29 April 2008

a springtime birthday celebration?

Not questioning the birthday, but definitely questioning whether or not it is springtime. We all gathered at the Leafs to enjoy a day of fun, food and fellowship. We got our first taste of the grill this season and a few brave enough to be out in the cold played some croquet (I was not one of them!). Barbara got one "gift" this birthday she doesn't get all too often. . . snow.

We also brought out the old family movies which are always such a blast to watch. So many fun memories . . . lots of laughing. . . and even poems about soda. Priceless.

fear factor

When it comes to parenting there are just some things that don't come easy to me . . . especially when it has anything to do with bugs. Bergen has started to "fear" bugs. I say "fear" because I don't know how much is actual fear and how much is just attention seeking. Either way, I have been trying to get him to like bugs. Well, not so much "like" them, but at least not run away from all the worms, flies, ants and oh-so-scary butterflies that live in our backyard.

While I was gardening the other day I couldn't help but notice the millions of worms that were out because of the rain - so we decided to go on a worm hunt. And I have to say I was pretty darn proud of myself for controlling all the screaming I would have normally done had he not been standing there next to me. Me squealing at the sight of bugs doesn't quite help him get over his fear.

But when Lars heard of our worm hunt he decided to do one of his own with Bergen. A REAL worm hunt with actual worm holding and no jumping spastically at the sight of other miscellaneous garden bugs. They had a blast and Bergen now calls worms his "friends". Definitely not something that was going to happen with me as his bug therapist.

It is moments like this when I think . . . Thank goodness for Dads!

the dirty dozen

I had seen the dirty dozen list a while ago but couldn't remember what was on it (which happens all too often with my "mom brain" these days). . . . so I was happy this past Earth Day when this list made it back into my life. I know there is a lot of buzz around buying organic and a lot of people believe it is nothing but hype. I, however, believe in the old saying, "you are what you eat". And for the people closest to me they would know I would be either a french fry or perhaps an M&M, but I am slowly trying to change my ways to fill my house will all things wholesome and good - organic or not. It would be quite costly to buy *everything* organic, so this list is a great solution to "focus on those foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, chemicals, additives and hormones."

So, here you go. . . . the top 12 foods you should buy organic whenever possible:

1. Meat. Contrary to a widely reported "fact," meat typically contains less pesticide residue than plant-based foods, according to Debra Edwards, the director of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs.

That said, raising animals with conventional modern methods often means using hormones to speed up growth, antibiotics to resist disease and pesticides to grow the grain fed to the animals. As the EPA puts it in an Ag 101 feature, "Antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones are organic compounds which are used in animal feeding operations and may pose risks if they enter the environment."

Consumers looking to avoid meats raised with these substances can seek out certified organic meat. To meet USDA standards, this meat can come only from animals fed organic feed and given no hormones or antibiotics.

Publications as varied as the Wall Street Journal, in its 2007 When Buying Organic Makes Sense and When It Doesn’t, and Consumers Union, in its 2006 Tips on Buying Organics Without Breaking the Bank, recommend seeking out organic meats when possible.

2. Milk. Pesticides and other man-made chemicals have been found in human breast milk, so it should come as no surprise that they have been found in dairy products. While any residues detected have been rare, and of low concentration, milk is of special concern because it is a staple of children's diets.

Organic dairies cannot feed their cows with grains grown with pesticides, nor can they use antibiotics or growth hormones like rGBH or rbST.

3. Coffee. Many of the beans you buy are grown in countries that don't regulate use of chemicals and pesticides. Look for the Fair Trade Certified Organic label on the coffee package or can; it will give you some assurance that chemicals and pesticides were not used on the plants. It will also mean that fair prices were paid for the end product in support of the farm and that farm workers are treated fairly.

4. Peaches. Multiple pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.

5. Apples. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: watermelon, bananas and tangerines.

6. Sweet bell peppers. Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed and victim to pesticides commonly used to keep them insect-free. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: green peas, broccoli and cabbage.

7. Celery. Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals that are used on conventional crops. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: broccoli, radishes and onions.

8. Strawberries. If you buy strawberries out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that use less-stringent regulations for pesticide use.
Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: blueberries, kiwi and pineapples.

9. Lettuces. Leafy greens are frequently contaminated with what are considered the most potent pesticides used on food. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

10. Grapes. Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: blueberries, kiwi and raspberries.

11. Potatoes. America's popular spud ranks high for pesticide residue. It also gets the double whammy of fungicides added to the soil for growing. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: eggplant, cabbage and earthy mushrooms.

12. Tomatoes. A tomato's easily punctured skin is no match for chemicals that will eventually permeate it. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: green peas, broccoli and asparagus. If the cost of buying all organics isn't within your budget, fear not. Check out The Daily Green's top ten list of fruit and vegetables you don't need to buy organic, with tips for buying and how to clean, store and use them in delicious recipes.

SOURCE: The Daily Green

27 April 2008

fool me once

This spring has not been pretty. We have been tricked several times into thinking nice weather had finally fallen upon us, only to learn that we had been fooled when cold temps and snow flurries returned. This past week we had some beautiful weather and we thought FINALLY! Spring as sprung! But we were fooled again. This weekend has been filled with cold temps, gale-like winds and snow flurries (that's right, snow flurries). And as a certain wise man once said: "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." Oh wait, I think it goes something like that.

We luckily caught one of the nice days last week when we went over to the Vreeman's for a playdate. After Bergen and Alyssa couldn't be contained indoors anymore, we hit the back yard to play on their swing set. The older kiddos even got out the sled to pull each other around (which didn't work all that well). The highlight for Bergen was getting to build sand castles with Alyssa. The Vreemans are lucky to live ON the great Mississippi (how awesome is that?) so all they have to do is cross the street to lounge in the sand and enjoy the water. Annika wasn't too sure what to think of the sand, but hopefully she took some notes from Addison who was having a blast.

Annika doesn't get to see animals too often so she was very excited to see the Vreeman's dog and cats. Anytime she caught sight of a cat she would begin to clap and she also had a stare down with their dog who was patiently waiting outside to come in. She loves animals. . . hmmmm, wonder where she gets that from? Thanks for a fun day Vreemans!!

24 April 2008

this will melt your heart

hello, my name is annika

and I am addicted to Tylenol.

Okay, I am kidding. But Annika has come to know and l-o-v-e Tylenol since this past weekend when she cut 3 new teeth and we were giving it to her to help ease the pain. I am not sure if it is the taste of grape or that we would cheer and clap every time she took a dose - but when Annika sees the bottle she squeals in delight. I tried to get a little video of her and her new "best friend" as well as show off her new ability to sit up by herself. And don't worry (I know what you were thinking Nana), I don't actually ever let her play with the Tylenol. It was purely just for the sake of this little video.

22 April 2008

spring forth new life

After nine months and nine hours of labor, our good friends Nick and Sarah welcomed their baby girl Kaia Rachel yesterday. She weighed in at 8lb1oz and is 20 3/4" long. I was able to make a quick visit this afternoon to meet their little one while Grandma Barbara watched my little ones. It was fun to hold a newborn again - it is hard to believe our kids were ever that little! Kaia is very beautiful and the new parents are doing great! A HUGE CONGRATS to the LaBelle Family!!

After my visit with the new family, Bergen and I did a little gardening while Annika took her afternoon snooze. We started to clear the flower beds of the decaying leaves from last fall and were happy to see new growth sprouting underneath. I don't have a "green thumb" per se, but perhaps more of a "sage thumb", being that I enjoy gardening but just have no clue what I am doing. For that reason we stick to very hearty, easy plants that don't need a lot of TLC. It is just great to have a little something to keep us out in the yard digging in the dirt.

18 April 2008

movin' on over

To the other side of the aisle that is. Bergen is now at a size that is perfectly between the infant section which is birth-5T and the boy section which is size 5T+. . . and I have started to shop on the other side of the aisle in the boys section. It was the section that I used to look over at and think "oh, *someday* my baby boy will be soooo big that I will need to shop over there".

And here it is. . . someday.

17 April 2008

The Five S's

For the first time this week Annika was able to try out the swing. It is hard to believe that 3 years ago Bergen got his first push in the ol' blue swing and now he is big enough to be pushing his baby sister (with many gentle reminders that he doesn't need to push her soooo hard). You will notice that Bergen is sporting his new hair cut. It always amazes me how much older he looks after getting his hair cut. It has also become increasingly hard to get a "good" photo of Bergen. You know, the kind where he sits still and smiles. Nowadays he makes a funny face, sticks out his tongue or (most often) covers his face with his hands. Just another reminder that our little boy isn't so little anymore.

As I was standing in the kitchen the other day I couldn't help but notice the drugs we have collected on our windowsill. It made me laugh and shake my head at the same time. A perfect visual representation of the past month we have had:

Annika has become much more efficient at scooting around the house. For a while I thought it was only a matter of time for her to swing her leg back and do more of a traditional crawl, but I am starting to think that she isn't going to happen. Which is a-ok.

Here is another clip of Miss A from this morning. . . I was trying to get her to crawl straight towards me, but she made a pit stop at the shoes (such a girl!)

Every spring the same duck couple visits our back yard - I am guessing it is because of all the bread we have fed them over the years. It has gotten to the point that when the ducks hear us playing out in the back yard they waddle in from where ever they were knowing that they are bound to get some sort of bread goodness.

My arms couldn't be holding anything more sweet.

So, there are my five S's for the day. And here you were. . . thinking I was talking about the calming five S's: swaddle, side, shush, swing (okay, I did do that one), and suck. That was so 6 months ago.

Update: Operation Cold Turkey

Operation Cold Turkey has been in effect for a week and overall it has been a success. We got off of our mission when B woke up with croup on Friday night. . . it would have been a miracle for her to not wake up from all the noise outside her bedroom. But after that bump in the road, we got back on track and I think we are definitely seeing a much needed improvement with her sleep!!
  • Night 1 - Thursday: Woke at 11pm and cried until 1am (2 HOURS!!) with Lars going in about every 15-20 minutes to reassure her. Apparently I really needed the sleep because I slept through this! Up at 4am to nurse. Up at 7am for the day.
  • Night 2 - Friday: Woke at 10:30 because Bergen was up with croup and cried for 20 minutes before falling back asleep. Same thing at 2am. Up at 4am to nurse. Up at 6:30am for the day.
  • Night 3 - Saturday: Up at 2:30am to nurse. Back up at 5:30am and nursed her again. Up at 7am for the day. Hmmm. . . this wasn't such a good night.
  • Night 4 - Sunday: Same as Saturday. Not good at all.
  • Night 5 - Monday: Back to NOT nursing before 3am. Woke up around 10ish and was able to cry back to sleep. Up at 3am to nurse and up at 6:30 for the day.
  • Night 6 - Tuesday: Woke at 11pm only for a little and got back to sleep on own. Up at 4am to nurse and up at 6:30am for the day.
  • Night 7 - Wednesday: Slept all the way through until 3:30am. . .the LONGEST she has gone without waking in a long, long time!!! Nursed her at 3:30 and back up at 7am for the day.

We shall see what week 2 brings, but I am going to guess it just gets better from here (if you think it, it will become - right?). My/our goal was to get her sleeping through those first two wakings and not nurse her until at least 3am. As of last night she did both of those things - so I would like to say in the words of Leo from one of B's favorite shows The Little Einsteins. . .

Mission Completion.

At least I hope so.

15 April 2008

don't tell dad

This is Annika's new favorite thing to do. . . no matter where I put her or how I try to distract her - the second she can work her way towards the DVD shelf so is off. It has become a game to her as I will even try to sit between her and the DVDs - she just giggles as she s-l-o-w-l-y scoots around me. My other half, however, isn't a fan of letting her play with the DVDs and after this post he won't have to wonder why the DVDs are always rearranged at the end of the day. But for me it is a way to keep her nice and busy for maybe 15 minutes. . . . and you other moms out there know how nice it is to have something that can keep a little one's interest for that long!

13 April 2008

grab some popcorn, it's time for the movies

We love movies here at the Blad Pad so I wanted to share a couple of very short home "movies". Nothing too exciting, but a couple of bits and pieces of what has been happening in our house as of late.

Miss A has decided that she much prefers food that she can pick up and feed herself. It all started with the Gerber Sweet Potato Puffs. She has become OBSESSED with these little puffs and will strategically pick out all the puffs on her tray and leave the rest (ie pears, peaches, noodles, peas, etc) behind. I continue to try to offer pureed foods, but she has become the Berlin Wall and will NOT let anything past her lips. So, I am now trying to slowly introduce other finger foods - ones that she can eat (meaning on the list of okay foods for her age) as well as ones that I don't get too freaked out about giving her (which really is pretty much 98% of all food).

Our little man has grown into quite the story teller (hmmmm. . . wonder where he gets that from?) One of his new favorite things to do is grab a "big person" book, open it, and tell a wonderful story. The best part is that he does a question and answer time at the end - it is priceless. I tried to get him on this little video, but he was too preoccupied trying to count his fingers . . . . and count. . . and count again. Quite amusing, at least for this Mom. Just a little warning, Annika had just woken up from her nap so she wasn't too excited about listening to her big brother tell a story, so you will hear her complain a little bit.

This last one is of Annika today. She can't listen to music without clapping - no matter where we are or what we are doing, when she hears music she stops and claps. It is so sweet. . . just like her!

10 April 2008

like riding a bike

Yesterday afternoon Bergen and I were finally able to get outside. It wasn't the warmest of days, but it was good enough and the sun came out for a few hours so we decided to take advantage of Annika's nap and play in the backyard. And while Bergen's legs are now a little too long for his cars and he barely fits into the infant swing anymore, he seemed to fall right back into his usual routine. Just like riding a bike. He had a blast running between his various toys and activities. . . and in typical 3-year-old style he got upset when I told him it was just a little too cold for the sprinkler or that I couldn't blow bubbles from the still frozen bottle that was left outside all winter. But once he had given himself time to "sit and pout because [he was] frustrated" he decided the sand table would be more fun anyway. I am looking forward to many, many more afternoons in the backyard. . . that is if spring finally decides to make a real appearance.

operation cold turkey

Lars and I haven’t had a decent nights rest in a long time. It became painfully clear that we need to do something about this while looking through old blog posts yesterday with Bergen and reading that our 2 month old Annika was sleeping for longer then 8 hours at a stretch. I remember those good days. I felt like it was too good to be true and I didn’t even want to talk about it in fear of jinxing it – but my fears came true around 4 months when her sleep changed and it has been down hill ever since.

When she hit 6 months we made her “cry it out”. I decided that I was only going to nurse her once a night anytime after 3am so if she woke up before that time she would have to cry herself back to sleep. It worked and it was great. Things were back on track and we were feeling like normal people again.

And then the month of sickness hit and not only are we back down hill but we are down the entire mountain.

She is doing exactly what her brother did at this young age of 9 months which is fully waking between every sleep cycle. So at least every 3 hours she is up and crying and we are up and patting her back. I am back to nursing her 2 times a night – usually only 3 hours apart which is less time between her day feedings. Not good. And now when she cries in the middle of the night it is different. Not like it was 3 months ago when we first make her cry it out. It is louder, longer and much more painful to hear.

We are very consistent with sleep times and follow our routine to the T. But it just doesn’t work. I have read all the books. Talked to everyone I know who has good sleepers. And after absorbing all the different info – the only thing that will work is stopping cold turkey. No more patting. No more rocking. No more walking. Back to nursing once a night.

Operation Cold Turkey.

Begins tonight. Prayers appreciated.

08 April 2008

showering with love

This past weekend I hosted a baby shower for my very dear friend Sarah who is expecting a baby girl at the end of this month. We were lucky to have such a warm, sunny day (especially since it has been cloudy and rainy ever since Saturday) which helped set the tone for such a joyous celebration! Lars took the kiddos to G&G Leafs so I was able to enjoy a girls afternoon to myself. Bergen had a hard time leaving after seeing that presents and cake were involved with the "baby birthday party" but after he was able to put two candles on the cake (one for Sarah and one for the baby) he felt better about leaving. . . oh, and a promise for a piece of cake as soon as he got home also helped.
Sarah is feeling pretty set for their new bundle and I have to say she seems so much calmer then I was when we were expecting our first. But that is just who Sarah is and that is what I love about her. She is the calm to my neurosis. Even with 10 or so women ganging up on her to try to get her to spill the name, Sarah stayed her usual cool self. I for sure would have caved. Only a matter of weeks before we get to meet their little girl. . . and finally hear what her name will be!

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