Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Marshall: Seven Months

Happy seven months to our baby boy! (I'm calling you that because it won't be long before I can't anymore. How quickly you're growing!)

One month, two months, three months

Four months 

Five months

(I totally missed the six-month shot.)

On December 23, you turned seven months old. At the doctor on the same day, you weighed 20 pounds 6 ounces. They didn't get your height, but I imagine it's a solid inch or so above your last measurement

Honestly, this last month felt a little slower (in a good way!) than your sixth month. It seemed you got to a point where you paused making giant leaps and took a second to hone some skills before revving up for another round of fast development. For most of the month we thought you were close to getting a tooth, like the Worst Day Ever when nothing could calm you down. Still no teeth! And then there have been lots of times when we thought you might start crawling, but you're staying put for now.

But let's back up a bit. As for those skills you're honing, you've gotten much faster and smoother in rolling around. Now you roll every direction, with gusto! You're rarely on your back anymore--in fact we noticed that the last few days you've spent a few minutes on your back babbling and playing with toys, and we found it strange because you usually roll right to your belly. 

Speaking of babbling, you're talking so much now! By "talking" I mean making incomprehensible noises, but you are definitely chatty. We're seeing a little bit of call and response (we ask you a question and pause and you say something back), plus you love to scream loudly when you're excited or overtired. So that's fun.

You're also a champion sitter! You can reach in all directions and rarely fall over from sitting. You can also pick up toys of various sizes from sitting, which is new and adorable. It's fun to see you enjoying that new perspective. You can see Scout better now, and you like to "say hi" to him (you make the same noise every time you see him, so I assume it's a greeting). 

The big milestone this month was getting up to a crawling position. You can now confidently push your way onto all fours, and you rock like you're about to go somewhere, but then you usually collapse back to your belly. We often find you up on your hands and knees in the middle of the night, practicing your rocking, but it always makes me a little sad because you're so tired and it's almost as though you can't help but try to crawl at 2 am. Poor guy.

As for sleep, things are going well. We made two trips this month--to visit each set of grandparents--and you surprised us with great naps and long night sleep in each place. We thought the change of scenery and unfamiliar location would disrupt you, but you did great, and we're happy that for now you adjust well to travel. At home you sleep best--in your own crib you sleep quite comfortably, day and night.

Here's what our daily "schedule" looks like on a normal weekday:
5:30 am or so - You wake up to eat, we get you out of your crib and change your diaper and then snuggle back into bed together
8:00 am - You're up again for the day, play time!
10:00 am - First nap of the day, either 45 minutes or 90 minutes (I almost always have to try to help you back to sleep at the 45-minute mark, and about half the time you will go back to sleep)
11:30 (or 10:45) - More play, and usually an outing to a store or the park

1:30 or 2:00 - Another nap, same as before
Between 3 and 4 pm - More play, maybe one more outing, and hang out while I start dinner and we wait for Daddy to come home
5:30 ish (or whenever Daddy gets home) - Dinner!
6:30 or so - Bath, nurse, story, bed (usually asleep by 7:30) 

It's nice to have a little more consistency to our routine, even if it still varies now and then.

And the other big step this month was starting solid foods! At first, we tried baby-led weaning, but you really weren't ready for it. You played with the food, but you managed to "bite" off huge chunks of the stuff we gave you, and after two close calls, we decided to go with purees and come back to baby-led weaning in a few months. Meanwhile, we're having so much fun with purees, and you seem really happy to be part of mealtimes now. So far, you've tried broccoli (steamed and pureed with breast milk), applesauce, mashed banana, mashed potato, pumpkin, and butternut squash soup (including butternut squash, apple, onion, chicken soup, and curry powder). 

Oh, and--dare I say it?--we feel as though the spit up might--might--finally be getting better. We have noticed a significant improvement this month, with less frequency and less volume. Here's hoping we'll see it disappear in a few months!

We are so excited to watch you explore your world, little guy. We can't wait to see what this month and the new year hold in store for our little family!

Past updates:

Monday, December 29, 2014

Last Monday of 2014 and 2015 Goals

Today was a perfect last Monday of the year. We slept in a little (Marshall usually lets us go until 8 or so lately) and then took our time getting going. We focused on tidying up the house, running a few errands, getting Marshall down for some solid naps, and enjoying some time to relax. Terry washed a million dishes (where do they all come from?!), I cleaned up and unpacked us, and Marshall practiced rocking on his hands and knees. That kid might crawl before the year is out...but I think it'll be another week or two.

One exciting adventure today was making fresh bread in a bread machine! We borrowed it for a bit to see if we might want one for ourselves, and our first loaf was a success! I tried this recipe from Lisa and loved it. I'm already itching to make more--cinnamon swirl (for French toast, naturally), savory breads, French bread...

Blurry--I was too excited.

Turns out that when Terry's home we just relax a lot and watch our baby explore his world. It's a new kind of wonderful.

With tea in our new mugs, a gift from Christmas.

We did this super quick yoga workout after Marshall dozed off tonight and certainly felt fatigued, especially in the arms and shoulders. Then I finished reheating dinner (leftovers from Christmas), and we sat down to a simple, delicious meal. We also each ate some freshly baked bread! Crazy how simple a bread machine makes it.

Tonight we're just taking it easy, enjoying our time together. I'm also thinking a lot lately about the fast-approaching new year. I imagine that no year will ever involve as much sudden, drastic change as 2014--there will certainly be other big years, but you only become a parent for the first time once--but I also hope that each year will continue to challenge, excite, inspire, and thrill us. I'm hesitant to set a bunch of specific goals this year--I truly feel that the priority for me at the moment is raising a healthy baby--but of course I am constantly striving to be better all around. Here's what's ahead for 2015:

Lots of cooking. I received more cookbooks this year for Christmas(!!!), and I am already digging through them to find which recipes I want to try first. It's easy to stick with the same tried-and-true recipes during the week when Terry's working late every night and I'm trying to soothe a teething baby, but most of my cookbooks provide plenty of suggestions for busy nights, and I just need to take a few minutes every weekend to choose a few for the week. Maybe another cooking class is in my future, too.

Stretching. I have found myself pleasantly surprised by my body's willingness to slowly get back into jogging, walking, strength training, yoga, and, lately, even some more intense exercises like burpees. But I also feel myself lacking the flexibility I had before I was pregnant, and I want to make stretching more of a priority. I'm aiming for 15 minutes per day.

Sleep. We have a baby who actually sleeps fairly consistently, and usually that means at least eight hours before waking. I need to get better about taking advantage of that time--not for dishes or Facebook but for sleeping myself. I think it would help me to try to get in bed at the same time each night (maybe 10 pm) and even try reading a little bit before sleep. (My friend Amanda would be so proud to hear me say that--realistically I'll probably just get in bed and then watch TV or something, but it's a start.)

Expanding Marshall's world. As Marshall grows more curious and independent, I want to provide opportunities for him to learn and interact with his world. Terry and I gave Marshall swim lessons for Christmas, so he'll start those in the new year, but I also want to start more consistent activities throughout the week, like story time at local libraries, Gymboree-type classes, and spending time with new people. It is, after all, my job right now to focus on the little guy, so I want to do that job well!

Employment. Speaking of jobs, I am starting to feel ready to dive back in to work. I know it will be a huge transition for me to get back out there, but I think it's the right choice for our family. The job hunt has started (slowly), so wish me luck!

Keep my sense of humor. I have noticed that since becoming a mom I've drifted a little away from my light-hearted self. I am sure a lot of factors--sleep deprivation, constant worry, physical discomfort--can be blamed, but I've always valued the ability to laugh at myself and the world around me, even when things get tough. I have told Terry in recent months that I don't want to lose that. So I think the best solution is to surround myself with laughter by watching all my favorite TV shows on repeat whenever Marshall is sleeping. Right?

There are a million things I'd love to keep improving about myself, so this list is by no means exhaustive. I just hope I can soak up 2015 for what it is: the year Marshall will grow from an infant to a toddler (this time next year I'll have a 19-month-old!); the year I turn 30 (yikes); the year we celebrate four years of marriage and nine years of being a couple; and so much more that we don't even know about yet! I'm so excited for what's in store. Here's to a beautiful year!

What are you most looking forward to in 2015?

Any big goals or resolutions? I could list 25 more--drink 100 ounces of water a day, walk for thirty minutes every day, read my Bible with some sort of consistency, go on a date with my husband at least once a month, stay in touch with friends more consistently...but alas, I will have to do my best.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Week 2014

Hello Sunday night...and no Sunday blues! Terry and I get a whole week more together. We're excited for lots more family time. I thought I'd pop in to recap Christmas week.

First up, those dog-and-baby photos I promised

That's Achilles on the left (a German Shepherd, and a gigantic one at that), and Tango on the right (a mostly-Lab rescue, the sweetest dog you'll ever meet). 

Achilles was all about the kisses.

Marshall didn't mind.

Finally! All three smiling!

We returned from my parents' place on Monday, and we enjoyed a couple of days at home, wrapping gifts, helping Santa as needed. One of my favorite parts of Christmas this year was having so many Christmas cards to hang from loved ones! We just used a little yarn and some clothespins to hang our cards.

On Christmas Eve, we enjoyed brunch with some friends and family, and then we made it back home by late afternoon to finish getting ready for Christmas morning. Terry even made cookies for Santa! 

And then it was Christmas morning! Marshall's first, our first as parents. It was a big morning.

Santa visited!

Santa wrote Marshall a long letter. Given that Santa uses special block writing (like the photo above this one), his letter might be shorter next year.

Our Christmas at home was much smaller gift-wise than our celebrations with each of our families, but we had a blast finding and giving gifts to our little guy. We followed the popular four gift model: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. Swim lessons, a teething toy, his first ball cap, and This is Not My Hat, respectively.  

Of course, Terry and I exchanged gifts, too. I loved Terry's gift to me from him and Marshall: a cookbook that focuses on cooking with kids, plus a "mama and Marshall" whisk set (I had asked for new whisks in a few different sizes, and he really cranked it up a notch!).  

Funniest gift of the year was from Marshall's great-grandparents: a giant stuffed horse! (Marshall was born in the Year of the Horse, and Marshall's great-grandmother calls him "Mustang," just like she calls Terry "Tiger" for the same reason.)

Marshall refused to nap (I suppose we were silly for thinking it'd be a normal day), so Terry and I ate French toast casserole and drank champagne (me) and eggnog (him) quickly.  

And then we tried to get a family photo by the tree. Not terrible! 

Since Marshall still wouldn't nap after presents and breakfast, we decided to head out for a walk at a new park. Still no nap, but Marshall did try out the swings for the first time! 

He seemed to love it! I already can't wait to take him back to try it again when he isn't going on his fourth hour of being awake (way too long for this guy). 

Marshall finally dozed off right as we pulled in to our apartment complex, so we turned around and drove out by the coast for a while, listening to Harry Potter on CD and enjoying the gorgeous day. 

Then we came home and I cooked boeuf bourguignon for dinner. We drank Frank Family Zinfandel, chatted for over an hour after Marshall went to sleep, and rejoiced in the fact that our first Christmas with our baby was a wonderful day.

Ornament from my aunt--Marshall's photo with Santa fit perfectly inside!

On Friday we headed out again to spend a few days celebrating with more family. Marshall got completely spoiled again, but Terry and I got spoiled, too, because we had a lot of time to relax, hang out together, and even go on a date! We had a great time together and a great time with family. Marshall had an even better time, I think. Here's hoping he enjoys a few good nights of sleep to recover!

I hope you had a wonderful week and that you enjoy these last few days of 2014. I'm soaking up time with my boys, but I'm ready to get back to a regular blogging schedule, so I plan to be back tomorrow night!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Northern California Christmas

Hello! We're just arriving back from another whirlwind trip to Northern California to visit my family. We left Friday morning, and Marshall did really well on the drive (except for the 90 minutes or so of crying, but we'll ignore that part). The weekend was packed with visits and food and presents, and I'm completely exhausted. Still, I wanted to document a few fun moments we caught on camera. 

Marshall loves his Uncle Chris (and I think the feeling is mutual).

Friday night was delightfully mellow. Marshall went to sleep really easily, and we had short ribs, roasted vegetables, and some farmer's market ravioli for dinner.

Saturday morning Ashley had to work, and Mom kicked the rest of us out of the house so she could get the house ready for the party later in the afternoon. Dad took us to a bagel shop, where Marshall just could not stop staring at the ceiling fan.

Upon arriving home, Terry and I headed out with Marshall and Chris and Ashley's dogs for a long walk. When we got home, we had some fun visitors: my aunt and uncle and cousins!
(That's Chase holding Marshall; she's a freshman at Wisconsin this year!)

And then the festivities started! My parents hosted a little housewarming party/open house/Christmas gathering at their new house. And they opened an Imperial bottle ( = 8 bottles of wine) of Sawyer Merlot to celebrate the occasion.  Marshall thought it was for him!

We had a lovely time visiting with lots of folks at the party, some of whom I haven't seen since I was a little girl. Of course, Terry spent much of the party rocking our little guy to sleep and then holding him while he slept (no way he was going to nap in a crib in a strange place during a loud party). But the food and conversation were excellent, of course. 
And Aunt Ashley made it to the end of the party!

Sunday morning was our Christmas celebration with my family. We did a quick gift exchange next to my parents' gigantic tree (I'm upset because I didn't get a photo! But it's 13 and a half feet this year--crazy big!).

Selfies! (I cannot explain what I'm doing in the background. I can only tell you for certain that I am awkward and amazing.)

We were so grateful for my family's generosity, as always. Marshall got lots of new toys and clothes--perfect for our growing boy.

We also stopped at our friends' house because they heard Terry has been wanting some Pliny the Elder. Look at this happy dude.

 And Sunday evening we drove up to Chris and Ashley's for a relaxing dinner and more presents. We opted for leftovers (pizza, pulled pork, roasted veggies), which was perfect.

In the background of this photo you can see Chris and Ashley's huge tree! (It's a thing with my family.) 

Terry got more Pliny from Chris and Ashley!

Marshall got completely spoiled by his aunt and uncle. Including this hat.

We had so much fun celebrating. I am already missing that crew!

This morning Terry had to work for a few hours before we hit the road, so PopPop and JanJan watched Marshall while I headed out for a solo run. I actually thoroughly enjoyed the thirty minutes or so jogging by myself. I don't spend much time on my own now, which I don't really mind (or even notice), but it felt great to have a little break from...well, everything. I ran in silence and barely saw even a car while I was out. The weather was perfect for running, too--about 55 degrees, misty, cloudy--and I ran almost the entire 2.5 miles. It was a nice way to start the morning.

Then we rushed around packing, finishing laundry, loading the car, feeding Marshall, and saying goodbye to my parents before hitting the road. The drive back drained us all, and I'm looking forward to a good night of sleep for everyone. 

I have more to share (primarily a photo session with Marshall and the two dogs), but my computer is dying and I have no idea where the charger is buried in all our luggage. I'll be back tomorrow!

Have you already started celebrating the holidays? I hope you're having a wonderful time with your loved ones!