Saturday, January 31, 2015

12 months // ONE YEAR old!

Happy first birthday, Charlotte Adeline! You are the light of our life and we are so happy you joined our family one year ago today!

This has been such a fun month of growth! Charlotte started shaking her head "No" and standing for short periods of time. She can cruise around while pushing her Y bike and has pretty good balance while actually riding her Y bike around the house!! 

She is incredibly curious and loves to crawl around exploring. She is good at opening and closing doors. She can put things away and "sort" them, too. She has mastered the fake laugh AND a silly fake cry this month. She also has the absolute best giggle! We LOVE when she laughs! 

Charlotte is VERY interested in babies and loves to play with the little guy I watch three days a week. She is usually pretty gentle, but sometimes forgets that small babies like to keep their personal space ;) 

Charlotte has six teeth. She weighs 19 pounds, five ounces and is 31 inches tall. (That puts her in the 50th percentile for weight and 95th percentile for height.) She wears cloth diapers, but uses size three in disposables every once in a while (size four at night). Her clothing is a mix of sizes because there is a huge (and maddening!!) discrepancy between brands. She wears some 12 month clothing and some 18 month clothing, depending on the article of clothing and whether she needs extra space for her cloth diaper butt. :) She is eating a lot of solid food now and drinks less milk than she used to. Most nursing sessions are finished in about 7 minutes!

We are pretty sure Charlotte has learned some baby sign language. We have been doing the signs for more, all done, milk, food, water, please, and thank you for the last five months. It seems like Charlotte is now doing a combination sign that might mean "more" or "please" or "milk" or some combination of all three. Though we aren't sure, it's exciting to think that more clear communication is on the horizon! [Sad, but funny: yesterday she fell off her Y-Bike in the kitchen! She didn't cry, just laid on the floor for a moment. Joel saw her doing her sign before I picked her up off the floor! So maybe it means help...?!] 

Charlotte can wave hi and bye AND give high fives now! She is such a fun little lady! 

Also- in the past week, she started saying something that sounds like "Go!" I wasn't sure at first, but then noticed she was mostly making that sound when riding her bike or rocking (backwards!) in her little rocking chair, or crawling quickly across the room. So now I'm thinking it's for real... 

Sleep/ Schedule
We hope that things are totally improved on the sleeping front. Charlotte doesn't nurse at night anymore. She either puts herself back to sleep or can easily fall back asleep if one of us goes in to comfort her for a minute. What a relief after two long (hard!) months of night waking. 

Sometimes Charlotte will still fall asleep in the Ergo carrier. She also naps well in her new (big girl convertible!) car seat. A couple times lately she has fallen asleep while driving so I just sit in the car with her while she snoozes. It's quite precious to see her face all smushed up and hear her little baby snores.

Charlotte's schedule is similar to last month. She nurses four times a day and eats three solid meals, plus a snack. She gets up around 6am, takes an early morning nap and an afternoon nap, though a couple of days recently have been morning nap-less, which I read is common around Charlotte's age. We try to start her bedtime routine (diaper, PJs, short nursing session with mom, sleep sack on, three books, into bed with Screech) around 6:30 and depending on how much milk she drinks, and how many books she convinces me to read, Charlotte will be in bed by close to 7:00.

Awesome stuff!
Charlotte started taking a swim class this month. She is, of course, totally crazy about water and loves being in the pool with the other babies and parents. Seeing her so happy in the pool is one of the best parts of my week! 

Even though it is sassy, we love when Charlotte shakes her head "No" because it's communication. Haha. We really enjoy the feedback she gives and the way she responds to us. She sometimes initiates hugs, kisses, and playful snuggling (aka: WRESTLING!). Joel, especially, is in heaven when she snuggles! :) 

Some of her favorite activities lately include: pushing or riding her Y bike around the house, climbing up the stairs, going outside, standing on her own for a short time before falling over into one of us or a pile of pillows, riding in the stroller, being carried in the ring sling, pulling herself to stand while holding on to the baby gate, exploring the house, and reading books. 

She is SO into books this month!! She turns the pages incredibly fast and seems interested in a much wider range of reading than she ever did before. Charlotte also has favorite pages in each book and after she "reads" the whole thing, she will go back to pages that she really likes. Sometimes she will even clap happily at those pages, which is the most adorable thing ever. Her favorites this month are: "goodnight Rhode Island," "llama llama, wakey wake," "brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?", and "HUG!" 

She also loves: her parents, babies, older kids (especially girls), her beloved owl (Screech), animals, blocks, and kitchen-themed toys (cups, spoons, miniature jars, her garden salad set, etc.)! Our girl loves to play! 

Charlotte doesn't really like: getting buckled into her car seat, settling down for naps, watching other people eat when she can't eat, waiting for us to pray before meals, waiting for food in general, and forced snuggling. 

This has been a very fun month of being Charlotte's parents! Now that we are all getting more consistent sleep, it's far easier to be patient and gentle when responding to our girl. She is delightful and we are thrilled that she is starting to communicate more clearly with us! 

One challenging thing is keeping my cool when she deliberately throws things onto the floor from her high chair. She will look at me and shake her head, then drop the item on the floor and carry on with life. I know it's intentional and it drives me crazy when she knows I will say "no" but still does it anyway. Argh! 

Friday, January 30, 2015

On why I'm not sad that my baby is turning one

I'm not sad that my daughter is turning one this weekend.

There. I said typed it. 

Maybe I'm cold hearted. Or unsentimental. 

But I'm not sad because I'm so happy! I am truly joyful about this big, milestone birthday! 

I am so incredibly proud of how Charlotte has developed this year. I am so incredibly grateful for the lessons we have learned as a family and the ways we have stretched. We have laughed and cried and danced and played this year. We have become stronger and wiser and more patient and more fun this year. 

Charlotte has grown (physically, of course- she has almost tripled in weight and is more than a foot taller than she was at birth!) and discovered and explored this year. She is a completely different child than she was last year, with curly hair and teeth and a personality that's full of spunk. I am completely different, Joel is different, and our family is so much more wonderful than it was before Charlotte joined us. 

So I guess I'm not sad because I'm full of joy at the life we have. I'm not sad because I'm grateful to have a healthy, happy girl who is developing at an alarmingly fast (but wonderful!) rate and who brings such goodness to our home. I'm not sad because babies are supposed to grow and change because God made them that way. I'm not sad because we as parents are simply caretakers of these beautiful beings who were created in the image of God for His glory. 

If I start to think about the day Charlotte will graduate from college, I might get a little bit sad. 

But today I'm not thinking about that. 

And I'm not sad that she's turning one tomorrow. I'm thrilled.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Family meals: the start of a series?

One thing I've been really happy to have more time for since quitting my full-time teaching job is making dinners for our family. While working, I still enjoyed cooking and meal planning, but most nights were stressful because I had to rush home from work, feed Charlotte, and immediately begin the whole dinner process. Everything felt rushed and it was hard to enjoy the preparation and the meal time itself.

Now I often get dinner started (or at least do some of the vegetable chopping!) while Charlotte takes her afternoon nap. Once Joel gets home, he usually plays with Charlotte so I can get dinner finished, set the table, etc. It's a really good system and I'm finding a lot of joy in planning and preparing our dinners. I got re-inspired by the book "French Kids Eat Everything" which talked about slow, leisurely meals where conversation and connection go hand in hand with good food. Since we have a baby, our meals aren't always leisurely, but they are pretty pleasant and I'm very grateful. (Also- I highly recommend the book. Lots of wise words!) 

Despite loving to cook and meal plan, sometimes I get into a rut. I need inspiration and I need recipes and meal ideas that fit our family's time frame and lifestyle. I'm interested in starting a family meals series on the blog, inspired by this one: 

Here are my thoughts: for a couple of weeks, once a week, I'll share what our family had for dinner the previous week. Whenever possible, I will link to the actual recipes we use. Most of the things I try are from Pinterest, or have been found on blogs I read. 

After a few weeks, I would love to have some "guest bloggers" who will share a week of recipes that their family tried. My goal is to get a few different friends who will provide a well-rounded, interesting perspective on the joys and challenges of family meals. 

If you would like to be a guest blogger and share your meal ideas, recipes, etc. PLEASE let me know. In addition to hearing from others in similar situations who can relate to me, I'm curious to hear from some folks who eat a specific type of diet (such as gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo, etc.) as well as people whose life circumstances are different from mine (maybe you work until 6 pm and use a crock pot for most of your meals or maybe you don't eat dinner as a family but you eat a big breakfast together every morning; things like that). 

I would ask you to give a short introduction to yourself and your family, then share what you made the previous week with my readers. Even if you don't volunteer, I might ask you anyway. So maybe you better just volunteer. ;) 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Six months of baby led weaning

You wouldn't believe how snobby I can be about my daughter's great eating habits.

Actually, if you are around me regularly at all, I'm sure you can easily believe how snobby I am about my daughter's great eating habits.

It is one of my major mommy hang ups: feeling prideful that BLW has worked and so confident that Charlotte eats a balanced diet because we introduced solids this way. I admit my pride. Though I obviously haven't yet confessed and repented...

Anyway. After six months of baby led weaning, I can confidently say that it was one of our best parenting decisions. Charlotte sits pleasantly (for the most part!!) with her family at the dinner table. She tries new foods. She eats vegetables. She eats fruit. She usually eats meat. She definitely loves carbs :)  She always interacts and sometimes waits patiently while the rest of us enjoy our meal. She is drinking less milk over time and seems to be a very healthy little girl. 

Though Charlotte is a normal child and has her preferences and opinions which are irritating and confusing, I have zero regrets about introducing food this way. It was incredibly easy to help her learn to eat solid foods and required very little prep work on my part. She has no problems with spices or difference textures. She does throw food on the ground and she often tries to toss her water glass over the edge of her tray, but I don't think that has anything to do with how we introduced food. :)

I probably won't be doing many more posts about baby led weaning (much to my fathers's relief! Hi, Dad!) :) Solids are a regular, routine part of our life these days and there isn't much more to say about Charlotte's eating habits. 

If you have questions about the subject, please don't hesitate to ask me. BLW is one of my favorite topics of conversation. That is, if you don't mind me forcing my opinions down your throat, errrr, I mean, gently guiding you away from the dark side of making your own mushy baby food, I mean.... 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Thoughts on motherhood// one year

I'm finding myself surprised as I process my thoughts about this job of motherhood. The last twelve months have been amazing, hard, confusing, exciting, wonderful, and awful. Motherhood is scary. And scarily awesome.

I didn't realize how unpredictable having a baby would be. I'm a schedule-lover, so the days when Charlotte didn't nap well or woke too soon really threw me through a loop. Motherhood brought out some nasty parts of myself: my pride, my impatience, my self-doubt, my unkind tongue... Sin reared its ugly head more this year than it ever has in the past. 

But in many ways, motherhood has softened me. I am gentler now, and I have learned to quietly observe. I play more easily. I sing more silly songs. I read a lot of books sitting cross legged on the floor. :) 

And motherhood has humbled me, too. I find myself less judgemental of others and less convinced that MY way is better than the next person's way. Many of the things I thought were so important or SO black and white are now a bit more gray, a bit less crucial...

I imagined I would be super passionate about cloth diapering. But I'm not really; I think our system is great and I like using cloth but I'm totally fine using disposables at night and having a pack of diapers sitting in the closet to be used for all-day outings or long car trips. 

I thought for sure I'd be passionate about some specific type of sleep training. I'm totally not. I broke all sorts of "rules" and tried all sorts of things. Some nights my kid sleeps and some nights she wakes up. Sometimes she naps easily and sometimes she boycotts naps completely. One thing I feel confident about is that getting Charlotte used to her crib was an important thing to do early on. I'm glad we went that route, for our own sanity and for her to get uninterrupted sleep. Otherwise, I'm no expert and definitely can't say one way is better than the next. 

And then there are things I am unbelievably passionate about, such as baby led weaning, breastfeeding, and natural childbirth. As I experienced all of these for myself, and did extensive research over time, my enthusiasm and excitement have continued to grow. I could talk for hours and write for days about such subjects and I will do whatever I can to help, guide, and support anyone who might want my input. (Though I try not to talk for hours to people who DON'T want my input...)

Looking back on this year, I feel so incredibly blessed. Blessed to have gotten pregnant after a hard season of waiting. Blessed to have gotten to experience Charlotte's birth in exactly the way I hoped. Blessed to be partnered with the amazing man who is my husband. Blessed by friends and family who have cared for us and helped us raise this babe during a vital time in her life. Blessed, actually, by my darling Charlotte, who is such a sweet, hilarious, fun little girl. 

What an honor to be on this scary, awesome journey of motherhood. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jumping on the (capsule wardrobe) bandwagon

Back at the end of the summer, I stumbled upon the idea of a capsule wardrobe. It was an intriguing concept because (1.) I hate clutter and (2.) I tend to regularly get rid of clothes that have been sitting, untouched, in my closet. BUT! I also tend to be a sale shopper and sometimes come home with clothing that was a great deal but isn't all that cute or high quality or good for my body type/personal style. Oi!

I used some of Caroline's free wardrobe planner sheets to help me think through my lifestyle as well as the items of clothing I wear over and over again. I got rid of a few things, bought a few things, and tried to unofficially start my own capsule. Since then I've kind of been muddling along, keeping the idea of a capsule in my mind but never really solidifying things in my own closet and dresser drawers. 

Here are some more resources about the concept; others can explain it far better than I can, so I'm going to let them do the dirty work while I just share my own experience. Rachael; Elise.

My experience so far has been a bit strange, but also kind of fun and definitely eye-opening. I had a few key things to consider, as I sort through how concept this will play out in my life.
  • My style has always been pretty casual. I like to dress up occasionally, but I'm most comfortable in jeans and a casual shirt. However, I hate feeling sloppy and I rarely leave the house in sweatpants and a hoodie. 
  • I'm mostly at home, with Charlotte (and the little guy I'm now watching 3 days a week). My clothes need to withstand spit up, messy breakfasts, baby wearing, sitting on the floor, and making several trips out the door with a car seat over my arm. 
  • I have very few formal occasions; I only get slightly dressed up for church and dates with Joel.
  • For the last 11 months, I've been nursing Charlotte multiple times a day. My wardrobe has to reflect that reality. (This means I basically NEVER wear dresses any more because dresses aren't breastfeeding friendly; I also wear a tank top under my shirt every day for easy access and some tummy coverage.)
  • I'm hoping to have a couple more kids in the years to come. No capsules I've found really deal with pregnancy and/or maternity clothes, so I'll need to sort through that if I get pregnant again some day. 
So! Here are the items I'm wearing now, in this winter season. Many were also my favorites in the fall and I'm betting a few will carry over into spring, as well. I'm pretty sure I have about 25 items (not including pajamas, underwear, tank tops, or the cozy/ugly workout pants I wear on chilly mornings before showering). 

4 pairs of shoes: black boots, tall brown boots, winter boots, and Merrels 

4 pairs of pants: khaki cords, dark skinny jeans (mine are Levi's), black skinny pants with zipper legs, and navy cords (handed down from my mom; I paid $20 to have them hemmed by an excellent tailor in town!)

4 t-shirts: two from Everlane (gray & brownish purple) and two from Gap (navy and light red)

3 long button up shirts: all from Gap (white, blue/white striped, chambray)

4 miscellaneous shirts: black long sleeve shirt (Gap), red flannel shirt (from the men's section at Target), dark green tissue tee (from Target), dark blue/flowered thermal I bought while pregnant last winter (Target clearance rack). 

4 sweaters: gray chunky knit sweater from Everlane, navy button up from Gap (men's section!), chunky black cardigan from the GAP outlet clearance rack (I paid $5!!), and a light blue cardigan that I bought at TJMaxx last spring.

[Edit: as I was working on this post, I took a trip to the outlet mall. On that trip that I got the black cardigan on super sale at the GAP outlet that I mentioned above. And though I didn't need it, I impulsively bought a light purple T-shirt that I have been wearing a lot lately! Guess I better add that to my official total...]


In the near future, I'll be posting a couple of outfits I've made from these combinations. Anyone else jumping on this capsule bandwagon? As far as bandwagons go, it seems like a pretty good one :) 

Monday, January 12, 2015

What Charlotte eats, 6

We have an eater on our hands, folks! Charlotte has been trying all sorts of new foods and continues to eat some of the old classics. A few months ago she wasn't into Greek yogurt OR my beloved baked oatmeal, but recently I tried mixing them together and THAT combination is an absolute winner! She eats it for breakfast most mornings. As long as she has at least 30 minutes after nursing before I offer breakfast, she will eat a good solid meal.

She eats so many things that I can't even keep track. This month we really noticed a decrease in the amount of milk she needs. She only nurses five times a day and often for just a short time because she's getting more solids and doesn't need quite as many liquid calories. Pretty exciting times!

Lately Charlotte has had:
Sunday- turkey, mashed potatoes, leftover pizza crust, cucumbers, banana, clementine slices, leftover guacamole
Monday- raw baby carrot dipped in hummus (she loves this combo!! She gnaws on the carrot for along time and shovels the hummus into her mouth like it's going out of style!); mashed potatoes, baked oatmeal with Greek yogurt, beef with taco seasoning
Tuesday- chicken sausage bits (loved 'em!), broccoli, couscous, leftover turkey, leftover mashed potatoes, clementine
Wednesday- taco chicken (shredded), cheddar cheese, black beans, pear slices (wasn't really interested in these) 
Thursday- potato gnocci with homemade pesto, green beans, banana
Friday- pear (for a snack- this time she loved it), pizza, organic unsweetened apple sauce, clementine
Saturday- clementine, avocado, turkey pot pie with homemade biscuits, oatmeal with Greek yogurt, one french fry

Charlotte has also started doing some funny, slightly rebellious, things while sitting in her chair. Even though she can use her glass perfectly, sometimes she spills the water on purpose or throws the glass into the floor to watch our reaction. She sneakily drops things on the floor when she is done eating and sometimes intentionally puts food into the seat next to her. We don't think it's lack of interest that causes her to do this, just curiosity and maybe a bit of desire for attention. 

She is definitely getting a bit more particular about what she chooses to eat. Lately she has LOVED: oatmeal with Greek yogurt, black beans, clementines, cheese, banana, avocado, hummus, peanut butter, and bread. She hasn't really liked: chicken, turkey, asparagus, or mashed potatoes.

And though she gets better and better at getting food INTO her mouth, she still hasn't mastered the art of NOT rubbing her messy hands through her clean hair. Check out the photos below :)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Dear Charlotte. 10

You are doing the sweetest things nowadays, little one. I never want to forget how you are in this season with your fun, curious, adventurous spirit.

One of your favorite books, HUG, is a story of a little monkey who sees all the other momma and baby animals hugging but can't find his own mom to hug. He gets a ride from a friendly elephant and searches the jungle for someone to hug. You flip through the pages like a mad woman, hardly stopping to even glance at the pictures. 

But then, on the page where he meets his momma, you pay attention. 

You stop, grin, look over at me and clap your hands with glee. 

And I fall apart. 

It is unbelievably precious and I can hardly handle your darling smile and those tiny hands clapping. 

I blink back my tears and clap along and say, "Yay!! He found his momma! Hug hug hug hug hug!" 

(Of course, you usually shake your head when I hug you, but I don't take it personally.) 

Charlotte girl, you are the best. I am crazy about you. 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charlotte's first Christmas!

It's hard to believe that Charlotte is almost a year old AND that time has gone so fast since last Christmas (when I was very pregnant and very ready for her to be born!). We had a wonderful celebration of Jesus' birth as we witnessed our little girl taking in the wonder of the season.

Here are a few photos, if you'd like to see:

Before driving to Michigan, the three of us opened presents together. We gave Charlotte her four gifts & I had a few small things for Joel to unwrap. It was a precious time for our little family.

Charlotte had a blast with her extended family and some friends in Michigan. She didn't sleep very well in her travel crib at Grandma/Grandpa's house, but she enjoyed playing with her new toys and climbing their stairs.