Sunday, August 31, 2014

Seven months old!

Growth/ Health
At her 6 month checkup, which was just about 10 days ago, Charlotte weighed 16 pounds, 13.5 ounces. She was 28 3/4 inches long. Those measurements put her just above average for weight and off the growth charts for height (as usual). The doctor said, "That's no problem... she's just tall" :) We've put away all the 6 month onesies so Charlotte is in all 9 month clothing now.

As of this week, Charlotte has one little tooth popping through!! We can feel a spiky little spot in the front of her mouth and we expect to see it soon! I will miss that gummy grin...

She also has hair (finally!) and it's beginning to look a bit reddish. Still very light blond, but I'm noticing more and more red! 

This has been such a big month for Charlotte's development. She can sit for long periods of time on her own, with only the occasional tipping over. When she does tip, she usually just plays on her back and then eventually rolls to her tummy. She can roll both directions very well now. Every once in a while she gets "stuck" on her belly, but can almost always get herself unstuck... we're all much happier with her having mastered this new skill.

Charlotte's communicating in all sorts of ways, too. She is screaming with joy, whining with frustration, and fussing when we take away something she wants. (We have seen a lot of sass lately when she doesn't get what she wants. Look out, world!) She reaches out to be held and really likes to be in her mom or dad's arms. Something interesting is the way she watches people; I feel like she is just constantly learning by observing what others around her are doing.

I think Charlotte's sleep has been the best it's ever been this month. While we were on vacation she slept very poorly but ever since we arrived home she has been consistently falling asleep well for naps AND sleeping through the night almost every night. We very rarely have crying at nap time; she usually either falls asleep immediately or plays in her crib quietly/happily before settling herself down.

Once or twice she has dropped her mid-day nap, which makes her a bit fussier. On those days, though, I try to put her to bed shortly after nursing while she's relaxed. This makes her last nap start a bit early, and sometimes it ends early, but she seems to do okay with that change. It makes me wonder if she will drop her mid-day nap soon...(EDIT: pretty sure she has dropped the middle nap since I first started writing this post last week!)

If Charlotte sleeps through the night fully, Joel often checks on her around 6:30am. Sometimes she is already awake and other times she wakes up upon hearing him. They have a tiny bit of time together before he heads to work, then Charlotte has her first feeding of the day. She takes a morning nap about an hour after waking up from the night. Her mid-day nap begins anywhere from 10:30am to 12pm.  She nurses 5 or 6 times a day (usually roughly 6:30, 10, 1, 4, 6:30pm) and usually eats one "meal" of solids. We try to eat dinner all together before Charlotte goes to bed, but sometimes our schedule requires that we eat after she's asleep for the night. On those days I try to let her eat some solids for lunch, just to give her the experience. Lately she's eaten homemade lasagna, a couple handfuls of fried rice, pear, refried beans (at a Mexican restaurant), strawberries, and baby spinach.


Awesome stuff! 
It continues to make us giggle that Charlotte is such a social baby. Last week I had to work at a church event and Joel brought Charlotte over for a little while before bed time. She was thrilled to be passed around to four or five junior high girls and to take in all the hubbub. At one point I looked at the clock and realized it was 6:45pm and Charlotte hadn't shown a single sign of tiredness... girl must get her energy from people :)

For the past week or so, she has been reaching out her arms for us when she wants to be held. Once we're holding her, she immediately wants to play or look around (no quiet snuggles for this little lady!) but it feels so great that she wants to be in our arms. 

Also awesome- the way she moves! So many photos are blurry these days because Charlotte's body is constantly on the go! We get so excited when she rolls and scoots and waves her arms.

Still awesome- her singing & talking noises, her gummy grin, her long eye lashes, the way she smiles when she wakes up,  her interest in eating, her tall body, and just being around her.

There have been many days recently where I thank my lucky stars to have this girl as my daughter. She is just too precious and fun. She's also quite sassy and sometimes tries our patience. One day recently when I was changing her diaper, she kept trying to roll away, toward a toy in her closet. I had to speak firmly and say, "Wait!" She looked at me with surprised eyes... then paused... then continued rolling. I told her "Wait" and "No, Charlotte" two more times after that. (I also moved the toy so she couldn't see it any more, and that helped immensely :) )

Friday, August 29, 2014

Life these days

Many kind friends have asked how I'm handling the "back-to-school" craze as I am not going back to school, for once. It's a strange mix of emotions to be utterly consumed with gratitude that I have this time with Charlotte, at the same time that I'm kind of mourning the loss of my teacher life. So far our days have been pretty busy so I don't have time to sit around thinking about what I might be doing in my classroom right now if things were different. Plus, Charlotte is at an incredibly darling, explorative age right now so she keeps me on my toes. (Don't worry, I haven't gotten teaching out of my system quite yet- I'm still occasionally pinning literacy ideas to my Pinterest boards... )

Here's a little glimpse into life these days. 

We get up and play before Charlotte takes her first nap. During that nap I either try to do administrative tasks for the junior high, clean up around the house, wash diapers, take a shower, make our bed, do laundry, put the dishes away, or just rest. Every once in a great while I take a short nap while she sleeps, but this is very rare. 

Charlotte's next awake time is usually when we run errands, go to the grocery store, or have a meeting with my boss at church. It's sooooo awesome that we can walk there. I put Charlotte in a carrier and we are outside for three minutes before entering the church building and walking upstairs to the youth ministry office. Sometimes Charlotte sits on the floor and plays with her toys. Other times she takes a cat nap in the Ergo. 

During Charlotte's afternoon nap I often do more work for junior high. I sometimes do dinner prep or finish the laundry I started in the morning. A couple of times lately we have hung out with students in the afternoon, which throws off Charlotte's nap, but is fine overall. On Wednesday we took two girls to the zoo, which was awesome. 

The best part of our day is when Joel comes home from work!! We usually hang out as a family or Joel plays with Charlotte while I make dinner. Yesterday we went for a long walk to drop off books at the library. Charlotte LOVES being outside so she "talked" happily the entire time she rode in her stroller. Sometimes Joel and Charlotte watch the Tigers' baseball game on TV or sometimes we sit on the front step and watch the cars go by. 

Our days are simpler with a baby. Little things can take a long time and we have lots of breaks for nursing and diaper changes throughout the day. But these simple days are so life-giving and I'm forever grateful to have them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

a family hike

One day recently, before Joel had to go back to school, we took a short family "hike" in our area. Joel wore Charlotte on his back in the Ergo and she LOVED it! I think she has a better range of motion when worn on the back- she can turn her head easily and see everything around her.

About 20 minutes in, she fell completely asleep and took a 40 minute nap. She woke up incredibly pleasant and played happily while we ate lunch together at a local cafe.

I'm so grateful for the memories we can make on the slow, easy days of summer. Once school starts we are all absorbed in the hustle and bustle; some quiet times are good for the soul.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dear Charlotte, 7

Dear Charlotte, 

You have been growing and changing so much lately! I can't believe how different you look, often from one day to the next. I am crazy about the new excited scream you like to make as you play happily.

There were a lot of nights during our vacation when you would wake up CRYING a very sad, pitiful cry, anywhere from 7:30 and 10pm. This happened after you had been in bed, asleep, for a while. We were so startled to hear you crying that we instantly come into your room and scoop you up. Sometimes I nurse you, or your dad holds you close and rocks you back to sleep. One night Grandmom was with you and she read you one of your books quietly to help you settle down. It's a mystery and it makes us very sad. 

But girl, your smile is to.die.for. That gummy grin makes us feel like a million bucks. And those lashes... Good grief! 

You are a charmer and your parents have fallen for you. Hard. We love you so much and are very proud of you.

Friday, August 22, 2014

summer vacation, part 3 (Poconos!)

Our big travels are over for the summer & we are happy to be home sweet home.

BUT! We had an awesome week with my parents in the Pocono mountains last week and I'd love to share a few photos of our adventures.

Our first full day was the only warm, sunny day we got all week! Fortunately, my parents looked at the weather and warned us in advance so we could take full advantage. The cabin where we stayed was very close to two lakes; we let Charlotte splash around in the smaller lake before we checked out the outdoor pool. Charlotte is such a fish! She was sooooo happy being in the water. 
Just look at her grin here:
Later in the week we took a boat tour of Lake Wallenpaupack, which was really interesting & beautiful. I figured Charlotte would sleep so I wore her in the Ergo. Much to my surprise (why do I continue to be surprised??), our social butterfly baby was far more enthused to be sitting on her dad's lap, looking around, and smiling at other passengers...

On our last full day, Charlotte was boycotting her morning nap so we decided to roll with it. We spent about an hour enjoying the indoor pool. I continue to be amazed at how much Charlotte likes to play in the water. She can kick her little feet and sometimes even splashes her hands as if she is "swimming." SO.DARN.CUTE!

On the days in between, we hung out together at our cabin. Charlotte did a lot of sitting up, playing with new toys, and trying new foods. She didn't sleep well at all, but seemed flexible enough to handle it okay. (Fortunately, as soon as we got home she went immediately back to her excellent patterns- falling asleep with little or no crying, and staying asleep through the night. Phew.)

Thanks, Mom & Dad, for sharing your Poconos vacation week with us!

Friday, August 15, 2014

More adventures in solids!

In the last two weeks, Charlotte has tried:

Chicken sausage with the skin removed, more green beans, clementine slices, avocado with skin attached, hot dog  (cut into finger shapes, with the skin removed), pizza crust, more broccoli, shredded chicken, small strips of soft grilled chicken, banana (cut into finger shapes, with the peel on one side), tiny pieces of shredded cheddar cheese, cantaloupe (didn't work well; it was so soft that she kept getting pieces that were too big and gagging them out- repeatedly), baby spinach, lettuce, shredded carrots, and pineapple (too tart!). 

Broccoli, shredded chicken, and banana seem to be the things she actually ate the most. Broccoli is sooooo messy but she can hold it really well and seems to get a lot in her mouth and swallowed, so that's great. She has been very proud and excited to be a part of meal time lately. One tricky thing is that dinner is right before she goes to bed so sometimes she is very tired and gets worn out from working so hard to get food. However, most nights she is pleasant and really seems to enjoy eating dinner with her family. She has excellent concentration and we are all impressed with her coordination and fine motor skills. (Though not so impressed with the evening shadows that make her face look black & blue in the second photo below!)

In regards to baby-led weaning (BLW), these are the questions I get most often when I explain how we have introduced solids: 
1. Aren't you afraid she will choke?
2. Aren't you supposed to wait a few days after each food, in case of allergies? 

These are both legitimate questions and I want to address them, but I think the short answer is that we don't live in fear. All of parenting, all of life, is about making choices and walking in truth. Charlotte could certainly choke on a piece of food (now, or when she is 2 years old, or when she is 21 years old!). Charlotte might get an allergic reaction to something we feed her, which could require serious medical attention. Both of those realities dwell in my mind. And while it is wise to be cautious, we don't live in fear. She could also get in a car crash or bump her head on our furniture or get terrible diaper rash or get kidnapped or any other horrible thing I might imagine. 

Allergies are real and some can be very serious. However, my understanding is that there are a few highly allergenic foods (peanuts, dairy, etc.) which require us to be cautious, but most foods aren't going to be a problem. Who is allergic to red pepper? Or avocado? Also- we have no food allergies on either side of our family, so it is unlikely Charlotte will have any. So far she doesn't, so yay! 

In regards to the choking issue, the key thing to remember is the difference between gagging and choking. Babies have very sensitive gag reflexes, which are triggered easily, and cause them to push forward any food they aren't ready to swallow. Gagging happens even with puréed foods when babies first start learning how to eat more than breast milk or formula. This week Charlotte was gnawing on a wedge of clementine. She got about half of it in her mouth and was sort of moving it around for a while... After a minute she made this terrible face, gagged, and slowly spit the piece out onto her lap. Then she picked up a new slice and began gnawing on that. While it startled me a little, I recognize that she was doing exactly what her body is designed to do. She was in control, she was working it out, and she was learning to eat. So I gave her a big smile and said, "Nice job!" :) 

There are a few safety precautions when implementing baby led weaning. I highly recommend reading this book/cookbook, or at least looking around online for more information, but basically we do two things carefully: We don't leave Charlotte unattended with food (I actually watch her like a hawk the entire time!) and we don't put any food in her mouth (because this completely works against her natural gag reflex and makes her far more likely to actually choke).

BLW is a safe, easy, and wonderful way for babies to learn to eat. We are having so much fun with it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dear Charlotte, 6

Dear Charlotte,

I don't know how you can possibly grow any bigger but it seems to me you have hit the six month growth spurt... You have been eating and sleeping like crazy lately! Sometimes I look at the clock, realize it's noon and that you have already eaten four times in about 6 hours. You've been waking up in the middle of the night, which isn't so great. But when you wake up playing, smile at me as I change your diaper, happily eat a meal, then put yourself back to sleep peacefully... I can't be annoyed. You are just so darn awesome. 

We have a lot of fun together, you and I. You have proven yourself to be incredibly patient and flexible with me, as I figure out this mothering thing. We sit outside and watch the cars. You "help" me make dinner in your stroller or the sling. We play on the floor. You lean on me while you sit up and play, after you've gotten tired of sitting all on your own. 

One thing you really don't like is the sound of our food processor. Today it broke my heart when you began SOBBING as I pulsed the basil for some homemade pesto. I immediately picked you up and smothered you with kisses. Then I moved you far away from the kitchen, turned on some music, and put the fan on full blast. Unfortunately, you still got upset when I started it again and your whole body was shaking as tears came streaming down your chubby cheeks. I'm sorry, sweet girl. I'm sorry it startles you so much, and I'm sorry your Daddio wasn't here to comfort you. Usually he holds you close while I use that dang machine and you don't seem to mind as much. 

Little lady, I can't believe how much I love you. I can't fathom how one tiny girl can steal my heart and bring me such joy. You are wonderful, baby. 

Love, Momma

summer vacation, part 2

For Charlotte's second big vacation of the summer, we traveled to Ohio and Michigan to visit friends and relatives. Charlotte got to see her uncles and grandparents again, and also got to meet some extended family members and Joel's good friends from high school & college.

I can't even believe how amazing Charlotte was in the car for all 16+ hours of driving AND our 7 hours of travel home (via plane and train). She was unbelievably flexible, patient, and sweet, and I fell even more in love with her during this trip! I feel so blessed to have time with our friends and family during the summer months. Watching Charlotte grow alongside her loved ones is an absolute joy!

Here are some sweet pictures of our time, if you'd like to see.
 (Charlotte with her Dad during a stretch/nursing stop in Ohio)
 (How else to pass the long hours in an uncomfortable car seat....?)

 (Joel is such an amazing Dad. Charlotte loves him so much and has an absolute blast playing with him!)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

adventures in solids

It has been so much fun to start Charlotte on solid food! I have been keeping notes on which food she tries and how things are going so far. This is my first update about our adventures in solids, following the ideas of "baby led weaning."

First of all, let me explain what "baby led weaning" is and why we have chosen to go this route.
Baby led weaning (BLW) is an approach to introducing solid foods based on the fact that infants can get most of their essential nutrients from formula or breast milk for the first year of life. Introducing solids before one year is "just for fun" and shouldn't be a battle to get babies to eat. This book is amazing and has been an invaluable resource as we start this process. There are also lots of good resources online (I loved this post!)

Here's why we've decided to go the BLW way:
  • autonomy- Our hope is for Charlotte to learn to feed herself and to gauge when she is hungry or full. We never want to force food into her mouth or pressure to eat if she isn't hungry. We also want to support her in developing coordination and self-care.
  • health- As does every parent, we want to encourage Charlotte to eat fruits, veggies, protein, etc. We hope that by encouraging BLW, we'll set Charlotte up for healthy eating habits in the future. She is eating all kinds of fruits and vegetables in their natural form and so far doesn't seem to dislike anything she's tried.
  • time-saving- We really want to eat together as a family and have community around our table. BLW allows Charlotte to feed herself so we aren't spending lots of extra time preparing "baby" food and/or spoon feeding her. 
  • fun- Babies learn through play. They experiment by putting things in their mouths. We are encouraging both by allowing Charlotte to try things and see how they feel and taste.
For my own memory and because I think it's fun & interesting, here's a list of what Charlotte has "eaten" so far... 
July 19: first food-- red pepper!
July 24: breakfast- egg (too soft to hold well; some in mouth; mashing on table); lunch- banana (sliced in finger-shaped strips, with peel on outside)- loved licking, could hold easily, made funny face and spit out pieces she got into mouth, swallowed some
July 29-31: corn on the cob, steamed green beans, steamed broccoli, dill pickle, raw red onion, watermelon rinds, crust of toasted rye bread, blueberries, strawberries, small bits of pulled pork, steamed carrots with cinnamon (spit out both kinds of berries- strawberry was very slippery and hard to hold; loved broccoli, corn, and green beans)
August 2-3: pasta salad, lettuce, tomato, a few bites of ice cream
August 4-5:  pizza crust, homemade smoothie (frozen spinach, frozen berries, vanilla Greek yogurt, 1% milk)

Future posts on this subject will cover safety, gear, dealing with the mess, and more new things Charlotte learns to eat. What else do you want to know?!