Sunday, December 23, 2012

23 Months!

The next time I post Ben's update he will be TWO and we will have another little guy filling our lives with joy.  It doesn't seem real that nearly two years have gone by since I held my first little treasure in my arms.  Parenthood is such a blessing to Andrew and I and having Ben in our lives is one of the greatest joys.

Teeth:  I am excited to say that Ben's tooth count is up from 12 to 16!  In the past week he cut his four incisors and the drool that is streaming out of his mouth is beginning to slow.  They aren't all the way through yet but the little tops have poked up through his gums.

Height/Weight:  We go to the doctor next month but he continues to grow a little taller and is starting to add a bit more meat to his bones.

Clothing:  24 months, shoe size 5

Hair:  When he wears something red it looks strawberry blond but in other colors it just looks blond.  I did trim up a little in the back because there were a few random long strands, but we haven't had an official haircut yet.  Maybe in another month or so we will get a real cut

Communication:  The word explosion from last month continues as our little mimic picks up new words/phrases every day.  I think his first real sentence was "Tessa Marie, go away!"  (Our dogs have middle names when they are in trouble.)  If you have ever met Tessa, you know that this sentence is probably repeated at least once if not 10 times per day and is most often used around meal times.  He has started saying "please" instead of just signing it and will ask specifically for different things such as his "orange jacket" or "rain jacket."  It is so much fun having him communicate with us and he picks things up quickly.  He very cutely knows the name of my doctor and calls him Dr. Oula (for Dr. Osula) and grandmom and granddad are actually sounding more and more like real words rather than just the "g" sound.

Skills:  He can spell and pick out the letters of his name, although he refers to himself as "Bum."  He is starting to learn his colors and is pretty consistent with blue, yellow and red.  He is also learning how to count.  Puzzles with individual sections are a breeze and he sorts shapes and identifies them with confidence.  When reading favorite books he can fill in words when I pause while reading.  He is getting more and more proficient at singing his "ABC's."  He can kind of jump but still doesn't fully trust his feet.  He is learning opposites such as up and down, light and dark, heavy and light, hot and cold.  When he thinks something is heavy he uses a deep voice and occasionally grunts as he tries to lift it.  He is learning the difference between day and night and is aware when it is dark in a room.  He loves to point out the moon and stars in the sky at night.

Loves:  This month brought new loves into Ben's life.  With the Christmas season upon us, he has embraced the decorations, cookies, and excitement with much enthusiasm.  When we brought our Christmas tree home after cutting it, he gave it a hug in the kitchen before we set it up.  Every morning his face lights up when he comes downstairs and sees the tree and if it is not plugged in already, it is our first task.  He loves looking at the ornaments and taking off and putting on the ones he is allowed.  He loves the decorations around Fredonia such as the snowflakes on Main Street and the wreaths on Water Street.  At his grandmom's house he enjoys the candles in her windows.

One of the highlights of the Christmas season for Ben is the train set that is on display at the local hardware store.  I love it when we stop in and he finds Dave or Bob and says, "Choo-choo please," so that they will turn it on.  We have spent a lot of time staring at the moving train in recent weeks.  He is learning how to say "Merry Christmas" and if he sees a Santa will say, "ho, ho, ho."  He loves putting together a manger scene puzzle my parents sent him and likes putting in the baby Jesus piece.  He is very excited about the presents stored Caleb's crib and one day he climbed into the crib and I caught him lightly touching them.

He had a blast making cookies with his grandmom, great grandmom and Aunt Joanna on his final day as a 22 month old and very seriously put frosting and sprinkles on a few.  Eating the dough and final product were the highlights.

He loves the learning tower Andrew made him and we have spent many hours hanging out in the kitchen playing with water, play-dough and helping to cook.  If anyone is in the kitchen he wants to be in his tower.

He often takes a bath in the morning now while I am getting ready for the day/doing laundry and he loves playing with his backhoe in the tub.  Bubble baths area fun part of his day but a real highlight is when he gets to take a bath at grandmom's house.

At night time he loves to read a few books, sing a couple of songs and get "snuggles" from both his mommy and daddy.  We don't think that there is anything much cuter than hearing his little voice sing himself to sleep in his room.

What We've Been Up To:
 Our stroller runs have decreased due to the size of my belly but we still try get out for a walk every day that the weather allows.  He is very excited about the double stroller in our living room and we tried it out one day with his friend Isaac.  Our weeks are filled with errands, going to the doctor, playing at home, going to "Mommy Group" (where he gets a name-tag--pure toddler excitement), hanging out with his friend Isaac and spending time with his family.  His transition to the big boy room continues to go well, even though he occasionally falls out in the middle of the night.  He sleeps for a solid 11 hours most nights and takes a 2 1/2/ hour nap every day.

Our little family of three has enjoyed this past month getting ready for both Christmas and Caleb.  Watching Ben embrace and absorb the world around him is amazing.  He fills our life with laughter and love.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Benefits of Pregnant Exercise (for me)

A couple of days ago I blogged about pregnant running and my experience this time around.  As I approach my due date and am still trying to waddle through a few miles three or four times a week, people look at me in disbelief as my humpty dumpty belly leads the way.

This morning I am going to teach my last bodypump class.  I taught three times a week for most of my pregnancy but for the last 6 weeks have taught twice.  I am a little relieved and a little sad that I am finished after today.  I will miss my classes (and the workout) but do know it is time to let my body rest a bit before labor.  I am still going to try to run until the day I deliver because I am quite the addict.

This pregnancy has been different from my first and I think a lot of that is due to the amount of exercise I have gotten throughout the duration.  For me the following are some benefits I've found from keeping up a fairly normal exercise routine:

1.  Less weight gain.  With three weeks to go until baby day I am on track to gain 15 pounds less than I did with Ben.

2.  Low blood pressure--yesterday at my checkup I had the highest blood pressure I've had this pregnancy a whopping 110/60.  Keeping active has allowed my blood pressure to stay low and has kept swelling at bay.

3.  Low blood sugar--I ate a lot of donuts and bread during my first trimester, they were the only things I could keep down most of the time.  With all of the sugar I was eating I wondered what would happen with my gestational diabetes test.  Instead of having high glucose levels however, mine were on the very low end of normal which my doctor attributes to my activity level.

4.  Better sleep at night--until recently where my belly has hindered my sleeping, the days that I exercise I sleep so much better at night.  My body is able to relax because it is actually tired rather than just feeling tired from the baby growing.

5.  Better mood--I am incredibly grumpy when I don't exercise.  I need exercise like Andrew needs coffee.  Even not pregnant, days off from running/exercising leave me feeling like a grouch.  Keeping up with exercise this pregnancy has made me so much happier most days.

6.  Better self image--going along with the less weight gain I feel like I am really only gaining what is necessary for Caleb to grow and be healthy without a lot of excess which makes me feel happier about myself.

7.  Keeps my bodily functions functioning (if you need more explanation, send me an email.)

8.  A healthy baby--healthy babies are born with or without exercise but studies have shown that women who do exercise have babies born at a healthy birth weight, have more efficient hearts, and may have better memories than babies of women who don't exercise.

9.  A shorter labor (hopefully)-- My sister in law recently told me she read that on average fit women only push for 27 minutes.  We'll see if that is right soon but the hope of pushing less is enough to spur me on to continue exercising until Caleb arrives!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On running pregnant

When I became pregnant with Ben I was asked a lot, "Are you going to keep running?"  I would answer yes and I thought I would run a lot more than I actually did.  The hills of Morgantown, a full time teaching job and uncertainty over exactly how much I could do kept my runs under four miles a couple of times a week.  I completely stopped running at around 30 weeks but I can't remember ever having a week where I ran more than 12 miles total for the week during the entire pregnancy.  I walked a lot but didn't really do much running.  My walk at the end was very much a waddle as I made poor Andrew shiver in the cold all bundled up while I was sweating in a t-shirt.  I ended up gaining more weight than I originally wanted (about 44ish pounds) and didn't really enjoy having all of that weight to get rid of.

My first run post Ben occurred when he was 2 weeks and 6 days old.  I wasn't comfortable but it was manageable and nothing hurt worse than before so I kept at it running a couple of miles a couple of days a week.  Once I received the official "Okay" to start exercising I did a little crossfit and started running more.  I hated feeling like I had to train my body to exercise all over again and it felt like I'd never run a step in my entire life.

When we found out I was pregnant with #2, I was already about 7 weeks along and while I felt a little off (because I was pregnant and didn't know it) during some of my runs, I was still doing about 30-35 miles a week and teaching body pump 4 times a week.  Once the first trimester nausea set it I watched my weekly mileage plummet but any day that I felt a little bit like running I did.  There were mornings where I tied my running shoes and immediately felt sick so I would walk instead.  As my pregnancy continued and I started feeling better I ramped my mileage back up and until two weeks ago ran between 20-30 miles a week--with a big week of 37 miles thrown into the mix. I did a half marathon at 25 weeks and maintained a weekly long run of 9 miles until 33 weeks. Total I have run a little over 800 pregnant miles.  Now, at 36ish weeks pregnant my running is slowing down.  I am still making an effort to get out there but my mileage goals are gone, my speed goals are gone and I figure that every step I run right now will make it a little easier on the other side of pregnancy.  A huge positive from all of the running/teaching body pump is that my weight gain has been significantly less this time.

What I've learned about pregnant running...
1.  The bigger I get, the more weird looks I get from people.
2.  A pregnancy support band is a MUST.  It helps hold up my rapidly growing stomach, helps with lower back pain and just makes me feel more secure.
3.  If I make a decision to cut back on mileage/running back to back days it takes me about two weeks to actually follow through.  A couple of weeks ago I said I wasn't going to run two days in a row but I still tried to do it.  This week however, I am only running every other day in an effort to conserve some energy.
4.  It is okay NOT to run.  There are days I just haven't felt great and taking a day off is okay
5.  Never wear a watch!  (Pace, time, distance--none of them really matter when you are growing another human.)
6.  I can eat whatever I want before I go for a run and it doesn't bother my stomach.  (when I am not pregnant I can't eat much at all before running)
7.  I have to stay REALLY hydrated.  If I am even a little dehydrated while running I get side stitches really quickly and have to walk.  It took me a couple of times of this happening to figure out what was going on.
8.  Running with a dog becomes nearly impossible at around 35 weeks
9. I actually have to listen to my body--when not pregnant I tend to ignore minor aches and pains
10. It isn't as hard to do as people think.  People are a little bit in disbelief that I have run as much as I have.  Running pregnant for me isn't that hard as the weight gain is very gradual and my body has adjusted each week to what I am asking it to do.  Right now as I near the end it is getting a lot harder but so is everything else!

Monday, December 3, 2012

22 Months--or the month where Ben became a "big boy"

Excitement in our home is growing everyday as we anticipate the arrival of baby #2.  Ben is growing and learning so much so fast that Andrew and I are constantly in awe of our adorable little boy.  I think every month I say that we feel blessed by having him in our life and this month is not an exception.  His sweet personality, easy going nature and love for everything around him make him a joy to be with every day.

Height and Weight...taller and heavier--he doesn't go to the doctor again until his two year old check up so you'll just have to trust me that he is growing.
Teeth:  Still 12--by next month I really think that he will have another one or two.
Clothing:  All 24 months
Shoes: size 5 in most shoes are still a little big but 4 is a little snug

Skills:  He can identify a lot of his letters, shapes, and is starting to count.  Colors are still a mystery and everything is "blue."  I wonder a bit if he is partially color blind like his dad because he is learning other things at such a rapid pace.  I would love to say he is potty trained but he isn't.  I think he could be if I were more committed but at the moment, squatting down to his level in the bathroom is getting harder and harder as my stomach gets bigger and bigger.  He goes when we ask him but isn't holding it through nap or sleeping at night so we will hold off a little longer.

Communication:    Every single day he learns new words.  Over the last month his vocabulary has really expanded and words that he already said are getting clearer. He is starting to string words together and saying simple sentences.  He impressively says things like "microwave" and "chocolate milk."   He is adding ending sounds to words.  He loves to sing and some of his favorites are, "ABC," "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," "Wheels on the Bus," and "Old MacDonald."  He loves to sing with his daddy playing the guitar.

Loves:  Balls, books, trucks, tools, puzzles, his penguin, and his dogs.  He plays well independently which is wonderful.  He LOVES to hang out in his new learning tower in the kitchen to play with play-do, watch and help me cook and play in the sink.  He continues to love playing in the bath and if it were up to him he would bathe at least three times a day.

Transitions:  This month was our month of transition for Ben.  We moved him out of his baby room and into his new big boy room.  Ben and I shopped for his mattress, sheets, dresser, etc.  He loves his new blue room with his star quilt that Andrew's grandma made for Andrew in high school.  The first week he got up and down frequently when we were putting him down but after the initial training period, he sleeps incredibly well in his new bed.  He talks about his big boy room and seems proud of his new place to sleep.  When he goes into the baby room he calls it "baby room" and doesn't seem to miss his crib.  I love putting him to bed and snuggling with him before he goes to sleep.

Highlights from the Month:  Aunt Joanna came to visit when she was off for Veteran's Day.  Ben soaked up snuggles and loved seeing her.  It is so much fun to watch him recognize family members and to talk about them when they aren't around. He celebrated his second Thanksgiving and loved the candles on the table.  He identifies turkey by saying "gobble, gobble" and was a great helping making a pumpkin pie.  He met his cousin Lauren for the first time which was adorable and I am sure once she is bigger they will be great buddies.

All in all it was a wonderful and busy month.  Andrew and I are continuing to prepare for the new baby and Ben gives my stomach a lot of kisses and snuggles.  We can't wait to see what a good big brother he is going to be.  I know I am going to miss him like crazy when I am in the hospital.  He is such a joy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 2: 21 Months of Parenthood

On October 23rd, Ben reached his 21st month of life.  Andrew and I couldn't be happier to be the parents of such a cheerful, loving little guy.  It is hard to believe that 21 months of parenthood have gone by and our once chunky baby is a svelte toddler who is learning something new everyday.

This thankfulness post is a double for his 21 month update...

Taller and heavier than last month...
Clothes:  all 24 month and some 2T (what is the difference really?)
Shoes:  Barely size 5
Hair:  His wispy strawberry blond (I think) hair is starting to grow in slowly.  It curls up in the back when it is humid outside
Teeth:  Still 12 and every month I think I will have another one to add but they are taking their time coming in.  I am pretty sure they are waiting until Caleb gets here just to make sure we are all on our toes.

This month was a word explosion.  He mimics and is picking up so many new words.  The words that he does have are becoming clearer.  He is more specific when he asks for things which is wonderful.  There is a lot less guessing involved on my part on what he wants for breakfast, lunch or to drink because he will tell me.  He also lets me know when he is hungry by using words rather than just getting grumpy.  Over the month Andrew and I went from being "mama" and "dada" to "mommy" and "daddy"--a most adorable transition.  I don't think if there is anything sweeter than hearing him say "mommy" from his room.  We often hear him saying "uh-oh" and "no" when he does something he shouldn't.  He has started adding ending sounds to words which makes him way easier to understand.

Ben continues to dazzle us with his "boyness."  Cars, trucks, planes, helicopters, trains, dirt, rocks, construction vehicles--you name it, he loves it.  He has an array of sounds for each vehicle and each is very distinct.  He loves to color and play with play dough.  New this month was the discovery of stickers--star stickers are a particular favorite and they are all over his stuffed animals and books.  Tessa and Chopper even went through a star stage as he put them over everything.  He continues his love of books and is in love with letters.  He can identify several letters and enjoys mumbling different ones in random order. He enjoys puzzles and balls but I think one of his favorite things of all is wrestling and snuggling with is parents.  He loves to run around our house chasing our poor dogs, trying to get Andrew to do push-ups with him on his back and getting tickled.   He loves to run errands and visit his family at work (especially since the office ladies spoil him with chocolate.)

He is learning some colors and letters.  I think he would pick up more if I were a little more focused on it but for now he is content to read books and learn through everyday life.  He is still working on his jumping and I think once he figures out how to trust his little feet he will get it.  He can climb in and out of his high chair and the stroller.

Highlights from the Month:
*His grandma and grandpa came up from Georgia for a visit and he charmed them with his infectious grin.
*He watched our friend Kevin dig holes in our backyard with a tractor for a fence
*Long walks around Fredonia and runs to Tim Horton's to help his baby brother grow
*Doctor's appointments with me where he gets to hear his little brother's heartbeat
*Numerous playdates with his friends Isaac and Mason
*Shopping for his new room (more on that in Month 22!)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 1: Health

Last year I copied other friends and reflected on something I was thankful for each day in November.  I loved having a little outlet in which to think about things in my life that are such a huge blessing and this year isn't any different.  (I might have a few repeats in topics but the content will be different as it is a new year).

Thinking back to the past year, one thing that Andrew and I are incredibly thankful for is the gift of good health.  We've battled a few colds between the three of us, but nothing that has crippled our lives.  Ben is an exceptionally healthy little boy and is approaching his second birthday without ever being on any medication.

As we approach the birth of baby #2 in about 8 weeks, we are enjoying another easy and healthy pregnancy.  My blood pressure has stayed low, my blood sugar is even lower and I have kept up with both running and teaching bodypump through the duration of my pregnancy thus far.  Little Caleb is kicking away inside of me and is developing right on track with a strong heartbeat that Ben enjoys hearing when we go to the doctor.  Even my thyroid, that bounced around a bit when I was pregnant with Ben, has remained steady.

Even the canine members of our family have enjoyed a year of blissful healthy happiness.  They get the occasional stomach bug from eating things that upset their stomachs but beyond getting routine shots, we haven't had to take them to the vet.

On this first day of November our health is not something we take for granted but something we do work hard to maintain through a lot of exercise, a mostly healthy diet and as much sleep as we can get which means I should probably go to bed--my 5:45 run is quickly approaching.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

One of those days...

The last week and half or so have been really busy.  Out of town family visited, we went to see friends in Houghton, two weeks in a row of small group at our house where I make dinner for 12-14 people, dinner with different friends and various house projects to get finished before baby 2 makes his appearance have left us all a little weary.  Today though was a Ben day and a day I don't really want to forget.

I began my day at 5:25 when Tessa heard my alarm and let me know it was time to run.  I slowly made my 30.5 week pregnant belly get out of bed, drank a big glass of juice, tied my sneakers and waited for a friend to meet me.  We ran a little over four miles together and I added on a bit after she left as I am trying to take advantage of everyday I feel good while running.  We returned, Ben woke up, we helped Andrew get ready for work and began our day together.  

After playing for a little while, I decided it was time to visit the office to let Ben show off his Halloween costume (and to give him a chance to practice wearing it).  An adorable chocolate chip cookie, he made the office ladies smile, saw his grandmom and daddy and we returned home.

With baby #2 on the way, Ben is going to go through several transitions.  The first one to come is moving him into another room with his big boy bed.  Two weeks ago Andrew and I painted the room and this weekend we are getting the bed set up and his room ready.  This morning I thought it would be fun if Ben and I went mattress shopping.  We set out into the sunny warm weather and drove to the four stores in Fredonia that sell mattresses.  Ben loved every second.  I let him try out the mattresses and he chattered away about his "bi bo be" (big boy bed).  He was a trooper as I hauled him in and out of the car.  We made a couple of other stops to look for shoes for Andrew (very exciting) and we picked out sheets for his new room.  It took about two hours to do all of our errands and he grinned and talked away the entire time.  I felt so proud and so full of love for my little guy.

After lunch with Andrew and Granddad, Ben settled in for a very short nap and I enjoyed a few minutes to prop my feet up and relax  Once awake, we headed out again only this time to go to pick up Ben's best bud and mom to go to Harvest Hollow, a local pumpkin farm.  Ben and I went last week with my parents and today I wanted him to try out the hayride.  He was excited when we arrived to see the animals, ride in the toy cars and play in a huge thing of corn with trucks.  He was so excited about the corn and trucks that he threw a bit of a fit when I put him on the hayride.  Once the tractor started pulling us however, he calmed down and enjoyed the ride.

We dropped off our friends, headed home, ordered a pizza and ate dinner.  Ben happily munched on his pizza and some "bb's" (blueberries) before we went for a family walk with both fur kids.  He chattered away on our walk as he pointed out the moon, asked for a pumpkin and talked about the leaves.  

After second dinner, a bubble bath and a lot of snuggles both in our bed and his room he is now settling down for sleep and while I am a little tired from the day, it is a day I don't want to forget.  From his excitement over bed shopping to his joy over petting farm animals to the way he gives his baby brother kisses on my belly I am so blessed that he is mine.  I love that he called me in tonight when I put him to bed to ask for more snuggles and to say goodnight to his dogs.  I love how his entire face lights us when he sees the people around him that love him so.  He is truly a gift from God and each moment we have together is a moment that I want to make sure that I cherish.  

So today was one of those days...not a day where I want to pull my hair out and feel frustrated that I didn't get the list in my head finished, but a day where I felt honored to spend every moment with my blond haired blue eyed angel that fills my heart with more love than I ever knew was possible.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

20 Months

I think I've been a little hesitant to write this post (and apparently hesitant to post because I realized this morning that I never actually did.)  20 months just seems so old!  Ben will be two before I know it and even before that his little brother Caleb will be here.  Ben is growing into a little boy so quickly!

Weight:  24ish pounds
Height:  Taller than last month...he is a little hard to measure.
Teeth:  Still 12, I thought that a couple more were going to pop through but we haven't seen them yet
Hair:  His light hair has a reddish tint and is still really wispy.  We might have to give him a haircut within the next six months.
Clothing:  He is transitioning into 24 month clothes although they are still a little big.  18 month pants are too short.  He solidly wears a size 4 shoe.  We still use fuzzibunz.

Communication:  New words everyday!  He is quite the little mimic and chatters all the time.  Recent highlights are "uck" for yuck (we are working on the 'y') "more," and "baby."  We love listening to him talk away.  He has learned "no" but at the moment uses it very appropriately when asked a question.

Eating:  Mealtime is a little hit or miss.  He loves breakfast and has enjoyed his pregnant mom's recent obsession with pancakes, french toast, etc.  He enjoys eggs and fruit.  He loves pasta in any form and is starting to eat more meat.  Ice cream is his absolute favorite.  He will try almost everything.  He loves pizza and one night when I walked in with a pizza box he clapped his hands and said "yeah."  He figured out where his mommy milk used to come from and scopes out the women in his life (and sometimes men) to see if it is a possibility.

Skills:  He is learning his colors and yellow is a sure pick.  He can identify some letters, especially the letters in his name and the letter 'r' because it is on the sleeve of our R1 pull overs that Andrew and I wear a lot.  He is still trying to jump up and down and he can get one foot off the ground.  He loves to run around and dance.

Loves:  Books, Chopper, trucks, his stuffed penguin, walks, hikes, going in the car, music, dancing, listening to Andrew play guitar, visiting his dad at work, and the occasional you tube helicopter video.

Sleeping:  He still sleeps like a champ from around 8:30 to 8:00 with a two hour nap in the afternoon.  It is wonderful!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Running a Half Marathon at 25 Weeks Pregnant

When a friend of mine asked about six weeks ago if I wanted her entry to a half marathon she originally planned on doing my initial answer was "no."  I didn't know how I would feel at 25 weeks, how big my stomach would be and was a little nervous about how my body would react.  Another friend of ours was planning on running and I was doing a lot of her long runs with her but decided to take it week by week.  Ever since I came out of the first trimester where I had one outstanding week that I ran a total of 2 miles, I have run 25-30 miles per week with at least one run above 8 miles if not 10.  I basically run every day that I feel like it and overall I have been a much happier pregnant person.  When I was pregnant with Ben with all of the hills in Morgantown I felt like I had a good run if I made it three or four miles.

This pregnancy however, things are different.  I am not working, I can take a nap if I want every afternoon and I am teaching a bodypump class which is really helping my core stay strong.  When a week before the half marathon arrived and I had a really good 10 mile run I thought, "why not run the half?"  I ran my decision by Andrew and a couple of other runners and decided to do it.  They all cautioned me to listen to my body and to run smart.  I put in way more training for this half than I did the one I ran a few months after Ben was born.

The morning of the run (not so much a race for me) arrived and I was tired.  My head felt cloudy, my throat was a little sore and I felt like I was getting a cold.  Initially I thought there was no way I would run more than a couple of miles with my friend who was running her first but I hoped once I drank some tea, woke up and walked around I would feel better.  I did.  By the time we lined up I wasn't feeling as great as I wanted but good enough to give it a shot.  I appropriately wore my favorite race t-shirt from the 50 miler I attempted a few years back--it is huge and only fits me when I am pregnant.

The first four miles went by pretty quickly.  My friend Erin and I chatted along, were passed by people who didn't want to get beaten by a pregnant woman and enjoyed the beauty of the day.  It was a gorgeous cool morning at Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie.  Around mile 4 there was a bathroom stop which I needed to take advantage of so I sent Erin ahead and took my first of five bathroom breaks.  I drank at least a cup of water at each water station in an effort to stay hydrated (so as to not cause any contractions) and relaxed into my own pace.  Around mile five or six I saw Andrew's cousins who were there to cheer on his aunt and uncle who were running that day.  I stopped and talked for a few minutes (evidence again it was not a race) before continuing on my pregnant way.

At mile 7 I ate my squeezy fruit that I brought along and continued to plug.  I didn't wear a watch or bring my Ipod because I really wanted to focus on how I was feeling.  I wish that more people would have left their Ipods behind because it really cuts down on conversation when everyone is in their own little world.  I felt like I was stalking people without headphones in an effort to make some conversation and help the miles to tick by faster.  I made it to mile 10 without any walk breaks but by then my scratchy throat was coming back, a bit of a headache was coming on and oh yeah, I am pregnant.  The water stops were a little before each mile marker so I decided to walk between the water and mile marker.  It was a good way to give myself little breaks, especially since I didn't have a watch to tell me how long I was walking.

By mile 12 I really wanted to be finished, but at that point I was nearly there.  My lower back was starting to get sore and I was just plain tired.  I took a few more walk breaks and was encouraged by those around me to "push through," "keep running," and "you're almost there."  All of these comments people made as they ran up behind me but once the saw the load up front they quickly changed their tune to "you're pregnant? walk all you want!"    As I neared the finish line my natural instinct was to pick it up, pass as many people a I could and sprint it in.  I squelched my normal end kick and continued to take it easy.  I posed at the end for the camera with my belly sticking out, grabbed as much food as I could carry and found my friend who finished ahead of me.

My pregnant half was a good experience but not one I am sure I will do again.  The baby and I came through just fine but I don't know if I would actually pay to do it.  It was fun to run a race without any goals or pressure (besides the pressure on my bladder).  I was simply able to enjoy the day.  I hoped I helped a few people PR as they took one look at my stomach and picked up their own pace.  Next year I hope to do the same race again with Baby B2 and Ben hanging out at the finish waiting for me.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Months 18-19--Catching Up

I'm pregnant and have a toddler.  The trump card for everything is also my excuse for not blogging much over the summer.  Now that the weather is cooling down, Ben is soundly sleeping and baby B #2 is enjoying life on the inside, I have few moments in which to catch up.

19 Month Stats (official--Ben just had his last shot until Kindergarten and last check up until he is 2!)

Height:  33.5 inches
Weight: 23.5 pounds
Teeth:  12 (going on 14, I think judging from the amount of drool)
Hair:  Still sporting wispy reddish blond hair that makes him look much younger than his 19 months.
Clothing Size:  18 months in everything but because of his height he is starting to branch out into some 24 months.  He has a favorite shirt with a dump truck on it and calls towels "Monsters" because of his monster towel he uses after his bath.  
Shoes:  His tiny feet are starting to grow and he is between a 4 and 5 depending on the brand.
Personality:  He is incredibly laid back and we can pretty much take him anywhere.  He thinks restaurants are places where he has an audience of every diner around him.  He is cheerful almost all day and even though he gets upset if he doesn't always get his way, he gets over it pretty quickly.  He is so sweet and continues to be so snuggly.  He loves just hanging out with his fan club, giving kisses and hugs.  

Eating:  Ben officially finished nursing on Tuesday August 7th--only about 7 months after my original wean date.  For the month prior to that he nursed off and on every other day or so when he needed a little extra comfort.  

He basically eats whatever we eat now but isn't a huge fan of meat because he has a hard time chewing it.  He LOVES pasta, fruit, cheese, milk, Cheerios, cheddar bunnies, yogurt, bread, crackers, and ice cream.      While on vacation we ate a lot of ice cream and he thought that trend should continue when we returned.   If you want him to learn your name all you have to do is feed him ice cream. 

Sleeping:  Ben sleeps soundly through the night from around 8:45-7:30.  It is truly a wonderful thing.  I don't like to think about the fact that my long nights of uninterrupted sleep are going to end again soon but at least I know baby #2 will sleep at some point.  He takes one nice long nap during the day for 2-3 hours starting around 12:30 or 1:00.  I have stopped waking him up from his naps unless it is getting late in the afternoon.  I don't really like him to sleep past 4:00 because Andrew and I like to have a little adult interaction that doesn't involve Ben in the evening.  

Movement:  Ben is trying really hard to jump.  It started during the Olympics when we were watching volleyball.  He can rise up to his tip-toes but hasn't quite made the connection to actually get his feet off the ground.  I suspect he will have it soon!  He throws and kicks balls, runs all around and enjoys taking walks down our street without the stroller.  He climbs up on everything but is being a little more cautious when it comes to trying to climb onto the table.  

Things Ben Loves:  He continues to display his "boyness" with his obsession with every truck, car, airplane, helicopter, etc.  I never realized all of the different names for construction vehicles until I had a toddler boy.  He loves walking around town and seeing all of the vehicles that drive by.  He searches the sky for airplanes and waves bye-bye when he can't see them anymore.  

Book continue to be a highlight of his life.  If someone is sitting down they are fair game as a reader.  He loves Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, as well as the Best First Book Ever.  Sometimes those books go "missing" for a few days when we've had a little bit too much.  Before bed he likes to read Goodnight Moon, Twinkle Twinkle, and Busy Doggies.  His crib is stocked with books that he reads before he goes to sleep and reads when he wakes up in the morning.  It isn't uncommon for him to hand us a book when we get him in the morning.  We love it!  

He enjoys stacking blocks, playing with his instruments, throwing and kicking balls and just hanging out in the kitchen.  Recently he has shown interest in play-dough and is starting to color.  Chopper is still his number one dog although he is trying to win over Tessa's affection with food treats (she's gained about six pounds since he started eating solids).   

He still loves to go bye-bye and enjoys walks and runs in the stroller.  We run together often enough that when he saw Olympic runners he automatically said "mama" when he saw them on the screen and clapped his hands.  I'm glad that in his eyes I am worthy of a gold medal.

His best friend is I-ac (Isaac) a buddy from church who is a little younger.  They enjoy dashing around the playground, hanging out on the beach and playing in the nursery.  We look forward to see how they grow up together.  

Communication:    He is trying so hard to talk!  Everyday he says something new.  At the moment his list of words includes:  Hi-ya (Hilary, helicopter, and pasta depending on the context), Ommam (ice cream), ice, juice, cheese, blueblue (blueberry),Heather (who brought him ice-cream), mamallow (marshmallow). boo-boo, ball, bubble, mama, dada, dadad (granddad), Bob, dog, book, hi, bye-bye, all done, no, diaper, apple, poopoo, uh-oh, knock, I-ac, hippo, eyebrow, elbow,  and boo!.  He can make a host of animal sounds including dog, cat, cow, horse, sheep, pig (kind of), bird, and lion.  He will sing e-i-e-i-o with Old MacDonald and calls Bodypump "lalala" because that was the intro for one of the songs.  He mimics everything and will match syllables and intonation with different words even if he can't say all of the sounds yet.  It is a blast hanging out with him and listening to his language develop.  He uses a few signs the most useful being "please" and the least useful being the sign for helicopter.  

Exciting New Skill:  A few weeks into his 18 month a friend of ours gifted us with a toilet topper for the potty and a child's potty.  Ben, who thinks that making a bubble (a.k.a.:  passing gas) is hilarious, immediately wanted to try to make a bubble in the potty.  For about a week I didn't change a single poopy diaper.  It was wonderful.  He is still asking to go here and there but I am not pushing the idea of him being potty trained because he doesn't wake up dry from naps or after sleeping at night.  Anytime he asks I let him go and if I catch him in the act I will stick him on.  He loves to flush the toilet, wipe, and wash his hands.  If he is potty trained before #2 arrives it would be great but I am not getting my hopes up and we will re-approach it in the Spring.  

Highlights of the Summer:  We spent a lot of time outside at the beach on Lake Erie, the playground and just walking around Fredonia.  Ben enjoys my "destination runs" to places like Tim Hortons or Starbucks where he inevitably gets a treat.  When we run errands together he likes to bustle around the store and every other week or so we had a date at Dunkin Donuts where we discovered his favorite flavor of munchkin is chocolate.  

He had fun helping us prepare for his cousin's baby shower by watching Joanna and I burn a lot of batches of caramel corn and by tasting the kettle corn we eventually made.  He spent time with Aunt Joanna for a few of my bodypump classes.  He loves watching Andrew do summertime activities like mowing the lawn and using the sprinkler.  A house on our street was remodeled and he had a great time watching the construction.  

The month of July was HOT so we spent a lot of our afternoons at a friend's pool where Ben chilled in his bumblebee floaty and watched for airplanes. Speaking of airplanes, one Sunday morning the local Rotary club had a fly-in breakfast at the airport where Ben was in toddler heaven as he dined on pancakes and watched helicopters land and take off.  

We had friends visit from Morgantown in July which was wonderful as Ben spent time with their toddler.  He had a great first sleepover this month at his grandmom and granddad's house which was a nice little break for Andrew and I.  

A huge highlight was our annual trip to Camp of the Woods with Andrew's family.  We had a fantastic week that included a lot of playground time, the beach, miniature golf and just pure fun.  Ben had a rough 24 hours mid week which I think was from pure exhaustion.  He loved running all over camp and exploring his vacation world.  Outside of our dining hall was a carved bear holding a fish that he adored which made meal times a little tricky because that was the only thing he wanted to see.  We look forward to going again next year with his new cousin and brother!

The Age:  Every month with Ben is a new favorite.  I love watching him explore and learn about his world.  He is so much fun to hang out with every day and I feel blessed that it is my "job."  I am trying hard to savor these next few months of just Ben time before the new baby arrives but I really look forward to watching Ben become a big brother.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

On Becoming "Ben-Wise"

Before Ben was born I knew everything.  I read the books on baby sleep and felt like I was ready to conquer the task.  My child would be a sleeper. Andrew and I both planned for him to be sleeping through the night when he was four months old so that Andrew would be able to study for the bar exam uninterrupted.

But then, Ben was born.

I love to sleep.  Even before I had a baby, going to bed past 10 o'clock was rare.  I've always enjoyed waking up early to exercise, catching a cat-nap after work and heading to bed early to do it the next day.  I never realized how tired I would be once my perfect little schedule was interrupted for what felt like forever.

In the hospital right after Ben was born, I remember nursing and finding him wanting more to eat sooner than the 2 hour mark I was told by one book I should wait to arrive.  I couldn't stand to hear him cry and therefore, the mommy buffet opened and my relationship with "on-demand" feeding began.

According to some experts we did everything wrong.  I fed Ben whenever he looked hungry (and if you all remember how big he was, he looked hungry all the time.)  I let him cluster feed in the evenings after I returned from work and (take a deep breath) I nursed him to sleep.

When Ben wasn't sleeping "through the night" by six months, Andrew and I were both frustrated and those around us were happy to give us advice.  "Let him cry it out," "Give him a pacifier," "Does he have a comfort object,"  "What is his schedule like?" "Put him to bed earlier."  "Co-sleep?"

We tried everything.

Crying it out--never worked--especially not in the middle of the night.  There were nights he would wake up, fuss and go back to sleep but there were nights he would wake up and wail away like someone was pulling out his toe-nails one by one.  It became easier for us to go in, attend to his needs and put him back to sleep than to listen to him cry for hours.

Pacifier?-- Ben spit pacifiers across the room from the time he was tiny.  I think I purchased every single one Target had to offer without any luck.

Comfort Object? --At about 14 months he became attached to a giant penguin.  Not the soft blanket scented like his dear mother or the plush dog toy.

Early bedtime= a party at about 3 a.m. because he was awake and ready to go.

Schedule?  Yeah right. On days where he didn't have a schedule he slept better than those where I worked hard to get him down for naps at 10 and 2.  I did eventually figure out that if he took two naps I had to wake him after an hour.  If I let him sleep longer than 2 hours during the day, 3. a.m. party.

Co-sleeping?  Ben's version of an all night party with his mama and dada.

Right now my child is sound asleep.  His afternoon nap is almost over.  A nap that he put himself to sleep for after playing in his crib for a few minutes without nursing.   Tonight he will go to sleep around 9 o'clock after daddy and mommy snuggles, a glass of milk and a few hundred books read and he will stay that way until 8 o'clock.  If he wants to go to bed earlier than that he will show us by snuggling up on he floor without a fuss.  Tomorrow he will take a nap around 1 and sleep for 2 1/2 hours.  The rest of the day he will be happy and full of laughter and Andrew and I will be well rested.  Andrew took an active role in getting Ben to sleep about 5 weeks ago which has helped Ben transition to sleeping through the night without his mom nearby.

For Ben, and dare I say for most babies, reaching the goal of sleeping through the night happens when a child is ready.  For some lucky parents, like a dear friend of mine from Morgantown, it happens when the babies are 6-8 weeks old.  For others it takes a lot longer.  I do think you can help them get there but for some babies, like Ben, it is a milestone they must reach when they are ready.  What I do know is that even though I was sleep deprived for a while I don't regret a single second of snuggling my little guy.  There were some nights I felt crazy (for most of those 3 a.m. parties) but now that he is giving up nursing and another baby is on the way, I cherish the moments he still wants mommy cuddles.
If baby #2 is struggling to sleep through the night like Ben did I might enlist Andrew's help a little earlier but perhaps we'll be "lucky" parents and he or she will sleep earlier.  If not, I'll just look back and remember that it will pass, the child will sleep and we will all come out alive.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ben's New Role

On or around December 31, 2012 Ben will go from being the cutest baby ever to the cutest big brother ever.  He is already showing how helpful he will be by mocking me when I get morning sickness and finding it absolutely hysterical when I actually get sick.  At least he keeps the mood light!  We are all looking forward to our new addition!  (Although we aren't entirely sure what Tessa's reaction will be.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

17 Months--Welcome to Toddlerville

My baby is all grown up!  He is chatting away, running around, climbing on everything and eating with enthusiasm.  Everyday we feel blessed with what a joy he is.  He is truly happy all of the time and makes us laugh daily.

Tall and skinny!  He continues to shoot straight up and I feel like he grows daily.  He is solidly in 18 month clothing although his skinny little waist sometimes makes his pants fall down.  (Thank goodness for cloth diapers that help keep his clothes up!)  He just started wearing size 4 shoes.

His head continues to grow to Brautigam proportions and I noticed the other day that his 18-24 month hat left marks on his forehead because it is getting too small.

Teeth:  8-12.  Four on top, four on the bottom and two molars on the top and bottom that are poking through but no all the way out.

Eating:  Solids three times a day, nursing two-three times a day.  Snacks here and there as needed.  He loves butter, bread, peanut butter,avocados, donuts, Parmesan cheese, Gouda, real strawberries, potstickers, smoothies, risotto, ice cream, bananas, blueberries, peas, pizza, etc.  He enjoys drinking milk, juice and water and especially loves orange juice with heavy pulp--just like his parents.

Communication:  He continues to be a little chatterbox and is quite the mimic.  He has some definite words and tries out new sounds and new words every day.  He is getting a lot better at communicating what he wants to us which is a blast.

Sleeping:  I think it is safe to say that Ben sleeps through the night.  In the past month we have had fewer nights with wake-ups than nights he has slept.  A key factor in Ben's sleeping is Andrew.  My dear husband has helped so much with nighttime parenting and Ben has adjusted quickly to not having his mom come to serve the buffet in the middle of the night.  It is wonderful!  Ben naps from 1-3:30, goes to bed around 8:30-9:00 and wakes up between 7:30-8:00.  I don't think he will ever go to bed very early but since he is cheerful all of the time we think his sleep needs are being met.

Favorite Toys:  Ben LOVES trucks.  They are the center of his world.  Truck books, trucks on the street, trucks in the house--if it moves and has wheels it is an object of desire.  He likes to stack his trucks, make them zoom across the floor and even have one in his crib during nap. He loves bikes as well and seeing his daddy's bike is always a fascinating object of delight.  His own little ybike has  seen a lot more use over the past month and he enjoys taking it outside and riding up and down the sidewalk.

He continues to enjoy balls of all sizes and has started throwing and kicking them.  He loves watching his Tessa play fetch and tries to initiate games in the house with her.  He likes his blocks, fisher price barn and animals and anything he can stack.

Books are an important part of Ben's everyday life.  If Andrew is sitting on the floor, Ben will bring him book after book.  He has gone from simply sitting and listening to us read to pointing out things on the pages and trying to say what they are.  We both love reading to him and enjoy watching him get such joy out of pictures and words.  He often looks at books upon waking from his nap or in the morning.  He loves balloons and if he has one he will hold onto it until I pry it out of his finger.

Favorite Things to Do:  Go "bye-bye."  As soon as Ben wakes up and gets his diaper changed he asks to go "bye-bye."  He will drag his stroller to the door, wait on his bike by the door, bring me shoes, put on his hat, etc.  One of his favorite places to go is his grandmom and granddad's house.  He loves to go for walks in the stroller, walks in the baby carrier, trips to the store and the playground.  Recently he's enjoyed time at a friend's pool.  He continues to love to help in the kitchen by watching the mixer, testing out what we are making and stacking pots and pans.  He enjoys helping me vacuum and will follow me around either holding onto the vacuum or pushing his popper toy.  He loves snuggle time in our bed at night before he goes into his crib and in the morning when he wakes up.  Bath time is a highlight, especially if there are bubbles.    He loves to visit his dad and grandparents at work across the street and enjoys banging on his grandmom's office door with his chubby little hand when it is shut.  He initiates games of "peek-a-boo" and enjoys patty-cake.  

Movement:  Ben runs around through life leaning forward as he tries to go super fast.  This month marked the beginning of his career as a climber and he works fast.  In two seconds he can climb on top of the table.  His favorite thing to chase around the house are the dogs.  He continues to love on Chopper every chance he gets and Tessa is increasingly tolerant of him (especially when he has a ball to throw.)

Skills:  He can feed himself with a fork and is working on a spoon.  He tries really hard to drink out of big cups but still ends up really wet.  He can identify his head, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, tongue, belly, toes, fingers, arms, and legs.  He is starting to be diaper aware and will pat his diaper and say "diapa" when it is wet or poopy.  If his diaper bag is nearby and he needs a change he will sometimes bring his changing pad over to me.  He tries really hard to put on his hat and has started trying to put on bibs at mealtimes (this coming from a little boy who HATED bibs a few months ago.)  He likes to "help" me get him dressed and has started grabbing clothes to put on when he gets dressed.  He blows kisses when we are leaving places or when people are leaving our house.

One of our favorite things about Ben right now is his cheerful personality.  He loves to laugh and to try to make his parents laugh.  He is incredibly social and is happy in every situation.  We never worry about taking him places because everywhere we go he is a joy.  We are so blessed to have such an adorable, wonderful little guy and every single day with him is a gift.  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Months 15-16: Communication

Ben is a chatterbox which doesn't come as much of a surprise considering who his parents are.  He has mastered three sounds:  "Mama, dada, and ba."  When he wants something it is "mama."  When something is fun or interesting it is "dada."  If something is round it is a "ball."  He tries to imitate everything we say and typically gets the amount of syllables right.  He can say "apple," "bye-bye," "boo" (book), "eeese" (cheese), "duh" (for all done), "up," "dow" (down), "bubble" (which labels all water) "booboo," (although he really doesn't get what it means) "ha" (hot, head, hat--depending on the context) and a host of other sounds that don't always have a word connection.

He can understand way more than he can say and if we ask him to go to his chair, he will drag a chair into the room.  The other night I told him to get his yellow dump truck and he brought it right over.  This leads me to think he understands the meaning of the word "no" even if he doesn't listen all the time when we tell him.

He can "baa" like a sheep, "ooo" like a cow, "woof" like a dog, "cluck" like a chicken (or bird) and "vroom" like a truck.  He nods his head yes and no, although the nod doesn't always match the request.

Our favorite sounds are by far his squeals of laughter and delight.  He seeks out tickles from his parents and gets a kick out of his silly dogs.

We love watching and hearing him learn how to talk  We are both looking forward to listening to his language really explode over the next few months.

Coming tomorrow...a few of Ben's favorite things.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

15-16 months part 1

I'm a horrible blogging mother.  We've been busy the past two months doing toddler things and enjoying family visiting and my time to sit down and blog has decreased.  This week I am going to play catch up and rather than one long post about Ben's growth over the past two months, I will post a snippet each day.


At 15.5 months  (officially)...
Height:  33 inches (90th percentile)
Weight: 22 lbs. 4 oz (15th percentile)
Head Circumference: 19 in. (80th percentile)

Our once tubby little guy has slimmed down and grown straight up as he runs through life!

Teeth:  10--four top, four bottom and two top molars are poking through.

Ben is currently enjoying a strawberry snack so today we will look at Ben's relationship with food.

Ben eats with his fingers most of the time, but recently has shown an interest in forks and spoons.  If it is a food he can pick up with a fork he will.  He also really likes his food served on a plate or in a bowl, especially if he sees Andrew and I with plates and bowls.  We give in to the request sometimes but he still likes to throw said plate/bowl onto the floor to watch the food fly so we are on guard.

Ben's feelings about food are very clear.  He either loves it and gives out a delightful "MMM!!!" or hates it and spits it out with disgust.  He enjoys three meals a day and several snacks.  For breakfast he typically likes scrambled eggs with cheese and lately he has enjoyed drinking smoothies.  Occasionally he will eat some Cheerios and fruit but since Andrew and I eat a lot of eggs, Ben joins in.  For lunch and dinner he dines on whatever we are eating with an avocado here and there.  He recently decided that he loves blueberries leading to some colorful waste.  I tried to get him to eat strawberries months ago but it wasn't until I found some fresh strawberries at a local market did he decide that they were an acceptable choice.  (I heartily agree--there is no comparison between a California rubber strawberry and a local juicy berry).

He loves foods with strong flavors such as curry, Parmesan cheese, Mexican rice.  If it is ethnic, Ben will eat it.  For snacks he enjoys organic animal crackers, cheese, Annie's cheddar bunnies, and fruit.  He has a sweet tooth and will eat anything with sugar.  If we are enjoying ice cream he will travel the room for a bite from everyone.  We gave him his first ice cream cone on May 11th, when my parents were in town for a visit and he enjoyed it so much that his little face was red from the cold treat.
He sometimes helps himself to things in the pantry if I forget how tall he is and leave them on a low shelf.

He is still nursing three times a day and we consider that an accomplishment as it is down from 5 or 6 two months ago.  He nurses when he wakes up, before nap and before bed.  If I'm not here when he wakes up in the morning he is fine with drinking "dada milk" which often has a bit of chocolate in it.  My goal for the next month is to cut out the before nap feeding (which if I am not here he is okay going without.)  He loves to nurse and I have enjoyed our extended breastfeeding time.  I never thought that I would go past a year but it has been such a wonderful thing and I don't mind when my busy toddler snuggles up to me and enjoys his snack.  That said however, we would like to be totally finished with nursing by the end of the summer.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I really love my...

Giant Penguin...

A few weeks ago Ben and I were in a store and I was letting him cruise the baby section on his own two feet. He happened upon a giant penguin. He grabbed the penguin, which is wider and almost as tall as he is and pulled it close. He gave it a huge hug and tried to cart it around the store with him. I was amused. Ben doesn't really love stuffed animals and trying to find a comfort object (other than those that are permanently attached to me) has proved impossible. He thought that the giant penguin was perfect. I decided not to purchase the penguin that day and thought I'd try to get him to attach to one of the many stuffed animals already at home.

A few days later I was chatting about Ben's penguin love with my dear friend and running partner, Cat. She mentioned that one of her boys had the very same penguin and thought she would check to see if he would give it to Ben since it was sitting in his closet.

On Sunday she brought the penguin by and Ben is smitten. He carries it around, tackles it to the floor and likes to hold it while we are nursing--my lap is very full!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Baby Stuff...

A couple of my friends are pregnant and as we were talking about baby things I started thinking about the baby gear that I loved and what worked well for us. When I was pregnant with Ben, my dear friend Megan gave me so many helpful tips that I took to heart and am now passing on.

Essential (for us) Gear--

Carseat--our pick: Chicco KeyFit 30
Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base
We first purchased a Graco Snugride only to find that it would not fit in the backseat of our Mazda 3. Rather than buying a new car, which we considered, we instead searched for a different seat. I really wanted an infant carrier since Ben was born in the winter and I wanted something I could take in and out of the car easily. The Chicco KeyFit was perfect. Ben used it until he was nine months old. The fabric was easy to wash, the installation a breeze and it comes with removable inserts for when the babies are tiny.

Cloth Diapers--our pick--FuzziBunz One Size
FuzziBunz® One Size Pocket Diaper in Apple Green

There a about a MILLION choices for cloth diapers. After doing a little bit of research (mostly asking friends what they used) I settled on Fuzzibunz one size. I love that the elastics adjust around the legs giving the diaper a trim fit. We haven't had any trouble with our diapers and though we have the occasional leak, Ben is diaper rash free and has a cute bottom. Other friends have had a lot of success with BumGenius and Rumparoos as well, but I like simplicity so I stuck with the FB and never looked back. We have 26.

Wet Bags:
Munchkin Baby Wet Bag - Asst
Not only great for wet cloth diapers but wonderful for dirty clothes, wet swimsuits, etc. We have a couple of wet bags that I stick in the diaper bag whenever we go anywhere.

Stroller--our pick--Bob Revolution
BOB Revolution CE Single Stroller
I LOVE this stroller. I wanted this stroller before I even had a baby. It has not disappointed over the past 14 months. My generous friends at work gifted the stroller to us along with the weather shield accessory. I use the stroller for walking and running. We purchased the carseat adapter so I could use it from the time Ben was born. It is a bit big for errands but I am so spoiled by its smooth ride that I haven't purchased a smaller umbrella stroller. If I am going to be in and out of a lot of stores (like at the mall or in shops around town) I just strap Ben in the baby carrier and leave the stroller at home.

Baby Carrier--Our Pick: Beco Butterfly II
Beco Baby Carrier (Butterfly 2)- Paige
Originally I was going to get an Ergo baby carrier, but Andrew saw an add for the Beco when we were in one our final prenatal appointments. After going back and forth from one to the other we settled on the Beco. I love that it has an inner "harness" system so putting Ben on is like putting on a backpack. It came with an infant insert that we used when Ben was less than 15 pounds and took out when he was bigger. It has a sleeping hood to cover his head when he wants to nap. He loves this carrier. It is comfortable on both the front and back and he will use it for many more months to come. I've even nursed with him in the carrier.

Breast Pump--Our Choice: Lansinoh Affinity

Lansinoh Affinity Double Electric Breast Pump
Knowing that I only really needed to pump for about ten weeks, I wanted a pump that worked well but didn't feel I needed the top of the line model. Megan recommended this pump after she learned in her breastfeeding class that it has the same motor as the more expensive Ameda. I didn't have a single problem with the pump and used it twice a day. At only around $100 it was truly a bargain. I also only used the storage bottles for Ben's bottles because both Dr. Brown's and Playtex nipples slid easily in the tops.

A Comfy Chair: I am not in love with the chair I have in Ben's room so next baby, I want one that is awesome. For the first weeks I felt like my butt was glued to the chair so having something that is cozy is wonderful.

Spout Cover: Has saved Ben's noggin from many bumps and bruises in the bath.

Fisher-Price Healthy Care Booster Seat
Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat
We didn't even bother buying a high chair because we knew we were moving and we didn't want to haul it around. This booster seat has worked great from the time Ben has begun sitting up to eat solids. At around $30 it is a steal and will serve him well as he gets bigger

Vibrating/Bouncy Seat:
This item saved our lives in the early days. We think Ben had a little bit of reflux and the only way he would sleep was sitting up at an angle. We took our bouncy seat everywhere and it received tons of use. When he was tiny and I needed a shower I stuck the chair in the bathroom, strapped Ben in and knew he was safe.

Clothing Essentials for Newborns--Our Top Picks--Side snap t-shirts, zip up sleepers, sleep sacks
Side snap t-shirts-in a baby class we took, the instructor recommended these and in the first few wiggly weeks they were awesome. I didn't worry about using mittens to cover Ben's hands because they were attached to Ben's hands. The t-shirts side snap so they don't have to go over the baby's head and they don't go over the diaper making changes a breeze.

Gerber Baby Care Long Sleeve Side Snap Shirts 2-Pack
Zip-up sleepers--Carter's brand were our favorites because they wore really well. Ben lived in these during the day for a few weeks as they were so easy to change. I still don't understand why sleepers for newborns have snaps--the babies are so scrunched up!

Sleep Sacs--At night Ben wore a side snap t-shirt and a sleep sack which made nights a lot easier when he pooped for the millionth time.

Non-Essentials but things that were nice to have:
A wipes warmer: It might seem silly and when I first opened one at a shower I wondered if I would use it at all. Having a baby in the middle of winter, I loved my wipes warmer. Once I switched to using flannel reusable wipes, I started storing the solution in the warmer and it stays nice and warm.

Kindle or Ipad: Andrew gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas and I wish I had it the entire time Ben was alive. It fits in the palm of my hand, I can read while I am nursing and Ben doesn't even notice it is there. In the early weeks of Ben's life when I felt like I was struggling to stay awake it would have been a nice addition to help keep me awake.

I'm sure there are other things I loved and as I think of them I'll add them on!

Friday, March 30, 2012

14 months!

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While I was putting Ben to sleep the other night it dawned on me how quickly his life is flying by. He was so snuggly and cute and I wanted to capture that moment and hold it forever. Some days I don't like to think of him getting bigger and becoming a teenager who is embarrassed to be around his mom. I am sure however that as he continues to grow and change my love for him will only do the same. For now I will still cherish the moments that we have where Andrew and I (and I guess Chopper) are the most important things in his world. It is amazing how much he has changed in the past year and how much fun everyday with him is.

The last month of Ben's life was another of huge milestones...let's take a look!

Height/Weight--Best guess? 22 lbs., 32 inches. He is SO tall and skinny. I took a picture the other day when he was in his diaper and I could see his ribs. Is this the same little chunk who never wore newborn clothing because he was so big?

Teeth--7--four on top, three on the bottom. The rest of his teeth have come in pairs but the third on the bottom is flying solo.

Hair--reddish blondish brownish hair is growing in the back although the top of his head still looks quite wispy and bald.

Clothing sizes--12 months or 18 months depending on the brand. 18 months are a little big in the waist but 12 months are all a little short.

Shoes--barely a size 3 in regular shoes, 6-12 months in Robeez and Target brand Robeez--he has tiny feet!

Ben totally transitioned to a walker this month. He stood up by himself on March 4th and hasn't looked back. He first started standing by going into a down-dog and slowly standing himself up. He still crashes and falls to the ground but he is getting more confident by the day. It is making shopping so much easier in places that don't have carts because he can slowly walk along side me.

Communication: Our babbling boy is trying out new sounds/words everyday. Apple has gone from "Ah" to "Ap," Chopper is now, "opper," Tessa is still a favorite as are "mama," "dada," "duc" (duck), "jew" (juice) and on and on. He imitates a lot of sounds and is recently trying the "h" sound although it is very guttural. He charmed everyone last week when his grandmom was reading Old MacDonald's Farm and he imitated the "e-i-e-i-o." He still uses some signs and is pairing signs with words especially "done" when he is finished eating. He uses the word "mama" when he wants things or needs help. He can point out his head, eyes, ears, our nose, fingers, toes and is working on his knees and belly.


Eating: He eats three meals of solids a day and an afternoon snack. He is finally away from pureed food and will eat most of what we are eating. He loves avocados so much that I fear he might turn green. He has started to enjoy cheese and is expanding his fruit repertoire to include blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, apples and of course bananas. He loves the buddy fruits that he can squeeze out himself. He drinks well from a sippy cup and a straw. He is still nursing and much to his dismay (and mine a little too) we have started to wean and are slowly cutting out nursing times. He loves to nurse before he goes to bed so that will be our last to cut out. At night when we are getting ready for bed he will point to the chair where I nurse and sign milk and say "mama." Neither of us are ready to give that up yet! He loves to stare up at me while he nurses and point out my nose and eyes.

Sleeping: Hmm....check for a post on that later this week. We have had some good nights over the past month but his schedule has been all over the place as he is transitioning to one nap a day. He is putting himself to sleep better at night and for naps and is slowly accepting a colorful sock monkey as a comfort object.

Favorites: BALLS. Anything round catches our kid's eyes. From lights, to circles on a coffee cup to the actual object our little guy loves balls. Everything that is round is automatically a ball--even lights. He still loves to read and one of our favorite moments with Ben is when he signs "book," grabs one off the shelf, and brings it to us to read. He enjoys containers and putting things in and out of them. He has learned how to get on and off of his bike and will walk around with it around the house. He loves his dad's bikes and tries to help him fix them. Bath time continues to be a big hit and he will walk to the stairs saying, "bubble" when it is time to take a bath. While on a hike this month he saw a pond and said, "bubble" because he wanted to get in. We bought his some real bubbles, which I have to hide unless I want to blow them all day long because he loves them so much.

He loves phones (or things that look like phones) and will put them up to his ear and say "umm.." as if he is carrying on a conversation.

With unseasonably warm weather this month, we went on numerous walks around town in the stroller, baby carrier and a few hikes in the woods with the dogs and our friend Cat. Ben has found great joy in going on runs with his mommy as he points out everything he sees. He loves to go "bye, bye" and will point to the door when he wants to leave.

His dogs are still a highlight of his day and Tessa is starting to see the appeal of another human to throw things to her. Chopper continues to receive his fair share of Ben snuggles.

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He loves to visit his dad, grandmom and granddad almost every day at work. In his grandmom's office, he likes to grab her pictures and talk to them.

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It was another wonderful month in our house and we love listening to our little guy's laughter and love of life! We had a great time visiting friends in Morgantown and Ben enjoyed going to his first friend birthday party. It was another wonderful month in our house and we love listening to our little guy's laughter and love of life! We had a great time visiting friends in Morgantown and Ben enjoyed going to his first friend birthday party.