Monday, March 17, 2014

Drew: 8 Months

Drew loves: Everything from last month is still a favorite this month. He favorite thing is still, hands down, standing. New things: turning pages in whatever book we're reading, clapping his feet together.

Drew hates: Update on last month's separation anxiety: I'd say it's gotten better, but barely. He doesn't insta-panic the moment he's left alone anymore. But if it's near his nap time, or he's bonked his head, or if he realizes you're deeply engaged in something else that makes it hard for you to drop everything and tend to him, that's when the water works come on. The improvement is mostly that he's gotten increasingly better at allowing me to comfort him, re-engage him in his activity, and then remove myself without him sobbing. Sometimes I can tell I'm pushing my luck, so I sit on the floor with him and do my own activity (like read a book) while he plays near me, and I count that as independent play. Despite this issue he's having, like I said last month, he still has no trouble going down for naps or bedtime. The only sleep issue that we are having is that he has been waking early from his naps, and in the morning. He doesn't cry though, he just wakes to babble and roll around in his crib. So I leave him be until his nap would be over. We've brought back the cat nap and a later bedtime to compensate for all the awake time he's causing himself, so at least now he's being offered more opportunities (but more spread out) to sleep within a 24 hour period. So far, I think it may be helping.

Milestones: Second tooth is in, pincer grasp nearly down, pulling himself up to standing, lots of standing, rolling in his crib, rocking on all fours, crawling backward and sliding all over the floor...
Although not taking any full steps, he can navigate in a full circle around his activity garden. I also arrange the couch so he can play with his toys without them getting out of his reach, and he somehow navigates his way back and forth up and down the couch. I wouldn't call it "cruising" just yet, but I'm sure that's coming soon. He's continually adding sounds to his vocab, and he's got to be seconds away from saying "dada"!

Favorite moments: I am still loving meal time. He has moved on to eating about half of the food we eat (I usually just puree it for him), and half typical baby food that I make for him (think: sweet potato puree, applesauce, etc). He's an adventurous eater, and I love it! He's also understanding - for now - that meal time is not play time. We certainly want him to be playful and creative, but mealtime is for meals. Eventually meal time for him will include connecting with family, but either way, it's not play time. To that end, Drew behaves well at meal time: he doesn't put his hands in his mouth unnecessarily, doesn't make a mess, doesn't scream and demand his food, etc. I wouldn't say we're actively training him in his behavior yet, but we certainly discourage bad behavior at this point by ignoring it, correcting him (i.e. remove his foot off the table if he puts it up there), and praising good behavior. I also keep meal time very predictable, and I don't drag it out. We sit down, we pray, we eat, we move on to activity time (where I encourage him to play and be as creative as an 8 month can be!).

Drew's also gotten a little bashful, and he will turn and snuggle into my neck and smile coyly at whomever is talking to him. I love, love, love it!

Here are some pics (and videos!) from the past month. Before pics of Drew, I need to give Kyle a shout out for planning a wonderful 30th birthday for me (with the help of some very thoughtful friends and family):

Kyle arranged for some of my college girlfriends to have a fun night-in filled with wine and yummy "Stephanie" food. Almost all the food items involved cheese of some sort...they know me far too well! 
Kyle also arrange for a surprise celebration with our church community group...
More cake (and ice cream)! And now you see the reason for the diet I talked about in the last blog post...
Kyle organized a Hansen family surprise party, too!
Party guests
More family
Lots of time for socializing!
Me and the hubs. I'm very proud of all the work he did to make my birthday special!
Kids' dance party! Call me crazy, but I love a good flock of kids at a family celebration (like at our wedding)!
My sister is so darn crafty...look at that talent!
Kyle booked a massage for me...I enjoyed every 60 minutes of it!
Kyle also stayed home from work and made me all my meals for the day!
Homemade eggs benny, with as much hollandaise as you can stomach!
We also went out to dinner with my dad, mom and sister.
My mom got me some beautiful flowers that filled the house with tropical smell all week!
Ok, now for pics of Drew!

Mom and Drew selfie!
Visiting with my long time friend Brynn, and her son Rhodes (3 weeks younger than Drew).
Brynn was in town for only a few short days, so it was great to see her!
You have to look closely to see it, but Drew fell asleep in the car holding his toy.
I thought it was so darn cute. (I took this picture while stopped in traffic, not while driving!)

This is the Activity Garden that he loves to do his standing in!
Drew and I started reading time every morning in this chair. I snapped this pic from the kitchen of him just sitting in the chair with his books and his teddy, waiting for mom. Melts my heart!
Side by side: Drew and I as's pretty clear who his eyes came from ;-)
Play time with great-grandpa Bob. I love this picture...
Swing time!
He loves the swings, so it's a new activity that we do when it's not raining (so like, never)
Just watching the world go by at the park
His crawl stance. He backed himself in the couch, but can't go forward yet. Soon though, I'm sure!

8 month pics...sit down, and be prepared for unparalleled levels of cuteness (it's my blog, and my son, so I'm completely allowed to state authoritatively how cute Drew is in these pics!):
This was the first pic I snapped...he's a natural!
Those chunky legs!
His "raised eyebrow" look cuts straight to my heart!
"Mom - what are these?"
Trying to determine if he should try to eat the necklace...
The answer is "yes", definitely "yes".
"Mom, you're chalkboard art could really use some more effort"
My sister showed up right about this time, he's looking at her in this picture.
We went to the park after these photos :)
His eyes are still grey with flecks of neat looking! And look at those eyelashes. Not fair!
Baby foot
Baby hands
My favorite view: eyelashes + chunky little cheeks!
Was trying to capture his two teeth on the bottom,
but this was the best I could get...they are there though!
And here are some videos:
Drew moving backwards

A typical morning at our house: Drew playing in the Activity Garden

This is Drew's second time going from sitting to standing. I missed the first time; I just turned around and he was standing! So I grabbed my phone, sat him down, and sure enough he pulled himself right up!

Giving it grace: Baby Wise (the book/method we consult for general parenting guidance for Drew) talks about a thing called "credit card parenting". Credit Card Parenting is basically the idea that you should begin as you mean to go, or else you will pay for it later but with debt (much like a credit card: pay as you go or you'll wind up with debt). A practical example of that is table manners (which I talked about a little bit above): train the child now in how to behave at the table, otherwise you will have to retrain them later and it will be more difficult at that time. I'm not sure that it's true of all things with raising a child, but we certainly apply it to the areas that are the most feasible. "Train, don't retrain" is the motto that goes along with Credit Card Parenting. 

I was thinking about this concept the other day, and realizing it applies pretty perfectly to sin as well. Begin as you mean to go; train, don't retrain. Deal with it now, or deal with it later and with more debt at that time. The longer we put off dealing with our sin, the more it builds. Although Jesus fully paid our debt, there are still worldly consequence of our sin. So often we try to merely "manage" our sin, and then end up paying for it later. Later, when it's that much harder to put that sin to death because it's become a habit, idol, or identity in our lives. Or worse, when it has caused destruction in our lives or the lives of others. Acknowledging, repenting of, and fleeing from sin when it initially presents itself is going to be much more fruitful than the alternative. The reality is though, it's impossible not to sin because of our sin nature. Yet the Good News is that Jesus paid the debt of our past, present, and future sin. He literally saved us from having to pay our own debt for our sin. And that's what we're hoping to model for Drew in our parenting...and not so that he'll be a perfectly behaved little guy (although that'd be awesome), but so that he might have a chance at fully understanding the Gospel in his head and in his heart at a young age. We want him to understand his sin, and that for our sake God - in his grace and love for us - made Jesus to be sin, who knew no sin, so that we may inherit the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). And yes I got all that out of a paragraph in a book talking about "credit card parenting"!

Before I end, I have to share that we finally received in the mail our sponsorship package from Amazima Ministries. God has been continually pressing this organization on my heart, and after much prayer Kyle and I used some our Christmas money to sponsor a child through this organization. I waited weeks for the child's information to come in the mail and it finally did! I cried when reading about the child (and children) who are being served through this ministry, and having Jesus' love modeled to them on a daily basis as a result. If you want to read about this ministry, or sponsor a child yourself, you can do so here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cloth Diaper Chronicles: ammonia issues

Once Drew started solid foods, his diapers started having ammonia issues. Some ammonia smell is expected (it's the pee breaking down). The smell is "ok" if it's coming from an overnight diaper or from the wet bag of dirty diapers. If the smell is coming from a diaper that's only been on for an hour or so, that's not ok (which was where we were at).
When Drew's diaps started to get the dreaded ammonia smell, I hit the internet for answers. I'm in a few cloth diaper groups on Facebook, so I did some searching there as well. It turns out, there are more opinions on how to wash your cloth diapers than there are on how (or if) to sleep train your baby. It's insane, and nearly impossible to determine if there is any truly "right" way to wash your diapers. So, I defaulted to the diaper manufacture instructions, and the advice of the makers of Charlie's Soap (which is the soap we use for the diapers). I then stripped all the diapers, and started with the new wash routine.

The old wash routine was:
1) Rinse on cold, water level high
2) Wash on hot, water level high, 1/3T of Charlie's Soap
3) Rinse on cold, water level high
4) Dry inserts, hang dry shells

The new routine is:
1) Rinse on cold, water level low
2) Wash on hot*, water level low, 1-2T of Charlie's Soap (that's way more soap than the old routine)
3) Rinse on cold, water level high
4) Dry inserts, hang dry shells

*I figured out that if I turn on the hot water in the bathroom faucet next the laundry room before starting step 2, it pulls the hot water over to the far side of the house (where the washing machine is). That way, the water is immediately hot going into the washing machine. It's makes a difference!

Once a month, I do a vinegar or bleach wash to ensure the diapers are getting properly sanitized. Charlie's soap cleans, but doesn't sanitize. The hot water does a good enough job at sanitizing, but the monthly vinegar our bleach wash really does the trick. He's only had one major diaper rash in his life (right before I figured out how to deal with the ammonia issues), so I'm confident  - at least for now - that his diapers are getting clean with this new wash routine.

I've also (very) slowly been adding to my stash when I see good deals (like on Zulily). I don't usually like the inserts that come with other brands, so I recently got a 6 pack of BG inserts to use with the new shells I've been gathering up. We now have a total of 18 diapers, and Drew averages 7-8 diapers a day, so I do cloth diaper laundry usually every other day. It's not ideal to let the dirty diapers just hang out for days on end in the wet bag, so every other day is a good rhythm even if you have a huge stage (or so I've been told).

Lastly, we got a diaper sprayer, and we like it - but not for it's actual intended purpose.
Bum Genius Diaper Sprayer. Do not pay full price for one of these!
They are always at consignment shops and/or on Craiglist.
I made the mistake of trying to use the diaper sprayer to actually spray poo into the! Wrong! The water comes out of the sprayer with such force that fresh baby poo goes everywhere. Not cool, diaper sprayer! It's should be called a poo sprayer. Anyway, we actually use the diaper sprayer to rinse the urine out of the overnight diaper inserts (because they're usually soaked, and the biggest culprit for ammonia smell). I just drop the inserts onto the floor of the tub, and then blast them with the diaper sprayer.
Blasting the overnight diapers with water
Side note: the front of the sprayer somehow looks like it should be the back, and both Kyle and I agree on this as we have both sprayed ourselves in the face with toilet water several times. Kyle told me it's not actually toilet water coming out of the sprayer, but since the sprayer is attached to the toilet, it still grosses me out when I get any water from the sprayer on me (let alone my face at 7:30 in the morning).
The black part is actually the FRONT
(but don't you see how that could actually look like the back?)

Ok, so once I've sprayed the overnight inserts, I just drop them into the wet bag. As for the poo? I picked up a box of cloth diaper disposable liners at Babies R Us.
We're liking this brand so far, and they fit fine with the Bum Genius diapers
Drew almost always poos in the morning before his first nap, so we just stick a liner into that diaper. The liner catches the poo, making for easy disposal and clean up.
Just lay the liner on top - simple
The one final change I made is that I no longer pre-stuff the diapers with their inserts. I just keep a pile of shells and a pile of inserts in his top drawer. For whatever reason, we just found it's easier to stuff them as we go.

So there you have it! I'm still loving cloth diapering, and plan on doing it with future children. I'm always curious to hear about other diaper brands, wash routines, etc, so don't be shy!

Giving it grace: I'm going to keep this one simple. Every time I clean up Drew's waste product, it reminds me that God is continually cleaning up my waste product as well (my sinful thoughts and actions). Whereas I grow tired of dealing with Drew's crap, God never grows tired of dealing with mine...because His love is perfect. Diaper after diaper, His love is perfect.