Sunday, August 31, 2014

Gimme some mo'!

As Adly's language continues to develop, we hear some pretty funny interpretations of words that process through a one year old's mind. But there is one word that stands out as my absolute favorite.

It is: more. 

In Adlys world, it is: "mo!"

No matter how many times she says it, it never gets old to me and I can't let it go by without giggling, despite her ever so serious attempts to get "more" of something. The worst part is it almost always revolves around food and she's usually frustrated when asking for more so she says it aggressively and it comes off pretty rude. Adam has tried to get her to say "mo please" to take the edge off her demands, but alas, saying please isn't where her mindset is just yet. Even our babysitter that just started laughed at the end of her first day, commenting how she thought it was so funny how she yells "mo!" 

Today I caught it on video as I was trying to show my dad just how much she loves hummus. In the process she yelled out an emphatic "mo!" Because well, she wanted more! (After she licked the container and discovered it was "all goooome")

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Walker

Last Thursday, out of nowhere, Adly took her first steps! It happened as my friend Nicole (Co-Co) was over. As usual, Adly teased us with her ability to stand up and then sat back down. I was in the kitchen cooking and after a few attempts of this, Nicole excitedly yelled for me to look and sure enough, Adly was inching her way over to Nicole, step by little bitty step.

Watching a baby learning to take their first steps is one of the most precious events I think you can ever witness. It is so slow and calculated, as well as unsteady, but yet so exciting! Thankfully, after I clumsily fumbled around to get my camera out and recording, Adly decided to try again and take a few more steps so I could get a video to Adam (who was working) and all of our family. I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to see her big first steps before I head back to work. Now comes the hard work of learning how to make those little feet move whenever she wants them to! She definitely has a way to go before she learns that walking is much faster and easier than crawling. For now, she still prefers cruising around on all fours.

I will say, for those that aren't there for the exact "first steps", you really aren't missing that much. Of course, I realize I'm stating this after I was able to be there, so it might be a little easier to say. However I can say in the week since it first happened, her steps have all looked exactly the same. She takes a few itty bitty cautious steps then tumbles to the ground. So if you aren't sure you were there for the first, or you're a working mom and have the same worries I had, take solace in that fact. Your first really will be their "first" and that's what really matters.

Here now, is little Adly's first steps into big girl-hood. To see the concentration and the wonder in her face as she realizes her legs and feet are making their way from under her to step is so unbelievably cute!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Field Of Dreams

As summer is rapidly winding down, I've suddenly found myself with a last minute bucket list of things I want to squeeze in before work starts again. One thing we talked about all summer long was going to a Cubs game. Adam grew up as a die-hard Cubs fan and he wants nothing more than to instill that love with his own daughter. This Tuesday, Adam found himself with two night game tickets and we decided we just had to go. All summer, we've hemmed and hawed about going to night games with Adly because they're past her bedtime. And while at this point in the sleep-training game I'm ok with her staying up later occasionally, she is so trained that it's rare she'll make it past 7:30.

With the weather looking so beautiful and the time before I go back to work tick-tocking away, we decided to pack up and head to the field. Living blocks from Wrigley is really something I've been so spoiled by. A short 10 minute walk from our house and there we are, amidst crowds of baseball fans, cheering, and very overpriced Old Style beers. It's really something we need to take advantage of far more often.

We weren't sure about strollers in the stadium, so we decided to heft Adly into the baby bjorn one last time. (She's on the verge of exceeding the weight limit for that sucker). We weren't sure about what to bring for her since they're always so strict about beverages and food. However I decided to tuck in a package of Mum-Mum crackers for her just in case. Turns out strollers are allowed in the stadium (they were everywhere!) and they don't seem too concerned with food or drinks in bottles, at least not in our case. Next time, I'll fill her bottle with water and avoid the $4 bottle of water at the park.

Another thing to note is that Wrigley does something cute for baseball game first-timers. You can walk up to a stand and get a certificate with your child's name on it and the date of the game. The certificate has a picture of Wrigley, and it's free! A cute little keepsake to have to remember your first visit with your wee one by.

Adly loved every second of being there and lasted a whole 3 innings! She even actually watched some of the game, but her favorite thing to do was turn around and stare at the older gentleman sitting behind us. Not sure what it was about him, but Adly couldn't stop staring at him. He tried making her smile or laugh, but in return she'd only give him a continuous, awkward stare. He seemed to not mind. I've really got to get working on her people watching skills. 

I'm so glad we got the chance to go. What a great way to add another memory to our first full summer as a family.

Posing on the chair recovering project that is *still* in progress. 

Hitching a ride with dada!

Family pics. 

My little sunshine. 

"For reals, mom? I don't have time to smile for selfies. There's baseball to watch."

Cheering for her Cubbies. 

Little girl in a big seat!

Ballpark snuggles. (I swear I wasn't pissed. I have perma-RBF.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

13 months

Adly's 13 month birthday quietly slipped by this week. I've been so bad about keeping this blog updated mainly because we're having too much fun this summer! Words can't express how incredibly lucky I feel to be able to get these few precious months of special mommy time with my little sweet pea.

Since her big first birthday bash, we've had numerous weddings and celebrations for Adam and I to attend, which has meant Adly has gotten in some one-on-one time with our family members too this summer. I know this means the world to them. I say it all the time, but we really are lucky to have such an amazing family to give us a helping hand in this journey. It also helps that we happened to have the first baby on both sides--the newness hasn't worn off yet. That, and there's the fact she's ridiculously cute. 
Being cute at aunt Ra-Ra and uncle Seve's house. 

At 13 months, Adly is continuing to grow, develop, and amaze me on a regular basis. She bursted into toddlerhood with gusto, realizing almost immediately that she has power over the foods she eats. My once foodie daughter has now turned into an ever-so-picky eater who regularly throws food on the floor, puts it in her mouth only to chew and spit it back out, or just immediately says an emphatic "noooo!" when she sees something of distaste. Her number one dislike is meat. It's frustrating, to say the least. However, based on our pediatricians recommendation, we're continuing to give her nutritious options at mealtimes and sticking to the "what you see is what you get" rule of thumb. Eventually, supposedly, she is going to understand that if she's hungry, she needs to eat then and there. Gosh that's hard. I stress constantly about whether I'm giving her enough of a balanced meal every single mealtime. Gone are the days of relying on  breast milk or formula to ensure she's got all the nutrients she needs. I know there will always be some sort of battle when it comes to this, I just selfishly wish I had a wee bit more time to enjoy my hungry child gobbling down all the delicious food I cooked for her.

Verbally, Adly continues to grow at a surprising rate. She will imitate almost anything you ask her to (when she's up for it and not in too much of a spotlight). I'm amazed at the number of words she knows how to use in context at this point. I have to say, the ability to communicate with each other is the best part. I can almost always figure out what she's trying to say or do. Although the key word there is almost. I can already see how those terrifying toddler tantrums come about when a little being just can't properly convey what they need or want. Some of Adly's latest sayings are: all done, all gone, no, more (mo!), go, mooooo (cows) up, dow (down), hewwo (hello) and bye-bye. She's also developed this "eh!" sound with a point to guide people to what she wants. 

Speaking of moo, a few months ago, Adly began to really take to a random bath book we had with farm animal pictures. Ever since then, she has loved all things animals and imitating their sounds. I've stocked up on some animal books for her and some also came from her birthday. All of these are her favorites and she loves to see the animals and then make the sounds. This weekend we had the opportunity to go to my aunts family farm and visit the cows and sheep. We were also able to get way up close and personal with them. I'm so glad my dad videoed this adventure because Adly cannot stop watching them! Her favorite animal sounds of the moment are: moooooo (cow), eh-eh-eh-eh (sheep), wooo! (elephant, motions trunk with hand), bawk (chicken/duck), tee-tee (any bird), sssss (snake) and my favorite mooooow (cat).

At 13 months, she is still as stubborn as ever when it comes to walking. She loves to tease everyone by standing up all on her own. This has been happening for the last month. Every time an outsider sees it, they emphatically tell me "she's going to be walking any day now!" And inside I tell myself, "but, this is my daughter and she's different....she is one stubborn little being". Sure enough, we've got nothing yet. I will say, she has started walking along with me as I hold her armpits (NOT by my hands mama!). Truthfully, I'm ok with her taking her time. In some ways, I think it might be easier, but in a lot of ways, it's going to make for a whole lot more work. There's a part of me that REALLY wants to see it before I go back to work. These milestones still give me that pull of anxiety that I have to be there to witness every first or I'm always going to be sad about missing it. But then the rational me knows that my first time seeing it will always be my first time. Either way, walking may or may not be in the next month...and of course the only one who holds the answer to that is my darling little Adly. 

My superstar!
Bath time!
Hangin' at the zoo with our buds. 
My smiley, happy girl. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Aww Nuts....

Since Adly was a brand new little baby, we've been dealing with her very sensitive skin issues. Ranging from excema to awful diaper rashes to we're not really sure what's causing what, we've seen a lot.

In May, after eating a few bites of a salad with peanut dressing and peanuts in it, a red rash made its way all over Adly's mouth, chin, and cheeks. We gave her Benadryl soon after and it went away immediately. This stayed on my mind, as peanut allergies are definitely a concern for me. Being a teacher to little ones, these allergies run rampant in the schools and I know just how dangerous they can be. Since then, I tried to be mindful of not directly giving her peanuts until we made it to the doctor for her 1st year checkup.

Thanks to her latest awful diaper rash episode, we ended up at the pediatrician earlier than scheduled. While we were there I brought up the incident with the doctor. She expressed concern and "just to be safe", recommended us seeing an allergist. At the allergist, I explained my concerns and the reaction Adly had experienced after eating some of the salad. She wasn't immediately convinced that Adly was reacting to the peanuts, as it could've been anything in the dressing. Therefore, she suggested doing a skin test.

We went back two weeks later for the skin test. This test is used to measure skin reactions to possible irritants. I had them test all sorts of foods including soy, peanut, wheat, and dairy. Immediately after administering the skin test, the peanut irritant flared up.

So, now we enter the world of no nuts and epi pens. Due to Adly's young age, at the recommendation of the allergist, we're choosing to go completely nut free. Adly has had exposure to pecans and almond milk with no reaction, so we're fairly certain she's not allergic to tree nuts. However, going nut free completely eliminates any chance of interaction with nuts.

At first I was really bummed about finding out about this allergy. Any parent hates to see their child have to deal with such things, and to be honest, I'm terrified of ever seeing a really bad reaction. Unfortunately, since her first reaction was luckily not that bad, we don't know just how bad her reactions can be. According to the allergist, the first reaction is usually the easiest...its the second and third time that it can come back with a vengeance. There is hope, however, as they are finding that 20% of little ones eventually grow out of peanut allergies. From now on, we will be going to the allergist every year to complete the skin test and see if she is one of the lucky ones.

In our first month of going nut-free, I have to say that I'm not finding it to be THAT bad. Shopping is made super easy thanks to almost all products listing under the nutrition label and ingredients if it contains nuts or was processed with nuts. The scariest part to me has been eating at peoples houses and in restaurants. Adly is still young enough that it is easy to bring along food from home when we go out, so it hasn't been too much of a problem for now. However it is scary relying on others to know whether or not there are peanuts in the food or if it was cooked where other peanuts have been. As she gets older, I'm hoping to find restaurants we can rely on with peanut-free menus or ones that are diligent about keeping things separate.

If anyone has any tips on living peanut-free outside the home, I'd be happy to hear them!

Ahhh-hahaha. Nuts!?!! Who needs nuts?!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

1st Birthday

Adly's big day was on July 10th. Leading up to the day, I spent a lot of time fighting back tears and trying not to be overly emotional. Sadly, it's so hard not to be. There are many incredible things that have happened this year, as well as many challenging things. I just can't believe that a few days over one year ago, I was waiting very impatiently to discover who it was that had been living in my belly for 9 months.

To celebrate Adly's big day, we started with a breakfast of (roughly) heart-shaped pancakes. Thankfully, I have a few years to perfect proportionately shaped pancakes. I sang happy birthday to her as I brought out her pancakes. She man-handled the top pancake right away and refused to talk or look at me as she mowed down. Like father, like daughter.


After breakfast, we had a pretty normal day until da-da got home from golfing.

Looking for doggies outside. 

We had contemplated heading to the beach, or playing in the mini-pool out back, but our little sweet pea had other plans and decided to take an extra long nap. Therefore we nixed the trekking and mess of beach/pool time and instead took a long walk to my all-time preggo delight, Margies Ice Cream. This place is an ah-mazing old school ice cream joint. As an extra special treat, when you get ice cream in a cup, you even get a tasty little wafer to accompany it. What more could you ask for!? I frequented Margie's more often than I'll ever admit when I was pregnant. Therefore, I felt it was only fair to introduce Adly yet again, to the ice cream she made me crave like a mad woman for the better part of a year.

After ice cream, we felt we hadn't been gluttonous enough, so we headed to a new restaurant by our house and had ourselves a little birthday dinner. Adly's such a big girl now she gets to sit in her own high chair AND order off the kids menu.

And then, just like that, my little bitty baby became a toddler.

At one year old, Adly is still one of the happiest babies I know. She rarely cries unless she's teething, sick or hurt. She's a total mama's girl, which I have to admit, I love. Adly eats pretty much anything we give her, although her taste buds are definitely evolving. She seems to have the biggest dislike for vegetables, although she loves green beans. She's begun imitating pretty much anything you ask her to say, and just recently learned the words "no", "more" and "down". Hearing her say those words is so funny because most of the words she says are still just syllables. But to hear her say a real word correctly makes her seem so much older. Adly's latest trick is to tickle feet. She will grab my toes and say something along the lines of "tugo, tugo, tugo" and then giggle every time I howl from being tickled. She loves climbing to stand on anything/everything, yet she seems to have no interest in taking a step beyond that. We're working regularly on how to climb down from furniture and steps so that hopefully my heart can stop plunging into my throat every time she gets near the edge of the couch. Finally, she continues to be such a lovie. She loves to gives kisses to just about anyone, looooves other babies, and believe it or not, is even bringing back those fantastic snuggles we've lost in the last few months. (Okay, I use her blankie to entice her, but still...they're back!!)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sleep Habits

Lately I've been finding that I'm getting more and more comments and questions regarding Adly's sleep schedule, so I thought I'd write about it. My favorite comment has been, "wait, you just put her down and then she goes to sleep?!" Before I get into it though, I have to add a disclaimer. Google "sleep training" and you'll find a plethora of information. Go to a book store in the baby section and you'll find books upon books offering different ways to get your baby to sleep. And as soon as you get into reading about it, you'll quickly find there are a thousand different opinions on how to get a baby to sleep or how not to. Everyone has different views on babies and sleeping. So whenever I tell people what we did with Adly, I always start by saying something like "everyone needs to do whatever they are comfortable with". Because everybody is different. And every baby is different.

If you read this blog, or know me in any way, you'll know I'm a planner, I like routines and I like to have some semblance of organization in my life. As you can imagine, have a crying newborn at all hours of the day certainly provided some stress in my life. I can remember when Adly was 5 days old wearily going into the pediatricians office desperate for help. "How do I get her to sleep?!" was the first thing I wearily muttered to the pediatrician as soon as we were in the exam room. 

As with many things during the newborn phase nothing ever made sense until someone would say something with clarity. Our doc first recommended to start a "night time routine". I couldn't believe we could actually begin that early....that idea had never even entered my mind. Additionally, she stressed having a dark, quiet room to signify sleeping. maybe our late night music, lights on, talking feeding sessions were sending mixed signals to the little miss. Who knew?! That night we set to putting together some sort of bed time routine. Of course we had no idea what to do so we just winged it. Around 8pm, we gave her a bath, I nursed her in a quiet and dimly lit nursery, then put her down in her rock n' play and left the room. She slept for about 3 hours. HEAVEN. 

From that night on, we kept with the night time routine listed above. Sure enough, as the weeks went by, her sleeping stretches became longer and longer. Don't get me wrong, there were still plenty of random sleepless nights; including a 3 day stretch around 6 weeks where she was up every hour on the hour. That was a hell I hope I never know again. 

But for the most part, she began to recognize night time as "sleep time". At her 8-week checkup, the doctor informed us she weighed enough to make it all the way through the night without eating. Her recommendation was around 11 pounds. This was fantastic news to me and of course I gleefully put her to bed that night telling her she was going to sleep through the night now. Because, you know, newborns totally listen. She didn't. It was also around that time that I moved her out of our bedroom. Babies are noisy and I wanted my room back. We did a gradual release by starting with her sleeping in the nursery in her pack n' play and then transitioned her to her crib a week later.

After Adly had transitioned to the crib and was 10 weeks old, there was a night where I had a large glass of wine. On top of that, I was exhausted. Adly was going on day three of another no-sleeping binge, which meant so was I. That night I hit the pillow and was out cold. I didn't wake up again until 5am. I shot out of bed thinking, "Oh my god! My baby! Is she alive!?! I'm the worst parent EVER! Of course, she was and she was fine. There's no telling if she woke up at her usual 3am feeding time or not that night, as neither of us heard a thing (you'll find that men have amazing sleeping super powers and almost never hear cries at night). The next night, when she woke up at 3am, at the encouragement of my much more stable husband, I didn't go in and let her cry it out. She cried for a little bit and then fell back asleep. Same thing the next night. A few days later, she was sleeping solidly from 7pm-5am. Oh my goodness I can't even tell you what sleep like that does for a human being. It was from that point on, that I did everything in my power to maintain her sleeping patterns.

Through some trial and error over the last year, we've created one very routined sleeper. There are upsides and downsides to this, but overall, it has really worked for our family. Therefore, I thought I'd put together a list of the things I've found that worked well for us in getting Adly to sleep through the night. Take some of it, take all of it, take none of it. I will add that most of this came from bits and pieces of advice I've received from many different moms throughout the last year or so.

Routine, routine, routine. In my biased opinion, routine is so important when it comes to babies. The same is also true for older kids. Therefore, from the start, we created a routine for Adly to help her "expect" when it was time to go to bed. This is the same for nap time as well. She goes to bed at the same time every night (for us, it's 7pm). There is no exception. This piece of advice came from a mom of three I used to babysit for. I babysat a TON growing up, and I've never seen kids go to bed as easily as these three. I probed her for a lot of advice when Adly was a newborn and I took it all to heart. The most important thing she told me was to always make sure Adly was in bed at the same time. No matter what. Yes, it sucks for your dwindling social life, but this, I believe, was key to Adly's sleeping. Additionally, we do the same little things every day to make sure she's aware it's bedtime. Silly things like we made up a song about bath time and sing it every time. She now hums the tune as we sing and and she crawls her way to the bathroom. We also have a song for bed time. It's as simple as, "It's nye-nye tiiiiime." Seriously. But she knows whats coming. Here is our bedtime and nap time routine:

-Head into nursery, put on sleep sack. 
-Turn off the lights, on the fan
-Kiss night-night, lay in crib. 
-Say night-night, close the door. 

-Nakey quiet play time to air out her bum. She loves to read her books during this time. 
-Get dressed into pajamas and sleep sack
-Read a book together in the rocker
-Kiss good night, lay down, turn off lights, shut the door. 

The Roller Coaster of Naps. Naps were the bane of my existence for so long. The fact that she would not nap at certain times every day drove me nuts, since it was impossible to plan for anything. Unfortunately, I think this ability only comes with time. I had one mom friend who's son started napping regularly at 6 months. I set myself up to think that on her 6 month birthday, she'd just start napping at 8am and 12pm and 3pm. Not so much. It took us until around 10 months to get to a time nap-time. Meaning, she goes down at a usual time, not when she's tired. Until then, we lived and breathed looking for sleepy signs (yawning, whining, rubbing eyes) and would immediately put her down for a nap then. Until about 8 months, she was taking three naps a day. Now she is down to two naps, for about two hours each a day. The length of naps also took a long time to settle down. When she was younger, naps could last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. And every baby is so different. I've also met a handful of moms who's babies refuse to nap at all. The difference is, a cranky baby and a happy baby. If your child is happy as can be without naps, then obviously they don't need them. If your child becomes an alternate personality that closely resembles the devil reincarnated when it is time for "nye nye", the kid needs to sleep!

Sleep Buddy. Going into parenthood, I did not want a thumbsucker, I did not want blankies, I did not want binkies. I know how hard all of these soothing habits are for kids to break. Unfortunately, I can't control everything. As karma would have it, my child came out of my belly sucking her thumb. "Awwww look at her self soothe!" the nurses exclaimed as I shuddered at the thought of having a thumbsucker. However, over time, my opinions have changed. I now think they are vital to getting a baby to sleep. We'll deal with breaking the habit someday when mom and dad need to take a vacation and the grandparents are watching her.

Once she was old enough (she could roll over easily and was moving around her crib) I introduced a blankie for her to sleep with at night. She actually picked the blanket itself out on her own, as she began snuggling up with it whenever she was tired, so one day I put it in her crib with her. To her, the blankie now means sleep and comfort. Because I'm mean, I won't let her take it out of the crib. This is because it is my philosophy that it helps to even further signify sleep for Adly. It's not something she can have at any time, but only when she's tired. On a recent long road trip, I was worried about her sleeping in the car seat because she never does anymore. In the car, as soon as I tossed her the blankie, the thumb went in the mouth and she was out soon after.

Crib Only. Adly only sleeps in one place: the crib. This is a sticking point for a lot of moms I know who love that their babies can sleep anywhere. And to be honest, I'm somewhat jealous of them. We are pretty tied down to our house for nap time and bed time because of the routines we have set in place. Additionally, those delicious baby snuggles have all but disappeared. I think that is largely due to her sleeping habits. However, anytime I get sad about missing my baby snuggled up on my chest snoozing away, I think about how blissful it is to sleep through the night and to get things done during nap time. For me, it's for the better. She still snuggles when she's really tired or hurt or having her morning ba-ba, and I can live with that.

Cry It Out. The dreaded words. There are two major camps on this subject, and obviously I am in the cry it out camp. Those who are not, I totally think whatever you chose to do is fine too. Crying it out just seemed to work best for me and for our situation. For my own mental health, I had to get a good nights sleep. I can't say that I was totally fine with it at the time or that it wasn't hard for me. As new moms, our instinct is to stop the cries. and to help our babies in every way we can. As you read above, our crying it out adventure began unintentionally. I can't say for sure I would've done it that early otherwise. However, I do believe it is the best way to get your child used to sleeping through the night. Once we got the go ahead from the pediatrician, I felt comfortable with implementing it for our child. When she was younger, I would keep her awake while feeding, kiss her goodnight, lay her in her crib and walk out. Now we don't do a night time bottle, so the routine has turned into putting on pajamas, kissing goodnight and then laying her down. I don't rock her, hold her, or stand and rub her back to get her to sleep. It's my belief that she should be the one to be able to get herself to sleep, and she does. 

Be Prepared to Do Over. This part is tough because you've set in place some amazing routines, you've got your baby sleeping like a champ and all goes out the window. Sleep is a fickle thing with babies and it comes and goes like the wind. Anything that is "off" can change a baby's sleeping patterns. The usual culprits are the 4 month sleep regression, teething, and illness. If you choose to do cry it out, you usually have to re-do your hard work around these times. It never gets easier to hear your child cry, but I swear, it always resets itself in one night or two.

Where to Start. Like I said, I never actually read a sleep training book. Instead, I chose bits and pieces from all of the people I talked to and research I did online. In the beginning, some of the most important steps to get Adly sleeping, that I found, were the following:
-Create a quiet, darker environment for them to sleep in
-Look for any sleepy cues: rubbing eyes, yawning, fussing (when not hungry)
-As soon as you get a sleepy cue, put them to bed immediately
-Use some sort of pajamas to signify sleep. We've always used a sleep sack. 
-Same bed time every night no matter what
-Have a routine in place to signal that its bed time
-Let them cry for at least 10 minutes before going in to soothe

To all you new mommies or seasoned mommies looking to get some sleep once and for all, I wish you luck! Sleep is a beautiful thing and we all deserve it. However you go about getting it, I hope that some of these tricks of the trade can be helpful to you. 

Sweet dreams!
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