Friday, February 29, 2008

Mirror, Mirror

Violet couldn't resist giving that adorable baby a great big kiss!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Don't Know How She Does It . . .

Even after a string of sleepless nights, Violet is all smiles. It's truly inspirational. Fortunately, it's also contagious. Who needs sleep, anyway?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Our Valentine

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Violet Goes Bananas

The other big event of the past weekend didn't take us beyond our dining room, but was an adventure nonetheless: Violet's first experience eating solid food. At six months, Violet is old enough to start experimenting with solid food if she's interested, and her lunges at our plates seemed like a pretty good indication that she was. We offered bananas for the occasion, and though it took some time for any to make its way to her mouth, she worked intently on picking up the pieces we'd cut for her (slippery suckers!) and once she'd had a taste she went back for more.

Although rice cereal or jarred baby food are more traditional introductions to solids, based on our research, we decided to take a different approach referred to as Baby-Led Weaning (BLW). The phrase 'baby-led weaning' might be misleading, as the term 'weaning' could imply a more immediate end to her nursing; of course every baby ultimately does wean from milk or formula to solid food, but it's a gradual process and no less so with BLW.

The underlying principle of BLW is as simple as it sounds: letting the baby take the lead on her solid food intake. Instead of feeding her baby food or other purees from a spoon, we offer Violet the real thing to pick up and feed herself, giving her the opportunity to explore everything about her food - taste, texture, color, smell - at her own pace, and eat as much or as little as she wants. The emphasis is on discovery and the experience of eating as a whole (including squishing your food between your fingers!). Because the bulk of a baby's calories and nutrition continue to come from breastmilk or formula until at least a year old, how much she actually eats at any given meal isn't terribly important. It's a messy business for sure, but we have so much fun watching her we don't mind the cleanup. And Atticus is happy to help with whatever ends up on the floor.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Violet Goes Skiing

We took Violet out on the cross-country trails of our local ski resort, Bogus Basin, for the first time this past Sunday. (It was my first time attempting to cross-country ski as well.) If you're wondering how a six month old can ski, the answer is in style. Violet was cozy in her Chariot carrier outfitted with the XC Ski kit, a pretty sweet ride if the fact that she snoozed through almost the entire trek is any indication. It wasn't quite as cushy a trip for me - as I am alpine-incompetent, the one slight downhill slope we encountered found me falling backwards and forwards until we returned to gentler slopes. Fortunately, it was a short stretch. Overall, I really enjoyed cross-country skiing; it's much more my speed than downhill. We had a fantastic time spending the day out in the snow together, and we're looking forward to heading back up the next chance we get!

Friday, February 08, 2008

There's More Where This Came From

I've resolved - somewhat tardily in terms of the New Year - to post more often, and specifically, to post photos of Violet more often. I've been giving the new camera a workout, so there are plenty to share, starting with this shot of Violet at Serenity (her daycare). I've been toting the camera with me when I visit her there at lunch, to catch some of some of the fun she's having on "film."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Yes We Can

Nobody has been more surprised than we have at the overwhelming support for Barack Obama we're seeing in Idaho. In what is often thought of as one of the most conservative states in the nation, almost 15,000 people (Eric, Violet and I among them) stood in the snow early last Saturday to get in to his speech at Boise State; nearly 8,000 die-hard dems lined up again (and again, in the snow!) to participate in Idaho's caucus on Super Tuesday.

Though she won't remember it, Violet's first political rally was memorable in more ways than one. This kind of enthusiasm for a democratic candidate was something not many people expected; Obama himself remarked, "and they told me there weren't any democrats in Idaho!" They told us the same thing, and we were happy to find out they were wrong. But more important than the discovery of democrats in this the reddest of states was Obama's ability to bring that disenfranchised group together, get them excited, and yes - give them hope. In a characteristically compelling speech, his message of hope and change captivated the Boise audience as it has so many others across the country. And our girl wasn't intimidated by the roar of the crowd in response to its inspirational speaker. In the midst of all the clapping, cheering, and thunderous stomping, Violet just sat on her dad's lap, grinning, and soaked it all in.

Violet missed the next big event, Idaho's democratic caucus last night, because it was past her bedtime. Obama's fans were out in force, propelling him to an 80% landslide victory over Clinton and the other candidates. Idaho appears to have been Obama's most dramatic win so far, something not even Idahoans probably would have predicted. Noting Obama's unlikely wins last night on MSNBC, Chris Matthews even exclaimed, "God - Idaho!" The times they are a changin' . . . we hope.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Hello Again

A few weeks ago, Violet was reintroduced to one of the first people she ever met: our doula, Jennifer Schepper. (This shot of Violet and Jennifer getting reacquainted at the get together Jennifer hosted for all of her 2007 babies and families was one of the first I took with our new digital camera, a Canon 40D I love more than is probably healthy. Expect to see many more photos here as a result.)

In preparing for Violet's birth, we decided that the assistance of a birth doula was a resource we wanted to take advantage of. I'm told there are women who love being pregnant, but it's no secret I am not among them; I was ready to wrap up that particular part of the parenthood experience about five minutes after the second pink line showed up on the stick. I was actually looking forward to labor and birth, and it was on my mind early in the pregnancy. Which was fortunate, as good doulas in this area tend to book up as quickly as good daycares.

We found Jennifer through the recommendation of Kyndal May, a local childbirth educator and birth advocate I consulted often both before and after our Confident Birthing class. (A plug for Kyndal here - that class was absloutely invaluable to us, and Kyndal is a phenomenal teacher. I experienced none of the lecture-induced narcolepsy I usually suffer from during Kyndal's class.) We were comfortable with Jennifer from our first meeting, and she supported us throughout the birth process - from preparing for the kind of birth I hoped to have through the transition to a family of three those first few weeks after Violet's birth. And of course, labor and the birth itself.

Studies have shown that the presence of a doula at birth tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications, reduces the need for labor-inducing drugs and requests for pain medication and epidurals, and reduces the incidence of cesarean sections. Though Jennifer didn't join us for Violet's birth until we left for the hospital, when I was already in the transition stage of labor, her support played a big part in my labor and birth experience even before she arrived. The security of knowing that Jennifer would be available as soon as I needed her contributed to my confidence and level of comfort laboring at home with Eric as long as I did. I attribute much of my amazing birth experience to my body, and much to dumb luck, but Jennifer deserves a lot of credit, too.

The doula's primary role is to support the mother (and father) in childbirth, but studies have also confirmed the benefits of doulas to babies, particularly with respect to breastfeeding. The most wonderful thing Jennifer did for us was to help Violet and I, in those first awestruck minutes following her birth, to get Violet latched on and nursing. Our nursing relationship is so important to me, and six months later, we're still going strong.

That's right . . . six months. Violet is six months old today! Eric and I are as excited as she is about all the things she can do now, including sitting up on her own, giggling, and our favorite - giving kisses! Lots of them. Every time she pulls my face to hers and plants a big, open-mouthed wet kiss on my cheek, I get all glowy. I hope neither of us ever grows out of that.