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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

On Notice Saturday, March 31, 2007 |

I was walking to the park with X this week when I noticed fliers posted on every telephone pole, street sign, lamp post we passed. Nothing to really draw your attention just a white piece of paper with black text slipped inside clear plastic, stapled everywhere. After passing a few I couldn't resist stopping to take a look. And I'm glad I did. The fliers were Police notice's informing us that a sex offender had recently moved to our neighborhood. I suddenly imagined myself thrust into Little Children. Oh, and I should probably add that we live right between two parks, an elementary school is just a few blocks away, the high school a couple of stoplights down...

This is something I don't often think about, something I don't want to have to think about, something that makes my blood boil, my stomach churn to think about. But I was forced to. I came home and looked online to see what this person looked like, where he lived, what his exact offense was and was horrified to find that are quite a few registered sex offenders around (29 to be exact), living or working in odd groupings centered around public parks and schools . I urge you to check the National Sex Offender Registry to check things out in your neighborhood. Just a few clicks to help keep our little one's safe.

• 8 Chirping

I Just Think Things Should Work Properly... Friday, March 30, 2007 |

Have you seen those commercials? Dyson. Mmmm, if a vacuum cleaner can be sexy, these certainly are. And now you can win one free from 5 minutes for mom, whatcha waiting for- get over there!


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New From Nest! |

I am pleased to introduce our new line of handbags available from Nest! These roomy totes are available in all of our handsome fabrics. Enjoy!


• 6 Chirping

Wordless Wednesday - Spring Wednesday, March 28, 2007 |

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It's All in the Bag Monday, March 26, 2007 |

Better late than never! Steph's photo tag this week is all about bags (to go with our shoes of course) My favorite bag of late is this skull bag my friend Carol sent for my birthday. I love it and it's big enough to hold all of me and Xavier's stuff for a day out and about. And as Steph revealed bags will be available soon from Nest in all of my current patterns.


• 9 Chirping

The Things They Say Sunday, March 25, 2007 |

So we're at church today getting ready to take communion. As I go to put the little cracker in my mouth X looks up at me and exclaims...


• 7 Chirping

Babble |

Our little talker has been on a spree, coming up with 2-3 new words a day the past couple of weeks. My favorites this week-
  • Bubbles (bah-bowls)
  • People (peee-puhl)
  • Teeth (always said in a tiny whisper)
and drum roll please
  • penis (loud and clear of course!)
I'm very glad that we're teaching him the appropriate names for things, but he'll already happily show you where his and Oliver's are... I have a feeling this one might get us in a bit of trouble!


• 5 Chirping

Timeline Friday, March 23, 2007 |

There is such a wide range of 'normal' when it comes to families... I'm curious what normal is for you. Let me know in the comments or feel free to post on your blog. The questions...

  1. How old were you when you got married?
  2. How long did you wait to have your first child?
  3. How old were you when you had your first child?
  4. If you have multiple children, how long did you wait in between?
  5. At what age did your baby wean or when do you plan to wean?
  6. When did your baby take their first steps?
  7. When did you begin to toilet train?
  8. At what age did you declare potty competency?
  9. At what age do family baths/nudity/etc. get a little creepy?
  10. Any questions you're itching to ask?


• 28 Chirping

Wordless Wednesday - Photo Booth Wednesday, March 21, 2007 |

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• 23 Chirping

Stinky Feet Monday, March 19, 2007 |

Steph at Adventures In Babywearing is asking us to show the shoes we couldn't live without for this week's photo tag... Shoe's for me? Is it wrong that my 15 month old has more shoes than I do? I'm a big fan of going barefoot, but my classic favorite are some good ol' Chucks
In the winter I love my Simple Surfer boots (They're so cozy inside I can go sans socks!)
And in the summer it's definitely flip flops for me
So there you have the year-round run down on my stinky feet!


• 17 Chirping

Snapshot Sunday Saturday, March 17, 2007 |

I've been busy uploading photos and thought I'd share some favorite snaps from the week...

X and Me, rocking my beautiful new "Windy City" scarf made with love by my dear Stephanie
Here comes trouble! This is often my view of these two!

Hi! (look at those crazy eyebrows! Unfortunately, he gets that from me)

Yoga Baby Take 1: Seated Tree Pose ("so big!")

Yoga Baby Take 2: Moon Toes

Sleeping Monkey...
exactly where are David and I supposed to sleep?

The sweetest thing...


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Things I've learned this week... Friday, March 16, 2007 |

70 degrees on Tuesday, snow on Thursday is not out of the question in Chicago-land.

Trust those mommy instincts when it gets a little too quiet. In the 5 minutes you have your back turned at the sink, a 15 month old can pick up that brand new bottle of laundry detergent, unscrew the lid, dump the entire thing on the laundry room floor and do a little splashing.

When you remove the pee guard on a potty seat expect to get peed on.

It is possible for hermit crabs to literally drop dead. RIP Crabby and Slow-Mo.

I really like my husband.

I never understood why people found it amusing when kids put their hands above their heads and say "So big" Until Xavier started doing it. It's the cutest thing in the world.

Watching my two favorite boys splash together in the bathtub is one of the finest things in life.


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Wordless Wednesday - An Apple a Day... Wednesday, March 14, 2007 |


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The First Ever... DATE NIGHT! Tuesday, March 13, 2007 |

Nearly 15 months. That's how long it had been since hubby and I'd gone on a proper date. You know, just the two of us, chivalry, romance the whole 9 yards. I am lucky enough to be married to my best friend, but even so, after that long without any special time for us, it's easy to start to forget just how much we like each other. To fall into the monotony of every day, to spend the few moments of togetherness we have each evening collapsed in front of the television, or stuck behind our respective computers. We made a conscious decision in becoming parents to be child-centered, to focus time and energy and resource into our baby boy and understandably that has removed time and energy from David and I. We've had little dates here and there, a candle-lit anniversary dinner (while my sister played with X upstairs), snuggling and movies (after Xavier was in bed), a game of cards or Scrabble (until our eyes glazed over). But we were starting to realize we really needed to put some more effort into us, not our Mama and Papa selves, but our fiery, flirty, madly-in-love, I-remember-you selves.

And so, Sunday we hatched a plan and for the first time ever entrusted Xavier's care with someone else. Not just anyone of course- his beloved Grandmama, Grandpapa, Uncle Tim and Molly(dog) A huge step for me. There were a few tears (from me, Xavier happily waved bye-bye) and we set off. On our own. For the first time. In a long time. Instantly the tension melted away. We held hands and kissed and talked, and talked, and well I'll leave a few things to the imagination. David opened doors for me and squeezed into the booth beside me as we feasted on Japanese delights. We took a walk, made each other laugh, made a stop for an impromptu silly gift exchange (I got a flashlight, low rider car and lint rollers). Just like old times. It was glorious. Much needed. Like falling in love all over again. Butterfly's and all. We are buddies and lovers and soul mates (yes, I believe in such a thing). We compliment each other perfectly, but I'd started to forget...

We were only away for an hour or two and returned to find Xavier had as much fun as us. The delight in his eyes as we came up the walk was enough encouragement to do it all over again. And we will. Regularly. Today there is a bit more spring in our steps, broader smiles, warmer embraces. We are renewed and refreshed and reminded that we love each other more than ever. We needed it. Not to 'get away' from our son, but to put some undivided attention into us for a change- and when it's all said and done, if we need an excuse, taking care of us is the best thing we can do for him.

Thanks baby ;)

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• 15 Chirping

Something for Saturday Saturday, March 10, 2007 |

I've been working on a post about my siblings but haven't had the time to devote to it I'd like... but I was thinking about them, so in the meantime here are their lovely mugs...

My brother Eric, X and me

My sister Bea.

And last but most definitely not least-
My baby sis, Olivia.


• 11 Chirping

NICU, Doctors and Dentists Oh My! Thursday, March 08, 2007 |

Xavier had a developmental clinic check at the NICU on Wednesday. We look forward to these, and were looking forward to this one especially. A quick visit with the nurses who've come to mean so much to us, a physical therapy evaluation and a mini check-up by the neonatologist and we're on our way in no time (ok, so it's more like three hours time, it is after all a 'clinic')
So how'd it go?

Developmentally- language/motor skills, etc. Xavier is 'testing' well above his ACTUAL age! Physically- he weighs 26 lbs. 5 oz and is 31 inches tall, again above average for his ACTUAL age. We'll go back in 4 months just to make sure he's walking ok, but the doctor said there is no other reason for them to continue seeing him. To officially graduate by age 2 is a huge accomplishment! We are singing praises in the Allen household.

Little X has also endured his first trip to the dentist. Two different dentists in two days to be exact. His top four teeth were showing signs of decay (despite brushing twice a day before he even had teeth!) and it was just getting worse. Xav was quite the trooper. I thought the first visit had gone ok, until we got home and I replayed all the doc had said. He was a bit demeaning, told me I needed to wean X and would give me no real reason why he is having such a problem with his top four teeth while the bottom four are beautiful. He wanted me to bring X back so they could strap him to a table, drill and bond his teeth, while he was awake. Oh yeah, and I couldn't be present. No thank you!

So take two. This dentist was lovely! She explained that often preemies tooth enamel doesn't completely form leaving them vulnerable, and in X's case he was on tons of antibiotics as a little guy which weakens them further, and then iron supplements which stain and weaken even more. She did a quick cleaning in office and offered a much brighter outlook (and was supportive of extended nursing). We're brushing after every thing he eats and going back in a couple of months but she thinks if we stay on top of things, and do a little work down the road (with proper anesthesia and mama present!) his teeth will be just fine. Big sigh!

I need to take him in for an iron/anemia screen and his 15 month well check next week and then we are d-o-n-e with doctor's for a while!

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Mama's Milk Approved |

After all those weeks attached to a hospital grade breast pump, I swore I'd never pump again. (Unless of course my babe needed me to) And then I heard about the International Breast Milk Project and felt like I had to do something.

I got word today that I have officially been approved as a donor! My milk donations will be going to babies orphaned by AIDS in Africa and preemies at a local NICU. If you're a breastfeeding mama I urge you to look into sharing the goods!

• 11 Chirping

Wordless Wednesday - Happy Gestation Day! Tuesday, March 06, 2007 |

Xavier on his due date
This one calls for a few words... Today is Xavier's due date-iversary so to speak. Our much celebrated 'Gestation Day'. Last year we celebrated with a trip outdoors and some Whole Foods cheesecake. This year we have developmental clinic back at the NICU and a dentist appointment on the agenda, but I plan on sneaking some celebration (and molten chocolate cake) in there somewhere. Here's to that 'official' first year gone by...

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Dough! |

Xavier loves to help me cook, especially when I'm baking and he can roll and pat to his little heart's content. Last night after we'd cooked dinner, made biscuits and cookies from scratch and he was still wanting to roll away, it hit me- I need to get this kid some play dough! Not a big fan of the stuff in a can, I pulled out the nanny archives and we whipped up a batch of our own. It went over beautifully, except for the little bite X took. He was very surprised by the saltiness and tried to remove his tongue (I'm not exaggerating!) He was nearly falling asleep in his play dough as I dragged him up to bed. Here is a pic of my very serious artist/baker hard at work...Don't mind the drool covered shirt- Che had a long day/slobber courtesy of said attempted tongue-ectomy.

Nature's Play dough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 T oil
beet, spinach, and blueberry

Mix flour, salt and oil, and slowly add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the dough with your hands until of proper consistency. Use as is, or divide into balls and add a few drops of the juices to make green, pink, and blue.


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My Baby Bump! (a photo tag) Monday, March 05, 2007 |

My dearest Stephanie, had the brilliant idea to focus this week's photo tag on our baby bumps... Here is my favorite pregnant photo

We were in Rome. San Pietro I believe. David and I and our baby to be finally taking our dream honeymoon.

I was 6 1/2 months pregnant and unfortunately this is about as big as my belly was able to get. I know these here photo tags are supposed to be sunny, and I'll try my best not to cloud up the parade too much, but this is a tough one for me...

One of the hardest parts of having a preemie is the loss of your pregnancy. Obviously your immediate focus is on the health and care of your baby. But when the dust settles you are left feeling a bit incomplete. Not many understand. Your baby was the point of that belly after all, so what's the big deal? But it is difficult. Even on a biological level you are supposed to be pregnant for 9 months, my body, my mind was disrupted and confused. I delivered at 28 weeks, 1 day. I missed out on 12 weeks of pregnancy. My entire 3rd trimester. To this day I cringe when I hear a woman, 30 some weeks pregnant complain about how miserable and huge and uncomfortable she is, how much she wishes her baby would just come out already. I grieve what she takes for granted.

We know we want more children, and although I really know we're not ready I have to consistently fight the want to be pregnant again. I loved every moment of being pregnant, I felt so comfortable, so beautiful. I look forward to someday completing a pregnancy. To loose sight of my toes, experience swollen ankles and have my belly button turn itself inside out seems heavenly... and at the same time, if I could manipulate history I wouldn't change a thing.

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• 31 Chirping

Where Was Your Mind?! Sunday, March 04, 2007 |

Thanks to all who responded to my "Where is Your Mind?" post! You all put way more thought into your amazing answers than I had anticipated...

I was most recently asked this question in my Itsy Bitsy Yoga training. Our class consisted of Helen, our wonderful instructor, seven American's and three beautiful souls from Korea who were visiting the US to study children's yoga programs for a project back home. Helen told us to close our eyes and point to our mind. When we opened our eyes all of us Americans had pointed to our heads, all of the Koreans their hearts. It was a powerful moment. They were baffled that we would say our heads (they had never heard such a thing!) and while we could understand your 'mind' being in your heart it definitely wasn't our first impulse.

Last night David and I were enjoying the cry fest that was Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy special and I was incredibly moved. Not just at the generosity and opportunity, but the strength and wisdom of the girls. These South African girls who by our standards "have" next to nothing, many of whom have experienced tragedies beyond our grasp, exude a strength- an almost literal sturdiness- that I have never seen. They speak with a wisdom not only beyond their years but beyond a place I think most of us will reach in our lifetimes. They are content in the life that God has granted them, but not complacent in their circumstance. They have a faith I envy and spirits that words can not describe. They are beauty.

And in their presence, even if only through the television, I was, I am incredibly humbled. We live in a country that 'has' everything. I have so much. Yet I discover more and more that in the scheme of things we have so little. We horribly miss the point. Life- living- is not about our possessions or status. It is about spirit. And wealth. Not financial wealth but wealth of heart, and drive and the motivation to leave a mark on this world.

I was reminded of that question- "Where is Your Mind" - and am certain that this is at the heart of our folly. We need to stop thinking and start feeling. Because when we leave this earth it will most likely not be computations of our brains we are remembered for but the impact our hearts had on the hearts, the minds, of others.


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Where is Your Mind? *Updated* |

Seriously, close your eye's and point to where your mind is (which part of your body contains your mind...). I obviously can't see you so let me know (and no changing your answer after you see other responses!)... I'll elaborate soon!


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Reassurance Saturday, March 03, 2007 |

When I head up to bed, exhausted, the house still a mess from a long day... toys and clothes and who knows what else on the floor and couch and other places they do not belong. I sleep soundly knowing that at least if a burglar makes his way into our house he won't get very far.

• 9 Chirping

DNA Friday, March 02, 2007 |

Thanks to Steph for sharing this!

Read my VisualDNA Get your own VisualDNA™

• 5 Chirping

Stay at Home What? Thursday, March 01, 2007 |

Not my most eloquent post but you get the idea...

Stephanie has blogged several times about the whole Mom vs Mom issue. Stay at home mom's griping about the working mom and working Mom's demeaning those staying at home. It's silly that whole thing. Different things work for different people, why can't we all just get along!
That being said...

I belong to Mamasource, it's a great idea really- you sign up by location, mom's post their questions and other mama's respond with suggestions and ideas. The only problem is that on an almost daily basis I am disturbed either by questions posted and/or the responses given. It ranges from "Are these people really that clueless?" (well at least they're asking) to "Are you sure that's legal?" (seriously!) Again different things work for different people I am just amazed at, and disturbed by, the prevalence of detachment parenting among some of the mom's (and there are hundreds) that post.

Today I was forwarded a posting by a mom. She said she was about to become a stay at home mom for the first time (yay! right?) and wanted some advice on what to do- you know other than watching TV and cleaning. She really wrote that! Because all that stay at home mom's do of course is watch TV...and clean. (can someone help me out here because I have serious trouble finding TIME to clean, let alone park it in front of the TV!) And it gets better. My initial reaction is that maybe this is a new mom, still getting used to her 'mommy' role, had to return to work right away and is just nervous about the transition to full time parenting. But then I read further and find that the woman in question has not one new baby but three kids- aged 16, 6 and 1! I am speechless, is she that clueless about how to interact with her children? Isn't the whole point of being a stay at home mom to mother? To spend time with your children - teaching, playing, nurturing?

I'll leave it at that.


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