Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Watch Me Grow - Week 48 (and a half)

Man, I did so well getting last weeks update out on time, and here I am late again! Well, at least this time I have a good excuse.

Kaitlin had a big week last week. She was dealing with having a babysitter watch her during the day for the first time and she did NOT like it. I felt really bad with all the crying, runny noses and skipping meals (and that was just me! Just kidding...sort of). Slowly she seems to be adjusting. She is a really happy, friendly girl most of the time so I am hoping she is just taking a while getting to know this new sitter. 

She has two new obsessions that started last week - 
1. Reading her Peek-a-boo Farm book
2. Pointing to things around the room and then wanting to touch them

Both are actually really fun (the first few times at least...) and it's great to help teach her things (this is the light switch - it goes on, off, on, off) and to be able to sit down and read a book to her. Granted, the book is only 5 pages long and only contains about 20 words, but I'll take it!

She was on nap strike last week as well which made bedtime a nightmare and left her in an extra cranky mood for the sitter. All in all it was a tough week - but all the extra walking and talking (not to mention slobbery kisses that she excitedly gives out all the time now) make up for it :)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Eleventh Month

What a busy month it has been. From more teething, to talking, to WALKING - Kaitlin has had no shortage of big developments this month. Not to mention that she also celebrated her first Easter! It has certainly been an exciting month - and I can't believe that she is ELEVEN months old already. *SOB*

I'm sure that I have mentioned before that I am convinced that babies grow, literally, over night. Well this month proved that theory again. Kaitlin's "talking" previously consisted of lots of "Dadadadada's" and some screaming and yelling. But that was about it. Then one day she all of a sudden started making more talking sounds - ya, ga, ba, and stringing them together to sound like "words". Her speech is (obviously) still in the very early stages, but she now makes lots of little word sounds and strings them together into sentences, of sorts. She talks to her toys and will point to objects around the room and say their "name" or "talk" to me about them. I still dont understand anything of what she is trying to say, but I think it is so cool that her speech has developed so quickly.

And speaking of pointing, let's go on and put that as her favorite thing to do nowadays. She loves, loves, LOVES to point to things around the room and go and visit them. For example - I have some Easter cards on our mantle (I know...time to get rid of them already! But now I can't!) and at some point she discovered that they were up there. She started pointing to them so I took her over to them so she could see them and she got the BIGGEST smile on her face and started laughing. She picked each one up and talked to it, flipped it around to look at the whole thing and even opened them up like she was reading them. Now that is one of her favorite things to do, we must go look at the cards 10 times a day. She also loves to point to the birds on the big decal on her wall. So every time we are in her room (especially before and after naps) we go say "hi" or "goodnight" to the birdies and owls. She points to them and even tries to give them kisses. 

One of Kaitlin's other new favorite activities is taking anything and everything out of its place. Books, kitchen supplies, clothes - they all fall prey to her throwing arm. She loves to empty things out and can quickly empty her bookshelf, my kitchen cabinets or her dresser drawers in the matter of a few minutes (and create quite the mess at the same time). She hasn't learned how to put things back yet, but I make sure to sing the "clean up song" ever time and she sits there with me while I put them away.

We have also started to actually read books together. Kaitlin is a mover and a shaker and I could never before get her to sit still to read a book with me. Now I can get her to sit for 5 minutes or so and we can actually read a book together! I have to either pick a really short book or read at lightening speed, but we're getting there. Her favorite book, and really only one that we read together, is called Peek-a-boo Farm and she LOVES to pull the flaps back and play peek-a-boo with the animals. The last page reveals a mirror that she can see herself in and she just thinks that is the best thing in the whole world. She loves the book so much that she will randomly give the cow and the mirror kisses! We read this book at least 5 times in a day - so while I know the whole things by heart she continues to love the "surprise" of animals playing peek-a-boo.

And the WALKING!! She is finally walking!! Kaitlin took her first steps on April 7, 2013 and her dad and I were both there to witness her first few steps! It was definitely exciting and she didn't really know what to think of it. Since then she has slowly made some more progress - she is now taking 5-10 steps at a time and is a lot more steady on her feet. She is still using crawling as her main mode of transportation, but she will now walk short distances without one of us prompting her to. We have taken away the walker toys and now hold one of her hands to practice walking. This has helped her straighten up and not relay on the walker to move her forward. It's been really hard to get a video of her walking by herself since her steps are so short lived, but I finally managed to get some proof! Check out my Vimeo page for lots of other silly Kaitlin videos.

Walking! from tracy lynn on Vimeo.

A few more things I have learned...

Buy a little before committing
What's the hardest thing about buying things for baby? Not know if he/she will like it or not. And believe me - babies have some strong opinions. Not only that, but you might find yourself having some strong opinions too. I am learning, slowly, to buy one a little of something before committing to it. This goes for a wide range of items - diapers, wipes, lotion, sippy cups, etc. If you have the option to buy a small sample or a small pack of something, DO IT. Even if the bigger option is cheaper, if you have never used it before trust me and buy a small amount. Don't go buying 6 of the same sippy cup (or straw cup) if your baby has never used it before. Guaranteed it'll be the one that they hate. And then you'll be stuck with six cups that you can't use. Same thing with big packs of diapers and lotions. And really, is it a good value if it just goes to waste?

Get a babysitter - EARLY ON
Ok, this is one of those "do as I say, not as I do" lessons. I always tsk-tsked parents that didn't get a babysitter early on so that the baby could get used to being taken care of someone else. And then, of course, I became one of those parents. I just couldn't justify spending money on a babysitter for a few hours when I didn't need one. And even if I did, it was usually to go out and spend even more money on buying something. So I put it off and put it off. On the rare occasion that I really did need someone to watch K I was able to drop her off at a friends house, so she was already familiar with them. Well, now that I am going back to work part time I have had to get a babysitter for K all day, and one that she had never met before. Put that together with this epic amount of separation anxiety and being a total mama's girl (which I secretly love) and you have one VERY upset little girl. So - do as I say, not as I do - and get a babysitter early on if you can. It'll make it easier for everyone.

Fresh air is good for kids...very, very good
My new nemesis is rainy days, and in a couple months it will be Houston summer days. Because those days mean we are stuck inside. And I have learned that spending a few days inside is no good for anyone. Kaitlin likes and needs to go outside, either on a long walk or at the playground. Heck, even just playing around in our small yard is better than nothing. I'm sure I will eventually learn to just put on a rain jacket and play outside anyway, but until she's walking and not crawling we stay indoors when it's wet. I have noticed that she sleeps better and is in a better mood after spending some time outside. She loves looking at everything around her while taking a walk in her stroller, and I have mentioned several times how much she loves going to the park. I anticipate this to stay true for quite some time, especially as she learns to walk, run and has even MORE energy (which I don't even know how is possible).

So...this is it. We are heading into the last month of her first year. I can't wait to see what's in store!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

How do you handle the fear?

When things like this happen - national tragedies, that is - I never know how to respond. Does it matter if I tweet or update my Facebook status about how upset/shocked/terrified I am? Maybe. Maybe not. Often times I don't say anything but still pour over the news coverage, obsessively refresh my twitter feed for more updates and spend countless hours worrying. And fear. There is always fear.

I never used to be like this. I never used to be so afraid. I had an easy childhood - grew up in the middle of the country with loving parents and a spunky little sister. The worst thing that happened to me, gratefully, was another childish spat with my sister or some high school boy drama. I had little to worry about, besides your average teenage angst. For that I am forever grateful.

September 11th was the first time I felt real fear. I was in college, two hours north of NYC. I didn't know anyone in the towers, or in the planes, or in Washington DC. But I knew that day would change us all, in some way or another. The next few years were lived without fear, in NYC, and again - for that I am grateful.

My first twinges of anxiety and fear happened when I was in London. Every now and again I would get slightly claustrophobic about being on the tube. If you've ever been on it you know that it's quite a but smaller than the NYC subway (though there are, it seams, less rats). I kept having terrible thoughts about someone trying to blow up the tube. Or even worse - when I was riding the bus. I was always nervous while riding the bus (which was at least 2x/day). But the real fear came with flying. I know. ME. The Traveling Cupcake. Afraid of flying. It progressed rapidly over one year when finally I had to get help. I knew that I had to conquer this fear before I had children (and we weren't even thinking about having kids at this point) because I didn't want them to see me, and be afraid. I wanted to be strong for them. The fear of flying seems to run in my family as, I would venture to say, anxiety in general does. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it hit me, but the big question was why? Why now?

Maybe because I had something to care about other than myself. I was married now to the love of my life and increasingly more convinced that something bad was going to happen. Maybe it was because I flew so dang much that I became acutely aware of all the little noises, creaks and groans a plane makes during flight. Maybe I just decided to hop on the crazy train. Your guess is as good as mine.

And now. Now I have the most amazing blessing a person could ever ask for. My first born child. And while my fear of flying is a thing of the past (err...for the most part) I have a whole bunch of new fears to focus on.

I'm afraid of bombs.
I'm afraid of madmen shooting up random, innocent places.
I'm afraid of hurricanes and floods and tornados.
I'm afraid of car accidents.

I'm afraid of something horrible happening to my husband or I.

Or even worse, something happening to my baby.

Maybe it was naive of me to not realize that not only would I feel unconditional love for my child but also (what seems like) unconditional fear. It seems like everything is a possible threat these days. And then, of course, it spirals out from there. I realize that I don't ever want her to feel pain. I don't want anyone to ever hurt her - physically, emotionally or in any other way. I fear for her safety, her well being. I don't even want something so terrible to happen to her that she won't be able to get over it or that it changes her forever.

Don't worry - most of this is in my head. I don't keep us locked at home, "protected" from possible dangers of the outside world. We lead a very normal life. Most days I don't even think about the fear, and when it pops up I quickly dismiss it using some of the tricks I learned in therapy. But it's still there.

What if something horrible happens to her.
What if something horrible happens to me.
What if.
What if.
What if.

And I know its only going to get harder. Blessedly, Kaitlin has no idea about the horrible tragedies that have happened during her first year of life. Aurora, Colorado. Newtown. Boston marathon. And too many others to list. Even "everyday tragedies" like missing children and accidents at home. I don't yet have to deal with having to talk to her about these horrific things that take place in our society. I don't have to find the words to explain why evil people decide to prey on innocent folks. I don't yet have to look into her eyes and show her that I am not afraid of these bad people (even though I am. I really, really am) and that I am strong and that I will protect her. I'm hoping it's one of those things that you just do, because you have to, and in that moment you know exactly how to do it.

So, I want to know from you, my friends. How do you handle the fear? We all have to be functioning members of society so we can't live in fear all the time, even if we want to. How do you handle it? How do you send your kids off to school each day without breaking down nervous that today might be the day something terrible happens at their school? How do you be strong for your kids when you yourself are afraid? I ask this in earnest as I really don't know how it's done. Who taught you...and can you teach me?

I'll bring cookies, I promise.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Watch Me Grow - Week 47

Week 47 was an exciting one - Kaitlin took her first steps!! On Sunday, April 7 Kaitlin took her first steps as her dad and I watched. She was playing in the living room and took a few, hesitant steps towards me and then fell into my arms. She didn't really seem to understand what had happened but her dad and I were cheering like crazy. Later than day she took 2-3 steps a couple more times (totaling around 12 steps that day. You know, roughly.) She continued to take a few steps here and there throughout the week. Now she was aware of what she was doing and was doing it on purpose. The most steps she took at one time this week was five - and they were five very deliberate steps. Kaitlin was standing on her own and I was encouraging her to walk towards me. She looked at me, then at her feet and then back at me - and then took one step. Then she looked back at her feet and took another step. And repeat. You could see the wheels turning in her head trying to figure out how to lift her legs without falling over, it was pretty great to watch. Most times when she is trying to walk she is doing it in a hurry and her top half moves a lot faster than her feet, which causes her to fall forward (sometimes right into the corner of her toys...yikes). But these were slow, cautious steps taken with a purpose.

You might wonder why I am giving so many details about her first steps. Honestly, it's for my own memory. While the details are still so fresh in my head I need to record them, as I know someday they will fade and all I will remember is the excitement about her first steps but none of the detail. That and the fact that we haven't been able to get her on video taking steps yet (as they are usually over right after they begin). Hopefully we will be able to record it soon and share with all of you!

This week also included a lot more talking from Miss K. She has been talkative for quite some time but it usually included long shrieks and screams along with strings of "dadadadada", and that was about it. One day this week I noticed she was "talking" to her toys. She was saying different types of babbling "words" (some long, some short, and using new "ya" "ga" and "oo" sounds) and was putting emphasis on different parts of her words. She also makes these sounds (words?) when pointing to things in the room or toys that she wants to play with. I think this is a big leap for her, language wise. You can definitely tell that she is trying to "talk" to you now, rather than just make noise. She even pointed to her ball and said "Da". I know that doesn't sound like much but I could tell that she was specifically calling that ball "da". 

And last but not least, on the last day of week forty-seven her seventh tooth finally popped through! I am hoping she finds relief soon from all that nagging teething pain.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

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

Apparently running late with these posts is the new normal...but at this point I'm just glad I remember to do them at all :)

It seems like ages ago now but week 46 brought Kaitlin her first Easter (since she technically turns a new week on Saturdays). Last week we also started swim lessons again. We took some time off as they were falling right in the middle of her morning nap (and we all know how sacred naps are around here). I was able to find another class at a different time and we started classes last week. On the plus side she didn't cry at all, which is a big improvement from the last time we were in lessons. On the negative side she didn't really do much of anything. I think it will take her a few classes to remember everything she learned previously - kicking, splashing, etc. One thing she do during her swim lesson was  get a bloody lip! Oops...that may have been a little bit my fault...

The drool monster is back and I can see her seventh tooth starting to push through. It's still sitting below the surface so irritability and drooliness are the name of the game. And Kaitlin continues to LOVE to throw herself backwards and bend backwards whenever she can. Daddy can flip her in the air and throw her on the bed a hundred times and she would never get sick of it. I, of course, have multiple heart attacks during that time...but as long as she's having fun... :)

Friday, 5 April 2013

DIY Sensory Table

What did we do before Pinterest? No, seriously. I can tell you what I did. I had several half attempts at an organized "Bookmarks" tab on my internet explorer that I didn't regularly keep up or organize. It was pretty much useless. But now that I have Pinterest to help organize and inspire me I can forget about the old days. I use Pinterest for a lot of things but lately I have been scouring it for fun activities to do with babies and toddles. Now that Kaitlin is crawling, cruising and way more interactive than she was when she was a newborn, I have been trying to come up with new games and activities for us to play. Three hours is a long stretch of time to fill with activities for someone who has an attention span average of five minutes.

While gathering some inspiration around Pinterest I stumbled upon a new-to-me-blog called Fun at Home with Kids. I originally came across this post on their playroom and quickly noticed the sensory boards they have on the walls. I immediately checked out her post on the sensory boards and I was smitten. I knew Kaitlin would love something like that; something she can play with, use to problem solve and help develop her fine motor skills. The only problem was we don't have a place on our walls to mount them. A friend of mine also made the boards but couldn't mount them either and had trouble getting the board to stay upright - after all the purpose of the board is for your baby/toddler to play and pull on the objects. I talked to Brian about it and he had a genius idea - why not turn the board into a table? Such a smart guy!

Over the weekend we gathered all the materials for the sensory table. Since we were only going to make one table it was going to be smaller than both sensory boards that were our inspiration. I wouldn't be able to use all of the items that I originally wanted to but I knew we could still make it work.

We decided to get the Kritter table from Ikea in white. Ikea had a few cheaper options but we liked that the Kritter was mostly wood and would be able to withstand having things drilled into it. Really any small wood children's table will do, but remember that you are going to be drilling, hammering and glueing objects onto it so you might not want to spend a lot of money.

The next step was to go to Home Depot and gather our supplies. I was able to use a lot more than I thought we would be able to and modified them if needed in order to be on a table:

- Small LED push light
- 3 different size chains that hang over the sides of the table
- 2 wheels, one that rotates and one that doesn't
- 3 carpet samples of varying textures (furry, soft and rough)
- 2 wood door knob pulls
- a chain lock
- stone tile backsplash sample
- three spring links clipped together

After the table was assembled I went to Michaels to get a few more items, which we need to add to the table this weekend:

- small wood letters for Kaitlin's initials
- a small mirror
- pom-pom ribbon 

It took Brian about an hour to assemble the table and to attach everything. What couldn't be screwed in was mounted with Gorilla Glue. We might have to move a couple of things around to make room for the new additions but it shouldn't be too much work (says the girl who doesn't have to do it ;) )

And the verdict from Kaitlin? She loves it! So far her favorite things are the light, the chains and the carpet samples. She would play with that light all day if she could. She can't turn it on by herself yet so we have to do it for her, but her little face lights up as bright as the light does when we turn it on for her. I often "hide" the light under my hand and have her "find" it by lifting my fingers up. The chains have also been great, since she can grab on and bangs them against the side of the table. If you decide to make you own sensory board or table please make sure that the chains aren't long enough to be a strangling problem - safety first, people!

The wheels are decently entertaining, though to rotating one is much more popular than the fixed one. The pom-pom ribbon, for now, is wrapped around one of the legs. Every once in a while Kaitlin touches it but for the most part ignores it. I'm thinking about tying (and then glueing) some ribbon around the wood knobs to make them a little more interesting and to add another texture to the table.

The best thing about the table is that I know it will keep her entertained for a long time as there are so many things on the board that she still has to figure out how to use (lock, turning the light on, spring links, etc). I also love the fact that you can make a sensory table out of almost anything! Once you start gathering objects to put on it I guarantee you'll start thinking of a million different things that you have to have on it. The key is to have enough on there to make it interesting and challenging, but not so many things that it's overwhelming.

Any negatives, you might ask? Well, the table is a bit on the high side. We are considering cutting a couple inches off of the legs so Kaitlin can reach everything better, but honestly thats just us being a little nit-picky (and before we know it she'll be tall enough to reach everything). In the end this little project wasn't exactly cheap. All in all it cost about $75, even though everything was $1-$3 each it starts to add up. The good news is that you might be able to find some interesting/fun things to add to your board/table in your garage or in your craft supplies. We don't have a lot of extra stuff like that laying around so we had to buy it all new. But if you have it you might as well use it - as long as it's safe the sky is the limit!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Watch Me Grow - Week Forty Five

We started off week 45 with a bit of a rash. Kaitlin had tomato sauce for the first time and seemed to have a bit of a reaction to it around her mouth where the sauce was. It seemed to get a little better at night but worse during the day, and then I noticed that it spread to her arm. That was enough for me to call the pediatrician just to make sure it wasn't anything worse. Turns out she has a little bit of baby eczema! Luckily we were able to treat it very easily with some cortisone and heavy duty cream - it was all cleared up in two days!

I don't want to jinx anything, but it seems our little food strike might be...well, on strike. Kaitlin has been eating lots of food again and isn't as picky as she has been recently. She tried a couple new foods like watermelon, peas, acorn squash (Grandpa Miller will be so proud) and (accidentally) jalepeno! Apart from the jalepeno they all went over great :)

We also started music class last week, and so far Kaitlin really likes it! It is a song play class at our local church. We sit around in a circle and sing songs that involve the children a lot - clapping, stomping feet and singing their names in different songs. There is no pressure to have the babies sit still and participate during the whole class - they are free to crawl and walk around as they want. But parents are encouraged to sit and participate in all the songs as your baby will keep looking to you, and eventually they will make their way back to you! And Kaitlin did just that! She was keeping everyone entertained by crawling around in the middle of the circle. She was also shaking her head "no" while she was crawling which made her a little dizzy and she ended up falling over herself a bit and then laughed when she got up. She's turning into a little ham!

It took me three tries to get a photo of Kaitlin laying down this week, and I was really lucky to get that shot above. Approximately .098593749 seconds later she flipped over and sat up and was shaking her little bear rattle and waving both of her arms furiously. For like, five minutes. Who gave her coffee without offering me some?!