I had heard from other moms that the one benefit to a sick toddle is that they will snuggle. Unfortunately Theo, at his most ill could do nothing but writhe around with fever and scream. It wasn’t a pretty week.

But he is finally on the mend. Today when he woke up from his nap early, I nursed him back to sleep. Instead of transferring him to his swing, I decided to snuggle him. He is so rarely still in my arms, I couldn’t resist.

In his waking life, he’s crawling fast, pulling up, and taking a few cautious steps holding on to furniture. His preferred activity is now standing at the glass coffee table. Since he’s grown up with that and the killer brick area by the woodstove, his injuries are impressively few. It’s caked in tiny yogurty finger prints.

The crib transfer went well. One day he refused to sleep at all–moving swing or no. So we were like, fine dude. Here’s a crib. Without that, I would still be dithering.

7 months

Daycare survived its first day of Bear.

I did well, too, but then that was to be expected. In the realm of perfectly healthy singleton kids, I believe mine is on the challenging side and without the 5 hour “break” I would have gone stark raving mad. In addition to reflux, MORE freaking teeth (I swear, it’s like he’s trying to grow a whole mouthful of the things), he has another cold (no doubt from daycare shopping). And even on his best days, He’s a bit, well…make that a lot like me.

Only with unbridled energy and way better hair color.

He has opinions and emotions and isn’t shy about sharing them. Be they happy, sad, mad, or silly, you can count on them being intense.


He would rather you did not interrupt his tasks with physical affection, thank you much.

But then he also would prefer if you were to stay near to give him constant praise.

He’s certain there is something interesting to look at on my iPhone. There isn’t. It’s a lesson we both must learn.

It’s cool to see his little personality develop, I just wish his ailments were not a constant source of strongly expressed woe. Poor little guy.

Three Months in 15 Minutes

I have 15 minutes until a client arrives to update. I hate the blogs that begin with a long post about not posting for awhile, but I feel it is relevant here: my husband finally graduated architecture school. His hard work during that time made my time in law school look like patty cake with a bully. Unlike the memorization and application of laws and facts and such, art is never done. So basically he was never done. And I wonder if he’ll remember what his  baby was like between 3 and 6 months.

Now that we’re on the other side of it, it’s amazing. Age 3-6 months were the worst. I had this easygoing baby who was suddenly, horribly sensitive and cranky. All. The. Time. Like all the time. 

No really.

All the time. 

And I did most of the constantly entertaining this cranky human by myself. He was teething, he had colds, he had one stressed parent and one who was absent. But the real deal here was that he was frustrated. You could tell by looking at him that he wanted to do so much more than he was physically capable of doing. He would reach, and attempt to manipulate objects, fail, and cry for the better part of 3 months.

Finally, a couple weeks ago, he got it. His fine motor skills have skyrocketed since doing baby-led weaning (self-feeding) stuff. Here, he has an instant reward for the correct use of his fingers, and he can entertain himself by mawing on a carrot stick (and bonus–soothe his gums), and he loves to pick up cheerios. 

And while he can’t crawl per se, he can move. In a series of seemingly random, uncoordinated movements,  he can transport himself from one side of the room to another in  no time flat. I would be worried about the extra burden this poses for me–hiding cords, picking up chokables, etc., but I can’t care past the fact that he’s FINALLY happy. He can move and do and explore, and he’s HAPPY. I cannot tell you what a relief this is. 

On the sleep front it’s been one step forward, two steps back. We went from being able to put him down happy and awake in his crib at 3ish months to, well…not. The disadvantage to a mobile baby is that he’s not  great at staying put in his crib. So at this point, he sleeps swaddled (straight-jacketed) in his swing (buckled into one place where he can’t flip over), and we keep the swing moving because I swear he sleeps longer (9 blessed hours). The plan is to wean him off the swaddle one arm at a time and then transition back to his crib, but I basically don’t even want to think about it. 

Right now it’s enough to help him recover from his third cold in as many months (breastfed babies apparently do get sick, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), and enjoy his crazy pants mobility, his giggles, and his budding personality. He’s a cool kid.

I Tried It: Amber Teething Necklace

Of all my attempts for a happier baby, this is easily the one I’m most embarrassed about. Even in the hippie thicket where I reside, if you suggest that your infant son is wearing a beaded necklace to help with the crankies they look at you like you’re a nutjob at best or that you’re endangering your child at worst. These people probably had easy, pleasant children whose cries sound like giggles. Not my kid. I was losing my mind and I finally gave into the amber necklace charlatans.

So what’s the deal here? Amber has succinic acid which is released from porous amber into the body.  This much is likely true. The claim is that this is a mild anti-inflammatory that helps soothe sad gums. This second part is, well…neither scientifically proven or disproven. So many people love their amber teething necklaces and swear up and down that they are absolutely effective and wear them day and night. Far be it from me to claim they can’t work, and they’re not as hokey as magic vibrating crystals, buuuut….

They didn’t work for my kid.

I researched rather extensively on to find just ONE person who actually tried the necklace who would say this much. You will find lots of people dissing on the necklaces who’ve never tried them and lots more who LOVE and swear by them. I knew I had to write my just so I could be the one person on the internet who can say “nope.”

As for the safety of the necklaces, my MIL gave me a lecture in the form of stated worry that the necklace would get caught on something. In theory, were “something” (help me out here, because I’m racking my brain here) to manage to slip in the inch of give the necklace possessed  it would easily break and the beads would remain contained on their individually knotted threads. Are they dangerous? On a scale of zero to sharks, I’d put them somewhere above clothes but less than bouncy balls.

So there you have it. I wanted so desperately to say that the necklace cured all of my woes and my baby not only stopped crying, but started calling me Mama and sorting laundry, but it just didn’t work in any major noticeable way.  He still wears it sometimes, but it’s like a charm now. A wearable prayer. A superstition. A reminder for me that I’m doing everything I possibly can.

Sigh. Major, huge, bummer sigh.

Adventures in Cloth Diapering: Ammonia

Today I found myself barefoot, in the kitchen over a big pot of boiling diapers.

Yes. I had to boil the funk out of my baby’s diapers. It worked. And good thing, too because I was about to make a dramatic breakup with cloth diapers.

So, this is how it happened, and like most things that are wrong with the world, it was caused by extremism. I’m going to say it was my extreme environmentalism, as that sounds sort of cool, and edgy and liberal, and would certainly piss off my mother. But if I’m honest, I think it was my cheapness that did it.

A fair criticism of cloth diapering is that you spend money and time washing them. Hoping to prove everyone wrong, I took this to the extreme and used homemade laundry detergent (yep), an old, up-cycled high efficiency washing machine, and I washed everything on cold. This system worked brilliantly for the first few months. But some time about a month ago, I noticed a little funky smell right after Bear peed. Like a fish tank. The next week or so, this turned into a nose-hair curling ammonia reek that could rattle your brain. After a TON of research, this is what happened:

My cheap, environmentally friendly homemade laundry detergent was full of plant oils that were coating the absorbent material of my diapers, making it impossible to clean out the little microscopic urea molecules trapped in the fibers. The cold washes in a high efficiency (read, less water, less agitation) washer only exacerbated the problem. So, even though they smelled clean coming out of the wash, they were not getting the good old fashioned purging they deserved.

Things I tried to rid my diapers of ammonia:

1. Adding baking soda–made it worse (ammonia and baking soda are both basic, I needed an acidic to neutralize like vinegar)

2. Soaking them in the bathtub with fish tank ammonia remover–didn’t work.

3. Soaking them in the bathtub with a different fish tank ammonia remover–nope.

4. Striping the plant oils from by washing them on hot with Dawn (a definite risk in my HE machine, but I was conservative and it didn’t hurt it) and adding vinegar to the rinse cycle–this worked for about a week.

5. Physically scrubbing each and every diaper liner with dawn and a hard-bristled tub brush–sadly, no.

6. Switching to original powdered Tide–apparently, even though Tide has all the bad things that are supposed to ruin cloth diapers, it has somehow magically worked for some. Sadly, not for me.

7. And my final act of desperation: Boiling the diapers. This worked. It was like super-stripping the diapers. It melted away the plant oils, and allowed all the little mineral deposits deep in the fibers a chance for sweet, sweet freedom.

Sooooo….yeah. Cloth diapers are not without their challenges. I love that I’ve spent $180 total on all of baby’s diapers ever. I love that I’m not adding to the landfills. I did not love troubleshooting this. So, for anyone who is at their wits end with cloth diapers, just take a clean diaper and boil the bejezus out of it.

Now that my diapers are stripped, my washing routine will now be: Every other day rinse in cold water, wash with Country Save detergent in HOT water (I’m turning up my water heater for this), extra rinse. Occasionally add some vinegar to the mix.

Vital info for the googlers out there:

Diapers: Grovia and Grobaby AI2 with both organic cotton and microfiber inserts

Water type: We have very soft water with trace minerals

Washer: HE front-loader