Tuesday, May 31

still very much alive!

I took a week to spend some quality time with my family. I apologize for not giving any warning, but I felt I needed to give them my full attention for a while. I tend to get distracted easily and sometimes my mindset is focused too little in the places it should be.

We've had a great time together, as we always do! Marius had a four day weekend, so we went to our favorite pizza place, Mellow Mushroom! It opened two weeks ago about an hour away from us, so we were very excited! They seem to still be getting the show together, so it wasn't quite up to par but still very yummy! I love the way they decorated the inside and wish I'd gotten some pictures. Mellow Mushroom always decks their restaurants out in psychedelic style decorations - very colorful, fun and imaginative. They usually have a great beer list too, which we throughly enjoy being avid craft beer drinkers.

We also took Iris to the pool for the first time!

She loved every moment of it.
I didn't want to overwhelm her too much, as she can be very sensitive, so I let her legs into the water a bit but didn't completely submerge her body. She was very happy to splash about from the safety of my arms for about 20 minutes. This may become an every weekend event! Also, if you're curious, she is wearing the shell of a BumGenius! pocket diaper. Whether disposable or cloth, swim diapers are made to contain messes, not liquids.

Other than that, we just spent time at home relaxing and enjoying each other's company. We shopped for new pajamas for Iris (she's in the 12 month size now!), got new boots for Marius to hopefully help his Achilles problem, grocery shopped (we remembered the reusable bags!!), and praised Iris for all the new things she's been learning! I can't believe her 8 month post is coming up in about a week. Amazing how fast she is growing up. I will be back with more posting tomorrow and for your patience, here's an adorable baby! 


Tuesday, May 24

recent photos, Instagram style.

Still napping in my arms, and I am still enjoying every moment of it.

Watching The Princess and the Frog in her 'circle of safety' while I took a shower.

Playing with my keys again.

Iris' first pine cone experience! I finally found one that wasn't covered in sharp thorns.

When we go on our morning walks, we stop often to engage all of our senses!

Sweet girl.

We bought two external hard drives yesterday for storing pictures, so my Canon card should be wiped clean and back in use soon. Instagram is fun, but I miss the quality of real camera shots! 

Monday, May 23

Sunday, May 22

8 weeks to a better me v.4

This week on Sometimes Sweet, the topic is "loving yourself." 
I have times where I am on top of the world - I am the world, in fact.
I love Myself.
There are also times when everything seems hopeless.
Lately, I have been making a very conscious effort to change these feelings of hopelessness which I have allowed to fester. I try to enjoy every moment of life and to let go of the emotions, past experiences and biases I have held on to.
I have made progress in leaps and bounds.
Right now, I will write my goals and leave it at that. I will be writing a lot more about this in the near future, when I have time to more effectively compose my contemplations and reflections. 

1. When I get dressed for the day, I will wear the first outfit I choose. If I need to change, it will be for logistical reasons (such as breastfeeding friendly tops or weather), as opposed to because I "feel fat."
2. When I have negative thoughts about myself, I will question my ego's predisposition. Are these feelings of worthlessness and ineptitude realistic or stemming from the fear of failure or rejection? I will remember to realize these feelings are only feelings, they do not define me. 
3. I will begin practicing daily meditations once again, this truly helps everything else fall into place.

I should note that these are goals not only for this week, but for the long term!
Ever forward!

Saturday, May 21

small changes saturday v.5

I nearly forgot all about my Saturday feature! Today was lots of fun but busy!

I figure I should update about how my little changes are doing long term. I tried to make it to the farmer's market today with a friend, but her 9 month old son fell asleep, so we let him sleep instead of disturbing him to do our thing. Hooray for baby-sleep! I was only going to get a wooden toy for Iris anyway, which can wait until next weekend. She broke her wooden peace sign teether a few days ago, by throwing it from her chair at the table. So sad, we loved that thing! Going to try to fix it without letting glue seep out where she would be mouthing it, hmm... 

The kitty is loving his food and litter adjustments! He eats a bit less now because the Organix food has a higher calorie count and more protein than his old food. I haven't completely transfered over to the pine litter yet, because of how particular cats are about where they go to the bathroom. You never want to switch something on them too abruptly. I've just been adding a bit more pine each time I clean the box, and I think tomorrow will dump the entire thing and move to just pine, considering it's mostly that by now anyway.

I still have yet to remember my reusable shopping bags, which is rather amusing! Though with all my talk of how I keep forgetting, maybe that will trigger me to remember for once! I'm also still making my own household cleaners, which is going great. I have yet to venture to make my own window cleaner, though. 

Aaaand the maple syrup is delicious! That is all there is to say about that! 

Have you made any small changes lately? If you have, tell me about them! 

Friday, May 20


You may notice that I've made a few changes to The Crunchy Lion today! There's a new header, new pages tabs design, all sorts of new fonts and I also created a button! I managed to get this done while spending the last 3 hours trying to get Iris to sleep. She gets the most awful gas, no matter what I do! I try changing my diet, giving her gas drops, bicycling her legs - all to no avail, at least tonight.

We went out with a friend again today which was great. The rest of my time has been spent playing with Iris or wanting to rip my hair out in frustration. Marius called me this evening to inform me that he's attending a cocktail party tonight. I'm not jealous at all, as I sit at home being kicked in the stomach and having my nipples bitten (and not in a nice way, let me tell you!) Not jealous at all! 

Actually, I am glad he is enjoying himself. I just miss having any semblance of time to myself. He is meeting and enjoying time with a lot of very interesting and influential people. There is plenty of time for me to meet them in the future, as well. But my baby's needs come first. If I need to breastfeed her every hour, so be it! She will only be this small once. I have the rest of my life to drink one too many G&Ts at cocktail parties!

Anyway, here are a few pictures I took recently. The card of my Canon camera is completely full. I haven't decided how I want to store pictures long term, nor do I want to shell out $30 for a new card right now, so it's Instagram for now! It really is a fun little app!
My hair has gotten really long! Growing it out indefinitely.  
Iris looking up at her Mama. She loves playing with my hair. 
Scooting around!
Best/cutest kitty in the world.
Sleepy baby riding in our new amazing sling.
Staring at the birds.

How is she fitting into size 12 mos jammies??

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, May 18

our day.

A couple hours after Marius left, Iris and I went for a walk! We stayed inside the gated area we live in because the city we currently live in is quite crime-ridden. 
It was a lovely 60 degrees and the sun was shining for the first time in days. 
Iris has recently started noticing her own shadow and how it moves as she does. 
We waved at her shadow and she squirmed and bounced with excitement. 
We picked her very first dandelion!
She held it like that, tenderly petting the flower with her other hand,
all the way home.
She didn't destroy it or put it in her mouth,
just observed it curiously and talked to it softly.
How sweet and gentle she is.
Afterwards, we were very sleepy. 

After a long nap, we played for a few hours on the floor and at the table.
I introduced her to a new toy we bought while I was still pregnant.
She loved it but got overwhelmed pretty quickly.

This afternoon, we checked the mail and... surprise!
Our new BabyEtte sling had arrived!
I put it on and took a picture immediately. It's so wonderful!
A friend texted not long after and picked us up for a little trip. 
We went to Target - I bought some much needed items like California Baby Sunscreen, Tide Free and Clear and dye-free Tylenol for Iris' hurty mouth. We went to the craft store afterwards and I resisted some impulse buys.
I didn't even get Starbucks, amazing!! Marius would be proud.

This evening has been quiet.
Iris is asleep and I am watching Food Network, something Marius abhors so I'm quite enjoying getting to watch cooking competitions with my friend Yuengling Lager!
Hope everyone else had as good a day as I did,
even if you're missing a loved one too!

thinking about deployments.

Marius packed his bags and left this morning for a five day conference in Florida. He's been gone for weeks at a time in the past, most recently for the month of March to train with the Army. He will soon deploy for six full months, potentially even longer as deployments are often uncertain. A few of my friends here have said goodbye to their husbands this week, as they deploy overseas leaving their families to hold down the fort. Marius' short trip is a bitter reminder of this reality, one that is approaching us all too soon.

We've gone through a deployment before, but our relationship was very new and I hadn't even moved in with him yet. It was not easy by any means but this time the moments spent apart will be even more poignant. As I raise our baby, he will only be seeing her from a computer screen. He will only touch her photo. We won't be able to smile at each other, rest our heads on each other's shoulders or entwine our fingers as we walk. Iris won't be able to grab his nose, chew his fingers or nuzzle against him. We won't cuddle as we fall asleep, tickle each other or go on adventures together. I won't make him eggs on the weekend or continuously put his shoes away. There will be a big chunk of all our lives missing. Still there, but intangible.

I knew what I was signing up for when I married him. Nothing will deter me from loving him forever. He will still read to Iris as we turn the pages of the recordable books. He will still smile at her every day as she turns the pages of her 'daddy-book'. We will still whisper 'I love you' and hold each other close through the air waves. Iris and I will talk about how brave and wonderful he is and also how much we miss him. We will write to him, send him special things from home and I will capture video of Iris walking for the first time. We will stay as close as we can, so far apart. I will embrace our baby and know I am holding a part of him, too.

I cherish every moment I have with my family. I do not take my husband for granted; I do not take advantage of him. We never yell at each other; we always treat each other with kindness and respect. We make every effort to enjoy every bit of life we can, joyfully together or achingly apart. Though I'm troubled by his departures, I know with all my heart that he will return to us. When he gets back on Sunday night, I will be reminded of his returns after long periods of time apart. It will be as though I'm seeing him again for the first time - enchanting, exciting and to some extent, shockingly unfamiliar.

I hope Marius enjoys his conference, at least he's not breathing in the dust of Iraq, for now. Iris and I will laugh, play and go about things as normally as possible without him here. I love my wonderful husband and I miss him already.

Adjusting the sights on his rifle.
You know you're in a military family when your husband walks around the house
with a semi-automatic weapon. 

wordless wednesday.

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Tuesday, May 17

how do you wash cloth diapers?

This post has been a long time coming and has been sitting in my queue for weeks. Oops! If you're interested in cloth diapering, read on about how to wash!

This is the most popular question I've been asked about cloth diapering since starting to consider it. Yes, at first even I cringed at the thought of poop in the washing machine. It's one of the aspects which first turned me off the idea of cloth when I was pregnant. Only after discovering the many downsides to disposable diapers did I do some research into how the laundering is accomplished. It's really not as bad as it sounds but there are some complexities involved.

First, you need what is called a wet bag or a wet/dry pail. A wet bag is a waterproof bag used to store soiled diapers. A wet pail is a pail filled with water in which dirty cloth diapers are placed to soak. It's then drained before loading the diapers into the washing machine. This method has been largely replaced due to smell, mess and potential safety issues. The dry pail just involves placing the diapers into a dry, waterproof lined pail. Depending on the size of your bag/pail and how many diapers you have, you will be doing diaper laundry every 1-3 days. We have a Rumparooz wet bag for the house and a medium sized Planetwise wet/dry bag for outings.

Assuming baby is exclusively breastfed, the first six months of washing is a breeze because breastmilk poop is completely water-soluble. No rinsing is necessary; everything goes in the wash and comes out perfectly clean. If baby is formula fed or once baby is eating solids, the majority of the poop must be knocked/wiped off or sprayed with a diaper sprayer into the toilet. There are also flushable liners that lay inside the diapers to catch the poop, making the job much faster. Whatever liquid is absorbed by the diapers and even if there's a little bit of poop left, there is no reason why it can't go into the wash! We've been putting breastmilk poop into our washer for over a month now and from what we're aware of, our clothes don't smell like poop and are as clean as they ever were!

There are endlessly different washing routines - everyone does something a little differently. What I do is start with at least one cold rinse to wash all remaining solids off the diapers. Then add detergent and wash on hot/cold heavy cycle, do another cold rinse or two. Then I air dry my covers (which extends the life of the elastic and waterproof fabric) and put the inserts in the dryer.

Detergent is another thing you need to consider. We are currently in the process of switching detergents to find something that works for us. You cannot use just any detergent - the softeners, enzymes and other additives in regular detergent will build up in the fabrics. This will cause the stay dry fabrics (found in pocket diapers) to repel liquid when worn. You can imagine how well that turns out - ie. they leak like crazy. If you do experience buildup (signs of this are excessive odor from the diapers or repelling) you will need to 'strip' your diapers of this residue. To remedy that, you rinse/wash/rinse without any detergent multiple times until the residue is agitated out of the fabrics.

I could ramble on about this for quite a while! If you're interested in cloth diapering your baby, feel free to send me an email and I'll supply you with more info about it! Now for your patience, some cute butt fluff!

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Diaper: GroVia

I can see clearly now.

Hello there! I got some new contacts today!
They are sooo nice!
Luckily, Iris still recognizes me.
Oh, you want to see her do you?
Well here she is, sleeping sweetly. I could use a nap, myself. 
Thanks for visiting!
The end!

our favorite baby gear

Baby gear! There is so much marketing for all sorts of baby things it's ridiculous! Before I got pregnant, Marius and I lived in an ignorant state of bliss, blind to the baby section at Target and unaware that such a thing as BabiesRUs existed. As soon as the test showed those two pink lines... we were inundated by advertisements for swings that will soothe your baby into a dreamy land of ponies and rainbows, vibrating chairs (babies naturally enjoy a vibrating state of being), bouncers, bottles, pack and plays and jumparoos. We absolutely needed to have sleep sacks, burp cloths, about 5,654 bibs, onesies and socks, a bottle drying rack, bumper, outlet plugs, a special changing table to get pooped on, a $50 European plastic baby tub specially designed to feel like the womb, baby towels, a highchair that takes up half the space in the kitchen and a diaper genie (to wish away the poop smeared on your expensive and otherwise useless changing table?). Don't even get me started on activity centers, car seats and strollers. Oh! And for the love of god, buy this nursing cover which screams "oh look over here at this bag I am wearing - I am totally lactating under here!!"

I'm not judging anyone who wants or uses these things, but most of the stuff marketed these days is totally unnecessary for our family. We certainly did buy outlet plugs and onesies, but if we felt compelled to get everything so many other people are convinced they need to have before the baby's even born, we'd be living in a miniature sized BabiesRUs. I believe in simple, good quality products with a true and natural purpose. So with that, here's a list of our top 5 favorite baby gear items!

A bassinet with a modern twist. Iris has been sleeping in it, next to me in our room, since the day we brought her home. It's compact, very light and folds for travel. It can be rocked by hand, so she didn't become dependent on the relentless rocking motion of electric swings. The cover is machine washable, it's very light and easily moved from room to room. We've taken this thing everywhere and it's our number one item. She's always slept and played very happily in it. It's convenient, safe and worth every penny. So sad that Iris is about to outgrow it.

This was our first baby carrier purchase. The temperature was just starting to get cold when Iris was born in October, but cocooned in the infant insert and cuddled up against me, she was snug as a bug in a rug. She would sleep for hours at a time as a newborn and it gave me two free hands during grocery shopping. We still use it in rotation with a Baby K'tan and Marius also wears her very comfortably! Perfect for anywhere and everywhere not to mention the many benefits of baby wearing!

I debated for months on what high chair to get. I had my heart set on a Stokke Tripp Trapp, but my ever wiser and more financially responsible other half was very disgruntled about the $400 price tag. We ended up choosing this hook on chair because it's inexpensive and suits our lifestyle perfectly. Every restaurant we've brought it to, we get comments on how cool it is! It attaches to every table we've come across and Iris loves sitting right at the table with us. Good for our small kitchen, clamps on and off in less than a minute, is safe and easy to clean. I'm glad Maruis talked me out of the Tripp Trapp - the hook on is the best! I love that Iris can sit at the table with us - just because she's small, doesn't make her any less a part of the family!

I tend to be really paranoid about car safety, so it took me a long time to choose a car seat that both lived up to my expectations and was affordable. The great thing about the 32 is that your baby fits it until 32 lbs and/or 32 inches in height! It's intended to last the first year, which has saved us anywhere from $50-$100 dollars by not having to purchase an "infant car seat". It's bigger and heavier, and we gave up trying to carry her in the bucket seat at 5 months or so but no complaints other than the weight. I didn't like her sitting in it all the time anyway. She still seems pretty happy and comfortable in it, it's easy to use and installs quickly - overall a good choice and money saver. 

Though not very natural, this stroller is awesome. It's light, folds with almost no effort at all by pulling a handle in the center of the seat and is a very smooth ride. Turns and maneuvers on a dime. Good for walking, light jogging, crowded malls, etc. Iris has only used it on our 5K excursions on the local "nature trails" and once in the mall, as I prefer to carry her. I expect to get a lot more use out of it when she's older - right now she will only happily ride for about a half hour before she gets over stimulated and wants to nestle against me and explore from that place of safety. It's a wonderful, compact, light and easy stroller and we look forward to using it more often in the future when Iris is older.

I'll be posting soon about our... I mean Iris' favorite toys!

Monday, May 16

Sunday, May 15

8 weeks to a better me v.3

This week on Sometimes Sweet, the topic is healthy eating! We eat very healthily. There are a few exceptions like Poptarts, certain sugary cereals and soda. I have recently stopped drinking diet soda, which I used to drink a few times a week. I will only have one if we go out to eat and I'm in the mood for it. Marius is the bigger fan of Poptarts, but I have them maybe twice a month at most. I've also stopped eating most cereals other than  Kix, Frosted Mini Wheats and Cascadian Farm organic cereals. We rarely eat candy, but occasionally we treat ourselves to small squares of dark chocolate or on the rare occasion, some Sour Patch Kids. Ice cream, cakes, pies and other desserts are rarely found in our home. I made 2 rhubarb pies, 2 cakes and bought maybe 10 pints of ice cream in the last two years! We reserve unhealthy things like fried foods to when we eat out and even then, it's not often.

Balanced meals and everything in moderation - these are the keys to healthy eating! Though, one thing I definitely do need to improve on is the amount of water I drink, especially because I'm breastfeeding and the temperatures here are climbing. I've always made an attempt to eat whole foods, make most meals from scratch and cook with love as my mother taught me growing up. So, there isn't much I can do in the way of making goals in this area. I already buy organic when I can and always have fresh veggies in the meals I make. Maybe some longer term goals are in order! 

1. Drink at least 1 liter of water every day.
2. More effort to buy fruit and veggies from the farmer's market. 
3. Remember to take my vitamins every day!

Saturday, May 14

small changes saturday v.4

This weekend, we stopped by the local farmer's market for the first time. Unfortunately, we didn't get there until it was near to closing time, so most of the fresh veggies and all the strawberries were gone! Still, we walked around to each of the vendors, maybe a dozen of them, and saw their locally produced honey, homemade soaps and crafts and my favorite... wooden toys. There was a plane, a few cars and even a tank! I look forward to getting one for Iris - I love wooden and fabric toys, you know, things with character! 

I hope we can start visiting the farmer's market more often. I would like one of our little changes to be considering more often where our money is actually going. I used to do a lot of online shopping on Amazon.com but have recently started buying from Etsy.com and other family owned businesses with websites. For example, I recently bought a new warm-weather ring sling from BabyEtte on Etsy and all of my cloth diaper purchases have been from a family owned business in Ithaca called Jillian's Drawers. They have absolutely amazing customer service, by the way!

With the economy and unemployment rates being as they are, I think it's important for us to do what little part we can to benefit people locally and those who own small businesses as opposed to big companies and corporations. I'd like us to spend money on things that are healthy for us as well, like maybe those homemade soaps, healthy wooden toys and organically grown whole foods. We still do and eat our fair share of unhealthy things too, like using toxic bath products and eating Poptarts

I've done my best so far with our budget to buy organic cereal and snack bars, locally grown foods (when the market closest to us wasn't destroyed by the recent tornadoes), and purchasing products that are not tested on animals. My goal for the future is to eliminate the harmful things that I can, while not altering our lifestyle to the point that makes my husband think I've morphed into some 'damn hippie'!

I may not be able to make a specific 'small change' every Saturday, but I will certainly be writing about things like supporting your local economy, healthful living and other things that may be inspiring me! I invite you to make little changes along with me too, it's not as hard as it may seem! If you invest in reusable grocery bags, just think how many plastic bags you won't be throwing into a landfill over the next few years - it's a big impact if you think about it!

(I still haven't brought my reusable grocery bags to the grocery store! Marius has suggested that I tie them around my neck so we stop forgetting them.)

old enough to ask for it

"You should stop breastfeeding when they can ask for it."

Does a newborn not have hunger cues?
Can they not ask the mother for a tummy full of warm milk,
for the comfort of mother's embrace?
Does a mother not know when her baby is hungry?
If baby does not tell her, then how would she know?
Expressions, body language, coos and cries.
They all mean something. It is not all mindless babble. Babies learn at an incredible pace and they are much more intelligent than we give them credit for. Communication is a basic human instinct - we all want to reach out to each other. Why are they any different?

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Iris asking for milk at 5 months old.
Iris has been signing for milk since she was born. As a newborn, she would put her fist against her cheek. The hungrier she became, the more insistent this body language became and she would literally punch herself in the face to get the point across! Around 3 months old, she started clasping her hands together and holding them up in the air or over her head. It didn't take long to learn that this was her new 'milk sign'.

Some people thought I was crazy, that I was spending too much time with my baby and was beginning to imagine things. Until they saw it for themselves. My mother was in shock that Iris signed so deliberately and often - there was no denying that what she was asking for was to nurse.

She has recently started saying "mememe" for milk. Just because she is able to voice her desire for food, should I deny her? Now that she is legitimately "old enough to ask for it," has breastfeeding somehow become dirty and wrong?

Originally, my goal was to breastfeed for a year. I see nothing inhibiting that goal at all, we are sailing there almost faster than I can believe. There are significant benefits to nursing past one year, so my new goal is 2 years. Human children need a mammal's milk for at least the first two years of life, as the fats are necessary for optimal brain development and overall growth. The western world is very uneducated about the benefits of nursing and how other cultures around the world embrace it.  I am absolutely willing to continue past 2 years, for as long as Iris wants to. In fact, I would be thrilled. The physical, immunological and emotional benefits far outweigh any cultural stigma.

I want to inspire people. I want the people in my extended family, as well as those people I meet in public, to realize and understand that breastfeeding is not abnormal or unnatural. A 2 year old breastfeeding is just as beautiful as a newborn latching for the first time. It is the natural way to nurture our children. If given the chance, children will wean themselves from the breast when they are ready. I want to give Iris that chance. In an age when breasts are overly sexualized and their true purpose is glossed over, we need to reclaim our natural, wonderful ability to make the perfect milk for our perfect babies. 

So one day, when Iris runs over to me and asks "mama, have nursies?" I will say "yes, baby." Just as when she cooed up at me with her tiny fist pressed against her cheek, she is speaking to me. Her language, at any stage, is worthy of my respect and validation. 

Friday, May 13

an "off" day.

I've been feeling pretty bummed out today, though I'm not really sure why. I'm going to attribute it to my hormones which have been all over the place over the last, well... the last year and a half at this point! Unless you count PMS in which case it's been over a decade, hooray!

Iris woke up at 6am this morning. After a long 2 hour attempt to get her to sleep the night before and getting up multiple times at night, I was pretty tired. We had a quiet morning as usual - I had coffee, worked on a few posts and went about my morning routine while she played at the table. Before it started getting hot, we walked to the office to send my mother's birthday card about 4 days late. That's part of the reason I'm a bit sad but at least I wrote her a nice surprise birthday email to try to make up for it. Things have just been so busy with Iris lately and I've had to put a lot of other things on hold.

In other news, the kitty did some weird things today.

Iris started making some extra-strange sounds today along with blowing big bubbles. On the way to the office, she carried her granny's letter all the way and didn't want to let go, how adorable! Then on the way back I gave her my keys to play with and she held them with both hands behind her head... all the way home. It was really quite odd and funny! She spent the rest of the day being very grumpy, as she tends to be until Marius comes home. I feel like she's making up for the colic she didn't have as a newborn with her misery lately. I wish I could do more for her teething pain but I don't feel right with Tylenol more than once a day (she gets one dose about an hour before bedtime).

Today has just been one of those days where I'm overly tired, feeling a bit isolated and just blah. I'm sure tomorrow will be brighter! I love my family, Marius should be home soon and there are beers in the fridge with my name on them. After all, I ate 1600 calories worth of Taco bell for dinner, two beers can't do much more damage!