Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pacis and Percentiles

We are now officially paci free in this house! Steven has gradually lost interest, so we've decided to put them away. He hasn't asked for them at all--even when he's seen them. In fact, when I've given him one this week, he just let it drop to the floor. In a way, I'm sad to see them go because they were a nice way to calm him down. However, we're pretty lucky to be done with the pacifiers without any fussing or crying.

**EDIT--The best part is that he isn't replacing it with anything else! Yes, that means no fingers, no thumbs, nothing! Yay!!**

Yesterday, I took Steven in for his 6 month check up, and I was quite surprised by his height/weight percentiles. Steven's been 50/50 each visit so far, but yesterday, he shot up to 94/50. He is taller than 94% of all babies but is heavier than only 50% of them. This contradicts all of those who think that he's fat! The doctor is predicting a string bean :)

He is perfectly healthy in every category again. He's eating well, very, very well! So far, he's had rice cereal, green beans, peas, butternut squash, pumpkin, applesauce, peaches, and oatmeal. He's enjoyed each one, but he had a hard time digesting the pumpkin. I'd say, though, that oatmeal is his favorite. He is just like his grandpa in this one--my dad eats oatmeal every day.

Making my own baby food has been going pretty well. He's liked everything except the home made green beans. I didn't cook them long enough to get them completely mushy. He might like them later on, though. Next we're going to try either bananas, prunes, or carrots. We'll see how we feel on Monday.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Yay!

It's 10:30 a.m., and Steven is just waking up!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Car Update

We are now a one car family :(

Please Pray!

Today on the way home from work, Mark's car died (right on the highway). He had it towed to a repair shop, which was already closed, and is going in tomorrow to see what they can do. After talking with his grandfather (a car expert), we think it is one of two things. (If you think I remember those, you're crazy!) One is very expensive, and the other is more manageable.

Please pray that it won't be too much money and that they'll be able to fix it. We have talked about replacing Mark's car (2001 Escort) but were hoping it would last another year or two. This is something that we definitely don't have in our budget right now, so we're praying that they can fix it at a minimal cost.

I'll let you know what we find out in the morning.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Greenfield Village

On Saturday, we went to Greenfield Village with our new friends Sarah and Randy and their kids. We had a blast! The weather was perfect, and while it was crowded there because of the holiday weekend, nice weather, and Civil War demonstrations, it wasn't too bad.

We visited the Wright Brothers' House and watched a little play about their inventing the airplane. We all are from Ohio, so this was a must, of course. We also rode on a 95 year old carosel. We video taped Steven as he rode on my lap. We were on one of the horses that went up and down, but it didn't really faze him at all. Oh well. Maybe next year he'll be more excited.

All set for a big day!






Hanging out with Daddy after the Wright Brothers' play.


Is it lunch time yet??





Garage Sale Finds

On Saturday after coming home from Greenfield Village, We went to a sub full of garage sales. Mark and Steven stayed in the car as I hopped out at different houses and found a TON of bargains. I got Steven a bag full of 6-9 month clothes, including the exact socks I was going to have to buy at Target. I also bought him some books, a portable high chair type seat that attaches to any chair. We're going to use it in our high chair for now since we haven't bought new straps for it yet. I also got him some other things but have already forgotten what they were.

Before we went to Greenfield Village, I went to our church's garage sale and picked up a few things there as well. I got Steven a nice Leapfrog push toy for only $3! I also got him two pairs of pants and a knitting kit for myself. I've been trying to learn how to knit, but I haven't been highly successful. This kit came with an instructional DVD, so I'm hoping that it helps! We'll see.

This is one of Steven's new outfits. The hat, shirt, and overalls were only $2! The sweater is one that someone made and donated to Bethany Christian. We were given it and a few other things when we adopted Steven. The sweater has a matching bonnet (yes, a bonnet) and booties. Let's just say that my son is not a bonnet baby!



All ready for church!


My New Swing

We put Steven in his new outdoor swing that a friend gave us and waited for his reaction. We waited and waited and waited. There was no reaction at all :( Guess it's too much like the swing inside to count for much!


We had no where to hang it despite having three large trees in our yard, so I came up with the idea of hanging it where our porch swing was. We didn't use it all that much, and it will keep Steven in the shade. It's also semi portable!



Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mocha Moms

Yesterday, Steven and I went to our second Mocha Moms playgroup. We're not official members (i.e. we haven't paid any dues yet), so we are only invited to select events. And everything we've been invited to has been on a Friday morning, usually the same week as MOPS :(

I was debating whether or not to go yesterday morning because I just didn't feel like it. Steven has shunned almost all naps longer than 20 minutes the last two days, and that just wears me out. However, I got myself together and we went.

We LOVED it!! I can't tell you how much fun I had hanging out with all the other Mocha Moms. This time we met at a local athetic center that has a kid's club. We had a nice sized playroom all to ourselves, so it was much much quieter than Jungle Java, and we were able to visit more. We talked about practically everything--girl's hair, family and babysitting, friends that we've lost because of kids/not having kids, adoption, cloth diapers, and many many more things.

Everyone loved Steven, of course, and he played it up for them :) I had him in his stroller lying down at first (he fell asleep in the car, and of course when I got him out of his seat and into the stroller, he woke up.) People were looking at him and talking to him, but when I picked him up, you should have seen his face. It was hilarious! His mouth was open all the way, his jaw just dropped, and his eyes were as wide as could be as he slowly looked around at everyone. He was stunned. He looked at me and then back at everyone and at the play area. It was so funny watching him trying to process everything!

I love it that the moms there make me feel 100% welcome. It wasn't awkward at all. I even forgot about the color difference, and when I trying to remember if I had met someone before, the other person said pretty positively that we hadn't. It wasn't until much later that I realized it was because she definitely would have remembered a white mocha mom :)

I highly recommend the group to anyone who had adopted transracially. It's so important to me that Steven grows up with kids the same color as he is. Mocha Moms is primarily for moms, but they do have playgroup meetings once in a while. It's a great way for me to learn more about his culture and background, and I can't recommend it enough. (FYI there is one in Dayton!)

I'm adding the link (available above) to a new list one the side called "Transracial Adoption Resources." Stay tuned for more transracial adoption resources!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sad News

Christian music star's daughter killed by car

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- The 5-year-old daughter of Grammy-winning Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman was struck and killed Wednesday by a sport utility vehicle driven by her brother, authorities said.

The girl, Maria Sue, was hit in the driveway of the family's home Wednesday afternoon by a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by her teenage brother, said Laura McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The brother, whose name and exact age weren't available, apparently did not see the girl, McPherson said. No charges are expected.

"It looks like a tragic accident," she said.

Several family members witnessed the accident, which happened in Williamson County just south of Nashville. The girl died later at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, hospital spokeswoman Laurie Holloway said.

In a statement, Velvet Kelm, a publicist for Chapman, said Maria was the Chapmans' youngest daughter.

Chapman, who is originally from Paducah, Ky., and his wife have promoted international adoption and have three daughters from China, including Maria. They also have three biological children.

The singer's Web site says the couple was persuaded by their oldest daughter to adopt a girl from China. The experience led the family to adopt two more children and create Shaohannah's Hope, a foundation and ministry to financially assist thousands of couples in adoption.

The Chapmans did missionary work at Chinese orphanages in 2006 and 2007, according to the Web site.

"After our first trip to China, my wife and I knew our lives were changing -- our eyes and hearts were opening to how big God really is, and we have wanted to experience more of that," Chapman says on the Web site.

"We've really wondered whether or not we should just go to China and stay there. But I don't think so. I believe God is saying, 'I want you to go, get your heart broken, your eyes opened, and then take this story back to the church in America and around the world."'

The 45-year-old singer also has released a book about being a father titled "Cinderella: The Love of Daddy and his Princess." He has won five Grammy awards and 54 Dove awards from the Gospel Music Association, according to Kelm.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

**Link to Family Website and Memorial Videos**

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Essay Contest--$3,000 Prize!

Life Lessons Essay Contest: What Was the Most Important Day of Your Life?


Perhaps it was the day of your high school graduation. The day you started your dream job — or left a nightmare workplace. Maybe it was a day noted for its poignancy or one that was downright hilarious. Whatever your memory of the most important day of your life is, share it.Enter Real Simple’s first-ever Life Lessons essay contest and you could have your essay published in Real Simple, with a prize of $3,000. Contest entries should be a maximum of 1,500 words.

E-mail your entries to lifelessons@realsimple.com, or mail them to Essay Contest, Real Simple, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, 9th floor, New York, NY 10020. Deadline: Online entries must be received by 11:59 P.M. on September 9, 2008. Mailed entries must be postmarked by September 9, 2008, and received by September 16, 2008.

Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, age 19 or older at time of entry. Void where prohibited by law. All entries become the property of Real Simple and will not be returned.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Little BumGenius!

Today we started cloth diapers. I'm so excited! I know most of you are thinking that I'm crazy, but I swear, I'm not :)

Several of our friends, including Katrina, use cloth diapers and love them. I've talked with Katrina many times about them and even went with her to Tree City Diapers in Ann Arbor shortly after Steven arrived. I was sold on them, but Mark wasn't (and still really isn't).

Finally, this weekend Mark and I went to Tree City Diapers, which was an interesting experience for Mark! It's so nice to have a diaper store in the area because we were able to see every type of cloth diaper available. I had already made up my mind, but I had the mom who works there walk Mark through some of the differences. We ended up buying BumGenius one size pocket diapers (which is what Katrina uses). We only got six for now since they are quite pricy and Mark isn't convinced I can really do it. (We are putting our stimulus check to good use--first a camcorder and now diapers!)

There are a lot of reasons that I've decided to use cloth diapers (we'll still use disposables for church, babysitters, and traveling), but the main two are that they are more environmentally friendly, and they come out way cheaper in the long run. Katrina estimated that they recouped all their money in six months. And she's going to use them for baby #2 pretty soon.

A side benefit is that we're supporting a local business run by a couple moms. They started off with a website, and it grew to the point that they have a store that's open three days a week. Different moms take turns working, and they bring their babies with them. I was surprised that they remembered me 5+ months after my initial visit, although having a black baby does make us stand out :)

I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

First Beans, Then Peas, and Now Butternut Squash!

Yep, we started Steven on solid foods (again). We took a while off since he wasn't super interested, and we didn't really want to do the work--bottles are so much easier! However, last week in Clarks Summit, we started up with cereal again. Our friend Eric suggested we put more formula powder in the cereal, and that worked. Steven loves it.

Last Sunday, we gave him green beans, and no surprise, he loves them too. We did that for three days and then switched to peas. Seriously, I'm not sure if he has very good taste buds because he didn't even seem to notice that it wasn't green beans. Today we tried the squash. Again, no real reaction to it--he just wanted it RIGHT NOW. We could tell he hadn't had a good enough nap because he got upset that I wasn't feeding him fast enough. I would have had to have super powers to feed him any faster! He's eating a jar of food at a time, in addition to the cereal, and usually a smallish bottle.

Next, we're trying carrots. This will be interesting since I'm making them myself. I bought frozen carrots at the store (better than fresh because of the nitrates) and borrowed a food processor. I'm planning on making almost all my own baby food, mainly to cut costs. It's better for him too. I'll let you know how that all goes!

What other vegetables should I do? I'm going to do pumpkin after carrots, but after that, I don't know what. I'm also making peaches and pears for his first fruits. Any other food suggestions?

I don't have any pictures of him eating, but honestly, they wouldn't be all that exciting. He just eats it as fast as I can shovel it in, and he never made any funny faces. Oh well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hard Week

When Mark went back to work on Monday after returning from our trip to Pa, he found out that one of his employees had died over the weekend. She was only 33 years old, so it was a huge shock to everyone. Needless to say, it has been a hard week for him.

On top of that, he's had to try to figure out exactly what she did each day. They always said that they needed to have someone else learn her job in case she left suddenly, but there were always other things to do, plus she liked to keep her work to herself. Mark knows a lot of his employees jobs, but this wasn't one of them.

We don't know yet when the funeral is, but Mark is planning on going. (They have to wait until the autopsy is complete.)

I talked to my friend Rachel about this Monday evening and found out that when her husband went to work that morning, he too found out that one of his coworkers had died over the weekend. Keith had worked with him for quite a few years, first at a different company and then the one he's at now. This person was only 29 years old and died in a motorcycle accident. He's taking it hard too.

It's amazing how fast your world can turn upside down. I don't know if either of these people were christians, but I do know that a lot of people are hurting right now. Thanks for praying for Mark and Keith and the families of these two people.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Dad Rules!



Yeah, I Know I'm Cute!


Grandpa Hal, Nanny, and New Toys!

It was great to get to spend some quality time with Mark's parents. They had only seen Steven twice before, and each time was pretty brief. They definitely loved having him and had a hard time letting him go yesterday afternoon.

Steven and His Grandpa Hal




Having Fun and Bonding


There's nothing like new toys at the grandparents' house! Steven especially loved the see and say because he's really into animal sounds!


Uncle Andy and Balloons

There is no doubt that Steven loves his Uncle Andy. Andy has spent the most time with Steven since he was living in Indiana and went to Iowa with us. Uncle Andy is a huge help, and he's even willing to change diapers! We definitely love our Uncle Andy!



Steven had never seen balloons before since we can't have them in the house. Josie (our cat) eats the curling ribbon and then throws it back up all over the house. That means no more birthday balloons tied to my chair :( We do have the option of getting balloons and cutting off the ribbon, but that's a pain, and they just stick to the ceiling.


Not sure what to think about balloons


Still looking at them


Getting closer


Hmmm. Still not sure what to think.


Uncle Ron, Aunt Rachel, and Aunt Beth!

We had a great time seeing Mark's sisters and soon-to-be brother-in-law. Of course, everyone loved the little buddy. (How could you not??)

Steven with Aunt Rachel and Uncle Ron



On Friday, I put twists in Steven's hair, and you can somewhat see them in this picture. They were super cute! Even Mark liked them! I thought for sure that he'd want me to take them out before the small graduation open house that evening.

Just Hanging Out with Aunt Beth


Steven loves to eat the strings on hoodies, and here he is chomping away on Aunt Beth's. He also likes to pull on them, and if you aren't fast enough, he will pull them all the way out. My new trick is to tie a loose knot at the end of each one so it won't fit through the opening.


Home Again

We made it to my parents' house by 10:15 this evening (Sunday). We went to drop LJ off and pick up our car, but we ended up staying for a while. Mom wanted to help feed Steven his first non-cereal solid--green beans. He likes them. I think he'll like everything--that kid just wants to eat real food!

We had a good trip, took a good number of pictures, and had a good Mother's Day (even though most of it was spent in the car).

Tomorrow I'll post pictures and tell you more about our trip. I'm way too tired right now, and I promised Mark I wouldn't stay up late, and I still have the little buddy's laundry to do. (Yeah, it has to be done tonight since we had quite a surprise in his pants when I went to change him in a McDonalds in Pa. Fun.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Heading to PA!

This afternoon, Mark, Steven, and I are heading out to see Mark's family in PA. His sister Rachel is graduating from college on Friday, and we're meeting up with friends we haven't seen in FOREVER on Saturday.

This will be just the third time that Steven has seen his Grandpa Hal and Nanny. They will be amazed at how he's changed since the beginning of February. Mark's brother, Andy, couldn't believe the difference between Easter and now when he was out this weekend. Steven's become much more animated, and doesn't nap nearly as much as he used to. He plays with his toys enthusiastically instead of just staring at them :)

I'm hoping he does well on the trip. It's about the same distance as it was to Iowa for Easter, but this time we won't have Uncle Andy in the back to entertain him. He also has become a tad clingy--I ended up napping on the couch yesterday morning because Steven cried and wouldn't sleep if he couldn't see me (he was in his swing--no way was he going in his crib!). Overall, though, he's doing great.

We're taking my parents' van this time because we're bringing Lauren (and all her stuff) back from school. Well, I'm off to finish packing the little buddy--he requires so much stuff! If we're going to leave by 3:30, I had better finish quickly!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Fun Pictures

Steven is developing new skills everyday now. I can hand him his rattle, and he will take it from my hand and put it right in his mouth. This pinwheel rattle used to be way too heavy for him to hold, but you can see that he's an old pro at it now! Don't you just love the look on his face?!





Yesterday, I was doing Steven's hair before church. I had washed it the night before but hadn't put any ointment or cream in it. I wet it down and put his eucerin in it. (It is the consistency of petroleum jelly.) It is hard to do it now because Steven has an incredibly thick spot of hair (right next to a good sized bald spot). I need to get the ointment on his scalp to keep it from getting so dried out. Needless to say, that's quite a challenge.

I put the eucerin in his hair and started to comb out the dry flakes. We have to use an adult comb because of how thick it is now! As I was working on it, I discovered that I could slick it back when it was really went. Then I realized that I could give him a nice comb over. We called it the Grandpa Hal look :)

You can't really see it in the picture, but it was pretty cute (unlike on certain other people!). Much to Mark's dismay, I decided to take him to church like that. However, by the time we got to church, almost all his little curls had popped back up. Oh well.


Just chilling with his hat on.


This picture makes it look like he is bursting at the seams in his outfit. He's not--it's just the way he's sitting :) Oh, and notice the big yawn. He must have been so tired after getting a poopy diaper changed (Uncle Andy's first diaper change! He had to learn since he is babysitting the buddy today.)



After this picture, I left for work. I had given Andy a list of phone numbers to call if he needed anything. I got his first call about 20 minutes after he left. The cat had pooped on the floor, and he wanted to know if we had carpet cleaner. Bad cat. (And not so good person who was supposed to clean out the litter box!)

The next call came a few hours when Steven had wet through his diaper. I talked Andy through the basics of it, and then I heard him yell a bit--Steven had pooped again :) Less than 5 minutes later, I got another call from Andy telling me that Steven had then peed all over himself during the diaper change. (He did that Saturday night and we ended up having to give him a bath, including washing his hair!) I talked him through that too, and fortunately, I haven't heard from his for the past 2+ hours.

Poor Andy!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Starting to Move!

Several times this week, I've left Steven on his playmat while I worked on something, and when I've returned, he wasn't where I left him! He doesn't go far--he's always still at least partially on the playmat, but he's moving. I'm not sure how he does it since I haven't seen it, but I generally lay him east/west, and when I've returned he's been north/south (or close to it).

I've only seen him roll over once this week, and that was on the couch (don't worry--I was sitting there with him), but he comes really close to rolling over back to tummy. He can get his hips and legs rolled over, but not the top of him. He just can't get his arms out of the way!

Other news from this week:

Steven is now consistently sleeping through the night! Yay!!! He's only had one bottle in the night this week, but we've had to "plug him in" (with his pacifier) several nights. Still, that's not bad at all!

He also upgraded to the next size up pacifier because he kept trying to put the whole thing in his mouth. I was surprised that the shield wasn't bigger, but the nipple is, so that should keep him from getting too much in his mouth. (It's so much more interesting to chew the pacifier than to suck on it, of course!)

We also bought stage 2 nipples for his Born Free bottles. (He was always on stage 2 with his Evenflo glass ones, but we've been phasing those out since you can't use them for self feeding.) We use the Born Free bottles because they don't have bisphenol A (BPA) in them like Avent (supposed to come out with a BPA free version this summer), Dr. Browns (was supposed to have a BPA free version available April 15th, but I haven't seen it yet), and practically all other brands. (Canada is banning BPA in all their bottles.) They're more expensive, but we've loved them from day one. The exciting thing is that the Dr. Brown's wide nipples work with them. They cost less than half the price of the Born Free ones!

I know that you can go crazy trying to protect your kids from all the chemicals out there, and it would be practically impossible to do so anyways. We've chosen to focus on bottles because of the disturbing side effects of BPA and the fact that we use bottles exclusively. This is a personal decision for us, and I don't want you to think that I think you are a horrible parent if you don't agree :) It's just something that we've chosen to avoid as much as possible. I do, however, encourage you to research it for yourself.

I've added a list of links to the right to help you out if you're interested in learning more. (Some are a bit extreme, but I've added them because they usually have good lists of BPA free items.)

**Medela pumping products are all BPA free :)