Thursday, December 20, 2012

Digital Christmas Card

Hello friends,

In leiu of being organized enough to actually send this out via the postal service, I'm using my blog to update everyone about the blessings we have experienced this year. 2012 has certainly been a year to remember.

We had a rough start to the year as Joanna went on an all formula diet; it was a blessing in disguise. I was frantically trying to be a perfect mother and provide for her every need, but it was damaging to her health and my own. As soon as I allowed my pride to subside, we both lived much more happily. The remaining Winter months were mild and blurry. Infants tend to suck the brains of their parents.

In February, March, and May, we had 3 major blessings added to our families! Joanna gained three cousins: Nathan, Micah, and Daphne. All were born healthy and happy. Nathan and Micah are in Lynchburg so Joanna was able to see them when we lived there. Daphne is in Pennsylvania and we try to see her as often as possible. We attended three weddings this year: Rob and Megan, Derek and Michelle, and Connie and Sam. Unfortunately, we also attended two funerals: our friend Steve and my former co-worker Mike.

Jonathan coached an Indoor Winter Drumline for Liberty University. I helped with a vocal portion of their performance while Joanna acted as the unofficial mascot. It was the first year for the school to have their own indoor line and they placed 2nd - with only a tenth of a point separating them from the #1 spot. It was a huge accomplishment and we are so proud of them!

As winter melted into Spring, we learned we were pregnant with our second child. We were shocked and excited at the news. On June 29th, our unborn baby was taken directly into Heaven. As my grandma-in-law put it, his body wasn't healthy enough to thrive on Earth so God took him straight into His arms to blossom. We miss him terribly but we have hope that we'll meet him one day. You can read the full story here: Powerless. A week after losing our baby, we moved out of our downtown home into a quiet neighborhood. It was a nice change for our grieving family and newly-crawling almost-toddler.

In September, I ran the Color Run 5k in Washington D.C. and I can't wait to do it again! I was also able to get lasik eye surgery to repair my amazingly horrible eyesight. The surgery was a success and I am now lens-free! I have no regrets about the procedure and it was worth every penny.

In October we celebrated a year with our sweet baby girl. Our friends and family came from near and far to show their love of our Joanna Rose. It was such a special day! The following week, Jonathan interviewed for a job in Washington D.C. 2 hours later he received a job offer. We had 10 days to move our Lynchburg life into a storage unit in Warrenton and my parent's home in Manassas. And we did.

November came and went as we adapted to our new commuter lifestyle. We downsized to one car and I drive Jonathan to the train every morning so he can ride into work without dealing with traffic. Joanna and I spend each day with grandma and she couldn't be happier. Her stumbling steps have now evolved into wobbly running and leaping. Our cat quickly learned her place in the hierarchy of Grandma's house. When Joanna is asleep, Adelaide is the new grandbaby. When Joanna is awake, hide.

Here we are at December and we can't help but be thankful for everything. Even though parts of our year have sucked, God was always there. There are 3 more great people in our family and there are 3 more great people in Heaven.

We hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year that doesn't suck.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holy 1980s Batman

I don't know what it is about putting my baby in my own baby clothing, but it is so much fun.

The latest installment of "Look what Joanna is wearing now!" features my very first ballet recital costume. I was 2 1/2 when I wore it.








And now some oldies but goodies:



Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012

I was really annoyed when the lady at Auntie Anne's pretzel didn't get my order right. I was stewing in my own frustrations the entire ride home while Joanna snoozed peacefully in her car seat. I gently removed her from her car seat, changed her diaper, and quietly laid her in her crib before grabbing my computer to check Facebook. Then I learned about the shooting at an Elementary School. 

I have a choice when it comes to my reaction to anger. I can choose to channel my anger into destruction or I can channel it into creation. 


Rather than get pissed off about gun control or public school safety or even locks on classroom doors, I'm choosing to be thankful for my family and thankful for those that serve our community through teaching and law enforcement.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

13 Months


Joanna is walking full speed and showing signs of climbing - hence the lack of posts.

She's also going through a growth spurt. I don't understand how a giant baby could need another growth spurt. It's insane. I think she was exposed to some kind of radioactive ooze that is turning her into a giant mutant baby, but maybe she's just German? She still sleeps 12 hours a night. She even slept 14 hours for a few days right before her growth spurt. Her feet also grew half a size to a 4.5.

Joanna's favorite foods are grapes, clementines, spaghetti, tortillas, beans, peas, cut up hot dogs, and squeezy packs of food that she can use to feed herself. She no longer adores apples and pears. Bananas are still a strong staple in her diet.

This is a typical daily intake for Joanna:

Breakfast:
6oz of whole milk
whole banana
cereal

Snack:
grapes
whatever Mommy is eating

Lunch:
full container of greek yogurt
cup of beans or peas (or both)
A squeeze pack and/or jar of baby food
cup of whole milk or water

Snack:
tortilla
whatever Grandma is eating

Dinner:
a kid plate full of spaghetti
slice of bread

Pre-bed:
6oz of whole milk


Now that Joanna is eating us out of house and home, we are even more thankful for cloth diapers! We calculated that we saved almost $900 in one year. I didn't stutter: Nine hundred dollars. Isn't that amazing? Most of Joanna's diapers are gender neutral so we're going to re-use all/many of the diapers on our next kid. That means we will likely save over $1,000 with cloth next time - awesome! Here is the running tally that you love so much:

Personal investment: $363
Savings: $1247
Return on investment: $884



Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Year with Joanna Rose

I compiled some videos and photos for a short video to send to Grandparents and family members. My short video turned into a 13 minute video that is guaranteed to evoke "awwww" and "hahaha" and sniffle.

Enjoy.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

First Week "Home"

We are a week post-move and I think I finally caught my breath. I continue to be so thankful to my parents' generosity in allowing us to live with them. Joanna is beside herself with joy that she's able to see her grandma and grandpa everyday.

She isn't walking much more than before but she loves to stand and dance. She is crawling faster than ever. Doc wasn't concerned that she isn't walking yet so we aren't pushing her.

Verbally, she is a chatty Cathy. Her favorite words are mama, dada, baba, cah (cat) and "chee koo" (thank you). My favorite sound in the world is her laugh. It's a full hearted belly chortle when she really gets going.

Bath times now take place in the kitchen sink.
Her crib now stands where her mothers' stood.
Her cloth diapers continue to cover her bum.
She waves to people wherever she goes.
She cuddles for a few milliseconds before plotting her escape.
She loves being chased.
She loves playing with shoes, bags, and jewelry.
She adores her tiny tea pot that sings with a British accent.


Joanna loves.
And we love Joanna.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Moving to D.C.

Remember when the broken water heater flooded our basement and we moved a week later?
Remember the crazy derecho? Remember how we moved a week later?
And remember that Superstorm Sandy last week? Guess what - we're moving again!

Jonathan got a job in Washington D.C. and we have ten days to move! Well, it's actually seven days now. We just arrived back home and I have one full week to completely pack, sell, and giveaway all of our possessions before we move it into a storage unit or into my parent's house. [We'll be living with them until I find a job, too.]

Have I mentioned how amazing my parents are? I guarantee they are superior to your parents.

Oh hey, and remember that time that Joanna learned to crawl during the week we moved? Guess who just learned how to walk - the week we are moving! (God has a sick sense of humor sometimes.) We were on our way to change her diaper and Jonathan put her on the ground and told her to walk to me. She stood still, flapped her arms, and took three steps toward me. It was amazing! We clapped and shouted and she clapped with us. I'm so thankful we had that special moment just between us. 


Needless to say, the posts will resume when I am nesting in our new tree. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful

November is a month that brings a "Thank You" to many lips.

I am thankful for my sweet family. I want my daughter to be smart, but more importantly I want her to be generous and gracious. Brains don't give you joy (unless you're a zombie). Finding ways to be thankful, even in the midst of chaos, begets joy.

In the middle of rushing, bustling, dancing, driving, and sleeping, I love that we have this moment that so perfectly captures our family. So here's to joy in the midst of chaos!



Sunday, October 28, 2012

One Year


One year ago today, our beautiful baby girl joined the world. 
Joanna Rose is so full of smiles. We smile and laugh with her every day. 
We couldn't have asked for a better baby - she is a perfect fit to our family. 


A Family Portrait 
(Forgive my I Love Lucy costume. My forethought forgot
that we were taking a family portrait sans costume.)

Her birthday cake was love at first bite.

A bushel of babies in the backyard for my baby's birthday!

Look at all of the people that love our little girl. We are so blessed.

In lieu of decorations, we printed photos of her that we will soon put into actual 
non-digital albums that people can hold in their hands. 



Her 1 year visit to the doctor is this week so we'll end out the stats soon. For now, I'm guestimating she's (at least) 25 pounds. She is crawling faster than ever but not walking. Yet. We are enjoying these final moments of having a child that doesn't walk (or run).
--------
UPDATE

Her stats are still in the 98th percentile! She is 25lbs 1oz, 30+ inches tall, and her head is 18 1/3 inches around. Doc said they'll be able to predict her height when she's around 2 years old. I'm not in a hurry to find out how quickly she'll tower over me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Punkin' Pickin'

Our little family had its first Fall family outing double date! Our dear friends live 2 hours away from us so we planned our funtivities around Jeter Farm as a halfway point.



After delicious Mexican food in Roanoke, we parked in a dusty cornfield and paraded our children toward the giant orange orbs of fun. The place was crawling with kids, strollers, and a few dogs. We quickly learned that the actual hay ride to the actual pumpkin patch was actually $7 per person - yea. We skipped the hayride and posed our children by a pile of pumpkins so we could get the same effect. 

After the farm, we journeyed to a Wine Festival. Contrary to popular belief, two small children under the age of one pose an imminent threat to the enjoyment of winos. We were turned away at the door without a refund of our $60 tickets. After Jeff scalped our tickets to other attendees, we spent our money at a pub. 

I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate Fall. Good friends, good food, and cute kids.



The day before the farm, Joanna went to her first half-time show! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Baby Led Weaning

Baby Led Weaning is a different approach to introducing one's child to solid food. For more information, the website Baby Led Weaning is a great resource. (When they use the term "weaning", they mean it in the British sense of "adding secondary foods" as opposed to the American meaning of "put that boob away and give your kid a bottle".)

As you know, I am "crunchy peanut butter." I look into crunchy things (i.e.: cloth diapers, amber teething necklaces, natural remedies, etc) and I take what works and leave out the rest. When I first learned about baby led weaning, I thought it was for the super hippies that had gardens instead of lawns. I didn't give it a second thought for several months.

A brief history: I EBF (exclusively breast fed) for one month then put her on formula because my boobs broke. Joanna started solids at 4 months old and cut her first tooth at 4.5 months. She loved chunky purees and she ate nearly anything we shoved into her mouth. We felt like we didn't need to do baby led weaning, so we didn't.

Fast forward 7 months and Joanna is very interested in anything we eat. After attending a Motherhood Collective Cafe meeting about baby led weaning, I noticed she devoured every sample that was distributed. From black beans to blueberries to large slices of strawberries - she played with them, took bites, and wanted more. When we got home, I began giving her actual "whole" food items instead of pureeing or cutting into small swallowable pieces. I immediately noticed that she was having more fun and I was doing a lot less work.

We started with a peeled pear so she could taste it immediately instead of messing with the skin. You would have thought she was eating bananas again for the first time - she LOVED it. We then gave her an apple with only a section that was peeled. She ate from both peeled and non peeled sections. Next was a red pepper - holy Moses does she love those things. We then gave her some shredded chicken. She wasn't a huge fan but she did like playing with it.

Tiny little bite marks
  • But what about choking? Her gag reflex has prevented her from choking on food. She learned quickly to bring bigger pieces back to the front of her mouth and chew a few more times.  I also stay in the room and either eat with her or do other things in the kitchen. 
  • Isn't it really messy? She's a kid - of course its messy. Bananas are far messier when given to a child whole than when fed with a spoon. Apples and pears are much cleaner and it takes her more time to eat it. I would rather have a few more moments of cleaning than put in an extra 10-15 minutes of prepping (peeling, chopping, steaming, pureeing, etc). 
  • Do you buy organic? Nope. Organic food is too expensive for our budget. However, we try to buy local as often as possible. Sometimes its organic, sometimes it isn't. I didn't grow up with organic and I turned out pretty well. 
  • But my kid doesn't have teeth yet - I don't want to do it until they have teeth. You can start baby led weaning right away - even if they don't have teeth. We started late as a result of our skepticism. If you do some research and talk to some folks that do it, you'll be able to make a well informed decision about it for your family. 

As we approach the switch from formula to milk, I am very glad I made the switch from purees to "whole" foods. It is much easier and much more fun for both of us. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. It felt weird to say "Happy Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day!" so instead I told fellow moms, "I'm praying for you today as we honor our babies in Heaven."
Our candle for our angel baby

What else can you say besides "it really sucks"?

When I was searching for graphics and information for this post, I stumbled upon a really great resource. It's a site called Faces of Loss. It's a place where women can share their stories, find real-life advice from women who have been there, and connect with others through a pen pal program. I'm also reminded of organizations like Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and the amazing works they do.

I am comforted by scriptures and comforted by the prayers of others. I'm comforted by others' stories. I'm comforted by my husband's hugs and gentle words. I'm comforted by the laughs of my silly almost one year old daughter. Our healing continues and it will be complete when we meet our baby.

Until then, I will continue to share our story. I will continue to hug others that share similar experiences. I will continue to love my daughter and raise her to be a happy, healthy, and charitable human being. I will continue to live a full life.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Nuby Review and Giveaway: Oral Massager and Toothbrush



Joanna's first tooth emerged from her head at around 4.5 months. We were using an amber teething necklace and it helped a great deal with her symptoms. When it came to actually brushing her teeth, we didn't really start until she had 4 teeth as a 6 month old. Now that she has 8 teeth, I brush her teeth at least once a day (but strive for twice.)

Joanna LOVES having her teeth brushed! I mime brushing my own teeth with the Nuby toothbrush, she laughs, I brush her top teeth, she laughs, I mime brushing my teeth, she laughs, I brush her bottom teeth, she laughs, I brush her tongue, she bites me, I scream, she laughs, and we all go about our day. I wanted to get a photo of her giggles but it requires an additional arm. 

The Nuby oral massager and tooth brush has what I wanted in our original toothbrush - a case. I can throw it into our diaper bag and keep it clean. I can put it into our medicine box and it stays sanitary. I can always find it because it stays in the case. The toothbrush and oral massager fit easily onto our index fingers and is a simple design. It's easy to use, effective, and convenient. We don't use the oral massager but I know of many parents that do. Its ideal for teething babes and soothes their sore gums. 

And you can have one, too! Enter this giveaway to win your very own Nuby Oral Massager and Toothbrush (with carrying case!). 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Eleven Months

I say this every month: "Where has time gone?" "How is she this old?"

Thumbs up for 11 months!
I have little recollection of who she was last month. I have no idea what I did last week. All I know is that my little giant giggling ball of sunshine is getting bigger, louder, and cuter. If you entered your child into a cute baby contest with my baby, you'd still vote for my baby; that's how cute she is.

Helping Daddy at work
I don't know how much she weighs, how long she is, or how large her giant brain still is. I can tell you that she regularly wears 24mo and 2T pants, 18-24mo onesies, and she can wear 12mo to 2T dresses. I have no idea what her shoe size is and it's been difficult to find a pair that will stay on her without cutting off the circulation to her cankles. She has size 5 shoes that don't hurt but she looks like a kitten wearing mittens when she tries to walk. I'll probably just continue using socks with shoes on them.  

At 11 months, she is cruising, rolling, crawling, dancing, clapping, waving, singing, babbling, laughing, and melting hearts wherever she goes. She is a total charmer. It's been wonderful seeing the smiles she brings to people's faces.  She loves being in her stroller and waving to people in stores and hallways. Even the grumpiest grinches will wave back. She especially loves to wave and talk to black women and really tall men - I love it!

She eats anything we give her. Her favorite is now Cheerios (sorry bananas!) and she can polish off a jar of spaghetti and meatballs without batting an eyelash. I'm not very good at making her food but I am fantastic at cutting up fruits, veggies, and letting her eat from my plate. In one month, we'll be switching from formula to milk and I can't wait! We're going to save at least $25 a month by switching.  

I am beyond excited to plan her birthday party! Because her birthday is so close to Halloween, I decided to do a costume party. I also wanted her to wear her costume for more than one day because she is seriously the cutest baby I've ever seen in my life. She's going to be Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street. Instead of spending $30 on a plastic costume she'd wear once, I wanted to find separate pieces she could wear again.  For her costume, the wings were given to us from Jen, the hat was $5 from Target, and the dress is $18 from Target. There are official Abby fairy wands on Amazon for $5 so I may cave and get her that, too. It's a good thing that Abby is barefoot because there's no shoe that will stay on her foot.


And now that we're in the final stretch before her birthday party, I'm frantically checking pinterest for ways to up-cycle things in my home instead of spending money. So far I've cleaned and painted the lids of 12 baby food jars so people can take candy home with them as a party favor. I've also printed photos and "saved" ribbon so I can hang photos of her as a birthday banner. I'm thankful the Dollar Store had packs of pink and purple streamers for $1 each.

Wow. One more month until we have a one year old!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Retrospective

4 years ago, I married my best friend.

2 years ago, I was feeling empty and broken because I couldn't get pregnant.

Last year, my body was on the verge of exploding because I was SO pregnant.

8 months ago, I felt betrayed by my body because I wasn't able to give Joanna the nutrients she needed. It caused her to lose too much weight. That led to us from exclusively breastfeeding, to supplementing, to only using formula.

Right now, we're feeling like we're on the verge of movement. We don't know when our next chapter will begin or where it will take place.

In hindsight, God was always there. He knows where we'll be while we only know where we've been.  God knows what He's doing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lasik: A Love Story

Back in June, I shared with you all that I was planning on having Lasik eye surgery. After postponing the surgery until my hormones normalized, I was able to have the procedure last week.

They started with a few tests to measure how awful my eyes truly are. Over my 20+ years of horrible vision, they progressed to -5.50 on each eye. The nurse said that I was essentially too blind to be measured on a 20/20 vision scale. In preparation for surgery, I was given valium and many eye drops. Then I took my glasses off for the last time as they walked me into a small cold room with a reclining chair between two big machines. The entire procedure took about 15 minutes.

This is how I would describe the procedure to a 9 year old:
  • An eyeball shaped vacuum was placed on my eye so it would stay still. The suction unintentionally made my vision go grey while the laser made tiny holes on the outer layer of my eyeball.
  • I had to stare at an orange light that I could barely see because I was so blind. Even though I was very fidgety, the computer was still able to keep track of me.
  • The same vacuum sucky thing on my other eyeball and I went grey again.
  • I couldn't see the other orange light either.
  • The procedure ended and I could see the clock on the wall.  It wasn't very clear but I could see it far better than I could before.

THE NEXT THREE HOURS were to be the most crucial and most uncomfortable of the recovery. I was instructed to sleep through it. Unfortunately, we didn't get home in time before the itching ensued. I don't know if it was the valium, the itching, the Tylenol PM, or all of it combined but I was absolutely miserable. I wept several times because all I wanted to do was stop the itching. I couldn't change my circumstances. I couldn't help my situation - I could only hurt it. I even tried to scratch at my bug bites to try and transfer the itching to another place on my body but that didn't help. The last resort was to sit out by the TV and listen to the news with an ice pack on my cheeks and forehead to help dull the itching.

After those dreadful 3 hours, I was able to put in my drops and it helped a little. My Norwegian eyes betrayed me as my sensitivity to light was more intense than ever before. Thank God for those goggles. Jonathan put up a make shift bedroom curtain so I could sleep. He also enjoyed calling me a variety of super villain names based on my new goggled appearance.


THE NEXT DAY was much better. I had a check up and the doctor was pleased with my progress. My vision isn't 20/20 and it may never be, but I can function without corrective lenses! Everywhere I look it seems like I'm in a 1980s soap opera with vaseline on the lens. The nurse said that should clear up in a day or two. I also had some bleeding on my eyeball from the vacuum - the doc said that will clear up, too. I only have to wear goggles at night now - huzzah!

DAY TWO and the vaseline is disappearing as items appear sharper. I still look a fright with a vacuum ring around my eyeballs. This is also the first day that I drove after surgery! I could see everything on the console and inside of the car clearly. Road signs were a different story - anything further than a few hundred feet away were blurry unless I squinted. I drove at night and it was worse. The dreaded halos made headlights look like balloons glued to car hoods. All of this is within the normal range of recovery.

DAY THREE and my distance vision keeps improving. I'm less cautious about interacting within smacking range of Joanna (Joanna's smacking range, not my own). I desperately want to wear mascara. The closest consolation to my lack of eye make up is I'll be able to have fun with bright lip colors.

DAY FOUR - the halos are getting smaller.

DAY FIVE - the overcast weather means I can go outside for extended periods of time without getting a headache.

DAY SIX - my drops are nearly gone and I am missing my mascara more than ever. I feel like a 12 year old with my undefined lashes.

ONE WEEK and the doctor is pleased with the results. Everything is not super crisp. I see very well up close, but distances are still a bit blurry. I chalk it up to the amount of correction that was needed. My vision will continue to improve in the coming weeks!

All in all, I am very grateful to have vision. It's indescribable to go from practically blind to near 20/20 in the span of a week. God is so good.

----------

TWO WEEKS and everything is still okay. I still can't read road signs at a distance very easily. Close up is pretty crisp.

THREE WEEKS and my eyes look almost back to normal. I still have some redness around the colors of my eyes. I'm still not seeing road signs very easily but the halos at night are much smaller.

FOUR WEEKS and I can drive at night much easier now. My overall vision is probably very close to 20/20!

Everyday I'm Blog-a-ling

Several people have asked if I get paid to write. My answer is usually something to the effect of "I get paid in sunshine and butterflies" or "no". When you do something you love, money isn't the priority. I'm very fortunate to have a strong writing resume. I've been featured in a variety of forms and outlets, from theater reviews in the Washington Post to performing original songs on the Washington D.C. affiliates of CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX. I didn't receive a penny but I loved every minute of it. In my previous job, I was often asked to write (or make phone calls) to either relay disappointing information or to diffuse a conflict. Creative writing is a powerful asset in the professional world, even if it doesn't pay as its own entity.

This blog has been the perfect outlet for me to keep my writing chops, keep in touch with family and friends, and keep my sanity while staying home with a creature that doesn't speak English. In addition to maintaining Housebroken Mom, I also regularly contribute to other blogs and websites:

The Motherhood Collective
This group of women is the brain child (or the heart child) of two beautiful women in my area. Lauren and Laurie put their hearts, minds, and resources together and "birthed" one of the most influential parenting groups in Central Virginia. Every other Monday, mothers from all over come together for the Motherhood Cafe to learn about a particular topic, talk with other moms, and drink free coffee. Every non-Cafe Monday, mothers meet for a large playgroup. When it's not a Monday, moms are often online looking at the Motherhood Collective Blog and Resources to stay connected and informed about relevant topics. I love this group - and you will, too! Anyone can join, be informed, and connect with other mothers. You can read my blog posts here: http://www.themotherhoodcollective.org/author/laura/

Babies In The Burg
My sister-in-law Jen created this wonderful resource for local mothers to find doctors, events, and connections related to parenting. Lynchburg, VA is a conservative college town with thousands of young families. Babies In The Burg is the place where those families can converge and stay informed.

Nuby USA
Nuby is an international company with decades of experience making quality baby products. I was asked to be a Mommy Blogger a few months ago and have enjoyed it so much! I am "paid" in products for reviewing and hosting giveaways. Its truly a win win.


Some companies have also plugged one or two of my posts when I reviewed their products on my own. Onya Baby is my favorite carrier and when they promoted my review of them, I learned that they are also really nice people! Thanks to their generosity, we were able to donate an Onya Carrier to our local baby wearing lending library at an extremely discounted rate.

So even though I'm not paid with actual money, I am really enjoying the butterflies and rainbows that are accruing in my imaginary unicorn account.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Nuby Product Review: Tickle Toes Turtle

It's that time again - time to review another fun product from Nuby!



With Joanna quickly crawling and cruising, any captivating toy is welcome into her rotation. When we first introduced Mr. Turtle to her, Joanna was very confused. Most of her toys don't have batteries. Of the few that do, they don't make loud noises. (Her parents are meanie heads and don't like noisy and/or seizure inducing plastic toys). We put Mr. Turtle away for a few weeks to try again.

After my lasik surgery (update to come soon), I didn't want to hold her close to my face for fear she would grab at my glass-less face. I thought now would be the perfect time to bring Mr. Turtle back. I played with it in front of her to get her curiosity going. Then I pressed his foot - belly laughter erupted from the adorable turtle and Joanna laughed back! I handed him to her and she bounced it a few times before launching it across the room. She chased him down and kept playing - Eureka! A toy that occupies her!

This is the softest of her toys. It's round and squishy (like her) and has the cutest face I have ever seen on a plush animal. When Joanna is sleepy but too defiant to actually sleep, she cuddles up to Mr. Turtle instead. She hasn't been able to make him laugh on her own, but his adorable face still makes her smile.

And now for the reason you're likely reading about this awesome toy - a giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tickle Toes Turtle (and other Tickle Toes animals) are available to purchase here at BuyBabyDirect.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Color Run in DC

Yesterday, I wore a white tutu, goggles, and a home made cape that said "For Buddy. June 29th. My super hero in heaven". I then jauntily sauntered around the National Harbor with 5 friends and a few thousand fellow happy people. As we approached clouds of color, we were doused with powder that made us look like a rainbow vomited. So why would we join thousands in DC and get dirty rainbow style? The Color Run!


I couldn't think of a better way to honor my unborn babe. The run was for the Children's Hospital in DC. Honoring my child in heaven while helping sick children get better? win win. I signed up to do the race shortly after finding out I was pregnant. It was going to be our first run together. I'm glad we were still able to do it, even if he was soaring beside me in spirit. 

There were many a tutu and super hero cape - my wardrobe choice was in good company. There were also many people that walked the entire thing like us. (Did I mention I sprained my toe the day before?) 

National Harbor
Before
Right after the Yellow Cloud of Awesome
After the Orange (Dorito) Cloud of Amazeballs
After the Blue Cloud of Giggles and Sunshine

The 5k ended in a giant block party with loud music, clouds of color, and strangers doing a conga line. It was like a giant wedding reception with a ton of sober happy drunks. Getting the color off of our bodies wasn't as fun as we had hoped, but after a few scrubbings we were good as new. I also sneezed blue.

Ashley said it looked like Buddy was having fun on my cape :) As I posed for my final photo, I couldn't help but cry. I'll always miss the baby I never met. I'll always dream about what he would have been like, smelled like, and looked like. I'm so glad that I have this opportunity to celebrate his memory and help other children in the process.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Children, Photos, and the Internet; Oh my!

The internet is like a big room filled with people shouting. Some can feel a sense of security in the noise and reveal more information than they would otherwise in a face to face environment.  Others can feel overwhelmed in this giant room of people and crank their privacy settings to 11.

Some days, I'm comforted by the noise as I peruse through news, photos, and gossip. On other days I want to shout my own opinions and share photos of my beautiful daughter and hot husband. But on days like today, I hesitate. I don't mind being open about my experiences. I don't mind sharing my personal photographs. But would Joanna mind?

The biggest fear circling child safety on the internet is often about pedophiles coming to abduct our children. Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, told the New York Times that, "Research shows that there is virtually no risk of pedophiles coming to get kids because they found them online." [New York Times] Reading this brought a huge sigh of relief.

Then I kept reading. "The real danger is that a photo is appropriated and mistreated." A lightbulb went off: that makes total sense. The act of saving a photo to one's computer takes mere seconds. The act of creating a social profile using said photo takes minutes.

Again, my mind jumps to "what about the pedophiles?" Thankfully, Professor Finkelhor addresses my fears: "The possibility always exists that pedophiles are lifting such pictures, but it is not something [I have] encountered... it’s unlikely for a disconcerting reason: actual child pornography is so readily available that pedophiles aren’t likely to waste time cruising social networks looking for less explicit material."

First of all, it is incredibly sad that child pornography is available at the click of a button. It makes me want to adopt all of the kids that are being sexually exploited. It also makes me want to castrate those that are exploiting them. My heart breaks for those girls (and boys) that are lied to and abused for the sake of money and perversion.

Professor Finkelhor's comments about pedophiles reshaped my hesitation in displaying my child's photos. Although I doubt anyone would believe that a 10 month old has their own Facebook profile, it brings a new perspective for parents to consider before posting pictures without privacy settings. And the concern doesn't just apply to bloggers. Whenever I enter my child into a Cutest Kid contest, I could be giving that company permission to use my image at their discretion. Whenever I share a meme on my Facebook page featuring a kid I've never seen before, I'm furthering the use of a photo that the parents may not know is floating around. Whenever I upload my images to a website, I could be allowing that company to use my photo in their advertising. Although this may excite some stage mothers, I won't get modeling gigs from that image. I won't even get credit for the photo because I checked that little box before hitting 'submit'.


So what's a mommy blogger to do? I'm not going to stop taking photos of my daughter. I'm not going to stop uploading her ridiculous faces. However, I may take more photos that focus on her hands or cankles (not a typo). I may also greatly limit posting photos after her first birthday. Or maybe I'll put a paper bag over her head (with air holes of course.) She'll be running at that point anyway so I doubt I'll even have time to find the camera.

What do you think? Do you post photos of your children in a public forum? Do you have your privacy settings tailored to your taste?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ten Months

Doughy Joey is 10 months old! 


I just realized a few weeks ago that I should start planning her one year birthday party. Because it will be so close to Halloween, I would love to do a costume party of some sort. She'll probably get tired of Halloween themed birthday parties, but she can't complain yet. My favorite idea so far is that we'll be a Little Shop family - Jonathan as Seymour, myself as Audrey, and Joanna as Audrey II. She already growls and tries to eat people.

At 10 months, Joanna babbles, sings, hums, screams, spits, complains (mamamama), wines (bwabwabwabwa), and laughs maniacally. She loves being around people and especially loves participating in conversations. She's good at answering questions and laughing at jokes. We're still working on her actual vocabulary, but whatever.  She is extremely close to walking. I fear that her next monthly update will be delayed because I'll be chasing her around the house.

Squishy McDoughnut eats solids at every other feeding. I'm making most of it but I love being lazy and just opening a container of whatever I have in the cupboard. I was thinking about doing baby led weaning but by the time I got my act together, she was already eating baby snacks and feeding herself fruit pieces. I guess she led herself anyway?

Also, instead of sleeping 12 hours each night and not napping, she now takes 2 naps and sleeps for 8 hours each night. Yay!

Big thanks to Jonathan for helping me wrangle her while on a rocking chair. Perhaps we should have staged the monthly photos on a stationary surface...?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cruisin'

I was going to write a post about her mastering the art of crawling, but I was interrupted by her learning to pull herself up and drop down with ease. Crap.

I blame Jonathan. He's the one encouraging her to move around. If I had my way, she'd still be rolling around. Children are much more portable when they are blobs. Ah well - I guess that's what I get for having a supportive husband that loves his child.

It didn't take long for us to remember putting remotes and laptops in the back corners of the couch before standing up to do something else. We also quickly reinforced our baby fence. The contraption is perfectly made for babies to scale.

Standing with her raptor feet at 7 months
Standing on daddy's legs at 8 months
Adelaide is both terrified and overjoyed that her best friend can rise to greet her on the couch. She's looking forward to guest blogging soon. Between tail pulling and face petting, Adelaide has much to say on the subject of Joanna's mobility.



Although she's a mover and a shaker, Joanna still loves to cuddle. And for that, I'm thankful. I cherish the snuggle times with my squishy.

I'm thankful that we find comfort in each other.