Friday, January 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 34)

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 161)

1) Yesterday morning when I went to get Joseph he was sitting in his crib. Sitting. In his crib. We've reached a new milestone, people. Next up - pulling up to a stand on the crib...then jumping will be sortly after that I'm sure.

2)Speaking of pulling to a stand on the crib - Joseph has been pulling up on everything he can lately. Let's go through the list: Mom and dad (including mom's stomach and legs while I'm laying down)? Check. Joseph's old bouncy seat that he rarely plays with anymore? Check. The laundry basket? Check. The dishwasher? Check. The toy box? Check. 
That's the complete list of items he's been successful with. It certainly doesn't list any of the items he's been working on (of which there are many).

3) The March for Life is this Monday. Will you be there? Will and I plan on heading to Germantown in the morning then going into DC for the rally. Unfortunately, we won't be able to stay for the actual "march" because I have to teach CCD at 4:30, so I'll need to be back in time for that. And, I'm not sure how Joseph is going to do with being in the cold for such a long time.

4) I broke down and bought a Swiffer duster this week. I finally decided it was worth purchasing even if only to dust the blinds. It seems to work fairly well, but I do feel kind of bad for buying a disposable duster. Oh well. Life goes on, I suppose.

5) Joseph is doing so well with eating solids, but the past few days he's started to take a bite then immediately stick his entire hand in his mouth and just mush the food around getting food everywhere. I can't figure out why his hand has to go into his mouth the second I take the spoon out. Does he need to make sure the food is still there? Is he interested in feeling the texture of the food? Is it that he just enjoys putting his hands in his mouth? He'll tolerate my husband or I holding his hand down for most of the meal, but by the end he's fighting to get it in there by moving his face toward his hand and hitting my/my husband's hand in the process. Has anyone had this happen to them? Is there a way to discourage him from doing this? It creates quite a mess and wastes quite a bit of his food.

6) Joseph has been quite entertained by his cloth diapers this week. I guess there's an upside to me not stuffing his diapers right away. He enjoys pulling the laundry basket over then pulling out the diapers and stuffing his face into the pile. He also enjoys scooting himself into the tipped over laundry basket. It provides hours of entertainment, so I just help the process right along by putting the diapers back in every once in a while so he can begin the process all over.

7) Taking Joseph to the grocery store nowadays is so much easier. He's to the point where he's good enough at sitting that I can just sit him inthe cart instead of having to lug in his entire car seat (or wear him with the Ergo). Not only do I have more space in the cart for groceries, but he's also able to see a lot better so he doesn't get nearly as fussy/impatient.
Confession: I bought one of those "cart covers" for Joseph. I felt a little nerdy using it, but I kind of love it. I got it at Ross for really cheap, so it wasn't as much of a waste of money :) I'm particularly looking forward to being able to cover all those gross high chairs when we take him out to restaurants.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A couple stories that touched my heart

As I've been poking around the internet this week two articles really stood out to me and I would like to share them with you.

Image Detail
This first article I found through a post by Simcha Fisher over at the National Catholic Register. I was so moved by this story of Claude Newman I wanted to pass it along to you all. It tells the story of the conversion of prisoner Claude Newman through the intercession of the Virgin Mary.  Take a look - it's a truly remarkable story.
This second story isn't as uplifting, but it's equally as moving. One of my friends posted it on Facebook. When I read this story about little Amelia, I was so shocked and appalled (although, sadly, I can't say I was surprised) I felt the need to pass it along. It tells the story of a girl who is developmentally delayed who needs a liver transplant, but she is refused the transplant simply because of her developmental delays (even when the parents say they will find their own donor within the family!). Some of the things the doctor and social worker do and say make me wonder why they went into their respective fields in the first place - aren't they there to help people? Please pray for this little girl and her family that they are able to find doctors who will help them and give Amelia the care she deserves.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Baby Essentials

Mandi over at CatholicNewlywed is doing a series of posts on how to have a baby on a budget. Her most recent post in the series talked about what you really need, and she invited other bloggers to make a list of baby items they consider to be essential. As soon as I saw that I knew I wanted to do my own post about what I consider to be baby essentials.

There are very few things that you absolutely need for baby. I have created two lists. The first list includes items that I think every mom should have because they are what I would consider true essentials. The second list includes items that I think every mom should have, but only because I love them so much - not because they are essentials.

Baby items that I find necessary and use on a daily basis
burp cloths - We use our burp cloths all the time. I use them when I'm nursing to control milk spillage. We keep them handy when Joseph is playing in case he spits up or drools or whatever. And now I use them sometimes when I'm feeding him solids. The best part about burp cloths is that they're so versatile. Joseph even enjoys simply chewing on them.

swaddle blankets
- Ok, so we don't use the swaddle blankets on a daily basis anymore but we used them all the time during the first 3 or 4 months after Joseph was born. 
He slept so well when he was swaddled. I don't know what we would have done without them. 
I particularly like the swaddle blankets made by Aden + Anais. They're a little pricey, but well worth the splurge. (You can also buy this particular brand at Target for a little less.) They're really nice because they "breathe" so baby doesn't get too hot. I also love them because they're stretchy and large enough that they're easy to swaddle with.

jammies that zip or snap up - I specify that the jammies should zip or snap because then you don't have to pull the clothes over baby's head which can sometimes be a challenge. My husband particularly likes the jammies that zip up - he thinks they're much easier. And I would agree - the zip up jammies are much easier especially in the middle of the night when you're half asleep and just want to get baby back in bed. Dealing with the snaps can be a little frustrating.

onsies - When Joseph was first born we sometimes went through 3 or 4 onsies a day. But you need to take into consideration the season you're in. Joseph was born in the summer, so he wore a lot of the short sleeved onsies. Now that it's winter he wears his jammies a lot more.

a diaper bag - A good diaper bag is essential if you plan on going anywhere with your baby. I recommend one with lots of pockets so you can organize all your baby paraphernalia.

Baby items that I find useful and use frequently
baby carrier(s) (moby wrap, baby bjorn, ergo, etc.) - I actually have 3 baby carriers (the three I listed as examples). I got my Moby from a friend who couldn't figure out how to use it. I bought the Bjorn at a baby sale for $20. And I got the Ergo as a baby gift. So, all in all I spent $20 for three baby carriers (not too shabby!). Perhaps I went a little overboard, but I have used all three.
Joseph in his Moby
I used the Moby when Joseph was first born. I really liked it because of the way it snuggled him right next to my skin and wrapped around his body like a blanket.
Once he got a little bigger I used the Bjorn. I only used the Bjorn because I didn't have the infant insert for the Ergo and you aren't supposed to use the Ergo (without the infant insert) until baby reaches 14 lbs (I could be wrong about the weight, but it's close). Now I use my Ergo any time I want to carry Joseph around.
Chillin' in the Ergo
I think baby carriers are really helpful when your baby wants you to be holding them, but you need to get stuff done. I frequently do chores around the house with Joseph chillin' in the Ergo. He enjoys going around the house with me and seeing everything I'm doing. I also occasionally use it at mass. Joseph always wants to be held during mass and he can get heavy, so it's nice to have the Ergo to put him in.
I also use it when I go for walks or am out running errands. There are so many uses for a baby carrier. I would highly recommend getting one if you're about to have a baby - especially if you plan on staying home (as you will have even more opportunities to use it).

reusable travel wipes case - You can, of course, just buy the travel size wipes over an over again, but that can get expensive. I bought travel size wipes that came in a plastic case and now I just refill it with wipes whenever it's running low.

quiet toys for going out to quiet places (i.e. mass) - One of my favorite rattles to take to mass is this pair of elephants that Joseph loves to chew on.
I like it because the rattle is a low pitch, so it can't be heard as well from far away and it takes a little more effort to get it to rattle. Joseph also likes his Dino blankie (half stuffed animal, half blanket) and enjoys books. All of these I would recommend to someone looking for quiet toys.
Note: I searched high and low to find the elephant rattle online so I could give you a link to it, but I couldn't find it anywhere. This picture will have to do. 

nursing cover (if you plan on nursing) - I love my nursing cover. It allows me to nurse Joseph wherever I am while remaining modest. It also means I can basically go wherever I need to go and not have to work it around Joseph's eating habits (this was much more of an issue early on when he nursed more frequently).

breast pump + bottles - Being able to pump milk and have your child accept a bottle is so important if you ever want to be able to go out for a few hours without your baby. Yes, you can hand express milk. But I find the pump really helpful and, now that Joseph is eating solids, I use it even more often (because you have to mix your breast milk with the rice cereal/oatmeal). It has also allowed Will and I to go out for a couple date nights and for me to teach CCD while leaving Joseph with a babysitter for a couple hours.
One note about bottles: be open minded about what bottle your baby takes. S/he may not like the bottle that is recommended by your friend/pediatrician/lactation consultant. And s/he may not do well with the wide nipple even though that is the nipple that is recommended for breast feeding babies. We started Joseph on one bottle and he took it ok the first couple times we gave it to him, but then we realized he was having a really hard time getting the milk out, so I tried giving him the bottles that came with the breast pump and he liked them much better.

Friday, January 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 33)

7 quick takes sm1 7Quick Takes Friday (vol. 159)

1) Apparently my husband and I are the only people on this planet without a Netflix account. I keep seeing friends who recommend movies and several of them have said something like "and it's on netflix, so no one has an excuse not to watch this." Umm, well. I guess I do have an excuse because I don't have Netflix. Is it really worth the monthly fee? We don't really watch movies all that much.

2) How do you keep all the piles of papers and things in your house at bay? I constantly feel like I'm clearing things out and I never seem to get all the way through stuff before there's another pile (or two or three) to deal with.

3) Inquiring minds want to know: do you iron all your/your husband's dress shirts? I have this habit of letting the ironing sit for long periods of time. I just really don't enjoy ironing. I feel like I put all this work in then that work is completely dismantled within a day. It's so frustrating to me. Luckily, my husband usually wears polo shirts and when he does wear a dress shirt it's one of the "wrinkle free" shirts so I don't have to worry about it too much. Except for one of his dress shirts that he loves that definitely isn't wrinkle free. Am I an awful wife for letting him wear the shirt even when it hasn't been ironed? Because I do....most of the time. *sigh*

4) Joseph turned 6 months old this week! I can't believe how much he has changed and grown in just 6 months. Here are a few pictures I took to mark the occasion.

5) I took Joseph to get professional pictures taken this week. This was the first time I had professional pictures taken of him (other than when we had family pictures taken over Christmas). I didn't go crazy or anything - we just went to the Se.ars Portrait Studio because I had a coupon for a free sitting fee + 40% off my entire purchase. The photographer got some really good shots. The only problem is now I have to choose which pictures I want, and you can only get one pose per sheet. So, it gets pretty pricey pretty fast.

6) Even though Joseph isn't crawling yet he sure can get around the living room. Every. single. time. I put him down with the pillow behind him (because he still falls back every once in a while) he gets away. I'm not exactly sure how - he isn't really scooching anymore and he definitely isn't crawling. But somehow he manages to get away from the pillow and to whatever toy or object he finds appealing. And he does it pretty fast. I turn my back for 1 minute and he's already moved. I've basically given up expecting that he'll actually stay with the pillow anywhere near him.

7) Want to keep your (non-walking) baby entertained? Put them in a laundry basket with a small toy. You may not even need the small toy at first. The basket itself will be entertainment enough. But after about 5 minutes or so you'll have to throw in a toy to keep baby occupied :)
Joseph loves being in the laundry basket so whenever I need 10 minutes to myself or a few minutes to accomplish something that's where I stick him. I do have to keep a pretty close eye on him though because sometimes he tries to stand up using the side and ends up tipping the basket over (and you can imagine what happens to him).

Monday, January 9, 2012

There's Nothing Cuter Than a Couple of Babies

I love pictures of babies interacting with one another. Multiple babies in one picture often makes for some serious cuteness. Here are a few pictures to demonstrate my point.

These first few are of Joseph interacting with his cousins over Christmas.
Joseph and cousin Adam
Ok, so maybe this particular picture isn't of two babies, but a baby and a toddler is also cute. Adam was so good about sharing with Joseph :)

Joseph isn't quite sure what to make of Clare taking his football.... he tries to take it back.
Clare crawled circles around Joseph while he sat watching her. He desperately wanted to be able to follow her, but like I said before (see #2) he isn't too interested in crawling. He'd much rather figure out the whole walking thing (well, standing then walking).

This next series of pictures was taken at our last mom's group.

Sera sees that Joseph is having fun banging on the piano... she decides she's going to join in. Joseph isn't exactly sure what to make of this.
Yes. That's better. You stand and just watch me play on the piano.
But, Sera really wants to join in on the fun...
...and so she does.
Eventually they work out this agreement.
Yay! We can both play together!

Friday, January 6, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 32)

7 quick takes sm1 7Quick Takes Friday (vol. 159)

1) I'm so glad sleep training is going well. It has really made my evenings a lot more relaxing and my nights more restful. And I feel like Joseph likes that we have a much more set routine now. Everyone in the house is getting more sleep, and I think that's a good thing.

2) Joseph reeeeeally wants to stand up on his own. He's trying every chance he gets. He tries to use the enormous pillow in the living room. He tries to use the bouncy. And he most certainly tries to use mom and dad (and with help he's got the whole standing up from a sitting position down pat). The boy no longer seems interested in crawling. I'm pretty sure he thinks crawling is for wussies who like being on their tummies. If we try to put him in a crawling position he immediately sits (he figured out how to go from a crawling position to sitting this past Sunday). Oh well, I guess I should stop pushing the whole crawling thing.

3) This first week of no sweets has been a little rough, but I've made it. I'm hoping things will get better as time passes. I would be lying if I said I hadn't thought about quitting as soon as I get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. Or at least altering my resolution at that point. What a feat it will be if I actually make it the whole year.

4) Joseph loves his Fisher Price nativity set. It's been awesome because he has played with it every single day since we've been home from Tennessee. He was starting to lose interest in some of his other toys, so this has been great. He'll play with it for several hours throughout the course of the day. He especially likes pushing baby Jesus so he'll play a song. Joseph also enjoys knocking down any scenes that I set up for him :)

5) Joseph and I start swim class this morning. I can't wait. The class is called "Aqua Mommy," which I think is just awesome. I'm taking it with a couple friends which should make it that much more fun. The class is basically an exercise class for moms using their babies as weights. Let's just hope Joseph likes the water more than he did last time.

6) I'm obsessed with Joseph's winter hat. I think it's the cutest thing ever. Every time I put it on him I think "oh my gosh, that's SOO cute. I have to get a picture." And so, I have the beginnings of a collection of pictures with Joseph in his adorable hat.

7) Happy Epiphany everyone! I hope you have all had a joyous Christmas season. We had a lovely Christmas. I guess this means that I need to take down our Christmas decorations. Maybe Joseph could help with that...
...oh, I forgot. He would prefer to just chew on them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Wonder of Sleep Training

Ever since Joseph was born getting him to sleep at regular intervals has been a problem - as it is with most babies. For the first few months my husband and I knew we would basically be adapting to Joseph's schedule (or lack thereof) and we were cool with that. But when those first few months passed and he was still having trouble sleeping in intervals longer than two hours and when we realized we weren't going to be able to swaddle him anymore because he would bust out of the swaddle and it would create what looked like a noose around his neck, we knew it was time for some sleep training.

Well, my husband knew it was time. I, on the other hand, just wasn't ready. I couldn't stand the thought of hearing my sweet baby cry, and our pediatrician recommended waiting until he was 6 months old to let him "cry it out" anyway (I clung to that recommendation as proof that we should wait). We soon learned that Joseph slept well in his car seat, so we let him sleep there. For the first few weeks of November he consistently slept 8-10 hours a night (and spoiled me in the process). Then around Thanksgiving he started waking up after 4-6 hours and only slept in 4-6 hour intervals. Then we just went downhill from there. The magic of the car seat had worn off and it was wearing me out. Where had those 8-10 hours nights gone? Why were we back to him only sleeping in 2 hour chunks? And why (oh why!?!?) was it taking me longer and longer to get him to even go down at all - especially in the middle of the night.

By mid-December I was done. I was so frustrated with the whole (non)sleep situation. I started reading and was ready to let him "cry it out." We decided to wait until after Christmas to let him "cry it out" since his whole routine would be changing when we left town for a week and consistency is key when it comes to sleep training. I'm glad we waiting until after Christmas as I got Richard Ferber's book "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" for Christmas. I was able to read the first four chapters by the time we started our sleep training. Luckily, those four chapters had the majority of what I needed to know contained in them. The other chapters address specific sleep problems.

So, on the night of December 30 we implemented Ferber's "progressive waiting approach". I braced myself for hours and hours of crying. I just knew Joseph was going to cry and cry and I didn't think I would be able to handle it, so I made plans to leave the house for a little while the first night.
I was only gone for about half and hour and when I returned Joseph was already asleep. He fell asleep with only 20 minutes of crying! I couldn't believe it.

Joseph now sleeps fairly well from 7:30pm until 8:00am with one feeding some time between 2 and 4ish. He also takes 3 short naps each day. I think getting him on a regular schedule has been really helpful and helping him learn to put himself back to sleep has been key. With any future babies I won't wait until 6 months passes. As soon as baby shows us he/she can sleep through the night we'll begin training. And there will be no falling asleep at the breast (at least after the first couple months).
Joseph fell asleep in the middle of playing. Dr. Ferber
said to just let them fall asleep wherever they are if it isn't
bedtime or that's what I did.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Are You In?

Happy New Year!! I've decided that I am going to give up sweets for the year 2012. Am I crazy? Maybe. But I've been thinking about it for a while now and I've decided the time is right. It will be good for me both physically and spiritually.
Physically, I'm pretty sure I'll lose some serious poundage. Goal-wise I don't have a particular weight I'm aiming for, but I would like to be able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes comfortably. I do plan on keeping track of my weight, but don't want to put too much emphasis on it.
Spiritually, I'm sure I'm going to have to lean on God to make it through the entire year, and hopefully I will get a better grasp on eating in moderation (I am the worst at this when sugar is involved). I am thinking of this as a sort of year-long Lent. I hope to find ways to offer up my desires/urges for sugar.

Beyond the physical and spiritual aspects of giving up sweets I also think it will be good for me to model good eating habits for Joseph. The first year of eating solids is so important for the development of lifelong eating habits and I want Joseph to have the best foundation possible.

Here's my game plan for the year.
I won't eat sweets except on pre-selected days throughout the year. These days include:
Joseph's birthday day/birthday party
My sister's wedding
My birthday

Items officially not included in the "sweets" category
plain pancakes

Items officially included in the "sweets" category
chocolate chip pancakes

I only make the above distinctions to hold myself accountable. All of those items (in my mind) can be debated as to whether they're officially "sweets."

So there you have it. My new years resolution is set. And now I actually have to follow through with it because it has been declared to the entire blogosphere. I'd love if you'd join me. I am so grateful to already have three people joining me (thanks to my sisters Julia, Jeannette and Alyse!) - it will be helpful for keeping me on track.

If you're not up for this particular challenge, do you have some other new years resolution you're making?