Wednesday, November 20, 2013

finola - six months!

Happy 'Half' Year, my little love!
It's been a fun month, so let's get right to it...
 Determined little bugger.  Stubborn.  Quiet unless she wants something.  Joyous - she has the most lovely open-mouthed, gaping grin...especially when I come to get her out of her crib.  Laughs about totally random things.
Chewing on EVERYTHING.  Especially books.  Playing 'Kissy Monster.'  Mirrors.  Watching your brother play, talk, get in all makes you twitter-pated.  The Jumperoo - you are a jumping maniac.  
happiest in her jumperoo!

Being fed - you'd much prefer to feed yourself.  Being away from mama for too long.  Total mama's girl.   Being tired - you'd rather just be put in your crib than be rocked to sleep or snuggled!  Riding in the car too long.  Getting dressed...sometimes you strongly protest to mama getting your little arms through the holes in shirts.  You get annoyed by a lot of buttons.  Pajamas are sometimes nightmarish (you prefer the quick zip-up variety!)
About the same as last month.  Still hasn't gone a whole night without waking up.  Still wakes usually twice a night for a feeding.  Sometimes once if we are lucky.  Naps twice a day, two hours every time.    Goes to bed between 6 and 7 and gets up around 7am.
probably not gonna be a baller
Still get only one bottle on a typical day, from Dada right before bedtime.  I did break down and feed you with a bottle a couple times, just to break my fear.  It went fine!  Breastfeeding has become more difficult and mentally I am ready to transition to formula.  I think.  Not looking forward to the hormone imbalance that will come with that...but it will pass.  Anyway, you eat four times during the day, approximately 6 oz each time.  You also gets baby food at mealtimes when I feed Cormac.  You have had oatmeal, rice cereal, green beans, peas, bananas, apples and carrots.  Bananas are by far your favorite!  You are very insistent on grabbing the spoon away from me and feeding yourself...and when you are done with each bite you fling the spoon on the ground and whine for more.  
you might be the messiest eater ever. 
Sibling Relations:
You continue to adore your brother, while he goes in waves with how he feels.  He mostly wants to kiss and 'ug' you, crawl into your crib and snuggle and 'entertain Sissy!'  Sometimes he wants you to just go away so all the attention is on him.  That doesn't happen often, thankfully!  Although he did smack you in the face for the first time - on purpose.  You had no real reaction to it, so I guess it didn't hurt, but he had a major meltdown in his time-out and eventually apologized.
my little cuddlers.  fin loves being on the couch with brother.
Mama's feelings:
Making peace with breastfeeding coming to an end - eventually.  Happy to be back at the gym more frequently and able to go to pilates class again.

Weight: 18 lbs (75th) Height: 25.5 inches (25th)  Head: 16.25 inches (75th)
No colds this month, but possibly some teething (noticed some extra fussiness and a TON of drooling/chewing.)  Wearing 9 month clothing -- and some 12 month!  You don't even know how excited I was to find out I can now shop the toddler girl section of Target for you.  Everything is SO MUCH CUTER there than in the infant section.

*You found your feet!
*Started sitting unassisted at just after five months!
*Continue to make the moves to crawl. You even get up on your toes in a fun 'downward dog' yoga position in an attempt to propel yourself forward...but nothing official.
still has the curl on the top of her head - sometimes
*First time playing in the leaves!  I had to be carefully because you would have ate about fifty leaves had I let you.

*First time riding in the stroller like a big girl...and swinging!  This picture doesn't show it, but you actually, despite being too small, loved being in there with me making faces at you and pushing you lightly.  I think you just like being outside and having lots to look at.

*And, of course, your first Halloween!  You won't remember this, but you were the sweetest little bunny for a couple hours...

Dear Fin,
It is so fun watching you turn into a little person.  You seem determined to learn and grow and be a part of everything.  You continue to be very go-with-the-flow, making it easier for me to handle two littles and go on adventures with the both of you.  You adore your brother, everything about him...just like seemingly everyone else.  Go figure.  He is a likable guy.  
You make me smile every morning and after nap times with your huge "crib grins."  Your fat rolls and love handles are pretty much the best - even the doc was impressed at your check-up.  You never fail to let me know when you don't like something...and, in my opinion, speaking your mind is a good thing.  
I'm excited, as always, for what the next month will bring (crawling?!?!?!)

Love you, lady Jane!

Mama + Dada

Monday, November 18, 2013

{photographer for a day}

You know how there are people who are really, really amazing at one particular thing?
Like, that thing is "their thing." 
They paint.  Or they write.  Or they sew beautiful things.
Or they are good with numbers.
I don't have 'a thing.'
I have a lot of things that I love to do...
even a few that I am halfway good at.
My writing skills are decent.
I adore cooking.
I am a pretty fast long-distance runner.
I have decent style when it comes to home decor.
I genuinely enjoy these things and will continue to try to hone my skills.

Then there is photography.
You could say I am just one of those women who took up blogging and then had photo envy and joined the DSLR bandwagon and got one and had no clue how to use it and still really doesn't so I still shoot on auto.
That would be sort of true.

But also not.

My love for taking photographs began when I was twelve and got my first crappy plastic red Kodak 35mm camera for Christmas.

I was kind of obsessed with photos.  Some kids were playing soccer or in dance class, but because my family had no money for all of that by the time I got to that age, I had to do things that were free.
Being an introvert it was easy to find things to do on my own.
I would pore over family photographs.
I looked at my mama's photo albums so much that I felt that I knew all of the relatives personally, despite never having met most of them.

When my sister went to high school (she is five years older) I became equally obsessed with her yearbooks.  I could have told you everyone's name and what extra-curricular activity they were in.
(Clearly I had no life.)

Whenever I could scrape up some dollars to buy a roll of film I would,
and then took lots of really horrific photos.
This was back before digital cameras.  
No filters and editing programs.
You took 24 photos to a typical roll of film,
dropped it off at KMart, 
and waited.

Two whole days.
(I couldn't afford the one-hour photo)
Sometimes longer since we lived out in the country and it wasn't like I could just hop on my bike to get there.

The waiting felt like an eternity.

When I finally picked up my photos I would always find a quiet aisle in our hometown Kmart and rip open that envelope.  I had to see them immediately.

Honestly, most of them were really bad.
Fingers blocking the frame.
Red eyes.
Someone always blinked.  Always.

But it didn't matter - opening that envelope was still exciting.

The same way uploading photos to my computer is exciting.

I believe photographs are important.
I believe in taking lots and lots and lots of photographs and showing them to my kiddos.
They will grow up with a camera in their face.
They will have a mama who doesn't mind having her photo taken, either.

Photos helps us remember.
They are art.
They are an emotion or a moment captured.

In truth I know basically nothing about shooting in manual with my DSLR.
Well, not nothing, but very little.
I try.
I dabble.
Mostly, I understand composition and the value of editing utilizing the digital darkroom.

I am not a photographer - I just enjoy taking photographs.
Therefore when my friend Alicia asked me to take some of her sweet little family, 
I readily obliged, longing for the practice and a way to re-pay Alicia for the many, many times she has let me and the babies invade her house for hours to escape renovation chaos,
feeding us and just being an amazing friend.

Since she has two little kiddos we spent about an hour in the morning sunshine one recent Saturday and I did the best I could...and had so much fun doing it.

Here are some of my favorites...
Anyway, I may never be a 'real photographer' but I will continue to get to know my camera and take lots of photos...because I love it.

Thanks to my friend Alicia for letting me take pics of your fam!  It was a joy!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

mama confessions : her first bottle

these photos are actually from the second bottle - which she, in true finola style, grabbed and fed herself.
Yesterday I gave Finola her first bottle.
Okay, not really her first bottle.  Dada has been feeding her a bottle on occasion since she was two months, and pretty consistently each night before bedtime since she turned four months.  She's been watched by grandparents and they've fed her bottles.

But I never had.  Only the breast from Mama.

Until yesterday.

Lunchtime.  I was dumping some thawed breast milk into a bottle so Hubby could feed it to her later, and she just stared longingly at it from her high chair.  I just decided it was time.  Time to lose my 'bottle fear.'

Am I being a little overly-dramatic?  Sure!  Some breastfeeding mamas feed their babies bottles and have no issues.   But after my experience with Cormac - giving him bottles/formula from the beginning alongside my breastfeeding and then having the breastfeeding come to a emotional and dramatic halt when he was barely 3-months-old - I have been adamant that I wouldn't do anything to compromise breastfeeding Fin.  It would end on my terms.  When I am ready.

My goal was to breastfeed until she was at least six months old. {You can read the first part of my BF journey with Fin here.} That is one week away.  I am still breastfeeding.  Not yet ready to be fully done...

...but I'm getting there.

So I decided I had to try feeding her a bottle, and then I just did it.  It wasn't traumatic at all.  I fed her while she sat in her high chair (which seems much too big for her) and she sucked it down happily.

Instantly I was reminded that there is still a sweet bond when bottle-feeding.  It's different, but it is still so cool to see their little face happily eating (I get a strange high from seeing my babies eat) and I personally love knowing exactly how much she is consuming.
Shortly after that first bottle both kiddos went down for their afternoon nap, and I sat down to pump.  I am not a big fan of pumping, but I did it so as not to deplete my supply.  (I pumped about half of what she hungrily drank from that bottle...not a good sign!  Or I just have a crappy pump.  Methinks both.) But soon enough I will stop pumping to replace the feedings.  I don't know exactly when...but soon.

So why be done?  I've been encouraged by multiple family members to just keep going.  "Try to go a year!" my big sister advised (She breastfed three, going on four, babies up until a year.)  Others seem confused as to why I would stop unless I have a specific reason, like a long trip away from her, or going 'back to work.'   (Because I guess that makes it 'okay' to stop???)

My reason:  I want to.  Simple as that.  I enjoyed the sweet bonding experience of a new mama breastfeeding her infant.  It has been so, so, so lovely...and I am really proud of myself for doing it six months.  I wouldn't trade my experience for the world.

And yes, I will miss the night-time and early morning feedings, when all is quiet and it is just me and her...but truthfully the other feedings are much less productive and sweet.  Truthfully, they have gotten frustrating.

Breastfeeding has become much more difficult as she's gotten older.  Since this was my first time breastfeeding an older infant I've been learning as I go.  The cradle position I've always used with her is becoming more difficult now that she is basically a huge baby (17 pounds!)  She seems a little uncomfortable, arching her back, punching me, and straining to look at whatever might be making noise in the room (*cough* Cormac) but when I try other positions it is no better.  Only at night does the cradle seem effective, when she is super sleepy anyway.  When she is wide awake she does not care to focus on the breast most times...but would rather twist her neck to look wherever her loud, energetic toddler big brother is.  Usually he is banging something, or "jump-jump-jumping" boisterously on the hardwood floors, or trying to climb up onto the chair with us - all of which is VERY very distracting to both mama and baby.  Sigh.  Trying to convince him to "play quietly by himself" is basically futile.

Plus, I have really no desire to find out what breastfeeding a baby with teeth is like.  Just sayin'.

So there is my confession.  I am ready to be done breastfeeding - soon.  I am happy with my experience.  I am at peace with transitioning.  Slowly, but surely.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

{the leaf photos}

Our backyard is full of leaves.
Unfortunately, they are ugly and brown.
Still fun for playing in... 
but not great for taking photos of.

Because, you know, as a parent you MUST take those obligatory 'kiddo playing in leaves' photos.

So I ventured off to scope out a nearby park I'd heard was pretty,
and even though we barely got past the playgrounds it did not disappoint.
At least as far as mass quantity of leaves in a color other than grayish-brown.

Baby Fin was pretty easy to photograph.
Now that she can sit on her own I just plopped her down and let her chew on leaves.

Cormac, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with the camera.
He refused to even look at me, would not let me place him in a pile of pretty leaves,
but did as boys do -
ran around throwing the leaves raucously in the air
and finding sticks to use as swords.

So here's what I got...

I think our leaf season has peaked and fall is fading to winter...
how about yours?
If not - get out there and take those obligatory leaf photos!
Your kiddos will someday thank you.

Thanks, Mom!

Monday, November 4, 2013

strawberry + brie salad

I made this salad because I was inspired by the one I mentioned in this post.
It was so good and I knew I had to have it again.  I love brie, in general - right up there with goat cheese!  However, I had never had it in a salad before, and I have to tell you it is a lovely change from the typical feta I throw in to my normal weeknight salads.  

You will need: 
2 c strawberries, thinly sliced or quartered
brie wheel, cut into very thin wedges - use a little or a lot
1/2 c sliced almonds (I candied mine, but you don't have to)
1 bag of baby romaine
1/2 c dried cranberries
poppyseed dressing
(***you can also add some thinly slice red onion - the original had it and it did add a nice crispness!)

To make:
Pile greens on individual plates or a serving platter and top with all ingredients, arranging brie around on the side.  Add a thinly sliced grilled chicken breast to the top make this your main course.

What is your go-to salad?   Have you ever tried to recreate a restaurant version?  

Friday, November 1, 2013

bunny foo foo and fireman mac

Halloween came and went in a flash - and it was a sweet and fun night.
By sweet I mean I ate most of the candy my two-year-old collected ("You won't like that one...or that one...or that one...")  and by fun I mean we wrestled both kids into their costumes, took some pictures, walked around our neighborhood for about twenty minutes, then I had to get back to get baby Fin to bed and Cormac had already unwrapped a sucker and wouldn't take it out of his mouth long enough to say "trick or treat" one more time.
gap bunny costume - $6 used
fireman jacket, five sizes too large - $8 used.  hey, at least he will be able to wear it as a raincoat until he's ten. ;)
plastic hat and ax - $11...which puts me over my $20 limit slightly...but soooo close!
boy with crazy smile and ladies with crazy eyes...and this is before all the sugar
getting a bit antsy
everything is a bit too large
bunny butt!
By the end of the night, there had been no major meltdowns or sugar crashes.   I'll count that as a parenting 'win.'