Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Cheer

Yuletide Greetings From Us to You! 

Christmas cards are in the mail, the tree is up, and I have hives. It's officially Christmas!

I love decorating the tree (even though I am allergic) because our ornaments bring back so many fond memories. Jeff and I started the tradition of buying a special ornament every year, one that represents the journeys of the last 12 months. We also buy one each time we go on vacation, and cherish the ornaments gifted to us by others. We laugh, smile, cry, and reminisce each time a new ornament gets taken out of the box. I do not think there is any better way to decorate your home.

Hand-knit ornaments we bought on our trip to Iceland.

A beautiful bird gifted to us by Jeff's mom.

A corgi ornament (corgament) we found after we got Willow.

We went on a hot air balloon ride the year we bought this one. 

And most important to us, a Family Tree ornament, and Baby's First from Everett's first Christmas.

When I was little, I noticed a spark in the air every Christmas. We were waiting for Santa to come, writing him letters, baking him cookies, hoping we had been good enough to get presents under the tree. My older siblings told me they heard reindeer on the roof, and I stayed up as late as I could, listening with excitement.

Now that I am older, I am surprised to still find that same spark of excitement at this time each year. Even after I stopped "believing," I waited in anticipation for Santa to ride around our neighborhood on his sleigh, shouting "Ho! Ho! Ho!" to the sound of Christmas music. And a few years later, my big brother was that Santa! I ran out with all the little kids, watching with pride as he brought joy to those around me.

And now that I am really grown up, there are few people in my world who still believe in Santa. However, each day I walk into work, I feel that spark of excitement coming from the college students. They will be going home soon, taking a break from homework, eating proper food, and reading Harry Potter instead of Plato's Republic.

This spark? I think it is Hope. We are all waiting in anticipation this Advent season. And whether or not you believe (in Santa or Jesus' birth), you cannot help but feel the Joy and happiness around you. So drink some wassail*, eat all the cookies you can*, and snuggle up with your loved ones this season. Because no matter what life throws at you, there is always Hope.

*I always take my own advice. My gallbladder hurts...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ebble's Favorite Things: Christmas Edition

1. Baby Moccasins. A few months ago, I bought Everett these baby moccasins off Etsy. They are my faves! The other day, Everett and I were out shopping at Costco. He was not wearing his moccasins because he hid one of them under the crib, I could not find it, and I was in a hurry to get us out the door. When I put him in the car after our shopping adventure, I realized he had lost one of his Robeez shoes in the warehouse. I spent the next 30 minutes of my life frantically searching the store - and I'm lucky I did finally find the shoe in that madhouse. I wished he was wearing his moccasins because the wrap-around laces make it hard for him to kick or pull off the shoes. He will eventually pull off and chew on anything decorating his foot, but the design of this bootie makes it MUCH harder. Buying shoes at this age is tough. You need something to protect their walking feet, but many baby shoes are not designed for little walkers, and can actually hinder their walking development. I can't remember where I read this, but in my mom research I learned that soft-soled shoes are best for little babies who are finding their feet. Everett will be getting a pair of  fuzzy bootie moccasins for Christmas to keep his feet warm and cozy during these chilly months. The best part? Etsy purchases support small businesses, this particular shop owner uses all local materials, and her products have stood the test of time in our household. Worth every penny.
2.   Four Graces Winery. Since my last post made me sound like a total wine-o, I decided to feature my new favorite wine on this month's favorites. Embrace your vices! The Four Graces winery is a small establishment in Oregon wine country. We stopped by their tasting room on a whim while wine tasting, and I am so glad we did. Sometimes the smaller vineyards have the best wine. Though in my opinion, the high quality of this wine will not keep them small for long. Get it while it's cheap...ish. Our favorites were the Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. We do not usually like whites, so that is really saying something. A bottle of this will make a great Christmas gift, or the perfect dinner wine for a special occasion - like Christmas. We got a bottle for our nanny, who could really use the alcohol after a week with 2 babies. NOTE: don't be mistaken, we rarely spend more than $10 on a bottle of wine.
3. Zebra Push Toy. A friend of mine sent me the link to this toy. LOVE! I remember toys like this from my childhood, and they were always my favorite. This one is especially appealing to me because it is made of natural materials, which is always a plus in my book.
4. Riding toys. Oh man. Everett got one of these for his birthday, and he will not stop playing with it. This toy is the perfect "big Christmas present" for a reasonable price. In my experience, you can't go wrong with a toy if it has wheels.  
5. Costco Peppermint Bark. No description necessary. I hope you are lucky enough to have a Costco in your area. Then, I hope you are lucky enough that the Peppermint Bark is not sold out. Check the bakery section for a delicious holiday treat.
6. Christmas in the Manger. Our friend M gave Everett this book for his birthday. I cried at the turn of every page when reading it for the first time. Then I couldn't stop crying. Christmas is a very emotional time for me...obviously. The book is written with sweet little poems on every page, and beautifully captures the true meaning of Christmas.
7. Recycled Plastic Stacker. I featured this one a few months back, but it is just as used today as it was then. Now Everett is learning to put the toy back together, so I am not having to clean up after him as much, and he is developing his hand-eye coordination.
8. SleepSacks. I was skeptical of this product at first. I mean, why not just put a blanket on your kid? I have seen the light! Once babies start tossing and turning in their sleep, a blanket does not stay covering their little bodies. A Sleep Sack will keep your little bundle warm on the coldest of nights - nights when Mom is cuddled in a down blanket and fuzzy socks (both of which will fall off a baby).

Everett will also be getting a convertible car seat for Christmas. After about a year of research, we have it narrowed down to 1) Clek Foonf, 2) Chicco Nextfit, 3) Maxi Cosi Pria 70, and 4) Britax Marathon. Now accepting suggestions on brands.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

First Birthday Celebration!

 It's been a hectic and emotional couple of weeks for the Wirth household. We had a relaxing Thanksgiving in Portland, then immediately went into beast mode for birthday party preparation when we returned to Spokane. Jeff and I both had to work on Everett's actual birthday, so we really wanted to make his party weekend special.

To start off the weekend, Everett got his first haircut. I had no idea how emotional this experience was going to be, and I realize now that I did not give myself enough time to process the action before I brought Everett to the salon. As a result, I could not sleep for two nights after we cut off his baby hair, I cried way too many times, and I hated myself for jumping the gun on this very important milestone - which does not seem so important for those who are not parents.

A baby becomes less of a baby once that fine hair is cut off. It will never grow back quite as soft, and it will never be quite the same hue. People kept commenting on how long his hair was getting, so I felt a little pressured to have him looking clean-cut for his birthday party. If we had our way, and if society did not put pressures and expectations on us, we would not have cut Everett''s hair until it turned into a mullet. That being said, I do not think our decision was wrong...or right. Having stepped back and taken the time to process it all, I finally see a handsome little boy when I look at my son. He is still my baby, and I still love him just as much, but it is more physically obvious how much he is growing up. And the real bonus? He is no longer brushing hair out of his eyes when it is windy outside.


After. She took off that little bit, but I still cried.

And now we shall talk about the BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZA!!!

First, we had to determine how to integrate birthday decor into the already existing Christmas decor. We did end up moving a few winter decorations to storage during the party, which gave us a couple stations that were specifically dedicated to birthday madness.

To make life easier on ourselves, we served Costco polish sausages (warmed on high in a crock pot for 2 hours) with a variety of topping options, chips, crock pot vegetarian chili, fruit salad, and pesto pasta salad.

We made funfetti cupcakes for our guests, then frosted them using this recipe. Dip the cupcakes into a bowl of sprinkles and you get a yummy treat!

I made Everett's smash cake by filling 3 ramekins with batter and baking them with the cupcakes. Next, cut off two of the raised tops and stack the pieces, using frosting to hold the layers together. Cover the whole thing with frosting, throw on some sprinkles, and you've got it! So. Easy.

This was Everett's first experience with cake. Let's just say he wasn't the biggest fan.

The singing wasn't all that bad. He kinda loved it. 

But then he knocked over the cake. That spooked him a little.

 He decided to be brave and try it anyway...

 Not having it, so I decided to help...big mistake.

He was already mad, so might as well smash his hands into the cake...

Aaaand we've just about had enough...


But everything went back to normal after we got him cleaned up. 

He then got to open some wonderful gifts from his family and friends.

Everett may not remember his first birthday party, but getting through the first year of parenting is definitely something to celebrate. So, celebrate we did.

 Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us! 

And now it's time to decorate the house for I know why birthdays close to the holidays often get forgotten.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Lurkey Thanksgiving Craft

Okay, I have one more Thanksgiving craft to share. Everett and I had fun with this over the weekend, and I wanted to share our creation.


  • Baby foot.
  • Ink pad.
  • White card stock/canvas/paper.
  • Pencil.
  • Scissors.
  • Pinking shears (optional).
  • Craft glue.
  • Brown card stock/paper.
  • Red card stock/paper.
  • Orange card stock/paper.
  • Black marker.

Step 1

Stamp Baby's foot on the white card stock, fanning out each print as you go. Make sure the heel is in about the same spot for each stamp. Five footprints is ideal, but I couldn't get more than three out of my wiggly guy.

Step 2

Using the pinking shears, cut out a circle. I used a Christmas CD to draw the shape (you can use any CD, it doesn't have to be Christmas-themed).

Step 3

Still using the pinking shears, start at the outside of the circle and cut a spiral until you reach the inside of the circle.

Step 4

Starting at the inside of your spiral, twist a loose flower shape, gluing the paper in place as you go. See pictures's hard to explain in words.

Step 5

Glue the shape to the bottom of the footprints. Next, create the head. Cut a smaller circle with the scissors (not the pinking shears). A milk bottle cap makes a great stencil for the head. Glue the head to the body.

Step 6

Use the orange card stock to make a beak, and the red card stock to make a gobble (what is the technical term for that thing anyway?). Glue these to the head, and draw in eyes with a black marker or sharpie. You're done! Don't forget to sign your work.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Long Term Relationship

Aaand another post about breastfeeding. Feel free to skip this one if you so choose.

We did it, Everett. We made it to 12 months of nursing. It was 12 months ago that I made the commitment to do whatever it took to breastfeed. We have had our ups and downs, both physically and emotionally, but at the same time this has been a rewarding and life-changing experience. I would not trade it for anything.

While washing out my pump parts at work in the public restroom, I have been asked a handful of times, "How much longer are you planning to do that?" or "How old is your baby now?" These questions are asked with a crinkled nose and curled upper lip.

There are many options as to how one can respond to these questions. You can go off on a tangent about how the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months; or how the World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age. Or maybe how breastfeeding helps defend against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions. Here's my reasoning: it is free, it is convenient, it's exercise while sitting on your ass, and it is an incredible way to bond with your baby.

I could spout off all these facts when questioned about the decisions I make as a mother, but my simple, go-to answer is this: "As long as he wants me to, I will breastfeed my baby." And despite what the purists say, Everett is getting to the point where he no longer wants to see my boob - particularly Ol' Lefty (we've come full circle).

I will NEVER sit back and judge a mom who feeds formula to her baby. This is because I know how challenging nursing can be. If you have followed this blog, you know what I have been through. That being said, I might judge a mom who feeds chicken nuggets to her baby...Oh wait, I've done that...shoot. Everett's never had celery, so I'll judge a mom who feeds her baby celery. Phew, glad I figured that one out. Anyway, breastfeeding is a commitment, and an extremely personal decision. If you too are committed to embarking on this journey and are physically able to do so, I have learned a few things that I would like to share.

  • Hospitals hand out nipple shields like candy on Halloween. If you are told by a nurse that you have flat or inverted nipples, but have never noticed them being flat or inverted in the past, run for the hills! IV fluids administered in the hospital may have swollen your lady parts. Unless you truly have flat or inverted nipples, you probably don't need the nipple shield. See the link in the previous sentence for advice on other techniques you can try when nursing with flat or inverted nipples.
  • In the beginning, latch that baby as often as you can. You can always sleep while nursing. And a two-week old baby is NOT ready for a schedule. Even Babywise recognizes this.
  • is your b(r)est friend, as is the My Brest Friend. We still used the Boppy for propping and nursing on-the-go, but I feel more comfortable when using the My Brest Friend at home. The only downside is that it's hard to squeeze into the glider with it attached to me, so I generally only use it when nursing on the couch.  
  • If the doctor instructs you to supplement with formula, run for the hills! Pouring food down a baby's throat will make him/her get used to the fast flow of a bottle. You might not be able to latch your baby after this. Instead, try nursing for longer stretches to get Baby that fatty hindmilk. As we discovered, breastfed babies do not grow at the same rate as the formula charts at your pediatrician's office. And what irks me the most is that the same doctor who told you to supplement in the beginning, thus ruining your nursing experience, will likely judge you for not nursing at a later date...just warning.
  • Remember that your #1 job as a mother is to give life to your baby. I tell myself this every time I get frustrated, and it really helps put things in perspective.  
  • It is hard to work out when you are a nursing mother. Good thing you don't have to! Breastfeeding burns 500 calories a day. I haven't been to the gym in over a year, and am still shedding pounds. Hmmm...maybe I should cancel my gym membership? Would you rather work out on a treadmill, or on the couch watching Gossip Girl? I think we all know the answer to this question.
  • If you must use a bottle and still plan to nurse, use the lowest nipple flow possible. Baby turning 2 months old does not mean you should switch to size 2 nipples. Everett is still using newborn nipples on his bottles, and he is able to guzzle the milk. Switching to fast-flowing nipples may cause your baby frustration during nursing because of the slower flow, and you may end up weaning early.
  • Nipple pain is temporary. Keep up the good work.
  • Eat when you are hungry and drink when you are thirsty. Oatmeal is a fast, healthy treat for lactating women. Stir in some peanut butter for an extra dose of protein.
  • Wear clothing that makes your goods accessible. Waiting for a flowy shirt to get out of the way, or having a bunch of fabric falling everywhere, can frustrate you and Baby. Keep it simple. Mommy costumes are the best, and you'll fit right in at the mall.
  • When pumping, make sure you are relaxed and comfortable. If you are in a closet, I hope there is a lock on the door. I have a space heater in my office to keep me warm, and my phone is close so I can look at pictures of Everett/consult
  • More pumping advice. Pump until you are no longer flowing, as this will protect your supply. This will also ensure Baby gets plenty of hindmilk when he/she is away from you. Breast compression and massaging may cause more to liquid gold to flow. If you think you are done, try massaging, compressing, and maybe leaning over and shaking, then pump again. You might have more to give!
  • Experiment with pump shield sizes. I use a larger sized shield on one side. No two tits are created equally.
  • Nursing the distracted baby...Oh, Everett drove me crazy between 4 and 6 months. Try to keep Baby stimulated during nursing. I switched him to the other side every time he got distracted, and that was enough to get him latched for another minute or so. Switch as often as possible until Baby is completely done feeding. You may also want to try grabbing a toy or ribbon for Baby to tinker with. You may need to switch rooms, turn off the TV, or switch off the lights. Worst case scenario, take a break and come back to it in 20 minutes.
  • If you are baffled by your progress or lack thereof, read this article. It helped me to understand Everett's cues during those maddening milestone phases.
  • Know your limits. Only you know what is best for your sanity. If switching to formula is the best decision for you and your family, then take the plunge. And try not to feel guilty (easier said than done).

I want to thank everyone for their love and support over the last year. I have learned from the experience that there are  many women struggling with the growth charts. This makes me wonder why 50% of my friends with babies are in the 5th percentile. The math just doesn't add up. That being said, having been so stressed out about this topic, I would love to empower families to talk about their feelings and emotions. There are hundreds of women and men around the world who follow this blog. If you or someone you know has similar experiences, please feel free to share, as well as offer advice to others who are struggling (including myself). I put myself out there, not knowing what would happen, and discovered there were many other families who have been through the same thing, but were just too embarrassed to talk about it.  

So there you have it, our nursing journey.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving Craft

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love how we use this day to spend time with loved ones and express gratitude....then eat your heart out. I wanted to make a quick, easy craft like this one, and make it my own. The hardest part about this craft was when fabric paint squirted all over me. Luckily I wasn't wearing anything important, but it did take 15 minutes to get all the black paint out of my hair.

  • Pencil.
  • Scissors.
  • Cardboard box.
  • Rough fabric, such as burlap (I had muslin so used it).
  • Fabric paint.
  • Paint brush.
  • Twine (I didn't have this so used jute rope).
  • Hot glue gun.

Step 1:  Using an old cardboard box, create a stencil for the banners in the shape of a triangle.

Step 2: Use the stencil to trace and cut 8 triangles from your fabric.

Step 3: Using the fabric paint, write your letters on the cut fabric. Be sure to put something under the fabric as you paint. You can use stencils if you don't feel confident writing freehand.

Step 4: Lay down the rope or twine in the same shape it will be hung. You want it as close as possible to its hanging shape so the letters line up on the correct side of the string. Take your hot glue gun and glue the letters to your twine/rope.

Step 5: Hang! I used small thumb tacks to keep the banner in place.

Sorry for the messy final picture. Some of us work and aren't home during daylight.

This year, we will be joining Jeff's family in Portland to celebrate Thanksgiving. And it also happens to be his sister's birthday, so we will be celebrating her as well. I can't wait!


I'm thankful for this guy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

One Year

Time is ticking. November is flying by faster than I can articulate, and my little nugget is growing every day, exploring every minute, and learning every second. Last week, we put him to bed in a pair of pajamas; last night, we could not get the same outfit buttoned. My box of baby keepsakes is getting full, and there are still so many memories I want to package forever. Everett is almost a year old, and he is hardly a baby anymore.

What has this year meant for me? Everything.

Savoring the Moment - Taking a Breath
I feel like I just finished a marathon - tired, sore, gasping for breath - but I also find myself wanting to hit the start line again, wanting to breathe the life back into all those experiences we are leaving behind. The journey, my friends, is a challenging one, but it is also remarkable. I want to see, taste, feel, smell, hear it all again. But I can't. You only have your first baby once, and no other experience can compare. 

It is easy to get caught up in time. We live in a culture that requires us to act a certain way. We are told to eat X foods, work X hours, exercise X times a week, volunteer X, give X, take X, make X. Babies require you to put on the brakes and evaluate what is truly necessary. I remember the moment I finally let go of all those expectations. I was nursing Everett, frustrated it was taking so long, and quite frankly, ready to throw in the towel. On a whim, I looked out the window and watched the snow fall softly on the lawn, and for the first time, noticed the way it kissed the golden leaves stubbornly hanging onto the trees. Meanwhile, cars rushed by on the street below the scene as commuters made their way to work.

I finally realized my world as a Mother was about just me and him, and the two of us being present and mindful in the moment, even while the rest of the world frantically continued in its everyday chaos. For what is just another snowflake to an adult is a marvel to a baby. They are looking to us for comfort and stability in this big, crazy world with all its bright lights, loud noises, and cold air. My purpose as a Mom has been to be there for him, to give him life, and to slowly teach him how to let go and navigate it all on his own. Why rush this? Why throw him to the lions before he is ready? And why put down a sweet baby to attend a relaxing yoga class, when his quiet breath can put you into deep, tranquil meditation?

Look in your baby's eyes and smile often, watch her accomplish all those firsts, because no matter how small the step, that moment was important and wonderful. Life cannot be measured in inches and ounces, but rather in experiences and memories. 

Being Confident - Embrace the Mommy Guilt
Being a mother, I find I have never been questioned more, both by myself and others. Every day I call myself a failure, yet I know each moment is a small victory. I have been judged for our childcare, judged for working, judged for not wanting to work, judged for breastfeeding, judged for using a bottle, judged for feeding him pancakes, judged for making his food, judged for the diapers I use, judged for the diapers I do not use, judged for letting my son wear a necklace, judged for dressing him in blue, judged for not exercising, judged for being too skinny, judged for using a baby carrier, judged for using a stroller, judged for him crying in the store, judged for his quiet demeanor in public...

No matter what you do as a parent, someone will accuse you of doing it wrong. However, I am confident that each decision I have made as a mother was my best, and I have zero guilt over those decisions. Never let anyone tell you otherwise, and know that if they are judging, they are probably insecure in themselves.

Build a Community
It is amazing what kids can do to your social life. Some people call us lame-os because we cannot go out after 7pm anymore, and we cannot afford a babysitter because all our money goes to childcare during the day. However, some friendships you make after becoming a parent can truly surprise you. Before we had Everett, I had a loose acquaintance through church who I saw every few weeks. I was never interested in her friendship, and always kind of judged her for being an idiot. However, after our sweet boy was born, she became one of my best friends and greatest advocates. She checks in with us on a regular basis, has unlimited amounts of advice and encouragement (when solicited), and is one of the strongest women I know. I am so grateful for her friendship, and am truly surprised at how being a parent has transformed our relationship.

Surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally, and who accept you as you are. Embrace these individuals as part of your extended family. After all, it takes a village to raise a parent.

Loving Life
After educating myself about, as well as experiencing pregnancy, delivery, and being a parent, I have learned that the human body is a miracle, and babies are the ultimate manifestation of that miracle. Part of loving your life is being confident in yourself and your decisions, but it is also about cherishing the gift of life itself. We are here, living this moment, because we are lucky enough to do so. Life is so precious - of that I will never again take advantage.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ebble's Favorite Things: November Edition

1. Van Gogh and Merlot - My office had a private party with Ulysses Mireles, founder and owner of Van Gogh and Merlot in Spokane. Basically, you sit and drink wine while painting, and Ulysses  instructs the group on how to create a fantastic piece of art. Before we started, I was completely overwhelmed, wondering how my final product was going to look anything like the sample, but he has such a wonderful way of explaining how to make a blank canvas come alive - even if you are not an artist or artistically inclined. You can see my finished product here. Check out the website for information on when/where you can join the painting party!
2.  Alba Botanica ACNEdote Wash - As we have discussed, stress has given me a bit of an acne problem these days (#househunting). I have been using Clinique's acne wash for a few years now, but Alba's new ACNEdote wash was recently recommended to me by an esthetician. My skin is far from perfect now, but let me just say that this stuff is rad. It smells fresh and strips makeup off better than any other product I have used, and that includes removing waterproof mascara. After 2 months of use, I am very pleased with this product. 
3.  Aden and Anais Swaddling Blankets - This is a product we have been using since Everett was a wee one. When he liked being swaddled, we would wrap him tight in these blankets. Today, he still uses them as comfort objects. If you peep your head into his room while he is falling asleep, you will see him clutching one close to his face.
4.  Cloud B Sleep Sheep - We started using Everett's Sleep Sheep when he was just a couple weeks old. The Happiest Baby On the Block suggests using sound machines for newborns, as they are used to the sound of Mother's womb. We are still using the Sleep Sheep to create ambient noise while Everett is asleep. It makes our talking and TV watching less obvious when Everett is listening to the sound of the ocean. I like the sounds programmed into the on-the-go version, and it is easy to take from home to the babysitter's house, but I've heard people are also happy with the larger version.
5.  Trader Joe's Harvest Blend Herbal Tea - I like tea, but I would not call myself a tea drinker. On the average day, I would rather grab a cup of coffee or wine, but this impulse buy from my trip to Trader Joe's the other day has converted me. I get home from work, and the first thing I want to do is make a glass of this tea. The taste, the texture, the way it makes my living room smell...I love everything about it. Last night, I fell asleep on the couch holding a cup of this, and I dropped the full mug all over myself and Willow when I started dozing. We smelled like autumn gladness.
6. Pampered Chef Serrated Peeler - This peeler is legit. It has been a staple in my baby-food-making adventures. This guy peels a peach with finesse, and slices through the outside of a jicama like a boss. Peeling produce has never been so fast and easy. However, do not let the kids use this because it is sharp. I can't tell you how many times (after drinking wine) I've cut myself with this thing. Consider yourself warned: don't drink and peel.

I just realized this post makes me sound like a total wine-o. I promise I don't drink that much.

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