Sunday, January 14, 2018

2017 Goals Review

2017 was an amazing year. I can't believe it's already over. This year will always remain close to my heart as the year I became a mom; the year I grew and changed the most; the year where my priorities shifted from me to him, from the two of us to the three of us. In many ways, it was a difficult transition. But coming out on the other side, I wish I could relive it over and over again. Slow down and just be more present. Not worry about him not sleeping on his back and just enjoy having him asleep in my arms. Not worry about how he was being fed and just enjoy feeding him. Still, I do think I truly embodied my word of the year: savour. I tried to savour each and every moment, even the hard ones. And as we settled into routines (ever shifting routines, but routines nonetheless), it did get easier. These last few months have been pure joy... and I'm so sad it's over (and yet so grateful I've had over a year to enjoy this new little love).  

I just looked back and realized I never posted a goals update for November. Ah well - I haven't been blogging much lately. It seems like I can only focus on one or two hobbies at any time. I just don't have the time (or the concentration) for any more than that! And since I can't easily pull out my laptop without little fingers constantly trying to push keys or pull on the screen... I just haven't bothered. Still, I do enjoy blogging and really love being able to look back at older posts, remembering trips and projects and little moments of joy. So I'm keeping blogging on my goals list for 2018... but more on that later. First, let's review my goals from 2017:

17 GOALS FOR 2017:
  1. Read 30 books. (17/30 = 57%)
  2. Finish 2 cross-stitch patterns. (1/2 = 50%)
  3. Finish Amber art book and start a new one. (did NOT finish)
  4. Take monthly baby and family photos. (12/12 = 100%)
  5. Journal or sketchbook daily. (294/365 = 81%)
  6. Set a schedule for blogging (weekly) (40/52 = 77%), crafting (daily) (218/365 = 60%) and getting out of the house (3-4x weekly). (47/52 = 90%)
  7. Make and freeze meals for post-partum.
  8. Gather 10 good crockpot recipes. (5/10 = 50%)
  9. Set a routine for exercising (3-4x weekly). (14/52 = 27%)
  10. Catalogue library. (NOT done)
  11. Organize, declutter, minimize, purge. (some progress)
  12. Figure out cloth-diapering, nursing/pumping and making baby food. (3/3 = 100%)
  13. Stay in touch with friends while on maternity leave. (done)
  14. Be intentional deepening relationship with Pat. Set weekly date nights. (52/52 = 100%)
  15. Go to a weekly drop-in session or mother/baby class. (21/25 = 84%)
  16. Make a fabric book and a colour sorting game for Marc. (NOT done)
  17. Use fresh herbs and tomatoes from the garden as much as possible and preserve them come the fall. (done)
I mean, wow! I think this has been the most successful of any of my yearly goals lists! I'm pleased with myself. The only goal that I usually manage to crush no problem - reading - is a bit disappointing. But like I said: it was impossible to keep up with all the hobbies I enjoy. I had to balance those with other activities, exercise, housework and baby care. So throughout the year, I went through different waves of creativity: some months I spent more time painting, others stitching. And I'm OK with that. Once I go back to work, things are only going to get busier... so I guess this was a little preview on how things will continue to be. One small bonus is that I have a solid hour plus of commuting time that I can devote to reading!

Looking back, one thing that really helped me keep track of my goals - and work towards accomplishing them - was my goals journal. This journal started out as a bullet journal, but since I prefer to keep an actual agenda instead of creating my own, it turned into a goals tracker. And I loved it. I've already started updating it for 2018. I'll share some photos with my next post outlining my 2018 goals.

Friday, January 5, 2018

11 Months Old

My baby isn't such a baby anymore. In fact, it might be time to start referring to him as a toddler... he is toddling around now, after all.
That's right. Marc turned 11 months old at the end of December, and he's been taking some unassisted steps. In fact, he's managed about 4 or 5 in a row (and more than that by now). He's still tentative - and still prefers to do it on him own. If we try to stand him up, he usually flops down like a limp piece of spaghetti. Mr Independent!
He is still not a fan of napping... the week before we left on holidays, he was taking very short naps, once a day. The other "naptime" was spent alternatively crying, screaming and chatting away with himself in his crib. Napping over the holidays? VERY difficult (understandably so - strange place, strange bed and, in the case of my parents' place, a not-so-dark room to boot). Luckily, our parents live about an hour apart, so he at least got a few naps during those drives. And Pat became very good at putting him to sleep before putting him down, since he wouldn't put himself to sleep like he usually does at home. Now that we're back home, things have levelled out - naps are still iffy, but better. And he sleeps like a champ at night (around 12 hours), so I can't complain.
Marc eats very well - he just isn't a big fan of veggies. Sweet potatoes are his favourite and carrots are pretty good too. Anything else? Not so much. He did eat a lot of mashed potato over the holidays, but only so much before he refuses. Fruit though? Yes please! He LOVES fruit, as well as crackers, "cookies" (arrowroot, digestives or graham crackers), cheese and whole grain bread. He'll eat scrambled eggs if I cook them with apple and cinnamon. And he often has leftovers from what we've had for supper (shepherds pie, chicken and dumplings, soup, and stew, to name a few). He's getting better at feeding himself, though I still feed him breakfast (oatmeal isn't really finger food) and dinner (so that he gets a good meal before bed). He still takes a bottle, though this next month is dedicated to weaning (off both the bottle and formula).
Speaking of the holidays, Marc was spoiled rotten! We had an advent "calendar" of wrapped books for him - so by the time Christmas rolled around, he was well rehearsed in ripping paper. Opening the box? Not so much. He did enjoy playing with the boxes though.. haha. I've kept out all his new toys too (I'm going to put a few away soon so that I can rotate them and keep them "fresh" for him), and he's been playing with all of them daily. He's great at independent play - though prefers when I'm sitting in the living room chair or - even better - on the living room floor.
Marc is playing more and more appropriately with toys: stacking cups and rings and "driving" vehicles. Cars and trucks are still his absolute favourite. He also love anything with music - he received a few for Christmas and plays with all of them each waking period of the day. He also LOVES soft things. He'll pull the blankets off the couch and smoosh his face into them. His soft plush toys get the same treatment (so many wide-open-mouth kisses!). He also "reads" his books each wake time, pulling them off the shelf and paging through them. Needless to say, the trucks one Pat picked up for Christmas is one of his favourites! Unfortunately, he also likes pulling mommy's books off the shelf.... and still doesn't quite understand the meaning of NO (or rather, he does, but likes making me get up to stop him..).
Lately, he's been imitating us more too. Blowing raspberries is his favourite - he'll do it in response to kissing noises as well as blowing and whistling. He'll lift his hands with I tell him to (during diaper changes) - sometimes hesitantly because he knows the tickles are coming! He's waved a few times recently, has started handing us things (especially little pieces of dirt or dust) and has managed to stand up without assistance... though these developments are post-11 months I think. The days really blend into each other!
We've been cloth diapering almost exclusively for a few months now. The only time we used disposables within the last month was to travel (four hours in the car each way - the short trips between our parents was fine with cloth). And shortly before the holidays we started using cloth overnight. I use a fitted diaper with a cover and hemp doublers for extra absorbency. It's been great! I love our cloth diapers... I wish I hadn't waited to long to start!
We've upgraded to 12-18 month clothes this month. It's always so heartbreaking to pack away my favourites... but so much fun to try on new things! The sleepers are always the first to turn over - especially now with the extra fluffy nighttime bum! It's funny to me how variable different brands are in their sizing - some are really wide but short and other long and skinny. And within the same brand the fleece sleepers are smaller than the cotton... so weird. Just means we have a few different sizes that fit right now.. and he already seems to be outgrowing some of the 12 month sizes... yikes! Slow down little man!
This coming month is all about preparing for daycare. The biggest thing I'm unsure about is wake time. Currently, Marc wakes up around 7:30. I need to be on the train at 7. Do I wake him so we can all leave together? Or do I head out while he's still sleeping and Pat gets him ready to go? Not sure what our best bet is... I just know, based on our schedules, Pat will drop him off and I will pick him up. Otherwise, I ordered clothing labels with his name on them yesterday. And I need to contact daycare next week to set up a few days where we can slowly transition before our start date. Oh how I'm dreading the 5th of February! I know Marc will be fine once we get into the routine... but my heart?! Oh man. NOT excited one bit.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

10 Months Old

Marc is 10 months old! It doesn't seem possible that 2017 is almost over but here we are. And being December, it will be over in a flash of sparkling lights and glittery sugar! I'm actually super excited about the holidays this year - last year, I just wanted to get through them; I had something much bigger weighing on my mind (and belly)! This year, we are soaking it in, one dazzled smile at a time.
This month, Marc is still practicing his standing without support. He's become very strong and more and more confident each day. He'll stand near the couch or stool or coffee table and play with something with both hands (see first picture below). He doesn't really like letting us act as support though, unless I'm sitting on the ground and he can use my legs or body. If we try to pull him up with our hands or walk him forward, he's usually a bit of a dead weight. We're working on it!
Marc suddenly figured out how to clap this month. It's adorable! He knows what he's doing too and will usually start clapping if we ask him to. He'll also take my hands and clap them together (and thinks it's hilarious). We're still working on waving and pointing but I realize that I just don't do these things as often as clapping throughout the day.
Marc is also starting to play more appropriately with toys now (instead of just sticking them in his mouth). He can place the rings back on the stand and fit the cups back into each other. He hasn't managed to complete the entire stack of either, but we're getting there. He'll place blocks back into the box and "drive" his cars and trucks around the living room (and sometimes into the kitchen if that's where I am). He also loves soft toys or blankets - hugging and kissing them into the ground, rubbing his face in their softness.
Marc is getting into EVERYTHING. His dresser drawers (out come the clothes), the kitchen drawers (ooooh, plastic bags!), the kitchen cabinets (pots and pans!)... basically everything I don't want him in. He knows it too - as soon as he hears me follow him into the kitchen, he'll look back at me guiltily before hurrying up to try to get there before me. We've since started baby-proofing, but haven't quite figured out what will work best with the drawers. He knows when the gate is open too and crawls as quick as he can to try to get out. He's a little monkey and I'm almost sort of dreading him getting the hang of walking because he'll only be that much faster!
In terms of eating, Marc feeds himself lunch every day. He LOVES berries the most and pomegranate arils are pretty good too. Cheese is another favourite. Cheerios, Goldfish, arrowroot cookies and soft crackers are all great snacks. He's become pickier with veggies though - sweet potato is one of the only ones he'll eat happily. Potatoes, anything green, cauliflower, squash... yuck (unless, sometimes, I can cover the taste with cheese or fruit). The meat he's tried so far is only okay - I blended some chicken with dried apricots and if you warm it up with more apricot (or other dried fruit compote) it's pretty good.
A few more odds and ends: Marc has 4 teeth (the 2 middle ones on the bottom and the 2 on either side of the middle ones at the top) and is currently working on the top middle ones. As soon as Marc hears daddy come home, he rushes to the gate with a big smile and presses his face into it. Cutest thing ever! He hugs around my neck really tightly now, which melts my heart every time (and breaks it when I'm trying to put him to bed and he immediately stands up and reaches toward me as I step out the door). Marc loves his books, his bath, and his swimming lessons, and enjoys going to the drop-in to play (but not so much to sit still for songs and story time). We're cloth diapering almost exclusively now (except for over night and during longer outings). It's going very well - I'm planning on blogging about that soon.
These last few months have been my absolute favourite. I love that Marc is getting more independent and mobile. I love his hugs and kisses and when he reaches up to be picked up. I love when he acts shy around others paying attention to him, turning his head into my shoulder with a sweet smile. I love all his funny faces. I absolutely cannot wait for him to experience Christmas - we're already starting to lay the foundation for our family traditions and it is the best feeling. Warm and fuzzy all around. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Family Photos 2017

I've been meaning to have family photos taken... well, all year really. As much as I would have liked newborn family photos, I was a bit too overwhelmed with the newness of motherhood to figure it all out in February and then time just has a way of slipping away from me lately. Anyway, I finally bit the bullet in October and found a local photographer (B&N Photography) doing mini holiday sessions this month. Here are my favourites of the resulting photos:
I opted for an outdoor location - Jack Darling Park in Mississauga - over the studio, mostly because I wanted to capture some of those glorious fall colours. Of course, it snowed the day prior to our shoot... which would have been lovely as well, but, being the GTA, it was all gone shortly after the snowfall. But it was cold, so we had to bundle up, which wasn't my first choice but turned out nicely all the same.
I chose to do a mini session because I had no idea how Marc would be... and am I ever glad. He was miserable! I think it was a combination of the cold and needing both a snack and a nap. He cried practically the entire time and basically wouldn't let me put him down. Pat and I left the park pretty disappointed - we didn't think we would end up with anything really all that good.
Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when the photographer sent me our proofs! She was able to capture a few really awesome shots and even a few smiles. I love these candid moments and that little face in the first photo with the mugs is absolutely priceless!
I am so happy I went ahead and booked a family photoshoot. It's so nice to have some good photos of the three of us and I can't wait to frame a couple for our walls. I'll definitely be doing this again, and hopefully somewhat regularly too!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sketchbook Pages: Week 45 + 46

Once again, I have not been very productive in my sketchbook. I've been working on some other goals and as such have found myself to be even busier than usual. So my sketchbook has fallen to the back of the bus.... I'm going to focus a bit more on it this week.

11/5 Make BIG Changes
11/6 Borders

11/7 Starburst
11/13 Bubble Tree

11/15 Goals
11/16 Strangely Unsettling
Materials used:
  • washi tape
  • pencil crayon
  • Sharpie paint pen (gold)
  • Pilot Precise V5 pen

Friday, November 17, 2017

Baby Registry: Things We Love

Here are some of the smaller items we absolutely love and used (or continue to use) daily. I'll keep toys and food-related items for future posts, this is just all the other stuff we needed.

sling


I LOVED my Moby wrap. This was a necessity when Marc was under 6 months - it was the only way I could get him to nap until we figured out the perfect combination to get him to sleep on his own during the day (white noise + vibrations + DARK). I wore it while doing dishes and laundry, on short walks to the store and whenever Marc needed a bit of quiet time. It was a bit tricky to get on at first, but once I figured it out it was easy. I liked that as he got a bit bigger, we could still use it with his legs out. The only issue is that it is a very long piece of fabric: so if we were driving to the store, for example, I needed to get it on before going.

carrier


Which is why we eventually picked up this Infantino carrier too. It's a lot easier to strap on quickly and allows Marc to sit facing outwards (or on our back, something we actually haven't tried). Pat also felt more comfortable wearing this as opposed to the wrap. It's comfortable and sturdy, so it's a great option for when you don't necessarily want to lug around a stroller.

car seat cover


Since Marc was a winter baby, we used this car seat cover all the time. It fit perfectly over his car seat, so we would get him all buckled in before heading out the door. It was perfect in the car as well as during our long walks in the spring.

bibs


I'll go into more length on the various types of bibs we use in my food-related post, but here are the ones we love for catching drool. I have to admit, while I was pregnant and for the first few months, I didn't think I would have Marc in bibs all day. He has so many cute shirts, why would I cover them up? And then the drool started... and hasn't let up yet! It is much easier to change a bib than a onesie! We started off with an Aden and Anais set (I can't find the dinosaur pattern we have, but these are similar) and this Little Unicorn set and I do love them. But in terms of fit and price, these can't be beat. We got them off Amazon in packs of 8 - one set is by ALVA and the other set is by Mabay Baby but they are literally the exact same bibs. We just searched for the cheapest sets. The patterns are fun, but what I really love is how they fit. The inside is fleece, so they're cozy; they're very absorbent; and they have 2 sets of snaps so that Marc can continue wearing them as he grows. The snaps are key - any of his velcroed bibs are ripped off in a matter of minutes. They do say to hand wash but... HA! No. I machine wash and dry and they've held up just fine so far. Unfortunately, they're all quite stained now, but that's to be expected. I highly recommend stocking up on these!

burp clothes
It goes without saying that we used our receiving blankets a lot - as burp clothes and to wipe up spit up (Marc was very pukey until he started on solids) - but these Aden and Anais burp clothes were particularly nice while I was breast feeding. Marc was a bit of a drippy drinker, so these saved my nursing bras, tank tops and shirts (I would tuck them into my open nursing bra). Another nice feature is that you can use them as bibs too; the size gives really good coverage and as you can see in this photo from a month ago, they'll fit for a while yet.

diaper bag and change pad


Obviously, every mom needs a diaper bag. I basically never use a purse anymore! I love my Skip Hop diaper bag - I chose it for both the pattern (love!) and the shape/size/pockets. It also has extra little straps so that I can hang it from my stroller handle, which is really awesome since it leaves the under-stroller storage space open for groceries, our lunch bag or towels for when we go swimming. I also picked up this Skip Hop change pad - a small one came with the diaper bag, but I like that this one comes with a small container to hold wipes as well as a few pockets. This way, I can grab just this to go into the washroom for a diaper change instead of bringing the entire bag in. Extra convenience is essential!

bath thermometer


We have this Safety 1st rubber duck bath thermometer which we still use all the time. I'm pretty sure I don't really need to use it anymore to know the proper temperature (practice makes perfect!) but it was really helpful when Marc was brand new and we had no idea what was safe. Now it's really just another bath toy!

mobile


Pat's sister found us this woodland creatures mobile for our not-really-a-theme-but-woodland-ish nursery. It's really cute! I love that it's handmade with felted wool and isn't super matchy-matchy with our woodland quilt (one of the first things I purchased for Marc's room) but does still sort of match. Marc loved looking at it spin before he could flip himself over and now he loves trying to catch them when we hold him up to it. Although not a necessity, it's a really cute addition and made his room feel more like a nursery (which was really exciting when we were waiting for his delivery!).

I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, but these are some of our essential items. What are some of the smaller items you can't / couldn't live without? 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Baby Registry: Bigger Items

I've been meaning to post a little series on baby items - things we needed, things we never used, toys we love. I know that when I was expecting, I devoured as many of these lists as I could so that I could put together a comprehensive registry (and find quality toys as he grows). First, I'm going to start with the "big" things we needed and used (or still use):

rocking chair / glider
We purchased our glider online from Best Buy (this one is similar). I love it! It's very comfortable, which was key since I was sitting in it for long periods of time (Marc was a very slow breastfeeder). It's still in Marc's room - we use it for morning bottles, bedtime stories and I'll sit in it while he plays in his room. We'll eventually move it out, but for now it's perfect.

play pen with bassinet
This Eddie Bauer pack and play is what we used as a bassinet in our room until Marc was around 6 months and we transitioned him to his crib. Now it's his bed when we travel to visit our family. Once we figured it out, it was very easy to assemble and dissemble. The nightlight/vibrator that came with it was a lifesaver: those vibrations plus a white noise app on my phone were key when teaching Marc to put himself to sleep. I originally liked this pack and play because it came with a shade (we could bring him outside in the summer!) but we've honestly never used it or the change table that came with it.

play mat / "jungle gym"
I chose this play mat because it could be converted into a ball pit and that sounded like a lot of fun! Marc loved it (especially the elephant that played music and flashed colourful lights)! It was great for him to stretch and wiggle and explore the dangling toys. Since this one is in his room, we purchased a second, smaller one for downstairs. We used both until he became mobile; then we put away the small one and converted the one upstairs into the ball pit which he still uses today.

bath
I loved this sling bath! It was small enough to tuck away in his closet and we didn't have to figure out where we would use a tiny bathtub (our bathroom isn't big enough to put it on the floor or counter to wash Marc). It made washing Marc very easy until he could sit up on his own.

change pad
I'm so glad we didn't waste money on an actual change table. This pad fits perfectly on Marc's dresser. We're still using it.

diaper pail
I chose this Ubbi diaper pail (you can see it in the background of this photo) mostly because it uses regular garbage bags. I use it for both disposable and cloth diapers (depending what I'm using that day.. or both, I just can't use the little hatch for both at the same time). It holds in the smell very well and cleans up easily.

stroller with car seat
We went with this Eddie Bauer stroller and car seat. I chose it because of how sturdy it is (it has 3 big wheels). It is big though, which makes navigating smaller stores a bit tricky, if not impossible. But for the most part, it's perfect. I like that the shade for the stroller fits over the car seat so that I can completely cover Marc if needed (awesome when the sun is in his face or when he would nap during our long walks in the spring). The car seat is easy to pop on and off the base and stroller and seems comfortable for our long trips to visit family. I have yet to use the stroller without the car seat, but once Marc is bigger I'm sure we'll get a lot of use out of that as well.

high chair
We have this Graco high chair. I had no special reason for choosing it; it just does the job well. The seat cover and tray are easy to clean, although the cover is a little stained now. The straps are harder to clean and stained as well (though I don't see any way around that). It's sturdy and doesn't take up too much space in our dining room. The seat does fit onto a chair, with or without the tray - we haven't tried this yet, but I likely will once he's a bit bigger and eating at the table.

Things We Didn't Need

Now here are the big ticket items that we didn't end up using... I'm not saying you won't need them, but they just didn't work for our very active little boy:

swing

Marc did not like the swing. Not sure if it was because he was stuck on his back with little to entertain him (which he still dislikes) or what, but we didn't use our swing more than a couple of times.

Bumbo seat

Again, Marc doesn't like this seat. It isn't good to use before they're developmentally ready to sit on their own (since it forces their little back into an unsafe curve), and once he knew how to sit on his own, he didn't want to be restrained. Marc is a mover and definitely does not like to be contained.

Jumper
Which brings us to the Jumper. I don't regret buying this because Marc does enjoy playing with it - just a lot more now that he can stand around it instead of being stuck inside it. He was content to play for 10 or so minutes, but after that he just wants to move.

Anyway, this is what did and did not work for us - what are some big ticket items you needed or ended up not needing?