Sunday, 31 March 2013

Baby's First Easter

Happy Easter!

Last weekend our town held an Easter and Arbor Day festival. Despite the overcast and rainy weather we brought Kaitlin over to meet the Easter Bunny! She was less than enthused and a little confused. I think she made the same face when she met Santa! I wonder if she will cry next year when meeting both of them since she'll be a little bit older and more aware of what's going on.

Kaitlin celebrated her first Easter today, although I have to admit it wasn't super Easter-y. After her morning nap we dressed her up in her Easter dress - an adorable dress her Grammie got for her made from a vintage hankie - and gave her her Easter basket. I think she was a little confused as to what it was and why she was given it, but it only took her a couple seconds to start grabbing at all the goodies!

 She's too young for dying eggs and too young for an egg hunt, so really the basket was we only thing we had for her to do. The Easter Bunny brought her a stuffed bunny, an Easter book and a chocolate bunny (which, ehem, we might have to take care of for her). There were also a few Cheerio filled Easter eggs and two Indestructibles books from her Grandma and Grandpa Miller. She had fun playing all afternoon with her new toys - overall I think it was a success!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Watch Me Grow - Week Forty Four (and a half)

I can't believe how late I am with this weeks post. I didn't even have a chance to take a photo until yesterday. Yikes! So, this weeks update is more like 44.5 weeks considering she will be 45 weeks old on Saturday (in three days).

Week 44 was a bit challenging in terms of eating solid foods. It appears that Kaitlin is on somewhat of a food strike. There are a few things here and there that she will eat (thank god for oat cakes), but for the most part she just throws everything on the floor. She will usually eat carbs (oat cake, toast, cheerios) and protein (yogurt, turkey meatballs, hamburger, etc) but that's about it. She won't even eat her favorite super ripe bananas. I've had to give her pureed fruits and vegetables at almost every meal, but she doesn't really like eating them from a spoon. I know the whole throwing-everything-on-the-ground is her learning and exploring and pushing boundaries but it's hard not to get frustrated. Especially when I have taken the time to make and cook whole, organic foods for her - and then they end up all over the floor and walls! But every now and again she will surprise me and wolf down everything that I've put on her plate and she is still drinking a ton of formula, so I know she is still getting nutrition.

Also during week forty four Kaitlin had a visitor! Our friend Heather from NY came to visit and Kaitlin - as usual - loved the extra attention. She was a little unsure of her at first, but after a while warmed right up to her. She even let her babysit without any tears! Well, until we got back home - then she was all tears! I don't know if she was crying because she missed us or because we were home...

Friday, 22 March 2013

The Tenth Month

We finally saw the return of our smiley, happy baby in her tenth month. Sure, she still cries and gets frustrated, but she is slowly learning how to handle those emotions and I am getting better at recognizing them. It helps that her two front teeth have now come it - they were tough ones and seemed to really bother her a lot. As Kaitlin approaches her one year birthday I can see more and more toddler in her every day. She is becoming less of a baby and more of a toddler - and as cute and fun as it is, it makes me really sad too. She is becoming more and more independent and I know once she starts walking I'll be lucky if I can grab her for a few seconds for a quick cuddle. I'm really taking in these last few "baby" months and trying to enjoy every minute of it.

This truly is the golden age of babies. Kaitlin's personality continues to emerge and shine through a little more each day. She is starting to really laugh and come out of her shell, even when we are around other people. She loves to "talk", especially while eating or in the car - Brian says she sings along to the music on the radio. She shows true pleasure and displeasure from playing with a toy (or when a toy is taken away from her).

Her top two middle teeth have finally come in, and although it took a couple rough weeks of skipped naps/tons of drool/chewing on EVERYTHING, she is finally back to her normal self. That makes a total of SIX teeth as of today. And the road to walking continues. She is so much more confident on her feet now than she was a month ago. There is no piece of furniture that she can't cruise on and she easily moves from on piece to another. She crawls super fast too, zooming around the house to get to whatever she wants to play with. She's discovered that she can open cabinets and drawers, and could spend endless hours in the kitchen and pantry pulling things down and playing with them. No hand towel is safe from being pulled down and thrown around the room.

I love how calm and relaxed she looks in this picture - just chillin' at the grocery store!

Kaitlin is also starting to become one smart cookie. Long gone are the days when I could hide something from her so she wouldn't play/drool/chew on it. Now when I hide something from her (usually my iPhone or the remote) she goes right for it - whether I hide it behind my back or up on the chair - she knows where I put it and tries to get it. And you can't just shake another toy in front of her face and hope that it distracts her long enough for her to forget about it. Believe me, I've tried. She basically gives me a blank stare long enough to say, "Seriously mom? Is that the best you've got?" and then goes right back to trying to get whatever I've "hidden" from her.

Another exciting thing that has been developing over the last month is how much Kaitlin loves to play on the playground - and not just the swings. Sure, she still LOVES to swing and is still obsessed. But now that she can climb up stairs and stand easily and crawl like a crazy person she really enjoys going on the play set/jungle gym (what are they called these days?!) She crawls up the stairs, loves to "drive" with the wheel and even go down the slide! And I think most of all she loves all the other kids that are playing too. She is constantly observing them and watching what they are doing. You can see the little wheels in her head turning trying to figure out if she can do it to and how much she wants to play with them. I think its great for her to be around slightly older babies/toddlers to watch them walk and play, hopefully it encourages her to take those first steps. Although I'm sure as soon as she does I am going to regret saying that :)

I had to think pretty long and hard about what I've learned this month. While I am always learning more about being a parent, I feel like those monumental, big realizations and lessons have slowly tapered off and aren't popping up as often as they used to. Either that or my head is so full of nursery rhymes, diaper orders and nursery school applications that I just can't remember them. Alas, I managed to scrounge up a couple of nuggets of lessons learned this past month...

Sometimes, showers are overrated...
As you may or may not remember, one of the first lessons I learned after becoming a mom was that a nice, hot shower will make you feel human again. I still very strongly believe that. However, I used to need to take a shower to make me feel more like myself, and to give myself a break from the baby. But that I have a better handle on things and we are in more of a routine and I am a lot less frazzled by being a mom (but still frazzled, let's be real here), I feel less of a need to take a shower every single day. And let's be honest - who has time for that $h*t?! Now that my business is starting to pick up and with tons of house projects that always seem to be lurking on my to-do list, sometimes I feel much better and much more sane NOT taking a shower. Sometimes I just don't want to waste one of the two breaks I get in a day (ie, nap time) taking a shower and getting dressed. Dude, embrace the yoga pants and a pony tail and get on with your day!

Routine, routine, routine
If you have read this blog for any length of time you probably know that naps are not Kaitlin's strong suit. Other than that, she's a really good baby. One thing that I have learned - particularly over the last month - is that routine matters. What's that old saying - you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink? With all the obstacles and growing pains that babies go through it is imperative to have a stable routine that they can depend on. Whether or not Kaitlin ends up taking her two naps a day, that's anyones guess. But the important thing is that I put her down for those naps at (roughly) the same time every day. She knows that we will have her solid breakfast an hour after she wakes up in the morning. If we haven't made it out of the house all morning she is crawling over to her stroller in the afternoon wanting to go outside and take one of our walks. Babies are smart and even if you don't think they remember certain things it's amazing what they will surprise you with. Also, when they are going through rough times of change - think teething, growth spurts, cognitive leaps - it's important for the rest of their life to stay stable. I am convinced that if you stick to your routine during these times of change (as much as you can, of course, and afterwards you might need to tweek your routine depending on what milestone has just passed) it helps them get through them faster and easier.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

DIY Finger Paint

Now that Kaitlin is a little older (ten months tomorrow!!), has more dexterity to her and can focus on one activity for longer (and by "longer" I mean five minutes) I have wanted to do some "arts and crafts" with her. Truth be told I can't wait to bust out the coloring books and craft supplies and get to work, but I know she's still a little young for that. I wanted to find a sensory activity that would be a lot different than her normal play activities. Randomly I came across a photographers blog that had recently done a first birthday shoot and used finger paints as the theme/prop. It was genius! I knew it would be perfect for Kaitlin. She loves to play with her food, she could play with the goopy paint and mix it all together to make different colors.

My only problem was that I didn't want to use conventional finger paints. We are still at that stage where EVERYTHING goes in Kaitlin's mouth. There is nothing safe from escaping her drool. Even though most children's paints are non-toxic I still didn't feel right about her possibly ingesting them. So I set out on the internet to find a safer, more natural version. And once I did find them my wallet cried. Some of the ones I found were upwards of $30 for four small tubs of paint! Granted, they were tinted with things like beets and turmeric instead of dye/food coloring, but I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much on paints that she may or may not even pay attention to. So, back to the internet I went, this time to find a DIY version. 

I found quite a few versions out there, mostly based on either flour or cornstarch, which all seemed to be variations of the same recipe.  I read a handful of them and then kind of created my own. A lot of directions and recipes that I found were not very clear and were very vague on everything from measurements to cooking time. I've included my recipe that I used today at the bottom of the post. 

And the verdict? It went over a treat - Kaitlin really seemed to like it. And yes, she did end up putting it in her mouth. I can't say she liked the way that it tasted though, because she only tried it once and made an awful face and started blabbering on in a not very happy tone. One of Kaitlin's little friends came over to play with the finger paints too and I think he also liked it! All in all it took about 15 minutes to put the paints together and the babies probably enjoyed them for the same amount of time. But luckily I only spend about $1.00 making the paints rather than $30 buying them ;)

DIY Finger Paint
The original recipe that I used for these was posted on Momtastic. It didn't give a measurement for the salt, so I used the same amount as the sugar. Next time I make it I might try and reduce it to 1T so that it isn't so salty - it's probably fine for kids but little babies aren't supposed to have any added salt to their diet, so if they do ingest some of the paint make sure to give them plenty of water to flush it out.

2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons salt
1/3 cup flour
2 cups water
food coloring of choice

1. Mix the dry ingredients into a saucepan with a whisk
2. Add the water and whisk until smooth, try to get as many of the big lumps out as you can (but don't go crazy)
3. Turn the heat to medium and whisk regularly until thickened. I whisked continuously for the first 4-5 minutes and then every 30 seconds or so, so that the mixture didn't stick to the bottom. It took me 10-12 minutes for it to thicken up properly - you want it to look like slightly thinned out pudding. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
4. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool in the pan. Stir or whisk every few minutes to help it cool down and to stop lumps from forming.
5. Once the mixture is cool divide evenly between cups and add food coloring as needed to reach your desired shade. I used blue, red, yellow and green. Next time I think I will leave out the green as it was kind of a pain to wash off.
6. The paint will continue to thicken over time. If you let the paint sit before using, give it a stir before you dig in, ours got a bit gloppy.

*I suggest doing this activity outside if you can. I bought a roll of paper from Michael's and spread it out on the sidewalk. If you have to do it inside I would lay down some newspaper underneath the paper first, so that it doesn't leak through to your floor. 

*Dress your baby/kids in old clothes that you don't mind if they get ruined or undress them down to their diaper and let them get nice and dirty. I put Kaitlin in an old white onesie and it is completely covered in paint. I have yet to wash it but I don't think the food coloring is going to come out. 

*I had no problem getting the paint and dye off of Kaitlin's skin with some soap, water and a washcloth. I also threw her in the bathtub as soon as we were done, so it didn't have time to sit. It will also depend on what kind of food coloring you used (I used gel) and how much - but I suggest hosing them down as soon as you're done just in case.

*Please note - even though this is edible finger paint that doesn't mean that kids should eat it. It contains a fair bit of salt which can be dangerous to babies. As always, please keep a close eye on your children while they are using the paints*