Friday, December 23, 2011

The reason for the season

Having a child changes everything, and this year it's changed Christmas for our family.  More than ever I'm focused on those that aren't able to provide the life we live for Anna to their children.  I can't imagine the despair of not knowing where your next meal will come from, that your child will be clothed down the road, or that you will have a stable roof over your head for the foreseeable future.  Mike and I try to be as charitable as we can, giving our time and money to those less fortunate and always being grateful that we are so blessed. 

This Christmas has taken on an entirely new meaning and I was thrilled when I saw the family list for our Adopt-a-Class family being sponsored by my office; there was a two-month in need of several items.  Her list included clothing, socks, musical toys, a baby monitor, and diapers.  It immediately struck me that we should continue our tradition of giving to needy families, but start a new tradition of bringing the focus to Anna as well, and what a better way than to buy for a child her age.  Although she's too young to process our gift, she "helped" me shop from the perspective of knowing what items of clothing were most helpful to have at that stage and by "testing" many of the toys we bought.  And, of course she got in on the wrapping action ; )

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Letter to Anna: Month Seven

Dear Anna,

I feel like the last month has FLOWN by, but at the same time, I hardly feel like we have the same baby we did a mere 30 days ago. You are really starting to come into your own and it's amazing to see how much you're changing each day.

We dealt with your first bout of illness this month and everyone survived. I received "the (dreaded) call" from your school on a Wednesday that you'd woken up from your morning nap with a fever. Your Aunt Whitney is a pediatrician and I'd told myself mentally that I'd never abuse her power, but what do you know, I certainly called her after picking you up to see if she thought I should take you to see your doctor. I guess it's good to have friends in high places and I know that I'll be ringing her up more than I'd like to think I will over the years. You saw your doctor that afternoon and he cleared you other than the fever and prescribed fever medicines, hug, and cuddles. You were our sweet little girl even when feeling down and a little out; you never cried, just whimpered here and there and preferred to take your naps in someone's arms. By the weekend you were back to your usually happy-smiley self and the fever was a distant memory.

And speaking of distant memories, that fever was so distant that you decided to really come out of your shell and a flip switched such that you were all of the sudden sitting up on your own, attempting to clap your hands, and using tummy time to work on elevating those arms and knees at the same time. I tried to tell you that sitting up would change your world, but I don't think you believed me until you were steady on that bum. Now you love the new perspective and pan the room wide-eyed and amazed at your new view. You lunge forward in your high chair during meals (who needs to be a little reclined anyway?) and definitely prefer your Bumbo chair to your (reclined) bouncy chair when you're helping us get ready in the morning.

I can't tell you how much your Dad and I have delighted in seeing the world through the eyes of a child. Blowing on your hair is a game that has kept us entertained for over week now, whispering in your ear garnishes belly laughs, and you finally appreciate raspberries on your belly. Although I don't think you'll have a firm grasp on Christmas this year, it's been amazing to see you light up at the first sight of our tree, gaze at the presents underneath, and have loved "helping" me wrap presents. Needless to say, we can't wait for your next discovery.

You've also started to reach for familiar people, me included. Although I dread the day that any stranger anxiety will set in, it melts my heart to see you showing preference. The best part of my day is when I pick you up at school, see your smile when I enter the room, see those arms go into the air, and get that first hug. I know there will be a day in about twelve years where you'll dread hugs and kisses from me, so I plan to abuse my power to the fullest until then.

I saw a sign the other day that said "Keep Calm and Call Your Mom" and boy, do those words ring true for me lately. Your Gigi and I have always been close, but having you in my life has taken it to a new level. When she comes to visit the entire house is literally at ease; your Dad and I don't worry one iota when we're gone, you're always perfect, and even the cats love having her around (they show this by demanding she play fetch with them for hours and by "warming her bed"). When something big, bad, or sad happens in my life, your Gigi is one of the first two people I call, and depending on how hysterical I am, sometimes makes the cut above your Dad (she can decipher my crying voice better than anyone!). I love that you are now reaching out for me and I hope that continues throughout the years. I'm always here for you, I will always want to hear from you, and you will always be my little girl.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's Cookin': A Whole Lotta Mush

Anna started solids about six weeks ago and after a couple weeks of cereals (rice and oatmeal), we started adding purees. Upon hearing success stories from a few friends, I decided I'd give homemade organic baby food a try, keeping my "never say never" attitude and agreeing that if it got to be too stressful or time consuming, I'd go with the flow and buy those organic pouches that only require you to twist off a top. So far so good and I've made several purees that Anna loves. I'm still not sure if I'll attempt proteins ... something about making pureed meats kinda grosses me out ... we'll see.

Anywho, I received Cooking Light Baby's First Foods as a shower gift and have found it to be SUPER helpful. You may think, "how hard can it be to steam and puree food, do you really need a book?" For me, yes! I thrive on specific direction and having all of the "recipes" in one spot has been a huge timesaver for me. The book also provided a lot of general guidance, from which tools to use (including comparisons) to how to move through every stage of introducing solids, including sample timelines and meal plans to toddler meal ideas. No, you don't "have" to have it, but it sure has been a huge help for me and might be the perfect Christmas list idea for some of my "new Mom readers."

I had the recipes, I had the organic produce, I had the cooking tools, the next thing I needed were storage containers. I thought I'd just go the covered ice cube tray route, but after some online searching found these baby cubes on and fell in love. Talk about convenient! Unlike an ice cube tray, you can freeze these cubes and pull out one, or twelve, as needed. So easy to grab one in the morning to pack with her bottles! I bought both the 1 ounce and 2 ounce cubes, but found the 2 ounce to be what I preferred and nothing says you have to fill it to the brim if you're starting out with smaller portions. I have five sets of the 2 ounce containers and am actually thinking of purchasing a few additional sets since we've expanded to three "meals" a day already.

I've made three batches of baby foods so far, each time setting aside a couple of hours on a Sunday and "cooking" enough for anywhere between two and three weeks worth of baby food. So far I've prepared squash (acorn), sweet potatoes, peas, apples (gala), pears, carrots, squash and apples, pears and plums (dehydrated prunes), and spinach and sweet potatoes. She's been a huge fan of everything except the carrots and stand-alone apples. I think the apples were a bit too tart and the carrots were too strong a flavor. That said, I have a few containers of each that I'll pull back out and try again in a few weeks and/or may mix with other purees.

It's as easy as chop, steam (or sometimes roast) ...

... puree and portion!

The result of a Sunday session making pears & plums, squash & apples,
spinach & sweet potatoes, squash, and sweet potatoes.

Don't just take my word for it ... here's proof that baby purees are yum, yum, gooood!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside!!

Anna's teachers take pictures of the kids about once a quarter to put up on the bulletin board in the classroom and each board has a "theme", usually around the season.  The latest is all about winter and snowflakes and bundling up, and I almost died when I saw all of the kiddos in their "dress up winter clothing" ... to boot, these were taken the day Anna woke up from nap with her fever (of course taken in the morning before the fever came on and anyone knew she was sick) ... who wouldn't want to snuggle up with this little one on a cold winter's night?!?!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wind blown

Anna had a piece of lint in her hair the other day and as I went to blow it away, she starting smiling and laughing and went from 0 to 100 on the excitement meter faster than I've ever seen; it was adorable!!  It's turned into one of our favorite "games" to play and we can't get enough of her smiles and excitement.  But, you can judge for yourself ...

As a side note, we shot this right before bedtime last night, and after she was down, Mike insisted we watch it no fewer than 100 times.  Yes, we're obsessed with our daughter and nothing screams "new parents Friday night" like peppering your DVR viewing with videos of your almost-seven-month-old : ) 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Denim days

Anna decided to go a little more formal to school today and I can't get over how grown up she looks here. Is she really going to be seven months old next week?!?!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Down, but not out

We can officially check-off another box on the list of parenting to-do's; we survived our first few "sick days" with a baby.  I got a call last Wednesday from Anna's school telling me she'd woken up from her nap with a fever.  A doctor's visit later that afternoon cleared her other than the fever and we survived the next few days with a lot of cuddles, extra time with Mom, and our PJs.  But, not without her fever spiking again on Friday afternoon and another visit to the doctor *just to be sure* ... I didn't want to get to the weekend and have the ER be our only option.  He cleared her again and apparently cured her during that visit because she was a ball of energy that evening and totally fine by Saturday.  Perfect timing to make her Momma look like a paranoid hypochondriac ... hey, I'd rather be safe than sorry, she's the only baby I've got : ) 

Tired little girl!!  On Thursday she'd only nap in my arms ... it melted my heart!

Sleeping in Dad's arms while Mom did a little work before bed on Thursday,
so sweet even when she's sick!

Somewhere along the way Anna decided to start sitting up all by herself
and is totally ready for Christmas!

And she found her tongue, too! 
She can also blow raspberries ... more on that in a separate post : )

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Funny: Never say never

Spotted last week during a pick-up at Anna's school ... a Honda Odyssey with the bumper sticker "I will NEVER drive a minivan."  That is soooooo me ... but, I must admit that I have once or twice fantasized about those automatic sliding doors ...

(Aren't you glad this post wasn't about Justin Bieber?)