13 Months

Well here we are.. another New Year, with a toddler!

I had anticipated I would feel like taking some time off from blogging for the Christmas season.. I did not however, plan to go an entire month without writing a thing! And so much happened that I need to recap, including your first birthday party with your family, your first birthday party with friends, our preparations for the Christmas season, followed by Christmas itself (which I have renamed “Pukemas 2013” – as we all were hit by a tummy bug sometime before, during and after Christmas). I hope I can recap all these events for you soon!

But first, your 13 month update must be done!

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I need to write a bit of a disclaimer here.. and that is, December was actually a pretty difficult month for you. You fell sick on the 21st.. it started with two days of a really high fever that I managed with Motrin. On day 3, your fever had disappeared but you woke up in the middle of the night and threw up multiple times. This BROKE your Mama’s heart.. you did not cry, you simply cuddled your Dad looking white as a sheet and so, so sad as I called the nurse on duty and made sure we could continue to care for you at home. The next day, you seemed much better, but alas, that only lasted Christmas Eve and by Christmas Day you had a dry cough, runny nose, and were just so rundown. Of course, during these days our routine fell completely by the wayside. You ate barely any solid foods and slept whenever you felt like – usually taking 6 or so 30 minute naps a day, sometimes more. The rest of the time you spent cuddled on your father or I’s chest, watching far more TV than usual. You are now JUST on the mend and getting back to your cheerful self, with 4 more teeth than you had before this awful cycle started.

Sleeping has changed considerably this month. We are almost finished co-sleeping entirely. This is amazing because I had a little seed of doubt planted in my mind that it would never happen. It is also very, very bittersweet because I absolutely loved our days of bedsharing. However, as you were approaching your first birthday I made a promise to myself to allow you to become more independent. And independent sleeping is  a HUGE step towards this goal. Granted, we are still working out some kinks from our new sleeping arrangements – some nights you wake up multiple times just needing to be comforted, and others I fall asleep beside you rather then head back to our room across the hall. But generally, our night generally starts with you going to bed at 7:30. You wake up around 12:30 to nurse, and then sleep till about 6:30 or so where I nurse you again. Our day starts shortly before 9 most days.

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You still either take one big nap from 11:30 till about 2:30, or two naps of about 1.5 hours each.

Now that you have gained back your appetite for solid foods, you are eating 3 solid meals a day, and 2 snacks. You like a great variety of foods but don’t eat anything you do not like – that usually goes on the floor for the puppy. I think you consider puffs to be a food group because you would happily snack on them all day if we would let you (we don’t).

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You only nurse before naps and bedtime, and the rest of the time you are offered whole milk in your sippy cup. I am very happy we were able to skip bottles all together! Just one less thing I need to think about taking away from you in the future (because it feels there is always *SOMETHING* I am supposed to be taking away from you).

You have a TON of new toys from your birthday and Christmas last month, which has enabled us to start *toy shuffling*. This means we have toys, brand new and boxed in the basement that you haven’t even played with which we intend to switch in when you start getting bored of the toys you have in your play area. Right now, your favorite toys include the glockenspiel you received for Christmas, your walker, and your play kitchen that Mum, Dad, Nanny and Papa gave to you for your first birthday. I love watching you play with all your toys, but your kitchen in particular – just yesterday I watched you intentionally put food in a pot, close the lid, place it on the stove (which makes bubbling noises) then take it off the stove once finished and empty the pot. I am patiently awaiting to be served three course suppers and watch you wash and put away the dishes afterwards (great practice for the future, too)!

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With us being in the middle of the cold of winter, we have been spending MUCH more time at home than we did in the summer. As such, it has now become a part of our routine to start off the day with a quiet cartoon (while Mama wakes up and feeds/lets out the dog). You love Cat in the Hat and Curious George most of all – when the theme song comes on you break into a huge smile and wiggle your little bum to the beat. It is aaaadorable!

Not walking yet, although you have taken one or two steps several times on your own to transfer between furniture or your Dad and I. I was told walking qualifies as 5 unassisted steps so we are patiently awaiting for you to take the leap, but at the same time allowing you the time you need to figure it out for yourself at a time that is most comfortable to you.

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You say many words – but NEVER on demand. Only when you feel like it – another sign of your streak of stubbornness. Words you have said include – mama, dada, hi, bye, book, and bubble. You still think puppy is said by popping your lips together … but no sound is yet to come out.

Speaking of the puppy, if it’s possible you are even more in love with her than before. Half of the time (maybe a little less) the love is reciprocated as she runs in circles around you and attacks you with kisses, the other half of the time she goes into another room to get away.

You have an obsession with soft blankets. You have a green fuzzy one that is still hands down your favorite, but if you are in a room with blankets or even soft articles of clothing you will gather them all to surround you and bring them with you everywhere.

You also still love your books and sit quietly flipping their pages and looking at the pictures as if you are memorizing them by heart.

You also now have a new little quirk where you like to take objects such as blankets or clothing and put them over your head so you can barely see in front of you. You then crawl furiously around the room laughing. You do this with your Dad’s hat too. You especially like chasing the dog when you do this and you think that you are absolutely hilarious. It is the funniest thing to watch but I have to run interference quite often to be sure you don’t run into any walls.

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 Here’s to another month and a brand new year!

xo

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12 Months

Now that all the birthday excitement is starting to wear off (mind you, the party is not till the 15th so the celebrating is not over!), I have had some time to think about the fact that I now have a ONE YEAR OLD. And… I’m so excited! I spent so much time dreading this one year mark because it creeped up on me so fast, and was such an amazing year. But now that it is behind us, I am anticipating all that is to come. There are so many things you can do with a one year old that you just can’t with a 6 month old, and I look ahead to all these wonderful things.

So without further ado, here is a recap of the twelfth month:

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Things have been really good in the sleep department. Last month I mentioned that you had been sleeping poorly, inconsistently, and as a result we would be starting to transition away from bed sharing. Well, you must have been teething, or going through a growth spurt, because things have sorted themselves out again, meaning we are back to our 1 maximum 2 wakeups per night. Regardless, we started the transition into your toddler bed (yes, TODDLER bed. A post as to why I chose this strategy will come once the transition is complete) and it is going well, so we see no reason to move backwards.

The transition has been going rather smoothly, although slowly. This is as much for my benefit as yours – I love the cuddles. Currently, you start the night in your toddler bed, anytime between 7 & 8 PM. You wake up between 1:30 & 2 AM for a nursing session, and at this time I join you on the floor bed. You then wake up once more between 5:30 & 7, and after that we sleep until around 9 AM.

You take all of your naps in the toddler bed also, and you are still napping very well – except on the days that your Dad is home. For whatever reason, on those days our routine seems to go out the window, and you fight your naps until you are so exhausted you are crying. I guess you just love when he is home SO MUCH that you do not want to miss a single second!

On the days he isn’t home, you take two 1.5 hour naps. One around 11-12:30, and the second at 4-5:30. Some days you skip your morning nap; this always ends up with you sleeping from 1:30:-4:30ish. But most of the time you are consistent with your two naps.

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You eat pretty well most days, however, when we went to your one year appointment on Friday, your pedi mentioned a food regression at the one-year mark. I’m pretty sure you heard him say this, and being your little defiant self you started to reject a lot of your fruits and vegetables and eating only your protein, dairy and grains these past few days. This is causing me to be a little more creative and hide veggies/fruits wherever I can. I sure hope this is just a phase and that it passes. Quickly!

As for nursing, WE MADE IT. We hit the 12 month mark without much difficulty and are still going steady. That being said, your nursing sessions have reduced dramatically to only about 4 times a day, due to your increase in solids. I have started to offer you milk more frequently in your sippy cup, and you do drink it, but not enough to substitute the nursing sessions just yet. I don’t know if this is the beginning of weaning, but I am kind of just letting you take the lead on this one.

You’ve had your bottom two teeth for months, but it seems your FOUR top are due to make an appearance any day. They don’t seem to be bothering you too bad this time around, thank goodness.

You have officially become attached to your green fuzzy blankie. Funny how it happened almost overnight, but now you take every nap with it and will not go to bed until it is grasped tightly between your two little hands. You also like to hold on to it for the first 20 minutes or so when you wake up and cuddle with Mum or Dad. Once you let go, it is game on and you are ready to take on the world.

You are still crawling, although you can stand unassisted for several minutes at a time, but ONLY when you don’t notice yourself doing it. I think at this point this walking thing, it’s all mental. You have the capability to do it but are still overcoming some obstacles in your mind, and your father & I are not pushing you in any way. We trust you will do it when your ready, and then it will be GAME ON for us.

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You are obsessed with Cat in the Hat. The theme song in particular. I could put it on repeat and you would be mesmorized and smiling, glued to the TV all day. You squeal with glee whenever it comes on and wiggle your bum to the beat if you are standing.

You have started to dance when an upbeat song that tickles your fancy comes on. You have a love for a song by the New Politics called “Harlem” and it really gets your bum a wiggling. It makes me laugh everytime! You’ve got some moves, baby girl. We also still dance around the living room together frequently, and when this happens you erupt into giggles. Some of my favorite times spent.

You give open mouthed, drooly kisses, when you want to. You still try every day to say puppy, moving your mouth but alas, no sound has yet to come out. You also try to say “book” in the same fashion. You understand the words “no” “bedtime” “bath” “water” “puppy” “kitty” (and many more) and you anticipate what is to come or look for said puppy or kitty when I say these words.

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You wave goodbye when we or someone is leaving, and every night you wave hello at the moon before bed as a result of the little rhyme I have been saying for months. This warms my heart.

You have an obsession with books. They are definitely your favorite toys. You will sit quietly on the floor and turn the pages, staring at the pictures. Sometimes you babble while you do it, as though reading out loud :). I love witnessing moments like these.

You notice almost immediately if things are different or if something is out of place. For you, out of place means tidied and put away. For an example, you were given a box set of books from both your Auntie Chrissy and Auntie Leah for your birthday, 24 little board books in total. If I go to put said books back in the box, you immediately crawl over and pull them all out again. Another example: anytime I have a towel, hat, or book (for fun) on my head, you give me an annoyed look, stand up, then knock it off. You seem to like things in their place (what you define as “their place” – often on the floor) and it really bothers you when things are different. It is an extremely endearing quirk.

Looking forward to all that lies ahead for you, little one.

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Love you forever,

xo

 

One Year (a video)

McKenna turned 1 yesterday! A full birthday recap, along with an amazing cake smash video, will follow later on this week.

In the meantime, I made a little video to celebrate the occasion. It was rather hard to put the very best year of my life into a 3 1/2 minute video, but I did my best :).

McKenna, your father and I love you so much. Our biggest birthday wish for you on your first birthday is that you continue to enjoy this, your childhood. Be carefree, be curious. Explore the world with the comfort of knowing you have a mother and father who love you so, who will always be here with open arms.

Love you forever, our sweet sweet girl.

xoxo

Mum & Dad

They Say it Takes a Village…

They say it takes a village to raise a child. As we approach McKenna’s first birthday, I find no words that could be more true.

Today also marks the 100th post on A Little Baby Bean (hooray!). How very appropriate that I intend to use it by thanking our own village.

I contemplated writing personalized thank you’s, because I am just so terrified of missing someone. But if you have been a part of this past 12 months in any way, be it a visit, a phone call, a kind word on Facebook, a read of this blog, or a like of a photo on Instagram, thank you. Thank you for being our village.

Now, onto the sappy stuff!

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To our Auntie Ethel….. A million thank you’s. Thank you for always answering the phone. Thank you for the warm lunches, for the offering of supportive words, for Band-Aid deliveries well into the night, and above all: thank you for giving me advice ONLY when I ask for it! I wish there were more people who followed this philosophy (see last post re: unsolicited advice). Thank you for always being such a constant in my life.

To our Uncle Emlyn…. Thank you for being you. Another constant. For your calm voice, warm hugs, and secrets whispered during cuddles with McKenna. You will always be Uncle Lemlyn to me, but I am so happy to be able to share you with my own little girl now.

To Nanny…. For your support. For the offering of kind words when I was frustrated with sleeping arrangements, for reminding me that every baby is different. Thank you for all the presents you shower McKenna with, the lunch dates, the help running errands, and for just being there whenever we need you.

To Papa…. for being the calming gentle presence that all little girls need in a Papa. McKenna is so lucky to have you.

To Helen/Auntie Helen… my big sister. I know you are going to be an ever present figure in McKenna’s life, and I am so happy she will have such a great role model to look towards as she grows older. I hope McKenna one day will have or become a sister like you, that she can also call a friend. Uncle Michael too..  another great role model. I am so happy you are a part of our family!

To her Auntie Chrissy, Auntie Nikki, Uncle Mike, and all of her adorable cousins… for surrounding us with the love of a family. For quality time spent. I am so happy McKenna has such a large family to grow up with, cousins close to her age, and so many houses where she will always be welcome.

To my cousin (and McKenna’s third cousin) Gillian.. thank you for always responding to my messages, answering my questions, giving advice and just for being there. Thank you for the hand me downs that we have put to good use, and always thinking of our little family. You have been a role model to me for as long as I can remember of what great parenting looks like!

To Lareina/Auntie Lareina… my sister in law. The abundance of information. Thank you for responding to my gazillion text messages, at all times and on all days, even when I started to find myself annoying for asking SO MANY DAMN QUESTIONS. Thank you for sharing and supporting me with my parenting choices. I find comfort in knowing someone personally who has adopted so many of the decisions that I too have made for my own little love.

To Vanessa/Auntie V…… My bestest friend. I love you so.. thank you for all the words, support and gifts (but seriously, enough with the gifts!) you have provided us with over the past year. You are not just a friend to Matthew, McKenna and I.. you are family. And your Mama. God bless your Mama and her sweet soul.

To Kelsey/Auntie DB… my childhood friend. I only hope that McKenna can find someone as precious as you have been to me all these years. I know it has been quite an adjustment on our friendship this year (from talking all day, every day, and drinking our faces off each weekend) but thank you for being my childhood, and now adult best friend. Thank you for all the advice and wisdom, and for always giving it to me straight (even when I don’t want to hear it!). I look forward to sharing McKenna’s life with you.

To Leah/Auntie Leah…. my never judging friend. Thank you for never judging – for being the person who, when you know I am having a down day, will send me an article about the benefits of co-sleeping and nursing just to make me feel better. It’s people like you that make this parenting gig not feel so lonely.

To Mike/Uncle Mike….. for always making the effort. Be it our lunch dates, the rides when I am stranded in cold weather, our text messages, or the likes of photos on Facebook, you have made your presence known this past year in both McKenna and I’s life and taken a true interest as my friend! It’s so nice to always have someone like you to count on.

To Clarissa and Jayda….. thank you for the text messages, for always checking in to see how our little family is doing. Thank you for making yourselves available to babysit. I know the door is always open at your house, and I am thankful for that! It is so nice to have a select group of people we can rely on to watch our girl, and you two beautiful women absolutely top this list.

To Sarah, Molly, Michelle, Tia and all the other mothers I have met (or reconnected with) this past year.. some who don’t read this blog. But it has been so nice to connect with other mothers with babies the same age as McKenna who are going through the same experiences I am going through. Thanks for letting McKenna socialize (and sometimes antagonize) your beautiful babies this past year! I hope we can all keep in contact as our little babes grow up! 

Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts! We look forward to continuing to share McKenna’s life with each and every single one of you!

Things that Surprised Me About Motherhood

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I am nearly 12 whole months into this parenting gig, and I have been spending a lot of time reflecting upon this past year and my journey into motherhood. A lot of things have surprised me, and I am prepared to be continually surprised as time goes on. But here is a collection of things from the first year that had me caught pretty off-guard:

It can be lonely. Majority of my days I feel fulfilled, just by spending time with McKenna. But there are days that come where I crave adult contact. My days are filled of McKenna and my nights are spent hanging out with Matthew. Majority of days, this is more than enough. But occasionally.. occasionally there is that pang of lonliness and longing for the days where I was a social being, having lunch dates and working with adults and going to bars and drinking on weekdays. The lonely days are definitely difficult but they are greatly outnumbered by the happy ones, and for that, I am grateful.

Breastfeeding is really hard (in the beginning). But then it gets really, really easy. I remember in those early days, I was in constant pain and just so, so frustrated. I remember thinking “how on EARTH can something that is supposed to be so natural, be so damn difficult?!”  It takes perseverance, patience, and on top of that a bunch of other factors related to health that are completely out of your control. But we stuck with it, and after awhile it became the easiest part of our day, and easily one of my favorite experiences from the journey thus far.

Everybody has an opinion. Oh. My. Gosh. The amount of unsolicited advice that I have received this past year is unreal! I understand that people have the best of intentions, but really? It is soooooooooooo annoying. You definitely learn to take it all in stride and sometimes, just bite your tongue. But man oh man, it is just the worst.

Parenting is a controversial subject. Everyone has their own opinion, their own story, their own way they think is right. But the bottom line is that every child is different. I have met so many mothers, and people, who have been so supportive and kind to me.. and then there are the others who I constantly feel are judging my choices. At the end of the day, we are all working our hardest to raise our babies the best we can. At the end of the day, we should all be in this together.

NOTHING went how I envisioned it. I never thought I would be the mum who adopted such parenting ideas as bedsharing, extended nursing, and baby led weaning, but those choices are some of the best parenting decisions I have made. Every baby is different and mine made it clear from the get go that a more natural, attachment parenting style worked much better for her, making for a better family as a whole.

It takes a village. And I am so thankful for ours. I will be doing a special post tomorrow about all of the people who have been detrimental to the success of Matthew & I’s journey into parenting. We want (and need) to personally thank all of the people who deserve to be thanked. Without you, it wouldn’t have been possible.

I love her so much more than I could have ever imagined. You hear it all the time. About how you will fall in love with your child instantly and the attachment will be unlike anything you have ever experienced. To be honest, I LOVED McKenna instantly but I fell in love with her over time. I don’t know when exactly it happened, but suddenly, she was my everything. She was my purpose for being. She was my greatest creation, proudest accomplishment, and the absolute love of my life. And that connection has only deepened over time. Sometimes, I can’t even remember what life was like before her. Like she has just always been. But in a way, I am sure that is true, because she has always been a part of me, a part of my soul. A part of her father & I’s life plan long before we had even met, before I became pregnant.

To all you other mothers, what was your biggest surprise about motherhood?

The Gift of Time

When you become a new mother, your life suddenly revolves around time.

In those early days – time to breastfeed. Setting alarms in the middle of night to ensure your newborn is well fed, and your nursing relationship well established. Then there is the scheduling involved when leaving the house – okay, when are nap times? How long until baby gets hungry? How much time before you are faced with hunger or tiredness? Then baby gets older, and bedtime routines are established – what time does baby start to get tired? When should we start our routine? What is the optimal time for baby to go down for the night to ensure the least wakeups?

Slowly but surely, your life begins to revolve around the clock.

And then, you need to deal with the lingering sense of time, passing too quick, in the back of your mind. Constantly. You go from counting the weeks to counting the months, 6 week olds become near one-year olds in the blink of an eye. And you are so busy from your days spent scheduling and watching the clock that your head spins as you try to grasp onto something, ANYTHING, to just make the time slow down.

As McKenna’s birthday approaches, I have not one, but two, big dates marked in red in the calendar in my head – December 1, the day my baby turns 1 year old. I still can’t really form words to express how this feels to a mama, but I am working on it. The second date is December 28 – the day where my maternity leave runs out, and I am due to return to work.

I have commented SO MANY TIMES (here, here and here for starters) about my hesitance in returning to work. I have discussed my feelings with Matthew, with relatives, with friends. I have spent endless hours watching McKenna play and thinking about what is really the best thing for her, my wonderful little girl. I have tried to reassure myself everything WILL BE OKAY. Countless of mothers do not even have the amount of time I have so graciously been granted. Countless of mothers have faced this change at the year mark and their BABIES ARE FINE. But I still felt as though I was doing far too much convincing.

I am now, happy to report, that our family has come to a decision. A decision both Matthew and myself are at peace with. I will remain at home until the end of winter, allowing ourselves 3 more months of time. Time to nurse, time to sleep train (I prefer sleep teach), time to wean, time to play, and time to grow independence. I am so happy to be able to remain at home with McKenna during the cold and flu season, and I feel as though McKenna will be better prepared for childcare, and I will be ready to return to work come April, 2014, after being given this extraordinary gift of just a little more time.

I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to Matthew for this decision. I knew I wanted it to be one we came to together, and I am happy it has turned out to be so. I know this time is a luxury that many could not afford, and for that reason, I will not take a single second of it for granted.

I woke up this morning feeling such peace. All because of this beautiful family that I am so happy to call my own, that never stops growing.I am the luckiest girl in the world. 🙂

 

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Our First Halloween

Last week, we celebrated your first Halloween!

It was a smashing success, as was the week or so leading up towards it. We visited Prairie Gardens, and got lost in a corn maze, watched people fire the pumpkin cannon, attended a petting zoo and a magic show, and all in all just had a great family day. We carved pumpkins, you my little assistant as I cleaned them in preparation for your father’s return from work. You only tried to eat the pumpkin guts once – once, and then it never happened again (yuck). We shopped for costumes for your father and I – the first time either of us had worn a Halloween costume (the last time being when we went to the Howler in 2009 with your Auntie Chrissy and Nikki; when your Dad dressed as Jack Skeleton and I as a ladybug.. but that is a story for another time, when you are much, much older :)).

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When the big day arrived, it started out like any other Thursday., until I dressed you to leave for your music class and placed your Tinkerbell dress over top of your normal outfit, and placed your wings on your back. We went to music class and had a fun time with Batman, a princess, a pumpkin and a sheep, and headed home to prepare dinner for your Dad’s arrival.

Once we had all had supper and were dressed (your father and I dressed as pirates to fit with the Tinkerbell theme) and ready to go, we headed out for some trick or treating. The temperatures were unseasonably warm this Halloween, but we opted to just visit friends and families who lived close by. We visited a total of 5 houses, and let me tell you, that was ENOUGH candy wise! You sure cleaned up! We have put your candy away somewhere for safekeeping (our tummies) for when you are old enough to enjoy it (hey! Isn’t that one of the major perks of parenting?).

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It was a fun day for all of us. The ones we visited truly loved seeing you in your costume and we had a great time showing you off. I’ll be honest – Halloween has never been one of my favorite holidays (I am much more particular to Christmas and New Year’s) but having you around has definitely renewed the spirit of the holiday. I look forward to partaking in many more Halloween’s and continuing these traditions and creating new ones as you grow older.

I also feel it is important to mention that you slept 8 hours straight that night – reason enough for me to wish Halloween occurred several times a year, and not just once! 🙂

Love you forever, my little Tinkerbell.

xo

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11 Months

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I couldn’t decide whether to do your 11 month update today, or post your incredibly aaaadorable Halloween pictures and recap our fabulous night. I am going with the former, based on the fact that I am still in denial that my baby girl is 11 MONTHS today, which means in exactly ONE MONTH we will be celebrating your first birthday. What.the.heck. Maybe writing about it will help me come to terms with the fact? I doubt it, but hey, it’s worth a shot!

We had a really good month in October, in all areas BESIDES sleeping. Change is on the horizon – our sleeping situation just isn’t working anymore. You have been really inconsistent – some nights you sleep 6-8 hours straight, and others, you wake up to 5 times. Your father and I think it is now the time for you to gain more independence, and that this might be the key to consistent better sleep for us all. I am saddened at the idea of our cosleeping relationship coming to an end, but my Mama instinct is telling me it is time. I will be writing a more detailed post in the near future about the changes we plan to implement, and how they end up working.  Sigh… just another huge sign that my baby is growing up.

You still, however, nap easily and for long periods. Some days you take two naps – one in the mid-morning (around 10:30) and one later in the afternoon (around 3:30). If you skip your first nap that second nap is around 2.5-3 HOURS long. If you take both naps, each are about 1.5 hours. It’s amazing what a mama can accomplish when her baby sleeps so well during the day, so I thank you for that.

Eating-wise, you have gained quite the appetite this month. Whereas last month about 25% of the food on your tray actually entered your mouth, I would say that number has increased exponentially to about 80%. You seem to like everything – particular favorites still include WATERMELON (seriously baby, if you are what you eat, you are most DEFINITELY a watermelon), yogurt, tomatoes, eggs, crackers, cheese, broccoli, rice, pasta.. do you see what I’m getting at here? It brings a huge smile to my face to see you gulping down such healthy eats every single day. I am very happy you didn’t inherit your father’s dislike for vegetables.. now if we could just get him to eat as well as you….

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Still nursing, which means we are one month shy of our major goal – ONE YEAR! Woohoo! I still say this with such pride in you and I. I am still on the fence about weaning you at a year, as your father and I are currently having discussions which would allow me to *fingers crossed* stay home with you for the winter. If this is the case, I will continue to nurse you throughout. Our nursing relationship is easy, and I feel as though it is truly doing wonders for you, so I am in no rush to quit.

You are still a little music lover. Your days at KinderMusik are your favorites of the week. We are starting to collect a few musical instruments (shakers, tamborines, etc.) and those seem to be your favorite toys. You look at me with such pride when sound comes out of these toys, and it still has me convinced that you will continue to be a musical person well into your childhood, and maybe beyond. But of course, only if that is what you want to do.

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Your jumper, exer-saucer, playpen, and anything else that confines you are now 100 percent a thing of the past. You spend your days when we are at home exploring each room. Your father and I have opted for an open play space for you, and simply child proof along the way. I am finding it a blessing these days that our house is so small as you are never to hard to find, or catch for that matter.

You still love to pull all the DVDs off the shelf, but now that you can stand and reach simultaneously, you pull ALL of them down. I feel as though I am constantly replacing them, but as previously noted, it keeps you busy, brings you joy, and can’t really hurt you… so the DVDs stay.

You crawl (more like stomp) everywhere, fast. You can stand independently for a few seconds before falling on your bum. You can stand holding onto an object for hours. You pull yourself up on EVERYTHING. You are using your walker to motor around the room, but no sign of walking QUITE yet. This is just fine with me, as I am quite content you staying my little baby for as long as possible.

You are making a real effort to talk these days. You try as hard as you can to mimic our mouths when we say several words – such as puppy, kitty, water, to name a few. You move your lips but no sound has come out quite yet.

You have become a little more of a mama’s girl this month – there have been a few days where I could not so much as leave the room without you crying. I’m not sure if it is minor separation anxiety, or what.. but on those days I am perfectly content to spend extra time with you, playing or cuddling, whichever you prefer. :). You laugh often, and loudly, and make your father and I do the same.o7o6

You love the pets soooooooo much, and follow them around everywhere. It’s a good thing we have three of them, because you seriously never leave them alone. At least this way they can catch a break! Esme (the cat) is the most tolerant of you – she lets you crawl all over her, pull her tail, and sometimes even eat it (when Mum and Dad aren’t looking of course). You have tasted the dog’s food more times than I would like to admit this month and I look forward to informing your future boyfriends of this fact.

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You weigh 19 pounds (40th percentile). I went to the doctor to see if I should be concerned about your slooooow weight gain, and his response was (and I quote) “have you seen those thighs?!” I sure hope he uses more tact with his older female patients!  He said you are developing perfectly, and if you were taller (35th percentile for height) you would look pretty skinny.

But alas, it seems you are doomed to be short like your mama. But this is not such a bad thing, because as you Grandma always used to say, good things come in small packages :).

Love you forever.

Travelling with a Baby

Our trip to Banff was nearly two weeks ago. It was an amazing time and holds so many dear memories for us.

Travelling with a baby is very different than travelling without one. Whereas before, Matt and I would simply decide to take off last minute, pack the morning of and leave at whatever time we were ready, travelling with a baby involves planning, very careful packing, and time management. I am not very talented at any of those 3 things by nature, but since I have become a Mum I do find I am improving considerably.

There were some things that really worked well, and there were a couple things that really didn’t. Now that some time has passed, and Thanksgiving is behind us, I have really had some time to reflect on what we did well and what we can improve upon. We are heading to Jamaica in February for a wedding and although I know flying with a baby and staying at a resort in a different country is entirely different from driving 5 hours across our province to stay in a hotel with a car at our disposal, but I still think valuable lessons can be learned. And regardless, Matt and I both love a good roadtrip so reflecting on our experience from this trip and applying it to the next one will be invaluable!

Some things I found that really contributed to the success of our trip included:

1. We planned to travel while she was napping – I think for all parents, this is pretty much a given. On the way to our destination, she slept about half of the time. On the way back, she slept nearly the whole time.

2. We were sure to return to the hotel for all naps – McKenna can fall asleep in her stroller/carrier/car seat no problem, but at the same time, I think that really sacrifices the quality of her sleep. Matt and I made an effort everyday to return to the hotel for her naps, and I think it really paid off. She was always rested and relaxed, and happy with whatever we were doing, so we didn’t deal with any meltdowns.

3. We stuck to her bedtime routine – give or take half an hour.

4. We bought her a new toy – for the drive home. When she did wake, I removed it from the packaging and gave it to her, and it kept her entertained for the entire hour that she was awake. Unfortunately, she ended up losing said toy as soon as we were home and took it out of the house. Oh well… it served its primary purpose.

5. We always had lots of snacks on hand – I always had a pouch in the diaper bag, for the times we went out to eat and there weren’t many kid-friendly options. Puffs are always good for keeping little hands busy, in the stroller or at the dinner table. Mum mums work wonders to keep her busy during car rides, as well as cut up fruit and cheese.

There were also some things we did that did not work so well. We learned from our mistakes and will be sure to not repeat them again. Some things NOT to do include:

1. Don’t flip the script – Our first night there, we asked the hotel to loan us a playpen and put McKenna to sleep in there. McKenna still sleeps with me at home, on a floor bed, so when she woke in the middle of the night in a strange dark place in a playpen no less, she lost it. And rightfully so – totally my fault. It took us nearly 2 hours to calm and relax her enough to fall asleep again – in bed next to us.

2. Be sure to plan ahead – When we headed to the Banff Gondola, we were not prepared. Although we had a packed to the max diaper bag, we did NOT bring a carrier with us. When we arrived at the top of the mountain we realized it was a 2 km hike to a tourist attraction that we both would have loved to see, but there were stairs involved and we decided it wasn’t worth the risk to have us taking turns carrying her in our arms. So unfortunately, we missed out on that little excursion.

I’m happy to say that the list of things we did well doubles the list of things we did not do so well. McKenna is a really easy going baby, and was such a content little traveller, that we really didn’t have many issues. But there is always something to be learned from every experience, and I definitely intend to take some lessons from this one, as I do every other adventure in motherhood.

To any parents reading this blog who have experience travelling with a little one on a PLANE, I would love to hear from you. I would be lying if I said the whole thing doesn’t stress me out a little bit, so I would LOVE any advice that you have to offer!

Thanksgiving

My Darling McKenna,

This past weekend was your first Thanksgiving.

Saturday, we celebrated the holiday at your Nanny and Papa’s. We had a great time with family and as a special treat, your Auntie Ethel and Uncle Emlyn joined in on the festivities. It’s always so nice when two families can come together as one and celebrate, and I hope it becomes a regular occurrence.
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On Sunday, you and I headed to church for a great service. Afterwards, the three of us went grocery shopping for the meal I planned to prepare on Monday.

The meal turned out excellent, but this post isn’t aimed to be about that (but
seriously, it was excellent and my first big holiday meal!), nor the great Church service, nor the fun afternoon at your Nanny and Papa’s. It is to be about Thanksgiving, and the overwhelming amount of blessings that have been bestowed upon our little family of three, and the outpouring of thankfulness felt each day as a result.

I could make an itemized list, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. Nothing I haven’t said time and time before on this little web space. And it all just seems so terribly cliche. When you are older McKenna, I hope that we can incorporate a tradition of specifically mentioning what we are thankful for – but not on Thanksgiving alone. I hope we can make a tradition of saying what we are thankful for on Christmas; on birthdays; on a Saturday; on every Monday. And then when this holiday rolls around, it can simply be just another day full of thankfulness, but this one being spent with Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents, celebrating our good fortune. And once you are old enough, dear McKenna, we will figure out an activity that will help us to give back. Because it is always important to give it back.

That is my hope for the future of our Thanksgivings. That, and turkey. May there always be turkey.

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