Things we love – months four thru eleven.

I had every intention of doing a post like this every four months or so after I hit the publish button on this one.  That obviously didn’t happen.  But there are a few things that Ava has really loved and that we have loved for her, so here they are. {It should go without saying that none of these companies know I exist and this is not a sponsored post, but I’ll say it anyway.  No sponsorship here.}

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ZoLi straw cup – This cup is sturdy (as evidenced by its continued integrity following many, many gravity tests) and easy for little hands to manipulate. The straw has a little weight on the end so it goes to wherever the water is based on the angle at which it is being held. It’s also a stellar tool for an impromptu game of peek-a-boo.

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4Moms high chair – This is one of the pricier high chairs on the market so definitely a splurge. But we LOVE it and it has been worth every penny. No cloth, no vinyl. So easy to wipe down and clean which is important with any type of solid food consumption and imperative with baby led weaning – or with feeding babies in general, I suppose!  Seriously, this thing takes less than a minute to clean, regardless of how messy she was at mealtime.  Like the time I gave her a little tub of yogurt and told her to go to town while I cooked dinner.  The tray (secured by super strong magnets) is easy to remove and attach with one hand, leaving the other hand free for holding a baby or food or a glass of wine. ;-)  The chair is the perfect height for our table and we will continue to use it as a booster seat without the tray when she’s a little older. {Also, look how tiny she is in this picture! Just a little 6 month old.)

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Music class instruments – these little instruments came with our music class and Ava loves loves loves them.  It has been really fun to see her go from just chewing on everything to actually shaking, rattling, jingling, drumming…

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Lamaze fish bowl toy – (I keep forgetting to get a picture.  Maybe I’ll add one later…or maybe you should just click the link.)  This was a gift from a woman I work with to my mother-in-law and my MIL was generous enough to give the toy to us to keep at our house so Ava can play with it anytime. Ava loves all the little toys in the fish bowl, but the crinkly crab is her favorite. This toy is used in the Roots of Empathy program, which is further proof that it’s awesome. Sidenote:  We have since become some kind of advertisement for Lamaze/Tomy toys because we also own this clutch cube and this book and these stacking rings.

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Board books – They are sturdy and can hold up against a little rough love. We have several little sets of board books from Usborne and really like them a lot. We have started limiting and monitoring their time with Ava after she sprouted teeth because those sharp little chompers can really put a dent in the poor books.

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Crinkly and cloth and indestructible books – We were given one cloth book of nursery rhymes as a shower gift and we got as a gift from a work friend a Hallmark brand crinkly book that has been a perfect diaper bag toy.  I also ordered a cloth book from an Usborne rep, and that one is perfect to keep in the travel crib that normally lives in our room (so we can corral Ava while we get ready in the morning and don’t want to fight her eating the cat food).  I also got her three Indestructibles books, which are amazing.  We keep one in the diaper bag, one in the travel crib, and one downstairs in the pack and play.

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Blocks – Every kid needs blocks, right?  It’s like some kind of developmental necessity.  So I found these and they are perfect.  The colors are great – bright and fun.  There are numbers (1-10) and animals and interesting shapes on each.  I love the little bag for storage, and we don’t have to worry about splinters or paint chipping off when Ava inevitably gnaws on them.

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American Pediatrics book – We bought this monster right after Ava was born and we call it the user manual.  :)  {It’s still crazy to me that they just sent us home from the hospital with this little bitty human being.  We had no training, no experience, save a two hour infant CPR class.}  We’ve referred to it a fair amount and will continue to do so as it covers ages birth through five.  At which point I guess we need a new manual.

Tell me a few things you love – kid related or NOT!

There’s a basket for that. And other “life hacks”.

One day, out of the blue, I noticed that I love baskets. There are approximately a million of them, scattered around my home. Each fulfills its basket destiny by bringing some semblance of organization and containment to what would otherwise – I’m certain – be a chaotic space. Here are a few of my favorite uses for my wicker friends.

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This one is the keeper of my flip flops and sandals. A nice sturdy square basket, it sits stoically in my closet, keeping the summer shoe selection out of trouble.

Also: life hack – I put a rubber band around each pair of sandals. Keeps me from digging through the basket to find that elusive (fun fact:  I recently learned the difference between allusive and illusive and elusive.  I’m so proud to show off my newfound knowledge.) other sandal.

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A vanity basket. Our master bath has a long vanity and one sink. Kevin keeps his manly toiletries on one side of the sink and I keep my Listerine, coconut oil, and other potions on the other side. When we first moved into this house, it was chaos. We each had our side but the stuff was just sitting out, getting shuffled about and knocked over and so forth and so on.  I stumbled upon these sweet baskets at Cost Plus World Market (aka:  the store that makes me want to buy everything in the store) and they have been perfect for keeping our stuff organized on our his – and – her sides of the vanity.

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A toy basket.  There are two toy baskets in the house – one in our den and one in Ava’s room.  I really don’t want to become a house that is overrun with toys, so these two small baskets are perfect for keeping toys contained but accessible.  I’m sure they’ll continue to have magic keeping-the-house-picked-up powers once Ava is more mobile and has fine tuned her toy transport skills.  Ha. Ha. Wink. Wink.

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A bread basket.  Our counter was laden with gluten (wheat bread, tortillas, and oatmeal English muffins are staples in this house) and the bags were driving me bonks.  So I hid it all in a basket.  Naturally.

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A mail basket.  We’re pretty good about going through the mail right away and recycling/shredding/filing as needed.  But there was inevitably a few items stacked up and what better place to keep them semi-hidden than a basket.  It’s also helpful for storing charger cords, etc.

That’s it for baskets today.  But there are two more storage idea “life hacks” I want to share.  First, one that I learned from Tiffany, my college roommate – kind of a rolodex system for addresses.  It’s just a recipe box, alphabet separator tab things, and index cards.  I list the name and address of my nearest and dearest on an index card and then when they move, it’s a simple thing to shred the old card and create a new one with the updated address.  Or a friend gets married and changes her name – create a new card with the new name.  Gone are the days of crossing out names and addresses in an address book.  I also like storing stamps in the address box.

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I also have an expandable file thing where I keep cards and letters and ticket stubs and Playbills and other memorabilia associated with my closest family and friends.  I’m not one to get too attached to things as I’m not especially sentimental and I don’t like clutter.  But I do love keeping some items and I’ve found this is a good way to store them.

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Do you have any organizational life hacks?  Do share! 

Easy like Sunday afternoon.

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Take me back to yesterday afternoon when the weather was cool and cloudy.  The house was clean, the fridge was stocked.  The baby was napping and the husband and I were chopping, sautéing, mincing a beef stew into the Dutch oven.  Homemade bread dough rising and puffing beautifully.  A Tracy Lawrence YouTube concert played on the iPad.

Once the stew was in the oven, Kevin read his book and I painted.  Third time’s a charm painting this canvas in Ava’s room. I have accepted that it will never look exactly like the picture I have in my head, and I’m finally satisfied enough to just hang it on the wall and let it be. Artistic I am not.

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Ava woke up, Kevin’s parents came over for dinner (the bread dough fell right before I put it in the oven, but that’s okay because the flat bread had a fantastic crunch to the crust on the exterior yet was pillow soft inside), and a perfect Sunday afternoon transitioned into a perfect Sunday evening.

Nothing is wrong on this Monday morning – it’s just not Sunday afternoon.

The rest of the weekend was nice too.  We went out to dinner Friday night at a local place (known for its decadent desserts and I had a slice of key lime pie on the brain but $6.50 for a slice of pie – not happening) near a local bookstore.  Picked up a couple of board books and then took ourselves home.

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The cats and I enjoyed a nice cereal breakfast on Saturday morning.  I love to be popular.

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Then Kevin and I test drove a car.  Two people have told us that this particular car (Mazda CX-5) is the best car they’ve ever owned, so we were really excited to try it.  It was fine…but I think I like the one (Honda CRV) we drove the previous weekend better.  Just dabbling with the idea of getting a new car.  My car is fine and incredibly low mileage and in excellent condition and I don’t drive that often anyway and it’s the best thing ever to not have a car payment (well, it’s actually probably the BEST thing ever to not have a mortgage payment, but not having a car payment is pretty awesome too), so…I don’t know.

Ava took a nice long nap on Saturday afternoon, making us fashionably late for her friend Mia’s first birthday party.  It was so fun to celebrate that little cutie!  And so begins the year of first birthday parties since so many of our friends had kids last year.

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^ Riding through the safari on a zebra. #nbd ^

Happy Monday.

How was your weekend?

 

A day in the life – April 2016.

How life has changed since the last post of this type -six months ago in October 2015.  Just days before Ava was born!

Ava wakes up sometime between 5:45 and 6:45 each morning.  She still sleeps in our room and when she wakes she makes the sweetest little sounds.  She talks to herself and runs her hand along the mesh siding of her pack and play.  She kicks her little feet up and is quite content.  When I hear her stirring, I get up and go into her room to pump.  Kevin goes to Ava and changes her diaper.  He usually sings a song or two to her and she smiles and sings to him.  I take the pump parts and the milk downstairs, start the pump parts soaking in soapy hot water in the sink, and put the milk in the fridge or freezer, unless I know she’ll need it that morning.  I give Kiki and Rue their wet food and then head back upstairs.  Ava and I sit in bed and she eats while Kevin usually sits in the sitting area of our bedroom, watching Mike & Mike on ESPN and reading the Wall Street Journal.

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When Ava’s done eating, I put her on the blanket near Kevin so she can play or he’ll hold her, and I’ll go downstairs to eat some breakfast.  I try to get ready soon after eating and by then it’s around 8:00.  I’ll take Ava while Kevin gets ready and feed her again.  I really try to put her down for her first nap by around 8:45 on mornings that I work because I know the chances of her getting a good nap later in the morning are slim to none if she doesn’t go down before I leave for work.  If it’s a morning that I work, Kevin’s mom arrives at around 9:00.  Usually Kevin is able to leave at the same time as me and we’ll go together, but sometimes he has to be in earlier.

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On days such as this, I work from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  There’s a good portion of my job (Quality Assurance) that I can do from home, but I work better at the office.  Since March 1, our office manager has been out, so I’ve been doing some parts of her job like collecting payments, processing the mail, some of the billing, and making deposits.  It’s stuff that needs to be done at the office, so that’s what I’ve been primarily doing in my time there.  Then I fit in QA stuff as I can or take my laptop home to work on things.

If Kevin doesn’t have lunch plans, he’ll take a late lunch and go home when I do at 1:00.  We’ll put together some lunch and I’ll change her diaper and feed Ava, who will have had a great morning with Grandma.  Kevin heads back to work and Ava will usually be about ready for a nap so I’ll put her in her sleep suit, turn on the sound machine, and nurse and rock her for a bit in her room.  She’ll usually go down for a nap around 2:00 and sleep until around 4:00.  While she’s sleeping I’ll do stuff around the house, work from my phone or my laptop as needed, and start prepping dinner.  Sometimes I’ll watch the Food Network or read or take a nap, because, well, why not.  Kiki usually naps in our master closet for most of the day and Rue naps in the living room or the guest room (that is, when she’s not hopping to the top of the entertainment center to eat the fake plant).

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When Ava wakes up, we’ll do a diaper change and play for a little bit.  Then she’ll eat and then play some more.  Sometimes we’ll read a book or two; now that the weather is warming up and it’s staying light longer, we’ll probably start to go for more walks.

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When Kevin gets home, we’ll all play for a bit, then we’ll start cooking dinner.  We love to cook dinner together and Ava seems to really enjoy being in her little rocker in the kitchen, watching us and playing with a toy.

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We eat dinner at the coffee table in front of the TV (how long can we get away with that?  I guess when Ava starts solids we’ll have to start eating like adults at the table…), and when I’m done eating, I’ll feed Ava.  If she’s had two good naps during the day she’ll alternatively nurse and play until around 8:00, then she’ll nurse and wind down, ready to go to sleep around 8:30.  If she’s only had one good nap or (it happens) no good naps, we’ll try to take her upstairs and put her in the pack and play at around 7:30.  She’ll usually talk to herself a bit, but soon falls asleep.  We hang out downstairs until 9:30 or so then go up and go to bed ourselves at around 10:00.

And that’s the day!  There are variations of course.  Sometimes Kevin goes to CrossFit, sometimes we’ll meet friends out for coffee or the aquarium.  Some days Kevin works from home while I go to the office in the afternoon, or Grandpa comes to stay with Ava.  Sometimes I’ll go for a jog, or we’ll run out and pick up dinner rather than cooking at home.  Some days – many days – require multiple outfit changes due to spit up/excessive drooling and diaper blow outs.  But everyday is wonderful.  It’ll be fun to look back in six months and see how things have changed.

Are your days consistent or varied? 

Things I want to remember.

{This post has been buried in my drafts folder.  It’s a collection of random thoughts that were hard to put into words because there is so much feeling behind them.  I suppose there’s no time like the present to share it.}

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The thing that surprised me most about parenthood is how I could survive on the sleep schedule we kept in the first two months.  We were waking Ava up every 2 hours to feed her for the first few weeks.  Then we got the go ahead to gradually bump it back to waking her every 4 hours.  When we went in for the two month appointment and got the okay to let her wake up on her own when she needed to be fed or changed or whatever, we had adjusted to short blocks of sleep through the night.  It felt downright luxurious to sleep for six hours straight.  Then Ava eventually began sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night and now I’m so accustomed to that – it’s hard to imagine how I survived those first two months!  But I did.  Kevin did. Fingers crossed we don’t have too many regression nights ahead of us, but if we do, we’ll all survive them.

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I developed this ability to be in a constant state of awareness about where she is…how she’s breathing…what movements she’s making.  It makes me giggle to think back on that first month or two in particular.  Both Kevin and I would sometimes hallucinate or something and think that she was in bed with us.  Nearly every night Kevin would all of a sudden shoot straight up from a dead sleep and kind of gasp.  Soon I learned that he thought she was on his lap or next to him on the bed while she was actually safe and sound in her little rocker.  I did that a few times too.  I’d think that I was already nursing her and that I’d fallen asleep holding her.

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It makes me a little sad that Ava won’t remember this time of her life.  I wish that Kevin and I could record our conversations to play back to her in the future when she’s older and understands.  We talk so much and so often about how we love her so much…how we just want to stare at her all the time (creeper parents)…how we think she is so strong and so beautiful and that she works so hard to learn all the things she needs to learn and be the little baby she needs to be.  Not a day goes by that doesn’t include one of us calling the other one over to look at her expression or smile or sweet little sleeping face because it is just too cute to miss.  It’s so humbling to care for this little bitty person, to have them trust you and depend on you to make good decisions for them.

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Before she started doing regular “social smiles”, she would sometimes get this little smile on her face like she had just thought of a joke.  I loved those little smiles.  And I don’t believe for a moment that it was just gas.  :)  I think it is the most amazing thing to have this child and it is so fun to know that I’ve loved her from the very beginning of her existence.  And that love expands and changes day by day because as her personality develops and she grows into an independent little person, I love her for her and not just for being.  Kevin and I were talking about it last week – we know her better than anyone and we just love everything about her.

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Being her mom is the best thing.

In summation – 20 items, 21 days.

I tried out a capsule wardrobe for three weeks (more about that here), and here’s what I learned.

  • Getting dressed is really easy when there are such limited options.
  • It’s also very boring.  I am so excited to get back into my closet.
  • It was easier than I thought it would be to not repeat outfits.  I don’t think I wore the exact same combination of items a single time. I was also surprised at how few times I actually wore each item. Most shirts were only worn twice. It felt like more!
  • Capsule wardrobes are not my jam.  I’ll try my best to keep the stuff I don’t wear or that doesn’t fit culled so the closet is a manageable size and doesn’t threaten to swallow me each morning as I take it on…but I am not interested in doing the capsule thing long term.

And because I like data… Here’s the breakdown of how often I wore each item:

2 dresses
– Black and white striped – worn 2 times
– Navy blue – worn 0 times.  I actually never wore this because it is not nursing friendly and it would have just been really inconvenient.  I probably could have subbed in a different item but I just never got around to doing so.
3 pair of jeans
– Black skinny – worn 6 times
– Blue denim skinny – worn 9 times
– Purple skinny – worn 4 times 
3 cardigans
– Patterned – worn 3 times 
– Navy blue – worn 2 times
– Maroon – worn 2 times
4  pair of shoes
– Grey boots – worn 4 times 
– Brown boots – worn 3 times
– Black flats – worn 5 times
– Brown loafer flats – worn 9 times
8 tops
– Grey t-shirt – worn 5 times
– Purple Soothe Shirt tank – worn 2 times
– Grey, black, & white raglan stripes – worn 2 times
– Patterned short sleeve blouse – worn 2 times
– Green long sleeve button up – worn 3 times
– Dark chambray long sleeve tunic – worn 2 times 
– Red plaid long sleeve flannel button up – worn 2 times
– Blue plaid long sleeve tunic -worn 3 times

And here are a few of the outfit combos, in all their photogenic glory:

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I’m in a GLASS CASE OF EMOTION!

Bonus points:  the post title – what movie?

This girl.  These expressions.  They slay me.  I love that babies have not learned to filter or censor their emotions and their outward display of those emotions.  What you see and hear is what you get and that is exactly what they feel in that exact moment.

I give you a few of the many expressions of Madam Pea…

Worried.
Aka – What do you mean I have to take a bottle?

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Mischievous.
Aka – I just made a diaper deposit and it was a doozy.

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Surprised.
Aka – Kiki and Rue aren’t my blood siblings??

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Excited.
Aka – Great joke, mom.  I’m always going to think that you are hil-ar-ious.

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What are you feeling on this fine day?