Saturday, March 19, 2016

Asher: six months old

Growth/ development: Asher's six month checkup is later this week, so we will know his exact weight and height then. He wears size three diapers, size four at night. Most of his clothing is 12 month, but he can wear some 9 month onesies. All PJs are 12+ months- this guy is very long! 

Asher is very close to sitting up on his own for longer periods of time. He is an expert at rolling to his tummy, but very rarely rolls to his back. He can make himself scoot backward when he is on his tummy, which is new and exciting this week. His arms and core are really strong... He can do push ups and scoot around to reach whatever he wants to grab. 

Sleep/ schedule: Asher sleeps about twelve hours at night, lately waking up once to nurse (usually between 3 and 4am). He takes three naps each day; the timing is similar to last month. Usually the first nap is the best, and it can last about one and a half or two hours. If I'm very lucky, his mid-day nap coincides with Charlotte's and I have some time to get things done. If not, Asher and I play and snuggle and nurse and play while Charlotte sleeps, and I put him down for his last nap shortly after she gets up.

(Edit: since first typing this post, Asher has a new pattern of waking up multiple times each night!! Ugh! I am very, very tired. Though I know letting him cry some would be good for him- and the rest of us- long term, I've been taking the lazy approach and nursing him back to sleep every time. Doh!)

Asher likes: being outside, swinging, looking at himself in the mirror, being with Charlotte, falling asleep while nursing, engaging/ "talking" to people, playing on his tummy, sleeping on his tummy, kicking his legs, working on sitting up, riding in the stroller, and grabbing for toys, balls, etc.

Asher doesn't like: playing alone, being out of sight of his momma/ Charlotte, drinking milk from a bottle (though he would be happy to chew on and play with a bottle all day long).

Big things this month: Asher had a lot of company this month! His Grandmommy Nelson came at the beginning of March, and his Alberts grandparents and Uncle Nate came to visit at the end of March. 

He also tried real food!! Baby led weaning is supposed to start at six months, but we cheated-- dinner time was becoming so stressful because Asher wanted to be eating food that I just broke down and let him try some! :) 

Chats with Charlotte 4

"How 'bout...." (As in, "how 'bout gummy bears," or, "how 'bout that one...")

"Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom! Go outside, Mom!"

"Asher loves watch Daniel Tiger."

"Dad loves macaroni cheese." 

"Dad loves eat gummy bears."

"Asher loves go outside."

"Okay, Dad? Dad, get hurt."

"Momma, okay? Okay, Mom?"

"Goodnight. Mom, Dad, Asher, Charlotte. All take a rest together."

"Mom, Mom! Play wild games on Charlotte's big girl bed!"

"Maybe..." (As in, "maybe that book," or, "maybe this way...")

"Go jump in puddles!!"

"Bear, pick you up, just a minute. Okay, Bear? Okay."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Stitch Fix: March 2016 (my last fix for a while)

I got the best note from a stylist in this Fix!! Angelique, who I have never had as a stylist before, wrote specifically about my Pinterest board and expressed enthusiasm about my desire to work toward a capsule wardrobe. She sent items that were very similar to things I pinned, including an awesome red pair of TOMS, which I love, but don't plan to keep.

Here are some photos of the pieces in my Fix, with a bit of feedback. Below, I'll explain why this is going to be my last Fix for a while. 

TOMS run big and stretch because they are canvas. I typically wear an 8.5 in shoes, but wear a 7.5 in TOMS. This red pair is an 8.5, based on the shoe size I gave in my Stitch Fix profile, and are much too big. I also can't really justify buying red shoes, because they don't go with enough of my clothing. But, gosh they're cute. (Note- I haven't tried it, but apparently Stitch Fix will sometimes exchange for a different size of an item, if they have it. Nice feature of a company, though I don't have the experience myself.)

I was disappointed in the pants shown below because I'd seen great things written about the brand. However, they felt kind of cheap and were too stretchy, plus they were a 6 long. Ugh-- my profile says I consider my legs to be short, and prefer 'ankle' length pants. It's very annoying to me that I got a long length of pants in this fix. I tried to sell them on a facebook group I'm in, but nobody was interested. Bummer. 

I thought this plaid shirt was super cute, and it was different enough from some of my other shirts for me to consider keeping it. My only complaint is that it wasn't quite long enough and cut off my torso in an awkward spot. Disappointing. 

This super cute striped shirt is almost exactly like the navy blue shirt I kept in my last fix. I tried to take a photo of the tie back, but it ended a bit awkwardly , as you can see below :) I LOVE the black and white stripes, and the length and fit were really good for me. But the material is very thin and clings to my belly too much for my liking. 

Now, this chambray shirt was unique. I love a good chambray, and the varying shades on this one were kind of intriguing. The back was different, too, kind of cut open at the bottom (hard to explain), and I tried to take a picture but was unsuccessful. But, I'm a completely die-hard fan of the chambray shirt I currently own and am not ready to even consider sharing my love with another. So it's going back as well. 

Stitch Fix and I have had a good run, but I'm going to stop scheduling fixes for now.

Here's why: first, I no longer have any credit from referring friends to the company. Second, because I'm seeking to build "capsule wardrobes" each season, and ultimately to have a limited number of clothing items in my possession, I'm usually on the hunt for very specific items. Stitch Fix is amazing for experimenting and trying to step outside my fashion box, but I'm not at a point in my life where I really want to experiment. I would rather spend my money on high quality basics and a few hand picked accessories. I already have a spring wardrobe wish list going, and none of the items I've been getting from Stitch Fix are on that list. 

I've said it before: Stitch Fix is a great company and the idea behind style Fixes is a good one. But I'm taking a break, happily and with no regrets. :)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

I wish someone had told me: Raising a baby abroad

Kelly and I were good friends in college, though in two different friend groups, as college social networks go. And then after college, we mostly lost touch. It took getting pregnant and having babies to reconnect, and it's been really encouraging to follow her life through this blog. And as she is a few steps ahead of me (toddler and a newborn, hurray!), it's nice to see what's coming as well :) So it's an honor to be able to write here and share some of what I have learned since having my sweet girl. 

I wish someone had told me that no one can tell you everything. Actually, I think my mother did say something like that...but I suppose in pride I ignored her comment. Maybe I was naive when I was pregnant, reading up on all the various methods out there on every subject to do with babies, though I suppose we're all naive at that point. Either way, the first year of my daughter Aylin's life was full of "Why can't someone just tell me WHICH method to use!?" and many tears of confusion. 

I should explain my context for my pregnancy, birth, and now life with Aylin. My husband and I live in the Middle East, in Amman, Jordan. My husband is working with an agricultural venture called Aquaponics, but more than that, we're here because we felt that God wanted us to give our lives to loving those different from us, and proclaiming who Jesus Christ is to those who have never heard. So even though life here is very different from our home culture in America, we did chose to be here and we are always trying to expand our worldview, learn from those around us. And there is much to learn from Arabs, though currently they are not the most popular in the world. God is growing our love. 

So being in Jordan has added, perhaps, an extra layer to the complexities of starting a family. We know that no matter how hard we try to fit in, we will never be Arabs. We will always lean towards viewing our American ways of doing things more correct, even if not more Biblical. We often find ourselves caught between two cultural ways of doing things, without being certain if either one is helpful or a method that has good results. It's a bit of a juggling game, and very humbling. 

I'm a pretty confident personality, prone to pride as one of my biggest sins, and love to research, apply what I've learned, and spread the news to everyone. A bit annoying, I know. So I think the first year of Aylin's life (she is 16 months now) I was hoping one method of sleep, routine, nursing, SOMETHING would be one I could proudly say "THIS works, hands down, and this is the way it should be done." 

As you can guess, I needed to learn that no baby fits into any one method or theory. Aylin is unique, and so are we as her parents and as a couple, and our cross-cultural context is unique. There is no sleep training blog for mothers who are American, raised in Turkey (did I mention that?), but living in a Muslim, Arab world. I needed to learn a deep dependence on the Lord for wisdom and strength, not just the answers I find on Pinterest. And I haven’t arrived; I'll struggle with wanting to pin down (hehe) one right way for my whole life. 

Perhaps one of my most important realizations, through my husband's help, has been that we need to protect and guide Aylin in whatever country or culture we find ourselves in, not just protect our "methods." A few examples: Here, anyone and EVERYONE feels free to take your baby from you, pass her around, kiss her. That can be in church, a restaurant (the waiters), the grocery store, police get the picture. And because she is fair skinned, blue eyed, and a mini extrovert who waves at everyone, she easily gets this attention. And most of the time we don't mind, but there are times we have to be slightly rude and say "that's enough, she needs to come back to us" or "no, you can't take her picture anymore." In Jordan there are very set ways of raising children, rarely questioned, but we've had to put our foot down at times. There are many old wives tales that everyone happily informs us about as truth, that we've had to say "sorry, that's actually not true, and we know what our own daughter needs." One being, how we dress her. You never see young babies here because whenever they are outside they are completely covered in heavy fleece blankets. No face at all. They believe that a baby gets a cold from any exposure to cold. And people were always trying to cover her whole face, or give us their own blankets to smother her with, which we had to resist. Or urge me to start feeding her "real" food too early even though I was breastfeeding, which I also had to refuse. 

In thinking through our methods, we've also had to learn to hold them loosely, allow them to change as circumstances change. We attempt to feed Aylin healthy food at home, because outside of the house, locals are constantly handing her chocolate bars, gum, candy. Some we refuse, stuff in my purse, but other times we let her indulge so as not to be rude. We try to keep Aylin's bedtime and nap time somewhat routine, but there is no such thing here (ha!)...babies and toddlers seem to just collapse wherever they are, and it's completely normal to see tiny children out at 10 or 11 at night. And so at times we awkwardly say we can't go to events due to Aylin needing sleep, but other times, we ask her to be a bit more tired than any of us would like. 

I think we're slowing learning a sort of balance with all of these challenges. I'm so thankful that we don't walk this road alone, and that we're continually being stretched. We're learning to laugh at stressful situations and live out the old adage: "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape." 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Asher: five months old

Growth/ development: Asher has about five chins these days ;) His face is so chubby and kissable, and we can't get enough! We don't know his official height or weight, but he is wearing 9 month PJs and mostly 6-12 month/9 month clothing. (According to our scale at home, he weighs about 17.5 pounds. Not sure if that is at all accurate.)

This has been a big month for development. Asher can roll from back to belly, and sometimes from belly to back (though he usually only does this in his crib, so we don't get to witness it). When he is playing on the floor, he almost immediately gets himself to his tummy, then reaches and scoots and kicks his feet happily as he turns himself in all directions. It's adorable!  Asher can also sit up on his own for very short periods of time. He continues to "talk" and has begun screeching/screaming loudly, just to entertain himself. 

Sleep/schedule: about halfway through this month, we had an awesome rhythm going. Asher was taking three good, consistent naps. His night sleep was fine, too, with a couple of nights just waking to nurse once at 3am. But since last weekend he has been totally off... He has a cold, and seems to be teething (?!), and is generally not sleeping well. One night he was awake from 3am-5am, and the next night he woke up every 1.5-3 hours and screamed until I nursed him. Ugh! 

His daily routine is to wake up between 6:45 and 7:30. He can only stay awake happily for 1.5 hours in the morning, so his first nap begins between 8:30 and 9, usually. Then he is awake from 10:30/11 until about 12:30 or 1pm. His last nap of the day usually starts around 3:30pm, and he goes to bed by 7pm at the latest. 

Asher likes: watching Charlotte, being near Charlotte, , watching the iPad with Charlotte, hugs and kisses, nursing, playing on his belly, being in the stroller outside (as long as it is moving!!), talking loudly to himself, stretching, bath time, kicking his legs, talking to his grandparents on FaceTime, and snuggling.

Asher doesn't like: bottles, riding in the car seat at night, being alone for too long.

Big things this month: first trip to Rhode Island to visit the Nelson relatives (and first time seeing snow!)! First time in a swing outside!

Asher Patrick, we cannot imagine our family without you. We could (happily) imagine being a bit better rested and sleeping longer stretches at night. But we wouldn't trade you for a million hours of sleep. We love you! Hugs and kisses, Momma, Dad, and Charlotte.