Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Chaos


I feel like I'm part of some crazy holiday movie where the main character just keeps being faced with an increasing amount of chaos. Any minute now, I'm expecting to run into Ryan Reynolds, who will undoubtedly add another level of crazy to my month (I suppose "hoping" is a better word than "expecting"...).

Really... it's been a busy few weeks.

Busy making 2,408 batches of cookies? Yep.

Dealing with a 6-month growth spurt that has caused my adorable son to go on a nap-strike? Yep.

Trying to make 2,408 batches of cookies one-handed while holding a non-sleeping infant? Yep.

Batches 8, 24, 109, and 607.
Listening to my dog bark and go crazy everytime the mailman, UPS guy, FedEx truck (or any other person at all) walks near our house? Of course.

Finding time to shop for pressents, wrap gifts, decorate the house, mail boxes, send Christmas cards, clean the house, plan Christmas dinner and get groceries? Sort of...

Yes, that IS a stocking for our dog.
Keeping my sanity? I knew I was forgetting something...

It's funny how most of the items on the list are normal holiday-related tasks that I do every year. Yet for some reason, it all feels a million times more chaotic this year. I'm assuming it's the fact that I have another person to take care of. A person who demands my attention every moment he's awake (which, let's be honest, is A LOT considering this little bugger isn't really friends with my good yet distant pal "sleep"). I think he demands the attention of about eight people all at once.

Lauren keeps telling me to stop doing things. I just laugh at him in my head. And then out loud. Thankfully, his lectures on why I should cool it actually help me - but not in the way he'd like. When he tells me that I don't really need to bake 80 different kinds of cookies for everyone we know, I just remember why I do it: Because I love Christmas. I love having an excuse to be extra-kind and extra-thoughtful to the people in my life. I love going the extra mile and making sure everyone I care about knows how special they are to me. Yep, I'm going to make a Santa card for my nieces and nephew. I'm going to write a Christmas poem for my husband to read while he's opening his gifts. I'm going to bake hundreds of cookies for people I know. Because that's what the holiday season is about to me - spreading love and kindness wherever I can. And I wouldn't be me if I didn't go above and beyond and do more than I should. The people in my life do more than they should all year round. I like returning the favor.

Happy Holidays

To his cousins. From Brayden, with love.
I really wish this they had this in his size. :)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baby Projects: Holiday Edition



I remember when my sister started having kids. We began receiving all these adorable craft presents for holidays and birthdays. (A wooden basket with a handprint of her fist born still sits in my dad's bathroom as a toothbrush holder) There's something so sweet about receiving homemade gifts from a little one. In addition it being a sentimental token for the recipient, the mother gets a whole new world of gift ideas at her disposal. Thank goodness for that. This year has been a bit chaotic so I was thankful that the Munchkin Craft Co. was around for my holiday needs.

(SPOILER ALERT: Grandparents may want to skip this posting. Unless, of course, you're okay with not being surprised on Christmas morning.)

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Holiday Gift #1: Brayden's Footprint Art

I don't know why, but I love handprint and footprint art. Lauren would probably say it's because I'm as mature as a kindergartner. I'm okay with that though. With that in mind, Brayden and I made some pretty crafty art for his first Christmas. It was sort of a 2.5 person job at the beginning so Lauren helped me get Brayden's footprint on paper. Brayden was definitely interested in the process. He was more interested in trying to figure out what the crap on his feet tasted like. I was happy to see him fail at this. As I thwarted his attempts, Lauren just kept yelling out the words "NON-TOXIC." I kindly had to remind him that "non-toxic" doesn't mean you should make a three-course meal out of it. Shoes might be non-toxic too, but I don't think my hubby would be too thrilled if I served up a pair of camel colored pumps for dinner tonight.

Too confused to misbehave.
My little guy's big foot.

Once that was done, I used markers and wiggly-eyes to turn the footprints into snowmen, reindeer and Christmas trees.

If you couldn't tell, this one is the reindeer.
 I bought a five-pack of small canvas boards (I think they were 6x8-inches) at Michael's for a few bucks. I mounted the pictures onto the canvas and added a little scalloped circle to each one. The circle's read "Brayden's first Christmas." After that, I added cute little dotted or striped borders to each one (Lauren had been kind enough to cut the paper to the right size for the canvas) and called it a day. Brayden officially created his first piece of artwork.

From Brayden, with love (and confusion).

Holiday Gift #2: Brayden's Adventure Calendar

If you recall (or even if you don't), a while back, I took some crafty pictures of Brayden with fun backgrounds. My "adventure pictures" came out so cute that I decided to take a few more and turn them into a calendar for some family members. I used most of the pictures I had and assigned months to them based on the content. I figured out which months I still needed and came up with an idea that went with that month.

For the cover, I pulled out a suitcase, a map and some other travel related things and put them all together. With Brayden. I got some hilarious pictures of him sitting in the suitcase and used PhotoShop to put it together with a faded map as the background. The calendar came out pretty great so I'm excited for everyone to get it.

I love that Brayden looks like he's reading the map in the middle photo on the right.

Wearing a bow tie for his big date.

One of my favorite pictures in the calendar.
I have a few other projects I'm working on for the holidays, but as usual, things are too busy for me to be efficient. We'll see how many I actually get around to finishing. Thank goodness Christmas is still two weeks away.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Preparing for a "solid" start



We're getting pretty close to Brayden's six month milestone. He must think it's some kind of deadline for development, because he's been progressing like crazy the last few weeks. He started sitting on his own last week and has really been experimenting with crawling. He enjoys laying on his belly and kicking his feet wildly behind him. Lauren has dubbed it the "superman." I think he just looks like he's trying to do the breaststroke on land. Alternatively, Brayden will get his legs tucked under him, but when he raises his arms, the legs shoot out behind him half the time and he ends up going backwards (pretty adorable, actually!). He has had some success however. This week he was able to inch across a small quilt little by little.

Crawling. Sort of. In reverse.

I think Brayden also had a recent growth spurt (I can usually tell when these happen because he ends up suddenly feeling heavier in my arms) and seems to be organizing his sleep (finally!). The next item on his "to do" list is starting solid foods. The health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months really made it a goal of mine to come close to that mark. I'm really happy I was able to do this for little guy and continue to give him every health advantage I possibly can.

After considering the different philosophies of solid foods, I've decided to do sort of a hybrid between the traditional puree-based approach and Baby-Led Weaning. I read a great book that discusses both approaches as well as one that is specifically about Baby-Led Weaning. The BLW book is very informative, but clearly biased (and a touch judgemental). Because I already knew the objective facts from the other book I read, I knew when the author was sugar-coating or stretching the truth a tad. (Both books were helpful in their own way, but each had its own short-falls.)

Essentially, I'm going to take a BLW approach, but add in some homemade purees. I love pretty much everything about BLW -- it promotes experimenting with food; it allows babies to experience different textures, colors and tastes instead of having everything blended to the same consistency; it allows for greater independence; it avoids the potential problem of a well-meaning parent giving a baby too much food (or too quickly); it supposedly prevents fussy/picky eaters in the future. What I don't like about it is that it could take quite a while before the baby is actually eating the food (rather than playing with it or chewing and spitting it out). Several nutrient stores babies receive in the womb become depleted around six months (i.e. iron) and babies then start tapping into their own and needing more. The BLW book definitely down-plays this, but in my mind, it's better to err on the side of caution and not risk nutrient deficiencies. My ped - who also thinks BLW is a great approach - agreed with me on this and is totally on board with my hybrid approach. I figure I'll give Brayden three different fruits/veggies every 4-7 days. I'll put out the steamed/roasted strips of each and then also a puree of one of them occasionally. Best of both worlds.

Lauren and I are really excited to let the little guy start experimenting with food this weekend. Brayden definitely seems ready, too. Just this week, I was eating a banana while holding him. Before I knew what was happening, Brayden grabbed it and started sucking on it and trying to bite off a piece. When I took it away, he even complained a bit. Go figure. (He really must be picking up a trick or two from daddy)

It should be tons of fun seeing an opinionated kid like mine experiment with different foods. Pictures to come. Of course. :)