Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring, Here to Stay?

Despite my having to de-ice the car this morning, this afternoon turned out perfectly springy: sunny and warm-- perfect for a walk in the park across the street! I just got this little hat from my cousin Caroline, and it was a perfect addition to Eowyn's outfit (Thanks, Nina for the super-cute pants!). I think she's got her Tia Anna's fair skin, as a previous excursion led to light sunburn on her forehead! Anyway, she was content the whole walk, and ready for a nap by the end of it, as you can tell by her zoned-out-paci pictures. I can tell 2 more teeth are seriously coming in, because she's beginning to prefer the pacifier again, though her thumb is of course always available. =D

Newest Trick

Eowyn figured this trick out yesterday, and has been perfecting it all day today. It's especially gross when she does it in conjunction with being spoon-fed banana, as she did yesterday. lol. I also managed to capture her "looking-mad-scrunchy-face" habit at the very beginning of the clip. About two weeks ago she just started doing that. Maybe it's an experiment in facial control? Anyway, she's super-cute, and is non-stop-moving-unless-semi-comatose.

She wanted me to say this, too: "Happy Birthday, Great-Grandpa Presley!!" =D Hope you enjoy the video of our happy little girl!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Books I've Been Enjoying...

  • Percy Jackson series-Rick Riordan- Nicole introduced this one to me, through a gift of the first 3 for Ryan's 3^3rd (27th) birthday. I just borrowed the last 2 of the 5 from a family in our church and really liked them. Great nursing books =D... Entertaining, especially would be great for students learning about the Greek myths. One thing I didn't like is the fact that most of the kids are from broken homes, but that goes with the territory of Olympic gods and their forays with mortals. My favorite part is the Spinx satirizing the standardized method of testing (Book 4-- Battle of the Labyrinth). 3 1/2 stars.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato-Peel Pie Society, a book-club book that I think we ALL really enjoyed! Historical fiction about the Nazi occupation of the Channel isles. I didn't even know that there WERE islands in the English channel! It sparked great discussion and I gleaned several good quotes... but as I let my mama-in-law borrow it, I can't put any up- yet. The best part of the book is that it is laid out in the format of letters, which presented really fun ways of discovering characters and plot-line without being told outright (and it allowed for good stopping points, crucial when you're reading between burping sessions). As a wanna-be writer, I really like books that make me think "hmmm-- that author was really clever in how he presented that!" As I did in The Moonstone, which also has a variety of narrators, I enjoyed the variety of perspectives and narrative styles. 4 stars.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -JK Rowling-(again), I just cycled through the books again, and they are as good as ever. I discover more every time, especially since I've gotten How Harry Cast His Spell (formerly Looking for God in Harry Potter). These books never cease to resonate with and amuse me. I am convinced that it is because they so effectively echo the Great Story which God Himself is writing. (That's the whole premise of How Harry Cast His Spell). 5 stars
  • The Ranger's Apprentice, Books 5-6- John Flanagan,- another children's series introduced to me by my sister Nicole. At first I found the series' cultures to be too obviously based on real European countries and cultures (ie Gallica= France; Picta= Scotland...), but then I remembered that that might NOT be obvious to many of its intended readers, and would actually provide opportunities to let children experience them for themselves, as well as to poke fun or comment on them in a subtle way. The books get better as the series goes on, with narrative being less stilted and dialogue less forced (in my opinion). I'm looking forward to reading Books 7 & 8... whenever the library gets to me, or I can borrow them from that same family at church. 3 1/2 stars
  • Comforts from the Cross- Elyse Fitzpatrick- this is a devotional I'm going through as part of a ladies' book study at Immanuel. I know it's really good stuff, and it's in nice bite-sized chunks (which I especially like these days). The format has actually been good for discussion, too, which we weren't sure of at first. I'm praying that this book actually dents my hard heart, helps me care and not feel so mad at the world... that and maybe more sleep. I'm on Day 6 now-- we're supposed to read 5 "Days" every 2 weeks.
  • When I Don't Desire God- John Piper- excellent. The subtitle is "How to fight for joy," which is something I desperately need to do, and do want to do. So far it is a very readable book, especially for Piper, full of scripture and application. You either find Piper too thick or wonderfully rich; I personally find him amazing in chapter-sized doses or via audio. I'm on chapter 2 right now.
  • Spiritual Depression- M. Lloyd-Jones- a dear friend recommended this to me, and another one is lending it to me. So far it's been too heady for me to crack open, but then again I haven't had much energy or time to really try to crack it. There's a reason most of my reading list is on an 8th grade level right now! =D I'm on page... 1. =D
  • Mothers of the Wise & Good- full of encouraging anecdotes of mothers who made a difference through their faithfulness. My mom gave this to me when Eowyn was born, and it's been soooo encouraging. Quotes to come. My one wish as far as this book goes is that there be some stories of mothers of better-known people today (it's a reprint of a much older book), but still, it's a great source of resolve-strengthening. The writing is a little lackluster at times, I find, but it's not all about fancy turns of phrase, now is it? 4 stars.
  • How Harry Cast His Spell- John Granger- LOVE IT!! I got the first edition of this book from our public library and took it with me as plane reading to Paris. I just ordered it off Amazon and am now enjoying the updated chapters dealing with Book 7 especially. I do think some of Granger's "obvious" symbolisms aren't so obvious, but then again I don't have the breadth of knowledge that he does, so I leave that open. 4 1/2 stars.
  • Harry Potter's Bookshelf- John Granger- I can't wait to get into this, which is a book (which I love) about all the classic books (again, love 'em) in the Harry Potter series (you got it-- I love it, too!). I'm holding off reading it yet so I can fully enjoy it.
  • The Read-Aloud Handbook- got this today from the library and already LOVE it. Quotes to come! It outlines the benefits of reading aloud to your children, and recommends how to do it, and lists great read-aloud books by age-appropriateness. Seems like it would be a perfect new-baby gift, and a MUST for all families, especially those desiring to supplement their children's schooling (public or private). I really appreciated its section on 'why fiction?'
  • Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl- N.D. Wilson- a Christmas gift to me from Ryan, this is quite a unique find! Part philosophy, part science, part theology, and part hyperactive squirrel, all well-written and engaging. Thought-provoking; I can think of about 20 people I'd love to give this to. I'm still not quite finished with it... as you can see I've got a few books going at once. This one is so good that I'm trying to make it last! Really encouraging and helpful for the one trying to hear God in everything!
  • The Song of Albion- Stephen Lawhead- Ryan & I are reading this Christian fantasy aloud. It is different than Lawhead's other books so far, and we find it hilarious!! The narrator's descriptions and side comments make for excellent reading aloud. I hope the series' next 2 books are as fun! So far the book is set in modern England, but I know it's going to shoot backwards into Celtic mytholgy any minute now... oh yeah, can't wait.
  • Nourishing Traditions- Sally Fallon- yes, it's a cookbook =D, but as much of my time and energy is spent in feeding Ryan & I, and in planning how best to feed our precious daughter now that she's getting teeth, I thought it worthy of inclusion. This has been my go-to book for cooking various parts of the 1/8th a cow stashed in our freezer, as well as for guidelines on how to feed Eowyn. So far not one of the meat recipes in here have been a dud... the beef with chilis stew has delighted two sets of guests now!
  • A Life that Says 'Welcome'- Karen Ehman- a book I'm reading for my SWI class on "The Ministry of Hospitality." It's very readable. The first major point it's made has been that hospitality is primarily an attitude of the heart, not a system of organization or meal prep. Ouch. Not finished yet.
  • Great Food FAST! - Martha Stewart- another cookbook. =D On loan from a friend, but I think I'm gonna invest in it if I can. It's main draw for me is that it's seasonal!!! The recipes look wonderful, healthy, and uncomplicated while not insulting my intelligence. I'll let ya know...
Ok, little miss fussy-britches is stirring. Diaper duty, methinks!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Naps at 6 mos?

So... Eowyn seems to be outgrowing her 3-hour feeding/nap schedule now... but I'm really not sure how to try to adapt it. She's just now going all night without nursing, still having a dream-feed at 10ish and waking for a feeding at 5 am (or 4...yuck)... so I'm loathe to do anything to get her waking up more, but I think she is trying to tell me that she doesn't need to eat as often during the day-- right now she tends to just eat a little at certain feedings and then scarf food down at the next. Partly I think she's just getting really interested in everything around her, but I'm kinda at a loss as to schedule ideas.

One more complicating factor is my job 2 days a week. We have to leave at 7:10, drive for 1/2 an hour, and we leave school at 12:50ish, and drive at least 1/2 an hour home. She often falls asleep in the car, and then won't usually stay asleep or nap once we get home. I can nurse her between 7:45 & 8:15 and 10:30 & 11:30.

Suggestions welcomed!!!

Breast is Best?

I've been doing a good deal of reading up on nursing, feeding babies, and all that's related. We've got so many pregnant, nursing and weaning mamas around us here in Louisville that it's a constant field of study! =D

[Speaking of studies... One day when I'm grown up, I definitely want to try and track what dietary factors in the mother, prior to conception & during pregnancy, influence acid-reflux in babies. There's got to be some common denominator... some reason as to why some babies' digestive systems are immature, or why some moms have so much milk that it causes them to flood their babies out! I've got some ideas-- genetics (duh), being delivered too early (via induction, for instance, or a mom's illness); a factor affecting babies during the development of the stomach or intestinal tract in-utero (when is that, anyway?); the flooding of hormones into mainstream dairy & meat (if it makes cows give 5x as much milk as normal, what's it doing to us?)-- but nothing really to go on yet. Maybe someone out there will steal my question and do a whole dissertation on it... how cool would that be!? If anyone reading this knows of a book or article on the subject, please let me know!!!]

Sorry for that aside.

My real point in this post is to link to some articles regarding breast-feeding and its pitfalls. Several of my friends here and abroad have had real difficulties nursing their babies. Some were sabotaged by well-meaning nurses or doctors-- giving babies sugar-water in the hospital instead of allowing them to suckle their moms, or advising a mom to supplement with formula from the first day or two since her "milk wasn't adequate" (of course it wasn't adequate at first-- it hadn't come in!!), others seem to struggle despite everyone's commitment and best efforts. A few resources:

1. the Lact-Aid or supplemental nursing system (SNS)-- this seems a wonderful first step if a mom's having difficulty producing enough milk, but I can't speak from experience. It's basically a bottle that hangs around the mom's neck with tubes going down to her breast. The baby suckles at the breast and gets the supplement (either formula or expressed milk) as well as any breast milk there is, and also stimulates the mom, signaling a need for more milk. I haven't had to use it myself, but they claim that adoptive mothers have been able to start producing breastmilk for their babies this way, so I'm guessing it does work really well for some people! If you've used it, please comment!!

2. Article on lactation-friendly diet. If you are nursing or will one day attempt it, READ THAT ARTICLE!!! =D Since milk is made from and only from whatever is in the mom's body, it stands to reason that her diet THE crucial factor in defining her milk's nutritive content. Nursing moms not only need more calories, but more saturated fat, and more vitamins & minerals, especially iron and vitamin D, which are most often lacking in human breastmilk. I was really surprised when my doctor recommended I give Eowyn supplemental vitamin D, because it made more sense for me to take it, but most people don't think that way, I guess. It wasn't until I did some research that I was reassured that maternal supplementation DOES make it into the breast milk! The linked article is great at giving suggestions in this regard.

3. Articles on home-made formulae. If I wasn't in a community full of healthy nursing mothers whom I trusted, I'd really want to have this available. As it is, if I was struggling with milk production, I probably would ask several friends for some supplemental breastmilk to put in the SNS, just so I KNEW I had a back-up for a while, as I scarfed down whole fat dairy products, liver, and eggs. Apparently, relaxing really does wonders for milk production, and have no qualms against the old practice of "wet-nurses." But if I knew I wouldn't be able to nurse a baby long-term (foster care or personal illness), I'd probably make home-made formula, which mimics mother's milk really closely. I know of several babies who receive the milk-based formula I just linked to, and they are thriving. (for those with questions on the safety aspects of making your own formula, read this oh and in France, we were so pleasantly surprised to find raw milk in stores!! Just sitting there, ready to be drunk. The clerks looked at me sooo strangely when I asked if that milk had been pasteurized, just to be sure I was reading the label correctly!)

4. Some common milk-supply boosters (official term 'galactagogue': fenugreek, mother's teas)

I think we tend to put guilt on mothers who can't breastfeed, when this article makes it clear that some women really are genetically handicapped in this way. As the author points out, in nature some female animals are better milkers than others. (yes, I just compared myself to a cow...) Certainly there's always been variation from mom to mom on how much milk she makes. But what's exciting to me is finding out how many resources there are to minimize or even cure that condition, from lact-aids to galactagogues to nutritious homemade formulae. Most critical, I think, though, is the understanding of the diet that successful breast-feeding requires. Even if a mom makes enough milk, she may not make very nutritious milk, if she's eating the standard american diet.

Anyway, hope that is helpful to someone out there. If it isn't, store it against the day when it might be! :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

6 mos old and BIG HAPPENINGS!

Eowyn celebrated her half-birthday yesterday with her first fruit-- avocado!! I prepared it with a little lemon (I've since learned that all citrus should be reserved until babies are over 1 year old... oops. Sorry, baby! =D) and a bit of sea salt (really good for babies' brains). I hoped she would like it, but really didn't know. I've eaten it a lot since her conception, so she's surely gotten a LITTLE bit of its flavor... and, she liked it!

She must have known it was a big day because she also started scooting around. Whereas before, she'd do maybe a centimeter and then get tired, today she started really going for stuff! It's a combination of "the worm" (up on all 4s, then a forward lunge. Repeat.), army-crawl, and reaaaaaaching. Since then she's added rolling repeatedly to her repertoire, and she's really getting around! We are having to have sessions of "no touch" training, since she LOVES the air vents on the floors and would happily lick them all day. Yuck.

I also gave her her first bath in the BIG TUB using her new bath seat (thanks again David & Sofie!). I tried a tub bath at my friend Jenny's last Friday, and this was a very very very unpopular decision. Eowyn screamed and was totally terrified. We figured out that it must be the tub itself. Having the water a tad warmer than she's used to didn't help. Since her baby tub has gotten too small, I pulled out the bath seat and have been letting her play in it in the tub, fully clothed. This was scary, but as long as I was touching her and she had a rubber ducky, she was ok. Tonight I actually got in WITH her and held her next to the seat first. When she adjusted to that I put her in the seat. Again rubber duckies-- one per fist, and usually also in mouth-- were essential to retaining composure. That and Mommy keeping some degree of skin-to-skin contact. We had a whole bath, though, with no prolonged tears!! Maybe next time I won't have to get wet...

I was quite tired at the end of the day (although at least she is sleeping through the night now). As I put her to bed, Ryan came in and just grinned at us. He shook his head and quipped "she is gonna run you ragged!" Definitely a mover and a shaker... and a GRABBER!! She's always been really active (my ribs still remember this. I don't thing my spleen will ever be the same.), and now she's got coordination to DO something will that energy! It's obvious that her vision and motor control are just taking off, and she is absolutely thrilled about it. She's the grinniest, happiest baby ever! What a gift!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

She's definitely learned object permanance...

Now she gets upset when you take something from her. Especially spoons. Even if she's totally gagging herself with them.

Baby, please learn that everything we do is for your own good! :D

Thursday, March 11, 2010

5 Mos Old

Dear Eowyn,
Every month that the Lord gives you to us brings such joy! You just get more fun every day! You're learning and growing by leaps and bounds, and Daddy & I could easily spend hours watching you each day. You're getting more responsive to us; you play Peek-a-Boo and almost laugh when we say "Boo!," you greet us with that newly-toothy grin, you reach for toys and tell us you want to stand up by throwing yourself straight back. You cry when Mama leaves you, although Daddy is a suitable substitute if you aren't watching and/or cranky when she walks out. You love to lay on your back and kick your legs-- I marvel that your heels don't get sore! You roll over from your back to your front over and over, and have even rolled from your front to your back in pursuit of a toy. You are a crazy sleeper these days, rolling and rotating all over your crib! You often wake up unhappy to be on your back, or pressed against the crib's bars, or chilly because all your covers are underneath you. Sigh. Please stay warm and happy so we can all sleep, ok?

You've really turned a corner in your eating. You usually eat happily, quickly, and let me sit down most of the time! You are intrigued by spoons and are getting the hang of eating your egg yolk from one, instead of sucking it off Mommy's finger. You get really excited when you see your spoons and try to grab it! Your tummy is learning to stay closed, too, which is highly exciting for everyone who loves you. You still spit up, but not nearly so copiously. You don't seem bothered by your tummy, either. You have become such a contented, smily baby, though you don't laugh much at all. Some day (and Daddy & I keep trying and hoping it will be THIS day)!!

You are starting to actually enjoy your toys. Everything goes in your mouth. You really like to suck your thumb WITH a piece of fabric either over your thumb or alongside it, be the fabric bib, blanket, burp cloth, shirt, or bunny ears. You like your Sophie the Giraffe a lot, as well as your "DouDou" bunny. You started liking your pacifiers much more during your teething, as I guess chomping on your own thumb got painful once your teeth came through! Speaking of teeth, I thought I'd miss your gummy smiles, but those two little bottom teeth are sooooo cute! And are you working on a third?

You like to play under your arch, and when that gets old you like to sit in your bumpo seat so as to better reach the toys (for eating, of course). You also like your swing, being tied on Mommy's hip, going for walks, and being free to watch Mommy work. Everything goes in your mouth, and as long as you have something to watch and chew, you're happy! I play lots of music for you-- Scottish piping reels, Spanish dancing songs, hymns, madrigals, and classical music. We'll hope you grow up with good rhythm and pitch! I wonder if you notice that I speak to you in Spanish when it's the two of us, or that for a week you heard French all around you. Probably not. One day!

I love you, little munchkin...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Translation because I'm a nerd... Can't resist dialects and idoms!

"The knight (referring I think to "Bonnie Prince Charlie"), being fearless, did march down to Bristle Brae
Through Tranent (town in East Lothian, Scotland) ever he did stand as fast as he could go
While General Cope (English general who was ordered to raise troops and put a stop to the Jacobite uprising) did taunt and mock with many a loud hurrah,
Before the cock crowed the next morn we heard another crow

The brave Lochiel (Donald Cameron of Lochiel, 19th Chief of clan Cameron, who aided Bonnie Prince Charles in his effort to take over) as I heard tell, led Cameron (meaning clan Cameron) on in clouds man
The morning fair with clear air, they let loose with devilish thuds man
They threw down their (the English's) guns, drew their own swords, and soon did chase them off man
On Seaton's crafts (referring to the hills around Port Seton, maybe?) they burst their jaws and made them run like crazy man

The bluff dragoons swore by God's blood and wounds that they'd make the rebels run man
And yet they fled when they saw them, and wouldn't fire their guns man
They turned their backs, taken with fits- such terror siezed them a' man
Some wet their cheeks some fouled their breeches and some fainted for fear man

Smith* made such haste by spurring his beast 'twas little there he saw man
To Berwick he rode and safely said "the Scots are rebels!" a' man
He didn't stand still until he got over Soutra Hill, before he tasted meat man
Long may he brag about his swift nag that bore him away so quickly man

But Gardner* brave did still behave like a hero bright man
His courage true, like him were few, that still despised flight man
For king and laws and country's cause in Honour's bed (dying in battle) did fall man
His life but not his courage fled while he had breath to draw man

At yon thorn tree that you may see beneath the meadow mill man
There's many slain lie on the plain the clans pursuing still man
Such uncouth whacks and deadly hacks I never saw the likes man
Their actions cost those that fell near Preston Dykes their hands & hides, man"

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Those Men That God Made Mad

"The [Celts:] men that God made mad.
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad." --G.K. Chesterton

Except their warsongs, of course!! I am LOVING this one (an account of the Battle of Prestonpans, from the 2nd Jacobite rising, in which the royal English troops fled in terror from charging Highlanders, accompanied- of course- by loud pipes) on my new Tannahill Weavers CD! E & I are dancing to it... Enjoy the words. I LOVE the brogue!! Oh to know how to dance to pipes and pennywhistles... Here is the Tannahill Weaver's abbreviated version of the popular "Trenet Muir"

"The chevalier being void o' fear did march doon Birsle Brae man
Through Tranent e'er he did stent as fast as he could gae man
While General Cope did taunt and mock wie many a loud hurrah man
E'er next morn proclaimed the cock we heard another craw man

The brave Lochiel as I heard tell led Cameron on in cloods man
The morning fair and clear the air they loosed wie devilish thuds man
Doon guns they threw and swords they drew and soon did chase them aff man
On Seaton's crafts they burst their chafts and gart them run like daft man

The bluff dragoons swore blood and oons they'd mak' the rebels run man
And yet they flee when them they see and winnae fire a gun man
They turned their backs the fit tae crack such terror siezed them a' man
Some wet their cheeks some fyled their breeks and some for fear did fa' man

Smith* made sic' haste sae spurred his beast 'twas little there he saw man
Tae Berwick rade and safely said the Scots were rebels a' man
O'er Soutra Hill ere he stood still afore he tasted meat man
Lang may he brag on his swift nag that bore him aff sae fleet man

But Gardner* brave did still behave like to a hero bright man
His courage true, like him were few, that still despised flight man
For king and laws and country's cause in honours bed did fa' man
His life but not his courage fled while he had breath tae draw man

At yon thorn tree that you may see beneath the meadow mill man
There's many slain lie on the plain the clans pursuing still man
Sic' unco whacks and deadly hacks I never saw the likes man
Lost hands and heids cost them their deeds that fell near Preston Dyke man"

*Lt Smith later charged the songwriter to a duel over this!
*Col Gardiner stayed despite the massacre going on around him, and the mass retreat, fighting heroically (near a white thorntree) alongside Sir Thomas Hay of Park, who survived. A servant carried him to the parsonage where he died in the night from his wounds.

Unfortunately for them, the Jacobites pretty much gave up when their intelligence incorrectly surmised that a huge English/German (Hanoverian) army would block their advance to London. Oh well.

Eowyn, I promise I will spin you stories to put steel in your spine, sing you songs that put wings in your feet, and surround you with joy enough to make you want to dance. May your faith outshine mine, your words outrhyme mine, and your steps outdance mine. Dance in tune to the song of the Stars, who still whirl in step to His Song.