Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter Eggstravaganza

We had a great Easter this year.  The weather, as usual, was not the nicest, but we still were able to get a few egg hunts in.  We managed to organize ourselves enough to go to church and also had some friends over after for lunch.  Here are some of our pictures!

amazing... we actually got a good one!

wearing thier Easter best

Ella Bella

Thanks for fixing my headband Nanny
(it fit perfectly!)

Silly bunny

bunny with bunny

hoppy Easter!

Ella's first Easter basket
(that funny bunny gave her baby food carrots)

the loot

Friday, April 29, 2011

Look what I do now!

Ella has been working on it for a while, but finally got the hang of eating!  She gets really excited now when she eats (like i can't shovel it in fast enough!)  So far, she's had rice cereal, oatmeal cereal, bananas (a favorite) prunes (to off-set the bananas) and apples.  She's not a fan of the apples, but they are the newest so we will keep trying!  Here are some cute sloppy pictures...

very first taste (loved it)

feeding her in the exersaucer
(because she hates the bumbo and screams when I put her in the high chair! such a princess!!)


trying to get the hang of it

finally learned how to open her mouth and take in the food

sloppy Ella = adorable

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ella - 5 months old

Ella turned 5 months the day before I started back to work.  She's getting so big, so fast!

um, mom... what are you going to do with that camera?

I like to be cute

little girl getting BIG!

still loving her playmat

smiley girl

so happy!

Here are some things she's doing at 5 months:
  • Laughing a lot - usually at the big boys
  • Squeals (talks) a lot - especially when happy and excited
  • Likes to watch mom and dad's mouth when we talk and eat (studies us very seriously)
  • Rolls over from belly to back quickly now
  • Eats rice cereal, oatmeal, and bananas
  • Holds head and chest very steady (plays in exersaucer unassisted)
  • Rides in her stroller like a "big girl"
  • Started to move around the crib when sleeping

Friday, April 15, 2011

Love the One You're With

In the last several months, many of our good friends/neighbors (who shall remain nameless here) have decided to move.  They are not going too far, just upgrading to bigger homes.  This has made us quite sad and even made us start thinking of making a move ourselves.  In fact, John had the bug so bad that he started looking at houses, talking to realtors, etc.  Don't get me wrong, the idea of moving into a bigger home with more room for all 5 of us sounds lovely...BUT who are we kidding?  It's not as easy as just finding the home of your dreams to move into.  You must first, SELL your own home which involves cleaning and listing and keeping clean, and showing, etc.  Then there's finding another house, the mortgage brokers, the contracts and negotiations, etc.  It's a bit overwhelming just thinking about all of the WORK and STRESS and LACK OF SLEEP that goes into such an idea.  And did I mention I have a 4 month old that does not sleep well?

So, after a few heart-to-heart conversations with my beloved husband (including me saying something like this: "the thought of listing/showing our house makes me want to break out in hives hon!!!"), we decided it was best to stay put and give the old gal a few touch-ups so we can continue to be happy where we are!
We've completed the first project - Plantation Shutters in the living room, master suite/bath, and office.  Made a world of difference in our living room (lovingly referred to as the "sun room" or "hell") temperature-wise.  We're hoping for a return on investment with energy savings alone!
We also hope to do a few other things including refinishing the hardwoods and new carpet eventually.  Heck, once we're done, we may never want to move! (OK, not likely as the children in the house grow bigger and bigger, but we can at least put off a move for a while!)... I think?

Jake's Photos

Keeping Jake busy can be a challenge sometimes.  He's a real home body.  He doesn't really like to get out of his PJs and leave the house for any reason (he can only occasionally be lured by a play date with his BFF Mackenzie).

The other day, I asked him to take some pictures of me and Ella.  After which, he had a grand time with my camera for a while.  Here are some of his pictures - pretty funny :)   He cracks up every time he looks at them (must be an inside joke!)

view of backyard through a screen

shaky preschooler with hydrangeas

action in the exersaucer

room askew from atop a couch

army man in bumbo

this stuff is bananas (b-a-na-na-s!)

half eaten PB&J on racoon plate

sophie well lit

celing corner of a dining room

butterfly on exersaucer (in detail)

sister delighted
(up close and personal)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sleeping like a Baby

"People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one." -- Leo J. Burke

I haven't posted an update on sleep primarily because it went from bad to worse and I've been relatively beside myself about it for months now. Now that we've made it through the last few tough weeks, I am able to reflect and share the story (disclaimer: it's a long one).

As I mentioned, Ella's sleep has never been great, and it actually got worse instead of better right around the 3 month mark.  Out of necessity, I began co-sleeping with her because I was just too tired to deal with all of the night wakings. I kept telling myself that once she started sleeping longer (like Jake did), I would move her out of the bed.  It was not the best sleep I've ever had, but really the best sleep I could get at the time. Up until 3 months, she had been going to bed around 7 PM and not waking until around 11 PM to eat, then would go back to bed easily.  Then she would wake again around 1 or 2 AM at which point I would bring her from her bassinet (in our room) to our bed where she would eat several more times as we dozed until morning. At around 3 months, Ella began struggling with bedtime as well.  I would put her down at 7 PM then she would be up again around 30-40 minutes later.  She would need soothing (nursing, rocking, paci, etc.) and then would go back down, but only for 30 minutes or so.  This continued over and over until around 9 or 10 PM when she would seem to fall into a deeper sleep finally.  I know I don't have to say this, but the routine was ABSOLUTELY EXHAUSTING, not to mention IMPOSSIBLE when I had to get her and the boys to bed by myself (which I had to do on several occasions).  Something had to change!

So, I hit the books.  I looked to the books which I already owned (but never needed too much with Jake), and I also checked out several books on the topic from the library.  After A LOT of reading, it was very clear that Ella had developed several negative sleep associations (which are basically things she associates with sleep and must have to fall asleep/fall back asleep).  The biggest culprits: nursing to sleep and sleeping with mommy/nursing to sleep!

obsessed with sleep books
The biggest challenge of reading so many different books and philosophies on sleep and sleep training was that there was a lot of conflicting advice.  On one end of the spectrum is the cry-it-out method (CIO) which basically leaves the baby to cry with no comfort until they cry themselves to sleep.  And the other end of the spectrum was the co-sleeping/attachment method where by you comfort your baby in your bed and wait for them to outgrow the night wakings. And many methods in between.  It was sort of an agonizing decision, but I finally came to the conclusion that all the methods probably work for some, and you have to pick the method that works best for your baby and family (and what you yourself can stand!)

In our case, we decided on a method that did involve crying, but also allowed us to check on her as often as we wanted and was not too strict in the middle of the night (when I am at my weakest).  Ultimately, I decided on a book I already owned called Sleeping Through the Night by Jodi Mindell.

I decided to tackle the two sleep issues separately as not to lose my sanity.  First on the list was to create new positive sleep associations and help Ella learn to fall asleep on her own at bedtime.  According to Mindell, once a baby learns to fall asleep on her own, she will stop waking so much (or, rather will easily fall back asleep when she does wake naturally during the night).  So we began by changing up her routine to nurse first, then change into PJs/book (Good Night Moon), then rock with mommy/paci until she's sleepy (but not asleep) and lay down in her bassinet awake.

The first night was tough.  She cried for about an hour before she was able to fall asleep.  John and I checked on her/comforted her every 10 minutes or so until she fell asleep.  The second night was better, we only had to go in a few times and she was asleep in a little less than an hour (with less crying than the night before).  The third night, we were shocked to see her go to sleep with NO crying at all in about 15 minutes.  And it was DONE!  Now, she goes to bed, falls asleep on her own, and falls back asleep when she wakes slightly.  I have to say, this in and of itself is an absolute RELIEF to me and is so much better on me and the whole family at bedtime!  I can now engage with the boys again before they go to bed and have a conversation with my spouse (which I had not done much of in the last 4 months!)

After she was sleeping well for about a week (during this time, I would bring her to bed with me when she woke to eat in the middle of the night), I was ready to tackle the co-sleeping transition.  I decided that she should move to her crib for this transition instead of the bassinet in our room because as mentioned before, I have 0% will power at 3 AM.  Much like the sleep training at bedtime, the first few nights were brutal.  She woke up for her first feeding around midnight, I fed her in her room and put her back in bed.  She woke up again at 2 AM, then at 3 AM, 3:30 AM (at which point I waved the white flag and asked John for help).  He got her back to bed at 4 AM, and she was back up at 4:30 AM at which time I finally fed her again and got her back to bed.  She was up again at 6 AM and since the sun was starting to come up, I decided to throw in the towel and bring her to bed with me.  I was definitely feeling defeated and very worried about the next few nights.  But, night #2 was slightly better than that (with fewer wakings) and every night since has been a little bit better.  We're currently on night #8 and she is only waking 2 times to eat (AMAZING from where we started!)
I'm not sure about this mom!
My baby wanted to sleep, she just didn't know how to do it by herself.  It was my job as her mom to help her learn.  The best part of this all is how much happier Ella is during the day.  She is smiling a lot more, content to play on her own, and way less fussy.  Oh HAPPY DAY!

Ella in her crib

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Count Down is On

As of today, I have exactly 2 weeks before I start back to work.  I am feeling very anxious and sad, but also excited to be back in the swing of things.  I haven't exactly had the easiest maternity leave with the easiest baby.  I am so thankful I was able to stay home with her for so long and also thankful that I had three days a week with her all to myself.  She's such a mama's girl that I think it may be an adjustment for her.  But we've got an amazing girl who is going to come to our home to care for her while I work.  It couldn't be a better situation and I am so thankful for her as well!

I will really miss this.....
Playing at home

But luckily I am just going back 3 days a week again and will still have 2 at home with her and Jake (at least until August when Jake starts a full time Jr. Kindergarden program!!)

For the moment, I am going to try to enjoy my last few days at home with just me and her because I know from experience now that it will never be quite the same :)