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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Outdoor Fun

Last week my husband went on another business trip. This time to Tennessee. So, the girls and I headed back to Franklin to visit my family. We had a very nice time. Many of my extended family members got to meet Audrey for the first time. Ava got to play with her cousins, Trey and Connor, for most of the week. And, it was especially nice to be back there on the days when the weather was very warm... can you believe it actually got up in the 80s?! Boy, we just love taking advantage of those warm days. Ava and Trey had a blast playing outside together... getting into everything! They wrote with chalk on the cement, rode little bikes, and played with the basketballs. I wish I could have photographically caught more of it... but I was holding little Miss Audrey most of the time. If only I had a couple more hands and arms!

Ava had to wear one of her Uncle's hats because we forgot to bring a summer hat with us, but doesn't she look so cute?!

This is Ava's first time writing outside with chalk. She loved it! Here she's actually practicing writing her name. Can you believe she can already visually recognize over 15 letters (expressively and receptively)?!!! My little genius! 

Ava's cousin, Trey. Doesn't he have such a beautiful smile?!

 Ava had such a fun time throwing the ball and chasing after it... her version of basketball :)

Ava looks so cute in her bicycle helmet. (I wish I could have gotten a pic of her on the bike, but my hands were full at the time with her little sister!)

We're back at home this week, and wouldn't you know that the warm weather didn't follow us. It's rained practically all week and we've been lucky to hit temps in the 60s. Next week my husband will head to Kentucky for work, so the girls and I will go back to Franklin for more fun with the fam. We're hoping to get to play outside again, and this time my hands with hopefully be free to take more pics ;)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Baby = Happy Mommy

Shortly after we brought Audrey home from the hospital (after being born), we noticed a huge difference between her and how Ava was after birth. Audrey was so calm and laid back. You barely even knew she was there. It was nice! Then, after about a month, we started seeing signs of unhappiness very similar to Ava as a newborn, and really the only thing that would calm her down was when we would hold her and bounce up and down on our exercise ball. We knew to try it because that's how we would calm Ava down. Now you wouldn't think that was such a bad thing... until you had to do it for HOURS! We would be up until late hours of the night (EVERY NIGHT) and early morning bouncing her on that stupid ball. With all those memories of long, difficult hours spent on the ball with Ava as a newborn flooding back into reality, we decided right away to play detective and really find out what was making Audrey so unhappy. We knew that it couldn't be behavioral yet because she was much too young. We started keeping track of certain patterns and abnormal characteristics.

We were beginning to recognize repeated signs of acid reflux. Having had to deal with it with Ava, we felt like pros diagnosing the signs when Audrey began displaying them. She would arch her back soon after every feeding or if she had been crying a lot, and she would cry, almost scream, when she had the hiccups or if she burped. We felt so very helpless at times. Our baby was clearly crying in pain and there was nothing we could do to make her feel better. We had even done research on what different cries sound like and what they mean to confirm that she was in deed crying in pain. So we called the pediatrician and had her call in a acid reflux medication for Audrey. We knew the medicine wouldn't stop the reflux, but it would decrease the pain caused by the reflux. At this point the story should start getting happy, right?! Wrong! The medicine that our pediatrician gave us was Zantac, which may work for some babies... but not our baby. In fact, we really didn't see any change in her. So, after about a week and a half (because we thought we'd at least give it a try), we called the pediatrician yet again to have her this time prescribe Audrey Prevacid. Prevacid was the med that Ava was on when she was a newborn, and back then we had noticed almost immediately a decrease in the pain caused by acid reflux. Why our pediatrician didn't first prescribe Prevacid, I'll never know. Now the story gets a little happier. Soon after giving her the Prevacid, we were starting to see a change. But... something was still bothering her. Back on went the detective hat because we apparently had more investing to do. Too bad babies aren't born with the ability to speak... so they could tell us all of their problems!

I was now taking note of what I was eating to see if something I ate was going through my breast milk and causing her to be unhappy. I also researched certain foods that mother's eat that are irritants to breast-fed babies. One thing that kept coming up article after article was cow's milk. This was something I wasn't too thrilled to try because as you know from reading my previous blog post about pregnancy cravings, I LOVE milk, pregnant or not. But, if giving up something I love means having a happy, comfortable baby, then it's definitely worth a try! The story is about to get even happier... After about a week, we were beginning to notice a difference. There were less periods of crying, and we were even getting to bed a little earlier. But... something was still bothering her. You'd think we'd just kept that darn detective hat on, right?!

At this point we were about ready to throw that stupid exercise ball out the window and just let her cry! But for those of you who know me, you'd know I'd never let that happen. I know it's healthy to let your baby cry every now at then, but that's when she's crying for no reason... she's been fed, she's been changed, she's not in pain... but I knew there was a reason for why she was crying, so I just could't stand by and let it happen. We even went as far as to give her Mylicon, an anti-gas med for babies (it seemed to have helped Ava when she was a newborn), not necessarily because she had a significant amount of gas or that the gas she did have was possibly causing her pain, but mostly because we were running out of ideas.

Our next thought was to see if there was a baby contraption on the market that did the same thing we were doing on the exercise ball. We had seen those baby bouncers that are available but didn't think those would work because they only bounce if the baby causes it to bounce. We needed something to just do it on it's own. So, while we were shopping in Target one day with the girls, we were walking through the baby section and there it was... Bright Starts Automatic Bouncer. We had to have it! Our backs were already starting to feel better as we were going through the check-out. Once we were home, we had to try it. At first she seemed a little satisfied, but it wasn't soon after that she realized it was just a machine... it wasn't human. And there we were... right back in the same boat.

We were running out of ideas... our detective hat was falling off and we weren't even sure if we wanted to put it back on. Until... we had the idea of trying a pacifier. Of really trying the pacifier. See, we had tried the paccie on Audrey a couple of times before, but she could have cared less, but this time we were going to be serious about it. I suppose we weren't serious before, and I was hesitant, because I was afraid of what it would mean for Audrey to take a paccie. I was worried about nipple confusion and that it might cause her to not want to breastfeed anymore. So, I decided to do my homework on paccies and the effects. Here's what I found:

* Paccies may help soothe a fussy baby. Babies like sucking on something. The sucking motion makes them feel safe and provides comfort.
* Paccies help babies fall asleep.This probably goes back to the fact that babies like having something to suck on.
* Sucking on a paccie promotes oral muscle function and development.
* If breast-feeding is well established, a paccie won't interfere with nursing or cause nipple confusion.

* Paccies can cause dependence. If your baby likes to fall asleep to a paccie, you may have a long night ahead of you, having to get up and put the paccie in her mouth every time she wakes up.
* Prolonged pacifier use may lead to dental problems.

With all those positive reasons to use a paccie and very few negatives, I was ready to give it a try. And I'm sooo glad we did. We can now rock in our rocker with Audrey, sit on a non-moving chair, place her in her automatic bouncer or swing, and even lie her down all by herself... all with the help of that incredible little plastic nipple... the Pacifier!

The paccie has even provided relief for us when it's time for bed. Instead of bouncing on that ball for hours upon hours night after night, we lay her down in bed beside us, and hold in the paccie for just a little while, until she falls asleep. Thankfully we only have to do this initially when going to bed and not every time she wakes up to feed during the night.

Audrey takes the soothie paccie... mostly because that's the one we tried her with. With the little finger insert, it allows us to keep it in her mouth while providing a warm, human-like sensation for her. I'm not sure what results come from the nuk vs. platex vs. soothie debate. We just know that this paccie is working, so there's no need to try a different one. Although, one downside to using the soothie paccie was the fact I had to constantly pick it up off the ground every time she would pop it out of her mouth. Most of the paccie clips on the market, that I had seen, were made for paccies with a handle. And as you can see from the picture I took above, the soothie paccie doesn't have a handle.

But, I'm happy to report that I found a great little paccie clip online at Amazon made specifically for soothie paccies that even works for paccies with handles. Modern Marvels! I just got it in the mail two days ago, and so far I love it! Now when I'm holding Audrey in one hand, the paccie clip allows me to functionally be able to use my other hand, and no worries now if she pops it out.

Keep in mind that we don't give Audrey the paccie all the time. We first see if she can handle being without it. We want her to eventually be able to find other ways to comfort herself. But when she gets fussy and isn't satisfied with just rocking or swinging or whatever, then in goes the paccie, and all is well.

So, thankfully, this story does have a happy ending.
Audrey is happier. Mommy is happier. Life is good :)

Audrey enjoying her paccie.

Big sister, Ava, helping :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Photography Tip #7: Framing

Framing your subject in a photo is a fun compositional technique that brings special emphasis to the person or object and can sometimes make a dramatic impact on your photo. It can be quite literal, where a foreground element is used to encircle the subject, like placing your subject in a window frame or having your subject's face show through a hole in a book.

Framing can also be subtle. Architectural elements as well as elements in nature work well when framing your subject in an photograph. Use foreground elements to frame your photo's subject. Remember to keep your subject as the most important element in the photo or else the element used for framing could rob the focus, making it difficult to determine what the subject is suppose to be. Consider the two photos below that I took on our trip to Oahu last year. 

The first photo is ho-hum. Not a whole lot of dimension in this picture. Just looks like a hotel. 

But when you add the tree for framing, the hotel (the subject of the photo) now has more importance and really pops out to the viewer.

What elements have you used to frame your subject when photographing? Challenge yourself the next time you pick up your camera to use elements in nature as well as in your home to frame people and objects in your pictures. It'll be a fun way to experiment with the composition of your photo, and you'll be able to see the depth that simply adding a framing element can create.  
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