Monday, September 29, 2014

Bennett at Seven Months

Bennett turned seven months over the weekend. We had a great weekend with gymnastics, a mommy-daughter date, a football-watching party at a friend's house and a family walk to the park. And marveling at how much our little guy is changing!

As we slowly introduce new solid foods to him, the hilarious expressions he makes in reaction to them also have increased. I have even tried some 'baby-led weaning' which really means just giving them solid foods instead of purees, feeding him what we eat. He doesn't seem to like the sensation of actual solids, though, so we continue to mostly give purees.

He's not crawling but scoots around a bit. He can spin on his belly really quickly and will follow you around the room. He's also started pulling his legs under him, so we think crawling might not be too far off. 

He has two teeth! The lower incisors both came in this month! We were so surprised because we had just seen the doctor that morning and she had looked at his gums, verbally confirming that he didn't have any teeth yet. That evening, Bennett engaged in his customary activity of chewing on my fingers and I felt a sharp little ridge. Sure enough, I looked inside and saw a tiny white tooth!

I see so much of Michael in him when he smiles. Something about the shape of the eyes.

He's a pretty chill little dude, happy if we're holding him or if he's sitting on our lap. 

Bennett is now sitting up on his own! We usually put a pillow (or our body) behind him just in case, but he is doing so well and is so much steadier than he has been!

Sleep continues to be a learning and changing process. He's leaps and bounds better than he was one month ago. (I remember it being right after he was 6 months that I feverishly told Michael we had to try sleep training.)

He will usually sleep from about 7 PM to 5 AM, every once in a while waking once in the night and crying for a minute or less before going back to sleep by himself. The tough thing is knowing what to do when he wakes at 4:30 or 5. Try Ferberizing (letting him cry for increments of time)? Feed him and put him back down in his crib, hoping he sleeps? Bring him into our room and feed him there, hoping he falls asleep? 

Michael and I always talk about how sweet he is. He gets so excited and happy to see us, even if it's only been 30 seconds since we left the room. He gives these excited little huffs and swats his hands together. He says "Gah!" and "bababa" and has such an adorable baby voice. He blows raspberries all the time, and loves to blow raspberries against my shoulder or leg.

I really feel like we're coming into some of my favorite months of babyhood. So excited to spend the upcoming months (and holidays!) with my snuggly, silly, growing boy!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Homemade Elsa Dress

A while back I decided to make June an Elsa dress. I'm not entirely sure why, except that I could buy fabric for much less than some of the $50 dresses I was finding online. Plus I was looking for a new sewing project. 

I used another dress that fit June well as a pattern. It was fun to construct it, but that stretchy fabric was almost too much for a newbie like me. 

That poor little dress has really been put through the ringer since I finished it. So much so that I never went back and added the sequins from the bodice like I'd planned.

It has even withstood two accidental trips through the washing machine, which I had intended on avoiding.

It's definitely not the fanciest princess dress she has, but she seems to like it!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

San Fran Zoo

Sleep training has been going really well, everyone! Bennett usually sleeps from almost 7:00 PM to the morning...which might be 4:00 or it might be 6:30. At 4, he will usually make some noises but fall back asleep within the 20 minute window that we currently let him coo before going in to see him. 

However, if he wakes up at 5 or any time after...he's pretty much up for good at that point. So as happy as we are that he is sleeping so well and we are all getting more sleep, this does mean some early mornings.

So what do you do when it's a Sunday and your baby has you up at 5:00 AM? You start brainstorming day trips. So by 7:45, we were on the road, stopping for bagels and coffee on our way to San Francisco to see the zoo!

We made it in record time - only 80 minutes! (The benefits of being on the road while most people are still sleeping, I'm guessing.)

The zoo was great. As much as I love Sacramento, the zoo here is cute but just not very big. So it was nice to have a lot to explore and see.

Had to take this picture... the sign said 'Bennett's wallaby'!

I would go back to spend an entire day at the play ground there. There were three large structures and they were so awesome... I wanted to play on them.

It was a great Sunday, even if it did start a little earlier than I'd like!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Little Gymnast

Now that swim class season is over (although it is still plenty warm here in Sacramento!) we've moved on to gymnastics. June said she wanted to go back to dance class but we thought we might give something a try where she was allowed to release her (seemingly endless amounts of) energy instead of trying to control it. Although those tap shoes were adorable.

So we signed up for gymnastics in a place where her friend goes and showed up not really knowing what to expect. 

(It's a miracle that we showed up at all. I left my phone at home and didn't know exactly where the place was. I got close and then reached for my phone to GPS it the rest of the way and...nope. Nothing. I panicked. Class was starting in 10 minutes, I was too far away from home to go back and June was SO EXCITED for her first class. I stopped two different places to ask for help and only the wonderful man working at a gas station took mercy on me and let me Google it on his phone. I would not have survived in the wild before cell phones.)

But watching June bounce around was well worth the heart attack I had on the drive there.

June has had two classes so far and I get such a kick out of watching these kids do little versions of adult gymnastics.

June's favorite so far is jumping on the trampoline and jumping into the foam pit. 

This gym in particular is a legitimate gym. As in, in a huge warehouse where there are young adults practicing serious acrobatics and maneuvers while the little ones jump around on the outskirts and in the kid section. The foam pit mentioned above is the landing area of where the rings and the vault are.

I do think I need to chillax a little and just let myself enjoy. I'm kind of constantly aware of how well behaved all the other kids in the class are, sitting in a circle watching the instruction, and...oh look, that's my kid over there on the trampoline. I mean, Michael went to the last class and he told me that I should maybe stop hissing "June. Juuuuune, listen!" and just let the instructor handle it. 

It's just hard to do nothing when the other girls are patiently waiting their turn to do a chin-up on the bar while June is hot-dog-rolling down a foam wedge in the middle of the room while singing to herself.

Sorry for the blurry photo. You aren't supposed to use a flash because it's distracting to the future olympians who are literally flying through the air. I was told this after trying a picture with a flash, and I felt terrible so I put my camera away. But when the girls moved on to another thing, I quickly took out the camera and it reverted to default settings and flashed. Receiving end of the stink eye, over here. 

OMG, June gets her listening skills from me!

So I'm hoping that peer pressure and discipline and whatever other forces might have their effect on June, and she too will one day stand primly in line and do the right thing on the little rings instead of swinging back and forth like an orangutan. Until then, I'll watch that little ball of energy bounce around from my spot on the bleachers, thermos in one hand, camera in the other. Flash turned off.

Monday, September 8, 2014


When June was a baby, it was easy for us to say we'd never sleep train her or let her 'cry it out.' She slept through the night by two months old and was soon sleeping from about 6:30 PM to 6:30 AM every night. We were so spoiled by her.

With Bennett, we had the same intentions. He wasn't sleeping well, but we hated the thought of letting our baby cry for hours and hours on end. Would he feel abandoned? Would it impact our relationship with him? Would he just end up exhausting himself and just pass out from fatigue?

But the other day, after a few weeks of a sleeping routine that had regressed even further than before, with wakings starting at 10 PM, we (I) sort of snapped one night. "We're trying the Ferber method," I said.

There are a few sleep training methods that include letting your baby cry, Ferber's method being one of them. My dear friends Amy and Erik mentioned using it and promised that it probably wasn't as bad as its reputation and that I should at least read more about it. So that night at midnight I ordered Ferber's book to my Kindle and started reading it the next day during my breast pumping breaks.

Reading the book really opened my eyes to my own misconceptions about his method. The goal isn't just to exhaust him so he gives up...the goal is to teach him to be able to fall asleep by himself. The beginning of the book teaches about the natural sleep cycles of babies and how they often wake throughout the night. He uses a great analogy asking how you would feel if you went to bed snuggled and comfortable in your bed, but woke suddenly on the living room floor. You'd probably be confused, a little alarmed and want to get back in your bed to fall back asleep. That's how babies feel when they fall asleep nursing or in your arms and wake up alone in their cribs. They cry because they can't recreate the terms under which they fell asleep by themselves. If you can teach the baby to fall asleep alone in his crib, he won't be alarmed or surprised to wake in the same spot, and will easily fall back asleep without crying.

Another surprise to me was that it is a gradual exposure to crying. We don't just leave him in his crib for hours. The first night we went in after 3 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 7, and so on. We didn't pick him up, just gave him the pacifier, gave him a kiss and "shh'ed" him. The next night the intervals were a bit longer.

We have had ups and downs. I'm sure we are in for more challenges and hard times and nights where once again I feel like my nerves are exposed to the elements. But ... last night Bennett slept from 6:30 PM to nearly 4:00 AM without making a peep.

Tonight's plan is, if he wakes and cries, start the interval of waiting to go in to him at 15 minutes. That seems so long! But it's part of the plan (which Ferber says you can adjust if you want) and it's been working for us. Plus, for the past day or so, he hasn't even made it to the first interval time before he settled himself and fell asleep.

If I would have told myself three years ago that I would be letting my kid 'cry it out' (though Ferber never uses that term) I probably wouldn't have believed you. But here I am with a completely different baby who developed different sleep associations and this might have been the thing he needed. I'm so glad that we've all been getting better sleep. I'm so glad that we've given Bennett the gift of being able to have healthy sleep associations and be able to fall asleep on his own. (Who wants to depend on someone else to be able to fall asleep?) And I've learned the humbling lesson that not all babies are the same, and the same things don't work for every baby. And I'm glad for that too.

And, for the record, it hasn't impacted how smiley Bennett is during the day either. :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Wedding at the Manor

Jenna and Matt's wedding was at a place called Madrona Manor on the edge of Healdsburg. It was so pretty - this big estate with gorgeous gardens and grounds.

Our group went around taking pictures during the cocktail hour. 

The reception was so fun. We had dinner outside on a beautiful patio, and the rest of the party was spread out between rooms of the manor. We had lots of dancing, lots of desserts and lots of wine! 

Our objective for the evening was to steal Jenna away to recreate a picture we took in New Zealand. We finally got our chance at the end of the night but we somehow managed to mix up the order slightly. (I say 'somehow' while totally aware that at the time I was positive Annie was next to me instead of Sarah.)

I had such a good time!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wine Country

This past weekend was the perfect storm of awesomeness:

1.  Friends I don't see often
2.  Wine country
3.  Wedding dancing

Michael watched the kids at home while I galavanted off to Healdsburg, CA with the New Zealand legends, a six-pack group of girls that I met on my trip to New Zealand 8 years ago. We get together every year, for weddings or other get-togethers. Every time we do, it feels like no time has passed and I end up laughing until my abs hurt.

(In NZ, one of our group leaders was so impressed by how much conservation work our 42-person group got done in one afternoon and said it was 'legendary.' We then called ourselves the Legends for the rest of the trip.)

This time it was Jenna who got married and the rest of the Legends flew to Sacramento to meet up. We then drove north west through Napa and into Healdsburg. It was a great drive (although traffic made it long). We drove past vineyard after vineyard, and even I recognized quite a few winery names.

We stayed in a little stand-alone cottage that was owned by a Bed & Breakfast. It was so nice because we had the whole house... including kitchen, living room, deck with a hot tub and a back yard with tables, chairs and orange trees.

We walked across the street to get coffee and breakfast both mornings, and one morning we came back and dipped our feet in the hot tub while we sipped our coffee.

On Saturday afternoon we headed to Bella Winery, which we went to because we heard that they had 'wine caves.'

It was so gorgeous.

We ended up buying a bottle and enjoying it out on the lawn.

We headed into Healdsburg for a quick lunch before getting ready for the wedding. 

I was so content to be there with my girlfriends, you know? I wish we had more time to explore more wineries in the area, but I guess this just means I'll need to go back (hopefully with Michael!) to get that done!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014