keep this blog entry from becoming a book, I’ll spare you the how we went about solving B’s problems. If you wish to know the how, pay the $12.

HHHhhggggggdgijsdgjHere are my highlights:
#1. First, we decreased the number of feedings from 5-6 per night to one, giving my ta-tas a break for a few hours. 

#2.  Did sleep training involve crying?  Yes and a lot of it.  But we managed B’s crying to a point that we were comfortable with. Did I give up?  Almost, but my mommy instinct told me to stick it out.  Our decision to sleep train B at 5-months was the single BEST decision we have made since B has been born.

#3.  B can sleep anywhere from 7 to 11 hours at night.  Even though I cherished going to bed with him cuddled next to me, I now put him in his crib and I have the freedom to do whatever I wish, whenever I wish and not to mention our entire family gets real quality sleep.

#4. Thanks to a very nice digital video monitor (an awesome baby shower gift), I can pan, zoom, tilt, talk back, all at the touch of my fingers anywhere in our house.  It’s so comforting to know that B snores, farts, and sleeps with his butt up in the air.

#5.  Last, but perhaps the most important, the confidence that this training has given B is priceless.  He loves to sleep in his crib and seems to look for it when he’s tired.  He is such a happier baby when he wakes up in the morning and after his naps.  My husband and I feel and see his sense of pride when we tell him he did such a great job sleeping.  And the little boy who wailed when we put him in a car seat, now soothes himself in it and they are practically best friends.

I’m sure B will endure other sleep problems, but for now, because we were so successful in reducing and eliminating a number of B’s sleep problems so quickly, Dr. Ferber has made me feel like a genius.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

"Rub a dub dub, get me out of the tub!" (How to help your baby enjoy bath time)

Bath time started out rough in the Whale household.  Basically Little J would scream bloody murder every time we tried to bathe him.  It was causing my husband and I so much anxiety, that we absolutely dreaded bath time, and only gave Little J a bath when it was absolutely necessary.  We had gotten one of those bath flowers that are so popular thinking that it would be super convenient, but then when we actually brought our delicate little baby home, the thought of bathing him in the kitchen sink pretty much grossed me out.  Sure, we could disinfect the sink before each bath, but then I worried about chemical residue getting on his delicate skin.  It just wasn't practical.

However, when you spend $50 on a bathing apparatus, it's hard to let the vision die, so we tried using it in a beverage bucket a couple of times, but supporting his little head and body in it was challenging, and the bucket was so stinking heavy when we would fill it with water, that getting it on the counter was quite a chore.  And oh yeah, he would scream after about 1 minute in it.

Then a wonderful friend gave me some tips when Little J and I were spending time with her while Mike was away for business, and we actually had our very first pleasant bath experience!  


It seems the most important part of the whole thing is keeping the baby warm throughout the bath process.  As you can see from the picture above, you can do this in a big bathtub lined with a towel and a couple of inches of water (just make sure you put an additional small towel under their head to keep water out of their ears).  I went home, and of course, tried to recreate the bath using that pesky flower thing again, and it worked okay, but really, I have to say, giving a baby a bath in the big bathtub is really hard on your back.  

Well, we have perfected the art of happy bath time, and would like to share the process for all of you out there wondering how to make bath time enjoyable for everyone.  So, here we go:

1.  Make the bathroom nice a warm.  This is key!  If you remember nothing else, remember this.  You want to make sure baby stays warm throughout the entire bath process, from taking his clothes off, to getting out and dried off.  You can do this either with a space heater, or by running hot water in the shower to make the room steamy.  If it is summertime, make sure the central air register is closed so that your baby doesn't get blasted with icy air when the AC kicks on.  

2.  Set the mood lighting.  Bright lights and relaxation don't really go hand in hand for baby (he did spend 9 months in the dark after all).  We have a light on our bath vent fan that is a lot less bright than the normal lights on the bathroom, but a bright nightlight would work too.  Or if you're feeling in the mood, candles around the bathroom would be nice (just make sure they aren't close to anything that could catch fire or burn the baby, and babies have really sensitive noses, so don't overload him with lots of super smelly candles).  

3.  Put on some relaxing music.  Pandora has some great stations for this.  My two personal favorites are "Spa Radio" and "New Age Solo Piano Radio."  You want the music to be loud enough for baby to hear, but soft enough to be relaxing.  It helps to not put the source of the music right by baby's head.  

4.  Set up baby undressing/drying station.  You will need:  1 large bath towel, 1 large baby hooded towel, 1 cloth diaper prefold, 1 clean diaper, baby wipes, baby butt cream.  You want to set up a space on the counter, or even on the floor if you don't have much space in your bathroom, where you can comfortably undress baby before bath, and dry him off after.  Take the large bath towel and fold it into fourths to create a soft pad to lay baby on.  Lay out the hooded baby towel on top of that, and then put the cloth diaper prefold on top of that where you will put baby's bottom (this will keep the towel clean when you take pre-bathed baby's diaper off, and protect your towel in case baby pees before you get him in the tub.)  Place the clean diaper and butt cream next to your changing station so that they are ready to go once baby is out of the tub and dry.  You'll want wipes handy as well so that you can clean up baby's bottom when you take his dirty diaper off before you put him in the tub.

5.  Set up baby bathing station.  You will need:  1 countertop baby bathtub (the kind with the infant butt stop, or newborn sling will help keep baby secure), 1 soft hand towel, 2 washcloths, baby bath toy, small cup.  Put the bathtub on a counter (if possible) so that baby is at a nice level for your back.  Line the tub with the hand towel (this helps keep baby from slipping, and is much softer on baby's skin than hard plastic).  One of the washcloths is to bathe baby with, the other is to place over their chest and tummy (to keep them warm).  The baby bath toy will keep baby occupied, and the small cup you will use to continue pouring water over the washcloth on their tummy to keep it nice and warm.

6.  Fill the tub.  You will need:  1 large cup or tupperware container, baby bath soap.  You want to get the water from the bathtub faucet nice and warm and running pretty vigorously so that you can get the baby tub filled in a reasonable amount of time.  Squirt about 1 tablespoon of baby bath soap in the bottom of your tupperware container, and then using the container, transfer container-fulls of water to your baby bathtub until about 1/2 to 2/3 full (remember, the water level will rise when you put the baby in it!).  Note: you don't need to use additional soap on your washcloth or hands when you bathe baby.  The small amount in the water is sufficient to get baby clean, and also slight enough that you don't need to worry about rinsing baby off afterwards.  Once your tub is full, check the water temperature with the inside of your wrist.  You want it warm enough to keep baby warm, but not too hot (babies are more sensitive to hot water than you and I are, and they aren't going to "ease in" like you would for a bath).  Also, if the water is too warm, it will dry out baby's skin.  If you anticipate a long-ish bath, just fill your tupperware container with hot water and set to the side so that you can add a little here and there to keep the water warm (just make sure you add it somewhere in the tub far away from baby's skin so you don't burn him, and then mix it in with your hand).  

7.  Lay out baby clothes.  You want to be able to move your clean, dry, warm, diapered baby directly into some warm dry clothes as soon as you are done, so lay them out on his changing table ahead of time to facilitate the transfer.

Now that you're all set up, your actually ready to bathe your baby!  So here we go:

8.  Undress baby.  Bring your baby into the bathroom and give him a minute to take in the environment.  Let him feel the warm air, hear the nice music, notice the dim lights, and smell the hint of baby soap fragrance in the air.  He'll probably be calm, alert, and curious.  Next, lay your baby down on your changing station and slowly and carefully take off his clothes, speaking calmly to him.  Then take off his diaper and wipe off his bottom if he is soiled.  For little boys, you might want to lay a baby wipe over his little weenie in case he pees so that you don't get a shower!  It should be warm enough in your bathroom that baby won't get cold during this process, and therefore stay nice and calm.

9.  Place baby in the tub.  Pick your baby up off the changing station, and hold him close, supporting his bottom.  When you lower him into the tub, make sure you are supporting his head, shoulders, bottom, and legs with your arms.  You want baby to feel secure and safe as you lower him into the tub. Lower him slowly into the water, watching for his reaction.  If he startles, lower slower and offer some reassuring words.  If he seems uncomfortable, check the water temperature again to make sure it's not too hot.  If it is, add a bit of cold water before you lower baby in any further.  Once baby is in the water, just let him sit there for a minute or two while you talk to him.  No need to rush into the washing part.  At this age, baths are more about relaxation than cleaning.  Babies aren't that dirty.

10.  Bathe baby.  Once you're ready to start washing your baby, start by dipping one of the washcloths in the water and placing it over baby's tummy and chest to keep him warm.  If your partner is helping you, you can have him continually pour warm water over the washcloth to keep it toasty.  Then, using the other washcloth, dip it in the water by baby's feet and wash his face first (you want to wash baby from cleanest part of his body to dirtiest).  Then wash his head and hair with the washcloth.  Note:  you do not need additional soap to wash baby's hair, nor do you need to pour water over his head (this will only startle him).  Just wash his hair with the wet washcloth dipped in the soapy bath water.  Continue washing all of baby's parts, focusing on all the creases and rolls.  Make sure you get his hands nice and clean, and save his genitals and bum for last since these are his dirtiest parts.  If you have a circumcised boy, make sure you clean out all the smegma so that you avoid penile adhesion (check out page 84 of Baby 411, 5th edition for a full discussion of this).  

11.  Dry off baby.  Once baby is all clean, lift him out of the tub and carefully place him on his hooded towel (make sure you remove the cloth diaper prefold beforehand).  Quickly wrap him up so he stays nice and warm, and rub him all over outside of the towel.  Then unwrap just his lower half and dry him more thoroughly, paying attention to all his creases.  Slip the clean diaper under his bum, apply a bit of butt cream, and fasten his diaper.  Then unwrap the top of his towel and get the rest of him dry. 

12.  Dress baby.  Once baby is all dry and diapered, pick him and up and hold him close while you carry him into this room where you have his clothes laid out.  It is helpful to have the lights dim in his room as well in order to maintain the calming environment.  You can carry the soothing music in with you as well.  Get him dressed quickly so that he stays warm.  

And you're done!  Congratulations mom, you survived bath time with hopefully no tears from you or baby.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's an honor to be nominated!

We've been nominated for the Circle of Mom's Top 25 Creative Mom of 2013! Thanks for your support as we share our crazy adventures.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Organizing the chaos

First off, our holidays were wonderful but very busy. We drove to Vegas for a nonstop flight to Detroit to be with family for 6 days then drove to see more family and friends in OH till New Year's Day then drove back to MI, flew back to Vegas, and drove back to CA. So crazy but also really fun to see everyone! Lil Bee was a great traveler as always and we were fortunate enough to be able to stay overnight in Vegas both ways in order to break up the traveling a bit. I am really really glad we sprung for the Dapple travel pack ( especially with an overnight stay at in a hotel room.

I've been on an organizing-the-entire-house spree since we've been back. The biggest thing has been reclaiming the tiny third bedroom/office/craftroom/where we stuck extra furniture that moved from apartment to apartment to across the country... you get the idea. Enter the elfa system from the Container Store. There is now a wonderful place across from his bedroom where he can play with his toys (instead of scattered all over our tiny living room) while I also have an organized space to do my scrapbooking, crafting, sewing, & menu planning- just perfect. =)

Lil Bee and I have also made tons of progress in our adventures with pureed solid foods. I've started looking through my Weelicious recipe book for different ideas and combinations but this kid will seriously eat anything I put in front of him! He's gobbled up everything from apples, bananas, oatmeal, and peaches to green beans, peas, avocado, carrots, broccoli, and zucchini! My favorite tools so far have been the Magic Bullet (, 1 oz ice cube trays (, plastic Similac formula containers for freezer storage (Ziploc bags also work), and these BPA free single serve containers ( that I can shove into my diaper bag. 
Lessons I've learned so far: 1) glass containers are more forgiving than plastic for storage (but can also be pricey), 2) pineapple chunks don't puree- they juice, 3) my kid likes chunkier, thicker textures vs the runny Just Peaches out of a pouch (such a mess), and 4) bananas and/or oatmeal work to thicken up any "liquidy" puree like zucchini or carrots.

In early Dec, I ran my first 5K since getting pregnant with Lil Bee (not pretty) and recently signed up for the Color Run in early Feb with a bunch of spouses in my squadron. So to prepare for that- I've started up a running group with a bunch of friends. We've done Zumba or Yoga together here and there but mostly we're just a bunch of new mommies who have regular playdates.. and since it's a new year, we've all got new fitness goals on our minds haha. I've also started running with Lil Bee in the jogging stroller on our own 1-2x/wk. Hopefully I find the motivation to keep up the running after the race!

With my busy schedule, I'm still making lists (something I started when I was pregnant and really scatterbrained). I also tend to really get overwhelmed when I think of all the things I have to get done (sometimes I really overbook my schedule) and making lists help me cope. So I have a list of things that need to get done right away, a list of chores that need to be done around the house, a grocery list after I plan the menu for the week, and a list of "fun" things that I've seen on Pinterest for days I'm ever bored. 

The Waiting Game

Naively and very optimistically, whenwe submitted the adoption application in July 2011, my husband and I werepretty sure we’d have our little guy home for Christmas 2012.  We were matched May 1, 2012 and knew that realistically,we would not be a family of 3 for Christmas because we had been told that wewould probably travel approximately a year from the date of match.  We thought we might receive a progress reportor our next paperwork packet the first of this month.  We still haven’t received anything, in partbecause South Korea changed many of their adoption laws in August 2012; as wasto be expected there have been some hiccups with the new process.  Our agency has been conservative with theinformation they’ve passed along so as not to give false or early hope to thewaiting families.  I cognitivelyunderstand what they are doing and why, but it hard not to play the what-ifsand how-much longer kinds of games.   Somedays, the waiting, not-knowing and not having a plan seem suffocating; on otherdays, it is much easier to take a deep breath and be thankful that our littleguy is healthy and safe.   

I’ve had dear friends who had beenseveral days overdue and comments about their pregnancy drove them crazybecause they were just ready to have that baby. While that is not something I can directly relate too, I do think I havea better understanding of their frustration.   How have you survived the waiting game?

Subscription Boxes: Citrus Lane vs. Stork Stack (and a link to Little Fox Give Away)

Subscription Boxes seem to be all the rage right now. I love the idea of getting products in the mail every month. I've been getting a Citrus Lane box for a few months. Honestly, some months I love the box, and others I feel so-so about.

The customer service has been wonderful. One month we accidentally got a girls box, they quickly replaced the items with non-pink items. I contacted several times to make sure I was satisfied with the change.

The only con is that sometimes I am happier with the box items than other months, but that is also part of the fun!

Here is a sample of what is in this months box:

January Box Contents:

Skip Hop Zoo Lunchbox - insulated, BPA and phthalate-free plus it is adorable. It is just the right size to hold goodies for Baby Peach. I love that the handle has a clip so I can easily attach it to the diaper bag or my lunch box.

Soothing Cream and trial size body wash from Episencial - it's sent free and has quickly become my go to hand cream. I haven't tried it on baby yet, since we don't put lotion on him yet.

Yum Yum Baby Cookies from Ella's - I love the food items that come in the box. They seem to be excellent teething biscuits. They contain a bit of sugar though so I probably won't be buying more for the little one. (If I give him sugar it's going to be from home baked goodies!)

To-Go Disinfectant Spray from CleanWell - this is the puzzling item for me in this months box. I've got it in the diaper bag, but haven't really decided where I should use it.

Bear About Town from Barefoot Books - the books have been one of my favorite items in the Citrus Lane Box and this one is no different. It has a simple plot line and adorable pictures.

I also enjoy that there is always a promo code for each item in the box in case you want more products. The code typically gives you 20-25% off.

Little Peach's favorite part is certainly the box and tissue paper!

If you read the comments from Mama Bee's post on the Stork Stack post you will know I tired one of those in February. I did not like the ingenuity of the products as much as the ones in the Citrus Lane Box. I think I may have just caught them on an off month for us though so I will try another month. I had a similar problem with receiving a girls item, this time baby legs. Stork Stack is having me return the item and then they will ship out a new pair. I was able to handle this by entirely by e-mail, although I will have to make a trip to the post office to mail them back.

Finally, the folks over at Mommy and Me Giveaways are giving away monthly packs from Little Fox, yet another monthly subscription service. You can enter their give away here:

Carseat Safety Labels

It something no one wants to think about: what happens to your baby if something happens to you. A friend was recently in a car accident that rendered her unconscious - with her little one in the backseat! Luckily, everyone was fine. Thanks to some prior planning, the paramedics were able to get in contact with friends that were able to come take care of the baby.

Since we are away from family, I've been lining up Emergency Contacts in the area and making sure all our base forms have the right information. (If you have your child in any sort of daycare program, you will want to make sure you have names besides you and your partner on the pick up list - just in case.) This is even more important given deployments and TDY's - having a plan for when your partner is out of town.

I was browsing Pinterest and found these great labels on Oops I Craft My Pants. You print the labels on label paper and stick them to your car seat. I've also put one in the diaper bag.

Please take a second and print these out. I sincerely hope you will never have to use them, but if anything ever happens, you will be glad you did.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Teething Remedies: Frozen Breastmilk

I read this post on Rookie Moms, suggesting using frozen breastmilk to sooth teething pain. Little Peach had his two front teeth come in on Christmas Eve. He was miserable. I was willing to try anything. Amazingly, rubbing the frozen breastmilk on his gums calmed him down enough to get him to sleep - which really is the best medicine. (This is a particularly good use for the store of breastmilk in my freezer, since H has boycotted the bottle since month 6.)

Hope this little trick works for you. You can also hop on over to Rookie Moms for a few more tricks.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I am the Whale

I'm sure some of you are wondering why I went with Mama Whale for my blog name, as not many women voluntarily refer to themselves as oversized creatures, but in order to explain my name, you must first understand how my husband and I decided on our son's name. 

When we found out we were having a boy, we decided that we wanted to go with a Biblical name.  Something strong and classic, but not popular (like Micah, Eli, or Noah).  So we came up with Jonah, and immediately both liked it.  We both basically knew the story of Jonah, but we wanted to read it again to be sure this was someone we wanted to name our child after.  Well that very Sunday, our pastor preached the story of Jonah, and we knew that that would be his name.  

For those of you needing to brush up on your Bible stories, Jonah was an Israelite prophet who God told to go tell the people of Nineva about Himself so that He could show them grace.  However, Jonah felt that the Ninevites were a despicable people not deserving of God's grace, and so he tried to run from God.  Unfortunately running from an omniscient God isn't a really smart idea, so when Jonah found himself caught in a deadly storm out on the sea, he knew it was because he had disobeyed God and had the crew of the ship throw him overboard so that they would not all perish.  It was then that Jonah cried out to God for help, and in God's mercy (not giving Jonah what he deserved, namely death for disobeying God) and grace (giving Jonah a gift he did not deserve, namely life), he sent a large fish, often portrayed as a whale, to swallow up Jonah, saving him from drowning.  Jonah spent 3 days in the whale, just as Jesus spent 3 days in Hell following his crucifixion, and then God had the whale spit him out onto the shore.  Jonah repented of his disobedience and took the good news of the Lord to the despicable Ninevites, who also repented of their sin and came into the favor of God.  

So it's a story of new life and of second chances, through the belly of a whale, and about 6 months into my pregnancy when I was feeling very large indeed, it hit me, and I announced to my husband, "Our little Jonah is in the belly of the whale, and I am the whale!"


I have always thought that as soon as my child was old enough, she would go to preschool no questions asked. Until I got too close to that point. I am not even sure where my apprehension stems from. could it possibly have to do with the fact that this would mean she really REALLY wouldn't be my little baby anymore? Could it be the recent tragic events of Sandy Hook elementary and other similarly scary situations happening in schools throughout the US(of course the world as well, but we don't plan on leaving the country anytime soon). Whatever it is, it is there. I am terrified.

A few months ago, when I took Adrianna to her two year checkup, her pediatrician was going through the typical questions...does she climb up stairs one foot at a time and can she do a couple without holding onto anything? Does she speak in two or three word sentences? Does she recognize some colors? Does she know more than 40 words? The pediatrician didn't need me to answer many of these because Adrianna was demonstrating her abilities the whole time. I already knew she was a bright child, and that her vocabulary was extensive for her age. After her initial checkup, the doctor told me that she is more than ready for preschool and gave me her immunization chart in case I wanted to enroll her sometime within the next few months. OH.MY.GOD. Preschool???!!!! I had thought about it and had discussed it with Joe but for someone else to point out the reality that my baby girl was almost ready for preschool freaked me out! Ever since then I have been thinking about what it would be like and I almost end up weeping in a corner with her cuddled in my arms....and by almost I mean this has actually happened more than once. I can't imagine not being there to oversee her growth and to protect her from kids that can be mean. I can't imagine not being the one to teach her. I know homeschooling isn't right for my family, but I have considered it. So here I am, facing the potential of preschool. By September, my baby will be in preschool. I can enroll her earlier but I want to wait until she is 3. I need to buy myself more time to prepare myself. If I were to take her tomorrow, she would have no problem going into the class and could care less if I left her there by herself. She is soooo independent that it kills me. Just cry for mama for once!!! Is that too much to ask :( She knows her ABCs, counts to 20, can pretend to read a book based on interpretation of the pictures in the book, she can do puzzles and recognizes all shapes even trapezoids and diamonds, she pretend plays, and she is so ready to begin. I don't know where the time goes but it is going way too fast.

It makes me so anxious that I have to put her safety in someone else's hands. I have to drop her off in the mornings and trust that she will be there when I pick her up, safe and sound. Sure, parents have been doing this for years and I am sure with similar worries but things like kidnappings and school shootings are very real and make this transition all too worrisome for me. I know I will let go and just send her off to school one day. I have to let her grow into a person away from her mommy and daddy. I can't hold on forever. I just can't help but think that this will just be one of many times I will have to let her go, it is going to snowball from preschool to high school to college to having to watch her walk down the isle one day and give herself to her future husband. I'm telling you, I'm not crazy people. I know how this works. It starts with preschool then BAM! She moves out on her own. And I can't stop it. All I can do is savor each and every single second of the time I have with her, just us. No siblings (yet!) no sharing with anyone else. Just her and me, and Toy Story...which I will watch as many times as she wants me to without complaining, if it means getting to hold her close for one more day. Just me and her.

Adrianna at 3 months old

Monday, January 7, 2013

New year, new projects

Every year I always say I'm going to be more organized. This time I'm actually following through with it and reorganizing most rooms in the house. Another motivation: our very curious little one is becoming more mobile = babyproofing. So I'm just reorganizing spaces, finding a better placement for existing furniture, & finally purging things that have moved from house to house to here LOL.

The major areas are already prepped thanks to play dates/family visits with older kids. We have a giant baby gate to corral off the kitchen & dining rooms (where we also keep the cat food & litter box) & a hallway gate to keep him in the living room/ out of the bedrooms. But there were still areas driving me crazy....

Biggest spots of contention: limited kitchen counter space taken over by piles of baby feeding supplies, our tiny living room was starting to get taken over by the toys.. at the same time, computer & game & electronics wires (& our collection of computer mice, game controllers etc) are just alllll over the entertainment center, &  the very tempting stuff that's under the hallway bathroom sink. That meant: reorganizing the kitchen cabinets, a dedicated playroom that also housed the relocated home office supplies & a bathroom storage reorganization.

I first tackled the kitchen, reorganizing & reclaiming dead space in the cabinets to better house glassware & finally corralling ALL the baby bowls, bottles etc into matching metal bins from Target (hidden away but still easily accessible) -> moved those into the new space I had created.

Now I'm in the middle of reclaiming the smallest bedroom (which collected mismatching furniture & craft supplies) and converting it into a playroom/craft room/ home office. (It's a complete disaster right now so I'll post pics when it's done!) But I also ended up with a pretty amazing bedroom makeover just by moving some of that furniture out of that tiny room!!

Also, Baby Bee is loving all the homemade purees I've given him so far... the latest experiment was broccoli. Will post on those cooking adventures soon!

What babypoofing did you do?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Feeding Baby like an Adult

Baby Peach has decided he is ready to eat "big boy" foods. We had a nice stint of making our own baby food, grinding up what we were eating. But no more! This kid wants to feed himself. He wants to eat exactly what the adults are eating. On our trip to Puerto Rico, he loudly demanded samples from everyone's plate - even people we didn't know.

I want to encourage him to keep exploring different foods, so I've been digging to find options for meals we can all share. My husband has found a passion for cooking, so finding things we can make in advance means he can cook it when he has time (and it saves me meal prep time when Baby Peach is hungry!)

I thought I would share a few gems I found. As always, I'm always looking for new ideas - so please share your favorites!
Tyler Florence's Fresh Start
Cooking for Baby
The Baby & Toddler Cookbook

It's a complete mess, letting a nine month old go crazy with food, but he loves it!

Friday, January 4, 2013

How many kids?

With various parties, get-togethersand chance encounters, over the last year and a half, small talk seems toalways turn to kids.  Most moms have avery easy time answering the “how many kids do you have” question.  I however, got that deer-in-the-head lightlook, as I struggled with how to answer that question.  I generally answered with the very "adult-like"answers of “uhm, one?” or sometimes a more firm “one…ish”  (As I have previously mentioned, we have beenmatched with and love a little boy, but have yet to bring him home.  In fact, as of right now, we are not involvedin the daily decisions or care of our son, nor do we have any legal rights asparents.)   

If I answered with the uncertainresponse, most folks jumped to different conclusions (1) I’m currentlyexpecting in the traditional biological way or (2) we’ve lost a child. And thenI would have to explain the situation. Occasionally, I had people shake theirheads, almost in disbelief, like I couldn’t countJ.  If I answered with the more firm response ofone…ish, Before they could ask  gender,how old he or she is, developmental stage, etc,I gave a little bit about theadoption story, what we know about him, etc. As travel time gets closer and I am no longer surprised by the questionof “how many kids do you have?” I have become a little more practiced in sayingwe have a son in Korea and are waiting to bring him home. 

I am certainly looking forward tobringing him home and the first time I can answer, we have one son and he isfinally home.  I’m curious, how have youresponded to such questions?

Swim Lessons and Other Baby Activities

Happy New Year!

It's cold here in Colorado. Probably colder than anywhere else I've ever lived - our lows in 2013 have all been in the single digits. But I like to try to get out of the house with the little one every day.

I'm a huge fan of Stroller Strides. It has helped me make friends, get out of the house, and loose the baby weight. I seriously love getting to spend workout time with my baby. In the scheme of things, though, Stroller Strides is mommy time (although they do have play groups).

With the cold temps, I needed a get out of the house, baby fun time, activity. I found Donna's Dolphins through recommendations from friends. The 30 min parent-child swim class is a great way to get out of the house, meet new people, and have some fun with baby. Little Peach loves the water, so I knew it would be a big hit.

Today's lesson was great. The class has four other parent-child pairs and has a quick pace to keep the kids entertained. The water is bath temperature, so everyone is comfortable. We practiced blowing bubbles, kicking, putting our head under, and floating on our backs. Little Peach did great, until they put them all in a little boat and he tried to jump out to get back to me. We may have some separation anxiety issues! Anyway, it was a great time and we are signed up to continue through February.

I also had a conversation with Mama Dream about loving The Little Gym. They offer a free trial class - we will be looking into that for the future. We've also got our free Gymboree Class on the schedule for a weekend trial.

What sort of classes or activities have you tried with your little ones?

I also wanted to share this great article from the Colorado Springs Little Gym Blog about kids throwing a fit during classes. The first time it happened to me at Stroller Strides, I was mortified. We survived though. This really put it in perspective for me, although it didn't stop that tunnel vision, ear ringing thing that happens. Check it out here: