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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

Sunday, Sunday Sunday, April 29, 2007 |

I love these boys!

Check out David's link to Ask Treehugger: Are tattoo inks toxic? (YIKES!)

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What are YOU doing this weekend? Saturday, April 28, 2007 |

I know our weekends are usually our time to unwind. But sometimes it feels just as good to get out there and DO something. This weekend over 65,000 people will be displacing themselves to bring awareness to the crisis in Uganda. And On Sunday we will be attending a rally and candlelight vigil to call for full divestment from the genocide in Darfur.

"Darfur has been embroiled in a deadly conflict for over three years. At least 400,000 people have been killed; more than 2 million innocent civilians have been forced to flee their homes and now live in displaced-persons camps in Sudan or in refugee camps in neighboring Chad; and more than 3.5 million men, women, and children are completely reliant on international aid for survival. Not since the Rwandan genocide of 1994 has the world seen such a calculated campaign of displacement, starvation, rape, and mass slaughter."

I don't tell you this for a pat on the back or to bring acknowledgment to our meager attempts to help, but to encourage you, no to push you into opening your eyes to the atrocities happening while we idly stand by. We disassociate ourselves, but we can't any longer. From AIDS, to starvation to genocide we have ignored the cries of Africa for far to long. Please help us. DO something.


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Shower Me Friday, April 27, 2007 |

Free stuff. I'm all about it.

Head on over to the biggest, blogiest baby shower ever for your chance to win some amazing prizes (including a nest sling and tote of course!)


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Get Real... Thursday, April 26, 2007 |

Alright, I'm cheating and re-posting this photo... Me in all my glory! Steph is having a contest/photo tag, daring us all to reveal ourselves sans make-up. I'll have to admit, this isn't such a tough one for me... I hardly ever wear make-up. Not that I don't need to, I guess it's just the left-over tom boy in me. I don't like to take the time (lazy), and will admit that, well, I just don't get it (missed that lesson!). Head on over and show us how beautiful you are underneath it all.

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Feel Better... |

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Walking? Monday, April 23, 2007 |

A bit ironic that a few of you assumed Xavier was walking in my last post. No walking. Just a master cruiser. Give him something to push and I'm convinced he'd 'walk' for miles. Let him hold your hand and he'll happily stroll along beside you. He can stand with the best of them, just no steps. Not on his own.

Until Sunday. We're at church. After the music portion of the service we always sit out in the foyer with the other Mama's, Papa's and babes, so that X doesn't interrupt the sermon with his "prayers". He is always surrounded by other boys. Except at church. Where it seems there are always a handful of little girls to hug and smooch and cruise after. This week little Lexie, stole his heart. They hugged and poked, showed each other their bellies and competed to see who could do "so big" the biggest... and then, not to be out done by the little lady (she's 12 months old, the cutest, most petite little thing you ever did see, and she can run) he took a step. And then another. And another. His FIRST steps!

The finest steps I ever did see. Wobbly, a bit stompy. One foot after the other in itty, bitty succession. I cried. David cried. I think Grandmama cried too. So proud.

Of course I didn't have a camera. And of course he hasn't taken off since, but he walked. He can walk. I think I'm still in shock. One of those moments for the record books. One of those moments you wait and wait for and then in all the excitement fight the urge to pause or rewind. But I can't slow him down, I can only enjoy these moments for what they are, while they last. And so these days I'm renewing my efforts to slow down. To be. To be with him. To savor every second.


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It's Not Easy Being Green Sunday, April 22, 2007 |

Yes it is!!!

In honor of Earth Day, here are some surprising facts for you
  • If you throw away 2 aluminum cans, you waste more energy than 1,000,000,000 (one billion) of the world's poorest people use a day.
  • Making a new can from scratch uses the uses the energy equal to half a can of gasoline.
  • About one third of what an average American throws out is packaging.
  • More than 1,000,000,000 (one billion) trees are used to make disposable diapers every year.
  • Each minute 50 acres of rain forest are destroyed.
  • On average, a person in the US uses energy two times more than a person in Japan or West Germany does, and 50 times more than a person in India.
  • About 90% of the energy used in lighting a standard (incandescent) light bulb is lost as heat.
  • Air conditioning uses 10 times more energy than a fan, therefore, it creates 10 times the pollutants.
  • It takes half the output of the Alaskan pipeline to heat the air that escapes from all the homes in the US during a year.
  • Cars and pick-up trucks are responsible for about 20% of the carbon dioxide released into the air.
  • There are about 500 million automobiles on the planet, burning an average of 2 gallons of fuel a day. Each gallon releases 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air.
  • About 80% of our trash goes to landfills, 10% is incinerated, and 10% is recycled.
  • Since there is little oxygen underground, where we bury our garbage, to help bacteria eat the garbage, almost nothing happens to it. Scientists have dug into landfills and found ears of corn still intact after 20 years, and newspapers still readable after 30.
  • The average American makes about 3.5 pounds of trash a day.
  • In a year, the average American uses as much wood in the form of paper as the average resident of the developing world burns as fuel.
And some things YOU can do to make a difference

  • Turn off lights.
  • Turn off other electric things, like TVs, stereos, and radios when not in use.
  • Use rechargable batteries.
  • Do things manually instead of electrically, like open cans by hand.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioners.
  • In winter, wear a sweater instead of turning up your thermostat.
  • Insulate your home so you won't be cold in winter.
  • Use less hot water.
  • Whenever possible, use a bus or subway, or ride your bike or walk.
  • Try to buy organic fruits and vegetables
  • Don't waste products made from forest materials.
  • Use recycled paper and/or recycle it. Reuse old papers.
  • Don't buy products that may have been made at the expense of the rainforest.
  • Support products that are harvested from the rainforest but have not cut down trees to get it.
  • Plant trees, espessially if you have cut one down.
  • Get other people to help you in your cause. Make and/or join an organization.
  • Avoid products that are used once, then thrown away.
  • Buy products with little or no packaging.
  • Encourage your grocery store sell environmentally friendly cloth bags for people to use when they shop, or bring your own.
  • Compost.
  • Buy recycled products.
  • Don't buy pets taken from the wild.
  • Don't buy products if animals were killed to make it or used to test it.
  • Cut up your six-pack rings before throwing them out.
  • Don't use chemicals in your household, instead make your own cleaners or look for one's that are biodegradable
And you can have a little fun here


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Three Men and a Little Lady Saturday, April 21, 2007 |

Yesterday Stephanie, Gray, Xavier and I had the pleasure of finally meeting Cara, Cricket, Lisa and Emma. First stop was Panera to get some grub, then off to the park to let the little ones blow off some steam (ok, so I think we all really enjoyed that super fast twisty slide). I'll have to say I don't think there was as much time for conversation as we would have liked, but with four little people headed every which way... well, you know! We had a wonderful time and how is it that everyone ends up being sooo much sweeter (and cuter) in person?!

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Should be... Thursday, April 19, 2007 |

I should be sewing...BUT...
  • I sewed through my finger (yep, that's right, um OUCH!)
  • Xavier nearly fell off the playscape today while we were playing Oliver's and Xavier's (Tic Tac Toe), bonking his head and leaving me to feel like the worst mother ever
  • Hubby's been out of town for 4 days and I'm lonely! (2 days to go)
  • My dog has really bad gas
  • I finally finished our mountain of laundry
  • I'm so tired I literally can't see straight
So... I'm off to feel sorry for myself instead (ie: go curl up on the couch with some strawberry shortcake and watch Grey's Anatomy)...good night!

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What I Didn't Expect When I Was Expecting... Wednesday, April 18, 2007 |

I was honored to be invited to participate in April's "Carnival of Breastfeeding" on the Motherwear blog. This month's topic: "What I Didn't Expect When I was Expecting"...

While I was pregnant I thought about breastfeeding a lot. I'd only seen a handful of nursing babes in my time, but knew that when it was my time, I'd nurse. I didn't seem like a choice to me. There was no question of if I should breastfeed, simply that I would, no matter what it took. And so I read and read and asked questions galore. But more than anything I dreamed. The thought of nourishing my child, of providing all the sustenance he'd need seemed like such a glorious thing. I played this scene over and over in my mind- of giving birth to my child and bringing him to my breast for the first time, that moment of purity and grace and connection... drinking each other in...

As we know it is a rare occasion that reality matches that which we've dreamed. And my dreams were a far cry from the reality of our first days, our first weeks really. But the joy I feel every time I nurse my baby is beyond anything I could have imagined. 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 (born spontaneously at 28 weeks, 1 day) 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 had been 'fed' on a 3 hour schedule so we gradually worked from substituting nursing 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.

16 months later, we're still a happily nursing pair, and hope to remain that way for as long as X would like. It is amazing to see how this thing I thought I was doing for my baby has in fact done so much for me. Not only has this special relationship provided such validation and love, but has brought with it nourishment and sustenance for me. I relish every moment. And realize it for the gift it is.

Others contributing include:
Breastfeeding Mums
Spit up on my Shoulder
Breastfeeding 1-2-3
Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother
The True Face of Birth
Down With the Kids
The Spice Choir
Mama Know Breast


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One, Two, Three Day Tuesday, April 17, 2007 |

I googled breast cancer and stumbled across this beautiful image. It left me speechless. Made me think of so much... My Aunt. She's 3 years cancer free. Double mastectomy. Post Reconstruction. I can't imagine. I'm proud of her. So proud and of others like her. Women who have had to battle, who've lost a part of their bodies that we so value as a badge of femininity. If only we could do something, to reach out, to help. But we can, and my darling mother in love (David's mama) is a shining example-

"You would think a 51 year old mom/grandma like me would have more sense than to volunteer to walk 60 miles and camp out for the night! Well, I guess I don't, because after watching The 3-Day commercials for a month and feeling my heart broken AND inspired - each time - I made the commitment and registered!

I'm walking in honor of 3 AMAZING WOMEN:

1 - my cousin Karen Guito - a vibrant, beautiful 46 year old wife and mother of 4 - who is battling a re-occurrence and is currently undergoing rounds of painful chemotherapy.

2- Donna Szabo - who, as a SURVIVOR/THRIVER, is hard at work helping to transform others through Post Mastectomy Image and Self-Esteem Recovery through her hospital supported shop, "My Fair Lady". From prosthetics to wigs to receiving authentic encouragement from Donna, patients who enter seeking help, exit having received help AND HOPE.

3- Janice Vigna - a SURVIVOR/THRIVER who has been nurturing students for decades AND tirelessly devotes so much of her time and her talents to beautifying our world one plant and one smile at a time.

These three women have inspired me. These are the true Heroes I personally know of. I'm walking for them and for those in YOUR life who are YOUR heroes!

The event is called the Breast Cancer 3-Day. I am going to be walking (or crawling) 60 miles over the course of three days, for a cause devoted to helping women discover breast cancer early enough to beat it and committed to finally finding a cure.

As a condition of participation, I must raise at least $2,200. My personal goal is: $4,000!!! Proceeds benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund. (100% towards research and community outreach programs!)

So, yes, this is a plea for your emotional and financial support. I thank you in advance for WHATEVER you generously give."

I am so proud.

You can support her 3 day's here.

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Nursing Names Friday, April 13, 2007 |

Baby talk makes me gag. When adults do it anyway. And so we've never had cutesy pet names for anything in out house. (I won't deny, however, that the majority of words in my vocabulary now end in "y" ex. potty, lovey, ducky- you get the picture)

As far back as I can remember when it's feeding time at the zoo I've simply asked Xavier "Would you like to nurse?" or "Would you like some milk?" or used our sign for such (fist open and closed). And once he was able, he'd come up to me with that grin and those hungry eyes, signing away. Until a couple of weeks ago when X snuggled up to me and tried to make his way under my shirt chanting "nonny! nonny! nonny!" It was pretty obvious what he meant by "nonny" and so incredibly cute. Needless to say I've embraced my our new code word. (I have a friend whose daughter asks for "boobies" so I'm definitely alright with the nonny!)

And now that I'm nursing a toddler, our milky moniker has come in handy- more than once. Don't get me wrong I will nurse anytime, anywhere but I've entered the world of a boy who mid flirtation with the airline clerk decides to thrust his hand down my shirt, grab a handful and attempt to latch on with or without clothing in the way. (What happened to signing?!) In such an event, his coy "nonny?" elicits the response of "Oh, how sweet, is that what he calls his Grandma?" Um... sure. yes. Yes, it is! I'll take that over "the look" any day.

So I'm curious, do you have a covert nursing name? Did your nursling come up with it or you?

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And We're Back... *updated Thursday, April 12, 2007 |

Actually we've been back for a week now. After four blissful day's of vacation and little computer time, I realized how much I needed a break. So I took one. But now I'm lonely, I miss you all! I've been meaning to put together a bunch of photo's from our trip, but haven't had the time, so here's just a sneak peak of X and Liam hanging out at the Nashville Zoo. (Isn't Liam a doll? My goodness!)... and let the blogging commonsense*!

*I love spell check... this was supposed to say "commence" .... how we ended up with commonsense, well- I'm clueless... yet it seems oddly fitting somehow!


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And We're Off... Sunday, April 01, 2007 |

We're flying down to Nashville for a few days to visit our dear friends Scott and Carol and baby Liam. A much needed getaway. If you're looking for something do to, Steph's "You Blog My Blog" is still going strong. Ciao!


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