Friday, February 20, 2015

A Letter to My One Year Old

My baby girl,

You are 1. YOU ARE ONE! What a year it has been. Do you know what song was playing when you came into the world? I brought my Matt Maher cd to the hospital, and Daddy gave it to the nurse at one point when labor was getting particularly rough. She put it on and it was on track 10 "Christ Is Risen" when you came into this world. The lyrics were not lost on me. Well, they were at the time, but not when I was reflecting on everything later. Here's one part of the song:

"Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave

Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with him again
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
The glory of God has defeated the night!

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Our God is not dead, he's alive! he's alive!"

You were born into this world completely quiet and still. You had an apgar of 1 initially and gave us quite a scare. I remember laying there as the nurses were suctioning you and giving you oxygen, trying to get you to respond, thinking "God, please don't take this baby away from me after all the work we put into getting her here" and calling out to you "Baby, mommy wants to hear you cry!" over and over, trying to keep it together. The doula was rubbing my shoulder, looking really concerned, and Daddy was standing towards the foot of the bed (since he helped deliver you) looking petrified and staring at the nurses and the doctor who had rushed in. But a few minutes later, you let out a cry and didn't stop for an hour! It was the sweetest sound! And you have been vivacious and full of life since that first cry. You "came awake" and a fire was lit within you that is still blazing! 

Felicity, you are confident, determined, and go after what you want until you get it. You are alert and have been since you were just a few weeks old. You don't miss much! You are the best kind of challenge :). I have to work hard to keep up with you, both physically and mentally, because you love to be on the go! It may be infuriating some days (right now as I type this, you are insistent on pressing computer keys!), but it will serve you well in life. You live life so beautifully, doing everything with your all. What lessons most of us could learn from watching you play or attempt a new skill!

You are also a very sensitive and deeply feeling baby. As painful as this can be sometimes, I hope it's a trait you never lose. Things that other babies don't blink at are heart breaking for you. It causes you to "check in" with Mommy often. You crawl into my lap for a quick snuggle and then you're back to whatever you were doing. The combination of your determination and your sensitivity is going to be a lot for you to shoulder, but will turn you into the most amazing person as you grow. I hope one day your sensitivity turns into compassion for others, and I have no doubt that it will. 

You give the SWEETEST kisses. All I have to say is "can I have a kissy?" and you pelt my face with open mouth kisses over and over and over. I will be so sad the day you grow out of that. When you're trying to avoid going to sleep, you tilt your chin up at me for a kiss and do it about 10 times before finally realizing it won't get you out of bedtime :). You reach your arms up for me to hold you or pick you up, which is so heart melting. When you first wake up, I get calm, quiet snuggles that I know I likely won't get the rest of the day when you're wiggling and crawling around. When I nurse you to sleep, you usually kick, turn, or try to play with my bellybutton (so awkward!) as you wind down, but then you cuddle against me, tummy to tummy, for the best snuggles and your eyes drift closed. It's still one of my favorite parts of the day. 

I haven't taken to motherhood as easily or as gracefully as I would have wished. Sometimes I think "maybe I'm better with school aged kids?". I think about how easy life was before you. But you know the thought that prevails? How amazing my life is now that you're in it, and how much love I have for you. I've never known this kind of love before and it is joyfully overwhelming. Some days after I've already spent hours upon hours with you, no doubt many of them with you clinging to my legs refusing to entertain yourself for even 10 minutes, you do something cute and my heart melts to mush as I fawn over the sweet little person that you are. Sometimes in the grocery store, you keep clapping or 'dancing' as we shop and I have to stop right there in the aisle and kiss your little rosy cheeks and your sweet little lips. Daddy can take you out for a few hours to give Mommy some "me time", and 30 minutes in I'm anxiously waiting for him to bring my baby girl back. My life will never be the same, nor would I ever want it to be. You're the person who has taught me to become a mother. You will continue to teach me how to be patient, how to put others before myself, and you will show me the things about myself that I want to improve upon. You teach me, day after day, to die to self and live for another. I'm a different person, a better person, because of you. 

I can't wait to see what you'll do in your second year, and who you'll become. I'll know you'll be even more busy this year as you continue to learn new skills, but don't count on me kissing you or hugging you any less :). 

Love, Mommy

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Felicity Marian: ONE YEAR OLD!

My last monthly post! Ah!!! My baby girl is quickly turning into my big girl. She's done a lot this first year, and this last month was certainly no exception.

Weight: We go on Monday but I'm thinking she's hovering between the 21-22 lb mark!

Height: I need to check but she's asleep!

Medical issues: Thank God, she's been healthy this last month. Felicity had so many germs this winter, so it's been a real treat to have a healthy girl for an entire month!

Sleep: A *lot* has changed here! We noticed that Felicity was showing signs of needing her own sleep space (mainly waking up when we came to bed and when Steven gets up in the morning), so we very timidly decided to try to move her to her room. We've tried before and she wasn't ready, so we weren't sure what was going to happen. I turned the crib into a toddler bed because Felicity doesn't do well with being lowered down, since she's never slept in a crib and only rarely in a pack n play. I was planning on using a bed rail, but didn't realize til after I changed it to a toddler bed that only an Ikea bed rail works on that particular crib, but wouldn't work on ours because we used a taller non-Ikea mattress. Sooo... we employed some pillows on the floor. ANYWAY, long story short, she's been in the toddler bed for 2 weeks and it's gone really well! She's sleeping for longer periods of time (all the way up to 10 hours at a time! Usually closer to 5, but that's still technically sleeping through the night), and we still get our cuddles because we bring her in any time after 3 that she wakes up, at least for now. She used to go to sleep nursing, but now I nurse her and then one of us just stays with her until she goes to sleep, which is generally in 10-20 minutes. The whole process has been so smooth! I'm really glad we followed her lead on sleep this whole time because I really think we're seeing the fruits of our labor now. Oh, we also bought a sound machine that can stay on all night, vs her sleep sheep that runs for 45 minutes, and that has been golden.

Clothes/Diaper size: same as last month- size 4 diapers, 2nd rise on cloth diapers, and 12 month clothing. She did wear one 18mo sweater that fit much better than I'd like to admit....

Likes: playing chase, anything musical, cell phones/tablets/laptops much to my dismay, pacis, FOOD, Cat the Cat and Kitty Catkin books (and having them read over and over!), playing with and shredding toilet paper, putting toys in the recycle bin

Dislikes: the vacuum, mommy sitting on the couch, daddy holding you at church (I wear her in the ergo during Mass now which makes life SO much easier now that she's super mobile),

Nicknames: Stinka, Minky, Baby Daughter, Puddin Pop

Milestones: It only took her 11 months, but Felicity is finally holding her own bottle :)... just in time for us to transition her to a sippy/straw cup full time lol. It's so convenient and helpful, but I also miss feeding her her bottle because now she wants to be down and walking around while she drinks it instead of in my lap :(.

Felicity is walking 100% of the time, and has been for a few weeks. Upright mobility is good and bad. The perk is that she doesn't eat nearly as much stuff off the floor/ground but the downside is that her little head is constantly bruised from where she walks into things or falls over.

1/28 she began signing both 'nursies' and 'baba' (bottle) all the time, although she later dropped nursies (baba means both; yes, it's confusing`), and now baba has even more meanings! Over the last week and a half she's begun signing 'all done' .

2/5 she began sleeping in the toddler bed in her room and on 2/7 she slept 7:30pm-5:15am! I woke up at 4:15 when Steven's alarm went off and couldn't go back to sleep because I was so keyed up about her not waking up, so I was still tired that day lol. Oh, the irony!

2/11 Well, I'm not sure if this counts as milestone but it certainly doesn't belong in the next section. She started biting! I know it's because of her new teeth and incoming teeth, but we are now working hard on "we don't bite people". I will fight the "we don't bite furniture" some other time and just redirect, redirect, redirect!

I don't want to forget this:

My brother, sister in law, niece, and nephew visited and it was SO much fun to have them here. We definitely need to do it more often.

I started keeping a church nursery one morning a month. Felicity goes with me, of course, and I was kind of nervous about how it would go since she can be pretty clingy PLUS she was missing nap. Well, she impressed me so much! She only got upset if another baby got upset and, otherwise, walked around the room and played for the whole 2.5 hrs we were there!

This doesn't just apply to this month, but I've forgotten to write about it until now. You almost always have your legs crossed at the ankle and it is SO DARN CUTE! My favorite is when you're sitting on the floor 'reading' your books with your ankles crossed but you also do it in the high chair, car seat, stroller... ahhh such a sweet baby girl!

When she gets something she shouldn't have (only 72 times an hour), I say 'bring it to mama' and
she walks away with her arms up over her head, item in hand, almost in a victory walk fashion before she finally brings me the item.

She constantly goes through the diaper bag (my fault for always leaving it open!) and now knows what the snack containers look like, so she si always bringing them to open- even if she has a full belly! I have to hide the containers when we go to church or she will spend the entire hour eating graham crackers.

We went to Aloha Safari Zoo on a rare Saturday off for Steven and had so much fun. Felicity didn't notice a lot of the animals but absolutely loved the miniature horses... so much so that she stuck her entire hand in the nostril of one On the safari, all she wanted to do was eat the expired bread meant for the animals lol. She also enjoyed the giraffe and small farm animals. It was such a perfect day!

One of her favorite games this month is playing ball. I roll it to her, and then she flings it to one side, and I make a pitter patter sound with my hands on the floor as she goes after it. She gets hysterical and loves it so much that it never gets old; I just eventually tire out and call it quits! It's hands down my favorite game to play with her.

On 2/18 we enjoyed Felicity's first snow. It didn't amount to much, but fell quickly in big, fluffy snowflakes. I bundled her and took her out to play. Felicity LOVED it. She ran around with her arms stretched out above her, trying to feel and catch snow flakes. She got filthy in the 10 minutes outside, but it was worth it :).

Friday, February 13, 2015

Easter Baskets for Babies (That Won't Break the Bank!)

I think of things way ahead of time. It's probably one of my husband's top annoyances about me, much as he loves me. He would rather approach a situation when we get to it, and I'd rather stew on it for months and think of all the possible approaches, options, and outcomes. You'd think by now we would have found a perfectly common sense middle ground, but no! I basically do my thing and drag him along with me. So that brings me to Easter baskets! I decided to post this before Lent because it felt wrong posting it during Lent. But what help would it be if I posted it after Easter day/in the Easter season? So here it is :).

I've been thinking since Christmas ended *cough* about what to put in Felicity's Easter basket, especially because we have buckled down on our budget more than ever. There is basically no 'spot' in our budget for extras like an Easter basket, so we have to get creative and fit it in there somewhere, or take it from my babysitting money (which is allocated for savings and/or surprise bills). In case anyone else is in a similar boat, I thought I'd share what I've brainstormed so far, and I would love to hear what things you may be getting or have done in the past because I'm sure there's a lot I haven't thought of! I have a few things that are on the pricier (for me!) end that I think are really worth having, but most of it is a few dollars or less.

One of my criteria is to have a mix of both religious and 'mainstream'. I like to have SOMEthing religious since, after all, we are an Easter people :). But some nonreligious treats are ok, too. You could find plenty of blogs with awesome, pricey items like chewbead rosaries (which we do have the decade of and love!) but one of those would be my entire budget, so that's not what you'll find here. My main criteria is that the items be cheap but not junk. As much as I love the Dollar Tree, I do not want a house full of low quality Dollar Tree toys. A few? Sure. But I generally avoid cheap plastic where I can. Without further ado:

  • Squeezie pouches. Felicity likes these as snacks/treats. She probably eats one a week or one every other week, but does have some favorites, so I thought I'd get one or two even if I can't find them on sale. Gasp! I generally have a rule that I buy organic and don't pay more than a dollar (which requires creativity), but if I'm only buying 1-2, I am ok paying $1.30-1.50 for her favorite flavors for her basket which, if you must know, are the Earth's Best smoothie ones :).
  • Some kind of new snack. If you can't tell, these items are replacing candy that she'd get when she's older. I will probably put something like a cereal bar because it's super cheap, a treat, and isn't a $4 box of snacks from the baby aisle that will run up the price of the basket! Plus, there will be 5 cereal bars left for Steven to take to work for a snack so it's a win-win.
  • Toothbrush! Now, an older kid would probably be like WUT? But Felicity has fun with her toothbrush for now, and I figure I have a few years of buying a cutesy one that will excite her before she catches on and realizes I put something practical in her basket, haha! 
  • Dollar Tree stickers. I know what I said about the Dollar Tree, but they usually have great religious stickers that would be a perfect cheap item for an Easter basket! Felicity is a bit young for stickers, but I like to involve her in crafts and stickers don't make a mess, so the worst that can happen is she will eat them :). I think I will get them for her as a sensory type experience, and we can practice putting them on paper. 
  • Dollar Tree Easter decor. Since Easter starts for us on Easter, we will decorate either late Holy Saturday or actually on Easter. So my goal is to find something baby friendly that I can buy so that Felicity can help us decorate. The bonus of this item is that 1) it's for the house but can double as an item in her basket and 2) we'll have it for years to come! 
There's no actual "toy" in the above list, but Felicity has a lot of toys, so I'm ok with that! The above items could be purchased for under $10, making a very affordable Easter basket. If you are ok bumping the cost up a bit, here are some really quality items you could add.

Easter 2014... where has my teeny baby gone!?

Pricier but worth it (in my opinion):
So here's my follow up to the more expensive items. I would probably only buy one from the list above for a few reasons. 1) It keeps the cost down and 2) it gives you many years of options, so next Easter just move on to the next thing! Though I like cheap, I also like quality and I like faith, so I feel like adding one of these things to a basket, while it does drive up the cost a bit, is worth it and still pretty affordable. The jury is still out on which item we'll pick for Felicity this year, but I'm thinking Tiny Saints because my mom got her one of the Easter books (and the Easter Little People train AHHHH! :) ). 

Alright- give me your ideas! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Looking Ahead

As we head toward Felicity's first birthday (no! stahp!), I'm starting to think about what I want her second year to look like. Her first year varied a lot, since she has grown and changed a ton, and as I've gotten used to this new role. The first few months were consumed with doctor's appointments, trying to figure out breastfeeding, get her ties taken care of, and figure out how to get some meat on her bones. After all that settled down, we spent the next few months going out ALL the time. Felicity was so happy out and so miserable at home. This meant I was pretty miserable at home, too! So we went to parks, libraries, museums, malls, Target, play dates, grocery stores, consignment shops and sales... I got us out for a few hours every day. Well, then came the realization that we needed to trim our budget and, though a lot of the stuff we do is free, it still takes gas to get there! Luckily, she was getting mobile around this same time and that seemed to help her enjoy being home more. So we cut out any of the places we would go and spend money (unless necessary or a super special treat), and concentrated on free and near home activities, while also enjoying our house and neighborhood more. I took over grocery shopping; maybe that's silly since Steven works at a grocery, store but both Felicity and I enjoy it, so it was something else for us to do during his long days at work. These days we go out about every other day to similar places as before- parks, play dates, grocery store, but by cutting down amount and places, we really are spending less. Now at home we play a lot more, we walk with our neighbors, and also go to the playground on our walks (45 min walk plus 30 min at the playground makes for a nice outing!). Since Felicity is walking, we can play in the driveway with her push toys, too. I'm able to do more housework now than I could the first 8 or so months and Felicity is fairly content to follow me around while I get chores done, though often I have to spend another 10-15 minutes tidying up whatever she got into ;). We have our deck all ready for spring with a baby gate to keep her contained, comfy chairs for me to sit in, and some outdoor toys.

So this brings me to her second year *gulp*. As she gets a bit older, we'll be able to do even more things at home like make homemade playdoh, color, and other fun activities. I'm really excited about that! I love little projects so it will be fun when she's at that age. I definitely want to keep going to story time and maybe we'll switch to toddler story time halfway through the year or so. Steven and I agreed to splurge on the local children's museum membership, which is $100 for the year and the 3 of us (or 2 of us when he's working) can go as much as we want. Being that we live 10-15 minutes away, it seems too good to pass up! Plus it's pretty empty Monday mornings so I think I might make it a weekly activity. I want to do more of the free museums downtown, since they tend to have areas that are conducive to toddlers and they're close by. Now that she's walking, I'm excited to take her to outdoor places this summer where she can explore like splash pads and our local eco station, which was impractical when she was not mobile or only crawling. I also found a list of activities for 12-16 month olds on her doctor's website that I want to begin incorporating. They are all play based, which is my preference since that's how babies and children learn, but there are definitely some great ideas that will help us mix it up at home a bit. I've gotten bad about having the tv on as background and I'm working on doing more Pandora and less tv. She doesn't watch it that much, but I just rather her hear music than tv, plus we have had spontaneous dance parties erupt from Pandora, which never happens from tv ;). I love my girl so much and can't wait to see what fun things we get into together this next year as she continues to grow and change!