Katie Feavel

BABY-LED MAMA: SCHEDULES AND COMMUNICATION June 19, 2014 01:04

My general approach towards Sam so far follows one very broad idea: My kid's body and mind is designed to function a certain way; if I pay attention, listen to him, respond to him, and nurture his natural tendencies, that will provide the best support for his own personal growth.

This is awfully vague, I know. And I hope my readers realize this is not a criticism of any other approach, just an alternative, just what worked for us.

Here's some of what I mean... I nurse "on-demand" because I trust that if Sam is indicating the desire to nurse, he is either thirsty, hungry or needs comfort. He communicates that need, I affirm it... he learns effective communication, and his physical and emotional needs are being met in a way that is optimal for him.

Also, we took a "baby-led" approach to introducing solids... a topic I'll discuss further in the near future. This has allowed us to go off of his lead for both the amount of food he ingests and the times he eats. The result is an almost one year old who will happily eat pretty much anything you put in front of him, as long as he is hungry -- eggs, chicken, pork, sweet potato, avocado, fruits, veggies -- he eats whatever we eat. We don't battle over food, we don't risk over- or under-feeding him, we allow his body to indicate what it needs.

We also don't have a specific bedtime for Sam. Generally, he will go down between 8-9, sleep for about 11 hours, nursing periodically throughout the night, then take either one or two naps that total around 4 hours. Aside from a few weeks where he wanted to play in the middle of the night, an issue that seems to have fully resolved itself as his most recent growth spurt has dissipated, Sam has become a very consistent sleeper... But without all the stress... and friction... and worry... without all the battles of trying to force a rigid schedule.

I think it's sometimes easy for us as parents to get so caught up in what we're told our children need us to do for them that we discount the needs our little ones communicate on their own.

We get so focused on controlling everything that we forget that babies are unpredictable... And that being unpredictable is okay.

Needing something different today than yesterday is human nature, so why do we expect babies to be such rigid creatures? Why are we so obsessed with setting nap and feeding schedules that leave no room for flexibility? This is why Daniel and I haven't set a specific schedule for Sam.

We've watched him closely, learned his cues, and helped him fall into a relatively predictable pattern by responding to those cues. This may not work for us forever. But so far what we've ended up with is one content kiddo who communicates when he's sleepy or hungry.  


SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: FALLING OVER IS FUN June 12, 2014 01:04

Let me tell you about the first time my husband and I ever hung out...

We met in an accounting class in college. He was broke, I had the book, so we decided to study together. At one point during this “study” date, he thought it would be a good idea to come up behind me and tickle me.

Not his smartest move. I am extremely ticklish… and I panicked. My completely accidental, clumsy, knee jerk reaction? Elbow into his crotch and the back of my head into his face.

Result? Him getting racked and a bloody nose. We were officially dating by the end of that week and, six and half years later, I still find ways to accidentally cause him physical harm.

You’d think this would have been a red flag to me that this guy was a glutton for punishment, right? Perhaps not the best trait to pass on to future generations…

Then, this morning, I find myself half-stumbling, half-limping around our house because my legs are completely fried from yesterday’s Crossfit WOD. And, I smile, because it’s a “good pain.” That’s when it occurs to me, I’m the exact same way.

As this realization is sinking in, I look down at Sam who is standing, repeatedly hitting his head into a mirror, then proceeds to throw himself backwards onto the ground laughing, because, let’s face it – falling over is fun!

Here’s my face-palm moment of the day. Um, sorry kid, we didn’t exactly set you up for success in this area. I see a few ER visits in my future.  


PRETTY MUCH OUR FAVORITE PLACE EVER - EAST VALLEY CROSSFIT June 5, 2014 01:03

You've seen pictures of Sam at our gym since he was itty bitty...ecvf13evcf11 

and if you Crossfit or know anybody that does, you know it's more than just lifting a few weights. It becomes a lifestyle in a lot of ways... it's a community.

But really, who's THIS obsessed with a gym? Um... well, we are I guess. Actually, when I started writing this, I thought it would be a quick little shout-out to some of the amazing people at East Valley Crossfit. But now I realize that it would be impossible to include every way in which this place has impacted our family... let alone every person who has played a role in that.

So, I'm sure this won't be my first post about this place, but I guess I gotta start somewhere!  

For starters, we geared our entire first house-buying search around being close to the gym.

We needed 4 full tables at our wedding just for gym people... and that was two and a half years ago when the gym was still pretty small!

We came out at our wedding to "Welcome to the Jungle" because we're known as "The Danimals" at the gym, and the owner suggested it...

EV7A bunch of these awesome people even pitched in to help me surprise Daniel with bobbleheads for a groom's cake, because I was a poor grad student.EV10They helped us rescue this sweet guy when we found him wandering in a busy street, and in pretty bad shape...Gino  Our son got visits from a couple of badass Olympic lifters in the hospital when he was born... Auntie Midge and Uncle Panda! I'm seeing a trend with this Panda guy... I think he's stalking your baby...

 evcf10 evcf112

He's harmless, I promise... And more the first night home from the hospital!EV3 EV5 

He got to watch Daddy lift in a competition when he was 4 days old.EV6  He falls asleep to the sounds of plates dropping and loud music.evcf5 

I may or may not have purchased a pair of infant shoes based on the fact that they look like Olympic Lifting shoes.EV11But really... We've been a part of East Valley Crossfit for over 4 years now and these are some of the most solid people I've ever known. They kind of rock... no, like literally... rock my kid to sleep for me.

 evcf9 

They show my son more love and affection than I could have ever hoped for him to be surrounded by.evcf8photo 3 (6)This gym has seen us get engaged and married, helped us move into our first home, celebrated with us as we started our family, and been part of countless birthday, wedding and baby celebrations. This is where Sam laughed for the first time, because he was just SO excited to see his Auntie Claire.

 2013-06-28 13.26.26 

And where he stood on his own for the first time. It's where we've met some of our closest friends... and discovered drive and determination within ourselves that we didn't know existed. This gym is a place where sayings like "Don't talk about it, be about it," get put on t-shirts... and mommy turns that t-shirt into a romper, and hopes that this is a message her son grows up hearing.

EV12But there are a few issues... Sam will likely not understand the meaning of "Aunts" and "Uncles," since he has like 50... that are in no way actually related to him,photo 2 (11)and he'll probably say a lot of really inappropriate things when he starts talking... and be very... VERY... confused about what "cake" means.photo 1 (8)But at least he'll have amazing social skills and a great immune system! Sam will grow up seeing a dedication to health, fitness and community as the norm... not just because it's the message that mom and dad will try to send him, but because he'll be surrounded by it... fully immersed in it.EVEVCFI could not be more grateful for that... I could not be more grateful for this place... and all the people in it.2013-06-19 21.44.48


JUST A LITTLE HUSKY May 29, 2014 01:03

I have a favorite story from my mother-in-law about my husband… When he was a kid he was on the chubbier side. One day he came home from school upset because some kids said he was “fat.” In the sweetest way, he said to his mom, “I’m not fat, right mom? I’m just a husky boy!”  Meet my husband, Daniel…
 husky7 
And this is one of our dogs, Ari (Daniel got him shortly before we met back in college),
husky9
And you already know our son…
husky10

 

They like to headbutt things… Those big blocky heads are useful for moving stuff out of the way. They grunt a lot… And snore loudly. They are all rather furry… 

husky5

 … especially my husband. They all get “hangry” (angry due to hunger) 

 

hangry
They are basically all the same creature, just in different forms... Goofy, rough n’ tumble, but also sensitive, barrel-chested, long-torso’d… and just a little husky.
husky3

LESSONS FROM SAM #2 May 22, 2014 01:03

The other day, my son discovered a hanger.

Yep, a simple hanger.

And he was ecstatic. Overjoyed. Amused for at least 5 solid minutes.

He chewed it, flipped it around, banged it on the bed to see what sound it made, rolled on his back and stuck his feet through it. It was quite possibly the greatest moment of his week.

photo (42)

It was kinda like that time with the giraffe…

2014-02-15 07.09.46

But not quite as awesome as that time at the gym…

photo (41)

He found happiness in a hanger…

Yet another reminder to find joy in the little things in life.


KEEPING A HOUSE AND KEEPING PERSPECTIVE May 15, 2014 01:02

I’m not naturally a neat person. I’m not naturally an organized person. My mind is chaotic and if I’m not purposeful to prevent it, my surroundings become chaotic as well... fast.

I’ve recently made some big improvements in this area. The main part of our house is generally clean and organized. Dishes are usually done. Laundry gets backed up a little too often still, but is at least contained. Bathrooms get a good scrub every week…ish. But I definitely still have my days.

Days where the last thing I want to do is address the dishes that have still somehow managed to pile up in the sink. Days where I struggle to get far enough outside of the jumble of thoughts and ideas in my head to manage the tasks in progress around me.

Days where, let’s be honest, I just… don’t feel like cleaning.

About a year ago I heard something so simple, yet so profound... It stuck with me and I find myself repeating it at least once a day. Sometimes 50 times a day.

I am lucky I get to do dishes. I am blessedI am blessed in every single seemingly monotonous task.

I am blessed with the opportunity to care for my family and our home. I am blessed to have hot running water and a dishwasher to help do those dishes in the sink. I am blessed to have as much food as we could want and need to make those dishes dirty in the first place.

I am blessed to have clean clothes to fold and put away and a washer and dryer to get them clean.

Now here comes the second part of this concept. Wait for it… With every blessing comes an obligation. Not an obligation in the resentful, begrudged, bitter sense. An obligation in the privileged sense. A duty to care for the things I’ve been given.

Cue major perspective shift. Suddenly, the most routine of days holds endless opportunity for growth and fulfillment. So that every seemingly mundane household chore becomes an opening… to express gratitude, to be prayerful or meditative, to exhibit love for my family by improving their environment. To find beauty, yes beauty, in doing dishes and folding laundry.

And there’s the secret I guess, when you feel blessed to be doing something, it’s a lot easier to just get up and go do it!


DIY SUMMER LINEN RING SLING TUTORIAL May 8, 2014 01:02

I decided to make a lighter weight ringsling for the upcoming summer. It turned out exactly how I'd hoped, so I thought I'd share the love with a little tutorial! 
Photo by Jillian Raak

Last time I made a ring sling, I used a bottom weight broadcloth, which ended up being a little too bulky and stiff. This time, I used a nice linen and rayon blend fabric from JoAnn Fabrics (here). It has a beautiful drape, very breathable, adjusts easily even with baby already in it, but also very sturdy and durable. I got my rings from SlingRings.com (here). I'm in love with the way this turned out!

Ringsling tutorial

So, what you'll need: 2.25 yards (81") of linen/rayon blend fabric 2 large aluminum sling rings Sewing machine, thread, pins, seam ripper, scissors ... and of course an assistant (AKA a baby who will be rolling himself up the loose end of fabric while you run the other end threw the sewing machine!)   

Step 1. Cut your fabric to one rectangular piece measuring 81"x43" (As a size reference, I'm relatively petite - 5'3" &  about 115 lbs. - the finished length of 80"x42" leaves me with about 2.5 ft. of tail fabric when baby is in the sling.)    

Step 2. Hem all four sides of the fabric. I used a 1/4" double-turn hem. This basically means you fold the edge over a quarter of an inch, then fold it over on itself another 1/4" - this keeps the frayed edge from being exposed! Sew4Home gives a great explanation of how to do a simple double-turn hem here. I chose a decorative stitch for my hem, but any apparel stitch should do. 

Ringsling tutorial

 

Step 3. Pin your pleats along the 42" side of the fabric. I did roughly 1.5" pleats and wrapped the top and bottom edges underneath to give it a smooth finish. I did two pin lines, one at about an inch, and one at about 8 inches. 

Ringsling tutorial
      
Ringsling tutorial
Step 4. Use a basting stitch to set your pleats(see image below for what that looked like in my settings)...
Basting stitch
 Sew to the inside of the first set of pins, roughly 1.5" from the hem. 
Ringsling tutorial
Then sew another line on the inside of the second set of pins, roughly 7.5" from the hem.
Ringsling tutorial
 Remove your pins. You should have two basting lines at 6" apart. 
Basting lines
Step 5. Attach the rings! Fold the pleated edge through the rings and match up the two lines of basting stitches.
Ringsling tutorial
You may want to pin here, but I usually only pin if I'm setting pleats. Use an apparel stitch to sew the fabric together, about an inch past the basting line, away from the rings. This should be about 3.5" away from the rings and 0.5" from the hem of your fabric. I used this kinda funky stitch and like the way it turned out...
Ringsling tutorial
 Step 6. Remove the basting lines and snip any loose threads! 
Ringsling tutorial
There you have it! For great videos on how to use a ring sling, visit Elle Belle Creative's blog here! Here's the finished product! Ringsling tutorialPhoto by Jillian RaakRing sling tutorialPhoto by Jillian RaakRing sling tutorialPhoto by Jillian RaakRing sling tutorialPhoto by Jillian Raak

TAKE THE "T" OFF THE END OF THAT WORD, PLEASE! April 30, 2014 02:00

Being a parent comes with a lot of "I can't" moments...

"I can't get baby to take regular naps."

"I can't get baby down at night without a huge routine."

"I can't get baby to go for solids." "I can't tell what this baby needs."

It can be frustrating, stressful, disheartening to say the least. These days, I can't get Sam to sleep without some sort of movement and noise combination.

Normally rocking and Mumford and Sons is the magic formula. But I'm not super worried about it... because, there's an "I can" in this situation as well.

can rock this baby boy to sleep. I can love him, sing to him, soothe him... I can sit here and rock back and forth, drinking my coffee and writing. I can enjoy it... And he can too.  


IT’S KIND OF ABOUT ME, AND SOMEBODY MIGHT CARE April 23, 2014 02:00

Since I first found out I was pregnant with our son, I’ve read and shared an obscene amount of random information with my husband. I like information… I like research… I’m a nerd.

The following conversation quickly became a nightly ritual for us…

Me to hubby: "You know what I read today?"... regurgitate information. "But…" critique information. 

Hubby: Well, that’s interesting. You know, you should really write about stuff like this.

Me: Yeah… maybe someday. A couple months back, on one particular night… that followed a particularly disheartening day with our son… and after reading a particularly inspiring and helpful blog post from another mom, I responded a little differently... "Why would anybody care what I have to say about these things? What if all I do is piss somebody off?" 

The hubs was kind enough to point out the error in my thinking...Yet, I suppose this is how I’ve felt for a long time. “Don’t rock the boat,” and “It’s not about you and nobody cares,” were phrases used regularly in my house growing up.

That sounds worse than it actually was… I was a habitual boat-rocker. I loved to argue. I was an unbelievably opinionated kid… to a rude extent… to a pushy extent. Those phrases were used half-jokingly by my parents, as verbal cues, to try to tame some of the pushiness and get me to focus on others a bit more.

And at some point, I realized that being so opinionated didn’t make me any friends. Yet, over the years these things became part of my inner mantra… to where I’ve continued to tell myself that nobody cares what I have to say. But how dumb is that? We have different gifts and opinions for a reason… to share them… to perhaps help others by doing so.

More importantly, my son will soon be a sponge, and what I say both to him and in front of him will shape his internal voice, his view of his place in this world...

Is this really the message I want him to get from me? That our thoughts and opinions are insignificant simply because they are ours? That we should not speak unless we are sure that what we say will be well received? That we should not share good information and well-intended thoughts for fear of pissing somebody off?

That deserves an emphatic NO.

So here goes nothing… This blog isn’t about me, but I will include my opinion. You’ll read about a lot of topics on this blog. You’ll see little anecdotes about my son, my husband, our dogs… I will write about breastfeeding, baby-led weaning, potty training, teething, baby-wearing, cloth-diapering, and whatever else seems noteworthy. I hope that this blog brings its readers a little bit of humor, a good resource for baby-related information, and maybe even a little inspiration.

Family Photo


BABIES AND ADULTS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL IN THE CUTENESS DEPARTMENT April 16, 2014 02:00

Universal truths… The sky is blue. The grass is green (unless you live in Phoenix, where it’s usually brown). Money doesn’t grow on trees. Practice makes perfect… …and things that make babies cute make adults… not so cute.

Chubby cheeks. Chubby thighs. Missing teeth. Wearing footy pjs. Blowing spit bubbles. Being milk-drunk. Wearing a diaper. Sucking on your toes. Having an extremely huge head.

Falling over… …because somebody popping out from behind the couch saying peek-a-boo is hysterical, and you laughed too hard... and because you have an extremely huge head. 

Clapping with your feet. Drooling profusely. Making this face… 
 Or this one…  
Or this poo face while sitting on the potty.

 

Now picture an adult doing any of these things? Yeah, no thanks.   Shout out to Uncle Panda for the inspiration for today’s randomness!


JUST KEEP ROCKIN' April 9, 2014 02:00

Ever heard of the Wonder Weeks? Yeah they’re not so wonderful. The basic idea is that all babies and toddlers go through major mental growth spurts around the same weeks and tend to be extra fussy leading up to these spurts.

This is not a topic I’ve done my research on, so I’m not necessarily promoting it as solid guidelines, but Sam has seemed to follow these mental leaps pretty closely so far. Read more about the Wonder Weeks here.  

We’re right in the middle of one of these peak fussy times right now. Also, Sam has gone from army crawling to walking laps around the house along all the furniture and walls and testing out standing on his own, all in about a week... AND he’s teething. This is probably the fussiest he has ever been. Life is kinda hard right now for this little guy. 

lifeishard

The last few nights and nap times have been a battle. Normally… Sam sleeps in his crib for naps and goes down in his crib at night. Then we bring him to bed with us when we go. Normally… we nurse and rock to sleep. 

We don’t do this because we couldn’t train him out of it or because it’s the only way to get him to sleep. We do it because we find beautiful and healthy emotional connection in that bonding moment.

Normally… this is a great, relatively quick, low-stress routine for us. We nurse (5-10 min), rock a bit, I sing to him, put him in his crib as he’s groggy or dosing off, put my hand on his back for a second and he falls right to sleep. Perfect.

But this last week or so he just wants to stay latched on… for like 30-45 minutes. Then if I can unlatch him or if he finally unlatches himself, putting him in his crib has been another struggle. He’ll be out cold and the second I set him in the crib, eyes pop open and he either wants to play or go back to nursing. He’s even doing this in the middle of the night.

This morning Sam was exhausted. He badly needed a good nap. We went through our routine. I even rocked him a little longer to get him nice and asleep. Went to set him down, eyes popped open, big grin on his face and he started chatting. Did this two more times. Finally, I thought I would try just walking out of the room. 

Maybe if I’m not there to distract him he’ll just go back to sleep. He is exhausted after all. After a solid 30 minutes talking to himself he decided playing in his crib wasn’t fun anymore and cried for “Maaamaaaa.” He wasn’t just calling for me. And he wasn’t being nasty or throwing a fit.

We’re talking terribly pathetic, heart-broken tears and sobbing… instantly. I don’t believe in crying-it-out. I believe that, while behavioral conditioning does happen with the CIO method, the message that you’re sending… that even if you cry Mom & Dad won’t respond to you… is significantly detrimental to a little’s sense of empowerment and ability to communicate. I believe in responding to your child.

Actually that’s one of the few non-negotiable parenting things for me… respond to your child. Regardless of what it is they think they need or if you agree with them, our children need to know that when they communicate they are taken seriously. That doesn’t mean you have to oblige every whim or diligently attempt to converse with a tantruming toddler. But it does mean acknowledging and legitimizing the attempts your child makes to communicate his/her needs.

So -- as I walked into my son’s room and saw him standing and crying for me in his crib… and found myself asking, in a rather aggravated tone that I’m not super proud of, “What do you need? What else can I do?!” And as I sighed, picked him up  – and he immediately clenched his chubby little arms around my neck for dear life and buried his face into my chest… and breathed a huge sigh of relief – I realized that he has been telling me exactly what he needs. I just haven’t been listening.

He needs me. He needs me differently today than he needed me a week ago. And that’s okay. He needs me to be a little closer to him, to help him get some good sleep while his mind grows at an insanely rapid rate. He needs me to respond to him. He needs me to legitimize his need for his mama, not to dismiss it. He needs me to just be there, just sing to him one more song, just rock him a little longer. He needs mama. So today… mama’s just gonna keep rockin’.


LESSONS FROM SAM #1 April 1, 2014 02:00

This morning during some play time Sam crawled over to his truck…

Pushed it across the room to the mirror,

Pulled himself up,

Leaned over,

And planted a big wet kiss on himself in the mirror.

He then looked back at me smiling

…and so proud of himself.

Sam_Truck_Baby

I need to be more like him…

A little more loving towards myself,

A little more proud of my accomplishments,

And a little less afraid to be me.