Wednesday, October 26, 2011

6 Months Old

So here we are at month number six, half a  Six months of photo shoots, six months of stickers, and six months of a whole lot of fun with sweet little Avery here.  As you can see from the pics, our photo shoots get more and more fun each month as her personality just keeps growing and her smiles are now paired with laughs and babbles.  Long gone are the days of her tipping over in the chair like in month one, this was this first month that Avery was able to sit all by herself in the chair, which she seemed pretty darn happy about.

"Ha ha! I'm 6 months old!"

Here are her monthly stats, weight: 20 lbs (around 95 percentile) and height: 30 inches (above 100 percentile).  As I've said before the girl loves to eat, and I continue to feed her on demand...when I'm home that is.  And it seems like her Dad's height might be coming into play here as well!

Want to see the monthly changes...look below. What once was a tiny little one is now one big girl.  I can't help but wonder what she'll look like at 10 months? 12 months? 2 years?! Okay that is way to far ahead to be thinking! Let's stick to one month at a time. ( :

As with every month, there are usually some highlights of the photo shoot.  This month, we had several.  The first is that she loved playing with her toes.  Since she was "Miss All Grown Up" and sitting up during the pics, her feet were what she often grabbed to keep herself entertained (and balanced).  Love those toes!

Other highlights include....
Chewing on her hands.

Blowing raspberries.

Showing off her "sitting up skills".

Teething: Last month I mentioned that she was cutting two teeth and although it was a struggle to get a pic then, it was much easier this month, which you can see below.  I'd love to post more about some alternative teething remedies we've been using other than her amber teething necklace, but until I find time to do that in my schedule, I've got to tell you that my must-have item is Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets...couldn't live without these things!

"See my little pearly whites?"

What comes with teething is lots and lots of chewing!  ( :

Daddy's Birthday: Also this month we celebrated Brandon's 32nd birthday, his first with Avery here, so that was a lot of fun. Here are some photos of the birthday celebration.  We got the party started the weekend before his birthday at his parents house, with the usual cake, candles, and presents.

First "family" birthday shot.

"Hey guys, it's my dad's birthday!"

"No smiles for you's not your birthday."

On his actual birthday, I went "green" with his decor and wrapping by using fabric instead of wrapping paper.  Kind of ghetto-looking I know, but it's the same fabric I used from last year and it worked again, so I'm sticking with it.  All I did was get some Halloween-style fabric from a fabric store (since his b-day is near Halloween) and I cut it into some generic sizes (big square, small rectangle, etc.).  From there, I wrapped it around the presents and tied it off with a strip of alternating style fabric.  Someday I'd like to finish off the edges so it looks a bit nicer, but Brandon doesn't mind, so for now it's all good. Glad he's okay with me "greening" up his birthday! ( :

Brandon's "green" birthday wrapping and decor.

Oh yeah, it doesn't hurt to have this little cutie help me celebrate as well!

For one of my presents to him, I made this picture-collage from an idea I found on Pinterest (oh Pinterest how I love you!).  After seeing the idea online, all I did was pick up some big letters from a local craft store, took Avery's pictures holding..and eating them, and then had them printed and I put them into this frame.  I was really happy with how it turned out and Brandon loved it too! I thought it would be fun to re-take this picture again each year and see how she changes.

Brandon's b-day present from Avery and I.
From this fun little "daddy" photo shoot, I got a cute outtake picture that I just have to share.  It's one of my new favorites of her.  Something about that smile and those cheeks.

Baby-Led Solids: While we're on the topic of food, I've started giving Avery some solid food of her own with a method called Baby-Led Weaning or "Baby-Led Solids" a name I feel describes it more appropriately.   I plan on posting about this more in the future (can you tell I have a lot of blog topics on my mind and no time to write them in!), but for now, let give you a quick description from a baby-led weaning (or BLW) website:..."Baby-led weaning is a somewhat cheesy term for just letting your infant self-feed. You cut food up into manageable sticks and offer it, they eat. It’s really pretty simple."
With her apple sticks.

Although the word "weaning" may make you think I'm stopping breastfeeding, I'm not.  I continue to nurse her just as often as I always would, just now I offer her some form of solid food at least once or twice a day while I'm eating my meals.  Towards the end of month 5, Avery really started showing an interest in the food I was eating and would crawl towards it, reach towards it, and even try to grab it from me. This along with many other signs that baby-led solids talks about, lead me to believe she was ready to try some solid food.

Now you may be asking, where are the jars of baby food? Where's the purees or mashed veggies? Well, a unique aspect of baby-led solids is that there is no "baby food".  You start out by giving babies, real food from day one, such as a stick of apple, slices of a banana, a stalk of broccoli, etc.  And you don't chop it into ten million little pieces.  The key is to actually give them the larger chunks of food so they can get practice with their fine motor skills of holding the food and bringing it to their mouth, a task that is difficult to do with finely chopped food. 

Now this approach may not be for everyone, I know some people may not feel comfortable with does look a bit odd to see a baby just gnawing away at a broccoli floret, but so far it's working for us.  It really is just fun and stress-free, because she continues to get all the nutrition she needs from breast milk, so I don't have to make sure she eats a certain amount.  She hardly eats any at this point, and mainly just chews on the food...and gets messy.  Also, since she usually eats similar things to what we're having, I don't have to mess with buying jars of baby food or preparing special, homemade purees.  

Banana quarter...I leave the peel on one side to
give her something to grip and usually that's what she
ends up chewing on.

As of now, she only eats organic fruits and vegetables, some cooked, some raw.  I'm sure in the next couple of months I will continue adding some new foods to her "plate", but one thing that won't be on there for awhile will be gluten of any form.  With my history of food sensitivities, especially to gluten, I feel it's best to wait until Avery is at least one or two before I even try letting her have any form of gluten.  For now, it's super easy to avoid it since I'm gluten-free too and all the meals I cook are obviously gluten-free.  Other things that will NEVER be on her plate are animal products of any kind...milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, meat, you name it...this vegan baby won't be touching or eating it. 
As I said before, I will post more details about this approach and how I'm making it work with Avery in the near future, but if you can't wait until then, here is an awesome blog I've been using to learn more applying this approach, and here's the book that got it all started for me: Baby-Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food by Gill Rapley.  Now on to some fun pictures of Avery's first "adventures with solid food"...
Stick of pear.

Some cooked broccoli (with curry) and apple slices...
interesting combo right?
Broccoli seems to be her favorite right now since it is the
easiest for her to hold and it can be flavored lots of
different ways.
Bananas are fun too!

5K Race: Another fun thing we did this month was to do a 5K road race...which we walked. Now this is not just any old race, this is a race my mom and I have done for 3 years in a row now, and so it was only fitting that we do it again this year with Avery. So we broke out the stroller and headed off to the race.

"I'm ready to race guys!"

Our racing crew...with one extra this year!

Cross Country Meet Fun: Adding on to the outdoor time we had during the race, we also went to a few of my dad's cross country meets.  He coaches a local high school cross country team, and when his meets were close by, we made sure to stop by.  Avery loved being outside, seeing all the different color jerseys of the runners, and most importantly, seeing her grandpa!

"Sunglasses girls"

"Just give me a purse to play with and I'll be good."

"Hey grandpa! I think I like cross country!"

Growing, Growing, Gone: Well, after 6 months, we've finally done it.  We've filled an entire storage tub full of all the clothes Avery has outgrown.  I bought the container around 4 months when the "too small clothes" started bursting out of drawers and it took me about 2 more months to fill it up, but is officially full! Before sending it on down to storage in my basement, we took a few last "farewell" pictures.  All I can say is, boy do babies grow fast!

"Oh yeah, I'm a big girl now!"

"Uh wait mom, I like this one!"

A comparison of how she is now, next to a "newborn" size looks so tiny!

Crawling: As I mentioned last month and showed in a play-by-play of pictures, her crawling skills were starting to show, even though it was more like she was doing "the worm."  This month she has gotten stronger and more purposeful in her movements, although she still takes on a "worm-like" motion of throwing her chest forward when starting out. The biggest change this month is that it is hard to keep her in one area.  Usually I'll put a rug down and be like, "Oh okay, you can crawl, but let's stay here on the quilt." Ha...yeah right! This month she is everywhere but the quilt.  Crawling towards the couch, the entertainment center, vents on the floor, and her favorite: the fireplace.  I have a feeling I will be posting about "baby-proofing" our home in next month's post.  For now, here's some pics of our little crawler.
"Big A" the crawler.
All kinds of new things have caught her attention,
 like the cable box and DVD player.

And vents...and cords...time to baby-proof this green house!

Here are a few more from our tummy time/crawling time one day...

One of her many facial expressions. 
Pumpkin Girl: With Halloween approaching, I looked to cross a fun idea off my "fall bucket list" (now that I have a baby) and try putting Avery in a pumpkin.  Yes, you read that right...I wanted to put Avery in a pumpkin.  I saw the idea on good ol' Pinterest and after finding a little pumpkin hat clip at Target, I knew it had to be done.  So off we went to find a pumpkin that could fit her.  After finding it, Brandon carved off the top and some holes for legs.  Then with the help of my parents, we snapped some pics of our "little pumpkin girl."  It turned out to be one fun picture!  ( :

Warmly waiting with grandpa while we got the pumpkin
ready for her.

Thinking about it...

"Bam! I'm in a pumpkin!"

So there you have it, an update on my little six-month old pumpkin baby. Whew...that was quite a busy month and it's not over yet! Look for some more Halloween pictures to come soon... 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Goodbye Laundry Detergent!

My little (or not so little)
 laundry helper!
Like that title? Imagine not having to buy laundry sweet would that be? I've had fun saying goodbye to many traditional products in the past like Ziploc bags, plastic water bottles, plastic straws, paper towels, and Teflon.  But now it's time to say farewell to good ol' laundry detergent.  Now I'm not talking about not using anything to clean your clothes and letting them stay dirty, but I'm talking about an alternative. Imagine not having to break the bank with those mega-size detergents from Costco.  Not having to worry about what chemicals are in the detergent (like these). Or my personal favorite, not having to make your own detergent only to find out your clothes are no cleaner than when they started. Oh yes, I've tried all of those and I didn't like any of them, so this left me buying super expensive ones from brands like Seventh Generation or Ecover, which are great and all, but really pricey!

Now that little Avery is on board, it seems like our laundry load has increased quite a bit.  This meant I was buying those green laundry detergent bottles more often than I would've like to.  But it didn't really seem like I had a choice, until I found an amazing little ball online one day...a SmartKlean Laundry Ball.  This is quite a revolutionary ball.  All you do is throw it in your washer with each load best of all it gets your clothes clean without the use of chemicals, perfumes, or bleach, and it can be reused load after load for up to a year.  Goodbye laundry detergent!

My SmartKlean Laundry Ball.
"What did you say Mom? No detergent?
Tell me more!"
Want to learn more about it? Check out this video I found  on their website.  It took one viewing of this video, and then I was sold and literally pressing the "Buy" button.  Granted I'm quite the eco-nerd, so I don't hesitate to drop a few bucks on a cool new green gadget or product, so I suppose I'm a bit biased.  ( : But really give it a watch and see if it has you convinced to give it a try.

How about the video footage of those poor little ducks and fish? Have you convinced too? You're not alone. 

Didn't have time to watch the video? Here's some of the benefits of the Laundry Ball:
-can be used in cold water
-there's no need for an extra rinse cycle
-maintains the preservation of fibers and colors
-it's hypoallergenic with no chemical residues
-there's no chlorine or phosphates
-it eliminates mold, bacteria, and odors
-on top of that it can be reused for up to an entire year or 365 washes!

The SmartKlean Laundry Ball costs about $45 and for me, it already paid for itself after about 2 months or so of use. Score! Are you a number cruncher and need to see that the proof's in the pudding with this money savings? Check out this link.  It shows that the average consumer spends $200-600 on laundry detergent a year, imagine not having to spend this it! With the Laundry Ball you also cut down your laundry costs because you no longer need bleach, fabric softener, or dryer sheets. It just keeps getting better doesn't it!  ( :

"Well this makes laundry fun now!"
How could this possibly clean your clothes right? I know, I was skeptical too. But it was developed using bioelectircity and hydrodynamics to help the "water itself" remove the dirt and stains.  Basically inside the ball is a variety little ceramic balls (which shake like a little instrument) which work to clean the clothes in the laundry.  Still kind of confusing I know, but I've been using it for several months now and I have to say my clothes are just as clean if not more clean than with my traditional "green detergents" or other traditional detergents...minus the perfumey smell and residue.

Here's I make the laundry ball work with my laundry routine...

1. Drop it in the washer.

It's "laundry time" at my house.
Drop it in the top.

2. Run a load.

3. Take out the clothes, leave the Laundry Ball in.

4.  Repeat! Easy peasy.

Some small notes:

  • It says to separate your clothes by darks and lights
  • Load about 3/4 the way full (so the ball can circulate around more), this is hard for me, I love to cram that thing full, but I'm working on it.
  • Place the ball in the washer on top of your clothes
  • Use only cold water
  • Turn off the extra rinse at the end, you won't need it!
  • Then just leave it in under the sun or beside a window for about an hour once a month to "regenerate the ceramic beads inside. (Kind of funny I know but it will make it last longer!)
  • Have more questions? Click here.

Now it may feel weird at first when you use the ball because you will feel out of sync not putting anything in the machine, we've all done so for years, so it might be hard not to.  Resist the urge to supplement the ball with some's not needed.  Keep the faith.  It will work.  And over time you'll forget what it's like to even use detergent, or buy it, or get that gross liquid on your hands.

So that's how I have said "goodbye" to laundry detergent and still managed to keep my clothes fresh, clean, and green.  And for $45 you can too...give it a try!
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