Thursday, April 30, 2009


I had a headache for most of today so we didn't do much. We did make it out for a nice lunch with friends at Panera, but after that it was straight to bed for an afternoon nap.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Offers of Help

Just as in the first weeks of Ben's life, we have once again been showered with offers of help. And once again I am not sure what to say. I can think back to when I have offered to help others during times of need, and it seems so rarely people followed up on those offers. I'm not sure if it's our nature to believe we can do it all on our own, or if someone wanting to "help" is too nonspecific. Either way, it was hard for me to ask for help during the time of Ben's birth. I was so tired I didn't even know what I needed. I'm trying to better prepare myself for the surgery, but once again I don't know what it will be like and what I will need. And I so appreciate the numerous offers I've already received for help, but I'm not sure what to say other than thanks.

I think I need some advice (help) on how to accept help and know what to ask for.


Our good friends in Columbia lent us their Jumparoo and Ben couldn't be happier. It's the first time he's shown an interest and delight in something other than people. He likes to be held upright and kick his legs out, and he's so happy to do the same in the Jumparoo. Ben is so tiny we've got two books under it for now so he can kick off. His favorite parts are the bright yellow smiling monkey and sun.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day at the Park

Ben and I met some friends at my favorite park in Springfield, the Close Memorial / Nathanael Greene Park. It is such a beautiful place to take pictures, but today was so cloudy I didn't bother bringing the camera. We had a nice picnic lunch, walked and visited. It was such a relaxing afternoon.

Later, I needed an oil change and went to Sears. While waiting, I decided to try one of the coupons I had with me for a $7.99 photo package in their portrait studio. I know I've debated professional portraits versus taking our own, as far as cost and quality. Today proved most everyone right. The Sears pictures were terrible. They essentially used dirty, wrinkled sheets with a boppy under it. The backdrops and props were worn, dated and lame. The stuffed animals smelled like pee. The sheets they used as backdrops were dirty, and the photographer was more of a salesperson than anything. I know it's her job to get sell the packages, but we only spent the $7.99 from the coupon, and even that was a stretch. I would not recommend anyone go there - even with the coupon.

I will say Ben was in a fantastic mood all day and I snapped a few pictures of his great mood this morning.

He loves watching the baby in the mirror.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Approaching Surgery

We met with Dr. Mace for our last preoperative visit. Ben's surgery is schedule for May 19th. Within the week prior, I will donate blood at the Community Blood Center for his transfusion, and we will meet with the anesthesiologist and have blood work completed at Cox South. Ben's surgery will be the first of the day, but we will not know the exact time until our appointment at Cox South. I also wanted to make certain they knew we are requesting the anesthesiologist who did her fellowship in a pediatric unit.

I asked about the family accommodations, and the surgeon told us Ben will be in pediatric intensive care for the first day or two. He warned that it is a large room with and there may be several other upset families and crying children in the room, separated only by curtains. After he is released from intensive care, he will be moved to a semi-private room, but these rarely fill up enough to require room sharing. Dr. Mace also stated Ben would have an IV for most or all of his hospital stay but no catheter. They will weigh his diapers to monitor dehydration. He said there would be chairs and cots for us to sleep on. I asked about nursing again, and he reassured me that shouldn't be a problem, but I should bring my pump and a couple of bottles just in case.

I also mentioned the other mom I spoke to a couple of days ago. Dr. Mace reassured me that her situation was rare at best, and most likely an unfortunate set of circumstances for that family.

I had a hard time concentrating during our appointment today, and I didn't remember all of my questions. The stress of this situation is really weighing on me and it was emotional to actually set a date as opposed to thinking about his surgery as an unknown moment in the future. I know if I have any questions in the coming weeks, I can always call the office. The staff is unbelievably friendly and accommodating at the Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute and I feel good about our decision to have that group perform Ben's surgery.

Ben relaxing on our spit-up covered couch.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Garden Preparation

What a perfect day! Our mower has been in the shop for three weeks now, so we borrowed Tim's and the yard looks great. We were worried moles had destroyed quite a bit of it, but it didn't look too bad. I re-potted all of the houseplants and hosed off the dust. I also opened the windows and doors to air out the house. It seems we skipped spring and went straight to summer, but I am so glad to have warm weather again.

I took an inventory of our plants to transplant into the garden. Many we are going to start straight from seeds once we get it tilled this week. The fractions below are successful starts /seeds we attempted to plant, if that makes sense. So far we have the following:
17/18 spinach
15/18 onions
11/18 celery
16/18 parsley
17/18 big beef tomatoes
1/9 thyme (planted more seeds in a container today)
7/9 rosemary (planted more seeds in a container today)
13/18 beans
14/18 marigolds
17/18 sugar snap peas
18/18 snow peas
4/18 great lakes head lettuce
11/18 jalapeno peppers
5/18 cayenne peppers
3/18 mixed greens leaf lettuce (planted more seeds in a container today)
0/18 basil, after 2 attempts, I think we're going to buy some started plants instead
13/18 okra

We're going to plant carrots, pumpkins, watermelon, corn, sunflowers, and cantaloupe directly into the ground. My grandfather might also be bringing some seed potatoes by this Friday. The garden is 50' x 20' and after much debate, we've decided to plant in rows instead of raised beds this year. We may still change our minds between now and the time we plant.

I bought this bench at a yard sale for $8 and painted it today. It's still a little rough, but once I find or make some kind of cushion for it, it will be just fine.

I brought all of the plant starts outside to the porch for some wind exposure.

My hands were so swollen after all of the yard work (from allergies), I couldn't even get my ring to turn.

Mom and dad came over for dinner and we saw a red fox near the corral. She was awesome to see, but I'm a little concerned about our chicken and duck plans for the coming weeks.

Ben in his Sunday best.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mom of Another Cranio Baby

Through the network of La Leche League leaders, I was able to connect with another mom whose son had craniosynostosis surgery. He had the same sutures closed as Ben and she shared her experience with me. To respect her privacy I won't include many details, but she had a positive nursing experience and stressed the importance of having a good pump in case he needs to be bottle fed for the first day or two after surgery. She also warned of the first 24-48 hours being very difficult to go through due to the swelling of his face and head.

The more concerning part of our conversation came from her discussion of his headaches and aggressive behavior following surgery (within the following two years). Josh and my mom both believe this anecdotal situation is not related to the surgery itself, but to the individual situation. Either way it is scary to think of any long-term consequences of the surgery, especially related to development or behavior.

This family chose craniosacral therapy to resolve these issues for their child. I know this is a controversial thing to say, but in general I am skeptical of holistic therapies. I may change my mind when I experience or encounter first hand, it making a huge difference in someone's life. But I have my reservations about spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on lightly researched treatments. At the same time I can see how desperate families would be willing to try a myriad of treatments to have a solution for a hurting child. And I am happy for anyone if alternative therapies worked in their situation.

No matter our differences, I am so appreciative of LLL to connect me with another mother with similar experiences and I gained a great deal of information and reassurance about how the surgery will go. I also have additional questions now, to bring to the surgeon on Monday's appointment.

Ben wearing pjs from Grandma Sherry and Grandpa Steve

Friday, April 24, 2009

Yard Sale Friday

We were supposed to have the garden tilled this morning, but the gentleman's tiller broke, so Ben and I went to yard sales instead. Our best finds of the day were a pear-shaped teapot for $1 and a wicker bench for $8. I also found a few pairs of Stride Rite shoes in great condition still in the box, although we won't need them for quite a while. We also got a few toys and some clothes from a good friend's yard sale.

It was such a beautiful day to be outside and we were so happy when Josh came home. Tomorrow we're planning on going to the Ozark High School plant sale, maybe the Springfield farmer's market, and the LAD writing fair where every one of my students won an award!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Show Me State

I ran across this quiz today and thought it would be interesting to share with my fellow Missourians who may not have known:

There are a number of stories and legends behind Missouri's sobriquet 'Show-Me' state. The slogan is not official, but is common throughout the state and is used on Missouri license plates. The most widely known legend attributes the phrase to Missouri's U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1897 to 1903. While a member of the U.S. House Committee on Naval Affairs, Vandiver attended an 1899 naval banquet in Philadelphia. In a speech there, he declared, 'I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.' Regardless of whether Vandiver coined the phrase, it is certain that his speech helped to popularize the saying. Other versions of the Show-Me legend place the slogan's origin in the mining town of Leadville, Colorado. There, the phrase was first employed as a term of ridicule and reproach. A miner's strike had been in progress for some time in the mid-1890s, and a number of miners from the lead districts of southwest Missouri had been imported to take the places of the strikers. The Joplin miners were unfamiliar with Colorado mining methods and required frequent instructions. Pit bosses began saying, 'That man is from Missouri. You'll have to show him.' However the slogan originated, it has since passed into a different meaning entirely, and is now used to indicate the stalwart, conservative, noncredulous character of Missourians. *Source Mental Floss

I absolutely love the line from that speech. I think that pretty much sums it up.

Ben spent his first afternoon all by himself with Grammy today, while I went out with some friends. He is getting more and more talkative each day!

I'm still experimenting with taking video from my cell phone.

The pond is looking better than it has, but it won't look like this in July.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Save the Earth

We aren't the greenest family, but we have made a few changes over the past couple of years to help reduce our impact on the planet.

20 things we do to save the planet and money:

1. Change out light bulbs to compact florescent.
2. Unplug what we aren't using (we're working on that).
3. Stop buying individually wrapped products.
4. Use low flow shower heads.
5. Switch to cloth napkins instead of paper towels.
6. Cook more and dine out less.
7. Switch to reusable shopping bags.
8. Our house is curtain-free to make the most of natural light during the day.
9. Put weather stripping around doors and windows.
10. Burn wood for heat in the winter.
11. Compost our lawn and food garbage.
12. Donate what we don't need instead of throwing it away.
13. Lower our thermostat in the winter and open windows in the spring and fall.
14. Bought a Prius.
15. Use the library instead of buying new books (or buy used if it's something Josh HAS to have).
16. Go paperless on bills and banking.
17. Only run full loads of laundry and always rinse in cold water.
18. Use bath towels more than once between washes.
19. Run several errands in one trip to keep from driving to and from town so often.
20. Print on both sides of computer paper.

20 goals I have for us to continue to improve our habits:
1. Recycle more of our trash.
2. Put an insulation blanket around our water heater.
3. Have the well, furnace and water heater serviced.
4. Replace furnace filter.
5. Make our own cleaning products.
6. Grow our own food without using chemicals. (A $60 garden produces an average of $200 in produce!)
7. Buy a faucet aerator for the kitchen sink.
8. Buy used whenever possible. (our clothes, cars, etc.)
9. Line dry our clothes again. (we need a new location for the line)
10. Buy cows, pigs, and chickens for meat and eggs.
11. Buy less.
12. Get off junk mail lists. (You can go here along with several other websites to do the same.)
13. Shop locally and at the farmer's market more often.
14. Plant fruit trees and bushes.
15. Stop using a blow dryer to dry my hair (at least some of the time.)
16. Build a rainwater cistern to water the garden.
17. We would love to buy solar panels and/or a wind turbine but I'm not sure how realistic that is.
18. Switch to rechargeable batteries.
19. Pick up the trash piles that were on our property when we moved here.
20. Buy higher quality products so they don't have to be replaced often.

The bottom line is, I believe food, buying, waste, and transportation choices create a huge impact on our planet and wallets. *See this post for more on that belief.

Think about what we eat and where it comes from.
"If everyone in the US skipped meat one day a week, that would be the equivalent of taking 20 million mid-sized sedans off the road, regarding the environmental impact."
Michael Pollan

Avoid food waste whenever possible.
Americans throw away 43,000 tons of food per day.

Consider packaging and what we throw away.
The average family of three will produce about half a million pounds of garbage in our lifetime.

Remember your reusable shopping bags by keeping some in your car.

Plastic bags consumed this year:

* counter from here.

We are also collecting old newspapers to use under the mulch in our flowerbed and vegetable garden.

We had a stay at home day and took a long walk around the farm. The pond looks better than it has in a long time due to the recent rain, but I'm sure there is a leak because it won't look like this in the summer.

Rosebud tree near the barn

Ben slept well last night and he's back to normal today. I am experimenting with video from my cell phone. He was cracking me up just before this, but I could only record ten seconds at a time.

Ben not napping in his crib:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Baby Loves Banjo

Baby Loves Banjo
Originally uploaded by Kamepyon
Since before Ben was born, we've listened to a lot of country / bluegrass from our wedding CDs when we ride in the car - particularly Gillian Welch or Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. Every time I talked to my Grandpa Hebbert while pregnant and every time since, he asks me if, "I've been singing to that boy." I do sing to him when we're in the car or I'm in the shower. I'm not great with memorizing songs but I sing him Bright Morning Stars as his calm down song.

I am thinking about this now because I've sang it at least a half dozen times in the past 24 hours. He hardly slept last night and was up at least every hour to hour and a half to nurse. He seems back to normal today, so hopefully we'll have a better night.

The reason for my post title is the video. It makes me wish I knew how to play my banjo.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Poor Ben

Ben woke up so happy today. Every morning from about 8am - 9am, he has his own happy hour. He is wide awake, talks and coos and wants to play. Josh and I hated taking him to get his shots when he was in such a happy mood this morning.

Ben had his two month checkup today. He weighs 11 lbs 4 oz. and he is 21 3/4 inches long. That puts him in the 35th percentile for weight and the 10th percentile for height. The doctor is not concerned and says his growth is fine. The doctor also supported my (unstructured) attitude regarding Ben's sleeping pattern and (lack of) routine. Other than that, Ben had reached all of the appropriate milestones and the doctor has no concerns of developmental problems now or after the surgery. Ben also received his immunizations. Today he had IPV (polio), Hib (meningitis), DTaP (Tetanus, Diptheria, and whooping cough), PCV (pneumonia and meningitis), and HepB (hepatitis B). He really didn't cry much. He squealed and squeaked as he was getting the shots (the pacifier helped), but as soon as I picked him up he was fine, and he slept for most of the day. As his Tylenol was wearing off he got a little crabby, but after the second dose he was really out.

I used my new wrap today as we ran a couple of errands after lunch. I would say it works well for short trips or for around the house and farm. However, after I took him out of it and put him back in later it was so stretched out I needed to take the whole thing off and tighten it, which is not convenient in a parking lot. I'm still very happy with it, but I still need a good carrying solution for shopping and running errands.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Homemade Wrap!

Milestone update - Ben rolled over for the first time today! He rolled over twice, then decided he was done with tummy time for the day.

I am so excited because I made my own baby wrap today. I use the word "made" loosely as I just bought five yards of clearance rack fabric ($10 total!) and cut it in half long-ways. Because of that I now have two identical wraps. (Which is probably a good thing since Ben spit up all over the first one within a few minutes of putting it on.) The fabric is a thin cotton blend of some kind and I spent forever going through and finding the right kind of not too stretchy and not too thick fabric to experiment with. I watched at least five videos on You Tube about how to put it on. After I feel more comfortable with him on the front, I want to try some of the other ways to carry him with the wrap. This video was my favorite. I am so happy with the result.

This is WAY more comfortable and breathable than the ring sling I have. I haven't left the house in it yet. The advice I've read suggests putting it on at home, then putting the baby in once you're at the store or wherever. I can't wait to use it tomorrow in town. I don't plan on buying any of the other wraps I talked about yesterday, until I decide to splurge and buy the Beco Butterfly.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I am trying to decide what kind of sling or wrap I would like to use. I have a ring sling right now, but the fabric is way too stretchy and Ben shifts too much after a while. I'm thinking about a Moby sling, a Hotsling, a Maya wrap or just making my own wrap using a long piece of fabric. I can't really tell what the difference is between a Moby wrap and five yards of fabric. I've spent way too much time today researching my options and I still can't decide what I really want. There are some good deals on eBay, but I don't know what I want. I think I would wear Ben on the front most of the time and I want something I can nurse in, but I'm not sure how much I would really nurse with him in the sling. I also want something I can carry him in for quite a while. For those of you who aren't familiar with the types, here's what I'm talking about:

Ring sling (This is more like the one I have. I want a Moby because it would be more breathable, less stretchy, and easier to adjust than mine though.):

Hotsling (These seem like the easiest to use.):

Wrap (This is what I'm leaning towards because it's essentially a long piece of fabric. I also like that it crosses both shoulders. It seems like this would be easier on my back.):

and if I had $150 to blow, I'd buy a Beco Butterfly carrier:

I think for now, I'm going to keep an eye out at Children's Orchard where the first sling came from, and try to make my own wrap with fabric. There is a babywearing group in Springfield where I could try out different ones, but their next meeting is right around the time of Ben's surgery. We have a Snugli too, but it kills my back and I don't feel like I can get it tight enough. I brought my ring sling to LLL yesterday and I got some help getting Ben a little more comfortable in the sling. I also watched at least a dozen videos on you tube today about different ways to use a ring sling and we tried a few of them out while walking around the field and watching Josh clean out the pond.

I can't believe how many expressions and emotions Ben is already showing!

There is also an online contest to win a baby carrier here!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cutting Back

After five or six solid weeks of couponing, we're full. Our pantry, fridge and freezer are full and we're well stocked with toiletries and cleaning supplies for at least the coming year. I'm now cutting back on my couponing. If it's something we truly need, I'll definitely look for a coupon first, but I'm not going to dedicate nearly as much time to the process as I have been. A new LLL friend has a great blog that keeps up with local Walgreen's, Price Cutter and Dillon's deals, and I'm sure there will still be the occasional irresistible bargain, but I'm not going to make a point to go each week anymore. I feel I have used my time wisely and if we run out of supplies, I'll probably go on another month-long coupon binge once again.

Ben and I went to La Leche League this morning. He spent the afternoon fussy and on a feeding frenzy. It hasn't really slowed down since.

Josh read to Ben about dogs and added some parts to the story, about why the people selling puppies in Wal-Mart parking lots should be stopped and how purebred dogs are overrated.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cloth Napkins and Baby Comparing

I love using cloth napkins. Josh and I have for as long as we've been together and we go through very few paper towels thanks to the eight cloth napkins I bought two years ago. By this point, they're a little tattered and at least half have disappeared thanks to to dogs, so I bought replacements today at the Help Give Hope garage sale. The sale is on North Kansas Expressway in Springfield, in the Town and Country shopping center. It was dimly lit, unorganized, and somewhat picked over, but I'm sure if you had a lot of time, then you could probably find something you need. It's going on next week too. Click on the link for dates and times. I bought 17 cloth napkins at a dime each:

Ben and I had lunch at the Smoothie Cafe with Karen and coffee with my McGregor friends at the Mudhouse. (The Mud Lounge is temporarily closed due to problems with their liquor license.)

While there, another friend of mine brought her baby, one week younger than Ben. And so it starts... baby comparing. I want so badly to not compare Ben to any other baby, but at the same time it's fun to compare and discuss what we're going through right now. Her son has been sleeping in his crib, in his own room since he was four weeks old. He sleeps 6-8 hours most nights and has a routine and schedule. Wow, I was impressed.

Ben has no kind of schedule. I couldn't tell you how many times he nurses or how many diapers he goes through. I tried to keep track but kept forgetting and usually made it up at the end of the day on my chart. He slept through the night once, in our room. Although I said horrible things about cosleeping before I had Ben, he now sleeps in the bed at least half of the time and in the Pack N Play next to the bed otherwise. We don't really have normal bedtimes or wake-up times and I'm worried my pediatrician is going to recommend we get on a schedule at our two month appointment on Monday.

Although my friend's structure is impressive, it really doesn't fit where we are right now. By the time I go back to work this fall, I'll need to have something a little better figured out. But I can't imagine trying to make Ben eat at certain times or not letting him eat other times. When my friend Katy wrote a post about her child's schedule, or lack thereof, I didn't even consider that anyone with a baby under three months could even consider being on a schedule.

The bottom line is - as long as the kid is healthy and safe, everyone should feel free to parent how they choose and not worry about what they "should" or "should not" be doing. I've got my goals of eventually getting Ben to sleep in his own room, when the time's right for him. In my teaching experience I have worked with about 200 kids, and by the time they are pre-teens, you can't tell whose parents carried them hours each day, let them cry it out in the crib, or ground organic flour for their teething biscuits. It all evens out in the end, and I'm not going to feel bad about anything I'm doing. I'm just going to do what's best for our family and our situation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chicken Salad Salad

I made one of my favorite things for dinner tonight - chicken salad salad. Every time I make chicken salad it's different, based on what produce we have around. Tonight I added celery, onions, carrots (just a few), apples, walnuts, relish, sour cream, light mayo, salt, pepper, Cavender's Greek Seasoning, and of course, chicken. Yum. I'm going to experiment with freezing it because I made a boatload. I kept the apples out of the part I'm going to try to freeze. I'll try to post how the freezing turns out when I decide to have it again.

Wal-Mart in Ozark restocked with some healthier choices recently. Veggie Chips are back for $3.99, and Cascadian Farms Organic cereal is back too. Click here to print a $1.00 off any Cascadian Farms product, making the cereal only $2.18/box. There are a bunch of other good coupons on that website I used today at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart also has red, orange and yellow bell peppers on sale for $1 each (they're normally three times that or more).


Ben's moving on into his 3-6 month clothes. He can still fit into some of the 0-3 stuff, but I filled the first box today with clothes he's grown out of. He's two months old today and it's amazing how quickly its gone by.