James at 7 Months

As of yesterday, out little guy is officially seven months…decidedly over the hill toward the one year mark ūüôĀ

It has been a challenging, but very fun month.  We got out to explore more than ever and spent tons of quality time with family, the best!  We also enjoyed some truly beautiful weather and spent many hours out in the sunshine.

Here’s a little bit about what life looks like with James at 7 months:

Eating

I was talking to a friend the other day and she told me her daughter (one month older than James) takes around an hour to eat, taking tiny bites.  I had to laugh because that is so opposite of James.  He shoves literally as much food as will fit into his mouth.  He eats enthusiastically for about 15 minutes and then is DONE.  He will start banging on the table and straining to get up.

He’s currently eating three times a day, but is sometimes not that into breakfast. ¬†Some days I feel like he eats almost as much as I do and some days he eats barely anything. ¬†I’m just following his lead on how much he wants.

His favorite foods right now seem to be sweet potatoes, pear, watermelon, and fried egg yolks. ¬†He does not seem to care much for lentils, but will eat some if they’re mixed with avocado or spread on sweet potato slices. ¬†I’m planning to make him pancakes this weekend, which I’m excited about! ¬†His meal times are still one of my favorite parts of the day.

Gross Motor

If I had to characterize this month in one word, it would be MOVEMENT.  James is not yet crawling, but he is 100% mobile and can roll across the room in a flash.

In addition to speed, he’s come a long way in being able to get to precisely where he wants to go.

He is an expert at pivoting his body so that he can roll in the desired direction. ¬†He still prefers to roll in one direction though (to his left if he’s on his back), but this doesn’t slow him down much.

I’m curious to see if he will actually crawl since he’s so mobile already with just rolling, I’m not sure if the motivation / need will be there.

He still resists sitting unless he’s at story time or something super interesting is happening in front of him (such as cars driving down the street….) ¬†He does fine sitting in his chair to eat though. ¬†I think he’s just more interested in being on the move these days.

Fine Motor

I will write more about baby led weaning soon, ¬†but one thing I love about it is the impact it’s had on James’s fine motor skills. ¬†His ability to use his fingers, rather than his whole hand, to pick things up has grown dramatically in the past month. ¬†If he sees a little piece of one of his favorite foods, he gets a look of intense concentration and uses his chubby little fingers to pick it up and bring it to his mouth, almost in slow motion. ¬†You can see all of the effort it takes. ¬†What could be more motivating than tasty food?

He is also more and more able to manipulate objects in his hands to get a desired part into his mouth (whether it’s food or not….)

Sleep

Sleep has definitely been a challenge this month. ¬†I honestly don’t have the energy to talk about it too much right now and my thoughts are all over the place. ¬†Suffice it to say we’re working on getting naps back to a reasonable length (he’s actually taking a nice long one as I type, hooray!).

We’re also working with helping James fall asleep now that he’s realized he can¬†get out of his floor bed. ¬†This just started this week so we’re still adjusting to this and figuring out the best strategy. ¬†I will definitely post a floor bed update once we figure out what works best for him and our family.

Personality

Seven words for seven months: joyful, energetic, curious, independent, friendly, determined, loved.

I know I mentioned that James went through a couple of weeks of feeling really grumpy, but thankfully he is back to his happy self.  At the time, I thought his mood was due to short naps, but he is so happy again even though his naps are often still short.  I now think it was likely due to all of the developmental leaps and changes he was going through (becoming mobile and learning to eat solid foods mainly).  Change makes me grumpy too; I get it little dude.

He has been really cheerful the last couple of weeks though and this age is equally sweet and hilarious.

He loves being outside, playing silly games with his Dad, and EXPLORING.  He likes toys, but I think he likes exploring the house just as much, which I love.  He also likes sneezing Рhe always gets a big smile on his face after he sneezes, which I find hilarious.

He went in a baby swing for the first time the other day and LOVED it.  He was laughing and smiling so big.

He also loves story time. ¬†I originally started going to story time at the library mainly for myself, to meet other moms with babies, but he now gets so excited when we’re there, grinning with his signature tongue-out smile the whole time. ¬†He seems to like going out in general more than he used to, as long as he can move around some while we’re out and not be cooped up in a carrier or stroller the whole time. ¬†It has been so nice to get out more this month.

James used to sometimes burst into tears if a stranger came over or if he was surrounded by too many people, but he has been so friendly lately. ¬†He gives huge smiles to strangers we see when we’re out and talks up a storm.

Speaking of talking, he has started saying “mama”. ¬†I honestly have no idea if he’s using this to refer to me though, or just saying the sounds, so I’m not sure if this counts as his first word? ¬†How can I tell?

He also continues to love bath time, and for some reason, particularly loves the time right after he gets out of the bath and before he gets ready for bed. ¬†He becomes giddy and ridiculously happy at this time, but still easily settles down when it’s time for bed.

It has been so much fun to see his big personality emerge more and more this month. ¬†I’m excited to see what the next month brings!

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Throwback Thursday 2 – Childhood Memories: Pretending

Or, as Albert Einstein put it, “Play is the highest form of research”.

I read something recently that was so sweet it was heartbreaking to me. ¬†It was about how you don’t really know the last time you’ll hold your child. ¬†One day you’ll be carrying him along¬†and not thinking about it and the next he’ll just be running around and not needing you in that way anymore.

That got me thinking, we don’t really know the last time we’ll do lots of things, and often don’t remember those “lasts”.

I don’t¬†know if it’s the last time I played a pretend game as a child, but I have the clearest memory of playing an imaginary game outside with my friends in fourth grade. ¬†It’s the last time like this that I have a memory of.

We were on a school trip to Crow Canyon Archeological Center in Colorado.  We were learning all about Native American tribes who had lived there and about how archeologists discover artifacts.  We also had free time to just explore and play.

I don’t remember there being any playground, but there were plenty of wide open spaces, big rocks, and a little creek. ¬†I remember it being a sunny day with a blue sky, and a bit of a chill in the air.¬† The stream was cold. ¬†I was crouched down by the water and we were playing some pretend game about being Native Americans in the society we were learning about. ¬†I remember being so, so happy.

Thinking about this reminds me of how “play” really is the work of children, of how we need to give them time and space free from toys and media to just explore and exercise their imaginations. ¬†We were playing and having the best time, but we were also processing what we had been learning about, making it real in our minds.

Do you remember pretend games you played as a child?

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What’s on James’s Shelf? Round 2: 7 Months

Good morning!

How is your week going? ¬†I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday. ¬†My father in law just left yesterday, which made it seem like it was still the weekend so this week is flying by.

I’ve always enjoyed choosing what to put on James’s toy shelf in his room (I switch out at least some of it every week or so), but it’s been especially fun now that he rolls over to the shelf and selects his own toys. ¬†Before, I would give him toys from his shelf, but also from the closet, so it didn’t make¬†as¬†much of a difference what I put out.

Now though, I love trying to choose things that I think will catch his eye or challenge him a little bit. ¬†Here’s a look at what’s on his shelf this week.

Brio Motion Wobbler

I just introduced this one to James and he seems to like it.

This toy pops up again when pushed down and also spins like a top, though he hasn’t done this yet. ¬†It’s a fun one for baby to play with when he’s laying on his stomach. ¬†I like that it moves a little bit, but not totally out of his reach.

Sensory Balls

I couldn’t find the exact set we have on Amazon, but I think these are the same brand. ¬†They look very similar anyway. ¬†The set comes with six, but I put one or two out at a time. ¬†James has loved the yellow knobby one for a while. ¬†He likes to hold it and put it in his mouth. ¬†He’s also been really interested in watching balls roll lately.

He’ll lay on his stomach and move them around or we’ll roll them back and forth. ¬†I like this because it challenges him to maneuver in different ways to find the ball and to reach with his hand. ¬†He does get frustrated with this if he’s tired though, as it’s pretty challenging for him since he can’t’ yet crawl.

Manhattan Toy Classic Baby Beads 

This is a wooden clutching toy.  James of course likes to put the balls in his mouth.  The shape also twists and changes, which is fun, and I love the colors.  This toy has a really nice weight to it too.

Sparky Dog Rattle

I don’t know what the brand on this one is, but James’s Grandpa brought it with him when he visited and James loves it. ¬†It is soft and makes a nice, fairly quiet rattling sound. ¬†I pretty much always have some sort of rattle or shaker out on James’s shelf.

James is also fascinated by the boxes I use as trays on his shelf.  I think he enjoys these just as much as the toys.

It’s fun to see his interests in different toys develop as he grows and I always love selecting what to put out for the week – it kind of feels like “shopping” the toy closet to choose.

Does anyone have recommendations for great toys for 7-12 months?

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A Long Family Weekend

Our weekend is still going strong over here as my father in law is here until Tuesday and my husband has work off, woohoo! ¬†We’ve been having a great time and I wanted to share a few highlights.

Hanging out with Grandpa

The biggest highlight was definitely seeing James having so much fun with his Grandpa. ¬†I wish they lived closer, but we are enjoying this time he’s here to the max.

My father in law flew in from Milwaukee Thursday night and got here just in time to see James eating dinner…always a show. ¬†James hadn’t seen him since he was four weeks old, but warmed up to him right away and has been having a blast playing with him.

Town Lake Trail

Friday we went for a nice walk along the Colorado River on¬†the Town Lake trail here in Austin (we don’t have a lot of lakes in Texas and have an odd habit of calling wide sections of rivers “lakes”..I don’t even know). ¬†This trail gets really crowded, so it was nice to be there on a Friday with fewer people.

They may be a little hard to spot in the picture, but we saw a couple of Austin’s wild parakeets while we were out. ¬†Some imported wild parakeets escaped from an RV park here in the 70’s and started a whole population. ¬†We only saw two this time, but sometimes you see a whole big flock.

An Outside Run

On Saturday, my husband and his dad hung out at home while James napped and I escaped for a run around the neighborhood. ¬†It was glorious. ¬†I can’t remember the last time I went for a run outside.¬† I don’t mind the treadmill, but it is definitely not the same freeing feeling as running outside. ¬†I listened to Counting Crows, one of my favorite bands in middle school / high school for most of the run and then Chromeo for the last mile or so when I needed an energy boost. ¬†I love how music can take you back to other times of your life so clearly.

I ran somewhere between 4-5 miles, but I’m not exactly sure how far. ¬†I used to always run with a gps watch, but I lost the charger when we moved last summer and I haven’t bothered to get a new one. ¬†I kind of like just running how fast / far I feel like without thinking about the numbers.

Reading Outside

Sunday morning was too beautiful to stay inside and I spent James’s first nap time reading a book outside with a cup of coffee – pretty much the best. ¬†If I could spend every morning doing this and every evening sitting out there with a glass of wine, I think I’d be pretty happy.

A Greenbelt Hike

The weather on Sunday was literally perfect. ¬†It was a little cool in the morning and then just sunny with no humidity and not a cloud in the sky by the afternoon. ¬†We wanted to walk on Austin’s Greenbelt, a rocky trail that goes all throughout the city, but even our BOB Revolution jogging stroller isn’t really cut out for it.

We decided to try the k’tan¬†wrap with James front facing and he liked it about a million times better than facing backward. ¬†He was giddy for the first half of the walk and never really seemed to mind being in there. ¬†I’m excited about this because it’s so much more convenient to bring the wrap places than to load the heavy stroller into the car every time. ¬†I may look for a more structured front facing carrier (we have an Ergo, but it’s sadly on rear facing). ¬†Does anyone have a recommendation?

We walked on the trail for probably about an hour, stopping to look at the water and watching people (and dogs!) swimming and rock climbing.

We then took James home for another nap before all going to get some bbq.  It was a pretty perfect day.

What was the best part of your weekend?

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Thoughts on Parenting Books

I have sort of a love Рhate relationship with parenting books.  Anyone else?

To me, it seems like the same situation as health books / philosophies – a myriad of “experts” touting opposite opinions and capitalizing on fear.

With this sort of opinion, you’d think I would just stop reading them. ¬†The problem is, I love to read and I love to have a plan. ¬†Having a book to turn to automatically makes me feel like I’m doing something about the problem. ¬†Having a plan makes me feel in control, even if the plan winds up failing. ¬†No problem, I’ll make a new plan.

But I hate how each parenting book starts by telling you all of the catastrophic things that will occur if you fail to execute their plan Рhow your child will be sleep deprived and therefore ADHD and therefore never amount to anything.  How your child will become hopelessly codependent or unable to form a bond with anyone or grow three heads.

I’m pretty sure parents worry enough about these things without the books magnifying it. ¬†Aaaand, I’m quite sure that parents, for instance, reading a book about supporting healthy sleep in children, are already aware of the importance of sleep.

I was “off” of parenting books for quite some time, but alas, the nap situation caused me to fall off the wagon and I bought another one. ¬†I started listening to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child on Audible. ¬†A lot of the book makes a lot of sense to me, I could just do without the chapters on how sleep deprived children are doomed at life. ¬†Thanks for that Dr. Weissbluth. ¬†Thanks a lot.

I also find that, similar to health books, you can pretty much find a book to support whatever you want to do anyway. ¬†I suppose this can be helpful in boosting confidence about a parenting philosophy you already have, but it’s decidedly unhelpful when you’re actually looking for information on what to do.

With that said, there are actually a couple of parenting books I’ve read that I really liked.

The Self-Calmed Baby

This is an older book and I don’t think it’s in print anymore. ¬†I thought some of the information (e.g., regarding breastfeeding) was outdated, but I loved the ideas for gently helping your baby learn to self-soothe from the start. ¬†This book had a lot of great tips for avoiding creating crutches that you later need to wean your child off of.

Montessori from the Start

I think this book would be useful even if you’re not familiar with Montessori. ¬†It has a lot of great information about developmental timelines and how to support your child in various phases of development and in reaching greater independence. ¬†I read this one when I was pregnant and am hoping to reread it soon.

How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk

This one is more for toddlers and up, but I recognized so many of the strategies we successfully used with children in the classroom that I would definitely recommend it to a friend. ¬†It’s amazing how little tweaks in language can prevent power struggles with a toddler.

I found all three of these books to be helpful and to include minimal “scare tactics”. ¬†I think it’s unkind and unnecessary for authors to play into the already present fear that we will somehow mess up our precious children. ¬†Because while they may all disagree, I don’t think any expert says, “You know what today’s parents need? ¬†To worry more.” ¬†No thanks.

How do you feel about parenting books?  Do you have any favorites?

 

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Day in the Life – 6.5 Months

Good morning! ¬†It’s hard for me to believe that another month has gone by, but indeed it has, and lots has changed as James has become so much more mobile and gotten really into eating solid food. ¬†This was our day yesterday.

We’ve been working with James on sleeping “through the night” lately. ¬†I suppose you could call it mild sleep training, but I honestly hate the word “training” in reference to children.

He was going to bed on his own just fine, but had started waking up habitually at 9-10, and sometimes other times, wanting to nurse or be soothed back to sleep. ¬†I knew he wasn’t really hungry because when he sometimes went back to sleep with just a little soothing, he woke up many hours later happy and playing.

Last night, he did pretty well!  He woke up once at around 2:45 and started scooting out of bed.  I admit I love watching him doing this on the monitor Рit is both entertaining and kind of amazing to watch.  I went in and moved him back into the middle of his bed and he cried for maybe 2 minutes.  He sucked his thumb and kicked the wall for a while, not fussing, and fell back asleep.  He woke up again at 5:20.  I fed him and he went back to sleep.

I ate breakfast, read blogs, and worked on some bachelorette party planning for my sister (so excited!).  I often workout during this time, but wanted to run on my treadmill today and all of my stuff was in with my sleeping husband, so I decided to wait until nap time.

James woke up right at 7:00, which is great because, according to Dr. Weissbluth (more on that on Friday), children waking up at the same time every day helps their overall sleep. ¬†James seems to naturally wake up around 7 most days, so we’re shooting for that.

He is so happy when I go in.  One thing I love about his floor bed is that I can lay next to him and snuggle in the morning.  I get him up, change his diaper, and get him dressed for the day.

We then go out to the backyard to “greet the world”. ¬†There are lots of interesting bird noises this morning and little snails out from yesterday’s rain. ¬†It’s fun to see him start to notice smaller things like bugs and snails. ¬†He was intent on trying to pet a tiny spider on its web the other day.

We go in to say good morning to his Dad, but James is more in the mood to roll around so we soon give up on morning cuddle time and go play in his room. ¬†He chooses his elephant shaker off of his shelf. ¬†He also bumps his head on his shelf, which he doesn’t seem to care about, but it leaves a red mark that makes me sad.

He starts sounding grumpy so I nurse him, which cheers him up.

I then put him down to play in the living room while I make his breakfast. ¬†I heat up his leftover oatmeal with banana from yesterday and fry a couple of egg yolks in avocado oil. ¬†I cut the egg into strips so he can easily eat it. ¬†He ate a lot more than what’s on his place mat, but I give him a little at a time so it doesn’t all wind up on the floor.

He is playing happily by himself, so I leave him alone while his breakfast cools off. ¬†I quickly change into my running clothes and get the treadmill set up so I can take full advantage of his likely short nap. ¬†He is still happy by himself so I load the dishwasher. ¬†I really try not to interrupt him when he’s busy playing because I want to encourage his concentration and his ability to entertain himself.

Eventually I interrupt him because we’re running out of time for him to eat breakfast before he naps.

He was much more into the oatmeal today than he has been in the past and is getting so good with his spoon.

He’s gotten much more stable in his little chair, so I can sit across from him now and eat with him sometimes, which is really nice.

Mealtime is fun and messy as usual. ¬†I place him on a blanket nearby while I clean up and talk to him about what I’m doing (washing his place mat, putting the extra food away, etc.) so that he at least starts to become aware of the process.

James is yawning by the time I finish cleaning up so I get him ready for a nap, sing him a song, and place him in his bed a few minutes after 9:00 AM.  He falls asleep within five minutes and I book it to the garage for a treadmill run.  I bring the monitor in case he wakes up.

I run three miles at a quick for me pace (8:10 minute miles, though my speed was all over the place). ¬†I was getting tired in the last mile, but my desire to have time for a shower kept me motivated. ¬†I watched Lilo and Stitch on Netflix while I ran because I haven’t seen it and I’m basically a five year old inside.

I rushed through the run and the shower and then realized James was still asleep, woohoo! ¬†Way to go little buddy. ¬†I’m so happy he is taking a real nap, not just 35 minutes, so he will be rested. ¬†I finish booking the place for my sister’s bachelorette. ¬†It is a house / B&B in the Texas wine country and has alpaccas…I’m pretty excited about it. ¬†I then work on this post – a fun and productive morning so far!

James wakes up a little after 10:30, an hour and twenty minute nap, which is great for him lately.

We sing songs and play in the mirror for a bit before I nurse him. ¬†Then we’re off for a walk! ¬†It looked like rain this morning, but the sun came out and it is a beautiful day.

We walk for a little under an hour.  James starts mildly protesting after about 40 minutes so I book it home as fast as I can.

When we get home, James plays and rolls around the living room.  I sit by him and fold laundry.  He decides to come help and laundry turns into peekaboo.  Fine by me.  After a while, James starts getting sleepy eyes and goes down for nap # 2 around 1:00 PM.  He falls asleep quickly and without much protest.

I eat a quick lunch while he naps and start to do some cleaning. ¬†I don’t get much done though because James takes an exceptionally short 30 minute nap. ¬†I’m not too surprised because I noticed he had fallen asleep on his arm in a way that didn’t look too comfortable.

I go to greet him and we go sit in the backyard in the sunshine for a little while. ¬†At times like this I feel so, so thankful that I get to stay home with him. ¬†It’s so nice to just be together outside on a Tuesday afternoon.

Eventually we go in and I nurse him.  We read a few stories from the Bible I got him for Easter and he plays in his room.

After a while, I bring him to his little chair for a late lunch of sweet potatoes, which he loves. ¬†I roasted them in lots of avocado oil and turmeric. ¬†He really loves sweet potatoes and is good at eating them, so I try to load them up with some extra goodness. ¬†Turmeric is the first spice I’ve introduced since it’s so mild and has so many health benefits. ¬†I’ll probably try ginger and garlic next.

He eats seven sweet potato rounds – looks like I’ll need to go back to the grocery store for more sweet potatoes tomorrow! ¬†He can’t get enough.

Cleanup is relatively easy because very little sweet potato made it onto the floor.

I place James on a large blanket in the living room with a couple of toys, but he often seems more interested in exploring the house than toys these days.

Eventually it is time for his last nap of the day.  Some days he only takes two naps, but since his second one was so short, he took three today.

This nap was also short, about twenty minutes I think? ¬†This was strange because James’s short naps are almost always 35 minutes to the minute, so I don’t know what was going on today.

Regardless, he got up, I nursed him and he played some more in his room.  Soon my husband got home and played with him until it was time for dinner.

James had avocado (he ate almost half of a pretty big avocado) and pear slices. ¬†He eats dinner around 5 and we’re not usually ready to eat that early so we sometimes compromise and sit with him and eat a salad so it’s more of a family meal.

After dinner, James played a little more and then took a bath.  He is so cute and curious in the bathtub.  He likes splashing in the water, but also really wants to explore the surrounding area.

After bath time, I nursed him again, gave him a massage, and my husband read him Goodnight Moon. ¬†I sang him a song and put him in his bed. ¬†He didn’t protest at all and fell asleep in about ten minutes.

We had leftover falafel (frozen from Trader Joes – I highly recommend it!) for dinner, so I didn’t need to cook anything. ¬†As I mentioned, the last couple of weeks were a little rough, but so far, this is shaping up to be a great one!

What was the best part of your day yesterday?

 

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A Very Happy Easter

Good morning!

I hope you had a good weekend, and a happy Easter if you celebrate.  We had a wonderful long weekend with my family in Houston and it was just what I needed.

We left Thursday evening after James feasted on sweet potatoes.  He is increasingly enthusiastic about eating and it is so fun to watch!

James fell asleep in the car, but woke up ready to party when we got to Houston.  Bedtime was a little rough, but it was worth it to get there Thursday night and have more time with my family.

We had no plans Friday and just hung around at home and went for a nice walk with my parents. ¬†I love walking around their neighborhood because there are lots of long streets with beautiful old trees. ¬†Even when it’s hot out, there’s plenty of shade and beautiful flowers due to the semi-tropical weather.

Friday afternoon, my husband stayed home with James while he napped and I ran errands with my mom.  It felt so weird to be out without James for so long.  It was great to hang out with my mom though and do some fun birthday shopping for my sister.

Saturday I was excited to go to one of my favorite restaurants, Backstreet Cafe, to celebrate my sister’s birthday. ¬†James took a short morning nap and would normally have gone down for a second nap right when brunch started, but he handled it so well. ¬†He didn’t fuss at all, though he was clearly tired and just rested his head on my arm the whole time. ¬†He also enjoyed a few slices of avocado I stole off of people’s plates. ¬†I had my hands full, so didn’t get any pictures of the food, but it was delicious and included a warm chocolate orange brioche bread that I could eat for every meal.

James and I woke up before everyone on Sunday and enjoyed a quiet start to Easter Sunday. ¬†I gave him the children’s Bible I got him for Easter and read him the Easter story. ¬†We then went for a morning walk to get outside before it was too hot. ¬†It was a nice start to the day.

After his morning nap, we went to church and James was downright giddy to be there.  He loved staring at chandeliers, bouncing to the music, and flirting with the little girl in front of us.  He was ready to go by the end, but definitely had some fun.

James took one more nap in Houston while we had a great brunch with my family.  He seemed a little overwhelmed by all of the people when he woke up, but the drive home went surprisingly well.

He fell asleep for about thirty minutes and we played and sang songs. ¬†He became pretty desperate to get out of the car in the last 20-30 minutes, but that’s not bad for a three hour¬†drive.

His mood immediately changed when we got home.  He was babbling and laughing and rolling all around.  I think he was happy to be home and to have some time to just move around.

I feel so fortunate to have my family close by so that we can easily go visit for holidays and random weekends. ¬†Now we just need to convince my husband’s parents to move down here!

What was the best part of your weekend?  Do you celebrate Easter?

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Happiness 911 (or what to do when your child takes crappy naps)

Photo courtesy of AustinEventPhotographers.com

Good morning and happy Friday!

Our weekend began early as we drove to Houston last night to celebrate Easter weekend (and my favorite sister’s birthday) with my family. ¬†I am feeling very happy as we have lots to look forward to this weekend, but as I mentioned on Monday, the last couple of weeks have been a little rough.

It’s a little sad how much my current happiness depends on how well the little buddy naps, but he is seriously a different person when he doesn’t get enough sleep. ¬†He actually has been falling asleep very easily for naps, just only staying asleep for 35 minutes and waking up still tired. ¬†I’m wondering if he’s teething, but I’m not really sure. ¬†Regardless, when he doesn’t nap well, it means:

1) There’s no break in the day

2) He is GRUMPY and requires a lot more attention and entertainment from me to keep it together

3) It’s hard to go do things due to the aforementioned grumpiness

4) I feel like I’m failing at life

However, naps or no naps, I realize I’m so lucky to have him and I want to enjoy this time of life as much as I can.

I know that I’m in control of my own happiness, and each morning I tell myself it will be a good day. ¬†Still, I found myself losing it a little bit, and needed to take some more concrete action. ¬†This is inspired by my favorite podcast (forgive me if I mention this obsessively, but it really is that good!), Happier, by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.

In this episode, Gretchen talks about having a “happiness 911” song, which of course is just what it sounds like – a song you can listen to to instantly boost your mood when you need it. ¬†Even better, you can search for the happiness 911 playlist on Spotify, where listeners’ happiness 911 songs have been compiled. ¬†There is naturally a huge range in the type of songs included but, while I don’t like every song, it definitely gives my mood a boost.

This got me thinking, what are some other little things I can do to instantly boost my mood? ¬†I’ve written out a list and am going to run through it whenever I feel my optimism slipping. ¬†Sometimes just having a list / plan makes me feel better…I’m a little type A.

Here is my list so far, but I’d love to add to it so please share what little things make you happy / give you a mood boost!

  1. Put on music – sometimes I really do listen to the happiness 911 playlist, sometimes I play Bob Marley (or Moana…), anything that makes me happy, bonus if I know the words and can sing along with no one but my grumpy baby to hear me ūüôā
  2. Light a candle – I can at least pretend to be zen by lighting a favorite candle.

    Story Time Shenanigans
  3. Take pictures – Getting out the real camera and having a mini photo shoot helps me focus on the moment instead of running through a list in my head of all of the things I’m doing wrong that are leading to crappy naps. ¬†Also, taking pictures helps me search for the beautiful parts of even tough days. ¬†This obviously only works if he’s minimally grumpy and not on the verge of losing it. ¬†I’m not sitting there snapping pics while my baby cries¬†like a detached news reporter.
  4. Fake it ’til you make it – It is too easy (for me at least) to give into the grumps and just hang on until the next nap time, but I know that everyone will be happier if I put in more effort and try to cheer up the little guy. ¬†For us, this usually involves singing songs with him, having a dance party, or getting out his favorite scarf that I save for emergencies and playing silly games with it. ¬†This takes more energy than I sometimes feel like I have, but almost always helps!
  5. Give into the grumps – opposite of #3, if I’ve tried everything, I need to accept that he is just going to be whiny for a little while, it’s because he is tired, and there is sometimes nothing I can do about it. ¬†Just as only I can make myself happy, I can’t force anyone else to be happy, even if that someone is the size of a teddy bear.
  6. Go outside – I love to go for walks. ¬†If James is rested and in a good mood, we can go for around an hour and he is fine with it, but if he’s in a bad mood, even short walks can send him over the edge. ¬†However, I can always go sit with him in the backyard for a few minutes or go for a “nature walk” around the yard and let him examine different trees and flowers. ¬†This puts us both in a better mood!
  7. Get out of the house – It is much harder to get out and do things when the little guy is grumpy because, well, he remains grumpy while we’re out and this stresses me out. ¬†However, getting out for even just thirty minutes can make a big difference in the day. ¬†I can take him to the grocery store and get a treat (for me), take him to Starbucks and get a fix, or take him to the bookstore and just look around. ¬†The key here, for us, is avoiding anything that will take too long or where the expectations are too high – I’m not going to take him anywhere I really want to stay for more than 15-20 minutes when he’s over-tired.
  8. Call my mom – If it’s been a rough day, talking to my mom on the phone in the late afternoon while the little guy plays never fails to boost my mood.
  9. Go for a short, fast (for me) run – I have a treadmill in the garage and sometimes completing a short, speedy run during his nap time makes me feel like myself and re-energizes me.
  10. Pour a glass of wine the size of my baby – I kid, I kid. ¬†But looking forward to a glass of wine or a beer with my husband at the end of the day can be so relaxing if it’s been a rough one. ¬†Fortunately, James now reliably goes from bedtime to 4-5 AM without nursing, so I can do this without stress.

James actually took a great nap yesterday and was in a good mood all day so fingers crossed this lasts!

I would love to add to this list. ¬†What are some little things you do when you’re having an off day or need a boost?

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Independence Day

A couple of days ago, James made such major moves toward independence that I felt like he was about to head off for college.  I kid, sort if, but I really was amazed!

The first was at story time at the library, which we go to every Thursday afternoon. ¬†For a little background, I first took James to story time when he was four months old. ¬†He sat in my lap the whole time, completely silent and almost completely still. ¬†He seemed stunned. ¬†He is often like this when he is in a new situation – he doesn’t act scared or cry, but is super serious and just takes it all in.

Over the weeks, he’s become increasingly active at story time, bouncing and squealing and reaching out to touch other babies. ¬†This past thursday though, he went off to play by himself for the first time.

After songs and the story, the librarian puts out a bunch of toys and blows bubbles. ¬†I set James down in front of me and after a minute, he rolled off to the middle of the room to check out some scarves and go see the librarian. ¬†I realize this probably seems like a super minor event, but I felt so proud of his independence! ¬†I was happy to see him feeling so comfortable on his own, even when a much older baby came over and started messing with his feet (lol). ¬†I honestly also was a little sad though…I know this was only the first of many steps of him moving away from me.

Later that day, he made another bold move and chose something off of his toy shelf by himself for the first time!

He was playing with a ball on the big rug in his room. ¬†He lost interest in the ball and started to roll around. ¬†He then rolled right over to his toy shelf, surveyed the options, and chose one! ¬†He chose an¬†empty tray, which I suppose makes sense since it was the only thing on the shelf he hadn’t played with before.

Since then, he’s been going to choose his own toys. ¬†He isn’t crawling yet, but has become quite expert at pivoting so he can role in a specific direction to get where he wants to go. ¬†There’s no stopping him now! ¬†He even put a toy he was done with back on the shelf a couple of times, though I know this was likely just coincidence and not an innate sense of tidiness at six months ūüôā

James also showed his newfound independence in one less desirable, though hilarious, way. ¬†One night at about 3:30 AM, he got out of his floor bed (he doesn’t roll out, but lies on his back and very slowly and carefully scooches out, pushing with his feet), rolled across the room and started banging on the door. ¬†It was pretty funny…as long as it doesn’t become a regular thing. ¬†We shall see….

Were you independent as a child?

I think I was in some ways, but I’ve also always been pretty shy and tentative in new situations.

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Out and About 2 – The Farmers’ Market

This weekend was kind of rough. ¬†Actually much of last week was kind of rough to be honest. ¬†James has been taking very short naps for some reason, which understandably puts him in a less than stellar mood. ¬†He is generally a very happy baby, but he needs his naps. ¬†Don’t we all.

Focusing on the positive though, we did have a lot of fun Sunday morning. ¬†After a very short nap, we took advantage of the extra time in the morning and went to a new to us Farmers’ Market.

His face accurately reflects how he feels about being in the carrier (or contained in any way…).

We used to always go to the downtown Austin farmers’ market before we moved – it was a long walk or short drive away. ¬†I love farmers markets and my husband tolerates them because they make me happy. ¬†Last week at story time, the librarian mentioned that they do story time at the Mueller Farmers’ Market, so we thought we’d check it out.

It was great! ¬†They have many of the same produce / hot food stands as the downtown market, in addition to some other ones. ¬†They also had story time, a little petting zoo, and live children’s music. ¬†I could definitely see us going regularly with little James for years to come.

We didn’t get too much because I just went grocery shopping on Friday, but I did get a GIANT stroopwafel (those little dutch cookies with caramel inside). ¬†The ones I’ve had in the past were maybe the size of a half dollar…this one was maybe the size of my head? ¬†They make them hot and ours had strawberries and nutella inside, in addition to the standard caramel. ¬†It was so good. ¬†I did feel kind of sick after though…that was a lot of sugar on an empty stomach. ¬†Whoops.

James was reaching for it big time. ¬†He knows what’s up.

Did you have a good weekend?  What was the best part?  Eat any cookies the size of your head?

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