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?