Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Favorites for Baby's First Year

Each mama is different and each baby is different but these are a few of my favorite finds that we used during the first year:

1. Aden and Anais burpy bibs. It's hard to put your finger on just what is so wonderful about this burp rag - but it's just the best. I have adorable handmade ones, cute store bought ones, and these. These fit on your shoulder perfectly and are honestly worth the $10/burpy bib. They wash incredibly well and are so cute on top of that. And, they snap to be a bib for when baby is really spitty:
Check them out!

2. Music! I have loved four CDs in particular. I use them while Liam is going down for a nap or going down for the night. It's become a part of our routine but he can go down without it. I have liked setting the mood for sleep and it kind of signals to him that is sleeping time.

The Rockabye CDs are amazing! They take popular bands (we have Coldplay and U2) and do soothing instrumental versions of their biggest hits. So great!

Rockabye Coldplay: Check it out!

Rockabye U2: Check it out!

Worship music for baby: I really like having baby-friendly worship music to encourage that little spirit from the beginning. These are the two that I've used:

Praise Baby: Check it out!


Sing Over Me: Check it out!

3. Baby Love cookbook. If you want to make your own baby food this is such a great find. The recipes are fantastic and real food recipes. Some of our favorite recipes are banana/apple/pear, Alba's Chicken Soup, Basil Ricotta Pesto, and Macaroni and Cheese. Yeah! As a side note - I think products like the Baby Bullet are great but ultimately unnecessary. A regular food processor does the trick.
Check it out!

4. RazBaby Teether. By far Liam's favorite teething tool. With 8 teeth in the first year, he really went after it!
Check it out!

5. Earth's Best Chlorine-Free Wipes. I really don't prefer to be high maintenance in life :). But - Liam had persistent diaper rash that just wouldn't fully go away. So I decided to try these wipes and it was gone within 24 hours. If you buy them in packs of 12 through Amazon you can get them for about $3.33/pack which is comparable to other wipe prices. Definitely worth it to me!
Check it out!

6. Amazon subscribe and save products. Wow! If there is anything you buy with regularity for baby, I'd check to see if Amazon offers it on their subscribe and save option. You 'subscribe' to the product and receive it automatically every month, two months, etc (your choice). For intance, I started supplementing Liam with a little formula around 7 months because I was concerned about milk supply. He probably had about 10% formula and the rest was bm. Formula is expensive!!! I wanted something organic and went with Earth's Best. He did great with it. At Whole Foods and Buy Buy Baby, it's about $30 a container. WHEW! With Amazon subscribe and save - I got it for $23/container and didn't pay shipping. Works for me!

7. This toy has been a consistent favorite for months for Liam. It's adorable and has multiple layers of learning which I like: Check it out!

8. If you're interested in Baby Wise - this blog is so helpful: Check it out!

9. In the splurge category, I cannot skip mentioning Best Chairs. I made efforts to be budget-friendly on creating Liam's nursery (borrowing a crib, finding other furniture on Craigslist, and using a seamstress on Etsy to make the bedding which was a lot cheaper than going through a the local custom bedding options I found). BUT - I knew I wanted a great rocker/glider. A few friends had purchased their gliders from Best Chairs and I loved what I saw. Locally, I think that Buy Buy Baby has a few models but Peek A Boo Baby caries and can order all of their models. I chose the smallest model and didn't go for the recliner or ottoman - and I have been so happy with the choice. We have used it a lot and it's still in great condition! The glide is so smooth and even the smallest model chair works for both me and Zion's bodies and is very comfortable. Love it and look forward to many many more years with it.
Check it out!

10. And finally, the Miracle Blanket was one of the very best things! Little man Liam was strong from the get go and swaddling him in a standard blanket didn't work for us. This blanket has so zippers or velcro which makes loud sound if you need to adjust it when the baby is falling to sleep or already asleep. It has a pocket for the feet and a pretty great arm manuever to keep those little limbs in place. We discovered it a few weeks in but next time around it will be used from the very beginning. It really helped Liam because those little arms did not stop moving when he went to sleep. I think it's the best sleep swaddling solution because of it's unique design and no zipper/velcro. You need it!
Check it out!

I'm sure there are other things I am forgetting but these are our top ten! Happy first year mamas! I'd love to know any great finds you discovered :)

Twelve Months: Big Boy!

WOOOOHOOOOOOO! WE DID IT! We kept him alive for a whole year! He isn't permanently damaged in any apparent way! He smiles and laughs and eats and sleeps! It's a miracle!!!!!

Sweet boy - you're the best. This year has changed me in the best and complete way. I am simply not the person that I was before you entered the world barely into the morning of August 4, 2011 at 12:14 am. This year has been the sweetest discovery of one of the dearest people I think God has ever created, learning to live with never sleeping in again, staring at your unbelievable face, and the embrace of our new perma-state of transition because no season lasts more than just a bit. I wouldn't trade this year, you, the highs or the lows for anything in the world William Justice Spencer.

A few stats:

At your one year old appointment you weighed in at 20 pounds even (just at the 25%) and measured 29 3/4" (the 50%).

You took your first wobbly step on July 25 unknowingly. Two weeks later, on your actual birthday, you took your first series of steps when Daddy was entertaining you by blowing up balloons for your first birthday party.

You spoke your first word (mama) to me on August 1 a few days before your birthday. I was holding you on my chest by the crib before laying you down for a nap. You were cuddling (a rarity for you, my little mover and shaker), and looked up at me and softly said "Mama." Like you just wanted me to know you could say it. :) Now it's mostly said in times of dire need only!

You said your second word (dada) just a few weeks later while Daddy was getting ready for work. Talk about a happy man!

You have eight teeth even though I could have sworn you were cutting numbers nine and ten two different times! Alas, no cigar.

You take two naps/day - a 1.5 hr nap in the morning and a 1.5 hr nap in the afternoon - and you sleep 11-12 hrs/night. No complaints here my little man!

Not really a stat - but Mimi and I have discovered the pure magic of offering you a dum dum sucker. It's the perfect size for you and it has gotten us through one year old shots, one year old blood work and the first haircut where stillness generally helped the success of the outcome.

A friend recently asked me what your favorite toy was because by one year old - both of her babes had distinctly favorite toys. I had to think about it for a second but there is no other answer than balls. Oh son. You haven't met a ball you don't love and balloons from your birthday party still live in this house 2.5 weeks post party. To you, balls and balloons fall into the same category and you've actually developed your third word because of it. Everytime you see a ball/balloon it's a 'bmm bmm.' So it's not a real word - but it's a consistent word for you! Balls challenge you and you love to roll them, toss them, bat at them, carry them - anything. Your coordination really impresses me!

Your current love is loading and unloading anything - laundry hampers, the silverware in the dishwasher, a box of balloons, your trash can in your room (yikes!), etc.

You also have really started enjoying books! Granted - your attention span in approximately two pages of each book lol! Favorite books are The Very Hungry Cattepillar, The Usborne touch and feel Trucks book, Sesame Street Bubbles book, touch and feel Baby Jesus is Born, and the audio-recorded version of Grandpa and Grandma Spencer reading Good Night Moon.

About a week and a half after you took that first series of steps - you didn't look back and have been a walking machine ever since. You get such a proud look on your face when you are toddling everywhere on your own! Often I am able to hold your hand and guide you somewhere but you are starting to 'politely' refuse the hand hold - certain you can do it yourself.

I think it's pretty clear that I am crazy about you little boy. God outdid Himself with you. I know that I haven't been perfect and that you're not perfect. I am so thankful that God is everything that we need though. When I was pregnant with you God started really teaching me to trust him to be the God that 'will provide all of your needs - according to His riches and glory.' Your life has given me the chance to lean on Him more than ever before. He's got the smarts when it comes to parenting you and I'm just trying to listen!

Liam - you are loved and you are wanted. You are a priceless part of our family and God chose you to live at this exact time in history so that you could play your specific part in life. You are strong. You are joyful. You are relational. You are sweet. You are funny!

Yes - this is my over the top love letter to you! But, you know, everyone needs to know that his mama is cuckoo crazy about him every once in a while. I'll be your biggest cheerleader until God brings you a special woman to carry that banner throughout your married life. I pray for her and I pray for you. You are special little one and your destiny is special too.

Psalm 1:3 is the Scripture we pray over you:
"He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers." Let it be for Liam!

So thankful for you. So thankful we've made it through year one and that we've all lived to tell of it! I know that the next twelve months will be anything but boring!

Love doesn't even begin to be a big enough word for how we feel about you Mr. Spencer.

Eleven Months Elation

(This post has sadly been written for a long time and I'm just now posting. Yikes!)

First, I'd like to give an honorable mention to Liam's tenth month which sadly did not receive a blog update. Future son who's old enough to understand - forgive me! You were stealing my heart more by the day and making messes at new levels of scale and moving moving moving. There may not have been a blog - but there WAS a picture! Big. Boy. Emerging.

You turned eleven months old on July 4 - while on your first vacation! Vacation blog and pictures to come! Man - I feel like that week was a big development week for you. You went into it taking a few cruising steps here and there and left speed cruising around furniture and balancing for a few seconds of standing to get from one piece to the next. You are quite the master of movement my friend.

I am trying to just enjoy the emergence of your personality instead of trying to peg it at this point. It's hard to tell what is personality and what is a developmental stage...but I can say that whatever it is - it is fun! Liam is a waving hi/bye machine, a big time pointer, and a fasicanted engineer who loves putting lids on bottles or anything related.

Favorite toy? A throw back to my childhood: a bright red plastic ball from the Wal-Mart bin of balls for $2.50. Within a few days of having it at home - he learned how to raise it over his head and throw the ball. The ball happens to be bigger than he is so it's a pretty cute site.

Another favorite is a good old fashioned tooth brush. There is something about them that simply thrills his heart. Or maybe it's the jamming the tooth brush into my mouth to offer his kind help in brushing my pearly whites :). He will drop anything else he has in his hands if offered a tooth brush.

On the topics of favorites, I would be remiss to not mention Lance. Meet Lance the Lion. He has Liam's heart and he gets a kiss any time he wants one. He gets to sleep with Liam and I love coming in to find Liam sleeping with his arm draped over Lance. Such a big boy thing!

Life with eating has gotten so much better. Around 9 months things just got better. My take is that the onset of lots of teething plus a few bouts of sickies side swiped our eating efforts for a while there. But - a friend also turned me on to a GREAT cook book for babies/toddlers called Baby Love. It's real food and it's good. Current Liam favorites are Alba's Chicken Soup, beef stew, pasta with pesto, blueberries, watermelon, bananas and of course - cheerios. However - the bite or two I gave him of banana chocolate swirl ice cream made him very happy today :)

We have all sorts of sounds around this house but no official words yet. Ga, go, na, va, ba, la, ma, da, etc. But Liam's favorite language is growling. That and snorting. Not even kidding! He has this deep-back-of-the-throat growl that he uses to communicate about half of the time. I label this one hundred percent boy-ness and I love it.

(After a swim at Mimi and Bebo's house)

Speaking of things that I love, I love kissing on this boy. Zion and I think we may have kiss-attacked one too many times because Mr. Spencer is discretionary with his giving of kisses. It is not uncommon to go in for a kiss and get a swift Liam-hand to your mouth. Or he'll simply ignore you. But oh. There are those other times when he buries his face into mine and pushes his nose almost into my mouth to give his version of a kiss that makes every other heisman to the kiss attempt worth it.

This first year of life has brought many stages of sleep for Liam. Months five through eight I refer to as our wilderness months - 'What is going on and where am I and where are we going?' And then things really settled down around nine months. However each teething experience brings the return of night time waking (poor little man) and recovering from vacation has taken a while. His nights have ranged from ten hours to twelve hours over the past month or so - so lots of shifting around! But - I have relaxed with that a lot more than I used to. We still get in two naps a day. And my favorite thing is when he goes through a rocking stage. There's nothing sweeter than feeling that sweet blonde head fall on my chest and his body go still as he lets me rock him. I treasure the moments.

(my little drummer boy and his daddy)

Each month makes me more of a sappy mama lol. Zion and I regularly look at each other and ask ourselves how in the world he could be so precious. So in love and so aware of how much I truly need God's heart for Liam. I want to partner with Him in parenting. Life as a parent is no walk in the park - but it's a thrilling adventure. So thankful and so enjoying the journey!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Update: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Hello Friends. Long time no see. My fault! WHEW! Lots has been going on and needless to say, my fingers never found their way to this blog. I'm hopeful that I am going to be blogging at least once a week now....because my life has just taken a dramatic turn - I resigned my position at work and am now at home with Liam full time.

WOW! Even now typing those words seems surreal.

Isn't life surprisng? When I was little - my utmost dream was to be a mom and in highschool I saw myself married and having babies in my young twenties and wrapping my life around that. God did bring Zion and we've grown up together in so many ways. But life happened and it wasn't time for us to start a family in the timeframe I originally dreamed of. Despite my somewhat disappointed heart, I found something else in the waiting - a career. I found a uniquely wonderful group of people, a boss who believed in me, and work that both challenged and interested me. Hello! Although the mommy desire never went away - it did bury itself deeper in my heart - as I discovered a side of myself that surprised me. I loved working. I love excelling. I love being smart, learning how to be smarter, negotiating smart, building successful relationships and growing. I was really so blessed in my work and I know it.

When Liam came into our lives a year ago, I was (again) blessed to be able to transition to working part time but we didn't feel like it was time yet for me to be at home full time. Part of what made it work (for us) was that my dear mom had Liam one day a week and God brought a fantastic nursing student to spend the other day a week with Liam. He was able to be at home for the most part with people who loved him and that made my heart at ease while I was at work.

So when things changed for Zion's job - all of the sudden we were presented with a different set of circumstances. I knew. My heart knew that this was the time. That my season had fully changed and that there was a step of obedience waiting for me. Now don't get me wrong - my heart was soaring. Finally - the day had come when I would be able to jump full force into this mommyworld and give my everything to the new.

But, I would be lying to say that it was a black and white/uncomplicated decision. Indeed, I knew what I truly wanted but the reality of stepping back from being a working woman took me back a little bit. Regardless of what you intend to do - there is a value you place on yourself as a working woman, a certain type of 'smart' that you feel, and a particular thrill that comes with thriving in that way. Those are big things to lay down! At the very least, it is a change in identity. And change - even when it's for the good - is just a funny process to go through.

But there's him. There's the little man that has won over my heart and there's the deep and truest part of my heart as a mom that unearths more each day. There are the moments when I get to hold him when he's upset. When we get to jump into a pile of pillows and laugh laugh laugh. When we get to water the ferns together each morning. When we get to share Cheerios. When he tries to help me cook dinner while on my hip. My dream has come true. It's just a dream that is coming more into full bloom from the depths as it has time to breathe.

So here's to discovering the new season. Here's to change. And here's to the kitchen floor that now seems to be permanently cluttered. And here's to praying I don't break a bone when accidently stepping on one of those pieces of clutter :)