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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

Wordless Wednesday - Sing Me a Song Wednesday, February 28, 2007 |


• 19 Chirping

Flushed Away Monday, February 26, 2007 |

I had every intention of cloth diapering Xavier from the start. I didn't know anyone who didn't use disposables so I'd begun the daunting task of researching the "how to's" and "what's best's" online. David wasn't exactly excited about it but after I pointed out that I'd be the one changing most of the diapers and doing all the laundry he let the grumbles subside a bit. Then, as you know, our little bundle of joy made his grand entrance a few months ahead of schedule and well, diapers were the last thing on my mind. They use Pampers in the NICU so he lived in their preemies for a while and when it was time to go home I compromised and decided if I was going to use paper diapers I'd at least use Seventh Generation's chlorine and fragrance free nappies.

It always still bothered me though- all that waste. I read somewhere that it can take a 'disposable' diaper up to 500 years to decompose. And while I know you're supposed to flush the poo anyone who's nursed a baby know that until they are well established on solids their daily deposits aren't going anywhere but the diaper- add that to the landfill... But I'd gotten used to the simply changing and throwing away... and the initial investment of going cloth... and the daunting options... and the laundry... and that study I read saying cloth really weren't any better environmentally when you took into account all the water and energy used washing... and well, I just kept making excuses.

Xavier's in the midst of potty training so I figured now would be a good time (ha!) to look into other options and I'm happy to report I've finally made a change! We're alternating between Under the Nile's fitted diaper (because I only have two!) and the amazingly flushable gDiapers. The Under the Nile's are glorious, so soft I want a pair and if I could afford to buy a truckload I probably would. And the gDiaper, those gDiapers...

Before buying the 'starter kit' I read reviews on several different sites ranging from "These are the best thing ever" to "These are the worst things ever" to "Ugh, I have to change my baby EVERY time he pee's or poops" ... Um, aren't you supposed to do that anyway? Call me crazy but I do change Xavier after EVERY time he goes, save the long car trip or overnight where he might pee a couple times, but multiple poops in one diaper? GROSS! ok, back on task...

So there definitely is a learning curve with the g's at least for someone who's never done the whole cover, liner, insert bit before. But after a couple of days and one leak (more to do with his boy-ness pointing in an odd direction that the diaper I do believe) we've gotten the hang of it. They are fit great (bikini style- great for huge bellies!) and velcro on the back side which is is really nice when babe is trying to crawl away from you. No leaks other than that mentioned and for the stage we're in at least I like that they don't hold a lot. In the event he does go in his diaper rather than on the potty he knows right away and asks to be changed or go to the bathroom. After two weeks he has yet to poo in one, so I can't report on that but I promise to keep you posted! They are the perfect middle ground I do believe. My only complaints would be that the insert could be a bit softer and that they come in such happy colors. I know they're cute! but I'd love a more natural option. But best of all, when a diaper needs a changing you remove the insert and flush it all away where it belongs. No waste!

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• 13 Chirping

Mama Blogger's Day Out Saturday, February 24, 2007 |

My wonderful Mommy blogger friends and I were able to hook up for a much needed lunch date today! Friends...food...that's what it's all about! I'm beat, but you can head over to Flipflop Mamma's for a run down. I leave you with these gems...

Clockwise from top left we are: Jaymi and the Beast, Xavier and me, Robin and Carter, Sheryl and Steph (both baby free!) and SlowMo

X with the BEAUTIFUL SlowMo and Beast (who is not at ALL beast-ly!)

Xavier and the Beast saying bye!
(I think he has a bit of a crush! If she's not spoken for I'm betrothing them!)

• 9 Chirping

Misquoted Wednesday, February 21, 2007 |

I got a phone call from someone at our local newspaper yesterday. She said in honor of the most premature baby heading home they were doing a story on preemies and she wanted to talk to me about Xavier's story and Project X. Naturally I was really excited to talk and couldn't wait to see the story in print today. So... I read the story, everything sounds good until I reach my portion. I'm quoted as saying, "It's terrifying," Allen said. "You have in your mind the dream of your pregnancy and having the labor and having this chubby little baby.", nothing wrong with it except the fact that I simply did not say it, at least not in those words. And her summation of the rest or our conversation has such a negative slant and not only doesn't depict our situation but again is not what I said:

When Xavier was finally chubby enough to go home, Allen had another set of worries. At the hospital, she had to disregard her parental instinct and let the doctors take care of her newborn. When Xavier was ready to go home, Allen knew she'd have to relearn her instinct, and remember how to nurture him.

Xavier is 14 months old now and Allen said her motherly instincts came rushing back when he came home. He's big for his age now, but he has doctor visits every few months to make sure his growth is progressing normally.

We talked for maybe 15 minutes, and while I didn't expect her to print everything we talked about, in that time I said so much about the miracle these babies are, how yes it was hard, but that we wouldn't change a thing, so many positive, hopeful words. At the end of our call she asked me if I had any words of advice for other preemie parents or parents bringing their preemies home. I told her that while it wasn't the case with us, I know that being in a medical setting causes many parents to let go of their parental instinct and just let the doctors and nurses take over. The best thing for you and your baby, I said, is for you to follow that instinct and to be as involved in your babies care as possible. To bond and interact with one another whether in the hospital or at home.

Now I'm sure it's worse to me than anyone reading it but I'm really upset. And the fact that she printed this: "At the hospital, she had to disregard her parental instinct and let the doctors take care of her newborn. When Xavier was ready to go home, Allen knew she'd have to relearn her instinct, and remember how to nurture him." simply pisses me off. I was by Xavier's side every step of the way day and night for weeks. I did not 'disregard my parental instinct' but fought for it. I fought to hold him, to practice kangaroo care, to NURSE him! We held him every second we were able and when we couldn't I was perched at his bedside reading to him, holding his hand, singing, laughing, crying. I was worried of whether I would 'remember how to nurture him'?! Are you kidding me?!

So here, what I'd seen as an opportunity to share Xavier's story and get the word out about our foundation has become a disaster. I am fuming and disappointed, hurt and angry, and honestly down right disgusted. To have my words, our story turned into that has left me speechless. I guess I've learned my lesson...

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• 15 Chirping

Wordless Wednesday - Blowing Kisses |


• 12 Chirping

Frosty Tuesday, February 20, 2007 |

There's nothing like finding a snowman in your freezer to make you smile...


• 13 Chirping

Blogging Mama's Mama Monday, February 19, 2007 |

Stephanie started this fun photo tag.... Since we're mostly Mama's why not see the women behind us all.

Here's my whole family actually from looong ago. No clue where we are, but it looks like somewhere fun - my dad, little me (wasn't I cute?!), my beautiful mom and my brother, Eric. I've always been told I look like my Dad but the older I get, looking back at pictures of my mom at my age, I see such similarity!

We've been through so much and still struggle at times, but she's my mama and I love her...

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• 9 Chirping

We heart UBR Sunday, February 18, 2007 |

Just wanted to let you know that Nest Baby Slings are now available at Urban Baby Runway!


• 7 Chirping

Speaking of... Saturday, February 17, 2007 |

While we're on the topic of tattoo's, check out this nonsense. I'm always on the look out for more examples of 'good' Christians and I think turning a sick child away from medical care because her parents have themselves some of those evil tattoo's is just what Jesus had in mind. Don't you think?


• 7 Chirping

A Tattoo-ed Me(me) Thursday, February 15, 2007 |

So.... I normally don't show off my tattoo's, especially those that are normally covered by clothing. But... Mamamilkers started a tattoo meme and I excitedly said I'd participate, sooo here in all my glory are (really awful) photo's of me tattoos (hey, it's really hard to photograph your own body parts!) and some explanations...

The "shooting star" was my first tattoo. Age 16. Hey, at least I didn't get barbed wire. I'll have to say after surviving two laparoscopic surgeries and pregnancy it's not so bad.

The kanji was tattoo three and four. Age 19. The story a bit more personal- I'll spare the details but it involved one of said emergency laparoscopic surgery's and the confusion that followed.

I, ahem, "lovingly" refer to this one as the demon. Tattoo numero two. Age 17. (yes, that's why you're supposed to wait until you're 18!) It's huge. On my back between my shoulder blades. I really wanted a fairy. So I went to a "friend" who was apprenticing and he came up with this. All punk rock at the time I figured what the heck. Turns out he didn't even come up with it himself, but hey what can you do... I really want a tree back piece (my entire back), so as soon as I can find a soul brave enough to attempt covering this up or afford laser removal this beast is G-O-N-E.

Last but not least is (most of) my half sleeve... I love this one. Tattoo number five. Age 22.

And hubby should be getting started on my 'Our Lady of La Leche' sleeve sometime soon!

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• 9 Chirping

My Funny Valentine Wednesday, February 14, 2007 |

Alert the blogger police - this isn't wordless wednesday ;) ...
Today I celebrate my shrunken Valentine's 14 months on this planet. The changes 30 days can bring are amazing. My baby is slowly slipping away, forever replaced by this little boy - exploding with personality and curiosity galore. He looks more like his Papa each day. His eyes, the smile- those curls I just can't bear to cut! X still hasn't trusted himself to take those first steps alone but is wonderful at strolling around the house behind his wagon or a chair. And I won't say I don't blame him, the speed at which he crawls is very impressive.

Xavier is going pee and poo on the potty several times a day and even when we don't quite make it there the pride on his face is priceless. He
loves to eat -blueberries, soy yogurt and tofu are still the gold standard and the beginnings of 'me do' are emerging as he tries to balance a little bite on his fork or spoon occasionally making it to his mouth. I'm amazed at how inherently boy he is - grabbing any available object and 'driving' it across the floor with a "vroom". And the climbing! Did I mention he's climbing the stairs?! (and the coffee table...and his chairs...) Oh and when he drops or throws something it's either "uh-oh" or my favorite "ka-boom!"

My boy has music in his bones and can find a rhythm in anything from the garbage disposal to Oliver's snoring. To see him dance and bounce around is sure to make you smile... He's started singing and humming- "shoo be do...hmmmmm" Another favorite these days is taking lids off and on and off and on. (and I wonder why we bother with toys when empty water bottles, jars and bowls entertain for hours) And Xavier is very serious about his reading. I'm just waiting for him to surprise me with an English accent as he asks "book?", then carefully turns and scans each page, book after book after book. And maybe that's why his vocabulary is exploding. To those he's added all of these:
all done
cat (and meow)
cow (and moo)
duck (and quack)
ark (as in Noah's)
ka-boom - do sound effects count?!

But it's not all serious, the kid makes jokes! He'll put a book on his head. And crack up. Hide a toy behind his back. And crack up.
Initiate a game of chase or peek-a-boo. And crack up. And my favorite- he'll look at Oliver, call him 'mama'. And laugh and laugh and laugh.

So often he's on the go, go, go and I find myself being very thankful to still be nursing. That amidst all his busy-ness he still seeks me out - "milk, mama!" - to snuggle, regroup and reconnect. I often find myself wanting to hit pause- "I need to hold on to this moment!" not wanting my favorite things to vanish and then he does something new, something so amazing I can't wait to see what the next moment brings.

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• 26 Chirping

His Holiness Monday, February 12, 2007 |

Still feeling like a soiled diaper, bored and scouring the internet for something to make me smile...I stumbled upon this. Ah, I'm bursting with excitement! The opportunity to hear him speak... and to take Xavier along with me! I studied Buddhism for a while and now have my feet firmly planted in Christianity, but still hold an enormous respect for the life and philosophies... and that man just has a way of bringing a light to my eyes. Makes me smile every time!

• 6 Chirping

Sickly Sunday Sunday, February 11, 2007 |

I seem to have acquired Xavier's affliction.No fun.Off to curl up with some Soy Delicious, watch the Grammy's with hubby and pretend I am human.

Now go play 'You Blog the Blog' already!

• 8 Chirping

Oh, baby Saturday, February 10, 2007 |

The boy crawls stealthily across the floor after an exciting piece of who knows what... when suddenly, for reasons unknown, two chubby arms slip out from underneath him. Leaving nothing but his chubby chin to break his fall. And it does, meeting the hardwood floors with an unfortunate thud. All in slow motion of course.

Before we can take the five steps to him he's wailing and as I scoop him up I see it - there's blood. When his mouth jammed shut his tongue must have been in the way. Ouch! Now I've never had a problem with blood before. My blood, your blood, didn't bother me and it still doesn't but Xavier's blood... when it happens to leave his body it sends my senses into a downward spiral. My stomach leaps to my throat, heart races, I have to force myself to breathe... I remember X being in the NICU, they had to squeeze droplets of blood from his heel several times a day to check blood levels and med levels and oxygen levels and test for this and that. I got used to this somehow and even started helping with it. But then he had to have a PICC line inserted - we had to leave the room as it can get pretty, well not so pretty, as they try to find a vein and sometimes they have to insert it into the head which is just creepy... but they got it into his arm and placed right and we come back in and he looks just the same as when we left. Until I sit down and notice blood on his bedding, a very small amount of blood I'm sure but there is his blood outside his body and well that's just not the way it's supposed to be and he's sick and he's so tiny and he's already had to have someone else's blood put into his body so why now, can someone please tell me is his blood here, not in his veins, but on his blanket?!?! (I need to breathe right?!) Anyway back to the present... and his tongue...

Thankfully I have mom-o-pilot so I still manage to function despite my sudden afflictions. We're able to stop the bleeding (which really wasn't all that bad in the first place) and see that he just punctured the side of his tongue, rather than bitting it off like I'd imagined. Ahh, his first bloodied mouth and somehow we all survived; and he has quite the shiner on his chin to prove it. I'm trying to keep in the back of my mind that I'm raising my boy and if he's anything like me I've a life time of bumps and bruises, broken bones, near amputated appendages and 'freak' skateboarding accidents ahead of me.

I thought that would be the worst of my weekend - and then we went to sleep. X tossed and turned all night and while I don't remember ever 'getting up' I recall constantly rolling him from one side of me to the other, peeling away layers of blankets as his little body grew warmer and the little whimpers gradually turned into moans and groans and cries. When we finally came to this morning, wondering if we'd had any sleep at all - he looked at me with those sad sick baby eyes all of us mama's know so well. He was burning up and in attempt to cool himself had removed his diaper, handed it to me and was working on his shirt. His temperature so high that the thermometer beeped to alert me as if the climbing three digit number wasn't alarm enough.

And so our day began- our long day. Now, I won't dare complain about all the snuggles or the constant nursing in traditional positions (rather than the nursing on all fours or upside down that has become the norm) but there is something about seeing him so sick and miserable that just wears me down inside. For now he's resting, albeit somewhat fitfully, and I'm praying for a healthier tomorrow.

• 4 Chirping

Green Piece of Mind Thursday, February 08, 2007 |

It seems we're all trying to live a little greener this year, but it's hard to know where to start. Do you switch to organic food, homeopathic remedies or detoxify your home? Here are some wonderful websites that will help you evaluate your family's environment-

AIRNow: Rates air quality/ozone levels. Has an option to send a free email when air quaility is questionable.

Beyond Pesticides: Great news source. Also has info on each state's pesticide policies.

Children's Health Environmental Coalition: Info on children's vulnerability to chemicals. "Virtual House" allow you to click items in the home for information about potential unhealthy exposures

National Lead Information Center Brochure: Info on professional lead testing and resources in your state

National Library of Medicine's Tox Town: An introduction to toxic chemicals and environmental health risks you might encounter in everyday life, in everyday places.

National Vaccine Information Center: Non-profit dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and defending the right to informed consent to vaccination.

National Safety Council's Radon Page: Info on Radon hazards, contacts for questions and coupon for a home test kit.

Safe Water: Drinking water quality reports.

Skin Deep: News and safety ratings of popular health and beauty products.

Toxic Release Inventory: Lists companies in your area that have reported the release of toxic emissions to the EPA and bodies of water affected. Links to state specific websites.


• 6 Chirping

Wordless Wednesday Wednesday, February 07, 2007 |




• 17 Chirping

Just Say No Monday, February 05, 2007 |

Around the time Xavier became mobile we found ourselves saying "no". A lot. "No touch". "No, that's Oliver's". "No throw". "No this and that". And all too often X would give me that look as if wondering exactly when his silly, fun-loving, constantly looking at me oozing love, Mama had turned into a tyrant.

It's not that I'm afraid of telling my child no - there is of course a time and a place for that, but at 12 or 13 months old it is hard to see what exactly he's learning from a steady stream of us thwarting his attempts to discover and explore. Because we often say no, not when our children are doing something wrong, but simply doing what they are programed to do.

And so we've taken a different approach. Baby proofing was taken a bit more seriously, creating plentiful opportunities for "yes, touches". And when he comes across something - the dog bowl, or an empty glass that we've forgotten to put away, instead of rushing to say "No touch" we've turned it into a teaching moment. How easy it for me to say "Oops, Mommy forgot to put that away, can you help me find where it goes?" In the event it is something that really just can't be touched we've taken to saying "Freeze" and then redirecting - which has worked remarkably well. And we've turned what would otherwise be demands, "You need to sit" into simple family values, "At the table we sit".

Some of it requires holding your breath and looking at the situation through a child's eyes... At the dinner table allowing him to touch and squish and dump his food in addition to getting a bit in his mouth even it means soy milk or spaghetti on the floor (or his head) - He's learning about taste and texture. And he will eventually turn to me to ask for help in taking a bite with his fork or spoon... When we splash in the sink, watching happily as the inevitable bowl of bubbly water gets dumped overboard - he's learning cause and effect (and I needed an excuse to mop anyway). When we color not worrying about every mark of crayon getting on the page, when we paint allowing him to paint himself from head to toe... Learning is messy; we can clean up together when we're done. And we always do.

Our world is happier this way and I like to think we're raising a better child for it. It is not my place to blame and shame and pain him into learning the ropes of world, but to encourage him. To afford him the opportunities to test the waters himself and see what happens. To allow him to accomplish and overcome. To make mistakes and experience the consequences. And I think when we reserve the "no's" and "do not's" for serious circumstances, instances of real danger for example, the power of those words are taken for what they are.


• 13 Chirping

Brrrr... Sunday, February 04, 2007 |

Temperature in Chicago: -22° with windchill

Temperature in Antarctica: 30° with windchill

Antarctica. 30° above zero... do you see the problem here?
Seriously, where's global warming when you need it!


• 9 Chirping

Presenting... Friday, February 02, 2007 |

So what's that I've been up too? Neglecting your blogs and keeping me up 'til all hours... it seems I've become somewhat of a working mama. What started as sewing a sling for myself, became a passion, then a dream and so I present to you my store, my little piece of babywearing heaven, my nest.

Thanks! for! all! your! hard! work! baby!
I! couldn't! have! done! it! without! you! Or you!

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• 20 Chirping