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the mommyhood memos: October 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

how to choose a childcare center

Sending your little one to a childcare center is a big deal.

For most parents, that decision doesn’t come easily… and many agonize over finding that perfect scenario where their wee one will not only be looked after well, but will grow and thrive.

As a mom, I’ve not had to walk that journey yet. I’m fortunate to be able to stay home with Levi, and for that I count my blessings.

{this photo is not really relevant... just super cute.}

But I have been on the other side of the coin, and I know from experience that there are many opportunities for kids to get excellent care outside of the home when that is needed and/or desired.

I worked for four years at a day care center and preschool/kindergarten where we cared for 70+ kids from age 2.5 years old and up.. and I loved every moment of it.

Although childcare should never (and can never) be a replacement for good parenting, I believe that it can compliment it well if you choose wisely and consider what’s important for your child and your family.

Aside from the obvious things like opening hours, cost, age requirements, child to adult ratio, etc, here's what I'd recommend (from a worker’s perspective) to moms scoping out a day care:

·         Visit between 5:00pm and 6:00pm when other parents are typically picking up their kids after work. Try to chat with a few parents about the center when they're not in a rush to get to work.

·         Take your little one(s) along and ask if you can be with them in the center for 30-45 minutes during one of the "free play" times. Watch not only your child, but see how the other kids in the place enjoy it (or not).

·         Observe how the workers relate to the children. Do they just supervise or do they enter into play? Do they speak politely to them? Do they engage in conversation? When giving instruction are they clear and helpful and respectful?

·         Ask to look at the menus and activity schedules, including things like naptimes, meals, snack times, music, arts and crafts time, sports and games, free play, etc. Look for a good balance between structured activities and creative/free play.

·         Ask about the security measures for signing kids in and out, or having people other than parents pick the child up (i.e. grandparents). If they have a great system in place, no doubt this one will make you feel much better!

·         Check out the other security stuff like playground gates and/or safety surveillance cameras.

·         Ask about discipline policies (and request a written document that you can take home and look over). Make sure to ask questions if anything is unclear.

·         Check to see if staff members are first aid certified and what other qualifications and/or training they receive.

·         Finally, suss out the “feel” of the place. Is it welcoming? Is it friendly? Is it clean and well-maintained? Does it feel creative and stimulating? Is learning valued? Are manners modeled? Do employees look well-groomed (professional) and like they enjoy their work? Will the kids get input on things that are important to you? (That could be religious teaching, cultural exposure, etc.) Does it look like a fun place to be??

Any good childcare center would be happy to provide you with these things, and whatever else you personally need for your considerations.

I know it's a huge deal to think about sending your kiddos off into someone else’s care. If I was in the middle of making this decision for myself I know I would find it extremely difficult. But know that there are lots of good childcare options available! Just take the time you need to get all the information that will help set your mind at ease… And don't rush your decision!

Dear friends, have you put your kids into childcare? Do you have tips that I've not thought of that you’d like to pass on? Or maybe you are at the beginning of considering childcare options. If so, will these tips help you in the process? (I sure hope so!)

hoping to help,

p.s. I know there are lots of home daycare scenarios that are fabulous too... but those are easier to find by word of mouth I think, and I can only comment from my experience.

I decided to jump back on the bandwagon. 
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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

sandy poo equates to a good day off

We've had to work some long hours and weekends lately due to a packed work schedule... but to help make up for it we got to sneak in a day off mid-week. It was a beautiful day at the beach full of playing in the surf, soaking in the sun, and... 

...gobbling up sand.

After our day in the sun we all showered/bathed and went to bed clean. The next morning we discovered that Levi had a diaper full of sand... Poo and sand.

I guess that means we had a great day off.

I have more to say about that glorious day, but for today I'm going to leave you with poo and sand... Poo'ed sand.

Dear friends, what's the strangest thing you've found in your child's diaper??

slightly burnt and entirely happy,

I decided to jump back on the bandwagon. 
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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

confessions of a laundry-a-phobe: how I survived the switch to cloth diapers

Laundry. I’m not a fan.

I couldn’t believe the increase of laundry when I got married. You’d think two people would equate to twice as much laundry. But no… make that four times as much.

For starters, my husband’s clothes are much bigger than mine. You could say at least double the mass of clothes. And secondly, my husband sweats much more than I do. More sweat means more dirty clothes. Nothing gets to be worn twice.

I knew that becoming a mom would mean an even bigger laundry assignment, because not only would there be all the baby clothes, there would be the extra towels, the burp clothes, the peed-on sheets, the blankets, etc. So even though I really wanted to be a cloth-diapering mama, I decided to give myself six months of disposable ease before making the switch.

I called it my laundry grace period.

My reasoning for the six-month delay had everything to do with my fear of insurmountable laundry. I figured that six months would give me time to get used to being a mom, the new routines, the increased laundry… and then half a year after giving birth I’d be ready for the next challenge:

…the cloth diaper challenge.

Imagine my surprise when cloth diapering turned out to be so much easier than I had anticipated.

Yes, there is a bit more laundry. Yes, there is some extra time involved with stuffing and folding them and stacking them, but even still it’s not been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

Here’s my cloth diaper routine:

  1. I use “nappy liners” inside the cloth diaper. (These look like a dryer sheet but are made for this so have no perfumes or chemicals that would irritate bubby’s skin.) When there’s a poo, the liner (with most of the poo caught in it) goes straight into the rubbish bin. Makes for very easy clean-up!

  1. Then I use a cloth wipe (folded and stored in an empty regular disposable wipes container) and a spray bottle to clean baby’s tooshie.

  1. The cloth diaper and insert and cloth wipe all go straight into another small bin. (Yes, I have two small bins near the change table, but it’s much less invasive than you’d think and doesn’t look like a garbage processing center.)

  1. If it was a massive poo that needs some extra attention, I take it to the toilet and do a quick rinse off with the diaper sprayer that my clever husband made with some plumbing tube and a garden hose gun. (I actually need to use this much less than I originally thought – maybe only once every other week or so.) After the rinse it goes straight into the bin with the others.

  1. Once the bin is full I dump it straight into the washing machine. This usually works out to be every-other day.

  1. Next I wash the diapers with ½ scoop of chemical free detergent in a cold cycle with an extra rinse. (For cleaning and stain removal.) Even though it is a small load, I use the water on the large load setting since it’s important to make sure there’s plenty of water to remove the detergent residue. (And thankfully I’m from the tropics where there will never, ever be a shortage of water… so water waste is not an issue.)

  1. Then I re-wash the diapers with no detergent in a hot cycle with an extra rinse. (For further cleansing and to make sure no soap reside remains – that’s the important part because residue build-up will eventually give bubs a rash if you don't use extra rinses.)

  1. After washing I hang them on the line dry. (I have no dryer folks… but even if I did would probably still use the line for diapers! It keeps them fresh and the sun is a natural bleaching agent.)

  1. Finally I stuff the inserts into the liners (usually while watching the news!) and stack them in a storage bin under Levi’s change table.

{helping with the laundry??}

Now obviously this is more work than opening a pack of disposables, but to me it’s worth it. We are saving SO much money this way and I love knowing that we’re not contributing to one of the biggest landfill fillers of all time. (Did you know it’s estimated that disposable diapers take 500 years to decompose? Yikes.)

Even our babysitters have said they don’t mind using the cloth – they’re that easy. (We leave them some disposables just in case… but they always use the cloth.)

They also don’t hinder us from being out and about. I just have a small waterproof bag in my purse that the soiled diaper goes in until we get home – it seals in the wetness and smell surprisingly well.

My only regret is that I didn’t start the cloth diapers sooner. Sure, the “laundry grace period” was great (and I may have still waited 2-3 months before starting), but the laundry and process involved isn’t nearly as daunting as I had assumed it would be.

And this is coming from a laundry-a-phobe.

If I can do it, so can you… if cloth diapering is your thing.

Dear friends, do you use cloth diapers? Any tips you’d like to share? Or maybe you are considering making the switch… what’s the biggest appeal to you or the biggest deterrent? 

i'm a survivor,

I decided to jump back on the bandwagon. 
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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the wanna-be halloween post

Because Australians don't really celebrate Halloween... And because it's in the 80's here... And because babies are just so cute in little hats...

I decided to share some of my favorite baby beanie finds on Etsy that would be the perfect centerpiece for a chilly night out trick-or-treating with the big kids... if Aussies did Halloween... and if it was about 40 degrees cooler.

available here

available here

available here
available here
available here

Arg! Aren't these babies and beanies just so, so cute??! Maybe I can think of an excuse to dress Levi up anyway...

Dear friends, what are you dressing your kids as this year?

lovin lil owly babies,

I decided to jump back on the bandwagon. 
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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
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Monday, October 25, 2010

four healthy mamas and four healthy babies... and many not so lucky

Last year three of my friends and I all planned to have our babies naturally with the assistance of a midwife through our local birthing center. All four of us ended up needing to be transferred to the hospital and having medical interventions for four difference sets of reasons.

As difficult as it was in each case, we emerged with four healthy mothers and four healthy babies.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if we did not have access to the amazing health care that is available to us in Australia.

What if we had labored—just a two-hour plane trip away—in the neighboring nation of Papua New Guinea?

Would we still have four healthy mamas with us today?

And would those four healthy mamas still have four healthy babies?

Imagine this scenario:

“The floors are crowded with women waiting to have their babies, or cradling the ones they have just delivered, because there are not enough beds. In the delivery room, flimsy curtains afford no privacy or dignity. The toilet is a bucket by the bed. The vinyl mattresses where they labour are worn through, soiled foam bursting through the cracks." (Source: A mother's life, by Jo Chandler, The Age, September 7, 2009.)

{Mothers in PNG sit on the floor after delivery due to a lack of hospital beds. Photo credit: Jason South}

That is part of the reason why my husband and I have been volunteering with an organization called YWAM for the last 10 years... Because knowing that 1 in 7 women in rural PNG die in childbirth is just not acceptable… Because the resources are out there and just need some redistribution... Because we believe that willing people (both skilled and unskilled) can make a difference—very practically—in other peoples lives.

As we work to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates in Papua New Guinea (as a part of the Millennium Development Goals), we reach out into neighboring nations to bring primary health care, dentistry, optometry, and mother and child health care.

Here is a personal story (first published here) from one of our volunteers—RN/Midwife Jenny Sutherlandin August of this year:

Yesterday we were halfway through our morning clinic when word came that a woman in a neighbouring village had given birth to one twin, but the second was not coming.  A small team of us arrived there with some difficulty, as we climbed up slippery logs and made our way into an incredibly poverty-stricken shack, where this labouring woman was on a bamboo floor, upon which we had to choose our steps wisely or fall through.

She had not a thing under her and her newborn baby girl was semi-wrapped in a dirty looking cloth nappy. The umbilical cord tied was tied with bamboo, but the baby was looking well. The woman had been pushing since the morning before, with Twin 1 born at 1am. When we arrived the unclamped cord was hanging out.  Due to finding it difficult to find a fetal heartbeat on the unborn twin and given the mother's deteriorated condition, we decided to transport her to a local clinic, not certain whether either of them would live through this.

We carried the woman on a stretcher through calf-deep mud and onto the Zodiac (which is used to carry patients to and from the YWAM Medical Ship).  The voyage took 4 hours and despite the difficulties, this woman never whimpered once.  Frightened and exhausted, she had seemingly no interest in the baby she had birthed and had not fed her yet.  We encouraged her to feed the baby girl on the journey though, and to our delight she had a great feed and slept the rest of the trip, sheltered by some donated birthing kit bunny rugs, a cloth nappy and the strong arms of one of our manly engineers whose heart was taken for this baby girl!

We arrived at the clinic and were amazed to hear the healthy heart beat of the unborn baby. After bringing on labour again, with one push, out came a healthy baby girl! The labouring mum finally smiled - her life saved and two sweet baby girls safe in her arms.

Dear friends, have you ever stopped to think about the fact that we are blessed with incredible health care facilities and trained professionals, unlike so many women throughout developing nations? Is your birth story one that may have turned out differently if it weren’t for the resources available to you? When's the last time you stopped and gave thanks that you and your baby are simply alive?

counting my blessings,

P.S. If you’d like to know more about our work and how you can get involved in making a difference to the people of Papua New Guinea and beyond, please check out YWAM Medical Ships or email me.

I decided to jump back on the bandwagon. 
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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

so you think i'm nuts?

A few of you have been asking... Where am I? Is everything ok? 

The answers to those questions are... Here! and Yes!

Life. Has. Been. Busy.

I have no idea how to explain the word "busy" in a way that would make sense to anyone... but it looks something like...

Both hubs and I were working full-time this last week... No, make that over-time... Sick baby for six days (and counting) needing mama's attention/affection every spare moment... Late nights preparing my teaching material after baby is in bed... Cleaning the house top-to-bottom (picture holding a miserable little Levi with one hand while scrubbing the toilet with another - true story) for incoming international house guests... Receiving international house guests... Welcoming 50ish people home from our latest medical outreach to Papua New Guinea on the YWAM Medical Ship... Sending off another two teams of young people to do outreach in Australia and Papua New Guinea... Hosting about 120 delegates to conferences being run by the non-profit we volunteer/work for... Receiving over 50 new students into our training schools... Oh yeah, and did I mention sick husband... And baby tooth number four - that same little culprit that first poked through at four months creating such havoc before disappearing again and now (five months later) has finally moved in for the next several years... And doctors visits... And groceries... And five million loads of laundry...

So yeah, when I say "busy" it looks a little something like that.

And I guess you can add that at the end of this week when my (lovely!) overseas guests depart, I have a few hours to wash the sheets and clean and get the guest room ready for another guest that comes for the following week.

Oh, and then there's the preparing for our trip to America that is {gasp} less than a month away. And getting our immigration paperwork sorted. And booking our hotel and car for our layovers. And lining up when to see what friends and where. And scheduling visits to the dentist. And organizing our Christmas party, which will double as an anniversary party to celebrate our 10 years volunteering/working with YWAM. And finding our stockings so we can take them with us. And...

Maybe I should have just stopped after writing, "preparing for our trip to America" so that I wouldn't be breaking into a cold sweat right about now. {ahem}

Oh yeah, and somewhere in there I'm going to try and celebrate my 33rd birthday. (I really want to have a lawn bowling and mustache party... we'll see if we can pull it off.)

That's all I have for you today. My head is FULL of things that I want to write about... and my hard drive is FULL of half-written posts that only need some attention and editing... But right now it's all I can do to sit and write out my madness.

So welcome. To my madness. Welcome to my madness.

Life is crazy. My family is nuts. 

But we are happy.

We love all the excitement and the challenge and the things going on around us.


So... I am here.... I am great... Just busy. That's all. Just busy.

Thanks for asking. 

I'm scheduling some writing time in the next few days so I'll be back... I know, I know... you wait on the edge of your seat. {grin} I'll try to deliver. I'll try not to disappoint.

I'll write about motherhood and babies and all the stuff you've come to expect... and maybe a few things you wouldn't expect. {more grinning}

Dear friends, do you think I'm nuts? Are you nuts? Is life more fun when it's nuts?? I know I'm not alone here... What does your "busy" look like?? Is it as nutty as mine?

love with a side of nuts,

I decided to jump back on the bandwagon. 
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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

what's your hang-up?

Everybody has hang-ups. You know... Things that slow you down. Bumps in the road. Challenges that need problem-solving.

Levi's had a few hang-ups of his own lately.

He's on the go: Up. Down. Over. Under. Around. On top of. Below. Between. Behind. In front of.

My little explorer. 

It's just that every once in a while, his ambition wins out over his expertise. 

Notice that one hand has made contact while the other three extremities are still airborne:

Good effort son, good effort. Go for the gold baby boy. Mama believes in you. 

Dear friends, how are you dealing with life's little hang-ups these days? 


P.S. Is it bad that instead of immediately coming to the rescue I went to find my camera first?

I decided to jump back on the Top Baby Blogs bandwagon. 
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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

introducing baby sign language

Guest post by Misty Weaver, editor of

Baby sign language is a way of teaching your baby to communicate by way of special hand gestures. It’s fun, it’s free, and best of all it really works! Based on ASL (American Sign Language), baby sign language it is a simplified version for babies and young children. You can start to sign with your baby from birth – or sooner. Many moms learn the basic signs while baby is still in the womb, so they're ready to go. The important things with baby sign language are to be consistent, have fun, repeat the signs as often as you can, and have a lot of patience.

How To Start With Baby Sign Language

It’s best to start with signs that you can introduce on a daily basis. Signs like Mommy, Daddy, Milk and More are great for beginners. More is often the first sign a baby learns! Signs that represent something which exciting or interesting to your baby will be easier for him or her to learn. Begin with these starter signs then build up your repertoire to include other objects, ideas and emotions. 

How To Sign To Your Baby

Practice the signs beforehand so you feel confident and clear about what you are doing. You need to make the sign every time you say the relevant word to your baby. Say the word that goes with the sign clearly, with good eye contact, while pointing to the thing or person you are describing. It’s important to repeat the sign as often as possible. Be sure to sign when your baby is alert and not tired. 

Make It Fun

Baby sign language can be an important part of communication for parents and babies, but it works best when you make it fun. Don’t take signing too seriously. Sign as part of your everyday routine and enjoy it! If you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong. Baby will only pick up the signs and want to use them if he or she sees that you are enjoying signing too. 

Be Patient

Don’t expect too much from your baby – or yourself – too soon. Your baby is unlikely to be signing for milk if only four months old and you’ve been signing together for a week! Research by Dr. Joseph Garcia, one of the founders of Baby Sign Language, found that a typical baby who starts learning signs at seven months old needs about two months of repetition and exposure to a sign to start using it.

Basic Starter Signs To Get You Going
  • To sign Mommy extend and spread apart your fingers. With your pinkie facing forward, tap your thumb on your chin. This is the sign for Mommy.
  • To sign Daddy, extend and spread out your five fingers on your strong hand. Tap your hand on your forehead. Done right you will look like a turkey.
  • The sign for Milk is a lot like milking a cow, but without the vertical motion – you are just squeezing the udder. Take both hands, make them into a fist, relax, and repeat.
  • For More, flatten out your hands then bring your thumbs under to make an O shape. Then, bring your hands together and separate them repeatedly. Baby will often simplify "more" by clapping their fists together.  

Note: You can find Misty at Baby Sign and on Facebook.

Dear friends, don't you love that the sign for "Daddy" looks like a turkey?! {grin} We started using a few signs with Levi around 6.5 months old... He definitely understands what we're saying, but has yet to sign back. (He's now 8.5 months.) And you? What is your experience? Have you used baby sign language? Considered introducing it?

love communicating with my baby,

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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

let's talk about sex, baby

By Morgan, author of The Little Hen House

I love getting together with my mommy friends. I think they are the sole reason that being a Stay at Home Mom has not driven me to the loony bin (yet!). We get together about once a week, let the kids run amuck, and get a chance to have actual adult conversation.

Of all the things we talk about, sex is NEVER a topic. It’s interesting. I can tell you exactly how many stitches my best friend had after her second baby, and I have held my other friend’s breast while she tried to get her baby to latch properly, but I can’t tell you when the last time we honestly talked about sex.

Occasionally, usually in a one on one conversation, a girlfriend will open up to me about her sex life. Anyone who knows me knows that I will pretty much talk about anything, so I’m always down for a good sex talk. Here’s what I have learned: Most of us really don’t feel like doing it a whole lot. And by a whole lot, I mean pretty much almost never.

Here’s the part where I have to ask you to refrain from telling me about how you can’t get enough of your husband and you practically attack him the second he walks in the door. Good for you. And him.

What I’m saying is- most of us don’t have the same sex drive that we did before we became mothers. Don’t worry. It’s totally normal. The best thing we can do is share our experiences and try to help one another. So.....

Here is what I think affects libido after childbirth:

1. Breastfeeding- your estrogen levels are very low. It's like your body is in menopause. Even the act of just holding a baby makes your hormones drop. It's nature’s little way of ensuring their survival by making sure that you won't do anything that will make a sibling for them any time soon. :) 

2. Lack of sleep. Sleep trumps sex. Period.

3. Post baby body. Even if you have returned to your pre-baby size, you may feel differently about your body- especially if you are nursing or had a difficult delivery. 

4. How involved/helpful your partner is. I tell my husband that doing the dishes counts as foreplay. Husbands need to step up and act like supportive partners. I've had it with man-children. Mothers don't feel like having sex with a partner who acts like a child. They feel like putting them in the corner for a time out. 

5. Where your baby sleeps. It's hard to have sexy time when you have the baby in the bed. 

6. How consumed you are with motherhood. Take time for yourself. Work on a non-child related hobby. Have a glass of wine with your girlfriends. Re-connect with your pre-mommy self. You were a person before you had children. And that person felt like having sex. Get to know her again. 

7. Date night. I know it's cliché, but it's SO important to get away with your spouse once in a while. Enjoy a great meal, have a glass of wine (or two!). I find that Friday nights are great for us. It allows us to reconnect after a long week and gear up for the weekend. 

8. Baby blues/postpartum depression. Enough said. 

9. Fake it till you make it. Sometimes you just have to make yourself do it. You will be glad afterwards. So will your husband. :) 

10. Finally, you may never feel like jumping your partner’s bones like you used to. That's ok. Having children changes everything about a relationship. You are both parents now and you need to re-discover each other in a completely new way. It's really, really hard and everyone goes through this struggle. It will take time, but you will get in your groove again. 

I’m no expert and I’m certainly not a doctor. If you think something is medically wrong with you, then I suggest you discuss it with a professional. I can only give you my advice, which is based on my own personal experience.

Having two babies in just over two years did quite a number on my sex life. I’m not perfect, but I’m trying really hard to get back in the game and I know you can too. 

Bio: Morgan is a Stay at Home Mom to Emma and Annie. In between eating Bon Bons and watching soaps, she writes about life, the adventures of motherhood, and the challenges of raising her two little chicks. You can read more of her at The Little Hen House.

Dear friends, do you have anything that you've learned and would like to share about post-partum libido? Just keep it at PG13 please... {smile}

opening up the conversation,

Have you registered your blog here yet?

adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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