Being Present and Some Modern Art

I have a tendency to be overly sentimental about time passing.  I think I started worrying about getting old when I was about 15.  I was not one of those kids who wanted to grow up; I knew being a kid was where it’s at.

Anyway, I spend a lot of time fondly remembering (romanticizing?) the past and wondering what the future will be like.  I am not always great about being in the moment.

When I stop to think about it though, this time, this particular moment, is definitely one I will be remembering fondly some day.  This is an especially enjoyable stage of life and I’m going to really try to stay focused on that and not worry too much about what’s to come.  Any tips?

James is at a really fun stage where he is still largely accepting of anywhere we take him, but has long enough stretches of awake time that we can really go do stuff.  It’s pretty great.

Saturday was one of the most relaxing days I can remember since he was born.  I read outside in the morning with a giant cup of coffee, and I read at night before bed with a glass of red wine.  The in between parts were pretty great too.

James took two, hour-plus naps.  I only did one productive thing during these naps (made James some healthified zucchini bread), and spent the rest of the time reading.  Sure, this was vaguely irresponsible, but so, so worth it.

We also went on a little adventure.  One of my goals for the month is to go somewhere new every week.  When looking for places to go, I came upon this excellent list of baby / toddler friendly places in Austin.  A bunch of them look great, but the first one to call my name was the sculpture garden at The Contemporary.  I’m glad I listened.

So I feel kind of like an idiot for not knowing this place existed, but it was super uncrowded even on a sunny Saturday, so maybe it’s not that well known?  I don’t know.  Anyway, Austin’s modern art museum apparently has a couple of satelite locations, one of which is an art school with a large, woodsy sculpture garden.  There are also indoor exhibits, but we didn’t do that part this time.

This is not a big open garden, but rather consists of little winding trails through the woods and along Lake Austin where you’ll be walking and then discover a big sculpture.

I think it’s the feeling of exploring and discovery that make this place particularly delightful.  It reminded me of a time my freshman year of college where I went to the National Cathedral at night with some new friends – totally different place, but it gave me the same feeling of entering a different world.

For those familiar with Austin, this place is right by Mount Bonnell.  I highly recommend it if you feel like wandering, contemplating, or staring off into space and looking like you have a purpose.

As a bonus, it was right next to a great looking park and nature preserve that may be next on my list of new places!  It has a peacock crossing so that has to be a good sign.

Thanks to my husband for many of the pictures in this post 🙂

What was the best part of your weekend?

Do you ever play tourist in your own city?

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Baby Led Weaning Update – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Good morning and happy Friday!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been just over a month since James has started eating solid foods.  It’s become such a part of our daily routine and he’s become so much better at it, I can barely imagine our day without it.

Overall, I’ve been a huge fan of baby led weaning (BLW), or really the hybrid approach we’ve taken (James eats with a spoon too – I put the food on the spoon, and he holds the spoon / puts the food in his mouth).  Here’s a little bit about our experience so far.

The Good

Fun: I’m sure feeding baby any way is fun, but I am seriously loving meal times with little James!  He gets this extremely serious look every time I bring him to his chair.  He eats so eagerly unless he is tired, and has started making little “mmm” noises, it’s just too much 🙂

Same meals: While, as I mentioned, we don’t often eat dinner together at this point due to timing, it’s getting to the point where I can sometimes give James some of what we had for dinner the next day for his meals.  I just put aside a portion before adding salt / anything else he can’t have.  I know this will be more and more true as he continues to try more foods and I love the convenience of it.

Social Eating: I love that I’m able to sit across from him and eat with him or chat with him while he eats since I’m not focused on getting a spoon in his mouth.  I like being able to model table manners and how to have a conversation.  I think these things are best taught by modeling, so might as well start young!  Along these same lines, I love that there is usually something we can offer him (sometimes just avocado) if we go out to lunch.

Fine Motor Skills: I can’t believe how much James’s ability to use his fingers to pick up small things has grown this past month.  I’m sure some of this is just due to his developmental stage, but I think part of it is also due to BLW because, apart from food, it’s hard to give babies opportunities to develop these skills since they want to put everything in their mouth and many tiny objects are unsafe.

He currently uses his thumb and two fingers to pick up little bits of food.  They don’t always make it into his mouth, but it’s amazing to watch him concentrate on picking them up and holding them steady.

Drinking from a Glass:  This is a little random, but watching James drink from his tiny glass (a shot glass from Ikea) has become a favorite pastime in our house.  I think it’s pretty much the cutest thing in the world.  When I first gave him the glass a month ago, it seemed like he would never be able to use it on his own, but just in the last week or so, he’s become so proficient with it.  He still spills of course, but is able to successfully hold the glass on his own and drink from it – and he loves it!

I did three things to help him with this skill:

1. I sit across from him and model drinking from a glass, holding it with two hands, before giving him his.

2. I hold his glass out to him, with my fingers on the very bottom so there’s plenty of room for his little hands.  When I just put the glass on the table, he knocks it over, but he can take it from me with great success.

3. Lastly, I started holding the glass up a little, by his nose, so he would lean his head back when he drank.  He’s still practicing this, but it has helped him actually drink the water instead of just blowing bubbles in it or sticking his tongue in the glass.  Now that he can use his glass, I’m excited to make him a smoothie soon!  Just in time for summer.

The Bad

Food waste: This is absolutely the number one downside we’ve seen.  It makes me sad to see all of the food that goes onto the floor and can’t be eaten.

I do try to minimize this in a few ways.  With something like a fried egg or pancake, where I could just hand him the whole thing, I cut it into strips.  This way I can put one strip at a time on his tray and if he drops it, the whole thing hasn’t gone to waste.  In generally, I only put a couple of pieces of food on his tray or placemat at once, usually one of each thing he is eating, so he can choose.  I think this helps him concentrate on picking up a specific piece of food instead of just swiping around aimlessly and knocking food onto the floor.

The Ugly

Mess: Ohhhhh the mess, my friends.  This depends on the day and what he is eating, but especially if he’s using his spoon for something like avocado or oatmeal, he is usually covered in food by the end, not to mention the chair and the floor.

As my friend Natalie wrote here, I do not think mess is a bad thing.  Mess is part of the process and I involve James in the only way I can right now – showing him and talking to him about how we clean up after eating.  As he gets older, I’ll involve him more as he becomes more capable of helping.  But despite the beauty and learning opportunities of a big mess, it can be a little tiresome at times 🙂

Fortunately though, there are plenty of foods I can offer him that are less messy (pancakes, banana, zucchini, egg, etc.), so I sometimes group messy foods together at one meal so, for instance, lunch cleanup will be super easy and dinner will require a more thorough effort.  He loves oatmeal for breakfast though, so breakfast is always super messy.

Gagging: I had read that gagging is a normal part of baby learning to eat, but it still terrifies me every time it happens.  Babies’ gag reflexes are further up on their tongues at this age to protect them from choking, which makes gagging happen more frequently.  From what I’ve read, this is a safer time for them to learn to eat finger foods because of this extra protection…but it’s still not fun to watch!  James has only ever gotten upset at all by this once though.  He normally just spits the offending food out and keeps on eating.

I’ll probably post soon on our experience with the weaning chair versus a high chair and on Jame’s favorite meals so far.  Let me know if you have any other questions about baby led weaning!

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Things Making Me Happy

Happy Wednesday!  It’s been a great few weeks over here and I just wanted to share a few things that are making me happy lately.

Neighborhood Park

We found a new park close to our neighborhood last week and I am loving it!  It has a paved trail as well as a much longer unpaved trail, a playground with sun shades, baby swings, a splash pad, and a pool.

I took James there last Friday and we had such a good time!

A road runner, off to play tennis!

I often miss our old neighborhood where we could walk to everything, including some really nice trails, but I admit that it was great to be in a nice park without the crowds of where we used to live (right by Zilker).  Because there are fewer people, we also see more animals, like road runners and rabbits.

New Mom Friends

Before having James, none of my friends had babies.  I’m pretty shy and introverted, so wasn’t sure I’d really make any new mom friends.  Thanks to the library though, I’ve met a couple of super nice women with babies almost the same age as James and it is so fun to have people who don’t mind talking endlessly about baby sleep and who can hang out and do baby-friendly things in the middle of a week day.  I feel so lucky to have met them!

Baby Brunch

I made James pancakes last Saturday and it made me so happy 🙂  I used this recipe and it was easy, healthy, delicious, and made a ton so I have a bunch of extras in the freezer.  I spread James’s pancakes with a little coconut oil and sprinkled with cinnamon.  I think this recipe would be easy to play around with and I’ll probably try a pumpkin or zucchini version soon.

It was fun to make something we could all eat together and to think that this was the first of likely countless times that we’ll enjoy a pancake breakfast together.  Also, I think the leftovers would be a great portable snack for James to bring to the park or something since they hold together well and are not very messy.

Front-facing Carrier

I really try not to buy all the baby things.  We did splurge on a new baby carrier last weekend though and it is making me happy.

James is super independent and wants to be moving around ALL the time.  I love this about him, but it can make it harder to take him places.  We have this Ergo and K’tan, but he’s never loved them and his disdain for them has grown now that he’s more and more mobile.  However, when we tried him in the K’tan facing forward, he got so happy!

Sadly, our Ergo did not allow baby to face forward and I really prefer the more structured carriers, especially now that James is getting heavier.  My friend Laura recommended the Ergo 360 to me and we are loving it so far!  I still don’t think James would be content to be in there for hours, but I’d settle for a happy baby while I grocery shop for 30 minutes or walk for an hour 🙂  I also love that this one has a lot less fabric on the sides than my original Ergo, so it’s less hot, which is important in Texas!

Stroller Running

We have the BOB Revolution running stroller (generously given to us by my parents – thank you!) and I finally tried running with it last week.  I had read that I could start running with baby once he was 6-8 months old and had great head control.  He just turned 7 months and has had good head control for months, so I decided to give it a try.

It was SO much more fun than I thought it would be.  I’ve always hated running with a lot of stuff – holding a water bottle, weighed down by winter clothes, etc.  That’s how I pictured stroller running would feel.  It wasn’t that way at all though, it felt great.  Sure, it was a little more challenging than running without the stroller, but since James is usually only happy in there for 30-40 minutes anyway, the added challenge is no big deal.

This will let me run outside more instead of the treadmill, and also get a workout in when James is awake so I get do something else during nap time.  I’m very excited about it!

This Guy

Always.  He has been so happy, talkative, and FUN lately.  He’s the best.

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May Goals

I have to say, typing out my goals for April made such a difference!  Instead of a bunch of vague, fuzzy stuff in my head that I wanted to accomplish, I had a very manageable list.  I definitely plan to keep doing this in the future.

First, a recap of April’s goals:

Conceptualize Playroom: Check!  I now have a very clear vision of what I want James’s playroom to look like.  I’ve mostly cleared out the office, and have purchased about half of what we need.  I just need to get a shelf, rug, and picture frames.  I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to buy, but I want to finish cleaning out the office before I actually buy it.

I’m most excited about the reading nook I have planned!  I already got this canopy and soft rug for it.

Prepare Garden Beds: This was the only one that was a big time failure…oops.  I didn’t even start doing this, and I’m honestly not at all confident that it will happen this month either.  I did acquire a few pretty potted plants for the back patio, and may just settle for that for now.

Make Family Dinners: Check!  This was mostly a success.  I did much more meal planning / cooking this month and found a few new staple meals that are very quick and easy, reasonably healthy, and taste good!

We did not really eat a lot of family dinners with James though, and I now realize we probably won’t for a while.  Because of his early bedtime, he usually eats around 5:00.  I honestly don’t really want to eat dinner that early, but also, my husband isn’t usually home by then.  For now, I’m settling for eating a snack with James while he eats, and will make an effort to eat lunch with him.

Watch Less TV: Check!  This may be the one that made me the happiest.  I finished watching West Wing and did not start a new tv series (until this past weekend…oops).  I occasionally watched a movie, but not being in the middle of a series I love meant that watching tv was not my go-to activity for the night.  I may designate one night a week as tv night or something, I’m not really sure.

Okay, on to May’s Goals!

Read More: This is my number one goal this month.  It’s already started to happen naturally because I haven’t been watching much tv.  I love to read and want to really get back into the habit of reading regularly.

Write More: I’ve never had any talent for (or really enjoyed) most artistic activities, but I’ve always loved to write.  I have a couple of writing projects that I’ve started, but haven’t worked on in a while.  There is one in particular I’m hoping to finish this month.  It’s a children’s book for James.  I know it will likely never be published, but I plan to print it with Pinhole Press, which lets you print your own board books, to give to him.

Go Somewhere New Every Week: It is so fun to take James out these days.  He is super friendly and smiley and seems to really enjoy getting out.  We go somewhere almost every day now, but I am definitely a creature of habit and we often go to the same few places.  We just moved to South Austin right before James was born, so I am still discovering the area.  I’m looking forward to taking James to new places this month, even if it’s just a different park or library of coffee shop.

Wear Sunscreen: I wear sunscreen when I go to the beach or know I’ll be outside all day, but I am not good about wearing it every day.  With the amount of time I spend outside, I know I should be doing this.  I want to finally make this part of my daily routine this month.

What are your goals this month?

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James at 7 Months

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

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 – he 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 – hate 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 – how 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 – it 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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