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Last week was a blur of trying to get caught up with housework. We all have weeks like that. The one good thing was that I was able to get together with some local moms, and have them over in our new house for some coffee and donuts.
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I had been having a tough week with Cora, the house was a wreck, and I had a friend hurt my feelings. I was a hormonal, emotional wreck. The local community of moms had no idea how I was feeling and yet just their presence, lighthearted conversation and fellowship completely cheered me up. As much as I struggle living outside of the Golden State, those are the moments that remind me why I decided to settle here in the first place.

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In other news, Cora is basically crawling. She can army crawl like a banshee, and can crawl short distances on her knees. Physically, she is so far ahead of where Sophie was at this age. She impresses us every day! Who knows what God has in store for a girl with her determination…

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One of the cons of such determination is that it makes her a fighter against every thing. We have had to resort to “crying it out” with her at nap and bed time. Sophie was easily soothed by my voice or my touch; Cora screams whether she is being held or left in a crib. Crying it out allows her to work through her tantrum and gives me the permission to separate myself from her fits. It helps me to calm down and not take her screaming rage personally. In fact, I would even go so far as to say the CIO method has made me more patient and loving toward her. We let her cry in 10 minute increments before going in to pat her on the back for a few minutes.  We repeat the cycle until she falls asleep. The longest she has cried is 50 minutes, but it has gotten to be less and less time the more we have practiced letting her cry it out.
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When she is awake she is such a happy, charismatic kid! There are many families in our little community who have kids around her and Sophie’s age, so I can’t wait to strengthen some of my own relationships with other moms, which will hopefully lead to solid friendships for my kids.

How do you expand your network of local parents?

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6 Month Cora Update!

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This adorable little girl is 6 months old, already! Her first year is half over! I can hardly believe it… Some improvements to this model: she only wakes once throughout the night, she is responding well to sleep training, she can pretty much crawl, she LOVES sweet potato and has actually picked up on how to eat solid food rather quick. Cora Grace has no teeth yet, and she is still a fighter when it comes to naps. She likes to work herself up and become really fussy right before passing out. She still loves her penguin pacifier, but is more focused on the teething toys. Just because she doesn’t have teeth yet, doesn’t mean they’re not coming!

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Overall, she is a happy kid. She is quick and curious and strong… and she is beginning to stress Sophie out as she didn’t realize her baby sister was going to be competition for toys so soon. Cora wants to do every thing her big sissy is doing! And so the rivalry begins…

Cora has some serious core strength too. She rocks tummy time, can crawl a few steps at a time, and can officially sit up for long periods of time.

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If this is how quickly she has grown in the first 6 months, I can’t wait to see what she does with the next 6! One thing that hasn’t changed though, is that she is still extremely social, loves face time, and being apart of whatever the family is doing. She hates feeling like she is missing out on the fun and will fuss incessantly if you try to keep her from conversation or family activity. In any case, we love our little extrovert. Happy 6 months, Cora Grace!

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Fall Bucket List

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Now, before all you summer-lovers jump on my back like, “IT’S NOT FALL YET!” Trust me, I know. I am no lover of fall. Did you know…. after fall comes WINTER? Yeah, you don’t have to convince me that summer is the beast season, I know. So why create a fall bucket list? Simply for the reason that I have to psyche myself up for fall. Now That I have lived in Ohio for roughly 7 falls, I’ve come up with a few favorite things to do here that I can’t necessarily do in California.

Here is the list:

  1. Apple picking – it’s just not the same in the golden State!
  2. watching the leaves change color – palm trees have no changing color
  3. bonfire on a chilly night
  4. drink seasonal spirits (spiked cider, pumpkin ale, etc.)
  5. photoshoot at the pumpkin patch with the kids
  6. put up seasonal decor
  7. go to a fall festival
  8. toast pumpkin seeds
  9. go on a hayride! (so many more local farms here!)
  10. curl up under blankets and watch a movie with hot cocoa
  11. make pumpkin bread
  12. jump on crunchy leaves
  13. get a fall themed mani/pedi (I like dark red)
  14. get out your football fan gear! People are more serious about their football out here.
  15. EAT CANDY

Ok, so that last one every one can do regardless of state or season… but its so much more fun when they come in festive little fun-sized packages!

Hope this helps you look forward to fall, even if you’re a summer-lover like me

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How to Handle a Choking Emergency

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As I’ve said countless times before, I am apart of several online mommy groups via Facebook. The other morning, I woke up to a very disturbing post from a fellow mama. It read: “I lost my 19 month old son tonight. He choked on a single peanut that he grabbed. We went to a satellite children’s and were airlifted to Denver children’s. My sweet boy sustained injury too much for his little body. Please cherish your babies. I’d never give up my blessed 19 months. He was wonderful. I hope I can find solace and what serenity.”

This hit me HARD. You may remember some of my previous posts from when Sophie was young, that we started solids with her through Baby Led Weaning. It is so fun to watch them eat table foods, but you have to be prepared for the inevitable choking that comes with learning how to eat food. When I was younger, I was certified by the Red Cross in child/infant CPR and Heimlich maneuvers, so I have some of that knowledge tucked away… but I also frequently watched YouTube videos on how to help a choking baby.

If you know some one with babies, if you ever babysit, if you ever go to family gatherings where there are babies, if you are a grandparent or older sibling… it never hurts to brush up on these skills. Cora turns 6 months in a couple weeks, and that is exactly when we will begin solids with her. This was a heartbreaking wake up call both to baby proof and brush up on those life saving skills. There are multiple videos I like, but I’ll share my favorite for now:

THIS video is very straight forward, short, and can easily be shared with others. If you want real life examples, you can search YouTube for “baby led weaning gag reflex [or”choking”]” where parents show you how to handle a child who is not yet choking, but maybe has some food stuck in their mouth. The more familiar you are with a baby and their gag reflex, the more you will be able to remain calm and help that child whether it turns into choking or not. Try not to panic! It is some what normal for children to put things in their mouths and gag. The important thing is that you have the clarity of mind to help them.

It can be hard to balance letting your child learn and explore on their own and being a helicopter parent. I say, let them explore, but have the necessary skills in your arsenal for when things take a wrong turn. Let them explore while still keeping an eye on what exactly they are getting into (like the box of wipes versus a jar of marbles). I know it will be harder for me, having a toddler, as some of Sophie’s toys are smaller choking hazards for her infant sister. You can try to be proactive, but let’s be honest: accidents happen. Don’t stress, just be prepared.

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Cora 5 Month Update

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I know I kind of already gave you all an update on both Sophie and Cora a couple weeks ago, but little Cora Grace OFFICIALLY passed the 5 month mark this weekend, and I wanted a chance to share these cute pictures with you all.

This little peanut is developing so fast! She is sitting up, grabbing toys, biting every thing, and laughing uncontrollably! She cannot keep her eyes off of Sophie. I can already tell Big Sister is going to have a little shadow very soon! She loves interacting with people and consequently hates being left out of conversation. She wants to sit on your lap, facing outwards, so she can participate in social activities like every one else. She laughs when her sister plays and is overall, a pretty happy baby. She gets extremely fussy right before she passes out to sleep. Cora is also a fitful sleeper. She sleeps in the Pack N Play most of the time, but in the middle of the night we let her sneak into bed with us. We almost always regret it when we feel her tiny toes pinching us, or her heels that forcefully embed themselves into our rib cage. Which brings me to Cora’s other strength: her strength. She is so strong and is already attempting to prop herself up on her hands and knees.

I honestly can’t wait to see what she will accomplish this month. She impresses me everyday with all the new things she is learning to do!

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Unconditional Love

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When you think of toddlers and babies, your first thought is probably not “unconditional love.” I mean, they tantrum when you won’t run on the TV, cry when you walk in the room, and even say “No like you, mama.” The unconditional love I’m talking about is one that doesn’t see my weight, skin color, or life accomplishments. My kids don’t care that I never went for my masters degree, they don’t care that I’m a solid 40 lbs overweight, and they don’t care that I’ve been swearing under my breath since 6 am.

All they see when they look at me, is the mama who has nurtured them from birth, snuggles with them on the couch, and plays with them during the day. Even on my worst days as a human being, Sophie still wants to give me a good night kiss. Her love sees beyond my failures as a mother. When I am at my limit, and exasperated because Cora won’t sleep, she gives me the biggest grin as I attempt to swaddle her again for the 1,000,000th time. At this stage in life, my babies don’t hold grudges (even if I WON’T turn the TV on). There is a bliss to their innocence and ability to be easily distracted. A simplicity and forgiving spirit that I wish I had, but one that I am thankful to be the recipient of.

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Our Favorite Books

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Right now we have a few, solid, favorite books that we enjoy rotating through every day. Now that we’ve transitioned Sophie into her big girl bed [don’t be impressed, it is still a nightly battle…] she asks for a whole  stack of books to be read to her every night. The English Major inside me is excited, the exhausted mama in me is usually annoyed, either way: reading books is good for children.

Sophie’s 2 favorites right now include the beloved Daniel Tiger, and an Eric Carl classic, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”

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I like the Daniel Tiger book as well, because this one is based on one of my favorite Daniel Tiger songs: “I like you just the way you are.” Sophie and I sing this to each other often. While it is a good, body positive song, the story that goes with it is cute too. Plus, Sophie is really into O the owl, who is a main character. Perhaps it has to do with his love of books? Also, most children enjoy the caterpillar book. It is silly, and they recognize many of their own favorite foods throughout the story. I like it because it is not a particularly long book. DSC_4023

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This author wasn’t familiar to me when I first had Sophie, but I received many of her books as shower gifts. The writing is quirky, calming, and creative. The sleep book is particularly relaxing to read, so I usually save it for last if we are reading bed time stories.

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This potty training books is extremely popular right now! It is short, simple, and educational. Sophie identified with it pretty well, then she pretty much memorized it, which was adorable because she often recites it while sitting on the potty. I’d highly recommend it for anyone trying to potty train.

Those are our favorite book choices as of right now. In a few months that will probably change as Sophie’s tastes usually evolve with her developmental stages. Hopefully they will be books Cora will come to love too.