Three Changes for Baby #3

With a third child on the way, I seem to be in a constant state of mental preparation, trying to improve upon my baby rearing skills this time around and focusing on keeping things as natural as possible. Now that we have successfully raised two little cubs through infancy, with a lot of fumbles and missteps along the way, I feel like there are a few specific areas that can be improved upon.

3 things we are doing differently with our third child…

1. Eco-baby needs a cloth covered bum…. I know cloth diapering seems like something that only really crunchy moms do, but after using disposable diapers with our first two kids (one of which has very sensitive skin), I really think this is going to be a great thing for us. We can keep all those nasty chemicals away from our baby’s little behind, save a ton of money on diapering (like about $1500-$2000 from birth to potty trained), and be environmentally friendly (disposable diapers take 500 years to decompose in a landfill). So, crunchy? Yeah, maybe a little, or a lot. But the important thing is that we are ready and excited to take the plunge. Besides, modern cloth diapers are super easy to use and clean, most can be adjusted to fit bum sizes from infant to toddler, and they come in the cutest colors and patterns. Needless to say, they are a vast improvement over the bulky dishcloths my mom was pinning on my naked baby bum in the early 80′s.

2. Taking a ride on the breast feeding train…. Need I say more? I had nothing but problems with breast feeding Zoren. Between his 24 hour stay in the NICU where they promptly started him on formula, a week on a light bed due to jaundice, latching problems, and both dairy and soy allergies, his breast feeding days were stressful and short lived. When Astoria came along 14 months later, I didn’t even want to attempt to breast feed because I didn’t think I could handle the pressure of that on top of caring for two little ones without any family or friends nearby to help, so that was a no go. This time around it is going to be different. Sure, I am going to have two other kids who need my time and attention, but at least my mama will be here for a couple weeks to help with them so I get some bonding time with the new babe and we can ease into this whole breast feeding business. I am not going to claim it will be easy or go smoothly because, frankly, I have no idea how it will turn out. But I am going to give it my all this time around and am even cutting all dairy out of my diet at the end of this month since Z and Stori both had dairy sensitivities and I want to cover all my bases with our little ninja.

3. It takes a village, or a small army… One thing I did not have when I entered babyland with my first two kids, and probably desperately needed, was friends. We had moved to Colorado from Wisconsin barely a month before Z came into this world, three weeks earlier then expected. Although we had some family and friends visit from Wisconsin for a few days at a time, we were lacking any real tangible support network in our new home. It was only about 5 months after we brought Z home, that I found out I was pregnant again, with Astoria. We were so excited because we very much wanted to have our cubs close in age but, in retrospect, I didn’t consider how difficult it would be to even take steps toward making friends while being a stay at home mom to an infant and battling morning sickness and migraines during a subsequent pregnancy. Needless to say, by the time our pixie was born, I had still not made any friends and still had no family in the area (despite my best efforts in trying to convince them all to relocate from WI).

And then a funny thing happened… A few months after Stori’s birth, after we found out she has hearing loss and started working with the early intervention program, our pixie started seeing a speech therapist. And a few months after that, this complete blessing of a speech therapist (in more ways then I can ever explain) introduced me to another mama whose girlie has hearing loss, just like Pixie. And this wasn’t just any mama, this was someone I could actually relate to and talk to, who listened to kick ass music, loved to go to the same concerts as me, was down with tattoos and piercings, had no problem dressing her sweet girl in anything with skulls…. could this be more freaking perfect?!? Well, lets just say that almost three years have passed since I met this rockin’ mama and was introduced to her great group of friends and although I still very much miss the friends and family I love back in Wisconsin, I feel like have finally found my place out here. After getting to know these new friends through tons of playdates, group outings, concerts, girls nights, and parties celebrating birthdays and achievements, I can definitely say that this little ninja, along with his older brother and sister, get to grow up with a little village looking out for them, led by a small army of totally rockin’ moms.

Farmer’s Market, Packing, and an Ultrasound

The last couple weeks have been a bit chaotic and a lot stressful with planning for this move and doing massive amounts of packing and clutter busting. With almost all of the kids toys already in storage, they have had to mostly occupy themselves with boxes, packing paper, and their imaginations when they aren’t running amuck outside. I have been incredibly impressed with the patience and resilience the kids have shown so far but it’s becoming clear that the long days without activities or fun games to play are starting to take their toll. Zoren and Astoria’s temperaments this week have definitely been reflective of the stress that we all are under with this big transition and its clear they need some kind of normality back in their lives. Soon, sweet kidlets, soon.

I had what will likely be my final ultrasound this week and little ninja is looking great. He is not measuring as large as the doctor I saw two weeks ago seemed to think so that’s a big relief on my part. He has, however, already made his way deep into my pelvis with his head resting on my cervix and delivers karate chops to my bladder pretty constantly throughout the day. The ultrasound tech couldn’t even get a good look at his face because it was so buried and had trouble getting abdominal and femur measurements because he is all sorts of scrunched up in there. I sure hope this little guy plans on staying put until the end of next month because there is so much still to do before he arrives!!

Here is me and my 33 week belly enjoying some of Penn Jillette’s awesome ice cream.


We have found a house to rent and signed the lease last week. Our new digs are everything that we were looking for and more so I am beyond excited to get moved and settled. The backyard has a huge deck, is surrounded on all sides by a nice privacy fence, and has plenty of space for the kids to run around and play. As an added bonus, the lawn care and trash service are all included with our monthly rent and there is a compost bin next to a couple raised garden beds which totally appeals to my crunchy tendencies. Also, since we won’t be in an HOA controlled neighborhood, I can totally put up a clothesline when we move in which will be perfect for drying cloth diapers and other laundry on all summer long.

Today we took the morning off of packing and went to the farmer’s market in Boulder for the first time this year. We try to frequent the market as many Saturday mornings as possible during the spring and summer months because the produce, local products, food, and atmosphere are great. Today the kids immediately saw a balloonist who made Zoren a couple swords and a mask while Astoria opted for a dainty pink flower. We went to my favorite bakery stall for breakfast and shared a white chocolate raspberry scone, pumpkin muffin, and some fresh squeezed lemonade, all of which were absolutely delicious.

We made quite a haul (as you can see below) with some local creamed honey, kale pesto sauce, red and orange grape tomatoes, garlic chives, garlic scallions, turnips, arugula, and asparagus. I also stopped at my favorite pasta stall for some lemon chive angel hair, Italian pesto mix, and fruit blend pasta. The kids really loved my fruity pasta salad last summer so I am excited to try another variation of that next week. I was also really happy to find the one stall that had some early turnips this year as they are one of Zoren’s and my favorite things to snack on throughout the day and actually seem to be sitting pretty well in my topsy turvy stomach so that is a big bonus.


The farmer’s market was a great way to start our weekend and the rest of the day was pretty low key and yet quite productive. Stori and I took a walk to one of the parks nearby while Z and Steve did some reorganizing in the garage making room for a bunch of our packed boxes which they piled up quite efficiently by the time we got back. I even made a bit more headway on our packing venture despite the couple hours of random contractions I was having which forced me to take it a little easy this afternoon. All in all it was a good day and I am looking forward to a chill evening watching movies and eating ice cream with the kidlets while Steve is out celebrating a birthday with some friends.






Milestones Ahead

Zoren started walking when he was only eight months old. For the first couple weeks it was a wobbly, bobble headed baby walk which generally ended in a nose dive and minor head trauma after about 12 steps if he didn’t make it to the nearest piece of furniture. It’s a good thing his oversized noggin is also pretty tough, allowing him to just shake it off, crawl to something he could use to pull his chunky self upright, and try again. It didn’t take long before those 12 steps turned to 20 or 30 and he mastered the tricky business of moving from a sitting to standing position independently. By 9 months old he was proficient at walking and already starting to pick up the pace so he could chase our cats thorough the apartment we lived in back then. Coincidentally, Astoria was an early walker too, taking her first steps at eight and a half months old, and chasing her brother around the house soon after.

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When Zoren was about 18 months old, he still wasn’t talking much. He said a handful of words consistently, could say his ABC’s, and had started to learn a fair amount of sign language but certainly wasn’t speaking in sentences or even verbally articulating his wants and needs to us like Astoria was by that age. Although he was slow to talk, it was very clear to us that it wasn’t for lack of language comprehension. By 20 months old he could recognize each letter of the alphabet (upper and lowercase), the numbers 1-10, and all basic colors. His spoken language developed soon after that, which I attribute, in part, to incorporating sign language into our daily lives. It was around that time, when he was maybe 22 months old or something, that we discovered Z has a knack for retaining information, especially from books. I have video of him reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to us when he was about 2 and am still amazed at how accurately and effortlessly he was able to recite the story from memory, using the visuals on each page as a trigger for that particular part of the story.

He became fascinated with insects the summer before he turned three and devoured book after book on the subject, quickly depleting the library’s extensive collection of bug and insect reference materials. He would spout out facts about insects to anyone who would listen, knowing the makeup of their body structure, the habitats they live in, and the important roles each plays in our eco-system. Very cool stuff and an early indicator that we have one smart boy.

Now, not even two years later, we are watching our boy exceed expectations even further. I have already written about some of Zoren’s articulation issues that have led us to where we are today with starting speech therapy services through the therapist that has worked with Astoria for the past three years. As a jumping off point for these services, our speech therapist gave him an evaluation that is used for children ages 3-10 and gives us a good idea of where Z is at with language comprehension, expressive language, articulation, and also indicates his approximate IQ. The results of this assessment pretty much blew me away. Although it is clear that Zoren has some articulation issues, his language expression and comprehension was assessed at an 8-10 year old level and he has an approximate IQ of 143. That, folks, is only two points away from a genius level IQ!! Now, I have known for a long time now that this boy is incredibly intelligent and as it happens, I recently found out my husband took an IQ test as a child with the exact same results. So it’s definitely clear that Z’s superior brain function comes from his daddy, not me.

I am, of course, very excited that our son is considered exceptionally smart but as our therapist pointed out, there are unique challenges that we will face with him due to his level of intelligence. We are already seeing glimpses of these challenges and are told they will likely intensify once Zoren starts school. In my opinion though, every child has unique challenges that they will face in school and in life, no matter where they fall on an intelligence spectrum. That said, I am confident that if and when any conflicts arise, we will have the perspective and knowledge, as his parents, to decide on the best resolution and follow through appropriately.

Zoren’s weekly speech therapy sessions have been going great and we have already seen vast improvements in his articulation over the last couple months. One of the tools that our speech therapist recently introduced is a sort of phonics system which she has been pairing with a new phonics book each week. I think it’s amazing just how quickly this system not only helps him with figuring out the correct pronunciation of certain letters in specific words but it has also built the proper connections within his brain that allow him to have a great understanding of the English language and our word structure.

We do a lot of reading in our house. We have shelves and shelves of children’s books which we add to pretty frequently because after reading about 10-20 books to the kids each day (per their request), this momma gets a little bored with the repetitiveness so we seek out new reading materials from the thrift store whenever we get the chance. For the last six months or so, Zoren has been especially interested in learning how to sound words out and is constantly asking us what specific words are in books and on signs, particularly focusing on how each word is structured and what sounds each vowel or consonant cluster make.

A month ago or so, Steve and I started noticing that Z was reading along with us instead of us just reading to him. We figured that since he has a great capacity for retention, that he had just memorized most of these books and was reciting them while we read. We also started to notice that he was recognizing most smaller words (an, and, are, the, it, on etc.) independently and decided it is time to really provide him with some tools to begin reading on his own. I started with making a set of flash cards with sight words that children are expected to know by the end of Kindergarden, figuring this would be a good jumping off point for us. To my surprise, out of the 35 or so words, Z already knew well over half of them by sight and sounded out a bunch more with no assistance from me whatsoever. Again, he blew me away.

Three weeks ago, at a speech therapy session, Zoren was given his first phonics reader as practice material for the next week. He and I read through the book together once using his phonics practice tools that the speech therapist provided. And then, to my complete shock, he read almost the whole book by himself, only stumbling over a few words (like “grins” and “lazy”), which he sounded out with little assistance. I was a bit skeptical that he was actually “reading” the whole book himself instead of just reciting the words from memory because, again, I know he has a knack for retaining information.

At the following week’s speech session I decided to consult our therapist on the matter and let Zoren read the book to her so she could weigh in. He read her the book, again stumbling over a couple words, but doing an excellent job. When he was finished, our speech therapist looks at me and says, “Yeah, he is reading. He read almost that whole book and although he clearly has some of the words memorized, which is part of the reading process, he is also sounding out and reading the other words independently.” She then pulled out the phonics reader that she brought to practice with him over the next week, and again, he was able to read most of the book without assistance. And it really dawned on me then, my four year old can read!! How cool is that?


-reading to his sister :)

Now comes the burning questions… My brain is flooded with them lately. What are we going to do with him once he is school age? He doesn’t start school for a year and a half and already knows enough to graduate from any Kindergarten program in the area! (Did I mention he is already able to perform mental addition with any of the numbers 1-10?) Are the gifted and talented programs at public schools going to be enough to keep him challenged? Should we send him to a gifted and talented school? Should I home school him to ensure he stays academically challenged? Am I even smart enough to do that? There are about a million more questions I have that we just don’t have the answers to now. But one thing I know for sure is that this kid is going to do great things. I am so proud of how far he has come in his four short years of life and, daunting as it may be sometimes, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!

Family Day Trippin’- Earth Week Finale

I think we had quite a successful first Earth Week and was beyond pleased with how quickly the weather turned from snowy to sunny allowing us to spend the last part of the week and most of the weekend outside, enjoying the springtime. As an added bonus and grand finale of sorts, we took the kidlets to Colorado Springs on Sunday to do some exploring at Garden of the Gods and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Garden of the Gods is one of those places in our country that can take your breath away by just existing. Huge red boulders jut out of the earth at all angles, towering over spectators and tempting climbers of all calibers to reach their peaks. Once a stomping ground for dinosaurs, these incredible formations have also housed an ancient sea, long departed beaches, and expansive fields of sand dunes. These rock beds, despite being geologically young, have a deep and rich history which is still being written. Fossils of plants and animals from the Jurassic time period are intermingled with lovers initials that have been carved into the rock faces over the past 100 years. Swallows take up residence in small cavelike indents on the sides these towering rock giants that have eroded over time to provide a perfect nesting and hunting ground. Garden of the Gods is beautiful, there is just no denying that. But more so, it really has a way of making me feel incredibly connected to the past and provides a sense of wonderment about the future. That interconnectedness is soothing and subtle but very empowering and despite my exhaustion, I walked out of there feeling strong and at peace.

Zoren and Astoria had a great time climbing among smaller rock formations and watching the pros gracefully ascend to the peaks a hundred feet or more above our heads. Z was in his element at Garden of the Gods and already asking for a return trip before we had even left, although his priorities quickly shifted at the mention of our next adventure for the day.

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The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a charming zoo that boasts a huge giraffe herd which roams around an area near the entrance and is definitely their biggest attraction. Visitors can buy handfuls of romaine lettuce and get up close and personal with towering giraffe heads. It is a cool experience for the kids and adults alike. Astoria was so excited to feed the giraffes and giggled profusely when one wrapped it’s long purple tongue around her hand to retrieve the romaine, then promptly announced that she was done. Zoren gladly took over her pile of romaine after he’d exhausted his own supply and fed giraffe after giraffe, laughing hysterically and loving every moment.

I am not going to lie, walking around that zoo was killer on my body. Everything is uphill and I was usually pushing a child in the stroller because one set of child sized legs was tired at every given moment that afternoon. Luckily, the abundance of adorable baby mammals made up for my aching hips and back. I got to watch the kidlets fawn over the two day old newborn giraffe and a sweet infant gorilla that rarely left is mama’s back. Astoria squealed with delight at a baby orangutan as it hung upside down, swinging wildly back and forth on some ropes, before climbing next to it’s mama for a cuddle session.

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We stayed at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo until closing time and made a brief stop at the gift shop so the kidlets could each pick out a small souvenir which was really a highlight for them. Zoren, true to his character, bypassed all of the cheap zoo themed toys and excitedly chose to purchase a new compass. He made it a point to explain to me that he was getting the compass so he wouldn’t get lost on all of his adventures and bug hunting expeditions in the coming summer months. Astoria, who spent the entire day carrying around her stuffed baby white tiger that was coincidentally purchased on our only other trip to that zoo when she was just a few months old, decided to purchase a baby giraffe to keep her and baby tiger company. She spent most of the drive home creating hilarious and incredibly imaginative conversations between her two furry friends, mostly involving the eating habits of each animal and her adamant disapproval of the baby tiger’s carnivorous tenancies.

All in all, we had a great family day trip and I am so glad we decided to go. Especially since that was probably the last spontaneous family adventure we will have before our little ninja arrives. The month of May is going to be a busy mess of house hunting, endless packing, and luckily some breaks in between to spend time with friends. Right now I am equally looking forward to, and absolutely dreading the next two months of our lives. There is so much that has to happen before this baby arrives and at this point we just have to hope and trust that things will fall into place. We will find a house to rent. We will get this house packed up. We will move. We will get the new house unpacked and set up. We will get through Zoren’s dance showcase in the middle of June. And we will somehow be ready for this baby to arrive in eight weeks, yikes!