Saturday, June 22, 2013

How To Back Your Baby (Infant to Toddler)

Remember when I told you I learned to tie Elijah on my back the African way? This is where I teach YOU! I will always be grateful for West African women demonstrating "backing" their babies (and for the missionary who encouraged me to give it a shot). Elijah was the wiggliest, energetic buddle of love -- walking at 8 months! If he can learn to be "backed", just about any baby can. It takes practice, but it's well worth the trouble. I've recorded an instruction video and written out the steps.

Instruction Video

How To Back Your Baby (Infant to Toddler)
  1. Loosely wrap the 2-yard fabric around your waist to keep it accessible.
  2. Lean over and lift your baby onto your back.
    (Have a spotter or a bed behind you the first few times until you and your baby get used to balancing on the back.)
  3. Lift the cloth from your waist over your baby and center it under both your baby's and your armpits.
    (The cloth could also go over the baby's arms if he/she is sleeping or smaller.)
  4. Fold one side over the other and tuck under at the top.
    (At this point your baby should be secure is the cloth is under his/her. Stay leaning over if the cloth is over the baby's arms.)
  5. Lift the bottom edge of the cloth just under your baby's bottom and pull your baby's legs to either side of you.
    (An infant's legs will stay inside the cloth and a toddler's outside.)
  6. Twist the two ends of the bottom edge of the cloth together in front of you and tuck them under. Done!
  7. If your baby falls asleep: Lean forward, untuck the top edge infront of you, lift the cloth over your baby's arms just under his/her neck, and re-tuck. This will cradle the baby until you can lay him/her down.
    (The cloth is a great little bed when there is none.)
Sleeping outside with fellow MK.

Sleeping at a restaurant.
Sleeping at home in the kitchen.

When I learned to "back" him, my chores became easier. It's much easier to wash dishes, cook dinner, clean floors, do laundry, etc... when Elijah's on my back and not under my feet, crying, or getting into trouble. Besides, he loves watching me work and feels included. And don't give up. You may even look like I did when I first started!

If you'd like cloth to try yourself, email me. We suggest a $20 donation to our Wagner Vehicle Project fund. Considering carriers go for $50-100, this isn't bad. And the cloth is straight from Sierra Leone, where our family will be serving as missionaries. Here are some samples.

Some of the cloth available to you!
I was pretty pleased to find a similar video on youtube and another and another..

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dearest 1-year-old

Dearest Firstborn,

Good morning, my son. I became your Grandma and Grandpa Lee this morning as I cut your pancakes exactly like they did mine over twenty years ago. It's your birthday, and I want this day to be special for you even though you won't remember anything. I want to strengthen your sense of belonging in our family and show you the love we have for you.

You're no longer 0. We've been trying to teach you to hold up your finger and say "one" for the past couple days, and you look at us curiously. You're processing so much now, and your imitation ability is growing. We celebrated two nights ago at a Twins game, and you happily repeated base as "bsss" and have been saying it ever since. Baseball must have made quite the impression on you, like it did your daddy. Maybe you also will learn to take your glove to baseball games and hope like everything to catch a ball in the nosebleeds.

You're learning furiously --- saying "pizzz" for please, and repeating "pee pee" at diaper changes and "baby" when you see a baby or doll, smacking your lips for hungry, clapping your hands for all done or amen, applauding when happy, shaking and nodding your head appropriately, throwing things away or handing them to people, drumming on containers, opening and closing doors and cupboards (and dishwashers and drawers). Your favorite it dancing! Our favorites are still "Mamama" and "Dadada," and sometimes we get an "-y" on the end which absolutely melts us.

Yes, we are smitten with you.

Most of all, we want you to know that you are wonderfully loved by your Savior, Jesus. You are his precious child, bought with his blood and washed clean in baptism. Your daddy and I pray that you will fall deeply in love with Him, but even more, know His love and sacrifice for you.
Precious son, I love you.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

My 11-month-old earns his first chore.

Responsibility is growing in our home. Elijah has earned his first chore: 

Throwing his diaper away! 
(in the wet bag pail if cloth and in the trash if disposable) 

He enjoys it and takes great pride in being able to follow instructions. Our little over-achiever has managed to find and throw away clean diapers as well... and toys... and my cell phone. We're working on what doesn't go in there. Also, Mommy found a dirty diaper outside the pail. Ufdah! Hard to scold the little guy when he's trying so hard.

Not sure what chore #2 will be when he perfects this one. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Head Down: Child-Training From Home

Elijah is high energy and one of those half-second cuddlers. We learned quickly to face him out when holding him. He preferred seeing the world to nuzzling his face into our shoulders. Still does. Wiping my snuggle desires away, I have found great joy in wrestling matches and air tosses.

Taking a breather during our workation (Taken by Joshua Wagner)
He started walking at 8 months, and shortly after, this newfound independence made a strong personality even stronger. I began to feel less confident in my ability to control and curb his energies for positive action. As a wife and mommy, I feel responsible for creating opportunities for fun crazy times and peaceful quite times. A peaceful atmosphere is important for both my baby and my husband.

Signs that I needed to take more action at home...
  • Grunt/whine/cry/arch his back if he didn't want to be held.
  • Wouldn't sit still for reading a book, or other activities.
  • Prolonged, unconsolable crying after bedtime.
After conversations and gathering much needed advice, we learned a particularly helpful training tool -  affectionately called "Head Down." Basically we have regular sessions at home teaching him to keep his head on our shoulder and stay quiet. Josh and I do this individually with him and slowly increase the time of sessions. (Facebook me if you want more details.)

Results for Elijah...
  • Has an alternative to squirminess and back-arching.
  • Keeps more control in public, particularly at church and during speaking engagements.
  • Can sit through and enjoy story times and family conversations.
  • Calms down more easily, especially when overtired. 
The very best part of this new practice is that Elijah is so much happier as he learns to relax and take time to be quiet. He comes up to us several times throughout the day to give us hugs. Sometimes HE even initiates head down times.

P.S. After we started this, I saw this post from my friend and loved the tips she gives.

Happier baby. Happier Mommy. Happier husband. 

Learning to wife!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Workation: Does the Stress Levels Good

I planned a super-secret-surprise getaway for Josh. Except the only thing super-secret was the location. I blocked 4 nights and 5 days on the calendar several days ahead of time and went about my business quite normally definitely suspiciously.

This helped with the super-secret aspect...

Well, thanks to some friends, we ended up in their gorgeous cabin in Wisconsin. I packed two bins of to sort/scan/throw and work on, our scanner and laptops, a bin and cooler of food, and a bag of clothes. We had an incredible time plowing through our task list, enjoying each other, relaxing and watching movies in front of their fireplaces (it was cold and rainy), and doing a work project outside cleaning up brush, logs, and branches. We loved it!

It was extra special because we had made a similar trip in 2011 before we had Elijah. We relived some fun memories and made some new ones.

Commercial: If you and your loved ones are feeling this stress of work/home, I'd highly recommend doing a workation. It allows you a different environment to do much needed work, and you end up having more time to relax with fewer home/appointment responsibilities, especially if you keep meals super simple.

Learning to wife!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Raw-Knuckle-Causing Diapers & Chickens in My Kitchen

It happens. We have good moments and difficult moments (or days or weeks). When I first came to Africa, a missionary here encouraged us to refrain from facebooking/tweeting/announcing during emotional highs. Give them time. I'm grateful for this advice. As I reflect on the past three months of Africa-living, I smile at God's grace and mercy. Life can be grueling, scary, humorous, and breath-takingly enjoyable.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6, ESV)
Spontaneous date with Josh: capturing lightning in Northern Ghana
 (Taken by Joshua Wagner)
I've definitely had high moments...
meeting people who are so different, yet so similar.  
seeing people's faces light up as I speak their language. 
eating delightful mangos, pineapples, and avocados. 
uncontrollably smiling as I watch my sweet boy discover DIRT! 
witnessing my husband guide our son in his first steps on his own at 8 months. 
watching my son laugh hysterically at my chasing of chickens. 
getting news of a house found in Sierra Leone for our family.   
cooking our comfort food - rice and curry. 
watching lightning flash through the clear night sky with my love.  
receiving starbucks coffee and chocolate from our supervisor traveling from the US. 
hearing praise for tying Elijah on my back the Ghanaian way.  
watching my (and my husband's) dreams come alive.
hearing the Word spoken in another mother tongue. Beautiful. 
Tying E on my back in Northern Ghana (Taken by Joshua Wagner)
I've also had a share of lows...
chasing chickens out of my kitchen.  
not understanding anything said around me or knowing anyone around me. 
desperately missing church services and liturgy in my heart language. 
hand-washing poopy diapers, as my knuckles become raw and I'm pouring sweat.  
being stuck without toilet paper.
throwing up Sunday morning from food poisoning, dehydration, or who-knows-what. 
watching my Josh lose 15lbs in one week, living on oral rehydration solution and yogurt. 
treating my 9mo-old for malaria. 
being in a different country from my love for two weeks. 
soaking food in bleach. 

Keeping E entertained while washing diapers (Taken by Joshua Wagner)

I love my life. I love Africa. 
I'm so grateful for this time of learning, thriving, and refining.

The daily grind (Taken by Joshua Wagner)

Thursday, March 28, 2013


(For personal safety this will be posted after the event.)

I'm learning what it's like to cope/stayhealthy/thrive in the midst of loneliness. My man is gone for two weeks, and this is the longest we'll have been apart. It's for a good cause - he's in Sierra Leone scoping out our work and living situation for later this year. I'm so excited to hear all about it when he gets back.

The more missionaries I talk to the more I learn that being apart (due to meetings, gathering resources and supplies, etc.) is part of the missionary life. We decided it would be good practice during this orientation to think about the essentials for life during our times apart. So many of the things that came up are ones that hardly cross our minds back "home."

  • Safety: Do I feel safe? Are there people I can turn to quickly and easily?
  • Transportation: Do I have the ability to go where I need with baby in tow?
  • Health: Do I have what I need to stay physically healthy (hydrated, etc)? Emotionally healthy? Do I need/have electricity, water, internet?
  • Communication: Am I able to contact people I need? Can I communicate with Josh?

We're halfway through our time, and I'm really pleased with our setup. We addressed each of these things before he left, and we're doing great. Baby E and I are eating 2-3 meals a day, sleeping well, getting some exercise, doing fun activities, meeting some new people, and learning some new things. My man asked some missionaries and a local friend to look out for me, and they're doing a great job! We've even been able to talk to him briefly over the phone a couple times. *swoon* That's the only time I've been crying... when I hear his voice.

I'm grateful for some advice a friend in Norway gave from her experience of being alone: "Treat yourself to some good food and some fun project when Elijah is alseep."

That helps with the thriving part of being alone. So do all the prayers that are being said on our behalf.

how 'bout this...

Related Posts with Thumbnails