Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas with Baby

For months leading up to Christmas, I was sad that we wouldn't be at my parents' house for Christmas. After all, in the 28 Christmases I've lived through, I've never been anywhere else for that holiday! It was time to go to Steven's parents for Christmas since we never have (as a couple; obviously he has plenty of times :) ), but I was so afraid I'd be bummed all day not being "home" with our traditions and with what's familiar to me. But I realized a few weeks befor Christmas that I wasn't sad anymore. I'm not really sure when it changed, but it hit me that I was so excited for Felicity's first Christmas and our family time around the tree that we'd have that morning. I was so relieved to be feeling a positive emotion about the day! I kept picturing my little family of 3 opening gifts Christmas morning, seeing Felicity playing with her gifts, and eating breakfast together. 

Sadly, I started feeling sick on Sunday night and am just starting to feel better today (Saturday), so there was a bit of a damper on the holiday as I was feeling particularly rough on Christmas eve and Christmas day. Monday I went to the doctor and she said it was a virus and to wait it out. Well by Friday when I went back, I had 2 ear infections, 1 and possibly 2 ear drum ruptures, and possible pink eye. Oh, that explains the paralyzing ear pain. Anyway, Christmas Eve, Steven met us at church. We were packed in like sardines for the children's Mass. Felicity did amazingly well, only needing to be taken out for the last 5 minutes of the 2 hour pageant + Mass. The pageant was done musical style and was SO cute. We were lucky to be sharing intimate space with friends versus strangers, at least, but it was hot and we had no room to even adjust our positioning. Next year we will do what we said we were going to do this year- go to Mass on Christmas day! We got home and put Felicity to bed and then Steven and I had our traditional Christmas Eve snacks (which is carried over from my childhood). This year's assortment was pizza rolls, fruit, cheese and crackers, Happy Birthday cupcakes for Jesus, and fudge. Yum! 
All dressed for church

We woke up the next morning around 7 and came out to the tree. We had Felicity's activity cube and train unwrapped and she went right to her cube and played with it a bit. We would have her open a present and then let her play with the item, box, or wrapping paper while we opened ours. It was leisurely and fun and everything I imagined. I made a breakfast casserole and we ate before getting ready to go to Steven's parents' house. I considered staying home because I was feeling so rough, but I knew I'd miss being with my family all day on such an important day. Luckily I held it together until we got back home, and Steven took care of Felicity the rest of the evening so I could lay in a lump and do nothing. At his parents' house, we ate a yummy Christmas meal, and exchanged presents. Felicity had a ball playing with ornaments, the tree skirt, and a stuffed penguin they keep at their house for her to play with. We stayed a little over 2 hours before heading home. 

Opening a present with Dada

It was a simple day, but a really nice one. Had I not been sick, it would have been a perfect day. I love my little family so much, and I love making memories with them. Christmas may have been really different this year, and I missed my family a lot, but it was such a sweet day with my husband and baby! 

Our best gift!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Early Morning Musings

Felicity slept incredibly well last night, which led to a 5:10 am wake up, so you're all get treated (hah) to some of my thoughts this morning as I anxiously await her crash and fall... nap time for mama! I have done 7 Quick Takes in forever, so I guess this is kind of that style.

  • Being sick as a mom is no joke, especially with a husband who can't take time off and works long days. I was rarely ever sick pre-baby, so it's not something I'm used to in general. Now I get most everything she gets and/or brings in the house. And obviously I still have to function and take care of her, so there's no lounging on the couch and just waiting it out. At one point yesterday, I was in so much pain with my ear (the eardrum has since burst, I think. Sweet relief.) that I was sitting with a warm compress on it trying to survive until Steven got home and she was tearing apart an entire roll of toilet paper. I figured the clean up was a small price to pay for 10 minutes of quiet while I held my ear and cried!
  • Felicity almost always sits with her legs crossed at the ankle. I find it to be one of the cutest parts about her. She laid like that as a teeny baby, and it has carried over to her sitting. I will look over to see her entranced with some toy, ankles crossed. Sometimes she falls asleep like that. So dang cute!
  • So I've mentioned before the neighbor that we walk with and I babysit for. I was thinking the other day how it's seriously a dream come true to have a neighbor friend. I see her more than I see almost anyone else besides Steven and Felicity! We walk probably 4-5 days a week and I go over twice to babysit, plus we trade date night sitting. I have always wanted to have a friend in my neighborhood, and when we'd lived here over a year and it hadn't happened, I figured it wasn't going to. Thankfully our babies born 3 months apart gave us a reason to put our antisocial tendencies aside :). 
  • I think we are finally on the downhill side of this round of separation anxiety. It was exhausting! For probably 3 weeks, there was a total melt down if I was more than about 5 feet from Felicity. She still freaks out when I shower, but I'm hoping that will resolve itself soon, too. She's back to playing by herself some which I'm so thankful for. For a while, either I had to be on the floor with her, or she would just cry/whine at my knees when I was on the couch. I like playing with her, but even I have my baby toy limit! However, she still prefers non-toys, but that's cool with me if it keeps her busy. This morning she has entertained herself with a cat toy, the cat's stocking, and one of my scrapbooks. Have at it, kid. 
  • The last 2 weekends we have made it through church without having to take Felicity out. It's been such a nice break! Hoping the trend continues for at least a while, though we'll be at church extra long tonight for Christmas eve so I won't hold it against her if she doesn't make it all the way through without a trip to pace around the confessional.
  • Speaking of, I am so, so, so excited about her first Christmas!!! We are going to open presents and have breakfast at home before going to Steven's parents. I'm so excited about opening my presents and so excited about helping her open hers! I love "baby's firsts"!!! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Felicity Marian: 10 Months

10 month pictures were rough... Usually she tries to tear up the number but is generally happy with the process. Today she was not having it! I decided rather than get frustrated or keep trying, I would just snap the pictures because that's what life is like with a 10 month old :). Especially a teething one! The above picture looks like she's cheesing, but Felicity is actually about to make her disgruntled face which is a scrunchy face looking upward. 

Weight: We have a 20 pounder on our hands :). Our little chunk is solid! 

Height: 27 inches...still a shorty.

Medical issues: Felicity had some kind of funk- a bad cold, I guess, about a week after her first cold cleared up. She was also teething at the same time. It was rough for about a week! I feel so bad for our pitiful girl when she's sick.

Sleep: Sleep has been decent this month. She went from waking up at 6/6:30 most days to now back to 7/7:30. It's funny; I'm almost bummed because I was getting so much more done when we got up early! But I do like sleeping until 7. She is going down 7/7:30 and we have gotten back into Steven shushing her back to sleep, now that she's feeling better, between her bed time and ours (usually she wants to nurse right around our bed time). Felicity has also started taking some longer naps, which is bizarre for her. She went from napping 2 30 min naps a day to 1 1-2 hr nap and 1 30 min nap some days. She still sleeps better in the car than anywhere else. 

Clothes/Diaper Size: Size 3 diapers, though I feel like she could go to size 4, which is bizarre since she is 20 lbs and size 3 goes up to 28lbs! I'm guessing because she will slim out when she's walking? Anyway, she is still fine in size 3, I'm having to change the rise snaps on her cloth diapers finally, and she is in almost all 12 month clothes. That was so emotional pulling out clothes for a ONE YEAR OLD! 

Likes: clinging to mommy's feet, when I'm on the floor with her, stacking cups, "reading" books on her own, Little People (finally! our addiction  collection is paying off!), green beans, tomatoes, and yogurt, banging on the mirror on her changing table, playing with ornaments on the Christmas tree (she likes taking off the bottom ones)

Dislikes: Having her face cleaned/nose wiped, when Mommy sits on the couch, being in the stroller more than about 30 minutes (we go on 45 minutes walks), when I walk out of the room... major separation anxiety! 

Nicknames: Boo, Baby Girl, Wicitah (mostly in a song about her), Stink, Puddin' Pop

Milestones: TWO TEETH! They are barely through, and they are canines, which I find hilarious for her first teeth, but they exist! I'm glad I don't have a totally toothless 10 month old.... I was starting to think I should be worried. The first one came in on 11/28 and the second one came in on 12/8.

Felicity does tricks demand.... well, mostly. Usually if I'm trying to show someone else, she refuses. But otherwise, she's a clapping, dancing, waving, high fiving fool! :) 

On 12/2, she walked across the room with her farm walking toy and now she does it multiple times a day. She has gotten really fast! I took her outside with her zebra bike/walker, and she went from our porch to the far side of the culdesac. She is a good cruiser! Also on 12/2, she brought me her favorite book "Who Says That, Cat the Cat" to read to her. Felicity has never brought me a book but has multiple times since then. I love it! She also sits and "reads" books on her own both at home and the library. 

 Felicity made up her own dance this month (12/6). This was so cool because, so far, everything she's done is because it was taught to her. But this particular dance (hands in front of her, and swinging her arms left to right around her body) was totally made up by her. Now when we say "dance! dance!" she does HER dance instead of the one we taught her. Too cute! 

On 12/10, Felicity WALKED! Ok, it was only 1 step, she only did it twice, and hasn't reproduced it since, but she did it! She was sitting on a step and, when I stood her up, she took one step towards me. Exciting! 

I don't want to forget this: 

St. Nicholas Day was SO much fun! She was sick, so most of our plans got scrapped, but we opened stockings after my parents got here and Steven got home from work. She pulled stuff out, and played with everything we took out. I was trying to prepare myself for the fact that she might not care about any of it, but Felicity really enjoyed seeing her new things! We read her some of the books right away and she sat and listened. It has made me so excited about Christmas! 

Felicity tried to give the neighbor's baby his pacifier. Granted, she steals it constantly, but I was so surprised when she tried to put it back in his mouth. I'm constantly amazed at what she understands that I don't give her credit for! 

On 12/13, we went to the Christmas parade the next town over (we missed ours because Felicity was sick and it was rainy). She did incredibly well throughout the 2 hours we were there, especially since she'd napped for a total of about 30 minutes that day. At the very end, we saw NC's largest marching band, which was all the high school bands of that county together marching as one. Felicity froze as they walked by, with her hands out (like she was going to clap, but her arms didn't move) and a smile plastered on her face. The instruments were LOUD and she was in heaven! She stayed like that until the gigantic band passed us by. Our girl loves band music! 

One of my most favorite things to do with Felicity is play "chase". She giggles the hardest with Steven plays it with her. We crawl after her, loudly slapping our hands on the floor and she LOSES it laughing and trying to get away. Sometimes when Steven walks over to her at some other random time, she smiles huge and starts flapping and burying herself against me because she thinks he's initiating chase lol. 

On Tuesday night, Steven and I had been sitting on the floor reading library books to Felicity. She crawled over to her puzzle bin, stood up, reached in, and crouched down with a puzzle piece. All of a sudden it hit me... she is more of a toddler than a baby! It was so bittersweet. She is doing SO MUCH now, and that's exciting, but it's also sad how far off she is from that little lump of baby we brought home! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Figuring Out Christmas

So let me start this post by saying this loud and clear. What you do for your family is what's right for your family, and what we do for ours, is right for ours. When I talk about what we've decided/want to do surrounding Christmas for our family, that in no way negates what you've done/will do and it should not make you feel defensive. K? Just putting that out there because mommy wars be rough, yo. We've all got enough going on without having mommy guilt because of what someone else is doing that is unrelated to us ;). I thought I'd share our journey to the Cash family Christmas experience and some of the thoughts/ideas that have gone into it. It's a work in progress.

We've talked a LOT about Christmas over the past year or so to try to decide what we want it to look like in our home. Here are some of the things we've come up with:

  • I have always been drawn to the "something to wear, something to read, something you want, something you need" idea. However, I know I am unlikely to stick to that, but I want to use it as a *guide* to help us have small but meaningful Christmases. One of my fears is doing Christmas big and then realizing in 5 years or something that it isn't sustainable, and then our children noticing the stress we have and the change the next Christmas. So we really want to keep Christmas more about other faith, family, food, and fun with gifts being a perk, and hopefully avoid that problem. 
  • Stockings are done on St. Nicholas Day here, since that's where the tradition comes from. The first year it was a bit hard on Christmas day not having a stocking to open, since that's a great memory from growing up, but it's also fun for me that the stocking gets it's own "show" and it fits in so great with the story of St. Nick. I love the chance to talk about a saint and work fun into that! Steven and I have done it this way the last 2 years and are looking forward to doing it this year with Felicity (December 6th if you were wondering).
  • Speaking of St. Nick, we haven't solidified this yet, but we're leaning towards not doing secular Santa and doing St. Nick instead, but with more of a historical and less of an imaginary slant. I think we'll phrase it like St. Nick is bringing things for the stocking, but also sharing the story of why the tradition is place, coupled with the fact that he's a saint in Heaven. If their imaginations run wild so be it; if they ask questions we'll answer honestly. We aren't anti-Santa at all, but I prefer the St. Nick is Santa Claus (since he actually is!) way of doing it. It might be a bit confusing since St. Nick will have brought our stockings and then we'll still see him in malls and stuff after, but that's a bridge we'll cross when children are old enough to question, I guess. I certainly don't want our kids ruining Santa for anyone else, but I also don't want to feel pressured to "do Santa" simply for that reason. I have fundamental issues with using Santa as a way to make kids behave, but I do recognize that we could do Santa without the manipulation factor. I think there's enough excitement in Advent and Christmas that we aren't ruining any Christmas "magic" by not relying heavily on Santa. But who knows. We reserve the right to change our minds as we have a few years before we really have to stick with what we're doing. So, for now, St. Nick brings stockings and mommy/daddy bring Christmas gifts. 
  • At some point we'd like to establish a "1 toy in, 1 toy out" routine. I don't say rule because I know it won't always work that way. But say Felicity gets 5 toys for Christmas, I don't think it's unreasonable to thin out 5 toys, whether to storage, to sell, or to donate. If she gets 5 and we thin out 3, I still call that a win. Our toy storage space is finite so it's kind of necessary, but I also feel like she plays with things more the less clutter we have around. Plus, we can work in all kinds of lessons around giving, having excess, etc.
  • Besides the first few years that Felicity won't remember (probably just this year and next), we want to have Christmas in our home. We always stayed home when I was little, and it was so nice to hang out in our jammies and play with our new toys until it was time to eat. We will likely go to church on Christmas day most years, but other than that I want to just stay home. 

(pictures not related to the post except that they are of my precious baby and the post is about Christmas for our baby :P) 

With that being said, here are my Christmas planning tips and trip ups! I have to add both because I am clearly not a seasoned pro when it comes to shopping for little ones. So I figured I'll share both what has worked, and what's caused some head scratching!


  • Shop consignment sales, stores, and b/s/t groups. There are tons of consignment sales in the fall, consignment stores are always open, and areas like ours have sooo many kids' buy/sell/trade groups on facebook. You can find really amazing deals from people who are wanting to get rid of toys before they get new ones for the holidays! I would say maybe 80% of Felicity's toys are used, and of the 20% new, we might have bought 5% of those. We LOVE used stuff in this house! Most of her Christmas gifts are used or, as I like to call them, pre-loved :).
  • Shop online around black Friday. Cyber Monday isn't the only day for online deals. They happen all around the week of Thanksgiving. If you're looking for something that you're running out of time to find used, or you really want to buy a particular thing new, this week is a good time to do it. There are all kinds of things on sale! Try not to get sucked into the problem of finding things you didn't know you needed. ;)
  • Buy long lasting toys like wooden toys or books. I didn't want much plastic stuff in our house originally but, practically, most toys given to us are plastic and plastic doesn't hurt when Felicity bonks her head on it like wood does. I've learned that plastic isn't evil :P, but I do prefer to get quality, wood toys when I'm going to spend more (like for Christmas). I think they encourage a bit more imagination than their battery powered counterparts, and I just love the timeless look of wood toys. We got Felicity a used B. Zany Zoo cube for $15 for Christmas this year, almost perfect condition when they sell in the store for $65. So we got a bargain AND a good wood toy that will last through many babies. And books don't need an explanation. You can never go wrong with books, except with where to store them. But I find that a good problem to have :). 

Trip ups:

  • Buying TOO MUCH from consignment, etc. It's sadly easy to get wrapped up in the "more, more, MORE" attitude of Christmas. Let's face it, it's fun, even! But deals stop being deals when you're going broke buying them lol. I try to only buy stuff that I was already looking for. So, for example, if I want a specific toy for Felicity, I scour sales and groups for it but try to not buy other things on impulse. Sometimes I'm more successful than others. 
  • Buying something for a young child months in advance and then their tastes change. I got Felicity a small, wood bead maze over the summer that I thought would be perfect for her stocking, because she was LOVING bigger bead mazes. Can I just say how lucky I feel that she still likes bead mazes? In the scheme of babyhood, 5 or so months is a LOT. It's hard to predict what a child will like months from now when you find a good deal, so it could turn out to be  a bust. I hope this gets easier to predict as she gets older! 
  • Buying everything early, and then seeing more or still wanting to shop. So I mostly had Felicity's Christmas done by early October, but that doesn't stop me from wanting more when I see awesome deals on great toys! I have mostly been able to talk myself out of purchasing more, but have added a few small things. The fact is, though, that if I keep buying and buying, things are no longer a good deal and I ruin that whole "wanting to teach my kids that Christmas is more than gifts" thing! If I can't do it this year when she won't even know it's Christmas, I'm doomed when she does "get" Christmas! I'd say I get a B- this year... room for improvement, but I didn't do terribly.  

And, last, you may be wondering what to put in a stocking for a baby. I was wondering, too, but I accumulated a nice collection of items over the past few months of looking!

Filling a stocking for a baby:
  • Small toys that are good for the diaper bag, car, or church. I find Felicity is entertained longer if she has toys that are only used for those situations. So, for example, she has a paci and "cell phone" that she only gets in the car, and a chew bead rosary she only gets at church vs having all the toys available to her at all times. Those smaller toys are great to put in stockings! Try to avoid just buying stuff to have something. I purposefully look for something I think Felicity will like and use, like the small bead maze since she loves big ones. 
  • Bath toys are often small-ish and fit well. We don't have many bath toys so I picked one up at Ikea a month or so ago.
  • Board books. These may not actually fit in the stocking but I felt like Christmas related board books were perfect to give towards the beginning of advent. Next year, I want to get her the Story of St. Nick for St. Nicholas Day but it wasn't in the budget by the time I thought of it this year (trip up!).
  • Squeezie pouches. I'm not doing any of these this year because I have plenty of other things, but a good space filler would be a new flavor (or heck, one they've already had before) of squeezie pouch food since they can't have candy. Along the same lines, teething biscuits or puffs would work, too.
  • Special ornaments. This year we are putting a "Happy Birthday, Jesus" ornament in Felicity's stocking. I hope it helps her to remember what we're actually celebrating as we put it on the tree each year! 

Anything you'd add to any of the categories? Clearly I have way too much fun with this stuff :). Happy Advent and, if you want to celebrate St. Nicholas day, you still have a few days to get some things together. It's a lot of fun!