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Ashlee is Mama of one darling boy. A 28 week early bird, now 1 and some change, doing beautifully. She lives near Chicago with her sweetheart husband and French Bulldog. She's a thinker not afraid to get her silly on. Babywearer, veggie queen, photography nut. Before the domestic days Ashlee was pursuing a future in developmental psychology but has happily shifted gears in favor of staying at home and couldn't imagine doing anything else. In her free time (ha!) you can find her whipping up babyslings, holding down the fort at Mama Speaks and spotlighting as an Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor.

Mama's Nest

Reasons I love being a Mom #2 - Nursing Friday, July 28, 2006 |

Sticking with the theme of the week on my blog and in the news it only seemed fitting to love nursing this week! I'll leave well enough alone with the "Great breast vs. bottle debate" (or at least save it for another post!) But I truly believe if every woman who chose to bottle feed experienced for a second the joy I feel every time I nurse my baby there would be no question what to do. Breastfeeding my son is one of the most amazing (and rewarding) things I have ever done. So let's start from the beginning...

Due to Xavier's prematurity he went without food for quite some time, an IV concoction was enough to keep him going until his digestive system was developed enough to get things through. Leaving me to pump (what fun hospital grade breast pumps are!) and store my milk until he was ready. Soon, little by little milk was gavage (tube) fed straight into his little tummy and as he was able to keep down more and more it became time for that glorious first nursing session right? Wrong! The neonatologist insisted he needed to learn how to eat from a bottle first! What?! Even though I planned to nurse exclusively?! No way!? We put up a huge fight, and after a few tears (ok LOTS of tears) and staunch resistance we won the fight. He said we could "try" nursing... once...

Xavier was able to nurse for the first time at 26 days old (It was 4:00pm on Monday, January 9, 2006 to be exact!) Despite the doctor's "medical opinion" and the hilarity of the size of his head compared to the size of my breast, my little man latched on perfectly and began chowing down ... he lasted a few minutes before falling fast asleep still attached to me. I was all tears as I sat there and savored our moment I had longed and waited for. (David was so proud he excused himself to go call our family and friends! )

Because he was so small we had to take it slow, the calories he burned working to nurse were just barely canceled out by what he took in. He was eating on a 3 hour schedule so we gradually worked from every few feedings to nursing every 3 hours, to feeding on demand. It was a long time coming and wasn't without hiccups but I loved every second of it. His belly on mine, his little eye's fluttering, working so hard to suck and swallow and breathe.

What once was hard work is now second nature and while commonplace still spectacular. The best excuse to stop everything and snuggle up together. As we begin he now looks into my eyes with thanks and love. Slowly they become foggy and heavy, until inevitably they flutter closed. About this time a little chubby hand bounces around finding first my fingers, then my chest, until usually it rests softly on my cheek or chin. If we're lying down he kicks his legs off my belly and then scoots himself in to just the right spot. I get lost in the rhythm of suck and swallow and begin to melt away.

I am still amazed that every ounce of chub on my darling boy has come from me. I am his sustenance. God gave me the ability to provide him with everything he needs! And while nursing provides nourishment for his belly it nourishes the spirit as well. If Xavier's hurting or sleepy or simply missing me he'll put his mouth to my chest or tug at my shirt and he's back to his happy place. And if I'm having one of those day's where my thoughts are scattered and I feel like I'm missing something it's a wonderful time to reconnect.

I know the day's of exclusive nursing will come to an end a few months from now and when he's ready Xavier will wean himself completely (hopefully not too soon!). I'll be sad to see these moments come to an end but am looking forward to the new ways we'll find to "nurse". And am hopeful for the opportunity to nurse our next borrowed angel from the start.

• 13 Chirping

Happy Birthday David... Thursday, July 27, 2006 |

You have shared with me the best years of our life.
You are simply amazing...best friend... Husband... Father... more than I could have ever dreamed for. Enjoy your day... I'm honored to celebrate with you.
Happy Birthday my love!

"My beloved is mine, and I am his" Song of Solomon 2:16

• 3 Chirping

Wordless Wednesday Tuesday, July 25, 2006 |

• 14 Chirping

Xavier's "first" photo Saturday, July 22, 2006 |

So first off, I am generally opposed to posed photo's taken at mall stores (yes, majoring in photography made me a bit of a photo snob) Pictures of little kids propped up, looking STRAIGHT ahead with fake clouds or chimneys behind them kind of freak me out - but while at our mall on Saturday picking up a few things for hubby's birthday I decided to stop in The Picture People to see what they could do.

We haven't yet had a "professional" picture taken of Xavier - except for that Easter fiasco which I'll save for another therapy session... and we don't have many pictures of the two of us together... and a photo of us would make a great gift for David, so I figured what the heck. They got us right in with no hassel and the women there were amazing! They only took 6 shots and they all turned out perfectly. (I'm sure it helped that as soon as Xav saw the camera he started hamming it up!) Plus they didn't pressure me or even suggest that I buy a gazillion photos.

I think they kind of won me over :) What do you think?

• 9 Chirping

Reasons I love being a Mom - #1: Mornings Friday, July 21, 2006 |

I've decided to make a new weekly post, every Friday - Reasons I love being a Mom. There are of course the obvious reasons... but the simple things often get overlooked. And since this is my soft little place to share and reflect I figured there's no better place. So here will be my running list of the little joys. If you'd like to join in I'd love the company, just let me know and I'll be sure to link to you... here we go!

I should start by saying that I've NEVER been a morning person, a night owl by nature. And in pre-baby life waking up (to that dreadful alarm) usually meant a cup of coffee, shower and off to my job or course work. Oh, how life has changed...

Daily I am roused by the sweetest coo's. As awareness strengthens I feel a tiny body in the fold of my arm - a chubby little hand tickling my chin or cheek (sometimes my forehead) the other arm streched out behind his body resting backwards on Daddy's arm. Little legs kick off my stomach and legs overcome with excitement. As my eyes open I am immediately rewarded with the sweetest gummy smile. I reel him in for a great big hug, then back down so we can look at one another. This is where we stare and time stops... surveying each other's faces... my tired eyes- his refreshed and full of life... smiling back and forth, giggling here and there. Eventually I ask how his rest was and get a full report of sighs and shrieks. We snuggle and "talk" some more. Eventually Daddy's eyes are open too and my little man smiles with delight... a "look what I did"smirk forming across his lips. David and I share our good morning, sometimes a family hug is well in order. We lay there the three of us; and stare at each other, the ceiling, the sun streaming in through the windows... we talk and laugh, listen and play. If only this moment could last forever but the day beckons and eventually our feet must hit the floor and we get moving. I couldn't ask for a more amazing start.

• 8 Chirping

Wordless Wednesday Wednesday, July 19, 2006 |

I can't believe I'm posting this! Just a few words... Xavier has recently fallen in LOVE with our Frenchie Oliver and unfortunately thinks it's hilarious to give him big slobbery smooches...gross!

• 15 Chirping

Not so merry maids... Tuesday, July 18, 2006 |

I used to be a neat freak. Ok, so maybe not a neat freak, but I definitely find a clean house very soothing and enjoy everything having a place. I say used to, because since Xavier was born that's all gone out with the bathwater. I think it started with the fact that we were in the process of buying our first home when our little miracle decided to make his early entrance. We closed 8 days after he was born and moved in on Christmas Eve. We were living at the hospital so David took charge and with a team of family and friends they packed up our old house and moved everything over. The essentials were placed and boxes and bags left with the little stuff. My mom was kind enough to put my kitchen together for me and fill our linen closet. It was months before the boxes were gone. And I'm still searching for so many things.

I've yet to find the balance between mothering and household chores. There are things I can do with Xav, like dishes or vacuuming but since I'm not a "let your toys do the babysitting" kind of gal it's hard to find the time to do the dirty work. Xavier often naps in his sling and when I do put him down for a nap there is usually so much else to do - like eat! or make sure everyone has clean underwear. And while he's usually fast asleep snuggled in our bed by 9pm, I'm exhausted and would much rather catch up with my hubby (and my blog) than tackle cobwebs.

So, tired of feeling overwhelmed by my dirty floors I decided to call a maid service out to see how much it would cost to enlist some help around here. After a 15 minute walk through (in which my corners and baseboards were thoroughly insulted) she handed me a quote to get things started. And since I have resolved I'd rather feed my family than have a clean house.... me and my broom have some catching up to do.

• 1 Chirping

Happy 7 months little man! Friday, July 14, 2006 |

My darling boy turned 7 months old today... It's amazing how you transition from counting days, then weeks, and now months. Today also marks the 1 year anniversary of me finding out I was pregnant...

David had just left to spend a week in Portland and I was feeling really queasy and out of sorts, so I stopped at the drugstore and bought an at home pregnancy test. To my surprise (joy, shock, tears!) it was positive, but in disbelief I ran out and bought 3 more tests and took them all... All positive! I was dying to call David and share the wonderful news, but couldn't bear tell him we were expecting our first child over the phone. I decided to wait until he came home (the longest weekend of my life!) and to make it worse my Aunt, Uncle and cousins were in town, which meant tons of family time with my lips sealed!

Here I am the day I found out with our new pup Oliver (and a bean in my belly) at the beach with my family (in hindsight my Grandmother swears she new!)... So glad I have a photo to remember this day!

• 6 Chirping

Wordless Wednesday Tuesday, July 11, 2006 |

Figured we'd jump on board!

• 13 Chirping

3 things... |

I’ve been tagged by Steph - Adventures in Babywearing

3 Things That Scare Me:
Losing one of my boys
Having another preemie

3 People That Make Me Laugh:
David (especially when he takes the "elevator" to the basement)
Mitch Hedburg

3 Things I Love:
Having my own "little family"

3 Things I Dislike:
Fake people
When Oliver (our Frenchie) steals Xav's diapers, tears them apart leaving a trail all over the living room and then falls fast asleep (sorry, this one happened today!)

3 Things I Don’t Understand:
Chess (I've always really wanted to play)
Mom's who don't LOVE being Mom's
Why men have nipples

3 Things On My Desk (our dining room table):
Xavier's "sweet Dreams" Taggies book
Thank you cards from Xavier's Baptism

3 Things I’m Doing Right Now:
Eating Amy's Organic Minestrone soup (yum!)
Snuggling Xavier

3 Things I Want to Do Before I Die:
See David become a professor
Open a homeless shelter
Have more babies!/Complete a pregnancy/Adopt a child

3 Things I Can Do:
Make Xav laugh
All things through Christ, who gives me strength! (Philippians 4:13) - I'm keeping this one Steph!

3 Ways to Describe My Personality:
Open Minded

3 Things I Can’t Do:
Twirl my r's - as in speaking spanish... except when in Rome and practicing Italian, somehow it comes naturally then- maybe it was just all the gelato!

3 Things I Think You Should Listen To:
Children and old people (while you may not always agree- or understand what they're saying - innocence and wisdom always worth listening to)
Your heart/gut

3 Things I Think You Should Never Listen To:
Advice in "Mommy" magazines (they are for entertainment purposes only people! - ok so I'm make an exception of "Mothering" which is actually pretty sound)

3 Absolute Favorite Foods:
Yogurt with Frozen blueberries/bananas and granola on top (Honey, I'm all out!)
Ice cream

3 Things I’d Like to Learn:
How to be a better wife and mama
How to Surf
How to FLUENTLY speak another language

3 Beverages I Drink Regularly:
Apple Juice
When not pregnant or nursing Vanilla Chai (oh, how I love you and miss you so!)

3 Shows I Watched as a Kid:
Mister Rogers
Fraggle Rock
My So Called Life (I was a bit older for this one)

3 People I tag:
Jamie @ All Things Avery
Amber @ Crazy Bloggin Canuck

• 4 Chirping

Growing up so fast. Monday, July 10, 2006 |

I am beginning to face the fact that our son will grow up... it is inevitable... It's exciting to see the progress he's making- even more so due to his prematurity. I long ago stopped adjusting his age and looking up what he "should" be doing and resolved to enjoy his milestones as he reached them... in his own time.

We've been spoiled in a way with him being early, were able to meet him before most. We spent days, weeks, just watching him. Staring as he slept 23 3/4 hours a day, just growing. We were able to memorize every detail of his face- segments at a time. Count his fingers and toes again and again. Learn the steady pattern of breath and beep. While an eternity at the time, these days passed quickly and the months at home have flown by too.

The past week or so, Xav has been picking things up at an alarming pace. He's learned to sit. And rock from side to side. He hugs and kisses and lights up at the sight of those he loves. Stories are told and books are read in a language just his own. He begins to "dance" at the first note of music and is interested in every little thing around him. He gets proud of himself when you cheer on tummy time and frustrated when he's had enough. Xavier has always been exploding with personality but it is amazing to watch him begin to interact with the world around him.

It is humbling to watch him grow, I am so proud of him, but my heart aches to hold onto these moments. He'll be 7 months old on Friday and 17 before I know it.

• 3 Chirping

A few new photo's up on Xavier's site... Sunday, July 09, 2006 |

• 2 Chirping

Pajama Day! |

I hereby declare today pajama day! After a busy, fun, on the go week - I am utterly wiped out! While able to sneak in a 3 hour nap yesterday (amazing I know) I managed to stay up too late and am still dragging today... so, David is off to work and Xavier and I are planning on doing a whole lot of nothing today...

Goal #1: Do not remove pajamas, unless of course a diaper leaks, and then said pajamas may be removed, but only to be replaced by a clean pair of pajamas.

Goal #2: Lots of silliness, games, dancing, laughter galore - we might even break out the bubbles

Goal #3: Xavier sleeps, I sleep... no catching up on email, chores or laundry

Goal #4: Make a mess, do NOT clean it up (ok so I may regret some of this tomorrow)

"And now" cried Max "let the wild rumpus start!"

• 3 Chirping

Our New Favorite Read Saturday, July 08, 2006 |

We picked this book up in the gift shop of the Chicago Children's Museum yesterday, and it has quickly become Xavier's favorite (mine too).

It's too sweet... Little blue and little yellow, are the best of friends- they hug and turn green! ... there's more to the story, but it is a simple read, beautifully illustrated with nothing but colored lines and shapes.

• 3 Chirping

Thursday, July 06, 2006 |

• 5 Chirping

Time, Time, Time |

So once again its been awhile! We've had a busy week- Xavier's baptism and picnic celebration, my brother came to visit... and got engaged to the most wonderful girl! We celebrated the 4th in the sun and have been enjoying time with family and friends. We're off to enjoy the Taste of Chicago tomorrow and then I think we'll go back to life at our usual (slow) pace! I have tons of pictures to post and stories to tell so I'm looking forward to catching up... until then...

• 1 Chirping