Saturday, April 30, 2011

First Baby Play Date

A few weeks ago we hosted Anna's first baby play date. We had been to a thousand play dates (approximately) at other peoples' homes so I figured it was time to stop being a mooch and host one, haha. We had TWELVE babies come (holy cow!) so it was a full house, but we had so much fun. I didn't get a single picture but my friend sent me these:

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Yeah, that's Anna shoving her hand into Callie's mouth. Callie didn't even seem fazed by it though, haha.

Picture Post!

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First time in a high chair!

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Shopping at the Saturday morning Farmer's market

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Gimme that phone!!

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Day at the zoo

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Crazy baby!!

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Umm...praying?

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hosting her first baby play date but getting a little close to nap time

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toofies!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Post about Autism

I've been mulling this post over in my head for the last couple of weeks and decided today to write it.

Autism is talked about a lot these days. More and more children are diagnosed with it and sometimes it seems that researchers are no closer to figuring out what causes it than when they discovered it. And at the risk of getting a little too personal, I grew up with it in the family, and I witnessed first hand how frustrating and heartbreaking it can be. And it's still frustrating and heart breaking. It's not something that magically goes away when you turn 18, and in a lot of ways, it's even worse to deal with it as an adult.



I am thankful for families with autism that there is so much more understanding, acceptance, resources, and support now. I hear how much progress children can make with the proper therapy and attention, and it really makes me wonder where my brother would be today if he had been born in 2000 instead of the early 80's. And this is in no way an attack on my family or anyone's family that grew up with this- nobody was equipped or knowledgeable enough to deal with this in the 80's and we all did the best we could.

I'm not gonna lie, this has been something that weighs heavily on my mind. I've been preparing myself mentally for this even while I was pregnant, that we're going to go into a pediatrician appointment and the A-word is going to be brought up. Steve is always wonderfully reassuring about it- he assures me that there are a million worse things to have, that it's not going to be the same in any means as what I grew up with, and that we would have the time and resources to dedicate to helping our child thrive. I know he's right and I know it's silly to worry about a problem that doesn't even yet exist for us (and it may not even ever be an issue), but it's still in the back of my mind.

I have my own suspicions about what causes autism. I'll make the very obvious disclaimer and say that I'm not a doctor, I never went to medical school, and I am far from an expert on this. But I have my gut feelings and I apparently am not alone in these suspicions. I will also say that I am 1000% in the camp of thinking that vaccines have absolutely nothing to do with autism. That has been disproved a million ways to Sunday and I think it's downright negligent not to protect your child from the diseases that we have vaccines for.

Regardless of what actually causes autism (and I don't necessarily think it's just one thing), I think that there is a genetic vulnerability, and then something triggers it. My strongest suspicions are:

1) Pesticides and harmful chemicals
2) Food preservatives/dyes
3) Television

TV?? Really?? Well, yes. Again, I'm not a scientist and I'm not a doctor, but I'm not alone in thinking there might be a link. It's something that the use of has increased significantly over the last couple of decades, it's something that goes across economic and racial lines, and it's something that has already been linked to the increase in ADHD. And quite frankly, seeing infant DVDs like Baby Einstein and other similar products becoming a multimillion dollar industry, and hearing countless moms brag about how they can plop their infant down in front of them for 30 minutes to an hour a day so they can "get stuff done"...well, it terrifies me. Also...autism is apparently virtually nonexistent in the Amish community. Coincidence? Maybe.

I sent the links below to my mom last week after we had a conversation about it, and she had a powerful word in response to them. Sobering. 

Television and video is something that grows more pervasive every day. It's now not limited to your living room- you see it on buses, in waiting rooms, on computers, and right on your phone. It's morphed from being maybe an hour in the evening to being almost a 24/7 part of the family. Do I think television is evil? Of course not. Steve and I have been greatly enjoying True Blood lately and I think that in moderate use, it's wonderful. But especially to developing minds and especially in the quantity that television use has grown to...I just can't shake the feeling that this is contributing to the rise in ADHD and autism. And I can't shake the feeling that this is going to be something that we look back on in 10 years and view as a massive mistake. When there are entire channels and video brands dedicated to "entertaining" and "engaging" infants and children, and there are TV screens placed in the back of car seats so that kids can watch any time they're in the car...are we going to regret this?

Well, who knows. Maybe there's absolutely nothing to this. Maybe my theories are way off base. But researchers are currently exploring this very hypothesis and have been for a couple of years now...and it hasn't been disproved yet. I guess we will wait and see, but in the mean time, I know we will be keeping Anna as far away from the TV as possible. Even if it ends up not being linked to autism, I think there are a million other benefits to limiting the screen time.

http://www.slate.com/id/2151538/

http://health.howstuffworks.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/childhood-conditions/tv-autism.htm

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=3008553&page=1

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,222481,00.html

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addiction-in-society/200910/does-infant-video-dependence-cause-autism

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

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Steve hid the basket behind her play mat, and Anna pulled the mat down all by herself. What a genius baby!

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Her favorite toys were the pink plastic straw and the package of Wet Wipes that I didn't even intend for the basket, I bought them for the diaper bag!

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7 Months Old!

Our sweet baby girl is 7 months old (and one day) today!  This has been a busy month for our Anna Banana, and such a fun one!

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Her two little chompers are almost fully in now and there's another one that I think will cut through any day now. This one seems to be bothering her a lot more than the first two, so we keep a steady supply of teethers in the fridge, Sophie is washed and ready for her every morning, and we've had to break out the infant Tylenol pretty frequently.

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Anna can roll over both ways now and it's not uncommon for us to peek at her on the video monitor to find her playing on her tummy in the crib. She's gotten quite skilled at sticking her leg in between the crib bars to help her flip over faster - such a little monkey!

She loves grabbing at anything and everything that catches her eye- Mommy's hair, Kingsley, toys, the camera. And she is SUCH a wiggle worm!! Diaper changes are getting to be quite challenging, and getting her to sit still for anything is also a challenge (her monthly picture this morning took much longer than normal to get a decent one!). She loves floor time - her play mats see quite a lot of activity. She is also so curious about everything -she loves going out and people watching.

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Banana is sitting up very well - she will still wobble and topple over because she gets distracted and excited, but she can sit like a champ. On the floor we put all the pillows around her "just in case", haha, but every day she gets better and better.

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She is also starting to sleep SO well. At night, anyway. She has really started hating naps and it's the hardest thing now- she will fight naps like there's no tomorrow, even while rubbing her eyes and yawning. But she has started going to bed anywhere between 5 and 6, and usually doesn't stir until the early morning. She'll wake up once to eat, and I'll change her diaper, and she'll go back down until 6:30-7:00 in the morning. Steve and I have finally been able to cook and eat dinner together, enjoy a movie or board game, and we even finished the puzzle that's been "in progress" on our dining room table for a couple of months!!

Her new sleeping consistency has also let us go out for our 2nd date night since she was born. My mom came over to watch her last night, and we met Steve's parents at one of our favorite restaurants, Pappadeaux, for a yummy dinner. It was SO nice walking back in to a still-sleeping baby, instead of the red-faced screaming baby that I usually greet whenever I tried to leave the house at night.


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Anna has also started to like solid foods a little bit more this past week. Up until this week, she would let me spoon a bit of her fruit or veggie puree into her mouth but would immediately spit it out with a totally disgusted face. I even tried letting her feed herself with a tiny bit of food on her tray, but she just smashed her hand into it until I gave up and took it away. But now she has started being a lot more interested in it. She likes apples and bananas the best (complete with the song of course), but also likes avocado, yogurt, and sweet potatoes. She doesn't seem to be in love with pears though, and I discovered the other day that she might have a sensitivity to cinnamon. I had mixed a little bit into her apple and oatmeal, and when I went to wipe it all off her face, her poor skin was bright red everywhere it had touched. I washed her face off really well, and the redness went away after about 30 minutes. The pediatrician said to watch her for signs of an allergic reaction, but she acted completely happy. Apparently a true cinnamon allergy or sensitivity is pretty rare, so we're going to try re-introducing it in a few months and seeing if it goes away on its own.

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We don't have another pediatrician appointment scheduled until 9 months, so I don't know for sure how much she weighs, but my guess is that she's around 19 pounds. The 6-9 month clothes fit her the best right now, although some of her 6 month stuff still fits, and then some of her clothes are 12 months!! I wish all the clothing companies could put their noggins together and get a consistent sizing scheme down, haha.

We're looking forward to this next month- we love you, Baby Girl!

Friday, April 22, 2011

In Honor of Earth Day - Organics


A few years ago, I was in the camp of people that didn't really care about buying organic vegetables or fruits. Hormone-free dairy and meat wasn't even something I had ever thought about. Why bother spending the extra money??

But then, for some random reason (probably that it satisfied some honors credit and/or it was a 2 minute walk from my dorm), I signed up for an Agriculture seminar class the Spring semester of my senior year of college. I can't remember what the course was titled, but it basically focused on sustainable agriculture, food issues around the world, and carbon footprints.

And I LOVED it. I didn't miss a single class. I would bring my International Marketing textbooks, bookmarked to relevant case studies, and I would sit with the professor for an hour after the class ended talking (yes, dork, I know. I embrace my dorkiness). At the end of the semester, the professor actually offered me the chance to work as a research assistant with her and her team on a new international project for which they had just received a research grant. I had already signed the lease on my apartment and accepted my new job for after graduation, so I had to decline, but I do sometimes wonder what would have been different with my life if I had taken that opportunity, or if I had taken this class earlier in my college career! Needless to say, this class really stirred up an unexpected passion.

One thing that the professor really emphasized was "eat local, eat organic". I will never forget her saying that pesticides are designed to kill living creatures - why would you want to ingest that into your body? We looked at countless studies of pesticide levels found in urine, and especially the levels in children were really disturbing. The growth hormones found in beef, poultry, and dairy products was unbelievable too.  I know it's unrealistic to eat organic (and especially local organic) 100% of the time, but it's not an all or nothing thing. I personally believe that as long as you're doing your absolute best to eat organic as much as you can, that will have benefits to your health.

And I really really hope that this isn't coming across as obnoxious and self-righteous...I genuinely and sincerely care about this and I think it's important. I was militant about it when I was pregnant, and now that Anna's eating fruits and veggies. I go out of my way to buy only organic fruits and veggies for her food, and I buy jar organic foods when I can't find the fruits or veggies that I'm looking for in the organic sections of any of the grocery stores. Any beef, poultry, or milk that I buy is hormone-free and organic. I cut back elsewhere on my list to make sure all this fits into the grocery budget. I know organic is more expensive, but it's not THAT much more expensive. Cut out a few items off your list and it covers the difference. Cut out one restaurant trip a month and that easily covers your month's price differences!! To me, that money is definitely well spent, especially when it's going into the little baby bodies.


This is a helpful little list of the prioritized foods to buy organic- the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) calls this list the "Dirty Dozen". Memorize it, download it into your phone, make a little cheat sheet to take grocery shopping...these are the foods that tested highest for pesticide and chemical levels. If I'm remembering correctly, celery is the worst of the Dirty Dozen but they are all pretty bad!! This is not designed to be a comprehensive list- merely the top 12 foods to buy organic if you can.

And as much as possible, I think it's highly important to buy the hormone/steroid-free organic beef/poultry/dairy products as well.

12 Most Contaminated
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
12 Least Contaminated
  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya
For more information go to http://www.organic.org/

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Dear Target



    Dear Target,

    You know I love you right? We've been good friends. But I'm a little upset about something and we need to talk.

    I took my beautiful genius girl baby there the other day to shop for some much-needed new pajamas. We both like the zippered footie pajamas. They are nice. They work well for us. But I was surprised to see that you only stock the zippered footie pajamas up through the 9 month size.

    But...but....what comes after that?? BIG GIRL PAJAMAS?? I don't think so, buddy. This is a blatant example of fashion forcing little girls to grow up way too fast, and I don't appreciate it.

    The next time I go in there I want to see 12 month, 18 month, 24 month, and 60 month zippered footie pajamas, or I'm going to start boycotting.

    Better yet, I'll just learn to sew. Then I can figure out how to make 216 Month zippered footie pajamas and I will be one happy camper.

    XOXO,

    A momma (who might be having the teensiest amount of trouble accepting the fact that Anna isn't a newborn anymore)

    Edit: I'd like to update and let everyone know that you can find zippered footie pajamas through Toddler sizes at The Children's Place and Carter's. TCP also offers fleece zippered pajamas during the winter months if you're looking for something warmer.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Pulled Pork Tacos

    We finally did another "new recipe challenge" tonight and this one was a little unique in that I just made up this recipe and hoped for the best. The idea to do pork tacos originated when I read through Maya Angelou's Great Food All Day Long cookbook, but since Steve HATES big chunks of meat and her recipe was basically cut everything up and stick it in the microwave, I wanted to do something a little different. Plus I wanted to use my slow cooker.

    Steve gave this a score of 85 which is pretty good for a made-up-at-the-last-minute new recipe. And with how easy this was, this will definitely go into the regular rotation.

    This recipe made enough for at least two nights.

    Pulled Pork Tacos

    1 lb pork tenderloin
    16 oz jar medium salsa
    1 packet fajita seasoning mix
    7 oz jar diced green chiles
    1 package tortillas
    1 tomato, diced
    Shredded lettuce
    Shredded cheese

    Place the pork tenderloin in the slow cooker. Rub with fajita seasoning on both sides. Cover with salsa, diced green chiles, and 1/4 cup water. Stir to combine.

    Cook on Low for 6 hours or until pork shreds easily. Put pork in a bowl and shred with 2 forks. Stir in some of the salsa mix from the cooker to help moisten and flavor.

    Assemble tacos with suggested toppings or whatever else you like on tacos.

    Free Garden Day

    If you are looking for something fun and free to do, celebrate National Public Gardens Day (May 6th) with free admission from Better Homes & Gardens. Sign up on their website here: www.bhg.com/freegarden and select which garden you'd like to go to. It doesn't look like there's a person limit, so take the whole family! Just make sure to read the instructions on how many coupons to print.

    And fellas, that's Mother's Day Weekend so if your wife or mom wants to go, you aren't allowed to complain about it, haha.

    They have a list of participating gardens all over the country (and even some in Canada).

    In Georgia, the gardens you can pick from include:

    Atlanta History Center (Atlanta)
    Callaway Gardens (Pine Mountain)
    Lockerly Arboretum (Milledgeville)
    Oak Hill & The Martha Berry Museum (Mount Berry)
    Smith-Gilbert Gardens (Kennesaw)
    The State Botanical Garden of Georgia (Athens)

    Have fun, pack a picnic and enjoy the sunshine!

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Erin's Easter Egg Hunt

    The whole family went to our second Easter Egg Hunt, at Erin and Carolyn's house! It was such a beautiful day, and Erin did SUCH a fantastic job. We had a great time! Banana slept for the first hour of it, but she woke up for the last 20 minutes and we got some adorable pictures.

    Here are a few peeks:

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    (this photo taken by Michael French)