Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We've had a wonderful Christmas, full of loving family, good food, thoughtful gifts, and beautiful memories.  Tye has loved opening presents and playing with her new toys, as well as playing outside in the fresh snow.  Seeing her excited expression as she pulls a new plaything out of the ripped paper is absolutely priceless.  It's been such a memorable holiday.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To Tye, at 13 months

Dear Tye,
How can you be 13 months already?!?  I can't believe we're celebrating a birthday beyond your first already.  And yet you've grown up so much in the past month, I can't believe all these new skills popped up in just 30 short days.  

Although you took your first steps starting a week before your first birthday, you started putting steps together a week after your birthday and walked across the room for the first time on November 27, the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.  As soon as you learned you could do that, you were all about it.

When we flew to Seattle this month, you had the greatest time just walking around the airport, either tightly grasping my finger or completely on your own.  You found such joy in walking that as soon as you took those first steps, you let out a high-pitched cackle that sounded like a horse whinnying and made everyone in the airport laugh.  All that joy, spreading contagiously, just from walking.  

As you explore your world, you remind me daily what a beautiful, magical place it is.  Watching you grasp at dust dancing in the sunlight, delight in snow falling out of the sky continuously, or lean backwards in the Ergo to watch the birds fly above us reminds me to stop and appreciate those same experiences.  

When strangers watch you moving and laughing, they often ask me, "Is she always like this?  Is she always this happy?" to which I respond truthfully, "Yes, just about."  Already you see the sippy cup as half full, and you reach out to fully enjoy every sip in that half cup.  The world could learn from you, my wise daughter.

Just so you know, I, for one, am taking notes.  You've reminded me that a smile and wave hello will melt the frostiest of hearts, and that nothing should keep me from sharing that gift with everyone.  The too-cool hipster at the L stop, the busy barista at the coffee shop, the cantankerous-looking old woman in Walgreens, the bearded homeless man in the park- everyone appreciates a hello and a smile.  

You're teaching me to slow down, reminding me that life is in the journey, not the destination.  With a little music and frequent dance breaks, chores are enjoyable.  Every time we walk Mico, it's a little adventure, and it's especially fun if we stop to look at the Christmas lights.  Food is for sharing, sometimes with multiple people.  Baths and showers can become the highlight of the day if we just stop to enjoy the sensation of water on our skin.  When our surroundings become overwhelming, a deep breath- or a quick nursing session- to slow our bodies and minds lets us re-approach the situation with renewed energy.  Thank you for the reminders, Tye.  I hope we both hold on to their lessons in our future.

Last night, as I sat in the tub with you and held your slippery body to nurse you, I was brought back to the evening you were born 13 months ago.  I know you were far tinier then, but holding your body against mine felt exactly the same; those big eyes staring, though now blue, held the same soul inside.  Time will continue to fly, and you'll continue to grow, but you'll always be my Baby Girl.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Puppy Love

As Tye reached her first birthday, she moved into several new stages of development.  With a background in Early Childhood Education, I see each step in relation to other developments and emerging skills.  Watching a child grow and reach new milestones is always miraculous, and I know I'm not the first parent to observe my child's changes in complete awe.  This past month has been a huge one for Tye. 

Of course, the most obvious recent development is Tye's ability to walk.  While walking itself is a major milestone, it also opens a child to a whole new world of learning opportunities at rapid-fire pace.  When Tye moves about now, it's on two feet as she uses her hands to explore freely.

Tye has also expanded her functional vocabulary.  In addition to mama and daddy (adapted from the original dada), she now says doggie, woof, uh-oh, Ziggy (our cat's name), eye(s), hi, and Woof Woof.  Along with these new words has emerged categorization in the form of overgeneralization.  Tye first learned doggie and would say "doggie" whenever we saw a dog on a walk or whenever she heard a dog bark (and then she would "woof" back).  Now, all animals are doggies, from her stuffed moose to illustrations of elephants and hippos.  But, only animals are doggies, proving Tye knows that doggies, moose, elephants, hippos, and a variety of other creatures are all animals.  That they don't all say "woof" will come later.  Along the same lines, as of right now, all body parts are labeled expressively as eyes (although Tye knows both eyes and nose receptively- in other words, she can accurately point to each upon request, even if she can't yet say the word nose).  

Perhaps my favorite new development is Tye's fascination with stuffed animals and dolls.  She loves to empty her bins of plush toys, pulling each one out separately and hugging it tightly before she tosses it aside to hug the next.  This isn't just a hugging skill, though.  Tye has formed special attachments to a few of her toys, like the plush Santa in her first walking video, a Beanie Baby puppy that looks like Mico, and a yellow and blue Swedish-looking moose.  

Oh, and were you wondering earlier what Woof Woof might mean?  It's the name bestowed upon Tye's absolute favorite stuffed animal, a blue corduroy dog that followed us home from Seattle- or perhaps more truthfully, was dragged to Chicago by a little bald girl with a new obsession.  
Woof Woof is Tye's newest source of comfort and companionship (a happy new recipient, considering my breasts are not always available for cuddling).  Since she first clutched his soft blue fur, Tye has barely let go.  He's been through airport security, on car rides, in shopping carts, and snuggled in the Ergo beside Tye on errands and dog walks.  Almost every time Tye nurses to sleep now, whether it's for a nap or the night, Woof Woof is clutched in her arms.  It's a sweet attachment that shows Tye's emotional development and emerging play skills.  She's morphing from baby to big kid right before my eyes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Favorite- Travel Baby Food

When traveling with an infant or toddler, so many concerns need to be taken into account that any opportunity to simplify must be utilized for sanity's sake.  This is where we've been fortunate- we've always had a safe, healthy supply of God's perfect food right on my chest, no heating or refrigeration needed.  Nothing travels better than your own breasts!  As Tye grew older, we were also fortunate to have found some food options that travel almost as easily.  Here are our three favorite items for travel-friendly baby food.
Not long after Tye started eating solid foods, we discovered Ella's Kitchen Organic Baby Foods.  The packages fit my criteria for non-homemade food for her: organic food, BPA-free packaging, and no fillers or sweeteners- only vegetables and/or fruit.   Unlike other favorite brands, like Sprout Baby Food (which we also love), the Ella's Organics come in a squeeze package with a spout opening.  This allows Tye to suck the food out of the package using the same oral motor muscles as nursing.  While Tye loves this method because it provides easy access to the food she wants, I love it because it skips the spoon step.  From the carseat to the airplane to the middle of a store, Tye has eaten these just about everywhere with little to no spilling or mess.  

Another reason to love Ella's Kitchen Organic Baby Food is the food combinations, which provide vegetables in addition to fruits in blends like broccoli, pears & peas, sweet potato, pumpkin, apples & blueberries, and carrots, apples & parsnips.  Even when Tye was going through her picky "I only eat things that are white" stage, she would happily down some colorful vegetables out of one of these packages.  Another travel bonus: they don't need refrigeration, making packing them super simple (we've loaded up suitcases with pouches before).  The only downside I've found is that they've become difficult to find; while I used to pick these up at Target or BabiesRUs, the vegetable blends seem to be sold out most places.  Hopefully they'll be back on shelves soon!
Another squeezable food package we've come to love more recently is the Lifeway ProBugs kefir pouches.  They feature organic whole-milk kefir in enticing, kid-friendly packaging and flavors.  While I wish they offered a plain flavor, their packaging is even better than Ella's- it has a no-spill flap that prevents drips when inverted (not when squeezed, of course, but any little bit helps, right?).  These kefir packs came with us for the flights to and from Seattle last weekend and were a huge hit with Tye.  One package even replaced Tye's need to nurse during takeoff because "nursing" the kefir pouch cleared her ears effectively.  While these need to be refrigerated, they are an excellent option for short-term and/or infrequent travel.
By far our favorite travel food is Trader Joe's Freeze-Dried Banana Slices.  These were Tye's first travel finger food because they are all-natural (the only ingredient is banana!), relatively clean, and their almost melt-in-your-mouth texture was easy for a relatively toothless little one to eat.  When Tye was ready for finger foods but still wasn't eating grains, these were a perfect travel option in place of cereal or baby puffs (which all have added sugars, too).  These are such a staple that at any given moment, there is a full package in my diaper bag, and I always feel good about giving Tye several chips.

While these foods make eating on the go easier, it's still something we try not to do often.  It's important to me we teach Tye good eating habits in addition to good manners.  Eating is something I'd like to teach her to do seated at a table, with few distractions other than good company.  At home, Tye and I eat all our meals together seated next to each other at the kitchen table.  When we're out and about, I think it's worthwhile to either come home for a meal or sit down somewhere to eat, whether it's at a restaurant, a cafe, or a picnic.  When that isn't possible- because, really, life doesn't always provide those opportunities- at least we have some great travel food options.

What other travel foods do your kiddos enjoy?  I'd love to hear more ideas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Seattle Recap

We returned from Seattle last night to arrive to 16 degree temps and several inches of snow in Chicago.  Brrrrr!  Winter finally arrived while we were gone.  Both flights went incredibly well, with long naps helping to pass the time (yesterday's nap was two and a half hours out of the four hour flight!).  The nursing was a total non-issue, except for one hilarious incident.  As Tye and I sat in the aisle seat and nursed, the male passenger across the aisle bumped Tye's head with his elbow as he stood.  To apologize, he started to pat Tye's head, completely unaware that we were mid-nursing session.  In response to the friendly greeting, Tye immediately pulled her head back to smile and give a great big "HI!", leaving my nipple exposed.  The poor guy then sprinted to the bathroom in the back of the plane.  Tyler and I got a good laugh out of it.  

In Seattle, we visited friends from our years in Ithaca who have relocated there, including the family who hosted us, Laurie, Josh, and their 11 month old son, Brady.  Brady and Tye were instantly close friends and had a great time playing together, and having another couple with similar parenting styles with whom we could share kid stories was just so much fun.  
Sharing between friends
Everywhere we went, from Pike Place market, through downtown Seattle, to a Vietnamese lunch in the International District and to the market nearby and out for brunch, our kiddos bounced around in our matching brown Ergo carriers, waving to and saluting each other.  
A rare quiet moment...
Tyler and I also attended the Illini basketball game against Gonzaga with Josh and our other friends from Seattle (Laurie very graciously offered to watch Tye and Brady- a supermom move!), and had a great time cheering the Illini to victory amid the Zags fans. The weather was beautiful all weekend, so we were provided gorgeous views of the mountain ranges in each direction after the morning mist evaporated.  

It was a beautiful trip.  I truly love Seattle.
Pike Place Market


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