James at 9 Months

James turned 9 months old yesterday!  This is such a busy stage, but such a fun one.  There are of course wonderful things about every age, but I love how interactive and full of personality James is now.

He loves playing back and forth games, babbling, and generally being silly.  It’s been a great month!

Eating

James continues to love food.  The biggest change with eating this month has been his new ability to pick up small pieces of food, like peas.  Eating peas is one of his favorite activities right now.  It’s kind of funny though because he often just keeps the peas in his mouth, so they’ll roll back out when he starts talking or takes another bite.

Now that he can eat small pieces, he can eat almost anything we do, which is very convenient.

He tried Thai green curry this month (light on the curry paste) and seemed to really like it!  I hope he continues to be an adventurous eater.

We also introduced peanut butter and he did not have a reaction, which was a relief!  I now sometimes add it to his morning oatmeal.

Gross Motor

As always, James was very busy on the movement front this month.

He started pulling up to stand and cruising.

This has been a big change, but a fun one!  It’s also allowed me to update his shelves with a second level of toys, which I’ll post about soon.

James also started “traditional” crawling, though he still army crawls when he’s in a hurry.

He also finally learned to sit reliably!  As soon as he started pulling up to stand, he also started sitting for extended periods of time and playing.  (He previously hated sitting and would lunge out of it if we ever put him in a sitting position).

Size

In a word: Big.  James is 20 pounds, 15 ounces (73rd percentile) and just under 29 1/2 inches (95th percentile).  He is getting heavy and we’re taking bets on when he’ll be taller than I am!

Personality

James is so friendly!  He has still not shown any real signs of “stranger danger” and loves hamming it up and getting attention wherever we go.

*I wrote that Monday…he freaked out with the nurse and doctor on Tuesday.  I’m not sure if it was “stranger danger” or because he’s teething and was really tired.

He will often choose one person to focus on when we’re out and stare at them hard, following them with his gaze wherever they go.

He has been particularly happy this month and is almost always in a good mood these days.  When he’s tired, his attention span shrinks and we need to entertain him more, but he’s still not usually too grumpy.

The exception to this is when he’s trapped in the car.  We had several long rides back and forth from Houston and he hated every minute of them.  I don’t blame him.  His two bottom teeth are also coming in this week and while it hasn’t made him too grumpy, it has definitely impacted his sleep.

One other development we’ve seen this month is a love of books.  I’ve always loved reading to James, but he has started frequently choosing books for himself this month and he gets the biggest smile when I take the one he chose and read it to him.  He loves turning the pages too.  He has a definite favorite book (Hello Bugs) that he chooses first every time and I find it so adorable!  He also really likes “touch and feel” books and books with photos of babies.

He also likes shiny things, water bottles, cups, and balls.  He particularly loves these gold hedgehog coasters we have and will carry one around the house with him while he explores.

He loves watching cars go by out the window – we often do this when I’m tired because he’ll happily do it for 20 minutes or so and sometimes it’s nice to be still 🙂  This is even more fun when we time it so he sees his Dad arrive home from work – SO EXCITING.  He starts shrieking and banging on the window and grinning, it’s pretty hilarious.

He’s also started really saying “mama” and “dada” to refer to us.  He’s said the sounds for months, but there were a couple of times this month where he clearly said them when one of us entered the room – so exciting!  He also has his own way of saying “no,” which sounds like “neh neh neh” and is too cute.  He says this mainly when we wipe his face and hands after a meal.

Life is at once busy and quiet right now.  It takes a lot of energy to keep up with the little guy, but it’s also so relaxing to have many days where I wake up and realize we can do whatever we want all day.  I’m loving every minute of this particular stage and trying to really savor the last few months of James being a baby.

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Five Parenting Lessons I Learned as a Teacher

Teaching little ones was such an honor and so much fun (most of the time).

I feel so lucky to have had the experience of being in the classroom before having children of my own because I learned so much about children and how to interact with them, but also because I gained valuable lessons about the type of parent I want to be.

I want to be clear, I know it’s about 1000 times harder to be the parent you want to be in the moment than to think about it in the abstract.  I worked mostly with 3-6 year older (a little bit with toddlers too), so I won’t need to use most of these ideas for quite some time.  I may fail at all of them, who knows.  These are just a few things I hope to keep in mind as my little guy grows based on what I saw work (and not work) with parent-child interactions when I taught.

1. Avoid Labeling: “bored” or “shy” or “picky”

I want my little guy to learn as many words as possible in the next couple of years…but there are a few words, like “shy” and “picky” and “bored” that I’m in no hurry for him to learn

Obviously children will learn these words on their own eventually, but why speed up that process?  Why teach a child that when there’s nothing going on, you / they are “bored”?  I promise you will regret it when they tell you 1000 times in an hour that they’re bored.

“Oh, you’re bored?  Bored means there is nothing to do.  I have something you can help me with.”  Proceed to involve them in folding laundry, sweeping the floor, whatever else needs doing….they will quickly learn to stop telling you they’re bored and start figuring out something fun to do.

Along similar lines, why teach a child that he is “shy”?  Feeling shy is totally fine, but labeling someone as shy is different.  That becomes part of their identity.

I think it’s important to help small children understand and name their feelings, but when little Johnny is hiding behind your leg, instead of saying “Sorry, Johnny is shy, he wants to stay with me,” you could say “Johnny, it seems like you’re feeling hesitant to go in today.  I see your friend Bobby over there / I see your favorite book is available to read”.

Same with picky – sure some children are picky eaters, but if they hear you label them as “picky,” it becomes a part of how they see themselves and they are much less likely to try new things.

2. Don’t Interview for Pain

Children are perceptive.  Children want your attention.  They will quickly figure out what gets the most attention from you and do more of that thing.

If you ask your child about their day and then focus in on the one negative thing they’ve mentioned and proceed to question them about it for the next half hour and comfort them (even if they weren’t upset about it to begin with…), they will quickly learn to bring up more negative things.  Whether or not anything bad has happened.  A little disagreement they had with a friend becomes a huge drama where they were the victim – this is not to say your child will lie, but that the way they view what happened will change.

How you see the world impacts how they see the world.  Parents do this because they want to make sure their children are okay and are taken care of.  Of course it’s a parent’s job to be their child’s advocate and protector.  But if you have a big reaction every time your child mentions anything “bad” happening, they will likely begin focusing on / embellishing these interactions, and becoming more upset over them.

3. Don’t Greet with Criticism

Picture this: Little three-year old Sally has spent twenty minutes putting on her own shoes.  She sat there and concentrated and did it herself, even though it’s so hard.

Mom comes in to pick her up from school: “Oh, your shoes are on the wrong feet.  Let’s fix that before we get in the car.” Mom proceeds to do it for little Sally because it’s faster.  Message: You did it wrong and I don’t think you’re capable of doing this on your own.

If you’re worried your child might be uncomfortable, you could say “Do your shoes feel comfortable?”   If they say yes, just leave it alone and maybe make a mental note to show them a trick for remembering which shoe goes on which foot later.  Or not.  They will figure it out eventually.

4. Leave it at the Door

Imagine this scenario: A little girl in pigtails comes bouncing into school, a smile on her face, lunchbox in hand.

Mom: “Poor little Jane had an awful morning.  She slept terribly, cried about putting her shoes on, and fell and scraped her knee on the way to the car.  Good luck with her today.”

The little girl is no longer smiling.  Clearly….

Children generally move on quickly.  While all of the events of a rough morning are likely still swimming around in your head, the child has likely moved on.  Even if she hasn’t, why not give her a fresh start when she gets to school (or to a friend’s house, or wherever you’re going).

This could also be broadened to say avoid talking about your child like she’s not there – she is always listening.

If you need to tell a teacher or another adult about something going on with your child, leave a note!  This way the relevant information is passed along and the child doesn’t hear the reminder that she’s probably in a bad mood and may be a pain to be around today.  Yikes.

5. Avoid Saying “No”

This isn’t what it sounds like – this does NOT mean let your child do whatever they want.  It’s just that children, especially toddlers and very young children, are sensitive to the fact that they are constantly told “no”.

There are ways you can rephrase what you’re saying to avoid directly telling them no and triggering a power struggle.  Examples:

Child: “Can I have a piece of candy?”

Parent: “Yes, this evening, after we eat dinner.”  (Or, “Mmm, I like candy too, I wish we could eat it every day!  Candy is a special treat.  We’ll have some in a few weeks on Halloween.”)

Child at the store: “Can I have this toy?  And this toy?  And that toy?”

Parent: “Ooo, that looks like a fun one!  I’m going to take picture of it so I remember it when you have a birthday.”  (or write a note – children love seeing you write notes, it shows them what they’re saying is important to you.)  This trick is from my friend Natalie and I love it and definitely plan to use it!

Child: “Can I go play outside?”

Parent: “Yes.  As soon as we’re done cleaning your room, you may play outside.”

Even though he’s only 8 months, I try to practice this way of talking with James because I think a big part of it is habit.  When he tries to roll away while I’m changing his diaper, I say “You may roll / crawl as soon as we’re done with your diaper”.  It may not make any difference to him yet, but I think it’s helping me remember to practice this skill.  I try to save “no” or “stop” for things that are unsafe so the words have more impact.

Do you use anything you’ve learned at work in your home?

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Twelve Questions

I wanted to mix it up today and do a little “get to know you” survey.  Feel free to answer one (or all) of the questions in the comments, I’d love to get to know you too!

1. At which store would you like to max out your credit card?

Anthropologie.  I want to live in that store.

2. What was your favorite tv show growing up?

Full House all the way!

3. Do you play any musical instruments?

Not well, but I took harp lessons for years.  I’d love to get back into it so I can play songs for our little guy, but I need to learn how to change strings first because some of the strings on my harp have popped.

4. What is your favorite cereal?

I don’t really eat cereal for breakfast, but I love it as a snack / dessert.  As children, my sister and I both randomly loved Cracklin’ Oat Bran, which we called “tv cereal” due to its shape.  I still think it’s delicious.  We also loved corn pops though, because they had the best prizes….

5. What was the worst punishment you ever received in school?

I have always been a rule follower and only remember one punishment in school…and I sort of loved it.  In my high school, seniors were allowed to leave campus, but only at lunch time.  My best friend and I had a free period and she wanted to go get donuts, so we went.  It was a free period, we weren’t even skipping class, but of course we got caught.  The principal liked us and clearly wasn’t really mad, I think he thought it was funny.  Still, he gave us detention.  We had to come in on a weekend and organize some lost and found closet.  I don’t love cleaning, but I love organizing.  We found some old American Girl books in the closet and my friend read them aloud while I color coded all of the clothes in the lost and found…it was strangely fun lol.

6. What are three things still left on your bucket list?

1 – Visit every US national park, or at least the continental ones.

2 – Visit every continent, except Antarctica

3 – Travel to the Galapagos!

Apparently, I want to travel more….

7. What is the worst pet you have ever had?

Hermit Crabs.  I got a couple of hermit crabs for my class a couple of years ago and they were the most boring pets ever.  This is likely because they’re nocturnal, so never came out when we were at school, and were super afraid of people.  They’re probably much more interesting if you have them at home and can see them at night.  I obviously should have done more research here….

8. What is a food you associate with vacation?

Pop tarts!  We didn’t eat these on a regular basis as kids, but I clearly remember being allowed to pick out a flavor before a trip (I think mostly before road trips to visit my grandfather’s ranch).  Choosing was always such a tough decision!  I think I like the strawberry ones best though.

9. What is your favorite place you’ve ever vacationed?

South Africa!  My husband and I went there on our honeymoon and it was so beautiful.  We did a mix of exploring the coast, wine tasting, and safari, but the safari was definitely the best part.  Alaska is probably my second favorite and I really want to go back.

10.  What really makes you angry?

Too many things… I actually have a pretty bad temper, which surprises people who don’t know me that well.  One thing that makes me really mad though is drivers who try to drive up to the front of a line of cars and skip the line.  There was this one turn I always made on my way home from work with one really wide lane and people would always do this…makes me unreasonably angry.

11. What is your favorite sport to watch and play?

My favorite to watch is college football (Hook ’em Horns!) and my favorite to play is basketball (or running if that counts).

12. What fictional place would you most like to go?

Hogwarts!  I’m not big into science fiction or fantasy in general, but love Harry Potter.

Play along in the comments!

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Father’s Day Weekend Highlights

Good morning!

We had a busy weekend celebrating my Dad and my husband.

I drove to Houston last Wednesday so that I could celebrate with my Dad, and drove back to Austin Saturday afternoon to also celebrate Father’s Day with my husband on Sunday.

It was a lot of driving, but so worth it.  I wanted to share a few highlights from our long weekend today:

1. Seeing my Dad

I’ve always been really close to my Dad and there were many years when I couldn’t make it home for Fathers’ Day when I lived across the country.

While a three-ish hour drive may be inconvenient, it is absolutely worth it!

My Dad has been really busy, so we just made him brunch at home to celebrate.  We made these pear ginger muffins, eggs, potatoes, and yogurt parfaits with this granola recipe (we used coconut oil instead of canola) – so good!

(Seeing my mom and sister was also a highlight, just focusing on my Dad for father’s day 🙂

2. Celebrating my husband’s first father’s day

As I wrote on Friday, he is such a wonderful dad and it was really fun to celebrate with him.

 

I snapped these photos of our little buddy last week and framed one for him.

I also made him waffles – two brunches in one weekend is always a win in my book 🙂

3. Watching James Explore

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it, but James has started pulling up on things and it has been quite an adventure!  He has always been extremely active, so he of course pulls up constantly now, which means I need to be about two inches away from him since he regularly lets go and tumbles backward.

It’s been a bit of a transition for him to need so much supervision, but he gets the biggest grin on his face every time he pulls up.

He also seemed to really enjoy exploring my parents’ house in general.  He was very excited with so many new things to see.  He fell in love with this one lamp they have and would get the biggest smile whenever he saw it.  He was also enamored with their pet cockatiels.

4. Outside Time

Now that it’s reaching over 100 degrees (!!!), we’ve had to get a bit more creative with outside time, but it is still happening and is always a highlight.

We now regularly go for walks first thing in the morning, which I love, and gets us out before the heat of the day.

James also really loves crawling around in the grass, so we’ll find a shady spot and let him explore.  He particularly loves seeing bugs and flowers.  We also gave him a mint leaf from my mom’s herb garden and he enjoyed chewing on it for like an hour – he smelled really good!

5. Dining Out

James has recently gotten really good at picking up little pieces of food.  He can eat little bits of many of the foods we eat now.  As a result of this, it is pretty easy to take him to restaurants at the moment.  There is almost always something we can order him and he takes a long time to eat something like a strip of bread, so he stays entertained.

I know this won’t last forever and that as he gets more efficient at eating, it may not occupy him for as long, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts!

It was a wonderful weekend full of family time and we’re looking forward to another fun week ahead.

What was the best part of your weekend?

What did you do for Father’s Day?

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Watching You Become a Dad

Happy Friday!

I’m very much looking forward to this weekend and to spending time with both my Dad and my husband to celebrate Father’s Day.

I wanted to take some time today to share some of my favorite pictures of my husband with our little guy.

He has three younger siblings and loves to goof around.  I never had any doubt that he would be a great Dad.  But seeing him in action with little James has been better than I could imagine.

He is easy-going, fun-loving, and is always able to make James laugh.  Sometimes James laughs at just the sight of him, knowing he’s in for a good time if Dad is around.

He is also super helpful and hands on, which I’m so grateful for.

Happy first Father’s Day Nick!  Watching you become a Dad has been truly amazing and we are so lucky to have you 🙂

Have a great weekend and a happy Father’s Day!

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Day In the Life – Weekend Edition

Happy Wednesday 🙂

I realized none of the DITL posts I’ve done have been about weekends, so decided to capture a Saturday this time.

We were supposed to have a friend come stay with us this weekend, but he sadly got strep throat and had to cancel, so we had zero plans all weekend.

Saturday morning I woke up at 6:15, followed shortly by the little buddy at 6:25.  It looked beautiful outside, so I decided to take him for an early morning walk.  Now that the summer heat is in full swing here, I’ve been trying to get out earlier in the day.  I actually love hot weather, but don’t want to keep the little guy out for too long in the mid day heat.

It was a really beautiful quiet morning, with traces of pink still in the sky.  We saw cardinals, mockingbirds, blue jays, and lots of mourning doves while we were out.

When we got home, I nursed him and then we played in his room for a while.  I felt his gum to see if his first tooth had poked through, but not quite yet!  It feels like it’s close; there is a definite little bump.  Eventually, it was time for breakfast.  He ate his favorite oatmeal, and I ate a grown up version.

He almost always eats breakfast in his weaning chair, but I scrubbed it thoroughly yesterday and want to add another coat of natural wood finish before he uses it again.  I’m hoping another coat will seal it better and make it easier to clean.

I usually leave his pajamas on until after breakfast since oatmeal is messy and he would just have to change clothes again anyway.

It is still really nice out, so we have play time in the backyard after breakfast.  He is fascinated by the grass and loves to crawl around in it.

He sees an ant and gets a huge grin as he tries to chase it down.

His Dad wakes up and comes out to join us – the fun continues!

After a while, James is getting tired and it is time to get ready for a nap.  We read The Napping House in his new reading nook and he goes to sleep.

I didn’t sleep that well the night before and am feeling a little lethargic, but really want to go for a run while he naps.  My injured foot was bothering me last week and I hadn’t run all week.  So glad I went!  I felt a little slow to start with, but ended up having a great run.  I don’t have a working Garmin right now, so I’m not sure how far I went, but somewhere between 4-5 miles.

I listened to my Austin Marathon playlist from a few years ago.  It’s a super random mix of my favorite songs from throughout my life.  Highlights include John Michael Montgomery’s Cowboy Love from one of my first cds in 4th grade, our wedding song by Jackie Greene, and lots of Eminem.  Each song reminds me of a different time in my life and I love it.

When I get home, I hear James right away – apparently he did not have a good nap (told you I would jinx it!)  I take a quick shower and play time resumes.

James is in a pretty good mood despite his short nap and we all play with random stuff around the living room and kitchen.  Really, mostly my husband plays with him while I sit and watch.  I’m feeling tired and chugging both water and cold brew coffee.

James nurses again and a little while later I make him lunch.

He eats a pancake (I made a big batch last weekend and now have a bunch in the freezer), scrambled eggs with spinach and onion, and roasted sweet potatoes.

My husband starts up the grill while James is eating and James stared out the window in a trance – he loves watching his Dad!

After cleaning up lunch and a little more play time, it is time for nap #2.  I work on this post while he sleeps and enjoy the delicious smells coming from the grill outside.

I failed to take a picture because we were trying to eat quickly before James woke up, but we ate delicious burgers and a salad I made with spinach, baby kale, strawberries, and honey goat cheese – so good.  I’m not really into restaurant burgers, but love burgers straight off the grill!

The little guy woke up right before 1:00 and was ready for more play time!  My husband played with him while I talked to my sister on the phone (mostly about our upcoming Disney World trip…SO excited).  I heard periodic squeals and bursts of laughter from the other room and it made my heart so happy.

When I got off the phone it was time to nurse James again and then we were ready for some more outside time.  It was a cloudy day and not so unbearably hot as it has been some days so we took full advantage.  We headed to the backyard for some splashing in the kiddie pool, one of my favorite things lately.

We spent quite a while out there and then it was time for one more nap for James.  He’s in the midst of the 3-2 nap transition and it just depends on the day, but since he hadn’t had any long naps today he needed a third one.  He fell asleep almost immediately at 3:05 so apparently that splash time wore him out!

I raced out to do some top-secret fathers day errands and got home a little after he woke up.

I nursed him again and then we had a little more play time in the new playroom.  The playroom is not finished, it’s just an empty room with a rug and a couch, but he already seems to love playing in there.  As he wants to explore more and more, it’s nice to have another space that is set up for him.

Soon it’s time for me to make his dinner.  He has part of one of the burgers my husband grilled, avocado toast, green beans, and watermelon.  Dinner takes a LONG time today, which is unusual for him, but he seems really into eating his food, just slowly.

He particularly likes the avocado toast and, of course, the watermelon.

Because dinner took so long, we divide and conquer and I clean up dinner while my husband does bath time.  James’s hair brush is one of his favorite things to play with at the moment.

Then it’s time to nurse James one more time, wrestle him into pjs, read him Goodnight Moon, and sing him Forever Young one more time for the day.

He is in bed at 6:15 and passes out almost immediately; I don’t hear a single sound after I leave the room.

Despite not taking good naps today, James was in the BEST mood all day, constantly laughing, and it was a really fun day.

After he’s in bed, we eat random leftovers for dinner and I drink wine and eat ice cream while we watch a new to us show (Red Oak – only okay so far).  I then pass out myself, so tired and so happy.

What was your Saturday like?

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My New Favorite Spot in the House

We’ve updated James’s nursery as he’s grown and the most recent update has become my favorite part of the house.

I’ve loved to read ever since I can remember.  I’ve also always loved reading aloud for some reason.  Even in high school, when I was super shy and would never raise my hand to comment in class, I would volunteer to read aloud in English class.

When teaching at the Montessori school where I worked, reading books to the children at group time was always one of my favorite things.

All this to say, I naturally couldn’t wait to read to James when he was born.  I’ve read to him ever since he was a newborn.  I used to read to him laying side by side on the floor.  Then, I would sit him in my lap to read books together.  Now he sometimes sits in my lap to read (usually before a nap or bedtime), and sometimes crawls around while I read, stopping to look at the pictures periodically…he is a busy guy.

We took the glider out of his room when he became mobile because, especially since he was using the floor bed at the time, I wanted his room to be completely baby proof and was worried he’d hurt his little fingers under the rockers.  Even now that we’ve put a pause on the floor bed, I think it’s important for him to have a space of his own, where we don’t have to tell him “stop” or that things are unsafe for him.

Without the glider though, we were lacking a cozy spot to read.  I decided to make a little reading nook for him, and we are both loving it.

Both the pillow and super soft rug came from Ikea.  I will add a book shelf when he’s older, but for now, a little basket of books is enough.

I switch out the books every week or so and I love seeing which ones catch his interest!

I very much hope that James grows up loving to read as much as I do and I will read to him as much as he wants for as long as he lets me!

Do you love to read?

Did you love to read as a child?

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Super Food Baby Oatmeal Recipe

Good morning and happy Friday!

I wanted to share what has easily become James’s favorite breakfast.  If you’re not into baby food, this is also a delicious grown up breakfast, just sub rolled oats for baby oatmeal (or not…you do you 😉

When James first started solids, he didn’t seem that into breakfast.  He only started regularly eating his food in the morning, when I started serving him this oatmeal.  At first, I tried just giving him rolled oats.  He wasn’t into it.  I then tried putting them through the food processor to change the texture.  Still not having it.  I finally bought this baby oatmeal and he loved it.  Go figure.  They also sell it at Target.

After some experimentation, we’ve settled on a combo he loves.  The first morning I made this for him, I had to go quickly make another serving because he gobbled it up so quickly.

I never actually measure things when making this, but here’s the basic recipe we’ve been using:

Tips:

I buy frozen wild blueberries from Trader Joes – They’re much smaller than farmed blueberries, so I don’t have to cut or mash them before giving them to James.  Plus, wild blueberries are even healthier than farmed, with twice the antioxidant capacity!

I like to combine hemp and chia seeds in an empty spice shaker (mine is from Ikea), so you don’t have to add each separately.  You could of course add flax seed too.

On the occasional morning when he’s not into breakfast, I just save his extra oatmeal and mix it with yogurt at lunch time – food waste avoided!

I buy things like hemp seeds, chia seeds, coconut oil, etc. from Thrive Market (referral link) – they have great deals!

What’s your favorite breakfast?

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Montessori Floor Bed Update

Good morning!

I’ve been somewhat scared to write this post as it seems like anytime I start to write something about James’s sleep improving, I jinx it and the improvements immediately disappear.  In an effort to overcome my superstitions though, I wanted to share an update on James’s sleeping situation, his naps, and specifically, the floor bed.

I wrote here about the reasons for using a floor bed and how it was working for us.  In short, it worked GREAT for the first six months or so.  James hated his bassinet, and loved his floor bed.  I liked that he could look around his environment and that we could comfort him easily without taking him out of bed.

Not surprisingly, everything got a little more challenging when he became more mobile, around six months.  Obviously I knew this time would come and he would some day be able to get out of bed.  I did not know how that would impact his sleep, but figured we’d deal with that when the time came.

At first, it was fine.  Bedtime and nap time were a little more challenging, as he’d scoot out of bed a few times (on purpose, very cautiously, he never hurt himself this way).  I would go in and silently put him back in bed without making eye contact to avoid stimulating him / making him think this behaviour would lead to play time with mom.

With some experimenting, I learned that if I went in right when he got out of bed, it quickly became a game for him.  So instead I would wait 4-5 minutes and then go put him back in bed.  This often worked and he’d go to sleep after a few round of this.  Sometimes for naps though, he would get too riled up and excited so I would help him go to sleep.  I would sit next to him silently with a hand on his back, avoiding eye contact or stimulation.  This worked well, but I did feel like it was a step backwards since he had previously been falling asleep on his own.  Still, I hoped that it would improve with time as he adjusted to his new freedom.

I should also mention, I removed all toys from his shelf whenever he went to bed so that there was nothing too enticing in his room.  Still though, he easily amused himself by looking in his mirror or playing with his rug or window shade.  No toys needed!

Separately from this, we had the nap struggles I mentioned many times.  James had always taken a long morning nap and two short afternoon naps.  Suddenly at about six months, almost all of his naps were short (35 minutes).  This had happened a few times in the past for a period of a few days, but this time it went on and on for weeks.  I went a little bit crazy….

I read everything I could find on baby sleep, circadian rhythms, ideal durations between naps, ideal times for naps, etc.  I tried keeping him up longer, keeping him up shorter, putting him on a nap schedule based on the information in Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child.  Nothing worked….

I tracked all of his naps, trying to decode what went right when he occasionally took a longer one.

Possibly the funniest, but worst strategy I tried was what I fondly refer to as “poking the bear”.  I read that sometimes babies just get in the habit of short naps, and if you can interrupt their sleep cycle by gently nudging them a few minutes before they wake up, they will sleep longer.  Yeah, this was a disaster for us.  He just woke up, understandably pissed off, turning a 35 minute nap into a 25 minute nap.  NOT GOOD.

Honestly, I think this was a total missing the forest for the trees situation.  I was so focused on the details of his sleep times and trying to get it exactly right that I failed to take a step back and consider the broader situation.

James had always stirred at 35 minutes – if I watched the monitor, he would turn his head or move his hand, but go right back to sleep.  This was just when his sleep cycle naturally transitioned.  However, once he became mobile, he would pop his little head up and get right out of bed to explore.  He was just too curious, too drawn to roll, and then crawl, around his environment.  Who needs sleep when the big wide world awaits?  Everyone, that’s who.

It felt a bit like giving up, but I decided I needed to try something other than the floor bed for naps.  My friend Laura had told me about the Lotus travel crib and I liked it better than a traditional crib or pack and play for several reasons.  It’s on the floor and James is used to sleeping this way – I didn’t know how he would react to suddenly being up high and wanted to minimize the disruption of the change.

It also unzips in front.  I like that I can unzip it and let him come out on his own when it’s time.

Lastly, I love that it travels!  We have several trips coming up and I love that I’ll be able to bring this with us to help the little guy sleep as well as possible on vacation.  It folds up very small and the case can be worn as a backpack.

I had been thinking of trying this for a few weeks, but I had no idea if it would work and it was a little bit expensive, so I was hesitant.  I got desperate though and decided to try it.

It was like magic!  The very day I started using it, he took his normal two short naps, but then slept for an hour for his third one!  It’s been two weeks since then and there has only been one day that he did not take at least one long nap.  Things have actually been getting gradually better too, with his morning nap lengthening to an hour and twenty minutes many days.  There have been several days where he’s taken two, hour plus naps and not needed the late afternoon cat nap.  It seemed like this would never happen!

I was so stressed about him getting enough sleep, not to mention how unpredictable our days were and how difficult it was to do things with him always on the verge of being over-tired and needing to nap.  This thing has been a life saver!

After a week of excellent (for him) naps, I decided to use the Lotus for night time sleep too.  He was sleeping okay at night, but it was sometimes taking him a really long time to fall asleep at bedtime.  After seeing how well it worked for him during the day, it was an easy decision to move away from the floor bed at night, for now.

This is by no means meant as a knock against the floor bed – I’ve seen it work well for many babies at the school where I taught!  It was just a great reminder for me to remember to observe my own specific, unique baby and do what works for him.

Maria Montessori was a scientist who observed children and tried things based on what she saw.  I don’t believe she would ever say that one thing worked for all children or that a method should be blindly, rigidly applied without considering the individual child.  She wrote of following the child and of giving the child freedom within limits – I think James needs more limits than the floor bed gives him right now, and that’s okay.

The great thing about it is, it’s just a twin mattress, so it’s not like I bought an expensive piece of baby equipment that is going to waste.  We’ll just put it away for now and watch him to see when he’s ready to give it another try.

I definitely don’t regret using the floor bed, but I am SO happy to have moved on to something that’s working for us now!

 

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June Goals

May was such a great month!  Looking back though, I really did not hit most of the goals I set…and I don’t really care.  We had a wonderful, fun month and were in Houston for three out of the four weekends, so it was just not a routine time, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Still, for the sake of accountability, here’s a recap of my May goals:

Read More – This was the only goal I actually accomplished.  I finished Memoirs of a Polar Bear, read the Magicians, and started The Hundred Secret Senses.  Not a ton of books by any means, but considering the traveling we did, I feel good about it and really enjoyed all three books.

I also listened to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, part of Neverwhere, and The One and Only on Audible.  If you’re not familiar with Audible, I highly recommend it!  It lets you get one audiobook a month for $15.  I think they have other options too, but that’s the one I get.  I started using it when I had a really long commute and it makes driving SO much more enjoyable.  I also listen to audio books during walks with the stroller and while I cook and clean.  It makes mundane tasks infinitely more enjoyable for me.

Write More – Nope, not even a little bit.  Whoops….

Go Somewhere New Every Week – I did not track this, but definitely went several new places.  My favorite was the sculpture gardens we went to, but I also went to a new fun restaurant with a friend and a new grocery store (exciting, I know…).  I’m going to continue this effort because while it’s often much easier to just go the same old places, I enjoy the little bit of adventure that comes from doing something new.

Wear Sunscreen – Another major fail.  I remembered sometimes, but definitely not every day.  I’ve started keeping the little guy’s sunscreen by the stroller and am going to do the same with mine to help me remember.

Onto June!

Introduce Daily / Weekly Checklist: I want to make / start using a daily checklist to help keep me accountable for the things (like wearing sunscreen!!) that I want to do regularly, but slip through the cracks.  If I come up with a good system, I’ll make sure to share it!  I love lists and organizational tasks of all kinds, so am nerdily looking forward to this 🙂

Delete Email Subscriptions: This sounds minor, but I’m subscribed to about a million emails that I don’t want to receive.  This is a minor annoyance every day and also causes me to want to buy things I don’t need and wouldn’t otherwise know about.  I want to unsubscribe from them all!

Complete the Playroom: I left this off of last month’s list because I knew we wouldn’t have time, but I did pick up some really fun items at Ikea while I was in Houston.  Now that the little guy is constantly on the move, I’m looking forward to having another room that is 100% baby proof for him to crawl around in.

I’m stopping with just three goals for this month because I know summer will be busy, so want to keep it simple / realistic.

Do you have any goals for the month?

What are you looking forward to this summer?

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