earned her wings!

All new parents have to wade through the dilemma of encouraging their child/ building their strengths OR pushing them too hard in the wrong direction/ burning them out in the right direction. Jake's been reading some great books on the subject that taught us that Hazel needs to spend x # of hours studying an area to be an expert (clearly I didn't read the books and so I'll stop this paragraph!).

There are a few things that I know for certain that Hazel with master: camping, hiking, travelling, a musical instrument (or 3), and perhaps aviation...

Look who earned her wings by being such a good airline passenger (or because she's so cute and the stewardess adored her)!

Here she is touring Dad's Dog Food's private jet with Grandpa Orris (he's in charge of this here luxury jet). She decided that the next time she flies, she wants to go on this type of plane (3.5 months old and she's already a snob :) !

A low-key spookfest

Hazel and her Grandma Baird :)

Hazel's Shoppe of Horrors wishes you a very spooky (if you consider a sugar-high to be spooky) Halloween!


pimp my crib!

I'm in PENNSYLVANIA! Hazel and I had a delightful flight (99% true) and now we're here... to stay! That reality is a bit much for my brain. My life has been a series of 2-4 year moves for over 10 years, so thinking about living within a small radius for the indefinite is well... a shift to say the least!

For the 2nd night in a row, Hazel has let me lay her down in her bassinet at 9pm without a peep of complaint. I think this Pennsylvania air is good for her! Now that we're here, we need a CRIB! I'd love to get a crib within the week, but surprisingly, I haven't done any research yet. So, I'm gonna hit Walmart, Target, Sears, Ikea... ANY ADVICE? I know many of you have kids, love to decorate, or maybe have seen an inexpensive awesome crib.

I've tried to win hundreds (HUNDREDS) of online contests for baby gear over the past 2 years. I haven't won ONE DARN THING! Hopefully that will all change. I'm entering to win a custom designed nursery from ibabyinteriors. Come on Internet karma, don't let me down (AGAIN!).


an insult in sheep's clothing

Remember the Chicken of the Sea post? That was your first insight into my cooking prowess. It's been suggested that I should change my name to Betty (Crocker) or Rachael (Ray). I think I could easily slide into the name Julia (Child).

Due to our rapidly approaching move, we've been trying to empty our pantry, fridge, and two freezers. I'd rate our success at about a 6.

So, for tonight's dinner (a very special dinner that precluded Jake's LAST night of work), I decided to take a cue from my husband and bro-in-law, Christoph. These manly chefs often open cupboards, pull out random ingredients, and make me a feast (good enough to serve for Festivus for the Rest of Us!).

Here's what I found tonight: frozen ground beef, garden potatoes, homemade tomato paste, and garden tomatoes. Visions of Wendy's baked potatoes with chili floated in my head! However, as usual I didn't start thinking about dinner until 1/2 hour before we needed to eat. I quickly Googled "how to bake a potato" (make fun of me and I might start censoring my honesty) and learned that it takes an hour to hour and a half to bake a potato. I learned that you can microwave a potato fairly quickly, but alas I do not have a microwave. HUMPF!

So, I GENIUSLY sliced the potatoes, drizzled on some olive oil, and threw them in the oven. Then I browned the meat, threw some water, tomato paste, and tomatoes into a skillet, and waited for my hubby to wake up (he works night shift and sleeps during the day). In his usual fashion, his first thought of the day was his stomach. I proudly told him about my creativity.

His response: "Well, that makes me look forward to tomorrow's dinner."

Wow, he must be really impressed by my creativity and resourcefulness! He's looking forward to my next pantry cleaning masterpiece!

Naively, I asked him what he meant. My pride was looking for an ego boost.

His response: "'Cause it will be anything but that!"


In conclusion, I would like to state that the dinner wasn't that bad (oh, he asked me to prepare some noodles 'cause he wanted nothing to do with that topping on potatoes). However, I just cleaned the table and neither of us were members of the Clean Plate Club... a rarity for my garbage disposal husband!


Where my heart is.

The post title may have led you to think that this is ANOTHER post about Hazel, it's not. It's about HOME (duh!).

Over the past few days, there have been some MAJOR decisions made by my family. In a nutshell (a Hazelnut perhaps), my grandparents are moving out of their house and into a stoekli (a Swiss word/concept. It means that the older generation is giving up their home and farm and moving into a smaller abode on the property). This is such a huge change for my grandparents and my parents who are quickly erecting a home for them beside my parent's house. This new home will have many less steps, will not get snow/iced in, and they will not have to continue the huge amount of work it takes to own a large home and property.

When I first heard about this new plan, I was excited. I'm THRILLED that my grandparents are not moving into an assisted living facility. For one, they don't need that yet and two, that would totally change their lives. They will be able to continue their activities and it will be extremely convenient for my parents (and the Kosker's) to pop over for a visit or carpool. They want to jump on this idea before winter really sets in... that's maybe a month away!

Last night as I lay in bed thinking over this new plan, I was flooded with memories that I didn't realize I carried. Crystal clear memories of my grandparents and that house:
*Sitting on my bed brushing Gma's hair as she reads me stories.
*Sitting at my Gpa's feet getting a face massage (have never had a better one!)
*Running down to my Gparents house (I grew up on the neighboring property) and peeking in their bedroom window to see if they were napping or if I could come in (in hindsight that was probably really annoying!).
*Sitting on my porch on summer evenings and hearing them practice their flutes on their outside platform (heaven)
*Going on walks with my Grandma through the woods and running ahead so that I wouldn't have to kiss her and my sister under the kissing tree... and then reluctantly returning when Gma noticed.
*Visiting my Gpa in his garage shop. The smell of oil mixed with Wrigley's always makes me think of him. Plus, he listened to COUNTRY music in that shop... a fact that blows my mind. This is a man who listens to Classical music constantly and can identify every composer/conductor/piece. My mom actually hid the first Rock n Roll album she ever bought 'cause she thought she'd get in trouble!
*Running upstairs to grab the tube pillows and then lounging on the floor while we all watched slide shows and laughed at how young everyone looks while eating pretzels and peanuts out of small blue bowls.
*The Christmas wreath that Gpa hung upside down about 70% of the time even though he tried really hard not to.
*Stopping by their house every morning on my way to catch the bus and seeing Gma in her huge blue fluffy robe.
*Exactly where I was in the house the three times my Gma scolded me (I just realized that I've never heard her yell! What a mom!). I remember what I did each time too and I admit that I deserved the scoldings (and my sister probably deserved the punch too!).
*The kitchen where Gpa would kiss Gma and make her giggle.

I could go on for infinity. I was so lucky to be raised next door to my grandparents. They really helped to raise me. My grandfather played in the pit of the musicals that my sister and I starred in. My grandmother nursed me through every childhood illness. My grandfather babysat us every Monday night and entertained us with stories, old fashioned games, and then sent us to sleep to the sounds of his flute...

What a wonderful life I've had.

So, I'm sad. Soon, their belongings will be moved out of their home. I can describe every aspect of their house with probably 97% accuracy- right down to where Gma has her incoming and outgoing mail sitting. I'm not ready for them to leave their house. However, the memories I have are so crystal clear and plentiful. I wish I could turn back time... except I'd have to sacrifice Jake and Hazel. So, I'll stay in the present and share my memories with Hazel as she makes her own memories with her great-grandparents in their new home.


FALLin for you

Between the intermittent rainstorms and a new fall outfit that she's going to outgrow any second ("oops" says this compulsive shopper who is still figuring out baby sizes), I had to take a few pics when I could... right before nap time. Therefore Hazel was NOT happy and absolutely refused to smile or even stop crying. The best part is that she's old enough to see me from far away, so no matter where I walked (used telephoto lens), she was giving me the stink eye. She's one smart pumpkin!

However, as soon as the torturous photo shoot was over, she was in my arms and calm and went into her bassinet without another peep! That's such a huge improvement that I need to pinch myself (OUCH!).

In the photo, Hazel is sitting with a FEW of the gourds her dad grew this fall! We have an entire tub full of them!


The dirt on GREEN

It's hip to be green, ole! (Hazel at 7 lbs in a GroBaby diaper)

Though I have made many decisions about raising my baby based on what's healthiest for her and the planet, I never had to actually weigh the pros and cons of most of the decisions I've made. I wanted to be natural, minimal, frugal, and a bit old fashioned.

Recently, a friend asked me why I chose to breastfeed, how I came to that decision? I was speechless and my eyes rolled into the back of my head in a mini-seizure. I had never considered the alternative! So, I frantically tried to come up with an intelligent answer that hit on the benefits of breastfeeding without being preachy.

For me, there really wasn't an option of not breastfeeding. Fortunately it was extremely easy for me from the minute Hazel entered the world. After she was about 2 months old, my friend, Shannon, mentioned how mother's usually love the bond the breastfeeding creates. At that time I was over-tired and overwhelmed with the constant feedings and had trouble relishing the bonding. However, now that her feedings are spaced further apart and I'm finally "in my groove", I can say that I absolutely love breastfeeding!

Cloth diapering... I admit, I do it because I think it's cool. I'm proud of her huge butt. However, there are times when I have used disposables and though they really do a great job of keeping the moisture from her skin, they often leave big salt crystal-like chunks on her. That can't be good. Also, because CDs don't wick moisture away, she will be motivated to toilet train!

Here's some info for anyone considering CDing. This is what I've learned in these 3 months:

1. Cloth wipes are my absolute favorite part of CDing! Even if you want to use disposable diapers, I HIGHLY recommend cloth wipes! They are extremely easy and CHEAP! I have 3 packs of unbleached flannel wipes. They cost $11.25 for 15. I store them in a wipe warmer so they are always moist and warm. Hazel's butt is so spoiled! I throw them in the wash with the diapers and then instead of drying them, simply fold them together so that they pull the next one out of the container, make sure there's a little extra water in the wipe warmer, and voila! Some people use a little soap or fragrance oil on their wipes- I haven't experimented with that yet. Hazel's skin has been really sensitive thus far so plain water makes sense to me. Also, the flannel wipes have just enough texture and thickness that I can do a LOT of cleaning with just one and never get poop on my hands.

2. Which diaper to choose? This is overwhelming! I did a lot of internet research and there's so many different kinds that it's impossible to know what you'll prefer! I bought an assortment before she was born and have opinions, but really like having an assortment. I think Hazel does too.

I have:

*4 Gro Baby Diapers ($24.95 each- 1 shell and 1 insert) and 4 GroBaby insert packs ($16.95 for a set of 2 organic cotton liners). I LOVE these! The insert snaps into the shell. So, I can usually get about 3 uses out of the shell before washing. They adjust so I have been using them on her since birth and will continue to use them until she is toilet trained. I have two that close with velcro and two that close with snaps. The velcro are extremely easy to put on- in fact if I was going to leave Hazel with someone who's afraid of CDs, they would be able to use these! However, the velcro is so sticky that it sticks to the shell even when I'm being careful. So, those shells look more worn. This is a really new brand and I would LOVE to have more!

*6 small prefolds (can't find receipt... probably about $12). Originally I was dead-set against prefolds because there are so many new fangled diapers out there. Once AGAIN my mother was right (TWO posts in a row... the woman needs to be muzzled!). She really wanted prefolds and I thought she was just old fashioned and stuck in her ways. However, I love them! I converted when a friend gave me 30+ of regular- sized prefolds. I bought some shells to use with them (they were free, frugality trumps stubbornness) however, the regular size was too big for my preemie so I reluctantly (Gma Kosker was adamant about this one!) bought (er...graciously received) a few smaller ones. They are SO easy! You just fold them length-wise in thirds, lay them in the shells, and velcro on.

*5 Thirsties Shells ($11.25 each- 4 duo wraps sized 6-18lbs, 1 xsmall 6-12lbs). LOVE THESE! The leg openings have gussets that really protect from leaks (however some of her enormous poops can break through anything). As mentioned above, you just lay an insert in the shell and they velcro on- not any harder than disposables!

*12 Pinkerton bamboo liners ($4 each). Made by a local crafter at my local Saturday market! The crafter buys this amazing velor bamboo and surges it with a layer of more absorbent bamboo. They're long rectangles and lie nicely in my Thirsties shells. However, they're a little thin, so I put 2 in at a time or layer one on top of a BumGenius booster. to buy: preciouspinkies@ymail.com (note: I bought in bulk and got a discount!)

*4 BumGenius 3.0 ($17.95 each). I had originally planned to use only these as a good friend uses them and loves them. They are adjustable so they will also fit the baby from womb to toilet. HOWEVER, due to Hazel's itty-bitty nature, they leaked around the leg openings until recently. The best feature of these is that they feel the driest after being wet! The micro fleece is next to her skin and the absorbent pad is in a pocket. The drawbacks are that you need to wash the shell and pad after every use and I'm not a huge fan of fleece next to her skin (isn't it really just plastic?). This week is the first that I've begun using these regularly and I try to use them for night time because that's when she wears her diapers the longest (dryness trumps organic cotton).

I still wash my diapers every 2 days. I need more diapers, but soon I'll be able to use the larger prefolds, so I've been willing to do more washing in order to save some money. My advice: if you want a high-tech diaper- go with the GroBaby snaps and BumGenius 3.0 for nighttime, if you want an economical diaper- go with prefolds and Thirsties duo wraps.

Total spent on diapers: $389.40 (and almost half of them were gifts)! I will need to buy some larger Thirsties wraps, but otherwise, I might get be done. I say might be because I'd like a few more so that laundry days can be spread out. Still, the average babe uses 6,000 disposables that's about $2000! I WIN!
(I bought most of my diapers at Mother Nature's a wonderful shop and online boutique based out of Portland, OR: http://www.mothernaturesbabystore.com/)


3 months and still (finally) smilin'

WEIGHT: 11lbs, 5 oz

Ignore the drool, focus on the uber cute hoodie (thanks Aunt Kathy). Hazel is playing underneath her IKEA gym. She doesn't purposely hit the danglies, but does it accidentally and loves it! I can let her hang-out here for a small chunk of time and she smiles and "talks".
A quick photo shoot. Oh my gosh this girl is adorable! She wouldn't let me get the shot of her lying on her side, but you can see how she actually looks HAPPY from time to time now! Validation is a wonderful thing for a sleep deprived mama :)

SO BIG! It's a little chilly out, but I wanted one more photo session outside. So, no naked or diapered baby. Clearly Hazel wanted to get this picture over with as quickly as possible. She just went through a HUGE growth spurt! She now weighs about 2x's what she did when she was born. I finally boxed up her newborn sized clothing. BROKE MY HEART! It was tempting to continue to squeeze her into those clothes because I'm emotionally attached to them. However, I don't want to miss the window of her wearing 0-3 month sizes!

Wowsers. I'm a day late, but it's true! Yesterday was Hazel's three-month birthday. This morning we listened to a voice mail from Grandma Orris- I put it on speaker phone. Hazel smiled and then drooled. Clearly she thinks Gma's birthday song was a little goofy. That's what happens when your Gma's a music teacher.

It's been THREE months and though it's extremely typical- I admit that I can't IMAGINE my life without Hazel. I know I had a life before her, but I could never go back to that life/ person I was. Before she arrived, a lot of people told me that it takes 6 weeks with the baby to feel like you've found your groove. BOLOGNA! It definitely took me all three months. It wasn't until recently that the pit of dread in my stomach before bedtime subsided. Granted, one 5-hour chunk of sleep is the most I can hope for. But, our nights are finally (usually) predictable.

It took me three months to figure out that her fussiness is usually an indicator that it's time to put her down for a nap (I know, that's probably obvious to everyone else. "SHUT IT", I say to you!).

It took me three months to (ahhh... fingers are convulsing) realized that my mother was (ahhh... my heart is pounding and I just threw up a little bit in my mouth) RIGHT about putting Hazel down in her bassinet (and it took me 28 years to admit that my mother can be right sometimes). The first month I felt that it was cruel to place her on a stagnant (non-moving) surface and leave her alone for huge chunks of time. The second month, I thought that I should hold and console when she was fussy. The third month, I desperately needed some freedom and have mastered the skill of leaving a crying baby in her bed. Low and behold she (usually) takes longer naps! Happy baby, HAPPY MOMMY!


Family tree love

Today I discovered that 2 of my cousins have started to blog. I'm SO excited about this! It's pretty fascinating how my relationships with friends who blog and/or are on facebook have grown. These online communities help us to connect in ways I never imagined possible. Yes, there are drawbacks, but for a girl who DESPISES talking on the phone, these online communities make it possible for me to stay in contact and learn more about the people in my life.

Michelle and Kristin were the only cousins I had within a driving distance growing up so we've always had a special relationship. I'm so glad that I'll be able to glean more insight into their lives and thoughts now (though we may all be within driving distance in the near future! YIPPEE!!!) So, welcome to the blogosphere girls! Prepare to be stalked by me :)

I know, it's hard to believe that I'm related to these gorgeous girls! Is there any wonder why I want to claim them on my family tree? (another perk of facebook... I stole this photo off of Michelle's page :)


these pumas were made for walkin' and that's just what they'll do

Today the Haze and I walked at least 30 blocks. My legs are feelin' the burn! I want to walk as much as possible throughout downtown because if life goes as planned, these will be my last few weeks in which I can walk to a bookstore or coffee shop. So today I did both with Hazel in her wrap.

To be truthful, I also needed to get some exercise because I've been injecting ice cream into my arteries like it will bring world peace. I've been laying off dairy for awhile now (not completely, some cheese is necessary for quality of life) and we bought ice cream for company last week... I can't keep out of it! Not only that, but I actually made an ice cream booty call the other evening after Jake went to work (thank Heavens I can walk to the store!). However, I AM wearing my dojo jeans that were purchased pre-pregnancy in a very tight size. Granted, the spandex in them will never recover, but I'm wearing them!

On that note, let me just say that I've never been more accepting of my body then I've been for the past year. I think y'all know how much I loved my preggo belly and the self-acceptance has continued. It feels so wonderful to finally be content with my body. Granted, I still cringe in dressing rooms when you get the honest truth under florescent lights. But when I see my flaws, my first thought is "this body CREATED A HUMAN" and I love it.
Back to the topic: It was so wonderful to stroll through Salem, see the beginning signs of fall, and enjoy the kindness of strangers as most people can't help but smile when they figure out what the huge bump hanging off my front is. I expected to notice this during my pregnancy and did not. However, with a beautiful baby, strangers go out of their way to show kindness. Doors are held open, smiles are given, and more often than not, conversations are started. It's heart-warming. If you saw this person, I think you'd smile too...

How cute is she in her hooded sweater? Fall weather has arrived and yesterday we had our first fire in our wood stove. The smell was DIVINE! I had forgotten what that smells like. Though I have a dresser and closet STUFFED full of clothes that were gifts for Hazel, I had a surprising discovery yesterday. She is getting really close to outgrowing her newborn sizes (mostly because of her ginormous cloth-diapered bottom). So, I went to the closet to assess her 0-3 month clothing and there was hardly any! It seems that people bought her nb sizes OR 3month + sizes. Very sensible, but it was a shock to realize that I needed to go shopping! Jake and I were ridiculously excited to get to pick out a few articles of clothes for her. Did you read that... JAKE was EXCITED to go SHOPPING (by excited I mean, willing to go and actually interested in the activity... not like my level of gleeful excitement)! I couldn't believe it! Turns out shopping for his daughter is fun for him. WEIRD! So we bought her a few warmer BIG (0-3 month) items. The hooded cable-knit sweater is my favorite. Jake's on an anti-pink mission and I'm on a cute-girlie mission. This item fit both of our criteria.

These photos were taken directly after our 3- hour walk. I plopped Hazel down in her bouncy seat so that I could take off the wrap. She was due for a feeding and I fully expected an explosion of crankiness. Instead I was gifted with smiles! They are still a rarity, so I felt really lucky. After her feeding she continued her good mood and I was gifted with a few of her new coo-like noises and smiles. Of course, as I write this she's crying on my lap, she's having a little trouble falling asleep.

Wow, this is the post-o-tangents. Let me make it up to you by posting a totally irrelevant pic. This is Hazel in the sling that my Aunt Amy made (she used a super cute nut-themed fabric for our Hazel-nut).Yesterday I took her to my old school and every single person commented how she looks like me. I don't see it and man do I hope Hazel got her dad's nose! Do you see those baby blues?