To you on your (very first) birthday

Dear little one,

May you take long naps and always eat your vegetables.  Oh wait, that’s my birthday wish…. let’s try again.

I’ve wanted a baby ever since I could remember.  Yes, I was one of those kids.  I hung up pictures of babies in my room as a little girl (from an Anne Geddes calendar, did anyone else love her?  Just me?)  Still, I had no idea how wonderful you would be or how very much I would love you.

I’ve loved you from the first moment I found out I was pregnant, maybe even before then.  It seemed too good to be true and I spent a good part of my pregnancy worrying that something would go wrong.  But it didn’t and you were born healthy and strong and I couldn’t believe how perfect you were.

I am so HAPPY to celebrate with you today.  I know you don’t understand what today is all about, but I hope you can feel that it’s a special day none the less.  We are going to do your favorite things (story time, playing outside, maybe a trip to Barnes and Noble or the splash pad) and eat your favorite foods (peas, pizza, bananas, blueberries).

I can’t wait to give you your first slice of birthday cake.  I suspect you’ll shun it in favor of peas, like you do with ice cream, but I’m excited anyway.

I can’t wait to help you open your presents today.  I’m excited to watch you play with the wrapping paper and boxes and, hopefully, eventually, with the new toys we carefully picked for you.

I can’t wait to give you a few extra cuddles, hugs, and kisses, and to read you all of your favorite books, as many times as you want.

I can’t wait to sing you happy birthday for the very first time!

I can’t wait to celebrate this magical year together, the one that rocked our worlds in the best possible way, the one that was so scary, so exhausting, and so joyful that we will never be the same.

Most of all, I can’t wait to watch you grow for another year.  I have no idea what it will bring and I can’t even begin to imagine what you’ll be capable of at the end of it, but I know it will be nothing short of an amazing adventure, full of smiles and laughs and plenty of lazy afternoons at home, full of time together.

Happy birthday little one!

Love, Mama

 

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Looking Forward to….

In an effort to combat my sentimental side, the (big) part of me that is struggling with my little guy turning one this week, I’ve been thinking about all of the many wonderful things we have to look forward to as he gets older – it turns out there are a lot!

Here’s my list.

  1. Board game nights – I know this won’t be for a while, but it is my number one, I am such a board game nerd, love them
  2. Family camping trips
  3. Cooking / baking with James
  4. Hearing all of the funny things he will say
  5. Hearing him say “I love you”
  6. Seeing what his interests are
  7. More freedom to go out with my husband or friends
  8. Arts and crafts time!  I’m so unartistic, but I LOVE to color.
  9. Playground dates
  10. Picnics
  11. Trips to the zoo where he actually likes the animals
  12. Watching him ride bikes with my husband
  13. Buying little shoes!  Now that he’s starting to walk, I should probably get on that.
  14. Movie nights
  15. Taking him to his first football game (hook ’em horns!)
  16. Watching him trick or treat
  17. Everything about Christmas with a toddler
  18. Reading him Frog and Toad, and someday Harry Potter
  19. Watching him learn to read on his own
  20. Watching him (hopefully) become a big brother some day
  21. Seeing him see snow for the first time, and go sledding!
  22. Watching him make little friends

If you have older kids (or work with kids), what’s one of your favorite things about the toddler stage?

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Day in the Life – 11 1/2 Months

Good morning and happy Friday!

I realized I hadn’t done one of these posts since James was 9 1/2 months – I’m sure you’ve been on the edge of your seats wondering what we’ve been up to 😉  Just kidding, but I do like to capture these moments to look back on.

This was our Monday.

Per my September goals, I set my alarm for 5:30.  I got up, poured some homemade cold brew and started working on a project for James’s birthday.  I’m working on editing a bunch of the videos we’ve taken this year and putting them together for a birthday video.  It’s been really fun to re-watch the old videos and also to learn how to use the program (I’m using VideoPad and it is free and super easy to use).

James woke up at 6:25 and talked happily to himself in his bed.  After a few minutes I went to greet him, always one of my favorite times of the day.  He gives the best hugs when he wakes up.

We played in his room for a while and then went to eat breakfast.  I don’t have any breakfast pictures because I hadn’t decided to do this post yet, but he ate (5!) homemade banana mini muffins and a hard-boiled egg, a new favorite.  He would normally eat fruit too, but we really need to go to the grocery store and are all out.

Right after breakfast, we go for a stroller run.  I knew it would be a busy day and we likely wouldn’t have time later, plus it would be really hot.

You guys, this run was not the best.  It was super humid out (not normal for Austin) and my stomach was cramping up.  I think I need to drink more water in the mornings before I run.  Still, we ran three miles and it felt great to get it done.

The only thing I don’t like about stroller running is the inability to shower right away when I get home.  I went to wash my face (love my current rose face wash, it smells so good!) and James followed me into the bathroom and decided to play in the bathtub for a while.  Whatever works little buddy.

We then played in my room so I could at least change out of my sweaty clothes.  James rearranged the books for us – thanks buddy.

He always gets out this Sitting Still Like a Frog book and wants me to read it to him.  It does look like it would be a kids’ book, but it’s really a book of mindfulness exercises for children and he is always disappointed lol (it is a good book though).

We eventually move into the living room.  I clean out the fridge while he plays with tupperware.  I then start to roll out my injured foot with a lacross ball – I am super bad about doing this, but it really helps when I do.  James decides the ball looks way too interesting and we roll it back and forth instead.  Oh well.

It’s almost nap time so we go sit in the backyard for a few minutes and sing some quiet songs.  I find this really helps him unwind before naps.

I change his diaper, read him Global Baby Bedtimes and Flip, Flap, Fly, sing him a song and put him in his bed around 9:20.  We’re using this HALO Sleep Sack for naps lately and I love the length, it should fit him for awhile!  It does run big though, we got a large at first and had to exchange for a medium, and James is really tall.

I finally took a quick shower and then started cooking some chickpeas and writing this post.  I also sent some emails for my sister’s upcoming bachelorette party, which is coming up and I’m super excited about!

James woke up around 10:15.  I nursed him and we got ready to go to Trader Joe’s for the week.  We had been hoping to meet up with some friends at the Wildflower Center, but sadly James and his little buddy are on opposite nap schedules and it didn’t work out, so grocery shopping it was!

I was SO bummed that they didn’t have the cold brew I mentioned last week!  I was assured it was just out of stock, not discontinued, so fingers crossed….

We got home just in time for James to eat lunch.  I almost always eat lunch with him, but I wasn’t hungry yet and also wanted to get the groceries put away, so I did that while he ate today.

He ate a super random lunch of peas, healthier mashed potatoes (made with olive oil and greek yogurt), black beans, zucchini fritters, and part of a peach.  He is a hungry little guy!

I ate a little later while he played and crawled around the living room (spinach, brown rice, chick peas, carrots, hemp seeds, and tahini dressing).  I had never had this brand of kombucha before and I loved it, it’s my new favorite.

We read books and sang songs (and climbed furniture…) until it was time for his afternoon nap at 1:30.

While he slept, I made another batch of kale salad for the week, did the dishes and some general cleaning and wrote some more of this post.  I also started researching how to introduce whole milk to babies when they turn one – any tips?

Some light reading with a side of bed head

James woke up around 2:45.  I went to greet him and he seemed a little grumpy for some reason, but we made the best of it.  I nursed him and we played in his room for a while.  He still seemed grumpy and I decided to try giving him an afternoon snack.

He’s in kind of a weird place where he seems to be starving by dinner time, but is not always interested in an afternoon snack.  Today, he was all about it though!

Chick peas please!

He ate chickpeas and we shared the rest of his peach from earlier.  (I tried to start daily afternoon smoothies at one point, but the blender seems to be his #1 fear in life, so we’re taking a break from that.)

After that it was pool time!  We put away his little pool when there was a big storm and never got it back out so he hadn’t played in there in weeks.  He was loving it today.

I set up a blanket right next to the pool so he could climb in and out when he wanted and he had a blast.  It was so fun watching his excitement.  This was definitely the best part of my day.

We eventually moved back inside and played in the playroom until my husband got home from work.  We were having leftovers for dinner, so I quickly assembled everything and we ate together.

Salmon, pasta, avocado, butternut squash, broccoli

After dinner was the normal bathtime, nursing, and Goodnight Moon.  James has only wanted like 5 minute baths lately for some reason. He doesn’t mind getting in the tub, but starts climbing out after few minutes.

After he went to bed at 7, I poured a glass of wine and we watched a couple of episodes of Bloodline on Netflix.  We just started it, but I am totally hooked!

We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, but it was a really good day.

What was the best day you had this week?

What’s your favorite part of a normal week day?

 

*Please note this post contains affiliate links – I get a small percentage if items are purchased, at no cost to you.  I only include items I have and love.  Thanks for your support!

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Reflecting on One Year – What I Would Do Differently

With James’s first birthday rapidly approaching, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past year, and specifically on what I would do differently.

I couldn’t come up with too much, not because I’ve done such an awesome job (lol), but because it’s still so close to it all – I’ll probably have a better idea of what I would change in a decade or so when the results of all of my mistakes are more obvious 🙂

There are a few things I would try to do differently though.

1. Remove the pressure!

James was not gaining weight quickly enough the first few weeks and I felt SO MUCH pressure to make breastfeeding work, and it was 100% from myself.

I have mixed feelings about this, because it did work out in the end and has been easy and wonderful for months, and I know this is in part because I worked really hard to increase my supply.  Still, I was pretty miserable for a while and felt like such a failure whenever my husband gave James a bottle of supplemental formula, and that is just ridiculous.

I was convinced that if he had any bottles at all in the first few weeks, he would refuse to breastfeed, and this was not the case at all.  He needed supplemental formula for a few weeks while we figured things out, and then he didn’t need it anymore and everything was fine.  He hasn’t had a bottle since he was probably three months old (not that there is anything wrong with bottles, just to say he did not show a preference for them like I read he might).

More importantly, even if breastfeeding hadn’t worked out, there are millions of happy, healthy formula fed babies out there thriving.  I know in my heart that what matters most is that I’m here for him, showing him I love him and that he is safe, not what he’s eating.

I’m not entiredly sure where this pressure came from, but I suspect that it was my way of dealing with fear.  I was so scared of SIDS and so scared something would happen to him, and I think I dealt with that by trying to control this one thing.

While I’m so happy breastfeeding worked out for us, I know everything would be totally okay if it had not.  I really hope that if we have another baby, I can be a little more relaxed about this.

2. Read about baby sleep

I read so many parenting books and blogs when I was pregnant, but apparently I failed to read up on the basics of baby sleep.

I did not realize how incredibly frequently newborns need to nap.  Because of this, I kept James awake too long and he fell asleep on me while I was feeding him.  All of the time.  This was no big deal at first because he was a sleepy newborn and I could just put him down after he fell asleep and go about my day.  As the weeks went by though and he became more alert, he would wake up whenever I put him down.  It got to where he would basically only nap on me.

I was so focused on making sure he got enough to eat, it took me a while to deal with this.  Once I realized it was a problem, I started transitioning him to napping in his bed (I started with the morning nap, as it was the easiest for him to fall asleep, and went from there).  It turned out okay, but I know it would have been a lot less stressful if I had started putting him in his bed to nap from the beginning.

Then again, those baby snuggles….

3. Make more freezer meals

I stopped working a few weeks before James was born, so had lots of time at home.  I read up on freezer meals and found many great looking recipes.  And then I made one of them.  Yep, just the one.  We survived (largely off of bagel sandwiches and eggs), but I would definitely take more time to stock the freezer next time.

4. Join a group

I got about ten times happier once I started getting out more and meeting other new moms.  It goes 100% against my shy and introverted nature, but I wish I had joined some sort of pregnant ladies group (do these exist?) before I had James so that I had other sleep deprived crazy people to talk to in the newborn days.  I had so much support from my husband, family, and friends, but there is something about connecting with people going through the same thing.  Plus, who else will answer your texts at 3 AM?

5. Sleep in our own bed!

James refused to sleep in his bassinet.  No matter what we tried, he started screaming whenever we put him in there.  He loved his floor bed right away though, and slept in there just fine.  So while we had planned to have him sleep in our room for the first few months (to reduce SIDS), he transitioned to his own room within a few days.  But I was so worried about the SIDS thing, that we transitioned with him.  We took turns sleeping on a camping mattress in his room for SIX MONTHS.  There is not enough coffee in all the world….

The thing is, our room is literally across the hall from his.  We could have opened both doors and it would practically be the same thing.  And I probably would have been functioning during the day, at least somewhat.

I’m not sure if I could actually change this, because SIDS is so scary and I was so paranoid, but I would definitely work harder to find a safe and functional sleep situation.

While I would do some things differently, there is one thing I am proud of – I really truly feel like I soaked up every minute of James’s first year.  I spent time staring at him, cuddling him, and just being present and it was everything.  Time does indeed pass quickly, but I know I did everything I could to slow it down, just a little bit, and that is worth the sleepless nights and hours spent googling and then some.

If you have multiple kids, did you do things differently the second time?

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A Leap of Faith – How I Met my Husband

In Alaska in 2011

I meant to share the story of how my husband and I met when I posted about our five year wedding anniversary…but I forgot.  Whoops.  It was a busy couple of weeks.

I don’t want to wait until next year though, so here goes!

Are you a spontaneous person?  I am not.  At all.  Sometimes I wish I were, but I’m definitely more of a type-A, often overly rigid, plans everything type of person.  I sound so fun, right?

Because of this, the times I’ve taken a leap of faith and followed my gut, rather than analyzing everything and doing what I “should” do, really stand out to me.  There have been three: moving to DC for college without ever visiting, quitting my career in business and becoming a teacher, and dating my husband.

In South Africa on our honeymoon in 2012

I met my husband when I was a freshman at Georgetown University.  I was having a great year.  I had met a wonderful group of friends, and was really enjoying experiencing a different part of the country.

I had dated some, but nothing too serious, and that was fine.  I was a freshman.

My best friend in college (still my best friend today!) is from Wisconsin.  Some of her friends from high school drove out to visit her for spring break.

My now husband, being the complete opposite of me, had no plans, did not even realize it was spring break, and so jumped in the car and came with them.  One of the many reasons I’m glad our personalities are so different 🙂

I met him at the dining hall – so romantic, I know.  I liked him right away.  I am pretty shy, but we wound up talking a lot that weekend.  We were always hanging out in a big group, but the two of us always wound up having great conversations.  One way that we are alike is that we are both major introverts.  This led to some deep conversations about what we wanted to be “when we grew up” and all the rest.  Plus, he was pretty cute 😉

He was super down to earth, which was so refreshing (Have you been to Georgetown?  It is beautiful, but down to earth, it is not….)

The weekend ended and I felt sad when he left, but he was basically a stranger.  It was just sad as in, I wished I had gotten to know him more.

We started talking over instant messenger and texting and eventually talking on the phone and became great friends that summer.

I wanted to go visit him that summer, but my Dad said no…shocking, I had only met the guy once and he lived across the country.  I would say no too.

School started and we still talked all of the time.  I saved my babysitting money and flew out to see him.  All of my guy friends had serious concerns about this and I don’t blame them!  It was an illogical thing to do.  My best friend did fly out with me, but she was going to Wisconsin for a family thing and we weren’t mostly together.  Also, his roommate was one of her best friends, so we at least knew he wasn’t a psycho!

Still, this was a theoretically stupid thing to do.  Yet, it was the best decision of my life.

At Milwaukee Brewing Company in 2013

We dated long distance for a little over two years and then he moved to DC.  We’ve been together ever since and he is my best friend and now such an amazing Dad.

In Big Bend National Park in 2014

I’m so glad that I didn’t let my often overly cautious mind get in the way of my happiness.  I’m so glad that I didnt’ listen to anyone saying it was a dumb thing to do or that long distance never works.  I’m so glad I listened to my heart, took a leap of faith, and made space to fall in love.

Here’s to taking risks and finding happiness!

Are you spontaneous?

Have you ever taken a big risk that paid off?

How did you meet your significant other if you have one?

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Happy Birthday to….the blog!

I don’t normally post on Saturdays, but I was just thinking, “Hey, I bet it’s been almost a year since I started posting.”  So I checked.  And it’s been exactly a year today!  Who knew?  Some part of my brain apparently.

I couldn’t let the day pass without popping in to say THANK YOU to everyone who reads.  This has been such a wonderful creative outlet for me and such a great way to connect with people, when I spend many hours at home with just me and the little guy.

Here are the five most read posts from the year:

  1. Five Parenting Lessons I Learned as a Teacher This has been by far my most read post, by a factor of…45!  I attribute this to the fact that the wonderful Janet Lansbury shared it on her Facebook page, so thank you very much Janet!  If you are not familiar with her work, you should definitely check out her website.
  2. Baby Led Weaning – High Chair versus Weaning Chair
  3. The Beginning – my very first post.
  4. Birth Reflections – Why I’m Glad I got an Epidural
  5. Thoughts on a Floor Bed (here is the update for how the floor bed worked, or didn’t work, for us as James got older)

And these posts did not make the top five, but they are two of my favorites: How I Left the Corporate World for Montessori Part I and Part II.

It has been an amazing year and I’m so happy to have so much of it documented to look back on.

Here’s to another year, thanks for reading!

– Christina

 

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Friday Favorites

Hello and happy friday!

It has been a particularly good week over here, for no specific reason, just happy ordinary days.

Here are a few things that have made me happy lately:

A Little Garden

After adding it to my goals many months ago, I finally took the first step to gardening!  I was siting outside with James on Sunday morning, looking around and wishing our backyard were nicer.  He was about to nap and I decided it had been long enough, we’d lived here for over a year, it was time to do something about it.  I spent both of his nap times clearing space for a flower bed, went and bought dirt, and planted some flowers during his nap the next day.  I still need to get some more flowers, but it already makes me so happy every time I go outside!  Next, I’d love to start an herb or vegetable garden.

It’s so easy to feel like I get nothing done, and I know that just comes with this stage in life, but it felt great to get something tangible done that I can actually see (and that won’t be undone as soon as James crawls by….)

This Delicious Kale Salad

I first had this salad at Thanksgiving a few years ago and have been obsessed with it ever since.  I get the pre-shredded brussels sprouts and pre-torn kale from Trader Joe’s, which makes it really easy.  I also like to add some dried cranberries or cherries and hemp seeds.  It’s so good and it makes a ton so I’ve loved eating it for lunch this week.

“Cooler” Weather

Okay, it doesn’t exactly feel like Fall here in Austin (we don’t really have much of a Fall), but the highs have been in the high 80’s or low 90’s this week and it feels comparatively amazing.  It’s pretty dry here too, so the mornings actually feel cool.  I have been loving all of the outside time and extra long walks!

Trader Joe’s Nitrogen Infused Coffee

I just started buying this last week and I love it a little too much.  These little cold brews are infused with nitrogen, which makes the coffee super foamy when you pour it into a cup.  It’s delicious and looks so pretty.  The only downside is that they’re kind of hard to open (I couldn’t open my last one this morning and had to make normal coffee and almost lost it…this probably says more about me than the coffee…Edited to add: my husband easily opened it with a bottle opener…smart man.)

Story Time!

Story time started back up at the library this week (they take August off).  Our library has the best children’s librarian.  She knows all of the babies’ names, and there are a LOT of babies who come.  It’s the only library story time in Austin for just 0-12 months and I’m so grateful for it.  James will only be able to go for a few more weeks and I will really miss it!

Batch Cooking / Freezing Food for James

I’ve never really been into freezer cooking – well, that’s not really accurate, I’ve just never really thought about it or figured it out.  Lately though I’ve been trying to cook a big batch of something for James once or twice a week and freeze most of it.  This has been super helpful when I make his lunch, as we’re often just getting home from a morning activity at lunch time.  Lately I’ve made banana mini muffins, zucchini fritters and greek yogurt pancakes.  I want to make pumpkin pancakes, but haven’t seen pumpkin yet.

Extra Time

Have you ever wished for an extra hour in the day?  Well, I got one!

I’ve been feeling a little stressed about getting things done (or, not getting things done, I suppose).  My AWESOME husband agreed to play with the little guy for an hour before work a couple of times a week so that I can have a little extra time.   It has been amazing.  I am way more of a morning person than he is, so I always wind up taking care of James in the early morning because I’m either already awake or wake up at the first peep he makes.  My husband can sleep through anything.

This week, I went for a run..by myself…with no stroller.  I don’t actually mind running with the stroller, but we don’t usually get out until later if I do that and it felt amazing to be out running before the heat of the day.  Plus, when I run with James, there’s the whole issue or showering when I get back….  I also had a chance to make a big batch of pancakes one morning, so the freezer is stocked again with easy breakfasts.

This Guy….

Always, every week, but especially right now as I try to savor every day that he’s still a baby.  I’ve been catching little glimpses of the little toddler lurking inside (like him going over to something he’s not supposed to touch and grinning at me…) and I love toddlers, but I just want him to be a baby a little bit longer!

What was the best part of your week?

Do you have any good freezer recipes?

Do you have any fun plans this weekend?

At what age do babies stop being babies?

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3 Mantras I Use Daily

Do you use mantras?  I used to use them while running long distances and found them really helpful.  (I no longer remember what running mantra I used – probably time to come up with a new one as I start training for a half marathon again, EEK.)

Since becoming a parent, I’ve found myself turning to them again because, yes, parenting can be pretty hard sometimes.  Here are three mantras I use regularly that help me keep my cool and keep things in perspective:

I have All the Time I Need

This is the one I use the most.  I tend to race around doing things quickly and sometimes I realize I am unnecessarily frantic.  I find myself cleaning the kitchen at breakneck speed after dinner when there is really no reason to rush.  I find myself stressed about getting stuck in traffic when we don’t need to get somewhere by any particular time.  I need to remind myself to slow down because sometimes it’s better to do something well (and dare I say, enjoy doing it) than to do it quickly.  I often say this aloud and it instantly helps me calm down.

The Days are Long, but the Years are Short

I believe this is a common phrase, but I got it from Gretchen Rubin, I believe from her book the Happiness Project.  I heard it related to parenting, but I think it could really be used for any stressful, but enjoyable job.  Honestly, lately our days have mostly been really enjoyable, but there have definitely been times over the past year when the day seemed to stretch on endlessly (mainly when James wasn’t napping well).  This little phrase helps me remember what countless people have told me since I first got pregnant – it goes by so, so fast, don’t wish it away, not even for a moment.

Some Day He’ll be a Teenager

This is similar to the one above.  When James wakes up at 5 AM and wants me, I remind myself that someday he’ll be a teenager sleeping until noon and I’ll wish he’d wake up and want to hang out with me.  When he’s clingy, I remind myself that someday he probably won’t want anything to do with me (tear).  When I wish we could go out at night, I remind myself that someday he’ll be the one going out at night and we’ll be at home wishing he were here with us, where we can peek in at him and know that he’s okay.  This is nothing against teenagers, I think they get a bad wrap, but it reminds me that while yes, it’s hard to have someone need you so much, some day he won’t feel like he needs me at all and that will be even harder.

These three phrases help me slow down and appreciate even the hard days.

Do you have a favorite mantra?

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What I Would Buy a Pregnant Friend: First Year Baby Favorites

It is inevitable, babies come with a lot of stuff.

Well, actually they come with nothing, and you have to buy a lot of stuff.

I do, however, really think the baby product industry blows this out of proportion.  When you’re a first time mom, you don’t really know what baby will need and you’re dealing with all of the nesting urges, so it is easy to get carried away by the mile long lists of “necessities”.

Looking back on this first year, there are thankfully only a handful of products we got that we really didn’t use, but there are also definitely a few that stand out to me.  These are the ones I would rush out and buy for my best friend if she got pregnant.

Ergobaby 360 Carrier: James does not spend a ton of time in here, but this carrier has made a huge difference in our daily lives by making errands easy.  He hated our old carrier (also Ergo, but it didn’t allow him to face forward) and I was always stressed when putting him in there to grocery shop, etc.  He still doesn’t want to be in here for an extended period of time, but he’ll easily stay content people watching while I run errands and has been okay in here for a couple of longer hikes as well.  It is also pretty comfortable for me!

Board Books: Black and White, Global Babies, Smile!, Hello, Bugs! We have so many board books, but these four were the first ones James fell in love with.  He still loves all of them today, except for Black and White, which he’s pretty much outgrown.  If I had to pick one favorite, it would probably be Global Babies, but all four of these are really great.

Lots of Links Toy: This is such a simple, basic toy, but I love it because it really stands the test of time.  When James was little bitty, I could string several rings together and hang them for him to look at, and later try to grasp.  Now that he’s older, he has a jar of them on his shelf and he loves removing them from the jar and putting them back in.  He seriously concentrates on this for the longest time, it is one of his favorite things right now.  I imagine when he’s even older, he might enjoy stringing them together or making patterns.  I love toys that last and keep interest for more than a month or two and these definitely do!

Rainbow Sound Blocks: These also work for many different ages.  Right now, James loves shaking them and holding the different shapes in his hand.  I imagine when he’s older, he may enjoy building with them or looking through the colored panels in the light.  These are beautiful on his shelf as well.

Your Self-Confident Baby: I’ve written about it before, but I love this parenting book.  It is the first RIE book I’ve read and I think RIE has a lot in common with Montessori.  To me, it seems like some of the main differences relate to the specifics of the environment, but both philosophies are definitely based on respect for the child and his autonomy.  I love this book because it is super approachable and easy and fun to read too.

Diapers! One of my husband’s best friends gave us SO MANY diapers that his daughter had outgrown.  This was so, so helpful, as we really didn’t have to think about buying diapers at all for months.  We’ve tried several brands and never had a problem with any of them, but it would be nice to give a friend a small package of several different kinds so she could try them out and see what they prefer.

Food Delivery Gift Card:  I had a coworker expecting his first child, but they already had everything they needed.  Our boss collected money to give him a gift card for Postmates for food delivery in the early months and I thought this was so thoughtful and creative!  There were definitely many nights when we had no time or energy to think about dinner in the first month or two and I think this would be so helpful.  Homemade dinners are also amazing of course, but having this as a fall back when something comes up would be so great.

Resource List: I think it would be so helpful to give a new or expecting parent a laminated list of resources they might need in the first few months.  This could include a lactation consultant, favorite local story times, closest emergency room. best place nearby to buy diapers, etc.

These last two cost more than I’d spend for a baby gift, but have made a HUGE difference in our first year and are two of my very favorites that I would definitely recommend to a friend:

BOB 2016 Revolution FLEX Stroller: I love this stroller so much and use it almost every day.  We’ve never needed to get a second stroller, as this works great for everything.  It is a little larger, so I could see it being less than ideal for running errands, but as I mentioned, we use the carrier for that anyway.  I love both walking and running with the BOB and it is super easy to push over grass or bumpy trails.

Lotus Travel Crib: I mentioned this when we first got it, but this bed is awesome!  We bought is when we decided to take a break from the floor bed and it made an almost immediate difference in all of our happiness.  This may sound dramatic, but it is not an exaggeration as James slept so much better in here right away.  I love that it is on the floor instead of raised and that it unzips so that baby can go in and out by himself when its open.  We use this as James’s every day bed, but I also love that it travels!  It was so nice on our recent vacation to be able to take his bed with us instead of worrying about how he would sleep in something new while already off schedule.  Thanks again to my friend Laura who told me about this, it has been a life saver!

These are some of the main products that we’ve loved this year and are largely still using today.  The list is relatively short because every baby is so different, I think it’s definitely worth waiting until baby is born to buy a lot of things. For example, we never needed a swing or bouncer or changing table but I know they are a big help for some famlies.  These are a few items though that I would feel confident gifting or recommending to a friend.

*Please note this post contains affiliate links – I get a small percentage if items are purchased, at no cost to you.  I only include items I have and love.  Thanks for your support!

Do you have any favorite baby products?

What are some must have toddler products? 

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James at 11 Months

I’m a little late with this update and cannot believe James turns one THIS month.  I’m honestly trying not to think about it too much and to just enjoy the month, as I tend to get overly sentimental.  Still, things are changing rapidly as James takes his first steps and I look at going back to work part-time.  It definitely feels like this very special year is coming to a close in a very real way.

Okay, before I get too sappy, on to the update!

Eating

James eats all the things.  He normally eats what we’re eating for dinner now, which makes things so much easier.  We offered him a few bites of ice cream on vacation and he was fine with it, but made it clear he’d rather eat his peas.  Who is this kid?

He did however love the homemade pizza we made last week, and really loves mashed potatoes.  He also continues to love yogurt, fruit, and anything someone else is eating.  He literally begged on his knees for a bite of a granola bar my sister was eating when she was here…five minutes after finishing a big breakfast.

My favorite development with his eating has been his desire to share.  He holds out tiny bites of food to me and, even though his hand is covered in unidentifiable food residue, I think it is the sweetest thing.  Sometimes if it is a bite of something really good though, he takes it back at the last second haha.

Sleep

I don’t want to jinx anything, but sleep has been so good!  Before our vacation, he had been frequently waking up at 5:30 or so for the day.  For some reason, ever since we got back two weeks ago, he’s often been sleeping until 7 or later.  Apparently he decided to stay on East Coast time and I am not complaining.  (Right now it’s 7:30 and he’s still sleeping…I literally never thought that would happen.)

I’ve also woken up a couple of mornings and all was quiet, but when I looked at the monitor he was silently walking the perimeter of his bed.  Works for me little man!

The only negative with sleep is that he has hit the clingy stage and sometimes cries when it’s time to go to bed now.  It generally doesn’t go on too long though, I just hate to hear him crying!

Physical Development

The biggest change has been James has started taking his first steps!  This happened last week, so just after he turned 11 months.  I would not say he’s walking, but he is taking a few steps at a time and is very close.  Right now, it is more of a mad dash between two things so that he can make it there before gravity catches up.

He is also standing for long periods of time – he likes to stand while we read books these days.  And a smaller, but one of my favorite physical developments – he is waving!  Something about this is just way too cute for me to handle.  He stood at the door waving for the longest time when my sister and her fiance left last week.  It melts my heart.

He has also started climbing things, which is interesting.  I was sweeping the floor after lunch the other day and looked over to see him sitting on the couch…holding the remote control no less.

Seeing him climb the furniture with no regard for safety is a little scary, but still fun to watch him exploring the world in a new way.

Personality

He is the sweetest.  Clearly I’m not biased at all, not even a little bit 🙂

He has become more clingy this month, but I honestly don’t mind.  He is normally so independent and on the go, I will soak up every long hug and slobbery baby kiss he gives me during this stage and will hold him in my lap all day long if he wants.  I of course still encourage him to be independent, but I am loving this time when he wants his Mama.

He also has a serious love of games…or what passes for a game at this age.  He of course loves peekaboo and also loves any other silly little game we come up with around here.  He gives the best belly laughs.

He has become fascinated with taking things in and out of containers.

He loves the splash pad, the beach, exploring, and READING.  He will seriously sit and listen to books for the longest time, which is funny because he is otherwise never still.  I’m very excited about this as I love to read and really look forward to reading him some of my childhood favorites as he grows.

I’m going to try not to become overly sentimental this  month as his birthday approaches.  I want to look back and reflect and remember this first year, but I also don’t want to waste too much time thinking about the past.  I want to truly be present and enjoy each day with the little buddy as he continues to change and grow.

Does anyone have a birthday this month?  (Apparently, it’s the most common birthday month in the US.)

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