Corbin Travis: 7 Months

27 Oct

I can’t believe our Little Bud is already 7 months old! Six months still feels like a baby… seven months feels like he’s almost 1 year old!IMG_0307Size

Corbin moved up to size 5 diapers and is wearing both 9-month and 12-month clothes. I will be putting away some of the 9-month clothing soon (like his sleepers–his feet are all the way to the end, which is why it mystifies me that they say he’s in the 15th percentile for height). He doesn’t go back to the doctor until 9 months.IMG_0049IMG_0048Eating

We’re finally consistent with feeding Corbin table food. He gets 2-3 “meals” during the day in addition to nursing/bottles. So far, he does not like any purees. His face after a bite is priceless! (Like, what the heck is this crap?!?!?) He doesn’t even like mashed banana. What kid doesn’t like banana? He also doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of scrambled eggs.

His favorites (and by favorites, I mean the only foods he will eat) are cheese, yogurt, avocado, rice cereal, applesauce, and teething wafers. We’ve also fed him random bites of what we’re eating, including chicken curry with cauliflower rice, baked beans, chili (not spicy), peanut butter, and brownie. #thirdchild He definitely seems to have a more adventurous palette than a normal baby!

I am still nursing him, and he’s only had to drink a few bottles of formula while I’m at work. But now that we know he doesn’t mind formula, I’m jonesing for a night alone. Momma needs a break! We’re planning on one at the end of November.IMG_0241Sleeping

We’ve had some wins and challenges the past month in the sleep department.

Wins:

  • He is sleeping in his crib at night and for naps. And the transition went better than I could have imagined! He really didn’t fight it at all.
  • He falls asleep on his own by sucking on this thumb. (Neither of the girls did any self-soothing, so this is a nice change and huge blessing!)
  • When he’s not teething, he usually goes to bed between 5 and 6 PM, wakes up once around 4 AM to nurse, then goes back to sleep until 6 or 6:30 AM.

Challenges:

  • He’s still all over the place in terms of naps. He can consistently stay up for 1.5-2.5 hours between naps (depends on what we’re doing, and how much attention he’s getting). But his naps are usually only 30-45 minutes. Once in a blue moon, he takes a 2+ hour nap and it’s glorious!
  • He got his first 2 teeth (the two in the middle on the bottom), which disrupted his sleep for about a week. He was up every 2-3 hours. Brutal! Things improved slightly when we gave him Tylenol. I have a hunch his top two middle teeth are coming in now, because he has had some very rough nights recently as well.
  • He sometimes wakes up around 3 or 4 am, and is just wide awake. I change his diaper, nurse him, put him back down in his crib, and see if he’ll go back to sleep. He usually rolls around for 5-10 minutes, then starts squawking. I go back in and turn his projector on, and that usually keeps him content for another 5-10 minutes. Then if he starts crying, I just bring him out into the living room, turn on the lights and fireplace, and play with him. I also usually do my Bible study. When 90 minutes have passed since he first woke up, he’s ready to go back down. If he woke up at a more “reasonable” hour like 4:30, I usually just stay up and get some mommy time (since the girls get up between 6:30 and 7 anyway). But if he woke up more like 3:30, I go back to bed. If I could just function well on 4 hours of sleep, life would be much easier!
  • He does not like to nap on the go. He will fall asleep in his carseat if he’s tired enough, and if we keep moving, but otherwise, he just wants to sleep in his crib.

IMG_0020Development

Corbin is a rolling machine these days, and loves reaching for toys. But he only rolls left to get on his belly and right to get on his back, so he sometimes boxes himself into a corner or wall, and can’t get out. At least we don’t have to worry about him rolling down the stairs (yet). He is so much more motivated to get moving than the girls were, and obviously doesn’t mind being on his belly like they did, so I bet he’ll start crawling in the next month or two. (The girls didn’t crawl until 10 and 12 months).

IMG_0273IMG_0243Corbin is also doing really well sitting up on his own, and doesn’t fall over at all unless he reaches for a toy and loses his balance.IMG_0282He is a talker and sometimes is super loud. Thankfully, most people seem to think he’s adorable instead of annoying, but the girls sometimes complain about not being able to hear when he’s screeching.

He took his first bath with Annabelle not using the infant tub (I held him the whole time) and seemed to really like it. We might try him in the Bumbo in the bathtub soon (obviously with lots of supervision).IMG_0194Corbin LOVES being outside. He can be super fussy and seemingly ready for a nap, but then you take him outside and he’s happy as a clam. He loves swinging in our infant swing on the swingset, and enjoys walks in the stroller as well. At the end of September, we took him on a “hike” in Crow Wing State Park, and he didn’t make a peep the entire time!

We love this little boy so much!IMG_0287

Our Fall Routine

29 Sep

mums.jpgWe’re almost a month into the school year now, which is a unit of time that hasn’t really mattered to Travis and I since we graduated from college over 10 years ago. But now we have a kindergartener, and our lives are ruled by the school schedule.

Which, as it turns out, has been really good for us so far. Yes, the arbitrary holidays that the kids get off from school but we don’t get off from work and spontaneous early releases are going to drive us crazy, I’m sure, but the overall structure of school five days a week has enabled us to do something we’ve never done before:

Stick to a routine.

When I think about how to describe the way our days are going now, I can only think of the trite, “It’s just so. good.” But it really is. I have been trying to stick to a weekly routine since we moved back to Minnesota and I became a stay-at-home mom four years ago, but I could not do it for the life of me. I’m one of those people who functions well with schedule obligations like bookends–something to reign in my “free time” (or should I just call it unscheduled time?) and give it boundaries. I can’t be all scheduled, but I also can’t be all unscheduled.

Enter our routine now. Emma needs to be to school by 8:25 AM every day Monday through Friday. She needs to be picked up at 3:00 PM each of those days as well. I work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:45 to 2:45, during which time Annabelle and Corbin go to daycare. Mondays and Fridays, Travis takes Emma to school so I can still have a few lazy mornings.

Those scheduled things have taken up just enough of my week that I have felt the need to get more intentional about my unscheduled time. I also just recently realized, after lamenting for years how chaotic life felt, that I was a main culprit in making it chaotic by not sticking to a routine. So my routine:

I meal plan and make a grocery list on Sunday.

Mondays are reserved for grocery shopping and MOPS, and playdates or errands as time allows.

Fridays, I stay home to get stuff done (like laundry) and don’t change out of my pajamas until school pick-up.

At the beginning of the school year, I switched from working 9 to 5 two days a week, to working 8:45 to 2:45 three days a week. So I have an hour and a half with the kids every afternoon between school pick-up and dinnertime, and we’ve even developed a routine with that time. On Mondays, we go to the dollar store and buy Lunchables (at the girls’ request–they’re obsessed). Fridays, we go to a park near the school. The other days, we head home and play outside (while it’s still nice!) until Corbin needs to nap or nurse, usually around 4:45. Then they watch iPad while I take care of Corbin and start to make dinner. It’s not a ton of time, but it’s been so. good. to just have a slot of time everyday that I spend hanging out with my kids, doing what they want to do.

And Travis and I still have our scheduled workout times (M & W for him, T & Th for me), as well as our weekend hobby times. Sunday mornings, we go to church, and the rest of the weekend is fairly negotiable.

Something I recently read in an email from minimalist Allie Casazza was along the lines of “You may think routines make life boring and predictable. But routines actually provide the foundation for adventure.” She used the example of being able to spontaneously fly to visit a friend in need, leaving her husband in charge of all 4 kids, and feeling peaceful with the knowledge that their house was tidy, there was food in the fridge, and their schedules predictable because she had laid that foundation with her routines. I should’ve saved that email (why didn’t I?!?!) because that message resonated with me so much. I am loving our routine.

I should mention that the parameters of a school schedule aren’t magic. I’m not all of a sudden able to stick to a routine because I have a kid in school. My desire for and ability to stick to a routine have slowly evolved over the course of this Year of White Space. During which time I’ve learned that the main requirements of a routine are that you do it, regardless of whether or not you feel like it, and that you make time for it, which means guarding that time from other things. As a spontaneous and a Yes person by nature, I’ve had to learn how to stick to a routine.

For example, even when I forget about meal planning on Sunday until it’s 10 PM, I buckle down and do it so that I’m ready to go grocery shopping on Monday, instead of just blowing it off and saying, “Eh, whatever, I’ll do it tomorrow.” I keep telling myself, “If you want life to feel more predictable, you have to make it more predictable.” (Obviously, unpredictable things still happen but most of my strife with a chaotic life has come about through my own doing.)

Lest you think that our routine has made our fall a rainbow of mums and pumpkins, let me assure you that it has not. My job has been crazy busy and stressful, we’re in the midst of changing caregivers for Corbin, the girls have daily tantrums over everything and nothing, Travis’ work has been famine and now feast, and I’m staring down the barrel of another hunting season. But the routine definitely helps make things less chaotic. And that’s really all I can ask for.

Corbin Travis: 6 Months

22 Sep

Little Bud is already 6 months old! Time is flying!IMG_9914 (Large)IMG_9888 (Large)Size

Corbin didn’t have his 6-month checkup until October 5 (he was 6 months on September 22), but he is a chunk! He was 20 lbs 11 oz (91%), 26 inches (15%?!?!), with a head circumference in the 87th percentile. I have put away all of his 6-month clothes and some of his 9-month clothes (sleepers, shirts, pants) already barely fit. He has a very thick torso and chubby thighs, so there have been several pairs of pants that he didn’t wear at all because we couldn’t get them on, or the waist was too tight! So we might be pulling his 12-month clothing out before long.IMG_9931 (Large)And he’s still in size 4 diapers.

Sleeping

Corbin is not the greatest sleeper these days, during the day or at night. He’s still right around 90-120 minutes of awake time between naps but has started taking short 30 minute naps as his norm–or he “naps” while I nurse him and then decides he’s fine and is awake for another couple of hours. o_O He’s almost always happy when he’s awake (though if he is really tired, he’s only happy being held), but man, having a baby who doesn’t nap plus two other kids who no longer nap is EXHAUSTING. This momma doesn’t get anything done without letting the girls watch iPad for hours on end. (And since I don’t want to let them watch iPad for hours on end, I get nothing done.)

And then there’s Corbin’s nighttime sleep. He is getting his first tooth ❤ so he has been waking up every 2-3 hours at night for about the past week (and maybe even longer? Honestly, things are mostly a blur at this point). Thankfully, he almost always goes right back to sleep after nursing. I’m hoping that once his bottom two teeth pop through, he’ll go back to his “normal” sleeping habits (whatever those are–he’s so unpredictable!!).

Another change this month is that Corbin no longer likes being bounced on the exercise ball. He just wants us to put him down in his Rock n Play, where he sucks his thumb and falls asleep on his own (unless he’s already asleep from nursing). Yep, he’s still in the Rock n Play. Now that he’s getting close to sitting up on his own, he should probably be in his crib, but… man, I dread transitions. They’re always more horrible in my mind though, so we should probably just bite the bullet. Stay tuned until next month…IMG_9948 (Large)IMG_9944 (Large)IMG_9851 (Large)Eating

Corbin is still breastfeeding, and still refuses to nurse unless he’s ready for a nap. If I try any other time (even when he is quite certainly hungry), he’ll nurse for 30 seconds to a minute, then pull off and look around. Sometimes he pulls off to suck his thumb. 😀 Silly boy.IMG_9796 (Large)Corbin has now tried avocado and banana in addition to rice cereal. He loves avocado, but could take or leave the banana. My plan is to start feeding him two meals a day, one in the morning right after he wakes up, and another right before dinner. It always takes me a while to get into the swing of a new habit, and this is no different, so I haven’t been consistent on this yet (especially when I’m getting 7,389 snacks for my other two children each day). But this could help him sleep more during the night too. Right?IMG_9697 (Large)Finally, Corbin is done taking his acid reflux meds. Soon after he turned 5 months, I just kind of stopped giving it to him and he was fine. So we’re done with that, hallelujah. We have been giving him some infant Tylenol for his teething pain, and he HATES it. He didn’t like the taste of his acid reflux meds either, but you can tell that he hates the Tylenol even more. He also doesn’t drool or spit up as much now either.

Development

Little Man is getting closer and closer to sitting up on his own. He can now sit up in carts and strollers without leaning too much, and can sit up on the floor for a few seconds if he leans all the way forward. He is a curious little guy and loves being able to see what’s going on, so it’ll be nice when he can sit up on his own. IMG_9889 (Large)Corbin loves toys, especially ones he can chew on. His favorites are Mortimer the Moose; a half fabric, half plastic ring with a bird on it; a jingly ball that reminds me of a cat toy; a pink dog that has a wooden ring on one end; and a plastic circular rattle in the shape of a fish.IMG_9869 (Large) He still likes his playmat, and loves the jumperoo. He enjoys stroller rides and facing out in the Baby Bjorn (he actually does still fit in it–turns out I had the straps adjusted too tight). IMG_9826 (Large)And a new thing–Corbin loves swinging. He still for the most part needs to be propped up with thin blankets in our swing at home so that he doesn’t end up slouching, but he can sit up in the baby swings at parks too. And he loves it! IMG_9813 (Large)Those cheeks ❤

Corbin has really found his voice, and shrieks often. He doesn’t laugh very often, but when he does, it’s the cutest sound in the world. Emma is actually the person who can get him to laugh the most often with her crazy antics. One day when he was swinging, she pushed him a few times and then held him up in the swing leaning forward, and he thought that was hilarious. Of course, he stopped doing it the minute we got our phones out, but it was so cute. Travis can also get him to laugh sometimes by blowing on his neck.

The girls still give him lots of attention, and have started to want to carry Corbin around. One morning when we were getting ready for church, Annabelle made him cry a few times by trying to pick him up when we weren’t watching. But he’s probably over 20 pounds by now so he’s not that much lighter than she is! And whenever we send Annabelle in to entertain Corbin after a nap when we’re busy doing something, she makes sure that he has plenty of toys. IMG_9808 (Large)IMG_9761 (Large)IMG_9843 (Large)IMG_9700 (Large)We also braved the Minnesota State Fair this year with all three kids (plus two of my brothers and their wives, their two babies, and my dad), and it wasn’t a disaster!IMG_9737 (Large)IMG_9711 (Large)And that’s Corbin at 6 months!

Corbin Travis: 5 Months

2 Sep

Mister Man is 5 months old! IMG_9611 (Large)IMG_9686 (Large)He turned 5 months on August 22, so I’m late on this update like usual. It just takes so much time to write the post, download photos from Google, upload them to WordPress, and then proof everything. I’ve also started uploading all the photos from these posts to Walmart Photo Center, so that I can easily print physical copies 3-4 times a year. One of my BHAGs for the next year is to get all my digital photos of the kids (from the past 5.5 years) printed and in physical albums.

Size

Little Bud goes back to the doctor at 6 months, so I’ll know weight and height then, but he has officially graduated to mostly 9-month clothes, and size 4 diapers. I also bought him a cute winter hat, and it was supposed to be for 9-16 months (Chinese sizing…), and it just barely fit him now, so back it went. I’m trying to stop buying clothing from China anyway.IMG_9298 (Large)IMG_9284 (Large)Sleeping

Right around 4 months, Corbin had a few really rough nights, and reading that the 4-month sleep regression could last weeks made me panic. But after a few nights, he more or less went back to normal for about a week. After that week, he once again started waking up every 2-3 hours, and he was also really hard to get down at bedtime–I’d nurse him, get him to sleep, and put him down like normal, and he’d wake up 15 minutes later. He did that several times before he’d stay down for the night.

We thought maybe he was sick of sleeping in his Rock n Play, so we set up his crib and laid him in it awake. The very first time, he rolled around for 20-30 minutes and then fell asleep on his own. I was blown away (Emma traumatized us with her sleeping habits). He doesn’t always like his crib, but every once in a while, it comes in really handy. He can also now get himself back to sleep during the night by sucking on his thumb. It is THE cutest thing ever. Also slightly related to this, he has ditched the swaddle and graduated to the sleepsack.IMG_9351 (Large)Overall, he still usually goes to bed around 7:30/8 PM, and wakes up once between 3 and 5 AM. Whether or not he goes back to sleep after he eats depends on the day. Sometimes he’s just wide awake, and is really hard to get back to sleep. Other times, he goes right back to sleep from nursing, and I can put him right back down without bouncing him at all. (The way I usually get him to sleep is I nurse him and then bounce him on the exercise ball for 10 minutes to get him down.)

Corbin does not like taking naps in his carseat or the baby carrier. He can make do for a nap here or there, but I really try to limit the amount of naps he has to take “on the go” because the boy needs his naps, and he wants them at home, in his bed. Same for bedtime. With Annabelle, we could be flexible because she was such an easygoing baby and would sleep anywhere, but Corbin wants to be home, in his bed, for bedtime.IMG_9353 (Large)Eating

Little Bud is still super distracted while nursing, so I have gotten into the (not-so-great) habit of nursing him right before he goes to sleep. I would prefer to nurse him right when he wakes up, so that he doesn’t get into the habit of nursing to sleep, but it usually just results in him nursing for 2-3 minutes per side, and me needing to nurse him before his nap anyway.

Corbin has eaten rice cereal three times so far, and seems to really like it. I think it might help him to sleep better at night too (based on one night where he didn’t wake up at all), so I’m going to start feeding him some every night at dinnertime. We’ll see! Then at 6 months, we’ll venture into banana and avocado.

I’m still pumping at work. I try to pump three times each day, but sometimes I only pump twice, one because I really dislike it, and two because I run out of time. I usually get 5-6 oz from a session.IMG_9369 (Large)IMG_9318 (Large)Development

Corbin is changing so fast these days! He can now roll both ways (back to belly, belly to back) but rarely chooses to. It’s almost like he’s forgotten that he knows how. He’ll roll over onto his side to look at or reach something, but if he starts tilting a little too far, he’ll quick roll onto his back because heaven forbid he make it all the way to his tummy. He still isn’t the biggest fan of tummy time, and will tolerate it only in small doses (5 minutes or so).

Corbin has discovered his feet, and started sucking on his toes. He also discovered his voice, and is very vocal now. He gets progressively louder the more tired he is (so he squawks a lot right before naps). He also talks a lot when he gets excited. He has also started to really enjoy the jumperoo, and actually move around a bit (at first, he would just stand there doing nothing).IMG_9432 (Large)Corbin LOVES facing out in the Baby Bjorn and kicks his little legs in excitement. (But sad day–I just discovered yesterday that he no longer fits in the Baby Bjorn. That seriously happened overnight. One day he fit. The next day he didn’t.) He does pretty well on stroller rides too, and we’ve started taking family walks with him in the stroller and the girls on their bikes.

Corbin still gets lots of love from his sisters, in the form of a tent for his jumperoo, a bath in the bathroom sink, snuggles on the couch, medical attention, and jewelry. He loves the attention from them most of the time. Emma has made him cry several times by growling or yelling at him–she’s intending it to be playful but he doesn’t understand that.IMG_9596 (Large)IMG_9597 (Large)IMG_9471 (Large)IMG_9460 (Large)IMG_9440 (Large)IMG_9363 (Large)This month, he also took his first ride in Daddy’s pickup to the laundromat and bike shop:IMG_9463 (Large)Corbin also got to hang out in the garage while we painted a dresser and at the splash pad while the girls played:IMG_9332 (Large)IMG_9336 (Large)The last thing I’ll mention is how much I thoroughly enjoy cuddling with this little guy. I feel like with each progressive kid, I can enjoy them more, because I’m not as strung-out. IMG_9379 (Large)IMG_9681 (Large)One of Corbin’s other nicknames is Little Chubs. We just love this little guy so much!!

{9-Month Update} 2018 Focus: White Space

26 Aug

I haven’t sat down just to write in forever. This feels good.

________________________________

There is no margin in life with three kids. At least, not with three kids this young, or with us being the parents we are. I used to be flexible, spontaneous. I could adjust my plans, stretch my energies to accommodate doing something that might fall during naptime, push back bedtime, or replace my grocery shopping time. I’ve always been the one to overextend myself for good causes or fun experiences.

No more.

Now I live on the margin, and there is no extra. There have been several times since Corbin was born that I literally could not muster up the socially appropriate or polite response or action in a situation. One example: family was staying at our house overnight, and instead of making their beds for them, spending time with them after the kids went to bed, and making breakfast for them in the morning, I told them where the linens where, went to bed without saying goodnight, and said they were on their own for breakfast. Because I just can’t.

“I just can’t.” A phrase that has often echoed through my mind these past five months, justifying to myself why I cannot and will not, despite the responsibility I feel or expectations I imagine, go to x meeting, be involved in y cause, or overextend myself for z thing. A reforming commitaholic (reforming because this is ongoing), I have both loved to say yes to all sorts of things, and also felt the pressure of saying yes if I didn’t have a legitimately good reason to say no.

Now I don’t care about legitimacy. I don’t have the margin to.

When you’re a parent of young kids, the reality is that during certain seasons, your hands will be tied, and you will not have the time or energy to do many things that you would like to do. People without kids (I used to be guilty of this) do not understand this, or view having kids as a cop-out of other responsibilities and obligations. But parenting during the little years is consuming and demanding. (Then there are all the expectations that having kids in school entails, but I won’t get into that here.)

I spent last year chasing all manner of commitment other than loving my family well. I detailed all of that here. This year, I have said no. We have said no. We said no to getting a babysitter for a meeting that I “should have” been at with my husband. We said no to meeting once a month with a group from our church to talk about vision for our adult Bible community, though Travis loves discussing that sort of thing, because it was just one more thing on our calendars.

And then there are the other things I have said no to by simply not pursuing them. I didn’t plan a garage sale. No get-togethers or parties. Believe me, it hasn’t been easy. I’m pretty sure one of my spiritual gifts is hospitality—not that I do it well or have everything together, but I love it. I love planning events. LOVE IT. In high school, I planned a formal dance on New Year’s Eve at a hotel (with the help of my mom) just for fun. That was my kind of fun.

So I’ve had all sorts of ideas churning in my brain of people I’d like to have over, and events I’d like to plan, and sometimes I even get excited enough about it to almost ask Travis. But then I take a deep breath, and remind myself, Not this year. This year, I need to prioritize my family. I need to figure out how to do this well before I start taking on that.

We’ve made progress in figuring out our unique family balance (and it is unique, because it’s different for everyone. Some couples/families can handle a lot more busyness and separate-way-ness than we can, and vice versa). This summer, we’ve scheduled weekly hobby time for both me and Travis. Knowing that we have this time (at the same time every week) to do our own thing has really cut down on the number of arguments/tense discussions about hobbies and who gets time for what.

The key to making the hobby time work, however, is guarding that time from other commitments, which on weekends in the summer is very difficult to do. Guarding that time sometimes requires saying no to good, fun things, or leaving somewhere earlier than we might’ve otherwise. It also might involve being seen as socially rude, or inflexible. Obviously, there are exceptions, and we want our family routines to be filled with grace. But we also recognize that for them to be routines, they have to happen most of the time. So that’s what we’re shooting for.

One thing I have spent an inordinate amount of time doing this year is purging. Decluttering. I’ve been reading about minimalism a ton this year, and am convinced that having lots of stuff is robbing us of time that we could be spending doing other things. So even though it takes time upfront to purge, the effects it has on the rest of your life makes it worth it (just like you spend time working out to experience the benefits of being in shape throughout the rest of your day).

My main focus for the past couple of months has been our utility room. We have been holding on to all of the girls’ baby clothes with the idea that we would need/use them for foster care, but we have so. many. clothes. And we were given a ton of clothes for Corbin, so I’ve been sorting and organizing those, and donating what we don’t need, with the goal of freeing up some space. I’ve also been adding stuff to donation piles as I get a wild hair to organize a certain drawer or shelf.

But after donating a full carload of things to our local thrift store, I’m taking a break. I am stubborn and persistent, and have a really hard time stopping in the middle of something, so projects like this tend to be all-consuming. Even though I believe all the time spent doing this will be worth it, I need a break to focus on my family and relax.

It is seriously amazing how much stuff we accumulate. And this coming from a person who has done regular purging/decluttering my whole life. I didn’t have any bonus rooms filled with unused stuff, or closets ready to vomit the minute the door popped open. I regularly got rid of stuff I didn’t need, and my crap was organized.

But I still had too much. My kids had too much. My husband has too much (still working on with him to downsize his winter jacket and boot collection).

So I made us all capsule wardrobes out of the clothes we already owned. In my particular case, that involved getting rid of two boxes of clothing that I liked, and that fit me, because I just had too much. Now my closet is 55-60 things. I have loved the result. It takes me under five minutes to get dressed every day (no more trying on multiple outfits!), laundry feels much more manageable, and I still have plenty to wear. I did find myself getting a little tired of my options by the end of the second month, but it forced to me to wear a dress that I had been ignoring, so I kind of like that aspect.

I also purged our kids’ toys down to 20 per child. The toy purging has been an 18-month process. In the spring of 2017, I sold at a garage sale all the toys that the girls never playing with, even the ones given to us by family. Earlier this year, I once again donated all the toys that the girls never play with, and that Corbin won’t be interested in when he gets older (Frozen castle and play purse, anyone?).

But I was still picking up toys constantly, and even when everything was picked up, it seemed like there were toys everywhere. I’ve been reading a lot about minimalism online and came across the idea of having kids choose 20 toys and boxing up the rest on Erin Spain’s blog. I thought that idea was genius. It gives kids control of the decluttering process, while also being reasonable and a very easy-to-remember boundary.

I brought all our toys to the basement and laid them out so everything was visible. Things that were sets (like play dishes) counted as one item. Dolls and Barbies were each one item. I chose not to include the toys and activities that I either like them having (Duplos, puzzles, games, books), or that don’t contribute to messes (play shopping cart, baby stroller).

Once all the toys were spread out, the girls went through and chose 20. I reminded them several times to choose the toys that they loved, and not worry about what the other person chose, because they would still be sharing the toys in the end. And I have to say, they did not choose the toys I thought they would. Annabelle chose only one baby doll, and Emma chose none. Emma chose all her Barbies (I did expect that), but between the two of them, they chose all of their dress-up clothes and shoes, which they hardly ever wear (and the shoes are almost too small for Emma). (I also chose 10-15 of my favorite toys for Corbin once he starts sitting/crawling/walking.)

We just did this recently, so time will tell whether they will miss the things they didn’t choose. I am holding onto the toys that weren’t drafted, and allowing 1-to-1 exchanges until Halloween (and may encourage some exchanges, based on what I think would be better choices). Then the rest of the toys will be donated. So far, the girls have only made exchanges for two things—Big Purple Baby, and the baby bottles and accessories.

The idea behind purging their toys was to 1) Decrease the amount of time spent picking up toys throughout the day; and 2) Limit their toy options to a reasonable amount. The fact that they haven’t at all missed the majority of their toys proves to me that they weren’t really enjoying them anyway. They still have plenty of things to make messes with, so we do still spend time picking toys up, but it usually only takes about 15 minutes before bedtime to clean up inside.

One other area that Travis and I have been focusing on is our eating habits. For the month of August, we’ve been following the Paleo diet (no dairy, grains, or legumes) with four “cheats” per week. The best and most challenging thing about the Paleo diet is that it forces you to be intentional with what you’re eating. No more grabbing easy empty carbs. Instead of a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, now I eat breakfast sausage and a smoothie, or eggs with spinach, mushrooms, and bacon. For lunch, I’ve been loving spinach salads. And for dinner, we make a recipe out of one of Danielle Walker’s cookbooks (everything we’ve made has been amazing!).

Anyway, all of these things—boundaries, hobby time, capsule wardrobes, toy purging, healthy eating—have combined to make life feel less chaotic and more stable. We haven’t spent our summer flitting around to a thousand different things. Instead, we’ve stayed home and kept things low-key. We’ve had fun but also focused on maintaining a good balance – something I don’t think we’ve ever really had.

With fall coming, school starting, and all that goes along with that, things are going to start being a little more hectic than they have been this summer. But I really hope that the lessons we’ve learned so far this year will help us maintain this life balance, even with a fuller calendar.

Emma Grace: 5.25 Years

19 Aug

Emma turned FIVE back on April 7. My last update on her was at 4.75 years, so I’m horribly behind on this update. I can’t believe she’ll be starting kindergarten in just a few weeks!IMG_5194 (Large)IMG_5198 (Large)Size

Emma has grown a whole inch just since turning 5! (She insisted I mark it on our wall ruler.) At her 5-year well-child checkup, she weighed 42 lbs (61%) and was 3′ 8″ tall (81%). She is wearing 5T and XS (4/5) clothing (mostly just for length; she’s so thin that she can still fit in most 4T clothing), and size 11 shoes.IMG_7522IMG_7615Eating

Emma is still a really good eater. She almost always eats her whole dinner with little prompting, and likes a wide variety of food.

When I asked, she told me that her favorite foods are spaghetti, cheeseburgers, grapes, pineapple, watermelon, cheese, cereal, meatballs, and suckers. She also likes broccoli, yogurt, apples and applesauce, popcorn, deli meat, chips, Triscuits, graham crackers, and pretty much any kind of fruit.

Emma often doesn’t eat much for breakfast but eats a decent lunch and dinner. She often asks to go to McDonald’s and loves to drink pop when we let her (which is about once a month). She went through a phase of wanting to add food coloring to her milk and cereal, and she loves to put chocolate frosting and pink sprinkles on her waffles.

She also enjoys being independent and getting/making her own food (as much as she can). IMG_6581IMG_7298IMG_8022IMG_8613Sleeping

Emma is really a champ these days in the sleep department. She very rarely naps (and then it’s only when we’re in the car, usually in the late afternoon) but goes to bed around 7:30 every night. She wakes up between 6:30 and 7:30.

Our bedtime routine is to take a bath (2-3 times a week), put on pajamas, brush teeth, read 2-3 books, and then “do tick” (rubbing her back, legs, arms, and face, and sometimes feet). Emma likes “slow tick” which means moving your hands very slowly, and using a very light touch. I am not very good at slow tick (I’m too impatient), but Emma always wants me to put her to bed anyway.

Emma has a comforter and sheets on her twin bed, but prefers to sleep on top of the comforter, with her “Frozen blankie” and her “yellow blankie.” She used to wear exclusively nightgowns to bed, but now wears shorts/pants & t-shirt jammies (mostly because that’s what I bought her…nightgowns are surprisingly hard to find!).IMG_7020IMG_7335IMG_8859Development

Emma enjoyed going to preschool last school year. She’s known how to spell her own name since daycare the year before (and still insists that her first name is Emma K.), and now she knows how to spell Annabelle’s name too, from memory. She knows all of her letters (though still asks how to draw a few on occasion) and often asks how to spell words. The other day, she wrote up a list of rules for Annabelle, including No Spitting, No Making Messes and No Ruining Mommy’s Decorations.

Emma has also really grown in her drawing and coloring abilities. When coloring a picture, she is usually very meticulous (sometimes she just scribbles to get it done) and not only stays in the lines, but also uses a variety of colors, adding stripes, polka dots, eyelashes, earrings, and high heels.

She has also started drawing a lot of her own artwork. She loves drawing people. The other day, she drew Annabelle getting stung by a wasp (which actually happened). She even drew the tree that was behind Annabelle when she got stung. She has also drawn the Mickey Mouse gang using pictures from the Internet, princesses, mermaids, and her family. She also loves to use markers to draw makeup on her and Annabelle’s faces.IMG_7366 (Large)IMG_7975 (Large)IMG_9316 (Large)Besides her love for drawing, Emma’s favorite thing to do is play dolls and Barbies. Emma and Annabelle are pretty much constantly role-playing. Sometimes they pretend that one of them is the mommy, and one is the sister or baby. They call each other mommy so much that I either don’t respond when they say “mommy” within earshot of me, or I stop and ask, “Are you talking to me?” Other times, they pretend they’re both moms and need to feed, clothe, or put their babies down for a nap (using any number or variety of stuffed animals, dolls, or Barbies and leaving them spread out over the bathroom counter, floor, couches, and beds, tucked neatly under blankets).

And sometimes, they remove themselves from the story completely, and simply have the story unfold between Barbies. If there isn’t a doll or Barbie nearby, they’ll use their fork, french fry, or a bottle of soap. It’s so fun to watch their imaginations at work.IMG_7995 (Large)IMG_8206 (Large)Emma has finally started to ride her bike this summer (still with training wheels), but it still isn’t her favorite thing. I often catch her riding Annabelle’s bike, which is slightly smaller and lower to the ground.

Emma still LOVES the water, and is always the first one to go in and last one to get out when we go to the beach or pool. She has gotten a lot braver in the water, and now loves to float and kick around in the “deep water” wearing her PuddleJumper lifejacket. Back in February, we went to a waterpark that had a slide that ended in a chute and she went down that slide probably 50 times all by herself. She isn’t a fan of slides that end in a plunge pool though. She is still timid when it comes to boat rides, but loosens up once we’re out on the water.IMG_2291 (Large)IMG_8621 (Large)IMG_8622 (Large)IMG_8720 (Large)IMG_9087 (Large)This summer, Emma has often come up to me while playing outside and said, “Mommy, I’m hot. Can I have a freezy/popsicle?” This girls loves her sweets! The two things that she is most motivated by are watching iPad and getting candy (whereas Annabelle often says she doesn’t want dessert or iPad if it means she doesn’t have to do what I’m asking her to do).

Emma is still a determined little girl who knows what she wants and will not back down (that’s a nice way of saying stubborn). We are frequently at a loss at how to handle her tantrums and screaming fits (and it seems like they get really bad for a while, and then taper off), but she plays well with kids and is a good helper at school so ::shrugs shoulders::. I just pray that her passion and vision will translate into powerful leadership skills used for something constructive one day.

Emma is very curious about everything. She loves to watch Travis while he’s working on stuff, and has to touch and look at everything (drives me crazy!!! I often say “Why can’t you just leave things alone?!?”). She still loves making messes (though these days, they are the result of her active imagination and not usually just a dump-and-run kind of mess), and still frequently breaks/destroys things (like popping a balloon we just bought because she “didn’t want it anymore.”)

A few other things we’ve done since this past January:

  • FishingIMG_6582 (Large)IMG_6592 (Large)IMG_2301 (Large)
  • Bike ridesIMG_2306 (Large)
  • Outdoor funIMG_7656 (Large)IMG_7214 (Large)IMG_7361 (Large)IMG_8615 (Large)IMG_7897 (Large)IMG_7906 (Large)IMG_7908 (Large)IMG_7914 (Large)IMG_8373 (Large)
  • Cuddle with Little Guy Guy (Corbin)IMG_7480 (Large)IMG_7860 (Large)IMG_7870 (Large)IMG_8313 (Large)IMG_9260 (Large)
  • Photos of Emma at preschool this past school year:IMG_7545 (Large)IMG_8396 (Large)IMG_7547 (Large)IMG_8730 (Large)IMG_8212 (Large)IMG_8271 (Large)IMG_8272 (Large)
  • Other general shenanigans:IMG_6578 (Large)IMG_7012 (Large)IMG_7286 (Large)IMG_7915 (Large)IMG_9010 (Large)

Emma definitely keeps us guessing and makes life an adventure!

Corbin Travis: 4 Months

26 Jul

My baby boy is already 4 months old (on July 22)! I haven’t kept track of how many weeks he is — #thirdchild — but looking at a calendar, I see that he is 17 weeks old now.IMG_9240IMG_9234Corbin’s nicknames so far are Corb Man, Little Man, Mister Man, Little Guy Guy, and Little Bud.

Size

Corbin had his 4-month checkup on August 2 and now weighs 18 lbs (88%), is 25.25 inches long (42%), and has a head circumference of 17.32 inches (96%).

He’s still wearing 3-6 month, or 6-month clothing, and size 3 diapers.IMG_8979IMG_9043Sleeping

Corbin stays awake consistently for 90 minutes between naps. His naps range from 45 minutes (most often) to 2 hours (occasionally). He almost always goes down for the night between 6:30 and 7:30, and wakes up around 3-4 AM to nurse. He’s “up for the day” between 6:30 (most often) and 7:30 (occasionally).

BUT… the night before he turned 4 months, he started the 4-month sleep regression and was up every 2-3 hours. The next night was pretty much the same, and last night was only mildly better — he went to bed around 8 PM and woke up at 2, 4, and 7. So who knows what his sleep is going to look like going forward.

Corbin is still sleeping in his Rock n Play for naps and bedtime. Over this next month, I’m going to set Corbin’s crib up in his room, and have him start taking a few naps in the crib. We’re also going to start transitioning Corbin out of the swaddle… I just started swaddling him with one arm out. After we do that for a while, we’ll go to both arms out and the swaddle wrapped around his torso. And then we’ll be done!IMG_9029IMG_8923Eating

Probably the biggest change this past month has been Corbin’s nursing habits. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s gotten so used to taking a bottle, or if I’m just not producing as much milk, but he is really squirmy while nursing, and only nurses for 5 minutes or less per side. He has also started to be really distracted while nursing, often pulling off to look around.

When I pump at work, I usually get between 5-6 oz each session (pumping twice over 7 hours). I have no freezer milk left, so I have to start pumping every night before I go to bed, and I’m going to buy some formula to have on reserve for the days I work. Before Corbin was born, I said that I was totally fine with supplementing with formula, and that I wasn’t going to bend over backwards to continue nursing him. But now I’m like, “No, I’m not ready for this to be over yet!” So I’m going to try to keep it going as long as I can, but realize I might need to start supplementing on the days I work.IMG_9113IMG_9114Development

Corbin can now sit up in his Bumbo seat with very minimal head bobbing. I actually gave him his first haircut last week while he was sitting in it. (Giving an almost-4-month-old a haircut is tricky! But his hair was starting to look scraggly, and now he looks so dapper.) He was actually totally fine with getting his hair cut for a good 10-15 minutes; then he was over it.IMG_9107IMG_9049He can bring his hands to his mouth when he wants, and loves to suck on them. He can also reach for and grab dangling toys and bring them to his mouth. (A new skill in just the past couple of days! They change so fast!!) He also still loves his pacifier, and needs it to go to sleep. We give him his pacifier when he’s going down for a nap, in the carseat, or in the Baby Bjorn (when he’s tired).

Corbin loves facing out in the Baby Bjorn, so I put him in there whenever he’s awake and we’re outside (and sometimes when I need to make dinner). But he still prefers to lie on his back and kick his little legs while he’s awake, versus being held. Right around his 4-month birthday, he started rolling on to his side and can now spin himself around while on his back. One night while we were eating dinner, he spun himself around 180 degrees several times. Each time we looked over at him, his head was at the other end of his playmat! I have yet to see how he spins himself around though…IMG_9244Tummy time is still not a favorite activity, but a couple times, he has tolerated it for probably 3-4 minutes, and actually lifted his head up off the floor, so progress! I plan to do more tummy time with him now that he doesn’t absolutely hate it.IMG_9108I’ve taken him on a few short stroller rides (with him reclined in our jogging stroller), but the girls are the limiting factor there (they’d rather do other things instead of going on walks, though that’s changing now that they can both ride their bikes).

Corbin has started talking more, but in a very different way than either of the girls talked at this age. Instead of a loud and high-pitched cooing, he does more grunting, groaning, and blowing bubbles. #allboy It’s going to be really fun to see how he differs from the girls.

The girls still give Corbin a ton of attention, and for the most part, he loves it and tolerates it very well. Annabelle has only made him cry a few times.IMG_9236 As a parent, it’s nice to have other people to entertain the baby if I need to get something done. The other day, I was just finishing painting my toenails when Corbin woke up, and I sent Emma in to his room to entertain him while I finished. And she did…by putting makeup on his face to make him look beautiful. 😉IMG_9099A few milestones for Corbin this month were his first trip to the cabin on Lake Namakan (which also means first boat ride, since you can’t drive to the cabin), first time meeting all 4 of his cousins (on my side), and first time swimming in a pool (which he actually enjoyed!).IMG_8959IMG_8960IMG_8956IMG_2373IMG_2321IMG_8279And that’s Corbin at 4 months!IMG_9230