Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Four Months

Hi, I'm Ava Grace, and I am four months old!  I'm such a big girl, and I bring joy everywhere I go!

Ava is using her hands so well now!  If I dangle a toy in front of her, she often grabs it and hangs on tight!  She is also starting to put everything in her mouth!  I am just so amazed when I watch her grip things and bring them to her mouth.  I know it's not much, but I can see how far she's come.  She controls her movements in general much better now and no longer flails about.  She is still smiling and is now laughing more!  She laughs when we tickle her and make funny noises.  She also loves to smile and laugh at Blazer, who licks her so much we have to tell him to stop!  Ava is learning to use her voice, and she recently started squealing.  It's hilarious.  It's not necessarily a happy or angry sound, but it sure is loud!  I think it just means, "Hey!  Pay attention to Ava!"  Sometimes she does it so loud and so much when we're at a store that it's kind of embarrassing!  She is most vocal in the early morning and late afternoon.  Ava FINALLY likes baths!  We bought her a new tub since we thought the old one might be uncomfortable for her. It worked!  She now kicks and splashes and smiles in the bath.  Ava definitely recognizes me, Brent, and Blazer.  It's adorable.  She smiles when she sees us and squeals with delight when we go get her out of the crib in the morning.  I feel like she is close to sitting on her own, and she still loves to "stand" and "walk" - always likes to be upright!  I can see her learning and making associations.  She will often start crying the moment I bring her into her room around naptime because she knows what is about to happen!  Similarly, when it's time to eat, she opens her mouth so wide it makes me laugh!

We had finally gotten into the groove of nursing, and now we're in a rough patch.  I think Ava is a growing girl and I am not producing enough to satisfy her.  Usually at the afternoon and evening feedings, she is not a happy camper and makes her dissatisfaction known.  I've had to supplement her with formula for at least one, sometimes two feedings a day because she is just so hungry and won't stop crying until I give her more.  I'm pumping to try and increase my supply and trying not to let it frustrate me too much.  We have a babysitter now giving her a bottle once during the day, and it is hit or miss wheather Ava will take the bottle or not.  She is very finicky.  She is also easily distracted and is always wanting to look at something rather than eat.  All in all, I think all of these changes have contributed to the bumps we're experiencing, and I'm hoping things will normalize again soon.  Her best feed of the day is the dreamfeed at 10 pm mostly because she is tired and not distracted!  She is getting enough, though, don't worry!  We're feeding her every 3 hours during the day.  Check out those wrist rolls and chunky monkey thighs!

Sleeping - Nights:
In Durham, Ava was often sleeping from 10:30 pm - 6:00 am.  When we moved to Iowa, however, her schedule must have gotten thrown off because she stopped doing this :-(  She wakes up at 2:30 am almost every single night now.  I usually feed her because it's easy and she has been so hungry lately.  Most of the time, she goes right back to sleep after the 2:30 feeding except one night last week when she decided that it would be fun to scream from 2:30 - 5:30.  It was horrible.  I just sat outside her room in between trying to comfort her, crying and desperately searching for articles on my iPad trying to figure out what the heck was going on.  I now believe we are in the midst of the dreaded "four month sleep regression".  Fun times.  She has not had THAT bad of a night since, but sleep at night has definitely regressed from where we were.  I'm going to take deep breaths, pray, make lots of coffee, and hope we get out of this phase soon.

Sleeping - Naps:
Naps were really rough when we left Durham.  In the process of moving, we totally messed Ava up and the schedule went out the window.  If you don't believe me, look at the picture below showing me rocking Ava to sleep on the toilet before I put her in her swing in a bathroom next to the shower.  Yeah, that happened. Moving.... is crazy.  (I love the look on Ava's face!)  That being said, oddly enough, when we got to Iowa, Ava's naps were awesome!  We were consistently having to wake her up from naps because she was sleeping so long.  Go figure.  Now that we're in a bit of a regression, though, naps are more of a struggle.  Ava screams for at  least 5 minutes before each nap.  She's even developed a new scream just for naptime, which is fun.  She is still napping in the swing, but not for long.  In fact, this week, we are busting out of the swing.  Mark my words.  I'm pretty sure it will be awful, but I've got to just do it.  Next week - we tackle the swaddle.  I'll let ya know how that goes.  Ava is taking three naps a day - roughly at 8:30, 11:30, and 2:30.  Depending on the day, they range from 45 minutes to 2 hours.

Ava still loves her playmat, even more so now that she grabs the toys and tries to put them in her mouth!  She likes to sit in the Bumpo, and if we put toys in front of her, she will grab them.  Lately, we've been sitting out on our deck in the evenings, and she loves to be outside and play on our laps or on a blanket.  She is still obsessed with the Baby Bjorn and faces out on all errands and walks.  She gets SO many looks and comments because she is really pretty cute in there.  We've started taking long walks in the evenings at around 6:00.  This gets us through the last fussy period before bedtime.  We dropped the 4th nap about a month ago, but she is still tired during that time period even though she refuses to take a formal nap.  Most of the time, she falls asleep upright in the Bjorn on the evening walk, which is soooo cute.  Just recently, we busted out the Sassy Seat doorway jumper, and she seems to like it!  She loves to "stand" by herself, spin in circles, and chew on the toys.  She doesn't understand how to bounce yet, but I think once she figures it out, she is going to be off to the races!  Mirrors are still fun since she thinks she's the cutest and funniest girl around!  She's increasingly fascinated by screens - computers, iPhones, and TVs, so I'm trying to be careful with that!  There was one day we tried to put her in the exersaucer / bouncer thing. Brent and I were so excited for her to love it, and we had the camera ready.  One second after we lowered her into the seat, she looked at us with these big eyes and the saddest look and then let out possibly the loudest and most horrible scream I've ever heard, like we had tortured her in some way.  I puller her out as fast as I could to comfort her, but we couldn't keep ourselves from laughing.  Apparently, the exersaucer is terrifying!  Maybe she'll like it later?  Mostly during playtime, Ava is still satisfied to make faces with us, so I'm enjoying that while I can!

If you ever wonder how I get so many pictures of Ava smiling, here's the answer:  I take a lot.  A WHOLE lot.  Here are a few that didn't make the cut:

{Mr. Owl stealing the show}

{Ava in perpetual motion}

{No more pictures, mom.}

{I said..... NO MORE PICTURES!!!}
....aaaand we're done.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Durham Bucket List

Things have been crazy, but we are settling into our new home in Iowa!  More to come on that soon, but for now I wanted to share a bit about our last weeks in Durham.  Although Iowa is growing on me, I really miss Durham already!   I miss the beautiful surroundings, great restaurants, and our friends.  Before leaving, we had a little "bucket list" of things we wanted to do.  Little Miss Ava thwarted a few of our plans, but we did get to cross a few things off and make some great memories before moving away.  Here were some of our bucket list adventures!

{Lunch at Nana Taco and shopping at Southpoint}

{An afternoon at the Durham Museum of Life and Science with our friends from church, Joana and Isaac}

{At the museum riding the train and seeing the animals}

{Walking the Duke East Campus loop}

{Fuqua Friday happy hour - saw my Pi Phi friend Angela who was in town!}

{Walking the Duke campus and taking pictures}

{A weekend with Aunt Julia}

{A going away party with our small group - Mary Elizabeth gave Ava a John Deere phone toy!}

{Kristen and Lori from our small group loving on Ava}

{Visiting the Duke Gardens}

{Last date night at Rue Cler.... our fave!!!}

We miss you, Durham, but we'll be back!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Personal Mother's Day

Mother's Day is coming soon, y'all!  As a new mom, I thought I'd post a mother's day gift guide.  These are all things I'd love to receive myself!  The gift ideas in this list are all personalized.  Sure, you can give a candle or a card, but what about something that's personalized for your very own mom and no one else?  Maybe it's the southern girl in me, but I love a good monogram.  There's just something special about receiving a gift with your name on it.  It gives the gift a little more meaning because the gifter spent time personalizing it just for you.  

Since these gifts are personalized, you'll want to order ASAP to get them in time.  If you can't get them in time for Mother's Day, you could always save these ideas for mom's birthday, Christmas, anniversary, or just a random Tuesday!

{pin me!}

1.  Initial Necklace ::  E Ria Designs on Etsy
I think these little necklaces are so sweet.  I think moms would love to wear their children's names close to their heart.  I love this delicate gold version. You can choose to add as many or as few letters as you want.  This would be great for kids or grandkids!

2.  Treat.com Personalized Card  ::  Treat
Treat.com is a new brand from an old favorite, Shutterfly.  Treat allows you to create and send personalized greeting cards for any occasion like birthdays and Mother's Day.   If you're going to send a card, why not make it personalized?  Treat will print your card with your mom's picture, your personalized message, and mom's name for as low as $1.99.  They even send the card for you!  Your mom will feel special when she gets a personalized card and everyone else gets a generic one from the card store!  Such a cute idea!

3.  Photo Canvas:  Canvas On Demand
What mom wouldn't want a huge picture of their little munchkin hanging in their home?  I know I'm going to get one (or ten) of these as soon as we move into our new home.  The gallery wrapped canvases are sleek and professional looking, and you can get them online for reasonable prices.  Search around online for coupons and deals.  I see them all the time!

4.  Personalized Notebook  ::  May Books
 I have a May Book myself, and I have gifted a few more.  They have a TON of designs to choose from and many different monogram styles.  They offer everything from a basic notebook to a baby book to a meal planner.  All of their designs are chic and modern with trendy colors.  Mom's to-do list just got a lot more fun!

5.  Personalized Melamine Tray  ::  Little Details NC on Etsy
How perfect are these trays for a summer pool party?  I can just see the tropical drinks, burgers, and watermelon slices now.  Plus... they are unbreakable, so they are perfect for outdoor use.  I'm pretty sure I need more than one.

6.  Instagram Magnets  ::  Stickygram
Even if your mom has never heard of Instagram, wouldn't she LOVE a pack of magnets with pictures of her kids and grandkids?  I think this is a precious idea and so fun.  Each pack comes with nine little square magnets.  You email them your instagrams, and they print the magnets!

7.  Disposable Monogrammed Coasters ::  Neiman Marcus
I love these and think they are so classy.  They are perfect for a cocktail party or just drinks with friends.  Plus, it's probably one of the most affordable things you can buy at Neiman Marcus!  I love the acrylic holder, too!

8.  Personalized Photobook ::  Shutterfly
I am in love with Shutterfly photo books.  They are super fun and easy to make, plus they are completely customized and surprisingly affordable.  If you're not the creative type, Shutterfly will create a photo book for you for free!  Just upload your pictures, and they will be added to a photobook layout instantly.  The possibilities are endless, and they make awesome gifts.  You can make one book of baby pictures and send it to both grandmothers with one click!

9.  Wooden Monogram  ::  Trendy Trimmings on Etsy
Where would this wooden monogram NOT look good?  Mom will love this for her front door, a party decoration, over the bed, in the nursery, in the kitchen... anywhere!

10.  Monogrammed Wine Glasses  ::  The Monogram Merchant
I am obsessed with stemless wine glasses.  They are so much easier and more casual then stemmed wine glasses.  With summer coming up, they are a less fussy way to serve wine.  And, as we all know by now, a little monogramming never hurt anything.

Happy gifting!
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