Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Milk for Mama.

I've always liked milk. I like it skim, whole, as ice cream, half and half, chocolate, soy, strawberry, almond, in my coffee, in my chai tea, you name it. I'm a milk-loving girl, and so far, my bones seem to be strong so I will stick with the mentality that milk does a body good.

There's a lot of controversy over whether milk should be consumed pasteurized (or not), and I am starting to research that topic, but I'm a newbie to that debate so my opinions on that are far from worth reading.

What IS worth your reading or seeing or really TASTING is the smoothie I made for myself this afternoon.

Firstly, I used nonfat REAL frozen yogurt (made from all natural cows) alla Trader Joe's. This is not your typical "frozen yogurt." It is tangy, tart, and tantalizing-- so much so that it is kind of hard to eat without fruit.

The yogurt was awesome with strawberries last week, but I decided to shake things up (and literally put Gabe in his crib with music and toys, the door shut while I blended to avoid his fearful screams of blender use) by mixing the yogurt with some frozen organic wild blueberries and an organic banana.

It was AWESOME. So fresh and energizing. It was just what the doctor ordered after working the early part of the day and heading into Gabriel's bewitching hour.

The recipe?
Well, I didn't measure, but...

A little less than 3/4 c. frozen yogurt?
About 1/2 c. frozen organic wild blueberries?
1 banana. I know this.

It made the amount I have in the glass, minus a bite. *Wink.*

Bon Appe-yogurt!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Things that Go Stink.

This is a quick post to let you all know about stink issues.

1. We are currently trying to identify and correct a slight diaper stink issue. It seems that after Gabe pees in his microfiber pocket diapers, the inserts are stuh-hinking, not horribly, but enough that sometimes I have to do a vinegar rinse to rid the smell from the diapers. We used Rockin Green Classic Rock the first two months of diapering, but then switched to Country Save when we ran out in an attempt to be even more economical. We had no smell issues while using Rockin Green. What I am trying to figure out is if the issue is not enough Country Save, too much Country Save, Country Save itself, or something else entirely. We are probably just going to order some more Rockin Green (maybe in a scent this time, wee!) to correct the issue.

2. Per my post on hair mats for oil, I was planning on donating my hair for hair booms. Well, I received my address from Matter of Trust earlier this month, just to receive another e-mail almost one day later to let me know that address was no longer valid because the warehouse was full. I feel silly, but I just don't want to get my hair cut and have the hair sitting around my house waiting to get shipped away. I also am reading in some places that the hair booms are not being used at all, but Matter of Trust ensures the public on its PR page that this hair will be used for booms at some point in the clean up for this spill or a future spill. I am frustrated, and I still need a hair cut.

In the meantime, you can watch this ironically and sadly funny video of a sardonic sketch on the oil spill:

Boy, Meet Watermelon.

Boy meets watermelon.

Boy inspects and mutilates watermelon.

Boy eats watermelon.

Thank you for joining us in this adventure of baby led solids.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Got A Lot of Eating To Do

My Mom is borrowing my camera so my post on 'my not so green thumb' is now postponed until I can snap a shot of my ailing plants. So what am I doing instead as my little one takes an actual nap in his crib? Reading about his food.

I decided I wanted to do homemade babyfood while I was pregnant, and I remembered the other day I had cut out a list from a magazine (most likely American Baby, Parents, or Parenting) inspired by Dr. Greene's suggestion to introduce a taste from all 21 plant families before age one. I just refreshed myself on food for baby with the list and reading this great article from Dr. Greene on homemade babyfood.

In any case, I was sitting here looking at this list thinking, boy, we've got a lot of eating to do (yes, please hum that to "Got a Lot of Livin' To Do" from Bye Bye, Birdie -- sidenote: when my sister was in high school, she was the cutest 'Kim McAfee' there ever was.)

So this list suggests G eat something from the following groups (I'm listing what Gabe has tried underneath the groups in italics. Foods yet to try are plain. Foods I really want G to try before age one are in color.) I went here for further reference. I still am sort of confused on family names and things so this list is not comprehensive of all the tastes Gabe will try.

Mushrooms - yet to try
Portobello mushrooms

Bromeliads - yet to try

Woody Trees - check!

Cruciferous Vegetables - yet to try
Brussel Sprouts

Myrtles - yet to try

Umbrellifers - check!

Health Plants - check!

Legumes - check!
-Green Beans
-Chick Peas
-Soy beans

Gourds - check!
-Butternut Squash
-Summer Squash
-Acorn Squash

Composites - yet to try

Sesames - yet to try
-Sesame Seeds (hmm... maybe some sesame seasoning?)

Lilies - yet to try

Rosy plants - check!
-Strawberries (age one)
-Raspberries (age one)
-Blackberries (age one)

Grapes - yet to try

Citrus Plants (age one) - yet to try

Nightshades - yet to try
-White Potatoes (I made a potato puree that turned out HORRIBLY. Take two coming soon.)

Laurels check!

Amaranths - yet to try
-Swiss Chard
-Quinoa (I really want to make G a quinoa cereal sometime soon.)

Loosestrifes - yet to try
Pomegranate (Maybe G will get some Pom. juice at age one. I don't understand how he could eat this otherwise, as yummy as I find the seeds in my champagne.)

True Grasses - check!
-Brown Rice

Bindweeds - check!
-Sweet Potatoes

Where do these go?

Um, we are 9/21. We've got a lot of eating to do! Gabriel is eight months today, and we started solids just over two months ago so 9/21 is not too bad of a showing for that schedule. And with Gabe's reflux, I've been reluctant to introduce him to foods which are reportedly gas-inducing or harder to digest like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc. But that little tummy matures every day, and this little man is getting ready for a real smorgasbord of food!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sooooooo Big.

Gabriel is 8 months old tomorrow. He crawls, pulls up, and is starting to cruise. He is babbling up a storm, and the little hairless boy I used to know is now growing a mop of auburn hair on that head. He's growing up so fast, and yet he's only eight months old! Where does the time go? I have a feeling I will be asking myself this question for the rest of my life.

Happy Weekend!

Posts on my bell pepper plant, my not so green thumb, and an update on hair mats for oil to come in the next few days.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Tonight, when my husband and I went into our nightly routine of trying to get the baby to bed by 9 (ha), Gabriel was having none of it. We don't do cry-it-out because we simply cannot handle it, but because Gabe is just about eight months old and he is starting to understand the concept of bedtime, we are starting to put him down and letting him fuss (not full out cry) 2-4 minutes before heading into his bedroom to console him. Up until last night, he never fell asleep in his crib on his own.

So this evening, when I went into calm my little one, he was on all fours, grabbing the sides of his crib and readying himself to pull up when I started to sing the only song in the rolodex that easily calms him at any time...

"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star..."

And after round twenty-two of the song, lowering my voice every round as I rubbed his back, eventually hitting a round of whispering the song, Gabriel fell asleep.

How sweet it is for your little boy to fall asleep soothed by your singing. I've been writing about Goober falling asleep lately, and maybe that's because my husband and I are starting to really miss our sleep. He is not sleeping through the night, waking between 11-1 to nurse, then sometimes again at 3, and finally between 5-7 to nurse or to get up for the day. We're tired. But those little sing-song moments make it sweet.
P.S. It seems Gabe had roseola. He broke out in a full rash today after his 3.5 days of fever. Poor little dude. It was all over him. And he got a bad diaper rash from his diarrhea (TMI)-- he's in a disposable (gasp!) tonight so that I could slather him in rash cream and surgilube.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Loving your Sick Baby


The dreaded word. I knew he had one as soon as I looked at him sitting on the ground on Saturday morning with slightly swollen eyes, slowly crawling to the futon to pull up just to make his whines more pronounced to his Mommy and Daddy. He wanted to say, "I'm sick."

So, with a 100.4 fever and some ear pulling, we took him to the doctor to be sure he did not have an ear infection.

No ear infection. Just a fever. And a mean case of the grouchies. We sort of let the fever ride to do its job until it hit 101, and then we offered him generic acetaminophen infant drops. But I did give him some after it had gotten a little lower, too, because he was just so uncomfortable. Nobody is happy when their body is aching and hurting, and I could tell my little one was in pain from somewhere.

I would have thought the pain and even the fever was just teething, but then he wouldn't eat his dinner. He nursed until the cows came home, but he had no interest in even his most favorite of favorites-- pears.

Stomach bug? It seems so, especially now that diarrhea is here. I'll spare the details, but let me just say cloth + diarrhea = scary. I called the doctor again to just check in re: that development and some things I saw that alarmed me, and Pedialyte was recommended. (Sidenote: I must sound like a concerned, worried, first-time baby Mama on the phone because every nurse I spoke to said, "Aww, it is so hard having a sick infant, I know." I really didn't mean to let onto the fact that I was stressed-- not a holy moly I'm going to explode kind of stress, but an I wish I could make this go away for you, sweetie kind.)

Now, I know many breastfeeding advocates are sort of against the use of Pedialyte for sick baby because Mommy's milk has pretty much anything a baby would need, but because of the diarrhea that alarmed me, I was fine with giving Gabe a little bit of it tonight between nursing sessions (He had maybe 4 oz. of it this evening in total). It didn't affect his appetite for milk, and hopefully it just was a boost beyond water to help replenish his little system. His is not dehydrated by any means-- or at least his wet diaper count is saying he is not-- but I was offering him water to help with hydration over the past few days, so with diarrhea hitting, it just followed to add in the electrolyte elixir.

So now, the little sick boy is sleeping after howling himself to sleep. Literally, he was sort of howling and moaning, not crying, as he cuddled into me to nurse, then his Daddy to wind down, then my arms to finally relax.

I stared down at him as I rocked him, sleeping in the dark silence of our bedroom, on the edge of our bed, and my eyes welled with tears. "I love you," I whispered down to him, and I kissed his little hot head. Then, I slowly rose from sitting, and tiptoed with my baby filling my torso so snuggled into my body we may as well been one. Gently, I placed him into his crib, lightly stroking his head as I prepared myself to leave the room.

I was reminded tonight that it can be hard to be a Mommy simply because you love your baby so, so much. And when you are the thing that offers your baby the solace and comfort to sleep despite the pain and aches, you feel overwhelmed with that duty of being a Mommy. Overwhelmed, with love.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Because Daddies blow the biggest bubbles.

Happy Father's Day

to my amazing husband on his first Father's Day,

to my wonderful Dad on his first as a Grandad,

and to all Daddies everywhere!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Things that Make Me Smile.

First of all, Trader Joe's puts together a little pack o' guacamole produce just the right size for a small get together. Yum.

Secondly, my Dad (as in, my Dad is super cool) sent me this blast from the past (1950s) today:

Clearly, I need to start drinking more beer so that I AND Gabriel can get a little pick me up. *Snicker Snicker*

Happy Weekend!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pump 'til You Drop.

Ever feel like your life revolves around breastfeeding and pumping?

Right now, I do. As in, I'm pumping while I watch Top Chef type this.

Why? Because the little man is taking a 7-8 oz. bottle while I work, and I'm getting 4-5 oz. when I pump at work. I pump after he eats in the morning (he used to eat off one side in the morning, but now he eats off both), and I get around 2 oz. that go straight to oatmeal.

So, if you do that math, you see our freezer stash is slowly shrinking. And now I'm pumping whenever I get a chance so that we don't fall behind.

It's the first time since about 2 months in that I'm feeling pressured about my supply. I am fine when he doesn't need a bottle (in fact, no matter how much I pump, Goober can always get more himself), but oh those bottles are knocking me out. I'm trying to just take a deep breath and stay hydrated.

Come on milk, keep it pumping!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Green Guilt: Refocusing Eco Efforts

As much as I am constantly trying to improve our family life to be healthier and greener, I have news for you: I'm not nearly perfect.

In fact, sometimes, I am careless, forgetful, and ignorant when it comes to being eco-friendly. Most of the time, I take my mistakes in stride and challenge myself to double my efforts.

But every once in awhile, I get a case of the green guilt, and I feel really icky and awful inside.

Some recent green pitfalls?

1. Bags. I have a serious forgetful problem when it comes to remembering our reusable bags to the grocery store. We seriously need to start bringing our bags. There is no more room for forgetting.

2. Coffee. Last week being my birthday weekend, I bought myself an iced coffee at Wawa. That coffee is not local, organic, fair trade, or remotely healthy. There's no reason why I can't buy some organic, fair trade coffee and brew it here to chill in our fridge for iced coffee fun. I worked in a cafe for a little while in college... it's really not hard to make your own iced coffee. And during the summer, my husband and I could drink iced coffee, decaf or caf, all day long.

So, am I alone or do you sometimes get a case of green guilt? Where do you make green mistakes? Where are you trying to focus your greening?

I am writing this post not as a lament, but as a way of refocusing our energy into some things we have not been doing. We do do lots of great things, from cloth diapering to boycotting the consumption of sold pre-packaged water (more on this later), but there is always something else to do. There's always a new green challenge ahead. This summer, I'm going to refocus with bags and coffee.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chlorine Free at the Moment We Wish to Be.

First of all, today is my birthday. So happy year 25 to me! I'm not a big birthday person so we didn't do much today, but it was great spending quality time with my boys. What else does a wife/Mom really need anyway?

Secondly, this was a weekend involving chlorine issues. As in, Gabriel went swimming for the first time...

We did use a FuzziBunz without the insert as his cloth swim diaper, and it worked just fine. He was not into the pool. I didn't really expect him to be because he isn't really excited by baths, either.

The other chlorine issue was our switch from regular old disposables to chlorine free disposables (we only use 'sposies when Gabriel is with his babysitter, and I always leave him in cloth so we use about 4 disposables per week). As a cloth diaper family, we might surprise you that we were using typical name brand "natural" diapers, but we were. And today we bought a pack of Seventh Generation chlorine free diapers. As far as disposables go, I really like them.

Gabriel wore one this afternoon (and you can see him in the process of pulling himself up to standing-- he is really on the move trying to cruise now) so I could sort of scout it out before we sent him off to the races with them. It worked just fine, it absorbs with all natural wood pulp, and it doesn't nauseate me with perfumes. Less chemicals = happier me. So that's all good.

And that was pretty much our weekend. I hope you all had some fun in the sun with or without chlorine, too!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Juice Boxes: Friend or Foe?

My husband and I inherited a red 1996 Thunderbird a few years ago, and my husband loves it. We bought a second car when I started working part-time because the amount of driving I would have to do in the morning would have been insane with one vehicle. Well, our precious little T-Bird decided to you know, um, die, last week so we are a one car household for a week or so. (We are so, so, so lucky that we are getting another car for a very minimal cost. Family is amazing.)

In any case, if I am driving, I am either listening to NPR or a random mix CD we burned for our drive to Shenandoah. I just love NPR. It's bursting with such interesting, diverse stories. And I cannot lie-- sometimes my most peaceful moment of the day is as I drive a snoozing Gabriel home from work, listening to All Things Considered, Fresh Air, you-name-it.

ANYWAY, in the annoying suburban traffic to and from dropping my husband off at the train and to and from work, babysitter, pediatrician, who-knows-what today, I listened to NPR as usual.

And then comes this story. About JUICE. About LEAD. ABOUT KIDDIE JUICE WITH LEAD IN IT. I wrote all that obnoxiously bigger because it is totally fine to start reading this entry from this point (especially if you are bored by my droning on an on about our family car issues and my potential unhealthy love of driving while listening to NPR.)

What's in my juice?

I write about making homemade babyfood all of the time. And when I hear stories like this, I am so glad I am trying to keep my kiddo on unprocessed, organic food made from scratch. Sure, I have given him organic banana puffs to help him learn the pincer grasp, and yes, we buy Earth's Best baby cereal because I just am not up for grinding oatmeal myself (who knows? maybe now that I wrote this I will feel challenged to try it), but most everything he eats is organic and made by Mommy.

But no matter how glad I am that most of what he eats right now is homemade organics, I know that as he gets older it will not only become easier to feed him processed food, but it is going to get more difficult to intercept the processed food from reaching him. And let it be known that the lead-contaminated juice mentioned in the NPR story was not just conventional juice-- some of it was organic. Organic food does not prevent all hell from breaking loose. (I do think homemade whole food has a lot to do with preventing bad food from getting into a child's diet, though.)

I started joking around that I wanted to get a juicer (I've wanted one for me for a long time) for the baby --so that he could have juice fresh from fruit without any added sugar-- just a little while ago. I say I joked about wanting it because when the words came out of my mouth to my husband, I thought, "Is this healthy or is this overprotective?"

And now I hear this story about LEAD in KIDDIE JUICE, and I think to myself, "NO! I am not being overprotective! Manufactured foods are RIDICULOUS."

I am sure there is more to come on this story, and I will keep on reading and educating myself, but suffice it to say, my husband stopped laughing about me asking for a juicer tonight.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Post in Which I Kick Myself.

I've been postponing the purchase of Gabe's first cloth swim diaper. He grows like a weed. I told myself-- at the end of May, weigh him and order one so he can debut with the pools. But did I order a swim diaper? No.

So yesterday and today I spent my afternoon attempting to find a place that first of all has any swim diaper in my son's size-- pretty much every cloth diaper baby boy in America must be between 21-30 pounds right now because just about every diaper for my almost 22 pound son is sold out. And then, ya know, I tried to find a diaper that I think is cute. And oh, we need this diaper, mmmm, Saturday... so how 'bout affordable 3 day shipping.

I guess maybe more than anything this little neglecting to order a swim diaper in a timely fashion is just a reminder that I am always behind anymore. I got so excited that I finally got the piles of clean laundry in our bedroom put away, but it doesn't take long for other things to start piling. I know it's mommyhood, but I wish I could keep up and keep a Martha Stewart-worthy home. More than anything, I just want a darn swim diaper solution. (If that's my biggest issue in life right now, I know I have it pretty good.)

So this post is a lament. And a call for help. Anyone have any swim diaper suggestions asap?! I pretty much refuse to buy a disposable swim diaper.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Artsy Babies Love Impressionism.

As a mother's/father's day present to my parents and ourselves, we made reservations to visit the Barnes Foundation. And Sunday was our lucky day.

A little background if you wish . . .

What is the Barnes Foundation?

"The Barnes Foundation houses one of the finest collections of nineteenth and twentieth-century French painting in the world. An extraordinary number of masterpieces by Renoir, C├ęzanne and Matisse provide a depth of work by these artists unavailable elsewhere. Established as an educational institution the Barnes carries out its mission teaching classes in its galleries and Arboretum. The Barnes welcomes visitors and students throughout the year."

Basically, this dude collected an insane amount of beautiful paintings (many of them by Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani, and Degas) and he displayed them in a home-setting amidst other amazing works of art, metal, bench, mask, or sculpture. After he died, craziness ensued and continues to ensue, but for now, the works are on display in a building on his home grounds.

What is so special about this collection?

Other than the simply overwhelming amount of acclaimed works, Barnes was clever in his presentation. He mixed time periods, etc. so that everything was presented as he felt was most aesthetically and thematically appropriate. The result? A breathtaking display of artwork and a truly overwhelming experience for visitors and viewers of the collection. There's also a garden and arboretum on the premises. (The photos in this post are from the Barnes Foundation garden.)

There is a huge ongoing dispute over the fact that this amazing collection is being transported from the home/museum in which it is currently residing (within a residential neighborhood in Lower Merion, PA) to a newly-constructed more accessible building on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, PA. (Having visited the Barnes twice in the past eight years, I do find myself incapable of understanding how the same majesty and timelessness of the visit and the overall ambience can be duplicated in another place.) Anyway, you can read about all that hubbadubdub here and even more in-depth here if you like.

Our Visit

So we visited the Barnes. And it was breathtaking. I must reiterate how happy I am that my husband and I have decided to get out with Gabriel rather than not. It took some extra care keeping a baby low volume in an art gallery, but we definitely received many more positive comments (as in, "he's beautiful," or, "how wonderful it is you are starting him with art so early,") than dirty looks (I'm not sure I noticed one actually). I am starting to get better at breastfeeding in public-- I don't have to hide in a corner to be discrete anymore. I guess after almost eight months, I should be getting the art of public nursing down, right? Besides, Barnes had at least three statues in the upstairs featuring breastfeeding so I think it was welcomed there. I'll keep telling myself that anyway.

Gabe was more engaged by the light fixtures than the artwork, but the occasional painting made him giggle. Gabe loved the garden. And he also loves his new book, Sharing with Renoir. It is quite appropriate after having been to the Barnes Foundation (Barnes owned 181 Renoir paintings at the time of his death. 181. I cannot fathom owning 181 anything. Well, maybe 181 cloth diapers would be nice...). He was given one of this book's sisters, Quiet Time with Cassatt, by my parents awhile ago. I love art so much-- I almost went to college for art, but I instead went the music route and then switched to writing (jack of all trades, master of what?)-- so it is very much up my alley to share my passion with the little guy.

We're hoping to get to Philadelphia's First Friday (all the galleries, especially in Olde City, are open for free in the evening, often debuting new collections) in July if it is not too hot so I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

We Flew Over to the Organic Farmstand.

Is there anything better than a pay-as-you-go farmstand?

We stopped by a local organic farm this afternoon for a fresh treat or two, and we decided to grab a little box o' peas. The box was $2.00. Not a bad deal for the freshest, sweetest eat-'em-like-you-see-'em little peas I ever tried. I cannot wait to cook some and mush them up for Gabriel!

We'll be visiting this farm quite a few times over the summer and fall so stay tuned for more fresh, local, organic produce posts!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Come Hike with Us. Shenandoah National Park: Big Meadows.

I'd like to say that "Come Hike with Us" will be a series. So here's the Shenandoah Big Meadows version.

With baby.

We did the Story of the Forest Trail on Saturday with my sisters and younger cousins. It was going well until a group of people warned they saw a bear and our group split up in opposite directions. I headed onward with one of my sisters, one of cousins, another family member, and the baby while my husband escorted two of my sisters and cousin (4 years old) back to the car.

Did we see the bear as we moved along? No. Was I worried about it? Slightly. No. Generally, black bears are not frazzled by people. They hear us coming, especially if we sing or are carrying a babbling, screeching, smiley baby, and move along to stay out of trouble. If the bear already crossed the trail without a care of the people on it, there's little reason this bear would shape up to trouble. I'll write a more detailed post on hiking and camping in bear country another time, but suffice it to say your chances of being attacked by a crazy bear are sort of the same as your chances of being attacked by a crazy person. Bears don't keep me out of the woods.

We started with Gabe in the stroller, but he was not happy headed down the rocks so we switched him over to the Moby Wrap. This was manageable for me, but I had to be extra careful with my footing. And we were not on a strenuous or even moderate trail, though we were in the mountains so some uphill/dowhill/rocks were in the path.

On Sunday morning, we did the Meadow Walk. It was at a perfect time of day... just after Gabe's oatmeal and fruit. He always gets very full, fussy, and sleepy, and if you handle the situation just right (which I do not always do), he goes down for a nap. And he did. Right in his stroller on the way into the meadow. He woke up in the middle of the talk, and he was happy to watch the grass roll by him. It gave me some time to shoot some nature photography, a hobby of mine that I love (I only use a point and shoot for now, though). Here are my faves from the Meadow Walk...

A carpet of bluets in the meadow.

Well, hi there, spider.

Without baby.

So sweet of my sister, she offered to babysit Gabe so that my husband and I could go hike alone for a few hours on Sunday. With our anniversary on the 31st, it was awesome to have some time alone and to get out on a trail much more our speed.

It was certainly a challenge for me to hike the Lewis Falls Trail's switchbacks because I have sort of fallen off my strict work out routine (I am down 57 pounds since I had Gabriel, though-- 50 of those were pregnancy pounds), but it felt so good to do it.

What's more romantic than a trail bathed in mountain laurel?

It was like returning to my old self again, and I think every woman needs to feel like they've returned to themselves at some point after having a baby. That hike was my little moment, and it certainly gave me the itch to get backpacking asap (this will not happen until Gabe is headed toward being weaned, which will probably really hit hard -at this rate and with G's hardcore love of food- in October of this year).

The view looking left on Blackrock.

My husband and I love hiking, and we are by no means limited by having Gabe around-- we are happy to tote him on adventures-- but we cannot do hikes like the Lewis Falls Trail with him. No strollers or wraps make that a safe trip. Anyway, our little Sunday hike was a 3.3. mile loop of awesome, complete with a moment at an amazing overlook just to ourselves. *Oh swoon.*

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shenandoah Go Green.

In this day and age, it only makes sense that a National Park's lodge function in an eco-friendly way. For the Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah, green efforts are par for the course when it comes to hotel happenings.

A. The housekeeper only will replace your sheets if you place a specific card on your bed asking for it. Otherwise, he or she makes your bed nice and neat, but you reuse and reduce wash loads. This makes TOTAL sense. Who changes their sheets everyday anyway?

B. The housekeeper only replaces your towels if you place them in a pile on the floor of your bathroom. If you hang your towels after use, you give the message you will reuse them. Other than the need for a washcloth or two, it was no prob for us to skip the new towels.

C. Recycle by collecting paper, plastic, and glass items in this handy dandy little hamper. Sweet!

D. In the shower, a dispenser reduces on hotel shampoo, conditioner, and soap waste. It's just not neccessary to have the little trinkets to bring home, and this way, the housekeeper can stock up your room's soaps and let them be.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Riding in Cars with Babies

Let's just start at the very beginning, shall we? Our trip to Shenandoah National Park commenced on Friday in the early afternoon. David, my husband, took a half day, and I picked him up from the train to get a speedy start.

Well, speedy is not the word to use for our ride to Virginia on the Friday prior to Memorial Day. We crawled our way around Baltimore to I-81 South with a screaming baby, stopping three times for him to nurse and once to eat dinner over our ten-hour (from the time Goober was strapped in to pick up his Daddy from work) excursion.

Gabe looking fresh and happy after one of his three breaks on our ride down to VA.

Honestly, things went all right, but Gabe needed serious entertainment the entire time. As in, read me a book, talk to me, play peek-a-boo, show me how to clap and make me clap, play with me, give me different toys every 5 minutes, hum and bob your head to my favorite Baby Einstein CD, no-I-will-not-take-a-nap, entertainment.

Luckily, as he started to fuss from the ear-popping changes as we hit the rise in elevation up to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Skyline Drive, I grabbed a bottle for him to suck. And it quieted him down and soothed him so that my poor husband could focus on the somewhere around two feet of visibility in front of our car at 9 p.m. Ironically, my parents pulled out of the Skyland Resort's parking lot (where they, all of my sisters and parents ate dinner because they all got there way ahead of us) as we scuttled along the Drive to the Big Meadows Lodge (where we all stayed), and my Dad was particularly impressed with Dave's driving in fog/cloud skills. My husband is unusually talented at no street lamp mountain fog driving. I'd say that's a great skill to have.

A view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Skyline Drive

The drive home was much, much better. I credit that to Gabe's behavior always being better earlier in the day, the fact that Gabe took two naps on the way home, and that the traffic was drastically reduced. We also were able to enjoy the complete drive and views along Shenandoah's Sklyline Drive on the way home, which we could not remotely see on the way to the lodge.

I will say that Gabe, was not always the most behaved on the way home... when he wants to be held, he does not take "We'll get to the next exit for you to nurse, honey," very well. You can see that whole picture below.

Anyway, it took us just over six and one half hours to get home, stopping just once per Gabe's feeding cues-- much better than the original ten!

My husband, Gabe, and I have all been pretty tired since we got home. Gabe went down to bed by 9 p.m. last night *gasp* and only got up once to nurse around 11:30, and then slept on until 7 a.m. I went to bed at 9:30 p.m., which is usually impossible and extremely unlike me to do. I still felt exhausted 7 a.m., and I am very tired now. My husband is in the middle of a summer semester of grad school, so add in all his driving over the past week with work stress, grad papers, and being a Dad/husband, and you can imagine how tired he is right now. So we're all headed to bed! We've got another roadtrip coming up in August when we go on vacation to Vermont so we'll see how that ride goes.

As for Shenandoah, I'll be posting so much more on the specifics of our trip. It was a beautiful weekend. **Spoiler Alert** My husband and I even got to do a 3.3 mile hike by ourselves!

We're back!

And I have so much to share about exploring Shenandoah with baby in tow. I'm working on getting photos together for a great little guide to our 3-day away.

Big non-Shenandoah news?

A. Gabe is only biting once (if that) per day now. Woohoo! We made it through.

B. Yesterday was our (my husband and I) second wedding anniversary. I love him so much. There he is above, admiring a view from Blackrock.

Much more to come...