Jul 26, 2011


Last week, my friend Emily posted a link to PaxBaby on Facebook.  It is the coolest site!  Along with the link, she shared that she'd rented a Beco Gemini.  I love (LOVE) our Beco Butterfly, so I decided to read more about the Gemini.  I should also share that I take Emily's likes to heart... years ago I was at her house and she had the most amazing candle ever (pineapple cilantro) and long story short, she basically got me hooked on this candle company called Illuminations.  Fo' real.  Real as in, I won't even think of a candle from another company.  Except, she recently mentioned another company, oh brother...

Back to the Gemini...

My friend Shelley is who originally introduced me to Beco.  We were pregnant at the same time and would often swap thoughts, tips, etc... She had great things to say about the Butterfly, so when Oliver was too small to use our other carriers, I got the Butterfly too.  I have really enjoyed it.  I also have an Ergo Performance.  I got it because it was mesh and I thought it would be much cooler than the organic cotton Beco.  The problem with the Ergo is that while he doesn't need the infant insert anymore (which I didn't order, I just used an Eeyore stuffed animal at the bottom!), he's still a little too small for it.  Bummer.  

For some reason, I thought I'd done a pretty thorough review on our collection of carriers, but when I pulled the post, it was lacking.  Oops.  I guess Oliver was only a couple weeks old then so that was a lot for me to write at that point!  I need to do a better post now that he's older and we've been using them for a while.  And when I say 'a while' I mean every day.

All this to say... I checked out PaxBaby and found that you could rent a carrier for two weeks for - get this, NINE dollars!  Nine bones.  Nueve.  Score!  I had to try it.  Click, click - done!  The confirmation email mentioned that they only had a few loaners so they'd let me know when one was ready for me.  What?!  Being impatient, I decided to just order one from Amazon.  Gotta love Prime!  Choosing the color was such a challenge for me.  The Butterfly is espresso so I decided to go with black for this one.  When it came the next day though, I decided that I needed another brown so I ordered espresso and sent the black one back.  WHEW!

Can I just say - I loooooove this carrier!  I thought I loved the Butterfly - and I totally still do, but the Gemini does so much more!  Who knew?!

Here it is with the hip carry - I've not even had it for a week, but I use this position the most:
(front view)
(side view)
(back view)

This is the front facing out position (second most used):
 (front view)
  (back view)

The biggest challenge for me with Gemini as opposed to Butterfly is that the waist belt/hip clip is their special two handed clip and it's not easy to take off while holding a baby.  Butterfly has a regular clip there and the special double clip on the upper part of the carrier so it's not too difficult.  I've used the back carry with the Butterfly only once and it was easy because Oliver was securely fastened in the middle piece, but since Gemini doesn't have that, I don't see myself using back carry at all until he's much older.  

Butterfly came with a CD and was pretty thorough in how to use the carrier.  Gemini came with a folded pamphlet that left a lot of questions.  It took a couple times before I got the hang of the hip carry.  Also different is that I can keep my Butterfly straps the same all the time, Gemini's straps are constantly changing because of the different carries so you can never really wrap the excess webbing because as soon as you wrap it, you're ready to switch it up and will need the length you just wrapped.

Chandler seems to think we have a lot of carriers.  We do.  However - I think they each have a strength and I'm glad we have each one as I use them for different things.  The reason I bought the Butterfly was because Oliver was too small for the other carriers we had.  Honestly, because of its design with the infant insert, I still like it for small babies.  The Gemini is a long body and even at five months, in the front carry, it still covers Oliver's face when he faces out and is plenty high in the back when he faces front (me) even folded down.  Oh - also on that note... when he's facing out I use one of the drool pads or a small burp cloth over the front or else I'd end up with a giant puddle of drool. :)  

One more thing - Butterfly's literature said to wash it before first use since it was organic dye and would/could come off on clothing.  I did that, but when Oliver drools, a little color still gets on light clothing.  It washes out, but still a pain.  The Gemini is the same color and they didn't say to wash it - so far the drool hasn't caused the color to get on clothing.  I'm thinking I should have used vinegar in the wash to seal the color... if I need to wash the Gemini I'll do that.

Wow.  I didn't plan to write this much... my friend Jill normally reads all my posts, but I bet she tuned out by now. Jill, if you're still reading - shout out to you! ;)  Chandler is a post skimmer.  I bet he's long gone.  Chan, if you're still here I'll write a special post just for you! xo

PS - I emailed PaxBaby to cancel my rental and not only did they refund my nine bones, the owner, Jillian, was SO helpful!  Dialogue with her is what ultimately made me realize that I really did want brown over black.  She was so friendly and I would encourage anyone who is interested in trying a different type of carrier to check out their site.

Jul 22, 2011

Blue Eye. Green Eye. Red Eye? White Eye?

People who have lightly colored eyes (i.e. blue, green) tend to have more red eye in photos.  It's annoying to have to use the delay flash to take the red eye reflex out of the picture and equally as annoying to have to edit lots of red eye photos once downloaded.  Normally, I don't use flash when taking pictures as I shoot in program mode or more recently, manual.  Sometimes however, I'll use a point and shoot that has an auto flash and have to take red eye out later.
Early on, I noticed that in red eye pictures, Oliver had one white eye.  I noticed it, but didn't really think much of it.  A simple 'hmm' and I was over it.  Fast forward a month or so and we saw a clip on the news about Relay for Life (American Cancer Society's annual fundraiser/awareness event).  The piece featured a mom and her son who had both had the same type of cancer.  At the end of the clip, the mom said something to the effect of, 'I knew he had retinoblastoma because his eye was white in the photo, just like mine was before I was diagnosed.'  They showed a photo of a little boy not yet one-year old with one red eye and one white eye.
(I know this is blurry - I don't use this type of camera often.)

It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.  I felt so sick.  If you're not familiar with the term 'blastoma' it's a cancer word.  Related to the 'c' word.  The hard to say, never want to hear word.  

The following morning, I called the pediatric ophthalmologist's office and set up an appointment.  The receptionist gave me a date three weeks away.  As she was finishing her questions, she asked the reason for our visit and upon telling her, she asked if we could come in at 10 that morning.  I pulled it together enough to call Chandler to see if he could come home to make it and I hurried to get ready.

Nothing has ever been more terrifying to me than the thought of Oliver being sick.  

We saw an amazing doctor and we are so, so thankful to live in an area that has a pediatric specialist in just about every field of medicine.  We are doubly thankful to have great insurance that doesn't require a referral or pre-authorization.  The technician dilated Oliver's eyes after doing a few exercises with him.  Our doctor said he did NOT see any tumors, however he also did not see as much pigment as he'd like to see.  He also found that both retinas were underdeveloped.  Being that Oliver was so young, he asked to see him again in six weeks.

That follow up appointment was yesterday.  There is slightly more pigment this time, but still not as much as he'd like to see.  His retinas are still underdeveloped, but have improved since last time.  Down the road, we could end up with a diagnosis of ocular albinism, but for now, he's holding off on any formal diagnosis.  The good news is that there are still NO tumors.  

They did the same things as in our original appointment and found that the right eye is slightly stronger than the left eye.  To help strengthen his left eye, we will use a patch over the right eye for an hour each day.  So far, Oliver has tolerated the patch as much as we can expect.  We try to play a lot and show him new things so it stays as interesting as possible.  Our next appointment is in October.
Honestly, I didn't plan to blog about this.  I was afraid - afraid to admit it to myself that we could be faced with something big.  Through this however, I have come to appreciate being Oliver's mom. I have also had to realize that while he is my baby, he is God's child and ultimately, God will decide his life.  I am here to raise him, teach him, guide him and love him.  It is a privilege to be his mom and I have to remind myself of this when my fears try to keep me from relying on the Word to get through rough times.

I decided to share our story because had someone else's story not been shared, we wouldn't have known to have it checked out.  And to make this full circle - yes, we emailed the reporter who covered the story and thanked her for the piece and asked that she also express our thanks to the producer for not cutting out the last few seconds that included showing the photo.  With our permission, the reporter passed our email to the mother in the story, who also emailed us.  :)

Jul 17, 2011

The Sick Mat

(photo taken today - slowly on the mend)
On Friday, Oliver threw up.  As in vomit.  Not spit up.  I thought it was just a wet burp that turned into a little more, however when it happened a couple more times we realized he was sick.  Poor boy.  Thankfully, it isn't standard vomit and is more like a massive spit up, but it's still bad.

We've had 11 vomits and 6 diarrheas so far and as it's my first time dealing with him sick, I've taken some notes.  First, I am SO glad I double sheet our bed (if you're new here, he sleeps with us... and I'm okay that you might not be okay with that).  I keep quilted dry pads in between each layer just in case a diaper leaks and last night, I was thankful it had migrated a little higher.  It made changing the sheets of our king bed a lot easier at 2am.  There was still a little too much that had gotten on the second layer of sheets so when Oliver fell asleep in the small swing upstairs, I just slept on the floor with him.

It just so happened that I'd had him in zippered pajamas, which made changing him a lot easier too.  When I realized this, I was SO glad I'd changed my mind.  Originally I'd had another pair of pjs that snapped around the legs and ick - that would have been so gross.  To prep for our second sick night, I had a stack of snap/zipper front pjs for Oliver and a stack of t-shirts for me, along with towels, a few sheets, and the sick mat.

On Saturday Chandler yelled that there was more throw up.  On. the. floor.  Ugh.  Nothing a little water and Country Save couldn't take care of, but gross nonetheless.  I then decided that since he would be awake and potentially throwing up more, I needed something to keep him on so there wouldn't be more throw up all over the place.  I thought about the quilted dry pads, but they don't really absorb liquid.  I decided a towel would be a great to put around it.  We only had a couple old ones so I used one to make a pillow case type cover.
Meet - the sick mat!  I had Chandler run to Walmart to pick up a couple of really cheap towels & Velcro to make two more for if/when this one is ready to be tossed in the wash.  The cheap ones are best because they're not as plush and I don't have to change out the foot on my machine.

I also thought I'd share a tip from the nurse I talked to this morning.  Pick up saltine crackers, soup, Gatorade/ginger-ale and whatever else you may need when you get sick b/c if it is a virus and we get it, we won't feel like going to the store to pick up sick food.  Maybe this is just a parent trick?  How brilliant!  So now we're stocked with sick parental supplies.  Oh - and Pedialyte just in case we need it for Rover.

I'd love to know your sick child tips!

Jul 11, 2011

Oliver & Brown Bear

The first picture is 3 days old and the second is about a month old then the third is from June.  I think the fourth one is actually from May, and the last one is from today.  I should really be more consistent with taking pictures.  You'd think that since I was so on top of the belly pics, I'd be really good about baby pictures, but alas, not the case.  Bummer.  I wish I could go back and take a picture each day or at least each week, but I didn't even think about it!  Go figure.  I do have thousands of other pictures of him though so there's no lack of photos!

Jul 10, 2011

5 Months!

 Oliver - you are 5 months old!
    BIG BOY!
(Doesn't he look so big now?!  He is already starting to lose his baby-ness and is looking more and more like a little boy.)

Oliver is 5 months today!

At 5 months, I find myself wondering what happened to my newborn!  I was not prepared for how quickly the first few months would pass - seriously!  He is so far from a newborn now and is beginning to explore his world.
-He delights in grabbing everything he can get his hands on!  More times than not, those things go directly into his mouth.  We recently ordered some new small take-along toys from Amazon so he wouldn't play with our keys, phones, etc...
-Nola has become one of his most favorite friends.  He love to watch her play and he is quick to laugh when she runs around shaking her toys.  It's hilarious to watch him enjoy her so much!  Speaking of Big Sister, she is doing phenomenal with Oliver!  This is in part because we set her up to win.  When she's grumpy and stressed, we keep Oliver away from her.  Soon, we will move her food to the front (sewing/craft) room so there will be no temptations for Oliver when he becomes mobile (gasp!).
Some stats:
-Oliver unofficially weighs right around 15lbs.

-I just packed up his last 0-3m clothes.  He is comfortably still wearing 3-6m and 6m outfits.

-He is still wearing cloth diapers.  He's outgrown his Thirsties and because he's using less each day, I've decided not to replenish those (you're welcome Chan).  That leaves FuzziBunz pocket for daytime and bumGenius AIO (and 1 GroVia) for nighttime.  I still wash every other day.  Because I have less free time on my hands, I don't always get to stuff all the diapers at once and usually have inserts and covers in a pile for the grab-n-go method.    Every now and then we make all-day trips out and because it is so incredibly hot outside, I will use 7th Generation disposables so we don't have to haul around dirty diapers with us or keep them in the car.  He's still in a size 2 for these, but I think I am going to order size 3 soon simply because I think he could wear either and I don't want to be stuck with leftover size 2s since no one I know uses that brand.

-He still sleeps in bed with us and continues to sleep through the night.  Sometimes he will stir between 4a and 6a, but I think it's more for comfort because he'll snuggle close and nurse for not even ten seconds before falling asleep again.  He goes to bed for the night between 8:30 and 10.  Big gap, I know.  It depends on what his day has been like.  If it's 10 when he goes to bed, it's because he didn't get his full afternoon nap and fell asleep around 6 or 7 for a little while.  Other than a few odd off days, he keeps a pretty predictable schedule.  This is a wonderful thing since I work half of my part-time job from home.

-He still nurses on demand still refuses a bottle.  Just yesterday I packed up the pump.  I hadn't used it in a long time so there was no point in keeping it down stairs.  I have who knows how much milk in the freezer that I will likely have to toss.  I tried putting some in a 4m trainer sippy cup and it was also a no-go.  I tasted some out of the freezer and yuck.  I can't blame him for not wanting that junk. It definitely didn't taste like fresh milk.  

-He is SO sweet when he nurses.  When he's really sleepy or very hungry, he'll do this cute little 'Mmmmmmm' while he nurses.  He also likes to hold my hand and play with my fingers.  He will also rub my face while he nurses - I love it.  He is incredibly sweet!

-I noticed too how he kneads his hands on my chest as he nurses.  Having a baby has made me realize so many things in instinct - sometimes, very primal, animal-like instinct.  It's easy to forget that as humans, we too are animals.  Puppies and kittens knead their mamas when they nurse and so do humans.  Anyway - it's really sweet.  And sometimes funny to see his face buried in my breast with a hand on either side.  Nom nom nom!

-He still won't take a paci, but we keep a few hanging around because he enjoys gumming them and I'm still not sure how to store them for future bambinos.

-He has three happy places.
1) with his mama
2) outside
3) in the bathtub

-He's gotten better about riding in the car.  He still has trouble with finding his happy place on long trips.  I can't blame him there.  I've become the anti-traveler over recent years.

-He has shown a big interest in food.  I've let him taste a few things and (oops) now he'll open his mouth when we're holding him an eating at the same time.  I'm hoping I can stay firm in my plan to keep him exclusively on breast milk until 6 months.  He's just so cute with his mouth open!  He has tasted quite a few things,  but not more than a finger's dip worth.  He still sucks more than swallows though so I think his reflex still has a tiny bit more development before he's ready.  I do think he'll be a great eater.  Not only that, I need to mentally prepare for the change in diapers.  It's going to stink (pun intended) having to add another step to the wash routine.  (For those that don't use cloth, with breastfed babies you can toss soiled diapers (yep, poop and all) directly in the washer, but when you start solids, you have to rinse them.)  Anticipating this change, the diaper sprayer has been purchased and we are just trying to decide which toilet to use.
(This picture was taken when we got his cake... he is such a baby bird with food!  And yes, that is icing on his face.  We had to share since the cake was technically for his 5 month day!)

-We got him a highchair a couple weeks ago because he likes to be with us at dinnertime.  He's enjoyed sitting in his chair playing with toys while we eat.  He is really into his toys lately.

-Oliver has been standing (with help of course) since he was 6 or 7 weeks old.  It was so early that I asked our pediatrician if it was okay.  I'd remembered hearing about how it was bad for babies to stand and put weight on their legs.  Apparently it doesn't matter.  So he's been standing and putting weight on his legs since then and still does.  Now, he's learning to jump (oh brother!) and since we didn't have an exersaucer, we decided to get a bouncy one.  He loves it!  
(I love that he has is sleepy face in this picture.  He'd only been up for a little while.)

-He is rolling more and more from front to back, but only makes it to his side from back to front.
-He is very intent when he reaches for things.  I have a video I need to upload that shows him reaching and getting frustrated.  It's fun to see him make these associations.

-Our BIG milestone this month?  
Do you see it?

Ok wait, there's more...
BIG boy!  
(Mom, do you love that your old sheet made the picture?  This was mom's sheet from college that's on the bed for Nola.)
He will sit by himself unassisted for a few seconds before tumbling over.  The boppy really doesn't do much to help in my opinion, but I enjoyed lounging on it while he played. ;)

-He's just started laying his head on my shoulder when he's sleepy and just a few days ago he reached his arms out for me.  So big!!!

-He's babbling a lot more and has several recurring sounds - 'Mm, Ga, Ba, Pa, Oh, Woah, Ah, Why, Booo, Eww, High.'  He's also started squealing.  

-He kicks his legs and squeals when he's excited.

-His hair has gotten thicker and is still light!

-He laughs a lot!  

-He is an absolute JOY to be around just when I can't imagine loving him more - I do.

Jul 3, 2011

Oliver & Henry

Oliver's buddy Henry came to visit!!!

They had SO much fun together!  This was right after their bath.
Oliver was a little upset it was time for bed because he knew Henry was leaving the next day.  Henry was so sweet and told him it was okay because they would see each other again soon.

 We did a tour of a guided missile destroyer, the USS Arleigh Burke.  It was really neat - the boys LOVED it!  Oliver fell asleep as we walked on board, and Henry kept his sweet baby eyes out of the sun most of the time.  If that isn't exciting display, I don't know what is.  Actually - the ship was really fun to see.  They had small tents set up and a sailor at each one telling passersby different pieces of boat trivia (Chandler is having a cow over my terminology I'm sure).  So we're all sort of close, but often at different stations and a few of us ended up at the same one.  At this particular one the sailor is standing beside a really big gun (Chan says it's a machine gun) and it's attached to the ship.  I was actually looking forward to learning about this spot since they do pirate trials in our area and that's kinda big here.

We're just standing there waiting for the guy to turn around and he completely ignored us.  All of the sailors were super nice so this guy was a major jerk in comparison.  We just kind of looked at each other.  Chan came over after a couple minutes and asked what we were doing.  Someone indicated that we wanted to learn about the big gun.  Chan laughed and said that the guy was on duty and couldn't even acknowledge us.  HA!  It was so funny!  We guessed he had a tent just for people like us who needed shade b/c apparently he normally wouldn't have the luxury of a tent (it was SO hot on board).

There were also two sailors that were circling the ship.  It's their job to do that and I still can't stop thinking about how dizzy they must get.  They had to have circled more than 20 times in the small hour we were there.  
After all the boating fun, the boys took a dip in the pool.

Henry is three and a half months older than Oliver - they had a big time playing this morning.

Bye Henry!  Thanks for coming to see us - we can't wait to see you again!!!

"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it, but I'm afraid God would ask me the same question."
You don't change the world by trying to change the world; you change the world by changing yourself.
-Gerry Straub