Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recipe For A Melt Down

Well, we knew it would happen eventually... After a long errand day filled with story time:

The mall, great find at a consignment store:

$50 mini hiking sandals for only $20!!

And trips to Walmart and Lowe's:

We finally made it to our final stop, the grocery. Ayden had a nice, long afternoon nap so energy wasn't a problem. Our problem was going into the grocery hungry. We are at a point now where Ayden is a great eater at mealtimes and he uses nursing for snacking. He'll have the occasional solid food snack with me, an apple here or some ground chicken there, but he isn't on a strict snack schedule. When we are out and about, however, I leave when he nurses up to him. We walked into the grocery and everything was fine and dandy until Ayden saw me put the frozen blueberries into the cart. Then I got to see the Blueberry Monster slowly emerge until he was in a full on crying fit because I wouldn't open the package and feed them to him right then and there. We officially had our first public toddler meltdown. As any mother does when her child is crying, I went down the checklist:
1) Is he rested? Check.
2) Does he have a fresh diaper? Check.
3) Does he need snuggles or attention? Getting lots at the moment.
4) Could he be hungry? Bingo.

Realizing that the root of the problem was hunger, I worked my way toward the produce section where I knew they had samples of fresh fruit. On the way over I tried to distract him from his beloved blueberries but he was fixated. At one point I pointed out the music and he stopped crying to clap a few times:

...and then continued crying over the lack blueberries that was making his world crumble all around him. I kept talking about how he was feeling and why he was feeling that way and reassuring him that we would eat them later since we can't eat such a messy snack at the grocery (which of course didn't help since he is only one and all). Finally, by the time we made it to our saving grace in the form of fresh grapes, he had calmed and I was able to say, "Oh look, grapes! Want a bite?" and then proceeded to give him some without feeling like I was reinforcing said tantrum.  Shew!

You see, not giving into tantrums was one of those things that our pre-baby selves said we'd NEVER do. We'd see other parents do it and exchange a look like, "Don't they know that they are just creating a bigger monster?!?" Then Ayden came and about 70% of what we thought we felt strongly about drastically changed and I have to admit, I worried a bit about how strong I would be against a tantrum. Worried until today that is!

Even though Ayden looked like Puss from Shrek with his huge, teary eyes, I am very proud to say that I had no problem standing my ground...

This time. It helped to know that frozen blueberries are probably the messiest thing possible, but still, it was tough with those big crocodile tears and kitten eyes staring up at me!

The cry of a tantrum, is completely different from the cry of pain or loneliness that I can't resist but comfort and stop. It felt "right" to let him cry this one out as I helped him identify what he was feeling and letting him know it was okay to feel that way. I hope that I have the energy and mindset to do it again next time.  I know that this wasn't the laying on the floor, banging his fists kind of tantrum, but it made me feel good to know that I successfully made it through our first public melt down without the urge of giving in.

After eating his grapes, Ayden signed that he wanted to nurse so I parked my cart and took some time to sit and nurse. After that he was his usual happy camper self, waving and smiling at everyone we passed. Mommy lesson of the day: even though you are tired and ready to go home, everything will run more smoothly and everyone will be happier if you take a little extra time to meet their needs. As all of these lessons usually are, it seems obvious, but in the moment you get the silly idea that you can rush through one more errand or task, get home and then take care of everyone. The reality is that kids aren't that flexible, especially if one of the items on the checklist is left unchecked. In my experience, as was proved today, if all the boxes are checked, we are all happy and have a great time.

Overall, Ayden and I both needed a day out of the house. He had fun playing after story time and I got to talk to some other moms and hang out with my sister. The change of scenery and socialization felt good. I don't like how late we were out. David beat us home and we didn't eat dinner until 7:30 (though it was seriously delicious and well worth the wait! It is definitely a new favorite that will be added to our menu rotation.  Here is the recipe.).
Ayden "cooked" his own meal while we cooked ours.
Love the crossed feet!

I still have some tweaking to do but I think the key will be to get Ayden's schedule shifted again. Right now his nights are 9 pm - 9 am and we usually do better on a 7:30/8 pm - 7:30 am schedule. Hopefully next Thursday will be a little less hectic of an errand day!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Blueberry MONSTER!!

Ayden has started pulling on the freezer handle while saying, "Bu-bu, bu-bu, bu-bu" over and over until we give him frozen blueberries.

Blueberry MONSTER!!!!
I CANNOT wait for Spring! I love this time of year with everything warming up and coming back to life. The sounds, sights and smells of Spring are so uplifting. I also like the warmer months because berries, my favorite fruits (and I suppose Ayden's too), are in season and so sweet.

Things have cooled back down for a bit here so we had a low key, aka pretty boring, day inside today. Ayden's activity of choice was his large knob farm puzzle and he improves his dexterity and puzzle working skills with each passing day. He also still claps for himself each time he gets a piece into it's spot. He even carried a big wooden puzzle into me from the waiting room all by himself while I was teaching dance tonight. He saw it out there, recognized it and wanted to show me what he found. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

David broiled some venison using this super simple, yet awesome, recipe and I roasted some broccoli, carrots and rosemary parsnips to go with it. It was all so tasty!

Tomorrow is errand day and I have a big lists to conquer!

My goal for tomorrow.  What's yours??


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


The 10 day forecast is only making my Spring fever worse!

This week, Ayden has made the big connection that things have "homes." The first thing we witnessed was him putting a toy or two back in his toy basket or on a shelf and clapping for himself. Of course, we want to reward his cleaning up so we cheered and clapped right along with him. The next step was him putting his cup in the cup holder on his tray after taking a drink. And again, we all cheered. Over and over, in fact, as he gets pretty delighted at his accomplishment and our cheering. He then took his understanding of this new concept one step further as he purposefully put puzzle pieces where they belong in his farm puzzle.

The professional in me has been fascinated by witnessing this all unfold. Last week he was obsessed with twisting any knob, latch, lid or lock that he could. This week he has enjoyed fitting objects into defined spaces and then, BAM. He is now twisting a puzzle piece until it fits into it's defined place in the puzzle. The natural order of interest and events, even though it is pretty typical, is just amazing to me.

I cannot recall where I read it, but one of the books or Apps that I follow (Baby Center? Wonder Weeks?) talked about how a child goes through cycles of independence and dependence. According to what I read, when they are in the process learning a new skill, they become clingy and exhaust you. When they feel comfortable enough with the new skill and are ready to work on mastering it, they become very independent and easy. Ayden is currently in the dependent stage. That, on top of having some sinus congestion and a cough that he just can't shake, have made for a tiring week for me. And it's only Tuesday! As long as I am 100% focused on him he is fine. The problem is that I do have a few things that I need to accomplish each day, as well as a few others I want to. I will get him engaged in something then slip away but as SOON as I sit down and get started on whatever, he is at my feet whining and crying. He also didn't take a nap until 4 yesterday and even then only slept for 40 minutes. It wears me down after a while and honestly, David could not get home fast enough because I needed a break!

I am so glad that I am taking the time to write this out because, as I am typing it, it is helping me gain perspective. In the moment I forget about the cycles and can't help but let my own weariness or emotions dictate how I feel about our day. As parents, it is so very important that we take the time to reflect on the behavior of our children, and how we are handling it. What could be the cause? Is there anything I can do differently to help or change how he is feeling? It is also important to remember the mantra of, "this too shall pass." Before I know it, he'll be back into that independent stage and I will be writing about how easy and awesome he is all the time.

Who, me?
Until then, I just need sit down and give him what he needs and let all the other stuff wait.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Cave Lady Proud - A Post About Paleo

We have been on the Paleolithic diet for over a year now. Well, David has. I went gluten and dairy free first and then took the leap. Neither of us has looked back. We love the way our bodies feel, we love how lean we look and we love that we are forever freed from our roller coasters of addiction to sugar and processed foods. We also love that this lifestyle has challenged us to stay creative with Ayden's snacking since many toddlers often eat their weight in processed puffs, cereal and goldfish crackers daily.

The number one question we get, after we are finished explaining what the diet is and why in the world we have chosen to do it, is, "where do you find all of your recipes?" The quick answer is, "Google" but for some reason that does not satisfy folks interested in trying out our way of eating. I thought I'd share some of our favorite resources, as well as a few tips that will help you turn every meal into one any cave lady would be proud of.

My breakfast this morning!
Paleo WAFFLES?!? with coconut butter and pure maple syrup.
The site that helped us a lot in the early days was Paleo Plan.  This is a great resource for newbies because it provides specific meal plans, if that is something you need at first, and also has articles and a blog dedicated to frequently asked questions (why beans aren't allowed, for example) and the research behind the movement. We still have many favorite recipes from this site that we make often:
Obviously Pinterest is an amazing resource for anything ever.  I simply type "Paleo" into the search box and come up with all kinds of great recipes.  Here is a link to my Paleo board.

While googling, there are so many blogs and websites dedicated to the diet that it is hard not to find good things to make.  Here are some more great resources, as well as links to our favorite recipe from each one:
A few tips I have for making any standard meal Paleo friendly are:
  • Substitute your typical grains with a veggie equivalent.  Spaghetti squash for spaghetti, or cauliflower for rice for instance. 
  • Use honey or maple syrup for sugar. Sweetness is sweetness, especially if you pair it with cocoa (and a few other ingredients) and make chocolatey deliciousness!
  • Explore different kinds of Paleo friendly "flours."  Our favorites are coconut flour and almond meal. 
  • If all else fails, keep it simple (this is what we do when dining out). 

As you might see, there are plenty of dinner options out there.  We make enough every night for all three of us to have leftovers for lunch the next day.  I think the two big problems that people run into after being on the Paleo diet for a few weeks is that they seem to become bored of their breakfast, snack and dessert options. Just yesterday, while perusing Pinterest to spice up next week's meal plan, I discovered two blog posts that gave me a ton of new ideas and should keep us satisfied in these categories for a while:

This is where those waffles from above came from.
We also recently purchased our dehydrator which has broadened our snack horizon.  We use it for our weekly batch of kale chips now.  I am excited to make some banana chips, apple chips and my own fruit leather!

Fresh sweet potato chips. YUM!
If you are interested in giving the Paleo diet a try, but aren't sure where to start, here is a handy photo that I found on Pinterest that lays it out for you:

Sorry the text is tiny.  Click the link below if you can't read it here.
My best advice is to PLAN.  Take some time the day before you go to the grocery and make a meal plan and grocery list.  After that it is smooth sailing.  The first few weeks might take some time and effort but once you get a collection of favorites going, it becomes a smooth and quick process.  I would tell this to anyone who wants to succeed with any dietary changes, Paleo or not.  If you don't have healthy options at the ready, you aren't going to end up eating very well.  Simple as that.

And now, I shall leave you with a scene of serenity.

Sure is different from watching the sunset from our old backyard!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Little Ayden Had A Farm

We had fun playing while David did some pre-season work in the garden.  Here is some of the farm from Ayden's perspective:

Every boy needs a dog!

Helping Daddy


"Come with me, Mommy."
Archy, Ayden's new obsession

Daddy working hard while we played!


It was fun to see everything from his little perspective.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Secret Life Of Bees

I read The Secret Life of Bees by Kidd, Sue Monk [Hardcover] (Google Affiliate Ad) years ago and, along with enjoying the story itself, I really loved the excerpts about bee "culture" that the author sprinkled throughout. I have always been an animal lover. I have also always had a fascination with observing creatures in their natural habitat (I even went to a lecture held by Jane Goodall when I was in college). I think what has got me most excited about the prospect of bee keeping is being able to observe bee culture first hand.

The Beekeeping 101 talk we attended this morning was the perfect introduction for us. We learned some of the history of beekeeping and about the anatomy of the hive.

We discussed the different kinds of bees and the rolls they each play.
- The queen lays the eggs
- The workers...well, work
- The drones come from unfertilized eggs yet are the guys who go on to fertilize the queen.  They are blocked out of the hive at the end of each season and all die off each year.

He touched on inspecting the hives, feeding the bees, collecting the honey, tools/equipment we would need, etc.

We also learned some fun and interesting facts. Like, how a colony makes/raises their own queen. When the worker bees sense the need for a new queen, they feed a group of eggs extra doses of a substance called "royal jelly" and whichever bee emerges first becomes the new queen. He also said that if a wasp or other flying "stranger" makes it into a hive, the worker bees will kill it and throw it out immediately.  Another interesting fact is that a queen is fertilized by many drones during one "outing" early in her life and is fertilized for life.  She can lay eggs from that one fertilization over several seasons.

I know that this stuff isn't for everyone but I just find it fascinating.  How they communicate with pheromones and have a community with hierarchy, a security system, food collection/production, etc.  Pretty neat stuff if you ask me! For someone who has always loved observing people, animals and other creatures, beekeeping is sure to become a very interesting hobby for me. I am also excited to be able to spread the love by giving honey as gifts around the holidays and selling it at our local farmer's market.

I think at this point we have decided that we will wait and start a couple of hives next Spring.  We feel like that will give us the chance to spend the upcoming year researching and educating ourselves as much as possible so we will have a good chance for success right out of the gate.

Ayden did great with my parents while we were away. I called my dad when we were on our way home and he said, "He's been perfect. I wore him out and your mom put him to sleep."  We came home to find him napping peacefully on my mom while she enjoyed snuggling him.

We spent the rest of the day unpacking more boxes (we only have a few left!) and then had a delicious dinner and long overdue visit with our friends Whit, Kellen and Baby Girl. After dinner, Ayden got the crazies and was hamming it up and giggling for all of us. He didn't even fall asleep on the way home, he just jabbered away for the whole ride.

Tomorrow is going to be more of the same, unpacking and arranging of STUFF... We may try to venture to our storage unit so we can cover some of the furniture and take a bit of inventory of what exactly ended up there.


Friday, February 22, 2013

What's Up, Doc?

Nothing too exciting happened today...

We snuggled in bed for a while before getting up. We had breakfast. I took a shower and got ready while Ayden read his books and emptied out a couple of bathroom drawers. We had lunch and then headed into town.

Ayden napped while I got a new driver's license, changed my address for my voting registration and registered David and myself in a Beekeeping For Beginners class that is tomorrow.

On our way home we stopped in a local Five and Dime store. We looked at the fish and took home a pack of farm animal souvenirs. My dad used to take me to the exact store when I was little to look at the fish/animals, and to get candy and little trinkets. It was fun to take Ayden in and reminisce.

The horse is his favorite
One of my most memorable lessons that my dad taught me had to do with this store. He let me get a pack of those wax, juice filled bottles (YUCK!) and I opened them while we were still browsing.  We checked out and were almost home when my dad realized that we walked out without paying for them. He turned the truck around and took me in and had me politely explain what had happened, apologize and pay for the candy.  I have always valued that lesson and it has always stuck with me.  I wonder what kind of lessons will remain vivd/valuable for Ayden when he looks back on everything we teach him...

When we got home I prepped some snack food for the upcoming week and got some kale dehydrating.
They take 12 hours to dehydrate... CRAZY!
We had a dinner that was my own creation.  I am really starting to enjoy experimenting with ingredients and have been pleased with what I have come up with so far.  We are waiting for the day when we take a taste and want to spit it out! :)

My little helper
"What's up, Doc?"
And we ended the evening with a family walk, kitchen clean up, putting Ayden to bed, and now we are going to watch a movie.

KY sunsets are beautiful!

I am soooo excited for our beekeeping class tomorrow.  Ayden is going to stay home with my folks and David and I are going to make it a fun little date.  I am hoping that the bees, though we probably won't start them until next year, will be my baby.  Or babIES I suppose!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snug As A Bug

Our little mouth breather, snoozing during errands today.
During early Winter, David's mom gave Ayden a fleece one piece coveralls outfit from LL Bean.


We put it on Ayden a few times before our move but since we've been on the farm it has been PERFECT! There are a lot of features that I really love about this little outfit and I will share them now in no particular order.

- I like how the hood fits closely around his face without any sort of draw string.
- I like the tight cuffs at the ankles. They practically tuck themselves into his boots.
- I like how it is water resistant. It is the perfect outfit for getting to play outside on a less than sunny day.
- I like how light weight yet super warm it is.
- I like how the zipper goes down one leg, just like on footed sleepers. It is really easy to put on and take off.

Taking Mav for a walk around the farm and staying WARM!
Our new backyard!
A recent bonus, that I actually discovered while we were visiting DC, is that it is the perfect outfit for a baby wearing outing on a cool/windy/rainy day. Our first day there I carried Ayden on my back in the Ergo with both of us wearing coats and it wasn't a very comfortable experience for either of us. Ayden's coat was all bunched up, his hood kept falling off, and his ankles were showing, which I'm sure froze him to death. David also had to help me put Ayden in and take him out of the carrier, which is usually something I can do by myself.

I had been looking at purchasing or making one of these:

But now that I have discovered how well this outfit works, I don't think we will need it... Once he's in the Ergo in this, nothing bunches, his ears and ankles stay covered and he is snug as a bug in a rug. Problem solved!

I highly recommend this handy little outfit for every toddler out there!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Five Love Languages

We were on the road by 10 am and decided to take a new route to avoid our previous snowy one. The forecast called for "scattered snow showers" which was exactly what it said before when it was more like a blizzard; so we decided it would be best to avoid it altogether. This route actually ended up being more scenic and wasn't any longer so we are glad we decided to change it up.

No snow + beautiful scenery = very pleasant 9 hour drive
Ayden did pretty well considering it was an all day trip instead of overnight. He had a couple of fussy, "Get me of of here!" moments, and he had a complete melt down when there was about an hour left in the trip. Other than that, he still did a nice job looking at his books, napping and clapping for us after every song we sang to distract him from the fact that he had to be strapped in the car for 9 hours.

During Ayden's morning nap, I read some of this book to David:

Our friends Jess and Adam read it during their premarital counseling and gave us a copy when we were down for a visit over the summer. We started reading tid bits here and there but brought it along to finish during our road trip. I read it out loud to David and we feel that it would be a great read for any couple. Anything that helps us deepen our relationship and bring each other even more happiness is a win in our book!

The premise behind it is that there are five "love languages" and so long as your partner, or other loved ones, "speak" yours regularly then you will feel emotionally satisfied (or your "love tank" will stay full). I won't go into too much more detail because I want everyone to read it for themselves but I will share what the five love languages are and what ours turned out to be.

The Five Languages are:
1) Words Of Affirmation
2) Quality Time
3) Receiving Gifts
4) Acts Of Service
5) Physical Touch

There are quizzes in the back of the book (that you can also find here online) that we took to find out where we stand. As we read the book, we both had a difficult time pinpointing what we thought ours were and finally made it to a paragraph that explained what that meant. Apparently if you have a hard time determining your own love language, your tank has either been really full or really empty for quite some time. Since David and I are both very happy in our marriage it was safe to say that we had been doing a pretty good job of filling each other's love tanks already.

After taking our quizzes, we determined that David's primary love language is Physical Touch, closely followed by Quality Time as his secondary love language. Coming in third for David was Words Of Affirmation, Acts Of Service got a few points, and Receiving Gifts didn't get any points at all. My results were interesting... I had a tie for both my primary and secondary love languages, or I am "bilingual" for both. My primary love languages are Physical Touch and Acts Of Service and my secondary languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time. I also did not score anything for receiving gifts. David and I both appreciate gifts and cherish gifts from each other, but gifts are not what satisfy either of us emotionally. With all four of my languages coming in so close together, David sure has his work cut out for him.  The fact that he was already keeping my tank full is pretty impressive! It is also nice that we already speak each others languages which is probably why our tanks have stayed pretty full over time.

It was neat to read through each language, and the examples provided, and pin point what was missing during "rough patches" that we have had throughout our [almost] 13 year relationship. We also got some ideas for how to prevent issues that seem to reoccur between us every now and then.

As I said before, I really think this book is a great read for any couple whether or not you are content with your relationship. Even if you don't completely buy into it, it is still a great tool to help you put things into perspective and get you thinking as a couple. No person or relationship is perfect and there is always some area that could use more effort or a little improvement.

A lot of our pre-baby ideas have changed since Ayden's arrival but one thing has stayed the same. We still fully believe that "the best gift you can give to your child is to love each other."


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mothers Are Strong

David's parents went home this morning so today it was time for the kids to play. And by play I mean hanging around holding and playing with babies which wasn't too different from the past two days... The dynamic is different without parents around, though, and we had some great conversation (funny that we will someday be those parents when these boys are all grown up). We made them dinner and did a small newborn photo shoot for Little Cousin while Ayden was sleeping. It was a great day and perfect end to our visit. We wanted to get a picture of the three of us with the Capitol in the background to document Ayden's first time here but we didn't get around to it.

Good at napping in new places.
As we were out and about shopping for dinner ingredients, we passed a woman who was leading a tantruming preschooler with one hand and carrying an infant carrier with the other. Even though the carseat had to be feeling pretty heavy and the tantruming child difficult to steer/pull along, she had a stoic, determined look on her face. After we passed her David said, "Mothers are so strong..." And he is right. Mothers ARE strong in so many ways. We are strong in a sense that we know how to function through the depths of extreme exhaustion. We are strong because we hold our babies each and everyday; so even when they weigh 20 pounds we have the stamina to hold and carry them for as long as they need. We are strong because we can still care for our families even when we are under the weather ourselves. Those are just a few examples for the plethora of skills that put us mothers in a league of our own. This is not to say that fathers are not strong and wonderful too. I think each parent brings something very special to the family unit that the other cannot. We just saw a mother in action today in a situation that gave a good illustration of what it is to be a mother. Strong and stoic and getting things done.

I hope our drive home tomorrow has a little less snow and the same amount of Ayden awesomeness as the drive here did.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Big DC Day

We had another big day of visiting and baby holding. We went to a great park and Ayden had a blast!

We walked around a lot today and Ayden fell asleep in David's arms and slept on me while we ate out for lunch. I don't think I will ever tire of how it feels when my baby sleeps on me.

After a long day, Ayden fell asleep around 6:30 and didn't wake up until we were ready to leave at 9:30. We fed him some dinner leftovers when we got to our temporary home here in DC (a house of one of David's brother's friends who is out of town) and now we are all in bed and Ayden is back to sleep. We are wondering if we will be up at 6:30 or if we will still get to sleep in until 8...

Tomorrow is our last full day in DC and we are going to do a new born photo shoot for Ayden's sweet little cousin.