5.30.2012

BLW: Baby Led Wednesday - Green Beans & Avocado

We're in the very early stages of starting baby led weaning with baby M. Baby led weaning isn't really weaning in the U.S. meaning of the word because baby M still gets 99.9% of his nutrition from my milkies, it's a way of introducing solid foods that completely bypasses the mush of purees and cereals. No mush, no blenders, no ice cube trays, no playing airplane with a spoonful of goo.

The recommended age to begin BLW is 6 months, of which baby M is a few weeks shy. However, over the past couple weeks on a few occasions we've introduced him to a few foods to play around with.

Last night it was green beans and avocados.
I trimmed the ends off a half dozen or so long, fresh green beans and stuck them in the microwave for 20 seconds. I put them in the fridge to cool and sliced 1/4 of an avocado into "finger sized" pieces. My finger size, not his.

The food needs to be able to stick out from both ends of his fist when he grabs it, hence the "finger sized" guidelines. The green beans were perfect; he was able to grab them, hold them tight and bring them to his mouth to explore. He dropped them on the floor and watched Feeny barrel through that gate to get to them.

The avocado, on the other hand, was less than fab. He picked it up and grabbed it so hard that the ends just broke off leaving mush in his hands. At 6 months babies don't have the dexterity to open their hands to lick or scrape food off their palms, so the avocado was just frustrating for baby M. He did manage to get a few bites from where he'd smeared avocado on the green beans and seemed to like the taste. He also managed to gag up a piece that was a bit too big for him, one of the skills BLW encourages them to learn (gagging and subsequently learning to chew/gnaw their food a little more and to take smaller bites). Gagging is not choking.

The bib also proved to be more of a hindrance than a help. I tossed it into the laundry challenge pile just a few minutes into the adventure.
Overall, green beans were a huge hit. Baby M has no teeth, but he was able to work down the ends of a few beans quite a bit. His gums are strong, trust me. He may have even managed to pop a bean seed into his mouth, but it hasn't reappeared yet. The avocado was so-so. I'd try again with it spread on toast and a girlfriend suggested that in a month or two I'll be able to put it on a spoon for him to maneuver into his mouth himself.

Anyone else doing BLW? What are your baby's favorite first exploratory foods?

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5.25.2012

The Apple v. The Baby

The fight is on!
There was no clear winner in this battle. Baby M, having no teeth, gave the apple a good, hardcore gumming. The apple, covered in drool slipped out of reach several times. Finally daddy stepped in for a few minutes to give the boy the upper hand.
As bedtime quickly approached and the apple went sliding off the tray, a clear winner emerged.

"Yum," says Feeney.



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5.24.2012

My Mother's Day Closet

I know Mother's Day was almost two weeks ago now, but I'm just now putting the finishing touches on one of S's Mother's Day gifts!

We usually make wish lists for holidays and Mother's Day was no exception. I asked S for an engraveable bracelet from baby M. Baby M gave it to me and I love it. But, S didn't stop with the bracelet for my first Mother's Day, he went all-out, all weekend. He made me breakfast, bought orchids and gave me leis from Hawaii.
We went to the farmer's market, out for ice cream and all took a long nap, including Mr. Micronapper.

But the biggest gift from S came on Friday when he came into my office and asked if I'd like him to re-configure my closet for Mother's Day. I've hated my closet since day one and making it work better is something I've wanted to do since we first installed a closet system during storagegate just after we moved in. But the thought of all those clothes strewn out on the guest room bed overwhelmed me. S assured me he'd put the clothes back too, so I said yes. 

Twenty minutes later S was making a ruckus ripping trim and hanging rods off the wall.
And the guest bed was a hot mess.
Because the walls were a mess from years of neglect, S decided to paint the walls for me too. I consulted our paint stash and contemplated using a bright periwinkle blue paint that our home's previous owners used in the bathroom, but thought it might make the small space too dark and opted for lavender leftover from our all closets downstairs instead.

S filled all the holes with spackling and rolled on two coats of lavender. He did an excellent job for someone who claims not to be the painter in our family.
After vacuuming and dusting, S used my longest hanging dress to determine where to hang the long hanging shelf on the right:
And my longest shirt for the short hanging area on the left. Everywhere else he installed shelves for my pants, sweaters and bags.
We decided to leave the two center hanging brackets directly in front of the door since we have several shelves cut to fit already. If I ever need more storage, we can just put more shelves there. Considering the space right in front of the door was the only accessible area of the closet before, I don't think I'll be needing them. 

S finished things off by hanging a belt rack on the door and put all my hanging clothes and bags back in for me. He even found room for my Rakku shoe storage, a big ugly thing that used to hang out next to the bedside table.
 
Apart from putting my folded clothes back into my closet (which I finally made time for last night), the only thing I had to do for Mother's Day was choose a paint color and my ice cream flavor. Best day ever! Baby M and I are going to have a heck of a time trying to outdo S on Father's day!

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5.22.2012

Baby Bee's Updated Gallery Wall

What seems like a lifetime ago, we created a gallery wall in the nursery before baby M arrived.
I had painted the frame mats navy blue and put a bunch of placeholder Feeneys in the Ikea frames anticipating that we'd need room for a birth announcement and baby M's personalized name print from Made by Girl.

One Feeney stayed because we’re pretty sure Feeney and baby S are going to be best friends, but it was relocated to the bookshelves when we received another cute card to put in its place.
The other two Feeneys were replaced with baby’s S's birth announcement and our video monitor - an addition we originally anticipated would be on the bookshelves, but didn't give us a clear enough line of sight.
The large frame in the center had a piece of elephant fabric in it for the longest time. It was a placeholder for baby S’s custom name art that we ordered from Made By Girl once we actually knew baby S's name. It just arrived last week and he loves it! 
A huge thank you to Jen and the Made by Girl team for making baby Maddox's custom print fit his nursery perfectly. He stares at it constantly, which is very fun, but not so great for momma when it's nap time and he just wants to squeal at his name! 
When he's in therapy later in life baby M can blame all his problems on the CIO we were forced to do 'cause he wouldn't stop laughing at his gallery wall ;) It's just SO funny!

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5.18.2012

Baby Bee's Budding Book Collection

Everyone I know grew up reading books before bed. When my brother and I were young, my parents read to us all the time. As we got older my mom would read longer novels to us, a few pages of a chapter each night. I don’t think we ever made it through The Yearling, but I know we were in middle school when I became a voracious reader and read on my own each night, and my brother became more interested in manuals (an engineer from the start!)

I always knew that I’d read to my child someday, but I never gave much thought to what I’d read or when I’d start. I was given a few books at my baby shower before baby M was born: The Circus Ship, Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal, and many more. I couldn’t wait to start reading to our baby bee!

When baby M arrived, it quickly became very apparent that there was no way we’d be doing a bedtime book. First of all, there was no such thing as bedtime for the first two weeks; it was just one sleep/wake/eat cycle after another. But even when he started a clear nighttime routine, it was jammed-packed with bath, nursing and a top-me-off bottle and left little room for story time.

So instead of bedtime stories, I started to read to baby M before his morning nap when there were no other distractions; just the two of us rocking and reading in his nursery. He usually falls asleep within the first four pages, so the actual words in the books are for my amusement right now. I love reading baby M’s dozen or so books that we were given as gifts, but I wanted a few more to choose from. So I started to build a little library, on a budget!

baby bee reading with his Mamie
How to Choose Children’s Books
  • The easiest way to find favorite books is to poll your mom and dad friends – what do their children love? More importantly, what do they love to read?
  • Think back to when you were a kid, what was your favorite book?
  • Go online and look for reviews of the most popular children’s books
  • Visit your local library and look at the featured books in the children’s area
Once you have a list of six or seven books, go to your local library and actually read the books. Do you enjoy reading them? Do you think you’ll enjoy reading them 1000 times? If so, then add them to your to-buy list.

Buy Books on a Budget
Many Goodwills and other donation-based organizations list their goods for sale on eBay at really reasonable prices. eBay has a book condition rating system so you’ll know the condition of the book before it shows up at your door. Similarly, Amazon allows individuals to sell used books in their marketplace. When you search for a book you’ll often see a link that says “available new & used.” Oftentimes you'll pay pennies for a book, plus a few dollars for shipping.

Expanding Your Collection
Once you find your favorite books from your to-buy list from your original hunt, start searching for more books by the same author. Many children’s book authors have published several books and if you like one, chances are you’ll like them all!

Also search for themes or places you like. Baby M has a lot of books about Maine :)
Make the Collection Extra Special
Put a special touch on your little library by having customized bookplates made with your child’s name on them. Etsy is a great place to find bookplates to fit any nursery’s theme or child’s interest. Sweet Treats for Baby made our customized bee bookplates for our baby bee!
Over the past months baby M’s little library has grown quite a bit. While I look forward to taking him to the library each week when he gets a little older, I’m loving choosing a book to read from our special little library each morning.
What are your favorite children's books?

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5.14.2012

5 Months Today

Baby M is 5 months old today. I say it every month, but it really is crazy how quickly time passes. This morning after breakfast M got dressed in his elephant outfit that he wears for all his monthly photos. I pulled out the 6mos size, but then decided to try the 3mos to see if it still fits and it did. Baby M was much more active during photos this month than he ever has been before. He immediately grabbed the elephant and pulled its ribbon off.
Maddox @ 5 months
M and I spent half of this month alone while S was on a long mission. We spend half of month four alone too, but Mamie was with us then. This was truly solo momma time and we did really well. We mastered bath time alone and M stopped holding on so tight after just one night.
Our routines changed this month with M's new sleep habits. He decided late last month to ditch his long morning nap and has been taking a 30min nap ever since. We had to do a little CIO this month for morning naps when M also stopped falling asleep during story time. We stopped swaddling for naps and started to associate a lovey with soothing, having M hold it while he nursed. He uses it to self-soothe for naps now, but we're still using the paci too.
It seems to work, but we're still swaddling at night because we just can't mess with a good thing. This month's average sleep was 12 hours at a time, with a couple 13 hour stints and one 13.5 hour night. We don't get him before 7am anymore and oftentimes he'll sleep until 7:30. It's really nice. I'm not tired. Except for those few nights that I stayed up way too late working on sail bag orders. So we took a few naps together while S was away this month too.
I made M a pocket sling and we're using it a lot now. It's small enough to fold up and stick in my diaper bag, so we use it at the grocery store and Target. We also use it when we take Feeney for a walk and when I get M's bath ready at night. Our neighbors saw us looking like this a lot this month:
M had his 4 month appointment at the very beginning of the month and weighed 14lbs even, which put him in the 25th percentile. At the end of the month he weighed 14lbs 10oz. He exactly doubled his birth weight one week shy of 5 months. He wears mostly 3-6 month clothes, 0-3 month onesies, 0-3 sleepers, and lots of hats.
Clothes that looked huge when he received them as gifts now fit, which is a little sad. But fun because he has so many cute outfits to choose from.
M wears BumGenius and Charlie Banana diapers still on the smallest setting with the buttons or velcro touching at the center. At night he wears a size 2 disposable.
M spent a lot of time in his favorite jumper, really mastering the art of jumping with his right foot. He tries to get the frog and bird hanging over his head with much gusto. Sometimes it's just so tiring trying to get those birds though.
We also got him an exersaucer to keep in my office this month. He enjoys it in an entirely differently way, grabbing at all the toys and trying to put everything in his mouth, although he does try to jump like a wild man sometimes too.
We didn't have any visitors this month, but we did go on walks with new friends and baby M spent an afternoon at his Nola and Grandpa's house one weekend while I did errands. We had a big playdate with other babies born in December.
It was very fun until I missed a turn on the way home and poor baby M had a driving tour of the D.C. sights during horrible traffic. He was hungry and very sad.

M also discovered Feeney's soft fur this month.

One morning while M was in his bumbo he looked up and it was as if he was seeing Feeney for the first time. He's been quite interested ever since. We're teaching him to pat gently.
Mostly they just hang out and wait for daddy to come home.
"Where's dad? We've got projects to do!"
The little guy is so much fun and is just getting so big. I can't believe that pixie dust I requested still hasn't arrived.

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5.09.2012

Jimmy Jet & the TV Set

When we learned that we were going to be staying at the Hive for another three-plus years, S and I decided that we wanted to change things up in our living room a bit.

We have one couch, a chair and an ottoman in the main area of the living room
And some wicker "poufs" stacked in the corner.
When we have guests it always seems like we're in need of one more seat. In all fairness, we rarely move the poufs and they would probably suffice, but they always seem to be in the middle of everything when we move them into the room.

After we moved the furniture in my office around, S suggested that we move the two green slipper chairs into the living room and move the leather chair from the living room into my office...
...and mount the TV above the fireplace. This would free up the space where the giant monstrosity sits on a giant stand.
One of the only photos I have of the massive thing from over a year ago
We researched TV mounts 'til we were blue in the face, finally deciding on this one from Sanus. It's a full motion, tilt mount with the slimmest mount we could find.

We started by finding the studs in our wall using a stud finder. Then to make for darn sure that we actually had found the studs, we used a tiny drill bit and drilled into the wall to make sure we'd hit wood.

After we'd found the studs, we placed the paper template on the wall and used a square and a level to get it level.
Unfortunately our studs were way off center so after consulting the instructions and our friend, Google, we ended up mounting the TV far to the right on the wall with the mounting brackets all the way to one side on the back of the TV.
 It's hard to see, but the bracket here is actually off-center here:
With the bracket in place on the wall and the mount on the TV, S and I carefully lifted the monstrosity up and onto the wall, praying the thing wouldn't fall.
Baby M looked on from his jumperoo.
It took a little finagling, but we managed to get the TV level, even though so much of its weight is to one side.  
Because we didn't know whether the mount would work, we didn't buy a new power cord and HDMI cable at the same time as the TV mount. So for now we have the DirecTV box sitting on a side table and the cords stretched as far as they can reach. We're working on our final furniture arrangement and contemplating floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on either side of the fireplace. 

Having the TV and its giant stand out of the way really opens up the small room. I'm liking it. I'm not liking that the giant stand is still hanging out in the dining room now.... 

Have you had experience mounting a TV on the wall? Any creative ideas for hiding those cords? We can't go into the wall without creating a huge mess of the plaster, unfortunately.

Does anyone else remember Shel Silverstein's Jimmy Jet & the TV Set? It was one of my favorites as a kid!

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5.02.2012

A Surprise Update on the Un-Built-Ins

Don't forget, today is the last day to enter to win a $30 gift certificate to Love for Earth.

A few weeks ago we told you about the dining room un-built-in hutches we are having built. We hoped to have regular updates to share, but it's a little much to expect a craftsman to build the hutches and photograph his progress daily. And in all honesty, we've been so busy here with the onset of Spring and what with that little guy growing faster than the weeds in our lawn, we didn't even realize that a month had passed since the project began.
weeds I tell ya, he's growing like weeds
So this morning when S surprised me with an email from Joe of Northwood Customs, I was psyched to have a few progress photos to share.


I cannot believe how closely they match the inspiration piece; the resemblance is uncanny. I don't know what else I expected them to look like though . . . .

Since these photos were taken they have apparently been painted white, the doors have been constructed and the glass for the top doors received. To say I'm excited about the storage these beauties will provide is a total understatement. I hoping for love at first sight when these pieces arrive 'cause I've got a few more projects in mind and Joe just might be the man for the job.

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