milo: months 11 + 12

Ah, yes, the one-year mark. It came and left without a ton of fanfare for us. It’s been quick, it’s been slow, it’s been hard, it’s been easy.

We had a little birthday party with our immediate families. I forgot to buy him gifts until the day of his birthday. Pictures will come.

For now, we are loving life as parents. We talk almost very night after he’s in bed about the cute, funny, and sometimes annoying things he did during the day.

 Sleeps: Milo has slept through the night for several months now. Praise hands! We didn’t realize until recent trips with him sleeping in our room that he does stir around in the night quite a bit. He seems to babble in his sleep and sometimes cries or laughs a little bit. Bedtime varies between 7:30 to 9p, depending on what we’ve got going on. He can usually hang pretty late, but once home, he cries quite a bit if we try to put him down for bedtime and he’s overtired. He gets up between 7 and 8a each day.

He’s taking two naps. One nap is almost always 1.5 hours, and the second one keeps getting shorter. He just doesn’t need the sleep or he’s waking up hungry. Hunger is a good possibility, because the guy is always hungry.

Eats: He’s all about the adult food and self-feeding, though we still do food pouches in a pinch. He loves everything. If he seems to be getting bored with something we give him a lot, we reintroduce it after a bit, and he’s into it again. Examples: Cheerios and turkey. Some of his favorites are blueberries, cheese, Puffs, and yogurt melts.

We transitioned to whole milk a bit after his first birthday, but we’re suspicious of a mild lactose intolerance. We’re gauging that and might transition to lactose-free milk later. Milo drinks about eight ounces in the morning and night and two six-ounce bottles during the day.

Likes: He still really likes most things. He especially likes walks in the stroller, short car rides, outings, food, stuffed animals, and touch-and-feel books. He loves the water and has discovered open toilets in the last few days. He likes climbing whatever he can — the fireplace hearth, a few steps, cupboards, and the bottom shelf of our living room side table.

Dislikes: He does not like getting his face wiped off. He does not like having to wait for food to be prepared or bottles to be made. He doesn’t like sleeping in the car, which means long car rides are not enjoyable. He doesn’t like getting stuck somewhere he’s climbed without a way to easily get out.

Firsts: Milo experienced his first Thanksgiving and Christmas! He went with us to pick out a Christmas tree on a very cold, wet day. He attempted to open Christmas and birthday presents for the first time. He played in the snow and loved it. He also met lots of relatives for the first time over the holidays.

Milestones: The trend continues… Milo will seem far from being able to do something, and then suddenly, he just does it. He quickly learned to sit up from a laying position, pull up on his knees, and pull up to standing. He started crawling finally right after Christmas, and he now crawls so fast he sometimes face-plants. He doesn’t seem too close to walking yet, but if this trend continues, that will catch us off guard, too.

He reliably says “Oscar” and “uh oh,” which are two words we didn’t try to teach him. He less reliably says “mama” and “papa,” which are the two words we’ve tried hard to teach him. We’re working on “bye bye.” He claps and does “so big” like a champ, often when we don’t even request it.

He tasted dog food for the first time recently. I tried to sweep it out of his mouth, but it had been in there longer than I thought and was already pretty mushy. I gagged, and he clapped.

I hope to share some thoughts on this first year of parenthood as we approach one year since he was placed with us. But I need time to sit down to do that, and right now with the climbing and toilet playing, that time is limited.

baby gear I’ve loved

I can’t stand the “Must Have Baby _____” articles. There are so few things you “must have” for a baby. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Here we are almost a year in, and there have been a few baby items I’ve really loved having for Milo. We’ve gotten the most use out of these things, and though in some instances they’re a little pricey, I think they are worth it. I’m going to miss the little baby stage and all the gear it requires, but I’m looking forward to toddler life, too.

4moms mamaRooThe most relaxing, well-designed baby swing I’ve seen. Milo was happy in it for long periods of time, and it helped tremendously with is reflux to sit him up in it after each bottle. We went through a weird series of wake-up-screaming-after-falling-asleep-for-the-night sessions, and this swing was the only thing that seemed to relax him to the point we could help him fall back asleep for the night. We were definitely putting him in it past the weight limit… Don’t tell anyone.

Zutano bootiesBuy a color that goes with everything, and these might be the only shoes you need for a baby. They are warm and machine-washable and Milo can’t pull them off in the car. That’s all we’ve needed so far. And they make him look like a little elf! I like that feature.

Baby Brezza Formula ProPerhaps one of the hardest purchases to justify, but a life-saver in the middle of the night. Dan calls this our “formula Keurig.” It really is. Push the bottom and it mixes the formula and dispenses it at the perfect temperature. Besides middle of the night bottle-making, it’s been good for juggling a starving baby in one arm and getting the bottle ready as soon as possible with the other. The little guy is not very patient when he’s hungry. As we transition to whole milk, it’s going to be a bit sad to see this go.

Halo sleep sacks and swaddlesThough there are lots of options, we’ve used these the most. We used a fleece swaddle early on. He slept well in it, and we liked that we could swaddle one arm in and one arm out so he could suck on his hand. Since we’ve transitioned away from being swaddled, he’s only ever used the sleep sacks. Fleece and cotton. Simple and affordable and especially easy to find in resale shops and groups.

word for 2016: wellness

Me: “I should blog. I don’t want to.”
Husband: “You have to blog your word for the year!!!”
Me: “Well, I really don’t have to. But I guess I will. Should I just tell everyone I should have gone to counseling a while ago?”
Husband smiles and walks out of the room.

It’s a blogger thing to do, and I’m more into it than resolutions, so I have picked a word for the year the last couple years (2014, 2015). I’ve already thought about my word a lot, and I’m making regular efforts to pursue it already.

Wellness. Emotional, spiritual, physical.

I ended 2015 feeling a little off-kilter. I don’t know if it’s age or parenthood or just knowing more people and experiencing more things, but I’ve felt a weight that’s heavier than years past. People have hurts. One example out of so many: Our church small group has experienced significant weighty stuff this year. I wish I could take it all away for those who are hurting.

I have hurts… Emotional hurts tied to an adoption that was to be completed before my sons turned one year old and is now an adoption of “older children” who started school this year in a country halfway across the world. I have physical hurts I’ve waited too long to address. A medication I’m not sure has benefited me in some time, and chronic pain that affects my ability to sleep well in the early morning hours.

Just like Walgreens’ wish for me, I too want to “be well.” 

I have a very good idea of what it takes for me to be well. It starts with my relationship with God. It intertwines with exercise and eating foods that are good for my body. It snakes through my hobbies and interests and passions. It looks like time spent striving to work effectively as a social worker in my community. It might very well have to do with finally seeing a counselor. It has already looked like physical therapy.

Being well means pulling back in some areas of my life and leaning further into others. I want to feel good, and I want to make others feel good. My God does not promise a happy go-lucky life, but I do want to be sure I’m savoring every inch of life He’s given me. 

 


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ode to the neighborhood resale group

Oh, little neighborhood resale group. I loved you since my hair stylist and friend first told me about you, Swaperoo. You are the things of which a stay-at-home mom’s dreams are made.





I walk around my house. I take a picture with my phone. I post it on your page. I get interest! I line up a pick-up time. I put my junk on my porch. And people put their money in my mailbox.

Oh, Swaperoo, you were made for this girl who read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and moved a few short months later. You were made for my closet purge and my pantry purge and my bathroom cabinet purge and my craft cabinet purge and my sewing supplies purge and my basement purge. You were an unexpected way to make $500 in a few weeks, and I loved it.


Because of you, I no longer think, “But we’ll only use this a couple times.” Instead I think, “We’ll use this a couple times and then sell it for almost as much!” It’s as if I’m just paying rent for this quilt batting or baby cardigan or Toms wedges or Costco-sized bottle of Lysol. I use it a bit, and when it’s no longer worth its space in our home, I get some money back.


But oh, the items I can not sell. The items that still have met their fate at Goodwill. The exercise ball, and the very dirty shoes, and single curtain panel. I bump them  on your page over and over again (“What does bump mean?”), and still, no bites. I drop the price, or even mark them free, and still nothing. You don’t want a tiny little bottle brush? You don’t want to take this to Goodwill yourself in two months? Okay, I understand!

I have triumphed in the “next” game on several occasions, and I am proud. The IKEA bench and the Frye boots! You were steals, and we all knew it. I swooped in, I waited patiently, and I nabbed them. Thankfully, I get good use out of both of them. And when they’re no longer useful to me? I’ll have a line of people waiting to come to my porch to take my junk and put money in my mailbox.

growing in hospitality with Hallmark

College was one thing. We’d text friends to come over, they’d come, we’d drag whatever snack or non-snack food we had out of the pantry, and we’d talk and watch movies for hours.

When I moved to St. Louis for grad school, through God’s goodness I found a wonderful roommate I’d never met before. We became friends quickly, and we made friends… including Dan. A few months in, my roommate, Meredith, hosted a brunch at our apartment. Loads of homemade food, tablecloth, candles, other decor. She welcomed friends and took coats and made conversation and refilled the food table with ease. This was a whole different thing. I loved it. And I was impressed.






 

Unlike Meredith, being hospitable does not come easily to me. As much as I may want, I’m not the sort to tell friends to stop by “whenever.” Even planned events make me sweat as my thoughts are dominated by whether the bathroom is clean and if friends feel comfortable on my couch.

Because I want so much to be a good host, I’ve quietly observed others hosting formal events and casual hang outs for some time now. In my experience, there are two things most people do to make people comfortable in their homes. They’re simple, and I’ve done them in my home.

I make sure my house smells nice. I make sure our little Glade plug-ins are going strong. I light a candle in the bathroom or above the fireplace. For the holidays, I purchased a mistletoe Crafters & Co. candle from Hallmark. One big one for the mantel and one little one for the bathroom. They are glorious.







I also make sure there is food available immediately.
I dump some pretzels or nuts or peppermint bark in a bowl. I picked up some peppermint bark from Hallmark for a party I’m hosting soon. (It’s a Favorite Things party, and it will be only the second party I’ve planned and hosted. The first was Milo’s adoption finalization party!)






I may not naturally love hosting, but I believe it’s partially how I can steward the resources and home God has blessed me with. I’m slowly learning, and though the bathroom may not always be clean, you can count on a candle lit and snacks available. 

I got to make another little video. It has a few glimpses of our new house! 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Hallmark Gold Crown, but experiences expressed here are my own.

in that house… 

  

In this house, we experienced God’s grace.
We experienced the highest highs and lowest lows of our international adoption, we were called by Jayden’s birth mom and brought home Milo Jayden two weeks later, we nervously committed to an overly friendly mutt dog, and we cried so hard and laughed harder. In this house, I experienced months too long of loneliness, I got the “perfect” job, and I nervously invited new friends into my home. I experienced the worst migraine of my life and came back three days later after brain surgery, unsteady of my feet. We grew closer to each other, and we pushed each other closer to God. We pursued God willingly and sometimes begrudgingly. In this house, we experienced God’s mercy.

Milo: months 8, 9 + 10

Time is really flying now. I can’t quite remember what he did when, and I forgot to do this post a month ago, so we’re lumping it all together! We used to call Milo Screecher Creature, but he’s now transitioned to Reacher Creature. He will nab anything within his reach especially if it isn’t a toy. Favorites to grab: Glasses of water, high chair tray, bib, food in bowl, cell phone, and hanger.


Sleeps: 
He’s sleeping really well again, and we’re feeling so refreshed! It’s been a long time since he last woke up in the night. Most days, he takes two 1.5-hour naps. Some days are weird and his naps are a little irregular, but we just roll with it.

Bedtime has been a bit of a struggle in the past month or two. We were constantly missing his window of tiredness and frequently unintentionally pushing him to the point of being overtired. It’s so hard to believe that putting him to bed earlier might truly make him wake up later… but it’s true. We’ve had a string of good nights lately, so here’s hoping the weeks of finally getting him to sleep only when we’re also exhausted are over.

Sweet boy still loves his sound machine, sleep sack, and blankie. He likes chewing on it, so it’s often damp and frequently being washed. He wakes up happy every day, and we sometimes have no idea how long he’s been awake because he’s talking happily in his crib by the time we notice. Other days we’re very aware of when he woke up, because he likes thumping his foot on the crib, which is just on the other side of the wall. We call him Thumper.


Eats: 
In the last two months, we’ve found our groove with solids and bottles. He has a bottle when he gets up, after both naps, and before bed. We do solids three times a day after he wakes up, after his first nap, and after his second nap. We most frequently do purees with oatmeal mixed in, but we do a good number of finger foods, too. Usually fruit for breakfast, veggies for lunch, and meat for dinner.

He still likes everything we’ve tried, though he definitely likes some things more than others. Cheese, chicken, and crackers seem to be his favorites. And they’re mine, too, ya know?


Likes: 
Rolling, rolling, rolling. He’s not crawling, but he is proficient at rolling to all corners of the house. He also loves finding any bit of dust, dog hair, or leaf particle to put in his mouth. There may have been an incident in which Oscar chewed up a stuffed toy and Milo later rechewed parts of the stuffed toy we missed with the vacuum.

Milo still loves being outside and in new places. In Target, he leans back in the cart to look at the lights on the ceiling, sits up to stare at people, and cranes his neck to see the TVs.

Dislikes: He still does not like the sun in his eyes, especially if he’s trying to sleep in the car. On a recent hour-long drive, he thrashed around until we opened an umbrella in the car to block the area where the sun was coming in. He doesn’t like getting stuck in spots he can’t roll out of, and he really doesn’t like getting his mouth cleaned out when we know he’s got a non-food something in there.


Firsts: 
In the last three months, he experienced his first trip to the apple orchard, first trip to the pumpkin patch, first trip to the zoo, first taste of a French fry, first real owie, first time petting a cat, and first trip to his paternal grandparents’ house.

Milestones: So many changes in the past three months! He has eight total teeth, with six of them coming in all at the same time. He’s sitting all the time, rolling all over, getting up on his knees, and reaching for everything. His first word was “Mama” and his second word is “Oskie,” our nickname for Oscar. Still working on “Papa!” He claps on command pretty often.


Stats 
(at his 9-month appointment):
Weight — 25 lbs 13 oz (97th percentile)
Length — 32 in (99th percentile)
Head — 46.5 cm (80th percentile)

showing love to our neighbors + others with Hallmark

On Halloween night, during a lull in the action at our current home, I loaded Milo into the car. We were just going to drive by our new home (yes, this home!) to see how many trick-or-treaters that neighborhood gets. Then I noticed several future neighbors’ lights on. My stomach felt a little nervous…  Introvertedness and a feeling that I’m always awkward in conversations I haven’t had the opportunity to rehearse… I wasn’t going to let that win.

With Cookie Monster on my hip, we knocked on two doors and met two very kind neighbors. Mary and Tori. I was glad to have introduced myself to these neighbors. But I regret to tell you I’m not sure I know many names of the neighbors besides us and across from us at our current home.






It’s a pretty big regret, honestly. By not being more intentional about getting to know our neighbors, we’ve missed opportunities for friendship. We’ve lost out on conversations we could have had about Safe Families and adoption and the kids who have come into our home. We’ve diluted many of our relationships down to a “Hey, how’s it going?” and “Chilly out today, huh?”



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It is quite convenient that we will be moving to our new home right before the holidays. We are excited to be intentional about quickly and directly introducing ourselves to our neighbors and new mail carrier. (It’s important to be friends with the mail carrier when he or she is the person your dog dislikes most.) My mind is already reeling with the ways we can do this in the least awkward way possible. Homemade cookies, boxed treats, coffee gift cards, candles, handwritten notes in greeting cards? But I don’t think it’s worth it to analyze all the options. We’re just going to do it.

I had the fun opportunity to check out Hallmark’s holiday offerings, and I was quickly drawn to the greeting cards, gift wrap, and gift trim. I bought several, because I like sprucing up the little things we give to our neighbors and community service people around the holidays. I have always wrapped a greeting card with cash or a gift card inside to give to our mail carrier. I think (hope!) it helps the card stick out and not get lost in the shuffle of other mail.


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I was truly impressed by the variety of cute, contemporary gifts and holiday decor at our nearby Hallmark. And I was this close to buying a stuffed nativity set for Milo’s first Christmas. But I think he and the neighbor babies would just gnaw on them this year.

I made a little video of our experience… Though Milo doesn’t make it in any of the shots, he visited Hallmark with me and later “helped” wrap up a box of cookies and a little greeting card. I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas with him in our family this year!






 

 

 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Hallmark Gold Crown, but experiences expressed here are my own.

 

Halloween 2015: Cookie Monster + Oscar the Grouch

For those who don’t follow on Instagram, Facebook, and anywhere else I frequently post the cutest pictures of these two. Conveniently, Oscar got ahold of Milo’s plastic cookie and gave it a good chewing before we took this picture.





the two best questions my husband asks me







So Much Love by Kristi Kohut

Whether social work or marriage or motherhood, I’ve never been more mindful of the emotions I’m feeling and why I’m feeling them. But there still seems to be some sort of gap between recognizing them and putting them to words and not letting them negatively affect my interactions with Dan.

(Just don’t read Brené Brown’s books or listen to her TED Talk unless you want to get your mind rocked, friends. We were laughing with tears in our eyes about the ways her interactions with her husband are like mine with Dan.)

I recently became more aware of interactions I’d have with Dan that would leave me feeling so cared for despite being so simple and short. It was pleasant, but I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. I eventually nailed it down: He’s been asking me two questions that are perfectly suited for my sometimes-jumbled-mess-of-being. Here we go.

If you’re prone to disappointment and high or simply not-communicated expectations: What are your expectations for today? (Or this date, this meal, this trip to the mall, this party, this visit to Target… My expectations are apparently endless.) 

It works really well when I can examine my expectations and communicate to them. It works even better when he responds to them with agreement or with a challenge that they may be unreasonable. It may work best when I say — and mean — I don’t have any expectations.

If you’re a feeler. You know, an “F” when you take the Myers-Briggs assessmentHow are you feeling today? (Or about this recent news, about your grandpa getting sick, about a new job, about an upcoming move.) 

This isn’t a question about physical well-being… It’s about emotional well-being and what’s going on inside my head. I sometimes feel like I’m feeling things ten times more deeply than Dan, so sometimes I don’t willingly communicate what I’m feeling because I don’t like how it makes me feel embarrassed or uptight. Or like a burden to him. These are lies, though — lies! — so this question is golden for me. He gives me the opportunity to unload what I may have been feeling and not communicating.

This is really a small snapshot. I use these questions with him, and I use them with friends. I like them.


the two best questions my husband asks me


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