Sensory Explorations

Ellie’s Nana and Papa got her a sandbox for her birthday that she is pretty smitten with. Every day she crawls over to it, climbs inside and swirls her little legs around, grabbing handfuls of sand and flinging them everywhere. She’s actively exploring with all of her senses these days and so I thought it was high time we got around to doing more sensory types of play. I put on my preschool teacher hat and surfed pinterest for some inspiration and thought we would start simply with rice. A different texture and look than sand but similar in how you play with it.

rice play

I put just a little bit in a plastic storage tub and she immediately went right over, climbed in and helped herself to sensory exploration!

hands

a cup to scoop

I wanted her to first experience the rice with just her hands but then gave her a measuring cup. She used that pincher grasp and was picking up bunches of rice and placing them into her cup! Then she would dump the cup haphazardly and start over again.

playdough

We had a playdate with some of my wonderful Mama friends and their little ones and we thought we would start these sensory playdates once a week, allowing the children to explore a new material. This week we introduced them to homemade playdoh. They weren’t too impressed (we thought they may be too young for playdoh but wanted to try anyway).

lanas playdoh

touch

sharing is caring

oh well

The adults seemed to enjoy squishing the playdoh far more than our littles did, but that was okay, because I happened to also bring the bin of rice. This turned out to be a bigger hit.

the big hit

I colored half of it with food dye to give it a more “pinteresty” look.  Ellie and her friends enjoyed exploring the rice for quite some time.

rice play

throwing rice

scoop it up

friends

so much fun

cute baby feet

All in all, I would say a very successful sensory play date! We’ll bring that playdoh out when they’re a bit older.

Around Here

It’s been a touch and go kind of week around here. My twelve-month old is getting close to walking and therefore has decided she doesn’t like to nap or sleep at night and I think two new teeth are making their appearance which isn’t helping the sleep department either.

chullupas

 

sand play

 

the library

 

the wagon

 

This tired mama has been making lots of quick and easy dinners (like these great black-bean chullupas, recipe courtesy of Ellie’s Great-Grandma). We’ve also been spending lots of time playing and exploring in Ellie’s new sandbox (thank you Nana and Papa!). I took Ellie to visit the local library for the first time (she loved it and continuously signed “books” while we were there). And there have been lots of evening walks in the wagon with “pink baby” and the doggies.

Weekending: 1st Birthday Edition

We had a very Happy 1st Birthday this weekend! Ellie turned one (or actually will turn one officially tomorrow) and we celebrated with lots of friends and family at our house. Ellie seemed to have a wonderful time and just kept playing and socializing and going and going… Oh what a joy today was and what pure joy our little Eloise Harper has brought to our lives.

one wreath

oh happy day

balloons!

banana muffins

close up balloon

butterflies in the sky

ribbon highschair

the dessert table

11 months

lemonade

food

tent

the birthday crawl

birthday gal plays

my pretty girl

daddy look!

mama fun

playing in the balls

banana cupcake muffin

yum

done

the grandparents

lovely day

Credits to all the lovely people who helped make today wonderful:

Hot Air Balloons: handmade by my mom (I helped)

oh happy day and lovely day signs:  handmade by me

one wreath: handmade by me

Ellie’s dress: handmade by my mom

Ellie’s bib: handmade by Cory of Dreaming of Pastures

Ellie’s crown: etsy shop Dream Child

Ellie’s month by month cards were made: using these people

and thank you to Jeff’s wonderful family for all the set up help and to everyone that made it. It was so wonderful having my friends and their babies there, grandparents, great grandparents (one whom was here and the other was here in spirit through the beautiful painting she sent for Ellie), cousins, neighbors… so many loved ones! Thank you all for a very special day! 

*joining Amanda at The Habit for Weekending!

A Breastfeeding Story

It’s International Breastfeeding Week this week and since I’m already on a roll telling birth stories and such, I might as well open up even more and talk about my breastfeeding journey. A journey Ellie and I are still on at almost 12 months, might I add.

bfing

I mention “nursing” a lot on this blog. It’s really become just a part of my every day world. Ellie has always been breastfed and because I am lucky enough to stay home with her, we  never even bothered with a bottle at all. She has been truly, exclusively breastfed. I knew I would breastfeed. My mom breastfed me and my siblings and for an extended amount of time. Breastfeeding was very normalized in my family and so I just assumed that is what I would do with my baby. In the begininng though, it was difficult. Ellie wasn’t gaining enough weight and being a sleepy baby we were having to wake her often to nurse. I was constantly worried I wasn’t doing things right. I suffered from oversupply and Ellie spit up constantly and seemed to have a bit of reflux, which made me even more anxious.  I found myself going back to the hospital lactation consultants for reassurance. The last time I went, the mother next to me was crying because she couldn’t get her baby to latch correctly and had bleeding nipples from trying so hard.  I realized after seeing what that poor mother was going through, that I was doing just fine and I needed to relax. I put away my pen and paper and stopped counting feedings and which side I nursed on last and our breastfeeding relationship immediatly got better. I relaxed, Ellie seemed to relax and it just clicked. Now we are coming up on twelve months and are still nursing strong.

Just beginning the breastfeeding journey.

Just beginning the breastfeeding journey.

Breastfeeding has been so incredible. The bond I have with Ellie through breastfeeding is so strong. Nursing helps when she’s tired, it helps when she gets hurt, it helps when she’s sick. It’s the something we have that no one else can give her.  It has gotten easier as we have learned to nurse in baby carriers and on the go and as I have needed to nurse in many public spaces, my views of breastfeeding have evolved as well. I used to believe in modesty and trying to cover up but nursing a hungry baby who would rather not have a blanket draped over her head when she’s eating (who would?) has made me feel we should be doing more to normalize seeing breastfeeding instead of trying to cover it up.

nursing at a party

nursing in the sling

Now that she’s eating more and more solids and she’s almost a toddler, nursing has been quite different than the sleepy days of infancy. She likes her milk on the go, she’s constantly moving (a friend explained, these are the days of “gymnurstics”). Sometimes she’s so busy, I have to remind her to come nurse a little bit. But at night time we always come back to that deep connection that nursing brings. She pats my breast and sometimes gives me the baby sign for milk. For her, nursing is a comforting, happy, Mama-made thing and I love that I can give that to her. She’s nearing a year and people are already asking me if I plan to stop breastfeeding. Like any relationship you can’t just end it and I don’t want or plan to. At the moment, I plan to let her self-wean. Of course this may change with how we both feel later on (I believe extended breastfeeding needs to be something both Mom and baby want and are comfortable with) but I don’t think Ellie is ready to wean in the least and that is just fine with me. I feel like I’m not only giving her this incredible nutrition that my body makes tailored exclusively for her, but nursing also provides that special comfort, a quiet few minutes for the both of us to reflect upon the love we have for each other.

blue eyes shot

 

– Joining Mothering’s “Blogging about Breastfeeding Event“! Check it Out!

And Happy Nursing!

Right Now…

sick baby

 

sick baby reads books

 

sleeping sick baby

 

Right now…

– we’re spending a lot of time upstairs in bed with a baby who’s still fighting a bug since coming home from Washington.

-we’re snuggling under covers and trying to stay warm with this strange chilly , windy Ventura weather.

– we’re planning a first birthday party from a laptop computer while a sick baby sleeps.

-we’re reading this book over and over and over again. Ellie points to the Mommy hen and says “Mama!”

-we’re drinking lots of tea with honey in hopes of not getting sick ourselves.

The Tao of Cloth

diapers

cloth angle 2

cloth angle 3

I’ve been asked by many people if cloth diapering is hard? Doesn’t it take up so much time? Aren’t you always doing laundry? I am doing laundry a lot these days, but cloth diapering has become so second nature I don’t notice the extra load any more. In fact, it’s a routine I rather enjoy.  I hear that a lot from my cloth diapering Mama friends too. It’s not like regular laundry. It’s laundry that becomes almost like a meditation. There is a rhythm to washing your little ones diapers that brings a quiet serenity. Every other day I wash the diapers, carefully pulling covers from the wash and drying many of the inserts. I take the wet covers outside with me and hang each one carefully on the line, making sure the sun shines the stains out. It’s here that I feel the warmth of the mid-morning sun. I take an extra long breath and smile at the colorful banner I’ve just created, spread across the yard. Ellie helps me now. She sits in the grass and pulls out the diapers one by one and waves them in the air proudly. She likes standing up, hanging onto the laundry basket. The moment is hers too.

another shot

baby helps

ive got one!

helping mama

The line drying is only the beginning of the cloth ritual. When the diapers are dry and fluffy we shuttle them inside and begin the process of stuffing them or putting them together, preparing them for the day. Inserts are put in piles according to the type of diaper they belong to. Velcro is inspected for fuzz and each diaper is lovingly put together again, all ready for my baby girl to wear. Nice and clean, soft and fluffy. There’s something soothing and comforting about this ritual. A chore with repetitive meditative properties. I smile to myself as I place each finished, put together diaper in the basket. This task is done and my heart and soul are lighter as I scoop my little girl up in my arms and kiss her, patting that soft padded, cloth diapered bum… we’re ready to take on the day.

cloth diapered gal

Playtime

It’s so neat watching Ellie play. She’s really starting to explore toys and materials around her and now that she can scoot around, she’s moving her body in new ways and using her hands to really manipulate things around her. While I was going through some things in the guest room (catch-all room/ hopefully one day my craft room), I noticed how involved she was with a caterpillar toy she had gotten at a birthday party. I had to capture her exploration on film, it was just so neat watching her. She moved around the room for over fifteen minutes working on grasping and exploring and handling that string on the toy.  (And yes, I know, her outfit is a bit pippi longstocking/punky brewsterish/smee from peter panish, but I found that cute little hat while organizing, and putting pants on the girl is like wrestling a pig these days).

play time

pulling

examining

pull toy

crawl

that string

funny face

proud face

still working the string

dropped the string

fun toy all done

Baby Food Fun

getting ready

So baby food. Just when I was feeling like I was mastering the whole breast-feeding thing, Ellie starts reaching for food, sitting up unassisted and losing that tongue thrust. All tell-tale signs she’s probably ready for solids. We are starting a bit later than others but I wanted to follow her lead and make sure I wasn’t pushing anything on her that she, or I wasn’t ready for. But, let me tell you. Making baby food is a daunting task. I wanted to do more of a baby-led weaning approach, but I am not so confident or comfortable with giving her chunks of food just yet, so I’m opting to begin with some purees and then go from there. I’ve been pretty much grinding food that Jeff and I are having for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a food mill and offering that to her a couple times a day in between nursing sessions. She’s had sweet potato, bananas, squash, applesauce, broccoli, pears, peas, avocado and carrots. She’s surprisingly a bigger fan of the veggies. This weekend I boiled yellow and pink beets and then pureed them in the food processor. She really enjoyed the beets!

* the deliciously adorable bib is courtesy of this lovely lady! Find her darling hand-made’s here!

beets

beets on hand

beets oh!

tasting

yum!

Daddy Wears Her

dad and me

close up dad and me

daddy and ellie

jeff and ellie

My mom found this picture of my Dad wearing me in a baby carrier when I was maybe a year old. I fell in love with the picture and it now has a home perched on top of a shelf displayed in our family room. I guess it just speaks to me with all the babywearing we have done with Ellie and how important babywearing has been to us in these early months with her. My dad is and always has been a fantastic father but I didn’t peg him for being the babywearing type and to see this picture of my young father smiling ear to ear with a very happy mini me on his back just makes me warm and fuzzy all over. It reminds me of my wonderful husband and how he has taken so much to wearing Ellie on our daily walks with the dogs or out and about the town. Ellie loves being in the carriers. She dislikes riding in the stroller and needs to be very close to us the majority of her days. So, from her first few weeks of life we have used carriers to keep her secure and feeling safe and she seems to be happy as a clam as long as she’s pressed up against one of us. I love that she is so happy riding along with us and the picture of me and my Dad just reminds me of how special babywearing can be. I hope Ellie looks back on the pictures of Jeff wearing her in a carrier with fondness too one day. I know Ellie’s Daddy feels very connected any time he wears her in a carrier and what’s more special than the bond between a Daddy and his baby girl?