31 May 2015

Elliott - Nine Months Old

I'm late with Elliott's nine month post because I wanted to get his growth stats at our check-up. Unsurprisingly, he's still in the 75th to 90th percentile for height and weight while his head circumference is perfectly average.

His biggest change this month is that he started army crawling just a few days into the month. He gets faster and shows more stamina with each day. He can even go up and down a single step on his belly. He loves all of Madeleine's toys (especially her tea cups), floor heating/cooling vents (which he has mastered removing), and doors. Like his sister, he's also interested in electrical outlets, so I'm glad that all of ours remain childproof.

We've done a lot of traveling this month (Hawaii and Texas) with mixed results. Elliott is less contemplative than Madeleine and more insistent about being mobile. Combining that personality with his size, flights are challenging. His sleep was mixed during both of our trips with more screaming than I would have liked. I think he just wakes up when he is between sleep cycles and has a hard time going right back to sleep in a new place. The first night back from each trip was rough, too, but, after one long session of crying (yes, we're those parents), he has otherwise slept through the night.

Elliott continues to be a pretty good eater, not showing much favoritism. He passed his baked egg challenge, which means that he is cleared to eat foods that contain egg as long as the egg is thoroughly cooked. We've used our favorite sippy cups with Elliott, and he has taken to them pretty well. There are times during meals when he will start to fight the food (throw it on the floor, bat at the spoon) because he's thirsty and only wants water, which he gets at each meal. He still nurses four times a day (wake up, after each nap, and bedtime), which I anticipate continuing until we start weaning in earnest (August probably). Hopefully I can survive his current habit of pinching me while nursing. The pediatrician drew my attention to swollen lower gums, so I may have teeth to contend with sooner rather than later.

Elliott continues to be chatty. Most of the time that means babbling, but it can also mean screaming. He screams - in the highest pitch, most ear-piercing scream ever - when he is really excited. His crying also tends toward screaming and away from fussing. Between his voice and his crawling, I think we're seeing more and more of Elliott's personality. He's not quite as laid back as we'd originally thought but rather persistent and determined. At the same time he's very sweet and cuddly, generously offering smiles and laughs.

I had a little help in the photography department this month as big sister wanted to photograph Elliott with her "camera" (a turtle toy with a tiny mirror on it, which she consistently pretends is a camera).



29 May 2015

Friday I'm in Love

Helloooooooo, Friday. This is a big week for me because I had my last day of work. I'm trying to live my priorities and convictions, and that means guarding my time for what is really important to me. After noticing that my 60-mile round trip commute was taking close to three hours most days, I had to make a change. I don't know what is next on the professional front, but I do know that I'm looking forward to spending the summer with my little babes, who are less little with each passing day, and spending less time in my car.

Completely unrelated, here's what I'm loving (besides this glorious sunny weather) today.

ONE: Yumbox Bento Box

A friend gifted a Yumbox to Madeleine a year or two ago, and it is a big hit with all of us. I'd say that I use it to pack her lunches about a quarter of the time, and she considers it a real treat. Meanwhile, I love that it makes lunch packing easy and generally pretty healthy. And, despite all that use, it's still in perfect condition.



TWO: Modern Twist Bib

I've previously mentioned that we love their placemats, and I had my eye on their bib. When we were in Hawaii, I stopped a family who had one on their child and asked for their review...and then promptly ordered one. I love our Modern Twist bib! We took it on our trip last weekend to Dallas, and it was so nice to be able to easily wash the bib after each meal and fold it up for meals on the go.



THREE: iHeart Organizing's Quick Tip Tuesday

One of my favorite organizational blogs is iHeart Organizing. So many of the projects featured seem daunting, but her Quick Tip Tuesday projects tend to be so easy to implement. I'm particularly a fan of this packing method, which worked wonders for keeping the kids' clothes separate on our trips to Maui and Dallas.

Check out what the rest of the ladies are loving! MishaKendraMary BethLauraAileen, and Jessica. What are you loving today?

26 May 2015

Movin'

Back when we were in Hawaii, Elliott started crawling. I spent quite a bit of time on the ground with him, capturing his sweet little smile. A bit late, but here are a few of my shots from his first day army crawling:

ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/125

ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/125

ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/100

ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/100

ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/100

ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/100

19 May 2015

Progress

This is the year. 

For years (closer to a decade than a year if I'm being honest), I have been wanting to learn more about photography, and I finally took the first step by signing up for Ashley's (Under the Sycamore) Snapshops course. It's a self-paced online course covering the basics of using a camera outside the auto setting. Part of the course overlapped with our time in Maui, and I had a great time using nap time to learn and play time to capture some precious memories. 

I feel I should warn you that I know just enough to be dangerous now, so you should be forewarned that my photography is very much a work in progress...both compositionally and technically. Progress is messy and crooked and winding, but it's progress nonetheless.

In that spirit, I thought I'd share some fun (if a bit too dark) shots I took of Madeleine enjoying a few bites of pie. 

ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/200

ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/200

ISO: 400, f/2.8, 1/160

ISO: 400, f/2.8, 1/160

ISO: 400, f/2.8, 1/160

ISO: 400, f/2.8, 1/160

ISO: 400, f/2.8, 1/160
Oh, I love that face!

15 May 2015

Friday I'm in Love

Happy Friday! Thanks for stopping by to see what I'm loving...and be sure to check out what the other Friday ladies love: MishaKendraMary BethLauraAileen, and (welcome!) Jessica.

ONE: Google Keep

Are any of you listmakers? I am a huge fan of making lists...to keep me on task, to remember things, and to give me a way to visualize my progress as I cross off completed tasks. It's taken me a while, but I've finally found Google Keep. I love that I can share things (like my standing Target list shared with George) or use it as a place to remember important information (license plate numbers, birth dates, you name it). Good stuff.

TWO: My Village

This past weekend was Mother's Day and, as much as it reminds me of how much I love my mother and being a mother, I can't help but think about my friends who are mothers. Experiencing motherhood with dear friends is such a special experience, which not only enriches my life but gives my kiddos these other awesome women in their lives. To my village, I love you.

THREE: Paring Down

I know it's been several weeks since Denaye's wardrobe capsule made a huge splash on the internet, but it's still inspiring me. As I approach my own wardrobe capsule experience in a slightly less traditional way, I keep reminding myself that if it doesn't bring me joy or make me feel good, I should let it go. I'm hoping to share my progress soon.

Apologies for the lack of photos today, but perhaps you're still going through our Hawaii ones. Also, check back for some more photo-heavy posts next week.

13 May 2015

Maui, Baby!

I'm going to attempt to summarize our 10 days, 1167 photos, and countless memories into a single post with a few tips from our recent vacation to Maui. We were last in Maui in December 2013 and couldn't wait to go back to its warm, kid-friendly beaches. From Seattle, Hawaii is about as easy as you can get for a tropical destination that feels far away.

On our flight down, we lucked out with an extra seat, which was really handy for giving Elliott some of his own space and allowing the parents to trade off getting a break. We did this by booking window, aisle, aisle seats and having the lap infant assigned to the window seat. We never carry on car seats, but Madeleine rides with a Kids Fly Safe CARES harness, which Elliott will also have once he starts riding in his own seat full time (soon!). We were also lucky to have meals on our Alaska flight that were perfect for sharing with our BLW baby (rice with steamed carrots and teriyaki chicken). Yum!


Our first stop in Maui is always Costco. It's a good way to stock up on food for the week, and they carry a good selection of local specialities, like our favorite pineapple salsa. Conveniently, the Maui Costco is right outside the airport. This was a special trip for our two because it was their first time riding in a cart together!


The next morning, we started our vacation routine: beach in the morning, followed by lunch and nap, and then pool in the (late) afternoon. Both kids loved the sand, and the sand on our beach was powder fine, so that was lots of fun to clean up. Our condo came with a beach umbrella, which was incredibly handy. Like my mom, I always bring an old flat sheet as our beach blanket - easy to dry, remove sand, wash, pack - perfect.

Most mornings, Elliott took his morning nap on the beach. While he slept, I tried to soak in every last sandy detail of his little, chubby body.




When he was awake, Elliott liked to dig in the sand, chew on sand toys, and either shovel sand into his mouth or face plant so he could lap up the sand directly.



He tolerated the ocean but definitely preferred to splash in the waves when Daddy was holding him (higher) rather than Mummy.


Meanwhile, Madeleine was never still on the beach. She was less keen to play in the water than she has been in the past and spent a lot of time being "chased" by the approaching surf. She also loved to dig holes with Daddy and jump into their muddy, sandy goodness.



Although I've always taken our own sand toys, I think this was my last time for that. For $5 at the supermarket, I could have saved weight and space in our bags and not had to worry if a shovel was left behind on the beach.

On the water side, we were lucky that the beach where we were staying is home to one of Maui's turtle towns, and we got to see turtles just about every time we waded out into the Pacific. Despite having talked a lot about doing it, Madeleine wasn't fond of snorkeling (the nose part of the mask freaked her out) and preferred to wear her goggles, though I'm not sure she actually looked underwater at any turtles in the end.



Madeleine loves choosing her own outfits these days and loved when she and I dressed alike for the beach. Yes, I actually asked to be photographed in a bathingsuit, inspired by this and wanting to raise a confident, body-loving daughter.


Several mornings, I got up early and snuck in a run in the early morning hours. I never managed to make it back before the kids woke up or the sun was out in full force, but I loved watching Makena and Wailea wake up.


One morning, Madeleine and I went out for a paddle boarding tour with Brittany. It was a great way to start the day and so fun to mix both me time with mother-daughter time. Madeleine was surprisingly patient during our two hours on the board, and she thought it was so funny when I fell into the water learning how to stand up (for the record, I got it on the second try). I tried my hand at yoga on the board and want to do more of that next time!



Another morning, we met up at the aquarium with some friends who were vacationing on another part of the island.



We pretty much always stay in condos or other multi-bedroom dwellings these days. It hasn't been long since my first rental through VRBO.com, but I already wonder what we did for accommodation before we knew about it. Having a little more space means that we, the parents, got to chill out during the couple hours of nap time each afternoon without having to sit silently in a dark hotel room.

Our afternoons in the pool were fun, and that's where Madeleine really developed her swimming. As I mentioned, I love this float.


video

When we left the complex, I'd always try to find Madeleine a flower from the ground for her hair. It was a fun, tropical treat even if they never lasted very long. I loved snapping her photo in the lush surroundings, too.



One night, we snapped a few family photos with the timer function of our camera. Not the best angle, but it's hard to get a photo of the four of us.


We didn't eat at restaurants very much, but we ate every meal that we had at the condo on the lanai. Having a kitchen meant that we could prepare our own meals on our own timeline and enjoy treats like homemade smoothies!



By the end of each day, we were all exhausted.



As the sun would set, we'd finish dinner and then get the kids down for bed.


Mahalo for the memories, Maui. Until next time...

Where is your favorite place to vacation? Do you have a family-friendly hidden gem to share?

11 May 2015

Running Reflections

For the past three months, I've been running. I haven't kept it a secret, but I also haven't wanted to talk much about it on here for fear of jinxing myself. When I last tried to take up the sport, when Madeleine was about nine months old, I came down with appendicitis, derailing me in a big way. This time around, I haven't taken anything for granted. I'm fiercely protective of my running time and try my best to really want to do it every time I step out the door.


I spent my Mother's Day morning running the 5K that I was supposed to run two years ago. I finished just a few seconds after my goal time and beat my goal pace by 10 seconds per mile. It wasn't easy or pretty, but I am really proud of it. In fact, I shed a few tears as I finished. Between having anticipated running this race years ago and having spent a significant amount of time training over the past few months, my step across that finish line was a long time coming and meant a lot.




An hour or so later, Miss Madeleine ran her first race ever. It was about 200 yards around some tennis courts, but she will tell you that she ran a half marathon. I have to give her credit: a lot of kids either dropped out or ended up being carried while she ran the entire thing.

It's not totally accidental that Madeleine knows about half marathons. I'm currently training for the big event, just about a month away. So this little adventure continues.

08 May 2015

Friday I'm in Love

As I desperately try to keep living aloha despite our return to the Pacific Northwest, I'm going to share some things I loved during our time in Maui.

ONE: The Best Shave Ice

We found the best shave ice this trip. Ask George. My husband, the sweettoothless wonder, was raving about it. My waist is glad we found it on our very last evening on the island.

If you're on Maui, you have to track down one of the Ululani locations. You're welcome.



TWO: Peanut butter - Coconut Oil Mix

With Elliott's peanut butter diet (and M's love of PB&J), we knew we'd pick up some peanut butter in Hawaii. I happened upon this fun Earth Balance spread, which is delicious and tastes tropical. Yum.



THREE: California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen

I generally love California Baby products, and their super sensitive sunscreen did the trick for our whole family. Ten days of Hawaiian sunshine and not a single burn. (Check out ratings on EWG.)


FOUR: Seabags

I saw Seabags at a couple of shops in Maui, and I am obsessed. So many cute designs. I love the diaper bags with dividers and a zipper top, and the beach bag comes with vents for easy sand removal. Super practical, durable, and great repurposing of used materials! Love!






FIVE: Graduated Back Float

Miss M is pretty good in the water but can't fully swim yet. She doesn't like to be in our arms, but I don't like her to rely on a puddle jumper, which does all the work for her. So, we tried out this graduated back float on our trip, and it was a big success. She can stay above water and needs fewer and fewer of the panels as she gets better, but it did force her to actually swim.



We are gearing up for a sunny and warm weekend in the Seattle area. Can't ask for anything better than that. What are you doing this weekend?

Be sure to stop over and see what the other gals are loving: MishaKendraMary BethLaura, and Aileen.