Monday, April 14, 2014

The Balancing Act

If you have met me or read this blog, you can probably tell that I often struggle with perfection. I want to do everything right, do everything well, and to just do, well, everything. I want to have family time every night. I want to cook healthy, homemade meals every night. I want to keep my house in order. I want to save the right amount of money for retirement. I want to wear the right clothes with the right shoes. I want to spend the right amount of hours sleeping. I want to read the right books. I want to rock my baby to sleep each night without thinking of all the other things I "need" to be doing. I want to be as efficient as possible with every single thing I do. It just goes on and on...

And while there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to be able to do all of those things, the reality of my current phase of life makes some of those things nearly impossible. And even if they aren't impossible, I'm learning I can only have one #1 priority.
I read this post about balancing responsiblities while being a mother to young children and it really did a number on my heart. In it, there is a picture that says "The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are: Daily Scripture Study, and prayer, and weekly Family Home Evening." (The Family Home Evening is a Mormon thing, but you understand what it means.)

I was reminded of what my priorities as a parent really are - and they have very little to actually do with my family. They have to do with being first and foremost a disciple of Christ. If I don't meet with God daily and commune with Him, I'm missing the boat altogether. I may be standing on the dock with my suitcases and passport in hand, but I'm not ready to set sail.

With that said, I'm learning daily not only how to prioritize but also what to prioritize. How important is it that my entertainment center is dust-free? Does it really matter that our Tuesday night dinner doesn't have a single green vegetable in it? Is there eternal significance in whether or not I totally loved my outfit for the day? 

The truth of the matter is that, no, these things don't really matter. I do believe that I'm responsible for my family and home, so those things will always be a priority to me and I will always strive for the best when it comes to those two things. But am I putting them above my relationship with Christ or even my relationship with my husband? Sometimes, yes.

So today is a new day and I'm working hard to realign my responsiblities to appropriately reflect the things that are most important to me.

1. Discipleship and servanthood to God, His Kingdom, and the Church
2. My relationship with my husband
3. My child
4. Taking care of myself (time alone, rest, hobbies, etc.)
5. My family and friends (building relationships)
6. Taking care of my home (cleanliness, order, meals, bills, etc.)
7. Documenting life (journals, photo books, this blog, etc.)
8. My career and continuing education

That's it. Those are my main priorities. They have to do a little shifting from time to time, but the big picture is that they fall in line with what matters most to me in this life. I think over the next eight weeks, I'll focus on each area and discuss how I'm balancing the list as a whole.

What are your priorities as a mom, wife, or woman? How do you maintain your relationships, career, home, hobbies? I want to hear from you!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fourteen Months

I'm a little late on this one, but... here goes!

- To combat Maleah's constant crankiness, we started putting her in bed a little earlier than we had been to see if she would mysteriously sleep better. She had been sleeping 7:45-6:15 and now she sleeps from 7:30-6:45/7. So, she's getting almost an hour more than she was and her mood has greatly improved!
- We are also doing much better with meals! I made a few freezer foods (avocado, sweet potatoes, and squash/zucchini) that are easy go-to healthy options. And we discovered the squeezable pouches - Maleah LOVES them! They are expensive, but they're worth it! We usually give her table food and then offer a pouch at lunch and/or dinner if she didn't eat very well.
- Maleah's vocabulary amazes me. Here are the words she knows and says in context: uh-oh, please, more, done/all done, pa-pa (paci - though we don't use one anymore!), no, mama, dada, school, bye-bye, cookie, cracker, and milk (which sounds like "mick"... SO cute!), pig, gooh guh ("good girl"), and lots of other things! She can make lots of animals sounds and she can point to her nose, ears, eyes, belly, mouth, fingers, and toes! I just did not know they could learn so much at this age!!!
- Our house is paci free!!!!! While we were gone to California, Blake's mom didn't give Maleah a pacifier (upon our request). She hasn't had one in two weeks and so far, so good! She had some screaming fits before naps and bedtime but that only lasted a couple of days. 

- The day Maleah turned 14 months, we left for California! We did not see her for 9 days. Some people would say that's crazy - and it was, a little! But she was in great hands and we FaceTimed as much as we could! Blake was able to get a lot of work done and we were able to go on our first real vacation since getting married. Maleah was at the perfect age for being gone this long - Blake's mom said she only really fussed when she dropped her off at the church nursery on Sunday! And the moment she saw us when we went to pick her up, she was SO EXCITED! It was so fun to see her recognize us and get so excited about seeing us! She has been VERY clingy the past few week, but we have seen no major issues! Next time we do something like that, hopefully she'll be old enough to tag along! I can say with confidence it would NOT have been a happy time for anyone had she gone with us - the time change, weather, and just general nature of the trip (where Blake worked most of the time and I piddled around) would have been very difficult for her.
- When we picked her up Sunday, I noticed a molar  had popped through the skin on her bottom jaw on the right side. She's been really fussy since coming home, but we can't totally tell if it's from readjusting to being home or teething or a combination of the two. We have given her ibuprofen once and it seemed to help some, but we try not to give her medicine unless it's necessary.

Total Messes
- WOW my kid has an attitude! She can be quite sassy when she wants to be! I have never been a very assertive disciplinarian, so I'm having to learn how to balance authority with also just trying to teach her how to appropriately express her feelings. I'm learning that sometimes I need to put my foot down regardless of whether or not she pitches a fit (like the other morning, she tried to squirm and cry as I put her shoes on, but I stuck with it and put her shoes on anyway and she calmed down pretty quickly. One day late last week, she had a seriously major tantrum. I got off work a little early to spend some extra time with her and within 15 minutes of being home, she was ill. Then something happened and she LOST IT. She was rolling around on the floor, kicking her legs, SCREAMING... it was wonderful! :) Tantrums continue to be an issue, but we are learning how to handle them!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Thirteen Months

Life with a thirteen month old is never boring! I am sure those of you who have had such a creature living in your house will agree! This is an odd stage - she's a baby, and yet she's nearly a toddler. She has opinions and feelings and understands more than we give her credit for. Now that we're beyond a year old, I will keep updating monthly (for how long? I dunno...), but I want to switch it around a bit.

In the beginning, we were heavily focused on a daily routine. We still like to stay in a pattern for the day, but we aren't as focused on what time things are happening (except wake-up and bedtime, those stay the same every day). She's fairly easy to read, so we just adjust what needs to happen based on what she is telling us. Currently, her routine at home goes like this:

6:30-7 ~ Wake up, have a sippy cup of milk, eat breakfast within 15-30 minutes of finishing milk (she's like her mama, needs a little time before eating!)
7-9ish ~ Play, leftover breakfast as a snack somewhere around 8/8:30
9-11 ~ A nap somewhere in there
11:30ish ~ Lunch with a sippy of milk
11:30-2:30 ~ Play, snack somewhere around 1/2pm
1:30-4 ~ A nap somewhere in there
4/4:30 ~ Light snack
6 ~ Dinner with a sippy of milk
7:15 ~ Bath, sippy of milk, quiet time, in bed by 7:45

At daycare, she basically does the same thing during the day except she takes her nap from 11:30-2:30 (usually 2-2.5 hours) instead of a morning and afternoon nap. Sometimes she will only take one nap at home, but it just depends. I'm not going to revisit this daily routine in my monthly updates unless something drastically changes. But basically, her life is: wake up, eat, play, eat, nap, eat, play, eat, nap, eat, play, eat, bed. Got that?

- She drinks a "normal amount" of whole milk during the day. She transitioned very easily to milk and a sippy cup with a straw. She is offered 4 cups of milk a day right now (one before bed), but usually only drinks about 3 full cups' worth of milk.
- She continues to sleep through the night with very little night waking. She sleeps 10-11 hours each night, with either one or two naps during the day (usually a total of 3 hours for naps). Right around one year, she was waking early (before 6am) out of hunger and that phase seems to have passed.
- She walks and is gaining in confidence! She likes to walk hand-in-hand with you, provided you are letting her lead the way!
- She can sign "all done" and "more" in context.
- She can say several words and understands their meaning - "bath," "diaper," "pa-pa" (pacifier) and "bite" (eat) have all been very helpful lately!
- She enjoys playing with us, with her peers, and by herself.
- We know she's truly hungry when we say, "Do you want to eat?" and she starts smacking her lips! It is the funniest little thing!

- While Maleah is a good eater, meal times have been a bit hectic lately. We are still figuring out what she likes to eat, how much she likes to eat at one time, and how often. I have decided to continue to make some homemade purees so we can have quick access to healthy foods. She likes the taste of several different foods, but she can't quite chew some of them yet. So, I think continuing to do some chunky purees will help us through this period.
- She is quite the Mama's Girl, most of the time. Not that I mind, but it can be quite difficult to cook dinner over a hot stove with someone at your feet screaming for you to hold them!
- Someone has learned to form her own opinions! You can't really argue with a 13-month-old, though, so we are learning how to handle her moments of stubbornness with grace, love, and a little bit of "We can't hear you!!!".
- Throwing food... or should I say dropping food... while staring at you as you say "No ma'am"... and she does it anyway...
- Car seat drama - Okay, it's not really drama. We bought her a convertible car seat for my car back in the fall in hopes that we could turn her around after her first birthday. Well, she does not weigh enough for that particular seat to be forward-facing just yet. I was kinda bummed - I was looking forward to turning her around for easier access to the seat. However, the AAP does recommend children stay rear-facing until 2 years of age (or longer) and truthfully, other than the awkwardness of getting her in and out (my car is so small!), she doesn't mind being backwards and since we don't know any different, I haven't really given it much thought until I sat down to write this post! We will most likely leave her rear-facing until her 2nd birthday.

Total Messes:
- Hellooooooo tantrums! While I must say we have not entered FULL BLOWN TANTRUM LAND yet, we are getting close. Very close. Right now, the fits are kinda cute. I mean, when she's laying on the floor crying and keeps looking up to see what your response is, it's hard not to smile (WHEN SHE LOOKS AWAY, of course!)! It's so funny to watch her learn how to read other people's reactions. She also is very dramatic when she is upset. There is a difference between angry crying and upset crying - upset crying is pretty pitiful and she does a great job of making us feel horrible for whatever we have done (like offering her a sippy cup of water instead of milk...)
- Poop happens. Except sometimes it doesn't and apparently it's pretty painful. So you are told to give  your child milk of magnesia, which then causes poop to happen again... in mass quantities. So much that they get an awful diaper rash and SCREAM in pain when you change their diaper, no matter how much cream you have tried to put on them to buffer the damage. Lesson learned, friends. Lesson learned.
- Pink eye, allergies, stomach bug... ugh. We need warm weather so we can get out of our house!

I have to say, we are really getting into a fun stage in life with her! It's so amazing to think she was once just a flickering heart beat on a screen. And now that little heart is beating away inside of a funny little girl. Being her mom is AWESOME!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Thief of Joy

There's a recurring theme going around in mom-blog land lately - comparison. I can't tell you the times I've read the term "Pinterest-worthy birthday party" in a blog lately. Or how many times I've seen moms bashing other moms for keeping a clean house. Or how many times I've overheard moms begging other moms to stop looking "so cute and skinny". Or how many times I've been encouraged to "keep it real" by putting all my flaws and problems on display.

Seriously, enough already.

The problem is not that other women need to stop doing what they're doing.

The problem is that we need to stop doing what we're doing: comparing.

We have got to stop assuming that so-and-so has it all together because she does [insert something we're not good at] like a pro.

So what if some kid's mom throws a wicked awesome birthday party with creative names for each food item that match the theme of the party? So what if some woman has the fashion sense of Coco Chanel? So what if someone has a knack for organizing and has a clean home 99% of the time? So what if so-and-so buys her kids boutique clothes to wear every single day?

Stop focusing on them.

I could write a laundry list of the things about me that aren't so perfect, but I won't. Because really that's not your concern. (I will tell you that I literally have my pants  leg hem tapped up because I have not had time to sew it back together!!! Does that make you feel better!?) Your concern needs to be you.

What are you good at? What are you great at? I can guarantee that, if you're a mom,  your kids probably think the world of you. Start thinking about the things you're doing well and be confident about it!

I think we can all agree that we KNOW NO ONE has a perfect life. NO ONE. No one can have it all - not even the wealthiest, most beautiful, most famous celebrity. NO ONE can have it all. We've got to stop assuming that we're less than because someone else is seemingly greater than.

Empower yourselves, ladies! Be confident in who you are as a person, as a follower of Christ, as a woman, as a mother. So what if you're not the Pinterest Mom or the 6-Pack at 6-Months-Post-Partum Mom or the My-Kids-Play-Every-Sport Mom or We-are-Always-on-Time Mom?

Get to know and love who you are. Sure, we all have a little room for improvement and there's no harm in trying to better ourselves each day. But, at the end of the day, I can guarantee that your child does not see you for who you are not. They see you for the woman you are. You're the woman who cares for them day in and day out. The woman who tucks them in at night. The woman who comforts them when they're hurt. The woman who plays with them even when she is sick as a dog.

Take heed: You are a good mom. You are a great mom. You have strengths that I probably never will have. You have passions I will never be able to chase. You are beautiful, you are loved, and you are treasured.

I hope that made you feel good.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

If I Could Do It All Over Again: Part 2

Now that I have recovered from Snowpocalypse 2014, I bring you Part 2 of my mini-series... and this one is a tad bit more personal than the last! Read at your own risk.

What I Would Do All Over Again...

1. Request that there be NO VISITORS for at least 24 hours after delivery. First, let me say I enjoyed every single visit. However... that was the problem. I wanted to talk and entertain instead of rest. And boy, did I learn my lesson. The first few days with a new baby are extremely overwhelming. I am VERY MUCH a people-person so I did not mind having visitors, but I know now that what I needed during those first couple of days was rest. By not saying "no" to visits, I exhausted myself and made an already stressful situation more stressful (a few of our visitors saw me in tears, crying from stress!). I also want to be more frank with people who ask if we need anything. I loved for people to come visit after we got home, but I wish I'd taken more people up on their offers to help with chores or cleaning or cooking or laundry. Also, lemme just say this - I will no longer visit people in the hospital after they have a baby unless they are close family. I'll come visit you when you are home and I will bring dinner!

2. Find a way to record baby's firsts. Obviously, I have monthly updates posted on my blog that I can print out and keep forever. But I don't have some fancy schmancy baby book with a thousand details filled in - as the saying goes, Ain't nobody got time for that! :) What I did instead of a super detailed book is this (and it kinda happened by accident)... one of the "free" "perks" (I use both of those terms VERY LOOSELY) from having awful newborn pictures made at Portrait Innovations was that we got a large wall calendar. At first, I was like... what the heck am I gonna do with a wall calendar full of not-so-cute pictures? Then I had a rare moment of genius and decided to put it on her bedroom wall along with a Sharpie. I could easily record anything I wanted to at any time without having to drag out some book and a cute pen and all that craziness! I am planning on getting another calendar made for this year (I'm a little behind, I know...) - it's a super easy way to mark all sorts of fun little details that might otherwise be forgotten.

3. Start a routine early. We spent five weeks being absolutely clueless about our baby. Every time she cried, we would go through a list of why she might be crying... Wet? Hungry? Tired? Over-tired? Bored? Hot? Cold? No, no, no, no... Finally, a friend told me that we could go ahead and start establishing a routine. (Note: I am not saying "schedule"...) We did start a basic routine when Maleah was five weeks old and it worked wonderfully (Baby Whisperer's E.A.S.Y. method)! We had a predictable pattern to our day that really helped Maleah eat, sleep, and feel better. We no longer had to try to go through a laundry list of possible irritants figure out each cry - we could just consider where we were in the day's routine and know what she needed. As she has gotten older, the routine has adapted, changed, been flipped upside-down, and - at times - been thrown out the window altogether! But having consistency in her day has proved to be beneficial for everyone in our household in a thousand ways! I will say we used BabyWise to help get us started on the routine, but I wouldn't say we subscribe to all of those methods. More or less it was a good tool in the beginning to know what a typical day for a newborn could look like and how to solve some of the most common newborn "issues" (for lack of a better word!). 

4. Ask for an "exam" at the 6-week check-up. My OB's office does not normally do vaginal exams at the check-up unless the mother is due for a pap-smear. I did not know this and I also didn't think it really mattered. But, in my case, I had some abnormal healing that had to be taken care of at 5 months post-partum (You wanna put that silver nitrate stick WHERE!?). If I'd been offered an exam earlier, I wouldn't have had to deal with the pain and discomfort before realizing something was not right. I will beg for an exam next time - bet they won't see that comin'!

5. Start a College Fund. Okay, technically I did not start a college fund for Maleah. Her grandparents did. But, it an option we were already looking at - a CollegeCounts 529 savings plan. Seriously, even if you only put $10 a month in this account for a while, DO IT! College costs are always on the rise and it is a whole lot easier to save for it rather than to strap her down with student loans after graduation (like me... oh, how I hate to see mail from Sallie Mae!!!). Right now, while Blake is in school, we don't really have a lot to contribute. Every little bit helps, though, so we have decided one way to save  for her education is to always put our spare change in her piggy bank. Every now and then I'll also slip some dollar bills in there just for fun. We had it cashed the other day and there was a whopping $73 in there! If I did the math correctly, that $73 will be about $125 by the time she turns 18 if it grows at an APR of 3%. Her grandparents all have access to this account, so they can make deposits at any time. Starting now will help us get in the habit of contributing on a regular basis and we'll increase our deposits as time goes on!

6. Buy a video monitor. We have not had one of these with Maleah, mostly because her room is so close to ours. If I had one, I probably would have lost my mind staring at it for any sign of stress during those early months! (I really learned a lot about trusting God with my baby without it!) But, it would be nice to have now that she is older for those times when I'm not quite sure if she's fussing because she's awake or just fussing mid-sleep. Because now when I go in to check on her, it becomes a big ordeal! 

7. Hold her more. I am very glad we helped Maleah be able to fall asleep on her own and nap/night time is not really a battle. But, now she doesn't like for us to rock her for very long (particularly at night) - she'll even point to the crib, asking to go lay down to sleep. I wish I had soaked up those times when she was so tiny and liked to snuggle. There's a balance, though, in my opinion - but I think I erred on the side of caution and missed out on some prime snuggle time. She has actually started letting me rock her more often in the past couple of months and I am treasuring it! Just this morning, she was up at 5:15 and I went in to give her some milk and try to get her back to sleep for a bit. She took her milk, snuggled in my arms, and then laid her head on my chest to be rocked. I defintely enjoy those moments when they happen!

8. This, too, shall pass. The days are long, but the years are short. Enjoy it because it flies by so fast.  Oh, man, how true each of these little phrases are. When the crying seems to go on forever, I remember - This, too, shall pass. When I'm counting the clock down to the second for nap/bed-time, The days are long, but the years are short. When I catch myself looking forward to the next stage or milestone, Enjoy it because it flies by so fast. No matter how many times I have told myself to stop and enjoy the moment, no matter how many times I've tried to soak it all in... this year has gone way too fast. I still feel like it happened in the blink of an eye, even though I tried so hard to let it linger. I look at Maleah every day and appreciate Who sent her to me and try to remember that each moment with her is truly a gift.

What are some things you found helpful during your baby's first year?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If I Could Do it All Over Again...

For several weeks leading up to Maleah's birthday, I couldn't help but begin to think about how my first year as a mother went. I can definitely say I was much less prepared than I thought because, ultimately, there are some things you just can't learn/know/understand until you actually experience them. And now that I have experienced them, there are some things I'd change and others I'd do the next time in a heartbeat!

Today I'll focus on the things I would want to do differently. Also, quick disclaimer: those who don't want to know some personal details about me should skip this little post!

What I Wouldn't Do All Over Again...

1. Give up on nursing. I wouldn't really say I "gave up". The odds were just really against us! Not only did we have the normal newborn/new mommy feeding problems (exhaustion, anxiety, stress, jaundice, etc.), I had to get over pneumonia. It was easier to pump than to nurse and it worked pretty well for me to do that instead. But, as I have said many times, I was TOTALLY unprepared for exclusive pumping and did give that up when she was 9 weeks old. Now I know so much more and am so much more confident. So, if I could do it all over again - EVEN if I had to pump exclusively - I know I could do it for more than 9 weeks!

2. Leave the hospital early. You can guarantee this chick will be hanging out in the hospital until they force us to leave next go 'round. We left before Maleah was 48 hours old and it was a terrible decision. Not only did I have to return to the hospital to be checked out for a Pulmonary Embolism (which turned out to be pneumonia), but we also just did not get anywhere CLOSE to the needed amount of rest before returning home. Sure, the nurses and doctors are bugging you constantly in the hospital, but they also come and clean your room, bring you food and ice water, and - if you want - they will "babysit" for you for a little while so you can get the rest you need.

3. Return to work early. Returning to work when Maleah was 4 weeks old was out of necessity, since I was still pretty new at my job. Thankfully, though, I was allowed to work part-time until she was 6 weeks old and even after that, they were very flexible with me if I needed to sleep a little longer in the mornings! Hopefully I will be able to take a longer leave for future children.

4. Start solids at 4 months. Of course, as new parents, we were SUPER EXCITED to start Maleah on solid foods as soon as the doctor gave the O.K.! She was really interested in our food at that time and took right to it! There wasn't really a problem with starting so early, but I just think it would be easier to start closer to 6 months. I might just try to do rice cereal or oatmeal around 4-5 months and wait until 6 months for the real deal. We did a little bit of Baby-Led Weaning with Maleah, but honestly I found it to be more difficult and frustrating than making purees and she is a super-great eater (and likes lots of textures!), so I don't know that either way is better than the other - just personal preference.

5. Skimp on photos. I try to be very financially responsible. I do not like to spend a whole lot of money on... well... anything. I want to find the best deal, a great bargain, and... well... that's wonderful. Until it comes time for photos. I know now to hire a professional photographer, pay what they're asking, and enjoy the memories for a lifetime. Maleah's newborn pics were awful - only a few shots out of the dozen or so we purchased are even remotely cute to me. Thankfully we've had two great sessions with professionals since then that produced beautiful pictures, but I learned my lesson! I will, say, though, that I'm glad we didn't do the Newborn-3-6-9-12 month package. Five photo sessions in one year is just too much for me! We decided that for each of our children, we'll do newborn pictures, pictures at Easter/springtime, and pictures around Thanksgiving/Christmas. We will also do first birthday pictures, but not yearly birthday pictures after that.

6. Worry about what everyone else thinks. If we could all do this, wouldn't we all be much much much happier people!? I am the world's worst! I feel like I have to over-explain everything I say/do about parenting. That's half the reason I hardly ever blog - I don't want to hear someone else's opinions about how I am parenting my child! ANYHOO - I am learning to get over this. If anyone has met my baby girl,  they'll be the first to tell you she is an extremely happy, well-adjusted, well-fed, mama-lovin' little baby girl. Apparently I have not done anything terribly wrong to corrupt her, despite what any nay-sayers might suggest!

7. Try to do it all. I tried to let go of the housework, I really did. But at some point... dishes have to be done, laundry has to be folded and put away, the floor has to be vacuumed. Honestly, one of the gifts I'd like to register for next time is the gift of a maid. I am not joking! I'd like to hire someone once a week for the first several weeks - it would be a worthwhile investment. Even now, I have to continually remind myself that I am only one person. (Prioritizing and goal setting have really helped me in this area!)

8. Lack confidence. Being a parent is hard. There are a thousand decisions to make each and every day. Sometimes I make the right decisions and other days, I am very, very wrong. But I am learning quickly to just go with my gut and that some days, truly, NOTHING I do will make it all better. Maleah cried to & from her birthday dinner earlier this week. Nothing I could do would make it better! She was just having a moment... or two. And that's alright.

I realize most of my difficulties this first year really have nothing to do with Maleah. They have to do with my perception of motherhood and about how others perceieve me. Motherhood is a strange community - we all want to support each other, but sometimes we just don't know how. I hope this helps someone else out there who struggled with the same issues as me!

I want to hear from you!!! What are some things you learned during your first months and years of motherhood?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Baby Ball: 1 Year

It pains me to write the title of today's post. One year. One whole year since our sweet little girl entered the world. One whole year has passed since I caught the first glimpse of her tiny little arm flailing back and forth. One whole year has come and gone. And, oh, how quickly it went.

I tried so hard to soak up each moment. To savor the time with her. I have tried to frequently pause and say to myself, Remember this moment. But, still, it flew by like everyone warned me!

Thankfully, I have kept a good record of Maleah's life on a regular basis. This blog, a calendar in her room, my journal - little scribbles of memories here and there so that I could remember this time with her. It is because of those writings that I can even remember what she was like as a tiny 7 pound 2 ounce newborn.

But, today, she is no longer that teeny tiny little baby. She is an independent, walkin', talkin', almost-toddler. She has become quite the "ham" over the past few months - craving attention much like her mother (admittance is the first step, right?). Little curls are forming at the nape of her neck. Teeth are poppin' through left and right. And when we sit down to play, I get the sense that she actually understands what we're doing. She watches for cues, for responses, for recognition - and she communicates. It's amazing!

So, the time has come to do a twelve month update on my cutie pie. Here we go... no tears, no tears!

Stats: She weighs 19 pounds 5 ounces and is 29 inches tall. She has six teeth, technically. Two of them are still making their way in but I say they count because you can see white! She wears a size 3 diaper, 12-18 month clothes (mostly), and a size 4 shoe.

Lately it has been a little all over the place. She is transitioning into taking a mid-day nap, apparently, so that has been a little confusing. This is an average of what the past few weeks have been like:

5:45-6:30 - Wake up, 6 ounces milk*
7:15 - Breakfast (waffle, yogurt, banana, fruit, Cheerio's, eggs, etc.)
9:15 - Snack (fruit, crackers, cheese, etc) and offer a cup of milk
11:15-12 (somewhere in there) - Lunch (meat, vegetable, fruit, pasta, etc.)
11:30-3:30 - a 2-3 hour nap in there somewhere
3:30 (or upon waking) - 6 oz milk
4:30 - snack (again fruit, crackers, cheese, etc.)
6 - dinner
7:15 - bath, 6 oz milk, bedtime

*She is now drinking whole milk. See "eating"!

Again... this hasn't really worked perfectly each day. We're not really sure where she's headed with this mid-day nap. I noted on Facebook that she has been waking up really ill and hungry, so she'll get up, drink some milk and sometimes even eat breakfast, and then want to go back to sleep before 9am. Not really sure what to do about all that... hopefully next month we'll have most of the kinks worked out!

     Moving to all-table foods has been an interesting transition. In some ways, it is MUCH easier. In other ways, it is MUCH harder. Easier in the sense that we no longer have to prep foods ahead of time, puree things, etc. Harder in the sense that we are having to learn how much she wants/needs and how often. And we've finally learned to feed her in stages - give her the fruit/veggies and protein first, followed with the grains... otherwise she'll eat only teh grain. She's a very good eater - she likes just about anything we give her... except green beans (which is weird... who doesn't like green beans!?). I am also a little neurotic about what she is eating. I am so concerned that she's going to become a junk food baby that I am hestitant to give her lots of bread or crackers or sweets. But, I am realizing she needs more grains than what I have been giving her so that's a goal for the next few weeks.
     We also decided to start transitioning to whole milk because we were running out of formula. MY plan was to SLOWLY transition her. My husband's plan was different. After a whole 24 hours of being down to 3oz formula/3oz whole milk, he decided to just give her some straight whole milk and she took right to it. So we haven't been making any more formula. We're still trying to make it about room temperature, but will work on the drinking it cold thing when we get to it. There have been way too many transitions in the past few weeks for my liking!
     Her daycare teachers also suggested we try eliminating the bottle. That went quicker than I expected, too. The first few times we gave her milk from her sippy (straw) cup, she shook her head "no," thinking it was water. Once I showed her there was milk inside, she was game. Now I think she knows that there will be milk in it when she wants milk (usually after she wakes up in the morning and from her nap and just before bed) and water in it at meal times.

     We have a walker! She started by taking just a step at a time and now she is a little teeter-tottering baby girl! She usually can take about 8-10 steps before stumbling, but she's getting better everyday. She will also walk with you holding just one hand instead of two, so we've been trying this to help her get a sense of balance. It's so fun to see her walking around!
     Maleah also really likes to talk. I'm amazed at how much a one-year-old can actually communicate. She can say all sorts of words, but even more interesting, is that I can tell she actually understand what I'm saying at times. Mostly she just likes to say animal sounds, though. "Baa!!!" for sheep is currently her favorite!
    One other interesting change is that she now will play with you. She is learning how to do something together rather than just on her own. She likes to play with cups and plates, hair brushes and balls with us. We might have also played with a dollhouse a time or two together! :) I love playing with her!

    Has anyone else witnessed their child suddenly turning into a whiney little brat!? Yes? Good! I'm not alone. It started Christmas morning... Maleah was opening her presents and we noticed she was pooping. When it seemed like she was finished, Blake picked her up to change her diaper. She IMMEDIATELY made a horrid face and started to cry! He took her back to change her and realized she had not used the bathroom, so I thought she must be a little constipated and maybe we didn't just see a mini temper tantrum. We gave her some juice to sip on as she opened presents and she "went" again. So, Blake picked her up again when she was finished and AGAIN she made this horrible face and started to cry! Since then, she has pitched a few of these little fits. Nothing outrageous - no head banging or fist pumping or screaming... but just enough to let us know that even the happiest, sweetest, most loving babies have their moments!
     When Maleah seems to be throwing one of these fits, we try to talk calmly to her and redirect her attention and usually that works. We try not to give in to whatever it is she is wanting just to show her that this is not how we get what we want. We try to give her what it is she is wanting once she calms down. There haven't been too many of these instances, but hopefully we can handle each one with calmness and understanding, while also trying to teach her self-control in the process.