7 months

The seventh month has definitely been our best one so far with Harper. The other day we ran into this couple at the UPS store who had a 2-month-old baby and I was reminded of how different Harper is now than she was at that age, and how much easier our lives are now that she’s a little older.

She is so curious and interactive. She has a smile for everyone, so we are constantly stopping everywhere we go so she can make eyes at someone at the next table, behind us in line, etc. She has completely taken down the invisible walls that go up between strangers here.

She is an instant conversation starter. I never realized how many other people had babies! We always used to joke that it seemed like more people had dogs. Actually, I think that is a recordable fact in SF, but still.

People always say, “oh she is such a happy baby!” and I love that. Sure, we have our dramatic moments, but mostly she is a pudgy, giggly, adorable little goofball.

We started feeding her more solid foods this month. She hasn’t had a reaction to anything so far, so we just keep introducing new things. She loves getting pieces of fruit in a mesh baggie because she gets to feed herself. She likes carrots, avocados and bananas.

We’ve started giving her bits of our food at restaurants, so she’s already had Chinese and Indian (the non-spicy stuff). It’s nice that she can sit on our laps or in a high chair at restaurants so we can at least attempt to eat at the same time.

She still doesn’t show much interest in crawling, but she can sit up really well and lean over to reach for things. She is super grabby — for my hair, my glasses, whatever is on the table in front of her, or her favorite thing, paper. She’s not allowed to chew on napkins because she eats them!

Her legs are super strong and she loves to stand with our help. I don’t think she’s far from standing by herself with something to balance on.

The big change this month is that she got her first teeth. One bottom tooth popped through and then the other. Pretty soon she will have that ridiculously adorable two-bottom-teeth grin.

We had a couple rough nights when the teething seemed to really bother her, but generally it has not been too bad. I picked up some homeopathic remedies at Pharmaca, and the teething tablets seem to help a lot.

After feeling stretched super thin and longing for some family help and closeness the past few months, I’ve finally started to feel a little more comfortable on our own. The gloomy summer days (weird, I know) have passed and now each day when the fog clears it feels like we have our little piece of paradise here.

We’ve starting putting Harper in the stroller and exploring our neighborhood more — we’re always bumping into our neighbors strolling their kids around. It feels more like home than it ever has. And when we look around at our beautiful bay views dotted with sailboats, the cute park down the street, our neighborhood food truck gathering, the pool where she’ll probably take her first swimming lessons, it seems like not such a bad place for her to grow up. At least for a while.

One step at a time

So far my plan to lose the baby weight has not been a smashing success. I thought I was ready, but in hindsight I wasn’t quite there yet. I improved on the exercise front, but not so much on the diet part. (Uneven sleep has been a big roadblock.)

But this week, I’m doing better. Tuesday morning, after a good night’s sleep, I put on my running shoes and decided to jog a little bit. I felt like I had bricks strapped to my shoes, but I managed to get in about 10 minutes of actual running.

Wednesday I went again, and was up to 12+ minutes. This morning I rode the bike trainer downstairs. I’m thinking that if I keep changing up my routine I will stay interested in it. It sure is nice to have a half hour to myself in the mornings, and I know Mike likes to get in some extra time with Harper. With the incredible weather we have, I certainly can’t use that as an excuse.

As has happened in the past, the exercise seems to have helped me eat better. I’ve been able to skip a lot of temptations this week and focus on other things. I think it really helps in this process to give yourself something to lose, as in progress made with exercise.

Passing on toys from childhood

While we were in Denver my mom brought out a bunch of toys, clothes and books from when Megan and I were little. Of course it was very sentimental stuff, so I took some of it home with me, including this bag that used to hold wooden blocks.

Blocks have become a lot softer and squeakier since I was a kid, but it’s nice to keep them in something so sweet. I love thinking of someone hand stitching those letters to the bag.

6 months

Half a year, wow.

As Mike and I were putting Harper in her high chair for the first time and removing the car seat attachment from her stroller, we both sort of looked at each other like “I can’t believe this is happening.” Six months definitely feels like a time of transition. Onto sitting up, rolling over, solid foods. And while I certainly don’t have any desire to return to the stress of her early babyhood, I feel a little bit like I’m not ready to move on yet. But she is, so we move on.

This month we learned that Harper can roll over. But luckily for me she doesn’t have much interest in it. It’s great to see her pushing up and sitting up more, though she’s still pretty tippy.

Still no teeth. I think I can see the bottom two right under the surface of her gums, so they’ll probably pop through soon.

We’ve had fun figuring out what makes her giggle. Sometimes it’s a barrage of kisses, sometimes clapping, sometimes her toy dog.

Though she has a million toys, her favorite objects seem to be everyday things, especially crinkly wrappers or empty water bottles.


This is what you call excellent parenting. 

If five months was the month of upheaval, six months has been one of leveling out. We did some sleep training, which got her back to almost sleeping through the night. With travel and what seems like a growth spurt, she still wakes up one extra time most nights, but we can live with that. It’s funny what constitutes a good night’s sleep nowadays.

This month has given me some perspective on last month. Basically I know now that I am not a person who can live on long-term sleep deprivation and stay sane. I have to do some things to take care of myself so that I can be a good mom. There has been a lot of discussion on my moms email group about nurturing relationships while you have young children, and it’s been nice to read the suggestions for that too. I think we’re getting closer to a point of comfort in leaving Harper a little longer with someone else.

When I am finally (relatively) well-rested, I can really enjoy the time we get to spend together. These are days full of bouncing, jingling, drooling, chewing, babbling, giggling, eating and sleeping. They are full of ups and downs — bored to tears of the same toys one minute, stressed with a screamer the next minute. But I still can’t imagine being anywhere else than with my girl as she grows up.

The other day I found this photo of her from when she was really little.

I couldn’t believe how much darker her hair was then. It’s gone through every color — light brown, red, auburn — and now it’s sort of strawberry blond.

She’s cute as a button and such a charmer. I can’t wait to see what the next month will bring.

Body after baby

Now that Harper is 6 months old and starting solids, and my breastfeeding load is lightening, I think it’s time to focus on losing the baby weight. Honestly, I haven’t tried at all, so I think any effort would be helpful at this point. I have really enjoyed all the indulgences, but I’m feeling tired of carrying around the extra weight and eager to get back into all the clothes I used to wear.

I gained 43 pounds with the pregnancy. I was on track to gain about 35, but the last month was just nuts. With all the stress of the first month after Harper was born, I pretty quickly lost 30 of those pounds. But then I basically stayed there, and maybe even gained back a couple pounds.


“Mom, let’s do this thing.”

When you know you’re supposed to be eating extra calories for breastfeeding, it’s kind of confusing to know what and how much to eat. I couldn’t do the cleanse I normally do every January, so I missed out on my “jump start” this year. Then when everyone in my moms group went back to work, my exercise routine kind of died down, too.

My body has definitely changed post-pregnancy. I can feel my ab separation (creepy!) so I have that pooch that makes me look like I’m still pregnant. I totally see why you would look pregnant sooner the second time around. And speaking of that, why bother trying to fix the separation if you’re just gonna have more kids in the near future? I think the only goal that makes sense is just overall weight loss. And maybe trying to get some core strength back.


Feeling too much like a ‘before’ picture.

So here’s my plan to revive some healthy habits:

• Try to focus on eating healthy during the week and save splurges for weekends. I still need some extra calories so I don’t need to be super strict. But I think this is a very practical way to cut back on excess.

• Eliminate daily desserts. The sugar is always what gets me stuck in the overeating cycle. I’ve already cut back some and I can tell a difference.

• Watch portion control. I’ve allowed myself a lot of seconds during the eating-for-two phase, but I think I need to be done with that.

• Try to add more fruits/veggies and drink some green juice. I’ve been buying some green juices, but I think I might get a Nutribullet. I love my juicer, but it’s a pain to clean, and our blender isn’t strong enough to pulverize the greens.

• Review my old recipes. I learned a lot from doing cleanses before, so I have a pretty good resource in my own blog. I’ve been looking back at my nutrition posts, and finding some inspiration there.

• Switch the emphasis on meal planning from easy to healthy. Of course, anything I make still has to be relatively easy. But how I eat during the week all starts with planning and shopping. I’ve been trying to buy more healthy snacks too (hummus, trail mix, whole wheat fig bars and the like) so I always have good choices around me.

• Bring back my exercise grid. I kind of dropped this once I got mired in morning sickness, but it worked wonders for me before. I just check off boxes for the equivalent of 30 minutes of exercise each day.

• Set up the bike trainer in the basement. This way I have a built-in exercise machine I can use anytime.


The grid doesn’t lie.

• Invite moms to walk with me. There are still a few of us home all or part-time, so I need to take some initiative in getting us together.

• Dare I say try running again? It sounds weirdly appealing. I think it’s the “me time” aspect. Hey, whatever gets you to run.

• Find a yoga or pilates class to take occasionally. Money is tight with Mike taking Fridays off, but I think it would be worth the investment to take some classes.

So I think between all those things I ought to at least be able to shed the 13 pounds, and maybe eventually more. I know sleep is key to getting your weight under control, and that’s always a factor with a baby, but we’re making progress.

Loving: Ikea kids stuff

The other day we went to Ikea to get Harper a high chair. I couldn’t help but notice how adorable all the toys in the kids section were. And so cheap! (Isn’t that what you always say until you get to the checkout line?)

I know her grandpa already has his eye on the play kitchen, but I have a feeling we’ll be filling a cart with some of these other toys when she gets a little older.

1. Children’s tent, $19.99
I bet that pays for itself over and over.
2. Market stand, $14.99
Lemonade stand/puppet theatre? Yes!
3. Easel, $14.99
This plus a $5 paper roll seems like it could be hours and hours of fun.
4. Small Poang chair, $29.99
Every time I see this in the store I want it. We have the big one, too.
5. Doll furniture, $12.99
Everything in miniature. So cute.
6. Swivel chair, $89.99
A little pricey, but I’m sure it beats designer versions.
7. Mini kitchen, $99.99
Any child of ours must know how to cook, so she might as well start practicing!
8. Doll bed with linens, $19.99
I have to admit, I kind of want this for myself.
9. Table and 2 chairs, $19.99
I can’t imagine kids treat their furniture well, so that’s about what you want to pay for a tiny set.

Mile-high fun with the family

Now that my dad, stepmom, sister and uncle all live in Denver, we thought we would make a trip out there to visit them. I love Colorado in the summertime. It’s definitely warmer than it is here, but still cooler than some of the other places we’ve lived. So it was a nice change of pace.


Dad played guitar for Harper. She loves it. 

Plus, we had all those extra arms to hold Harper and keep her entertained. Now that was a vacation!


Fun times with great-uncle Steve. He always knows how to get a kid to laugh.

The first night Megan took us out for a dinner at this quirky bar in Broomfield called The Old Man. We were a little skeptical at first — we all got carded but there were lots of kids playing outside in back. Family place or party bar? But once we got our food we were totally won over.

They specialize in heaping plates of barbecue. We tried brisket and pulled pork. But the best part was the appetizer — tater tots smothered in green chili.


Totally weird and totally awesome.

While we were in Denver we also checked out the mile-high flea market and took Harper to the pool in my dad’s development.

The little boat thing was a spontaneous purchase, but it totally worked. Plus it folds up small enough to fit in a suitcase.

We attempted to take a family photo. Harper was pretty tired and cranky by that point, but we tried to make it work.

I like this outtake.

We also wanted to give ourselves a Boulder day, so we all gathered for breakfast at the Buff.

You know you’re in a college town when you can get a mimosa for $1!

Harper showed off her present from auntie Megan, an “I dance for cupcakes” onesie from Tee and Cakes. (Later we stopped there for dessert and coffee — still amazing).

We did our little knitwear photo shoot on Pearl Street. Harper helped.

They had so many pretty flowers. It was the perfect backdrop for photos.

I’m glad to see it’s still such a fun place to hang out, shop, eat, watch street performers.

On our last day in Colorado, Mike and I decided we needed a little time to ourselves so we left the baby with her grandparents and drove up Boulder canyon.

We spotted some climbers, little dots on the side of a mountain.

Unfortunately Boulder Falls was closed due to falling rocks. I would have loved to hike down there, but not badly enough to risk getting hit by a rock.

So we just kept driving, up to Nederland and then back to Denver the long way. It was so nice and quiet back there. Almost no other cars.

It’s really hard to find anywhere that isn’t crowded where we live, so this was really relaxing.

It was so great to see everyone. I didn’t get photos of this, but we also got together with old friends one night. Wish we could have stayed longer, but now we’re back to reality!

Bits and bobs from July

I know people always say this, but how the heck did it get to be August already? I have a bunch of photos to post from our trip, but I wanted to post the rest from the month of July before I do that.

Mike and I had our first date afternoon without the baby, which was really nice. His coworker watched Harper while we had lunch, ice cream, and went to a museum. We ate at Burma Superstar in Temescal, which was a lot less crowded in the afternoon than it normally is. We shared a rainbow salad, which is a mix of too many things to mention, but pretty tasty. They toss it all together at the table for you.

Then we walked down the street and got ice cream from Tara’s. I got the carrot cake, super yum.

I’m getting more and more used to the idea of leaving Harper with someone else, so I think there are more dates in our future. Hooray!

This is random, but I just noticed that on the back of our coffee bean bag there are these little notes about women’s roles in the company. Good to know.

I’ve been playing around with some new apps. I really like Over for adding words to your photos.

And speaking of berries, have you ever seen sunshine raspberries? I saw one package at the store and had to get them. They’re really good.

And finally, I had to share this picture of all the babies at my recent moms gathering. This is probably the last time they’ll sit still long enough for us to put them in a neat circle.

Cloth diapers

Now that we’ve been using our cloth diapers for 5 1/2 months, I wanted to write about how it’s been working for us. We are actually really happy with our decision to switch from disposables to cloth once Harper was big enough to fit into her diapers (about 6 weeks, I think), and here’s why:

Cost

We calculated that we were spending about $80 a month on diapers and wipes before we switched to cloth. That’s also what we would pay if we would have done the Honest Company bundle, which is a great alternative. That comes out to $960 a year. So let’s just call it $1,000. We got 21 bumGenius 4.0 cloth diapers, some of which were gifted to us from our baby registry. So we spent around $200 for the rest, plus one set of flannel wipes. We also received the diaper sprayer and an extra set of inserts as gifts.

If we’re lucky and Harper wears the diapers even two years, we are looking at saving close to $2,000. We have to buy the occasional pack of disposables and wipes for traveling (love Honest. Co. travel packs of wipes), but that’s maybe $100 a year. If she wears them longer or we are able to use them for a second child, we can save even more.

Looking at our utility bills, I have not noticed much of an increase for the extra loads of washing and drying. Perhaps $10 a month more, but it’s hard to determine that exactly. In this climate they were not super high to begin with.

One other thing you need with cloth diapers is a wet bag to store them in before you do laundry. We have a large Planet Wise wet bag, which is just big enough to hold 2 days worth of dirty diapers. Then we got a small one for our diaper bag. I think we also got both of those as gifts. They work great at keeping out smells. If I had to do it over I would have gone with a medium-size for the diaper bag. The small is tiny!

Waste

Without question we are producing much less waste now. Mike used to empty the Diaper Dekor multiple times a week, but I can’t remember the last time I even used it. Living in the bay area, we are very aware of environmental issues, so it feels good to be able to say that we are not producing all that trash. (Fun fact: even though the trash cans are about 1/3 the size of the recycling cans, you can actually request an even smaller trash bin.)


Diapers stuffed and ready to go. 

Time

This was our main concern, because it sounded like washing those diapers all the time would be a lot of work. And the one thing you can’t spare when you have a newborn is time. But it turns out that we actually spend very little of our time on diapers. I am home all week, so that helps, and Mike is home on Fridays. But I think even if we were working more it would not be so bad.

We usually wash diapers every two days. It takes about 10 minutes to pull out the inserts and load everything into the washer. (I don’t wash off the poop. When she starts solids I probably will, but that is done after each diaper change). When they’re done it takes another 5-10 minutes to put the inserts in the dryer and hang the diapers on a drying rack. I usually put the rack outside and let the diapers dry in the sun, but the material will also dry if they have to be inside. When everything is dry, it takes about 10 minutes to stuff the diapers. If we split these jobs between me and Mike, you can see that we’re only devoting 15 minutes or so to each load.

The more important consideration is timing. You have to make sure that your diapers will be dry by the time you run out completely. We’ve gotten pretty good at that.

I have been using a $15 bottle of Babyganics detergent since we started with the cloth diapers and it’s still going. You do have to buy special detergent that is free of dyes and fragrances, but that’s pretty easy to find these days. Once a month you can wash the diapers with bleach to get a deep cleaning, but we find that putting them out in the sun keeps them from getting mildewy and it bleaches out the stains.

Here are some stained inserts before,

and after a few hours in the sun. Amazing!

Effectiveness

Our diapers have worked really well with very few blowouts. Every time I use disposables we have more blowouts. She almost never has a poop blowout with the cloth diapers. Sometimes she gets a pee leak around the leg holes, but that is less of a big deal. We’ll see if they remain that effective over time.

Other things to consider

• We got mostly diapers that adjust in size with snaps, but I like the Velcro ones too. The problem with the Velcro ones is that they fall apart sooner and the Velcro sometimes sticks to other diapers in the wash.

• I really like the pocket-style diapers because we have been able to adjust the inserts for day versus night, and with her growth. The larger inserts even snap to different sizes.

• One thing I wish I would have done differently is to get more white or cream colored diapers. We got a mix of colors. And while they are adorable, they sometimes clash with her outfits. Since you go through 7 or 8 diapers a day, you will end up with a rainbow of diaper colors unless most of them are the same.

• I tried making my own cloth wipes, but I ended up liking the bumGenius ones better. Some of them are starting to fray, but they still work fine. If I have to buy another pack once a year, I think that’s still a big savings over disposable.

I blogged at Goodsmiths about how you can make your own disposable wipes. I use the same formula for diaper spray to wet the cloth wipes. It costs almost nothing to make.

• Cloth diapers are much bigger than disposables on your baby. Harper rarely wears pants, so this isn’t usually an issue. But sometimes she has to go up a size for the clothes to fit over her diapers.

That’s all the considerations I can think of. Like I said, we are really happy we went the cloth route, but I know this won’t work for everyone. I got a lot of encouragement from this post when we were thinking about what to do. I know diaper services are also a huge help if you can find one you like in your area.

Dogs, meet baby

People ask us a lot about how the dogs are doing with the baby and my answer is: surprisingly well. I thought maybe we would have problems with the dogs being too rough, as in jumping up on us while we were holding Harper or trying to climb over her or things like that. Maybe trying to lick her or paw at her, Sadie especially. But other than the first day or two that we had her home, the dogs have been very gentle around her. I don’t think we will have any issues until Harper starts crawling and walking. Once they are on the same level, moving around in each other’s spaces, I think we will probably have to work on the idea of being gentle. But that goes both ways. For every time a dog brushes past Harper while she’s in her jumper (including their tails), she is grabbing at them with her hands in a not-so-gentle fashion. Once she is dropping crumbs everywhere and running around with sticky hands, I’m sure they will become a team.

I am actually more concerned about the dogs’ well-being at this point. Mainly Reggie, because she has such a nervous disposition. When the baby cries a lot, Reggie usually wants to go outside. Sometimes she will stay out there for hours, which she never used to do. I think it’s partly that she likes having a space to call her own — I usually find her contentedly sunbathing — and partly because she is scared that someone crying means someone is upset with her. When Harper gets screamy, I have even found Reggie hiding underneath the stroller, and I have to coax her out.

Now that we have a little more time to devote attention to the dogs, I’m trying to give Reggie more pets and cuddles. I’m not sure she’ll ever get over the crying, but hopefully there will be less of that as Harper gets older. Thankfully, both dogs are pretty patient with kids petting or grabbing at them, so I’m not worried about them becoming agressive. I just hope they can behave when we have a teetering toddler.