Saturday, June 30

Arkansas Family Reunion

We took our first plane trip with Mavry at the beginning of June to Colin's family reunion in Arkansas.  We had a great time in green Arkansas with the Thorne and Mills family. 

Colin's family was gracious enough to allow my parents and grandma (Mimi) to crash the reunion.  Grandparents are willing to attend a family reunion that isn't even theirs when a granddaughter is involved and it's within driving distance!  It was Mimi's first time to meet Mavry, so I'm really glad they made it up. 

 We got the required four generation picture of the ladies!

Mavry got to meet both of her great grandmothers on this trip.  Mimi has three great grandchildren, but Grandma Thorne has quite a few more - I think it's 22!

Thankfully Colin made it his business to get some good pictures of Mavry with his family.  We love this one of Aunt Ruth and Mavry.  I wish I'd worked a little harder to get good pictures of my side of the family too!

 Aunt Tess smiling with Mavry.  

 Uncle Jess and Mavry

 Colin invited his friend In Soon from Korea to crash the reunion too.  In Soon is currently doing some training in Oklahoma City.  It was fun to spend some time with a good friend of Colin's from his time in Korea. 

On the last night of the reunion, Larry recruited his twins to be the backup on "Man of Constant Sorrows".  Colin says next year he'll improve on the performance with giant gray beards and more extreme choreography.  :)

Friday, June 29

Baby Wearing

We use two different kinds of carriers for Mavry.  The one we used the most at first was the Moby style wrap.  Our hypnobabies instructor recommended this one to us, so it was one of the projects I got done before she was born.  I went to the nearby discount fabric store (we are lucky to have a great one nearby) and bought 6 yards of thick, not very stretchy knit fabric.  I cut it in half lengthwise to make two 6 yard long by 30 inch wide strips and tapered the ends.  I serged the edges (I was lucky enough to borrow a friend's serger for this and a few other projects.)  I also downloaded and printed out the Moby instructions since this wrap takes a little getting used to.  After Mavry was born and we started using this wrap, we realized it would be helpful to know where the middle of the wrap is so I sewed a felt heart at the center of the length of the wrap. 

I think the Moby (whether you purchase the original or make your own) is the best for newborn babies.  It takes a little getting used to at first - you have to learn how to wrap it and wrap it around yourself tighter than you think before you put the baby in.  Even before we learned how to do it "right," Mavry would spend hours contentedly napping in there, which was so freeing for me.  It was usually Colin who used this one at first, and he loved the feeling of little warm Mavry sleeping on his chest.   This is how we took her to church in the first month or two and she usually slept the whole time, all snuggled up.  (People marveled that Colin would wear the baby in public, but he really loved it!)

While the Moby style is great, it does take a little time to wrap it around you and get all situated.  So, after Mavry was born, I looked into an easier way to wear her.  I found these instructions online to make my own Maya wrap.  (I think it's really great that they have these very thorough instructions to make your own on the same site where they sell them!)  I got 2.5 yards of cotton fabric (a long tail is nice to have for covering up on top when nursing) from the same favorite discount store and ordered a set of rings from here.  I bought the nylon ones because it said they are stronger, but if I were to make another one, I would get the aluminum ones because they are prettier.  The fabric I bought has a yellow and turquoise selvage edge that I really liked, so I decided not to hem it.  This made the project pretty easy - all I had to do was hem the cut end of the fabric and do some heavy zig zag stitching on the ring end.

While we still use the Moby some, this Maya wrap style sling gets the most use these days.  If we are out and Mavry gets sleepy, some bouncing in this wrap (with the top pulled over her head for darkness) will usually put her to sleep pretty quickly.  If she's fussy at home, I'll put her in here and do whatever I need to do.  It's easy to get her in and out of this one, so sometimes she'll fall asleep in it and then I'll put her on her bed.  She is getting heavier and this puts all the weight on one shoulder though, so I have considered getting a soft structured carrier like the Boba, or Ergo, but we will probably just make do with what we have for a while as long as we don't go hiking or something!

Do you use a baby carrier?  What's your favorite?

Thursday, June 28


I recently checked out Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich from the library.  As I'm reading it, I'm think about where I am in working towards living a simpler life. 

Until a year or so ago I would choose the vegetarian option on the menu if eating out and rarely bought meat in an effort to be healthier and be a better steward of the world's resources.  Beginning with reading these books, I have since come to a different understanding on the ethics of meat eating , the importance of animal protein for health, and the effects of unfermented soy on the body. 

I moved to Korea in 2003 and then China in 2005.  I came back in 2007 with the intention of heading back as quickly as possible, so I left most of my belongings there.  I had no intentions of staying in the States, but then I got married, moved to California and now we have a baby!  When we moved in to our apartment after we got married, we were able to furnish it with things that were given to us.  We are still intentional about almost everything we buy because we still hope to move back to Asia.  We are on a limited budget and live in a one bedroom apartment.  However, in the past year, we've bought a Vitamix, a juicer, Pickl-it jars (mostly with Christmas and birthday gift money!).  We use each of these on an almost daily basis so I don't question their value, but they still take up space and will be something else to move when the time comes. 

Many of the things that Mavry needs have been given to us and we have bought some things like a stroller and high chair on craigslist with gift money intended for her.  I'm thankful for our limited space that keeps us honest with the amount of stuff we bring in, but we are looking for a two bedroom place where we can live in close proximity with another couple that we know.  That's another dream of ours - to live in simple community with others.  Now that we've found friends who have the same dream, it's a matter of finding a place to do it.  We are beginning to think it might not be just a dream to be able to share things we need, share meals and share daily life.

In looking back at this blog, I remember another time when I was single, living with my grandmother and in close contact with people who were homeless.  Wonderful changes in my life have moved me to a different place (in more ways than just physically) and I am glad to have a chance to reflect.  We have limits now that keep us living a relatively simple life - if and when those limits are removed, will we still choose simplicity?

Friday, June 22


Mavry this morning, playing with her wooden bell mobile.
I've been updating my blog a bit with labels on posts and adding to my profile.  I also added a list of recent twitter updates on the sidebar.  Almost all of my twitter updates are Instagram pictures.  Most of those Instagram pictures are of Mavry and are also posted on Facebook.  For people who are not on Facebook (like you, Mom!), you can now see these updates through the link on the sidebar.  (You no longer have to rely on Dad to show you!) 

(I didn't want to post without a picture, so here's the latest from Mavry - she's rolling over almost every time I put her on her back, and now she sometimes plays with her mobiles from this position.)

Wednesday, June 20

EC - Elimination Communication

Colin and I both lived in China (that's where we met!) and we both saw first hand how most Chinese kids wear split pants with no diapers.  (Split pants are sold in the U.S. now too!)  More Chinese in the bigger cities are wearing diapers now, which is sad for a few reasons - more waste, loss of tradition, and less communication between mamas and babies.  Anyhow, I remember being on the train and watching a mom (or maybe it was an aunt or grandma?) hold her baby over the floor in the squat position while the baby peed and pooed on the floor.  She cleaned up afterward with newspaper.  I thought it was gross.  Foreigners in China often make fun of babies being able to pee or poop anywhere, saying it's unhygienic and weird.  I think I was one of those people. 

Colin and I used to joke that we should figure out how the Chinese do it and when I got pregnant, I began to see what information was out there on pottying the Chinese way.  I checked this book out of the library: Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer, which was very helpful.  There are a few other books available on the subject, but we didn't end up reading any others. 

The general idea is not really to toilet train your baby, but to realize when your baby is communicating with you.  Babies, like most animals, are born with the desire to keep themselves clean.  Babies are taught by being left in wet diapers to lose touch with that sense of when they go, so even though we use diapers with Mavry, we try not to leave her in a wet diaper so that she retains the sensitivity to being wet.  (This has pros and cons).  We have noticed that when Mavry is being held or is in the sling or moby, she is less likely to go.  She will squirm, fuss, pull off if she is nursing, etc.  If we ignore her cues (or don't realize that's what's going on) then she will finally pee or sometimes poop.  She will also usually give some kind of cue if she's in her bed or playing on the floor, but it will be less noticeable, especially because we aren't paying as much attention to her then. 

We use a mix of timing, watching for cues and intuition.  We will take her to the potty when she first wakes up, after she eats, and before we start her bedtime routine.  Other than that, we try to watch and listen for her cues or just take her if we feel like she needs to go.  Mavry has been saving most of her poops for the potty for a few months now, which makes for much easier diaper laundry.  The few times when she has pooped in her diaper have been on the plane to Arkansas and when I was nursing while talking to a friend and didn't notice what Mavry was trying to tell me.  She does still pee in her diaper a lot, but we have more frequent stretches where I will take her to the potty and she still has a dry diaper.

We try to take Mavry to the potty whenever we can.  Since I get to stay at home, I take her pretty frequently, but still miss a lot of pees when she is playing by herself.  From what I've read, even just taking your baby once in the morning and once before bed (or however frequently you can) can keep a baby in tune with the sense that the place to go pee or poop is in the potty.  At the other end of the spectrum are people who constantly wear their babies or are just generally more in tune with them and never even use diapers! 
Mavry in her elastic bottom gown with prefold tucked underneath. 

We keep Mavry's little potty on our bathroom countertop.  Mavry really enjoys watching herself and looking back at us in the mirror while we hold her there.  After she goes, we lay her down on the changing mat on the other side of the faucet and wipe her off with a wet flannel wipe then we usually put a diaper on her.  We used to lay her down for playtime on the floor with a big prefold underneath her, but since she's become more mobile, we usually put it on her somehow.  Our favorite pajamas are the gowns with the elastic bottoms because they are easier than footed pajamas for frequent changes and we can tuck the big prefold underneath the elastic for morning playtime.  I also made some big scrunchie type belts like these to use with prefolds when we are around the house.  She still wears onesies, but the best clothes for EC are the kind that are quickly removed since there are a lot of trips to the potty every day. 

When I started putting Mavry on the potty in her first week, she disliked the way I was sitting her directly on it.  Colin remembered a few of the other ways he had read about to hold the baby over the potty which she liked much better.  She disliked sitting on the potty for a while, preferring to be held over it.  She gradually got used to being on her little potty and now she will sit on the potty with our help just to stabilize her and she likes it.  We try to use the sign language for potty when we tell her we are going to take her, hoping that when she's a little older, she can communicate that she needs to go.  

We get all sorts of reactions to how we do this.  People joke "Is she potty trained yet?" and after I take her when we are out, people will usually ask if she went or not.  I've had people come in the bathroom to watch and see if she goes, and then are amazed if she does.  I am still kind of shy about the whole thing since it's a weird idea to most people.  (Colin, on the other hand, seems proud of it!)  People wonder how I deal with the extra work of taking her to the potty so much.  It does take extra time, but I think the payoff is great in terms of the baby retaining the sense of her body - she knows when she has to go and can wait if she knows I will listen to her.  There's a closeness and a sense of trust between parents and an EC baby.  She may be a little more sensitive (fussy when she needs to go or fussy if she's wet) and it's sometimes inconvenient when we are out somewhere and I don't really want to interrupt what I'm doing to take her to the bathroom.  I don't really know if the time I'm taking now will payoff in terms of less frustration or time spent potty training a toddler who is used to going in her diaper, but to me it's worth it to have a baby who knows I try to listen to her and is in tune with her body. 

A few more resources that I've found helpful: this article is a nice summary of EC and I joined this EC group online (I get a daily summary of new posts emailed to me) where I can read the experiences and questions others have as well as have a forum to get some of my own questions answered. 

Saturday, June 16

Cloth Diapering

Tiny cloth diapered (with no cover) Mavry on Aunt Laura.   
There are plentiful posts all over the web about cloth diapering.  So, really I don't need to add to the mix, but among the people I know, most don't use cloth diapers and are curious about it, so here's a little summary of what we do.  
Little bottom with a wool cover.

I never considered disposable diapering, so I don't really know how much disposables cost or how much we are saving.  I decided to cloth diaper because I want to do all I can to be more natural and cut back on waste.  In my opinion, it's not much more work than disposable diapering.  (Colin definitely does his share of changing and pottying, especially when we are out.  I am lucky that he is fully supportive!)  Besides the cost and waste issue, we also wanted to cloth diaper because we are doing elimination communication (EC). 

There's hardly any stink involved (at this point) and not too much mess.  It's just a little more laundry every week.  There are many cloth diapering options these days with all the different kinds of covers, all-in-ones, etc, but I didn't really look into them.  I chose to use prefolds with covers because it was the cheapest way to go and also because I heard it was the best method to combine with EC. We got almost all our diapers as gifts through our amazon registry, so for us there was very little upfront cost.

Laundry drying in the sun
We have two kinds of  lanolized wool covers that I got secondhand through Craigslist.  (Two of these are Firefly and the rest are homemade with no snaps.)  We also got one of these Grovia snap covers from our registry.  I think the wool look the cutest, but the ones that just slip on without snaps are a little harder to get on, so we only use them when looks or a trim bootie are a priority.  That means we use the snap ones the most.  The wool also can feel a little damp if the prefold inside gets soaked.  Inside the covers, we use prefolds with snappis.  We have prefolds in three sizes.  The smallest ones fit with a little folding down in the front from day one (I just looked back at her first weeks pics - she was so small!), although we used the disposable diapers from the hospital until we ran out since she was so little and we didn't want to deal with meconium.  Newborns tend to wet all the time, so we also used the other two sizes from day one - the medium size ones made a bulky fit when she was little, but fit her perfectly now.  (The small size can no longer be closed with a snappi, but we just fold them into a rectangle and put them in her cover and it works fine.)  The large size we have used from her first week to put underneath her for diaper free time and also underneath her when she is nursing diaper free. 

For nighttime, we use these since we don't usually get up to change her at night and the velour top helps her feel more dry.  I have considered getting these and these also look pretty great but are expensive.  What we have now seems to work well most of the time.  One time she completely soaked through and once she woke up in the morning completely dry! 

As far as other helpful gear goes, we have a diaper sprayer, which I think is great, but not completely necessary, a hanging wet bag (good for us since we don't really have space for a diaper bucket) and a travel wet bag that also has a dry compartment for clean diapers (this bag looks much larger in the picture, but is really just the right size for a few diapers).  We use this changing mat in our bathroom next to the sink since a regular changing pad is too big for our space.  (At first, we just used a towel, but now we keep a towel underneath this - it's nice to have a nonslip, wipe-able surface.)  We like having the changing station in the bathroom since we use homemade flannel wipes and warm water instead of throwaway ones. 

I made an extra clothesline outside since sometimes I am drying a lot of laundry!
It's important to use cloth diaper detergent like this or this so that you don't get detergent build up on your diapers because, oddly enough, that will make them hold on to their stink.  When I notice that they are a little stinky even after washing, I will make sure to soak them before the next wash in a bucket with a glug of white vinegar and also let them dry out in the sunshine after the wash. Drying them in the sunshine helps get rid of the stink, takes care of stains (I am amazed by that every time!) and is a natural disinfectant.  When I dry our clothes in the dryer, I use two wool dryer balls instead of a dryer sheet since dryer sheets (like the wrong detergent) coat the diapers with stuff that makes them hold on to their stink.  The dryer balls also slightly speed up the drying time. 

I'll post next about EC, which is a big component in how easy it is for us to cloth diaper. 

Wednesday, June 6

Mavry at 4 Months

Mavry turned 4 months today!  (And today was my sister's birthday!) 

We had some adventures in getting her pictures.  I sat her in the co-sleeper and she happily batted at her octahedron mobile as I was getting things ready.  Right as I was about to pick her up and put her next to Raggedy Ann, she got upset and spit up all over her shirt.  There wasn't much hope in things going my way after that, so I waited until she had a nap and got happy again.  

Mavry has started to laugh, and she is too cute when she does.  I got a good laugh out of her when we took the successful set of pictures today.  She has a little dent in her right cheek when she smiles.  She is curious and observant.  Her favorite place to be is on the exercise ball - when she gets upset, we know that is the place to go to calm her down.  (This has been true since she was born - I think Aunt Laura discovered this!)  We love watching her vibrant personality unfold. 

Waiting in the co-sleeper for pictures.
See Mavry at:
3 months
2 months
5 weeks