This Little Monster Turned 1

A year already! Man how time flies…seriously, it’ll hit you pretty hard cuz you won’t barely see it coming.  Before you know it your little baby turns into a little boy.

For J’s birthday I chose a Monster Theme. Seemed appropriate for a little one who is constantly tearing into everything and going-going all the time!

I found the invitations on Etsy for only $8! Awesome price for a super cute custom invite, then just print it yourself ūüôā

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 Then I used inspiration from Pinterest for the cupcakes and smash cake

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 I found candy googly-eyes in the cake stuff isle at the grocery store – perfect addition to a simple cupcake and some butter cream frosting.  For the cake and cupcakes I used box cake but made a few substitutions to make it a little less box-cake-y.  Use milk instead of water, add an extra egg, add a 1tsp of vanilla, and use butter in place of the oil.  Super easy substitution and I thought it make the cake a little lighter and tastier than usual too.  For the cake I baked 2 – 9″ rounds then stacked them and cut it into a googly shape.  Then I used a piping bag and a grass/hair tip to get the stringy texture for the frosting.  It wasn’t the quickest process, but looked pretty good for being a novice cake decorator.  I used doughnut holes for the eyes, and found a cute #1 candle to add.

The cake smash didn’t go quite like it’s “supposed” to though.  J wasn’t very interested in eating the frosting or the cake…

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We though that as soon as he tried some of the frosting he’d be hooked and get the idea….

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Guess we were wrong…

We tried moving him out of the highchair to see if that would help any…I think even T had better luck with the cake smash then J did!

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Then daddy stepped up and showed him how’s it done

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Opened some pretty awesome additions to J’s toy collection too!

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But I think the part he liked the BEST was playing in the MUD!  What a silly messy boy!

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And we got to share some pretty Awesome news with our family and friends too…

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This Little Monster is gonna be a BIG BROTHER! 

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A little Torticollis, a little Flat Head Syndrome

As new parents there are and will be many many things that you’ll do wrong.  Or that you’ll be totally unaware of.  Or that you’ll have no idea even exists as a potential problem, until you do that thing and it affects your child.

As new parents ourselves, we had no idea how hard surfaces and a tendency to turn his head one direction would cause not only a giant flat spot on the back side of J’s head but that it would also affect the muscles in his neck.  When he was really tiny I’d lay him on my desk at my office (which was the best place to keep an eye and a hand on him)…this is way before he started rolling, don’t worry.  Who knew that this hard surface would lead to such a flat area on the right-back side of J’s head?!  And  who knew that you had to pay close attention to the side of the head your little one likes to lay on?!  Well, these are all things that you learn ONLY if these things happen to your kid!

We’d only just noticed that J’s head was a little flat right before we headed to his 3 month appointment.  Of course the Doc noticed as soon as he walked in the door.  Dead giveaway is when the baby isn’t looking straight up at the ceiling…for further reference.  Apparently what happens is that when they tend to turn their head only to one side (J preferred the right)  that the neck muscles tighten on that side, and stretch on the other side.  So to resolve this you have to stretch the neck the other direction to loosen that side and even up the  lengths and strengths of the muscles. So began the many weeks of neck stretches.  BTW babies don’t particularly like this.  You have to hold them down and gently tilt their head the opposite direction of whichever way they normally tend to tilt it.  Then you also rotate their neck from side to side.  Yeah…so much fun to do this while they are screaming at you.  Makes you feel like you’re torturing them.

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The flat spot on his head the Doc described to us as when you push on one corner of a cardboard box and the opposite corner also tilts out-of-place.  J had “plagiocephaly” as shown in the pic below.

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To correct this and avoid needing a helmet, we had to very closely watch which side of his head he laid on at all times.  For the first few weeks we had to do everything in our power to keep him from laying on the right side of his head.  Not so easy, let me tell ya.  It involved tilting his body to one side when he was laying or sleeping, and using extra padding around the head support in his car seat.  We also used the Tortle – a hat or sorts that was created specifically to help with torticollis and Flat Head Syndrome in infants. It worked pretty well when J was still little enough not to squirm too much, but we had to stop using it once he could wiggle his head enough to get the “tail” of the hat moved around.  Another product I learned about much later was the Baby Elephant Ears – this product would really help towards prevention of torticollis and FHS, and is super cute too!

Luckily for us it only took a few weeks of doing the exercises and making sure to even out which side J laid on to get the flat spot to mostly go away and for the neck muscles to even out.  By his 6 month appointment he was as back to “normal” as we would be able to get him.

Such a silly little oversight, but something that I warn all my new parent friends about.  J will always have a slightly flat spot and misshapen head to go with it, but luckily we caught it early enough to correct it enough that you can’t tell unless you know what you’re looking for.  Even after years of childcare for infants, I’d never seen either Torticollis or FHS…but hopefully now you can share this information with your fellow first-time parents and avoid a little headache ūüôā

Water Play

I’m so excited that it’s warm enough outside to break out the water play outdoors! ¬†I think J is gonna be a water baby! He loves bath time, fountains, and sprinklers. ¬†But water play can be just a bunch of kitchen tools and a tub of water. ¬†Easy peasy and keeps the little ones entertained for quite a while. ¬†J especially loves the baster brush and kept using it to splash the water or paint the patio.

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What a fun simple way to spend an afternoon, and it’s totally FREE too!

Routine

rou·tine: a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program

Now that I really think about it, I remember hearing a lot about establishing a routine from the time you bring baby home. ¬†I also remember that the part that actually stuck with me was to let the baby establish their own routine…Maybe I just imagined that’s what the advice really was. ¬†Although I’m pretty sure that at least some of the advice we got from the hospital classes and other moms and the books was that when babies very new they should be able to eat, sleep, etc as often and whenever they need to or want to. ¬†I guess somewhere between bringing J home and about 2 weeks ago, we forgot to start establishing an actual routine. ¬†All along we’ve pretty much let J eat, sleep, nurse when he wanted to or needed to. ¬†I must have missed the memo on when to make the transition from baby-led routine to parent-led routine.

Since J has been with me all day I have let him lead on establishing his own “routine” or whatever you want to call it. ¬†However since I have him with me at work and not at home, I have found it more difficult to try to establish a nap routine in particular. ¬†I’m in an office all day where I do have a door, but the walls are thin and between the phone’s ringing and needing to work even while he’s sleeping it’s taken until recently for him to be able to sleep long enough and hard enough for those things to not interrupt his sleep pattern. ¬†This is one thing I really envy about stay-at-home mammas – the ability to put the kiddo in their own crib in their own space where it can be quiet and dark all at the same time! ¬†But I’ve worked with what I’ve got and it’s been good enough.

J used to nurse as often as he wanted. ¬†Anytime he was a little fussy, before naps, when he had a boo-boo – he got to nurse. ¬†It goes without saying that when he was really tiny he ate every hour or two – as all newborn should. ¬†But he’s really always nursed often. ¬†He’s just recently weaned down to 4-6 times a day. ¬†Mostly before nap times and whenever he wakes at night. ¬†So, I guess you could call that a routine. ¬†Ok, I guess we managed to figure that one out somewhere along the way!

What about eating? ¬†This one was pretty easy to establish a routine since I pretty much feed him at mealtimes and whenever I’m hungry. ¬†I figure if I’m hungry then he probably is too. ¬†And now¬†that he’s eating pretty much anything, he eats whatever we eat plus snacks when he wakes up from nap.

The hardest one was napping and sleeping. ¬†Our struggles with J’s sleep routine, especially at night, have been going on since he was born. ¬†We though we started off on the right foot when he would sleep 3-4 hours at a time when we brought him home. ¬†But that soon went downhill and he didn’t quickly establish a longer sleep routine. ¬†For the first 9 months we struggled with J waking 3-4 times a night in order to nurse or be helped back to sleep. The good news is that for the last two weeks or so, J has been sleeping for 6+ hours before he wakes, and only wakes once during the night. ¬†He’s also been sleeping until after 6am. ¬†Hooray! ¬†¬†Luckily he has (slowly) managed to wean himself down to 1-2 wake-ups¬†a night. ¬†He still nurses to get back to sleep, but I can handle that many wake ups at least. ¬†With napping, J used to be able to sleep whenever he got a little fussy. ¬†For months he would only sleep for 30 minutes but would need a nap almost every hour or two. ¬†Only in the last few weeks has he started sleeping for an hour to an hour and a half on a regular basis! ¬†He’s also moved to 2-3 naps a day depending on the length of each nap. ¬†We’ve kept his bedtime at 7pm since he was about 6 months.

So in the end I guess we did finally end up with a routine! ¬†Horray! ¬†Now that we’ve been through it all the hard way, we’d certainly do it differently the second time around. ¬†I’m glad that we’ve managed to keep a few things solid (bedtime and meals) and I’m now a HUGE believer that more sleep leads to more sleep. ¬†It wasn’t until J started sleeping a regular 1 to 1 1/2 hours a few times a day that his nighttime sleeping also smoothed out and increased. ¬†I’m also now an advocate for establishing more of a sleep routine (if possible) as early as possible. ¬†I know that it’s sometimes easier said than done though…so let’s hope that when it’s time for the second time around that we can figure it out along the way. ¬†Either way at least now we seem to be on the right path.

This parenthood thing can be more of a challenge than you think sometimes. ¬†But you work your way through it eventually, just like with anything else ūüôā

 

 

Baby Birds

For 4 weeks we had a Robin family making a home in the tree outside out window. ¬†Since I’ve forgotten to post pictures along the way, here they are now, from beginning to end. ¬†It was so fun watching them grow! Hopefully we’ll have more someday ūüôā

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We ended up with 4 eggs, with is the normal number.  It took about 10 days for the eggs to hatch.

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But there were only 3 babies that hatched.  Not sure if the other one was kicked out of the nest or if something got the egg.

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Mama bird wasn’t away from the nest often. ¬†Maybe for 5 minutes at a time. ¬†But Daddy bird helped to feed the babies too and would stand watch while mama was out feeding.

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A few days after the eggs hatched it snowed…luckily we got home in time to see the nest at a 45 degree angle in the tree so that we could go out there and prop up the branch with a 2×4. ¬†Mama bird was dive-bombing us the whole time, but at least they all didn’t end up on the ground! ¬†The rest of the tree almost touched the ground…

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Started getting feathers!  And their beaks were HUGE!  the bottom pic shows how it looked like their beaks were wider than their heads.

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A little blurry…but you can tell how much bigger they are and see all their wing feathers coming in.

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can see the eyes and the still giant beaks ūüôā

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It was almost impossible to get all three of them in the picture though!

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They stayed in the nest for almost 2 weeks, and then one day they were gone. ¬†We hope that they all made it, but we haven’t seen any of them since. ¬†Mom and Dad have moved on too, maybe someday we’ll end up with another nest in the tree so we can watch it all over again ūüôā

Such a cool way to spend the first few weeks of spring in our new house!