Posts filed under ‘Parenting’

ANYTHING But Night Night

My two year old son Sagan is now at that age where he will suddenly have a request when it is bedtime, presumably to delay the inevitable. Usually his requests fall into two categories.


  • “One More Simpsons” (A The Simpsons episode)
  • “More Ponies” (A My Little Pony Friendship is Magic episode)
  • “More Song” (he wants Ryan or I to sing a song, which is more often than not from the They Might Be Giants album “Flood”)


  •  “Milk”
  •  “Bubble juice” (grape juice watered down with Seltzer water)
  •  “Nana” (banana)
  •  “Grits” (Yup, he often asks for grits while laying in bed)

The other week, Sagan momentarily stumped me with a bedtime request.

“What?” I asked him.

He repeated the same mysterious word.

“Take your paci out and say it again.”

He followed my instructions, but it was no use. I still had no idea what he was trying to say. I could make out two syllables. The first started with a “B” and the second started with a “W”.

He repeated it a couple more times before I thought of a word that fit that criteria, but it seemed very unlikely.

“Bagworms?” I asked.

He got a big smile on his face and nodded. “Yes,” he said.

“You want to go out and collect bagworms?”

More nodding, followed by another “Yes.”

Bagworm Moth Lava
THIS is Better Than Going to Sleep (Photo by Michael J Curtis)

I was stunned. When you’re chasing after an active toddler while you have an infant in the MobyWrap, sometimes you have to think outside the box to find chores you can effectively accomplish. One thing I had found easy to do is to pluck bagworms off of infected trees. Although the activity kept Sagan’s attention, it never struck me as “fun” for him. I guess that goes to show how much Sagan does not want to go to bed. : ) (It also shows he knows his audience.)

He may have momentarily taken me offguard with his request, but in the end my answer to Sagan was the same.

“Uh… no… It’s night night.”

August 21, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Houston, We Have Some Jealousy

For the most part, Sagan has been pretty enamored with his baby brother. We’ve seen some snippets here and there of jealousy when it came to attention from Mommy and Daddy. For example, as soon as I start nursing Dyson, Sagan would approach me asking, “Hug? Hug?” (which I actually find kind of flattering). This week, however, was the first time we saw some jealousy over an object.

Dyson is old enough and strong enough to sit in the Bumbo Floor Seat. At first, Sagan was enthralled and as pleased as we were to see Dyson do something new.

Dyson - August 13 - In Bumbo Chair with Sagan
Sagan Pleased At Dyson’s “New Trick”

But then… Sagan decided that *he* wanted to be the one in the chair. The Bumbo Chair is a little small for two year old Sagan. Nonetheless, Sagan found a way to squeeze in. (Although he got in the chair by himself, he needed assistance getting out as he was squeezed in so tight the chair stuck to him!)

Bumbo Chair - Sagan Fits
I Fit

Sagan eventually grew bored of the chair and moved on to more exciting toys. Alas, later that day, Sagan discovered Dyson in the Bumbo Chair again. This time Sagan was…uh… not pleased.

Bumbo Chair - Sagan Upset Dyson Is In Chair
Sagan Distraught that He Isn’t the One in the Bumbo Chair

So Ryan and I got a little preview of some of the emotions to come. : )

August 20, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Tours of Baby’s Anatomy

I was 38 years old when Dyson was born, which is considered a “geriatric pregnancy”. Due to my age and the fact that my first son was late pre-term, my doctors had me also visit the Brock Perinatal Diagnostic Center in Alexandria, Virginia (aka a “Higk Risk” center). I had two visits in the 2nd trimester where they found that there was nothing wrong with my cervix and that there was no indication I was going to go into pre-term labor. Nonetheless, as my 3rd trimester progressed they had me visit once a week to monitor amniotic fluid levels and do some non-stress tests on the baby. Again, nothing ill or concerning was found. I think they discovered what I already knew– I’m a pretty young and healthy 38. : )

Every visit to the high-risk center, they did an ultrasound. When we first started visiting, that was sort of a nice perk, extra glimpses at the baby! Sure there was a longer drive, but we got extra pictures! By the end of our pregnancy journey, however, the same song and dance had become stale.

“This is baby’s brain. This is baby’s stomach. These are baby’s kidneys.”

I started to get restless with the process. Get on it with it, I want to get home before rush hour! I actually grew pretty tired of people pointing out the baby’s anatomy to me.

That is, until he was born. The very first time Sagan held his little brother, he started to show off his knowledge of body parts.

And suddenly, a tour of the baby’s anatomy was fresh and exciting again…not to mention super endearing. 🙂

August 19, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Baby in my Belly?????

Redundant PacifiersIn January of 2012, I did a post called “Redundancy – Routers, Switches…and Pacifiers“. It was on the importance of having backups, be it your network hardware… or your child’s pacifiers.

I got a lot of great feedback on that post and even received a compliment from a stranger at Google on it. But nearly 15 months later, I do have to admit that maybe it was a misstep to have so many pacifiers around. My husband and I became more and more conscious that our son had developed quite an attachment to them.

Sagan - Binky Obsession
Redundant Pacifiers is One Thing…But Do You Really Need Four At One Time, Dude?

Roughly five weeks ago, we started an initiative where Sagan was only allowed to have his pacifier at “Night Night” and “Nap” time. Some days he isn’t especially pleased, but overall, it has been going smoothly and he accepts the new rules. (And now he finds cause to be happy when it is night night time).

When we were hiking at Falls Ridge a few weekends ago, something odd happened. We were hiking away when all of a sudden Sagan looked at me and said, “Night Night!”

I checked the time. He was being a trickster. He still had a good hour and a half until the earliest early side of his usual naptime. He just wanted a pacifier.

I told him it wasn’t his naptime and all of a sudden he started reaching for my belly and whining, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

At the time, I assumed he was trying to reach for my pants pocket and my big ole pregnancy belly was merely in the way. It was baffling though, because he definitely looked like he was purposely trying to grab my belly. None the less, he rebounded and was in a happier mood in just a few minutes and had forgotten all about naptime and that he wanted a pacifier.

Flash forward 250 miles and six hours later. It suddenly dawned on me what Sagan might have been trying to grab. Sagan doesn’t call the pacifier “paci” like I do. He doesn’t call it “binky” like daycare describes it.

He calls it “baby“.

Do you know what I have been doing for weeks?

“Sagan,” I’d say and point to my bulging abdomen, “There’s a baby in my belly. There’s a baby, right here, in my belly.”

Ryan and I might have one disappointed first-born son come summer-time! : )

May 20, 2013 at 1:00 am 3 comments

Family *Workout*: Leesylvania State Park

As hectic and life-changing Ryan and I find parenting to sometimes be, we both realize there are luxuries we have…courtesy of the live-in grandmother we have at our house. One such luxury– on Sundays, my mother watches the little boy and Ryan and I get to go to the gym and workout together. I rather fancy weight-lifting with my spouse, particularly when he executes his shoulder press sets, so it is an outing I typically look forward to.

A few Sundays ago, however, we had a great deal of home improvement tasks and as afternoon turned to late afternoon, it was clear we weren’t going to make the gym. Instead, we decided to take our son out to Woodbridge, Virginia’s Leesylvania State Park for some outdoor fun.

Now, I always look forward to being outside, but there was definitely part of me that was disappointed I was going to miss my gym date. Little did I know, there is something better than working out with your spouse– Working out with your spouse AND your son!

We parked, we started our way on the Bushey Pointe Trail and lo and behold we discovered it was one of those fitness trails where they have different stations set up for you to try out different exercises. We all, Sagan included, had fun experimenting at stations and then jogging to the next one.

Leesylvania Park - Ryan Does Pushups on Fitness Trail
Ryan Does Push Ups at a Station

Leesylvania Park - Sagan Jogs to Next Station
Sagan Jogs Between Stations

Just as some exercises have to be modified for pregnancy, Sagan had to modify some of the stations for toddlerhood.

Leesylvania Park - Sagan Finds a Seat on the Fitness Trail
Sagan Finds Another Use for the “Toe Lifts” Station

When we let Sagan do some assisted pullups, Ryan noted that Sagan was holding his own bodyweight. Yet, we were still surprised a few stations later when Sagan grabbed onto a tricep dip bar and started having the time of his life doing leg lifts.

Leesylvania Park - Sagan Swings (Far)
Sagan Does Leg Lifts

Future Personal Trainer?
We also found Sagan to show signs of being an effective personal trainer. At one point, he was watching Ryan doing reverse push-ups.

I guess Sagan decided that exercise wasn’t challenging enough for Ryan. So he decided to add a little more resistance to the mix.

Leesylvania Park - Sagan Watches Ryan Do Reverse Pushups
Hmm… Daddy Doesn’t Look Like He is Working Hard Enough

Leesylvania Park - Sagan 'Helps' Ryan Do Reverse Pushups
Ah…. Much Better!

Or there was the time when Ryan just finished up the last of his Bar Jump sets when Sagan, supervising from one of the bars, ordered, “ONE MORE!”. : )

Leesylvania Park - Sagan Watches Ryan Do Bar Jumps
Sagan Supervises Ryan Doing Bar Jumps

Sagan wasn’t singling poor Ryan out. Later, when Sagan was trying to do his own version of bar jumps, he showed the self motivation to do “one more” of his own.

Followup Hike
And when we all finished our stations, we had the beautiful Potomac to take in as we continued to the hike the Bushey Pointe Trail and the Powell Trails. By the end of the outing, missing out on the gym with my husband was just a distant memory. : )

Leesylvania Park - Ryan and Sagan Lean on Log and Take in View
Post Workout Hike – Sagan and Ryan Take in the Potomac River

More pictures of our trip on the Bushey Pointe Trail in Leesylvania State Park can be found on my Flickr site.

Bushey Pointe Trail in Leesylvania State Park

2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Dr.
Woodbridge, VA 22191-4504

Length: 1-2 miles

Elevation Gain:Neglible

Fees Weekdays $4, Weekends $5

Directions from Occoquan, VA
Take I-95 South roughly 4 miles.
Take Exit 156 (Rippon Landing)
Merge onto Dale Blvd.
Turn Right on U.S. 1. Jefferson Davis Highway
Turn left onto Neabsco Rd. (Route 610)
Park Entrance Will Be In About 2 miles

May 13, 2013 at 1:00 am 9 comments

Tree Sighting at the Breakfast Table

This morning, Ryan and I tag-teamed breakfast. Ryan got Sagan situated in his chair with a inventory of cereal and berries. Then when I got my groggy rear downstairs, Ryan ran back upstairs to shower.

I made myself some oatmeal and strawberries, grabbed some soy milk, and sat down next to the little boy who immediately put his spoon down and started to enthusiastically point.

“TREE! TREE!” he shouted proudly. He was very clearly pointing right at…ME!

Well, I may start the 3rd trimester tomorrow, but I’m not definitely not THAT big, at least not yet, so I was a little confused.

Then I looked down.

It turns out I had slept in a shirt from the American Chestnut Foundation. Only I had put it on backwards (Hey, I’m not superwoman. I can’t mother, work, and be bothered with frivolous details like what direction my clothes are on. Hehe). As a result, a beautiful botanical drawing by artist Bruce Lyndon Cunningham was on my chest.

American Chestnut Botanical Drawing By Bruce Lyndon Cunningham

I smiled. “You’re right, Sagan. That is a tree!!!”

“TREE!” Sagan agreed.

With that, we resumed our breakfasts and had a most delightful Friday morning.

April 19, 2013 at 9:23 am 1 comment

Two Good Signs

We do a little bit of sign language with little Sagan. He only knows a
few signs, but even with a limited vocabulary, we found it to be a helpful experience.

Two quick examples:

Sagan uses the sign “More” mostly as “Want”. It doesn’t necessarily mean he covets more of something… it means he wants something…and it can be something entirely new. Luckily, since he mastered pointing as well, he usually signed “More” and then pointed to what he wanted.

How to Sign More From BabySignLanguage.Com
“More” (Source:

Now he says “Mo” verbally as well. Nonetheless, we still have moments where it takes a little deduction to figure out exactly what he wants.

Sagan: Mo?
Vicky: Milk?
Sagan: Mo?
Ryan: Grape?
Sagan: Mo?
Vicky: Cheerio?
Sagan: MO!
Ryan: Nana?
Sagan:(increasingly frustrated) MO! MO! MO!

[It turned out he wanted to play with a fork… In case you don’t know what a fork is– It is a type of silverware with four sharp prongs that would each be absolutely fabulous for piercing the eyeballs of curious babies.]

We’re working on introducing more signs to alleviate this type of confusion…though considering his recent obsession, I think we are going to abstain from teaching him “fork”. : )

Our biggest success story with the word “More” came in early November. Little Sagan contracted a stomach flu and spend an evening vomiting (mostly on or over Mommy’s shoulder). The next day, he had a lot of clear liquids and as the day progressed we decided to introduce solids back. We decided to go with some noodles from chicken noodle soup.

We gave him a few spoonfuls and all of a sudden Sagan started coughing.

Ryan and I froze. Was this just a “cough” cough? Was this a “something went down the wrong pipe” cough? OR…. was this the dreaded “WATCH OUT– HE’S GONNA BLOW!” cough?

Well as soon as Sagan finished coughing, he couldn’t understand why we were just standing there.

“More!” He signed, “More!”

And just like that, his cough was no longer ambiguous. We knew our little guy was on the mend. Just from a single sign.

“Help” is really new to Sagan’s vocabulary. He literally picked it up a week ago, but I have seen enough of a positive effect to warrant documenting.

How to Sign "Help" From BabySignLanguage.Com
“Help” (Source:

When I was first dating my husband, my mother-in-law had some preciously embarrassing stories about how baby Ryan would try to do something beyond his means (like picking up his daddy’s heavy barbells). My mother-in-law reported that little Ryan would scream and scream and scream at the exertion and frustration of the task, but wouldn’t give up.

I don’t have the data to determine if that reaction is common among all babies, but I do know little Sagan deals with challenging tasks in a similar manner. Toy out of reach? Grunt / Scream / Cry. This shape doesn’t fit into the hole you think it should? Grunt / Scream / Cry. The truck you are trying to roll is stuck on the area rug? Grunt / Scream / Cry.

Then last week he learned “Help”. Adding one little word to his vocabulary has given Sagan a whole other option to dealing with tough tasks. Instead of getting frustrated to point of screaming and crying, he simply looks over at the nearest adult.

He gestures his hands in his unique rendition of “Help” and sometimes even says, “ pa pa”

It’s sweet. But don’t worry– Ryan and I don’t get off that easily! Little Sagan still has plenty of “legitimate” causes to get upset.

All we have to do is confiscate or deprive him of a fork. : )

P.S. If you are interesting in accounts from other parents, Ryan and I found the post “Baby Sign Language as a Window into Comprehension (or lack thereof)” from Kitty’s Heart of Nature to be particularly inspirational.

P.S.S. If you have a sign or word that was particularly helpful with your children, definitely share! We’re still new parents and are always eager to increase our own knowledge!

January 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm 7 comments

Exclusively Pumping: Tips for Quality Time with Baby

Last Saturday, I passed the 15 month mark of Exclusively Pumping (EPing). Since August, we have gone down from 4-5 pumping sessions a day to just 2. Even though I have been rather enjoying the new flexible schedule, at no point in time in the past 15 months did I ever want to quit. At no point in time did I hold the pump in distain. At no point in time did I hate what I was doing. I have had a very positive experience.

I have read my fair share of Exclusively Pumping forums and blog posts, so I am aware my positive experience isn’t shared by all mothers. There are definitely a lot of challenges and a lot of factors involved and I do recognize I had very little discomfort after birth, a top-notch support system, and the flexibility of a telecommuting job, so I paraphrase a wise statement from my Mommy-friend Quinn:

     Every family needs to pick the path that is right for them.

With that disclaimer, I am “open sourcing” a little bit of my process for anyone that wants/needs it (accompanied by completely safe-for-work photos). This is stuff that worked for me. If it looks like it can be adapted for your family, that’s great. If it isn’t a good fit for you, no worries.

Pumping Challenge: Bonding with Baby?
I’ve read a lot of Exclusively Pumping accounts where one of the biggest challenges and heartaches a mother describes is the lost time with her baby. The mother feels like she has to keep leaving her baby to pump (some posts use the verb “abandon”). She worries she is neglecting the baby and losing bonding time. Even worse, maybe she frets she is fostering attachment issues for the poor child! One mother described feeling helpless when her baby started crying while she was pumping and desperately wishing she could “go in the other room and pick her up and console her.”

When I first read those accounts, it took me by surprise. That wasn’t my experience at all and I thought, “What in the world am I doing differently?!?” It couldn’t just be the Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra. It looks like most people independently made that same discovery (If you haven’t– definitely get one or a similiar product. It opens a lot of doors of what you can do while you pump).

I’ve reflected a bit and I think I’ve pinpointed some possible differences.

I Pump with the Baby
Now, there were times where I felt like I was missing out on time with adult family and friends because of pumping, but for me, time with the pump and time with the baby are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there are times where I pick up the baby and tell my family, “I am going to take him upstairs and pump. We’ll be back.” A lot of our pumping sessions could easily be described simply as “Mommy-Son Time”.

It’s easy for me to pump with the baby and I think part of it is because…

I Pump on the Floor
Well, at home anyway, not in public restrooms. 🙂 I’ve always pumped on the floor. I pump on the floor because I sleep on the floor (even when I was pregnant). So when we arrived home from the hospital and were faced with the question, “Hmm…Where should this breastpump go?” the natural answer was, “Oh hey– how about right here on the floor?”

Sagan - Day Seventeen - Helping Mommy With Server Update
Day 17 – Breast Pump on the Floor

Because I was on the floor, the baby could also be on the floor where that scary gravity and all the injuries and disfigurements it aims to inflict on my child are kept at bay. The baby could be right next to me or even physically on me (more on that in a moment). If he needed something, I was right there. Thanks to the hands-free pumping bra, I could give him a bottle, I could comfort him, I could change his diapie (though really messy poopies I would recommend handing off, particularly when the child is enamoured with crawling). Heck, I’ve dressed him for daycare while pumping. And even if he didn’t need anything, I was still right there where I could just stare at him, sigh, and think about #$*&ing lucky I was.

Now, as far as comforting and burping, there is the limitation where you can’t really hold your child to your chest while you are pumping, which brings me to my next possible difference…

I Tailor Sit and Use My Legs A LOT
Tailor sitting is also known as “Indian-style” and I do it a lot. I always have. Even in chairs, I often opt to tailor sit in my seat. It’s true. I’ve been reprimanded by librarians (They aren’t fond of people’s feet being where other people’s butts will be). Because it is so natural to me, tailor sitting also makes cameos in my mothering. My crossed legs have proven to be a nice comfy spot for my son to hang out…and sometimes nap.

Sagan - October 28th - Resting in Lap While Mommy Works
Tailor Sitting – 3 1/2 Months In

Earth 383 10 Year Anniversary - Sleeping Sagan, Vicky and Malena
Tailor Sitting – 13 1/2 Months In

If he is having gas or discomfort, I’ve found bouncing my knees or rocking to be effective. I’ve also found my legs to be a great way to prop him up while he takes a bottle.

Now when I’m pumping, I may not be able to embrace him and hold him tight to my chest. BUT I still have full use of my lap and my legs. Sure, you have to move tubing around, but I’m there and available for my son. Plus it is good motivation to keep good posture as babies seem to get annoyed when pumping accessories are shoved in their faces (I haven’t tested it out, but I suspect most adults would experience a similiar reaction).

I think the trickiest part to master was finding a way to burp him while pumping. It didn’t come up often because my husband was so attentive but when it did, I would lay the baby stomach down on my thigh and pat his back that way (Hat Tip, my mother-in-law).

Exclusively Pumping with the Mobile Baby
I think like with most things, exclusively pumping gets more challenging as the baby gets mobile and wants to explore. I still pump on the floor and around the “pumping area” are a whole bunch of toys, including this wooden workbench that continues to captivate him. For the most part, we play and talk. Sometimes I supervise him as he explores the room and there are times where I quickly disconnect the tubing so I can go fetch him. The most friction we’ve run into is an ongoing disagreement about how much fun it is to yank the tubing out of the breast pump. Though I expect the incident rate of both his exploring and my adbrupt retrieval missions to increase in the future. : )

Exclusively Pumping - Sagan Plays With Happy Lights Bear
13-Month Old Sagan Plays, I Pump AND Take Pictures (Also there is that tailor sitting again)

Shared Moments
Pumping with my mobile son has had some spectacular moments. One day I got to watch as he figured out how to stick his toy screw driver into a spare breastshield he pulled out of the breast pump bag. The breastshield and its funnel shape turned out to very friendly to the unadept and a marvelous tutorial. A couple of days later, I pumped and watched my son’s more confident hand manuever the toy screwdriver into the small holes in his workbench. Then from day to day, I got to witness his increased steadiness as he stood and played. He develops right before my eyes.

And then there was the first time in the middle of playing, my son paused, crawled over to me and gave me a hug. Children are adaptable, and sure enough, my son found a way to make a hug work.

Exclusively Pumping - Sagan Hugs Me
13 Month Old Sagan Hugs Me While I Pump

I didn’t miss these moments because I was attached to a breast pump.

And maybe (if it is right for your family), you don’t have to either! : )

October 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm 4 comments

Negative Correlation of the Effort Expended During Meal Preparation and the Percentage of Meal Ingested By Toddler

Last week, as Ryan and I were feeding 14-month old Sagan breakfast, I noted an inverse relationship between our effort and how much of the resulting handiwork was actually ingested. I thought it warranted a graph. Enjoy!

For a Blog Post : Feeding an 14 Month Old Breakfast
Effort and % Ingested When Feeding a 14-Month Old Breakfast

September 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm 1 comment

Nature’s Changing Table

There is no Koala Kare on mountains. At least, the mountains worth hiking. : ) So last weekend when Sagan needed some “diapie attention” on Bull Run Mountain, it was a pleasant surprise to spy a very conveniently shaped boulder right in our vicinity. It was even convex to deter rolling. : )

Bull Run Mountain - Nature's Changing Table
Nature’s Changing Table

Thanks for the help, Nature!

September 11, 2012 at 11:28 am 2 comments

Older Posts Newer Posts

Flickr Photos

3D Printed Products