Monday, August 27, 2012

Kate's Big Sister Tips

Kate's friend Becca became a big sister today. (Hooray for Nancy, John, and FULL TERM, SEVEN POUND baby James!) We are sooo excited for our dear friends.

When I picked Kate up from school today and told her that Becca's baby brother had been born, she said, "We should call Miss Nancy!"

To congratulate her, I guess?

"We should call Nancy to tell her that Becca's baby brother was born!"

I think she knows that, Kate, given she got cut open to get him out. But in any case, I tried to interview Kate about the ins and outs of being a big sister. Kate was much more interested in using a tape measure to measure her arms, Claire's wrists, and my behind (thanks, Kate) so I got some random answers like, "um, vacation Bible school?"

Here are the tips we did glean:

What should Becca do to be a really good big sister?
"Play with him. And with me. Claire can play with Becca's brother and Becca can play with me!"

What should she do when the baby is crying?
"She should say, 'Baby, don't cry!' And giggle with him."

When the baby starts crawling around and getting into her stuff, what should she do?
"She should say, 'No, brother!' and take it out of his hand."

What's the best part about being a big sister?
"Getting my pencil box."

No, that's not a gift she got when Claire was born; it was an item we picked up on the way home today to hold the many markers we've accumulated. What can I say? She's three and she lives in the moment.

If we quizzed Kate about the day to day realities of being a big sister, her response might have included tips on hitting, pushing, and body slamming younger siblings. And a fun game where Kate runs to one side of the room so Claire will chase her in her most determined crawl—then when Claire is halfway there, she runs back to the other side of the room, leaving Claire perplexed but good naturedly doing an about face to follow Big Sister again. 

I'm comforted by the notion that while big siblings may push little siblings around, they also defend them like none other if anyone else dares pick on the little sib. As an only child, I found this frustrating and hypocritical when I tried to join friends in the teasing of their little siblings, only to be rebuked. But seeing my own kids (and being assured by Matt, who has a little brother of his own) I know it's just the way of sibling love.

Congrats, Big Sister Becca, and welcome Sweet Baby James. Kate and Claire can't wait to meet you!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Timidly Trendy

Does anyone else feel like Pinterest gives irresistible, pregnancy-like nesting urges to totally non-pregnant women?

That's how I've been feeling lately. For the first few months I was on Pinterest, I just dabbled with it and didn't bother with it too much, beyond party-planning ideas for Kate's birthday back in January. Lately, I've gotten more into it, though, pinning gift ideas as we head toward Christmas, making a few boards for work and contests, and most recently, adding to my "house" board, with ideas for things I'd love to do with our home—in particular, a shelving unit for our mud room and an accent wall in the guest room or somewhere else. (Redoing our kitchen is my big wanna-do, but that is a much bigger investment than these other ideas!)

Anyway, I've been in a nesty mood lately, and I've been intrigued by this whole chevron trend. Have you noticed this? Chevron patterns are everywhere right now, it seems—in home decor, clothing, even some gorgeous scrapbook albums I saw the other day. I've never been big on following trends. I wait to see if they "last" before jumping on board. And something so bold as this chevron thing is sure to fizzle out quickly. But it's pretty cool looking, and while I wouldn't try it for an accent wall inside my house, I thought I'd give it a go for spicing up our garage a bit!

Yes, our garage. A utilitarian space that barely seems deserving of a makeover, and yet, for that very reason, seemed to be a fitting canvas for some trendy-patterned-accent-wall fun. So this has been my project for the last few days, in what spare time I can muster. (I'm not above putting a baby gate at the back door so my kids can play in the mud room while I climb a ladder in flip flops just outside.)

It's not even a whole wall, obviously, just the area right around the door, but adds some interest that I can enjoy every day as I pull into the garage after a long day at work.

What sort of crafty things or home improvements have you been making lately?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My NEW Baby Essentials

About this time three years ago, I blogged about my Nine Baby Essentials. Since every pregnancy, baby, and mothering experience is different, I thought I'd update that list now that I've gotten a "second opinion" with Claire.

Some items that were "essential" with Kate are completely not with Claire. The "Soothing Center" that worked so well with Kate doesn't do a thing for Claire. It's set up in the corner of our bedroom, but Claire has been in it a total of about four times. We try now and again (and she did fall asleep for maybe 20 minutes in it once) but despite all its awesome features designed to mimic mother's arms, scent, and sound, Claire will not be fooled. Nothing against the swing—it just goes to show how something can be a miracle product for one child and not another.

Other things from that original list are still must-haves:

I have used this site hundreds of times, and just get more thrilled with it all the time. They offer free shipping on orders over $49 (my usual order of a case of Pampers and a box of Huggies wipes refills is about $75) and the shipping is fast—always two days. That $49 can include things from their partner sites (household items), (toys), (pet supplies), etc., so you can get pretty much anything. I've returned things twice, and it is extremely easy and free, and I've contacted customer service a couple times and always been delighted. I'm not a paid spokesperson (though I'd love to be!) but you can use my referral code JKELLEY to get $10 off your first order.

Stickers and labels gross me out, so I love these rubbery bands that can go around bottles and sippy cups. I've been so mad that day cares have lost one of Kate's and one of Claire's, but I'm thinking I'll order another set (they come in sets of four) with just a generic "Kelley Family" and our phone number, or something, since we can always use extras! I like giving them as gifts too, since they're unique and (in my mind) so much preferable to sticker-labels. 

Pampers and my Medela pump are also still baby essentials in my book, but there are some new additions as well. 

I just plain don't like dealing with a big stroller. Umbrella strollers are the way to go, in my book, and so long as they have a 5-point harness, even little babies can ride in them. Kate still likes to ride when we go to the zoo or whatnot (though she's getting a little big for that—we may need to cut her off soon), so we got a double umbrella stroller when Claire was born. It fits through doorways and is so much lighter than a big stroller, especially a double big stroller, like a sit-and-stand. Once Claire can be trusted to sit without climbing out or falling over, we'll probably take the wagon, but for now, the stroller is great!

We had the Cloud b Sleep Sheep with Kate too, and I think we turned it on every night, but since Kate loved her paci so much, any other bedtime rituals were ancillary. Claire is a much lighter sleeper (at least when first going to sleep) and will suddenly be wide awake if anyone so much as stage-whispers while I'm nursing her to sleep. So, I turn on the Sleep Sheep immediately upon laying her down, if not right when I start nursing, to soothe her and block out any voices or sister-noises while she settles into a deep sleep. There is also an adorable giraffedolphin, and other animals in this line, plus the Twilight Turtle constellation nightlight that Kate now has and loves. 

I'm a stickler for sleep safety—no bumpers or blankets here!—and the Swaddle Me wrap is a safe way to keep baby cozy at night, since it can't be kicked off and become a suffocation hazard like regular receiving blankets. (The Halo Sleep Sack is also a safe option, but it's loose around the legs, not binding like a swaddle.) As I said, Claire needs more bedtime comfort in the absence of a paci, and swaddling in the Swaddle Me really helped her for the first seven months or so, until she outgrew the large size. They come in organic cotton and all sorts of cute patterns now, too. 

Not an "essential," I guess, but every baby needs toys, and these are my favorite. I got these for Kate when she was about 9 months old, and I've been loving them with Claire too. It was the Parents magazine-brand when I got them, but that brand seems to be sold as just "B" now. In any case, they are such classic toys (which I love) but rubbery so they are easy for tiny hands to hold and won't hurt if baby falls on them or bangs herself with them. Plus, they are designed very cute, each with a number, that number of symbols (stars, dots, etc.) on the opposite side and that number of animals going around it. (#1 is a snake, since that's the only animal that would stretch around all four sides!) Kate still plays with these too, as we build towers and put the numbers in order. 

So those are a few of my faves. 
What baby gear could you just not do without?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bye Bye Olympics!

I let Kate stay up a little late tonight to watch some of the Olympics closing ceremony. She asked me, "are we gonna cry, Mommy?" We didn't, but we definitely were sad to say bye-bye to the London games. It's been a fun two weeks.

We kicked off the fun with our party for the opening ceremonies (pre-party post here). Matt was out of town, but we had a fun, girly night with Nancy and Becca, eating British food and doing Olympic crafts.

The girls dressed in their gymnastics leotards,

 Had a little tea party,

 And did some 'nastics on the couch.

 We did some Olympic rings art using paint and styrofoam cups.

And we made Olympic torches, which the girls decided made better weapons than symbols of spirit and unity. Kate continues to call it "my fire."

 Kate enjoyed the ring art so much, we were doing it again in our pajamas the following morning,

 and we started a mantle display with the art we'd created in just the first 14 hours after the opening ceremonies!

Over the course of the past two weeks, we've added a lot of coloring pages of flags, runners, gymnasts, footballers, and more, and Kate is sporting a very blingy gold medal, which she "wins" over and over again by standing up on a platform (her ring-toss base), hearing me sing the Olympic anthem (which I never remember, and usually do "Pomp and Circumstance" or the Star Wars theme instead) and give her the medal and a flower. 

We've had a great time watching gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball, track, and "race walking." Kate has learned that some people are born without feet (the South African "blade runner"), and that all the different countries have different flags and anthems. It's been a lot of fun. It's hard to believe that when the winter Olympics come around, Kate will be turning five (and Claire will be two) and the next time we have summer Olympics, Kate will be SEVEN, Claire will be pushing five, and we'll probably have another toddler running around here! 

Go world!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

What God Looks Like (according to Kate)

Last February, I told you all about Kate's career goals. When told she could be anything she wanted to be, she said, "I'm going to be naughty!"

I submitted that funny little kids-say moment to Parents magazine's Baby Bloopers section, then for a few months was quite indignant when the issue came out and didn't have mine in there. "Kate's funnier than those kids!" I would say. But then there we were in the July issue! I've been vindicated.

Here are a few of Kate's recent antics.

Last night when we prayed at dinner, Kate was looking up at the ceiling, so we asked her, "What does God look like?"

"A hamster"
"Like a little hamster, or big hamster?"
"A BIG hamster."
Matt asked, "Why a hamster, and not a gerbil or a rat or something outside the rodentia family?"
"Or a bunny?" I added.
"Yeah, a bunny," Kate said.
"Does God keep changing appearances?" we asked. "What does God look like now?"
"A butt crack."

I know he's the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, but sheesh.

After dinner, while eating popsicles outside, we asked her if God had shape-shifted again, and she basically just started naming things she saw outside: "a treetop..." "a bird..."

Kate, are you just naming things you see and saying God looks like them? God looks like... lamp. (name that movie)


As we finished our popsicles, we were talking about our family.
"Kate, you and Claire have the same mommy and the same daddy. What does that make you two?"


I don't think I'll share the butt crack thing with Parents magazine. Maybe the condom story, though!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Nine Months!

Claire is now nine months old! I've been lazy with my blogging lately, so it feels like I just posted her eight month stats, but here we are at nine months and we have a few more things to report than last month! At eight months, I mentioned how she had been creeping and sitting up for two months, but not sitting up by herself or moving toward crawling, pulling up, cruising, etc. Just in the last week or two, I've seen her get herself into the sitting position, and she is starting to pull up!

Here she is today, her sweet, joyful self. She's laughing at Mr. Squeaky, a squeaky duck toy she has. She always smiles when she sees me smile, but when my face is hidden by a camera, she often stares deadpan. But Mr. Squeaky off to my left did the trick. Cutie girl.

She went to the doctor this morning for her nine month checkup. Her weight was 18 lbs, 4 oz, which is 52nd percentile—shocking since she's generally been so petite, but not surprising since she eats like crazy. We've called her "Hungry Hungry Hippo" from the start, and now that she's an old pro at solids, she double-fists mashed potatoes, squash casserole, omelets, anything we put in front of her. Her height/length was still 12th percentile, so maybe she's just bulking up before a growth spurt, the way Kate does.
Just a couple days ago, her big accomplishment was pulling up to her knees on the kitchen desk chair...

And now she's pulling up to her feet in her crib!
We lowered her mattress the other night, to be on the safe side. 

Claire loves playing with her sister, watching her do gymnastics and do just about anything. She is into blocks and balls and play tables (now that she's pulling up). She is fascinated by Charlotte, more than I remember Kate being (here's Kate's nine month milestones post, by the way) and will creep as fast as she can to chase Charlotte around the room, touching her fur whenever she can.

Claire has started saying "ba ba ba ba," and vocalizing a bit more. I'm trying to teach her the sign for "nurse," though I can't remember at what age Kate started picking up on sign language. She is starting to wear 6-12 month clothes, and I'm finally putting away the 3-6 month stuff, which seemed to fit her longer than it did Kate. She wears a size 2 diaper, and I hardly ever put shoes on her, but her size 1 shoes seem to be outgrown, so when I do put shoes on her again, they will likely be the cute, size 2, pink Pedipeds Kate had. I loved those shoes :0)
The girls aren't bathing together yet, since Claire isn't stable enough in the big tub, but we dipped her in for a couple minutes one night to clean off the mashed potato crust that results from her dinner! She's eating so much in the way of solid food that her bottles have gotten even smaller for school, but she still loves to nurse morning, evening, and night. She sleeps from about 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. and then after I nurse her, sleeps again until 5:30 or 6:30. Occasionally she'll go all the way from 8 to 5. Either way, I find that if I go ahead and get up for the day at 5 or 5:30, I feel better than when I try to doze off again until 6:30 or so. I'm not pumping in the morning before work anymore, so I can get up and relax and make a good breakfast, and feel more "put together," even if I'm not technically sleeping the whole night through.

I'm tempted to compare with Kate sleeping through the night by one month (and Claire did too at one month, but then needed to eat more!) but Matt always gave Kate a dream feed before he came to bed at 11 or so, so what felt to me like a 11-hour sleep was made possible by that bottle feed.

To close, here are another few pics of our little piggy in full-on dinner mode. She enjoyed her penne pasta and cleaned her tray . . . and then—oh!—here are a few more stuck in my bib!

Happy nine months, Clairey-Bear!


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