Friday, January 17, 2014

Christmas Pictures 2013

We have two very talented photographers in our church, and they were kind enough to take our Christmas card photos this year!  There are not many pretty outdoor places in Bettendorf, Iowa in December, so we decided to take them in our home!  Thanks, Jarek and AJ of Plume Creative for taking such amazing pictures of our family!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ten and Eleven Months

In these two months, Ava learned to pull up, cruise, and walk!!  (Walking post coming soon).  Ava is now a champion walker and loves exploring every cabinet, drawer, and box in the house!  We're working on sign language, but so far she has only signed back the signs for "milk", "eat", and "more".  She's a very social girl and charms everyone in any store by waving and smiling and giving cute looks.  She's adopted a "cheesy" smile where she shows her teeth and looks like she's posing for a picture.  Little ham.  

She loves clapping when she likes something or knows she's done something well.  She is definitely understanding more of what we're saying and knows what to do when we say things like "Go get your toy", "Let's take a bath", "Daddy's upstairs" or "Go find Blazer".  If she's in the mood, she can even point to certain pictures in books ("Where's the baby?"  "Where's the rubber ducky?")  I am starting to see her learn new concepts like fitting small things into bigger things and how to stack, knock down, and pass things back and forth.  Our sweet babysitter Jenn taught her to throw her arms up in the air when we ask "How big is Ava?"  She is pretty clingy to mama and daddy, but she loves to go to people with whom she's built trust, and she is getting a little less shy in crowds of strangers.  She's babbling a lot, but no new "real" words.  She does say "mama", "dada", "that", and "hi" on occasion.

Finally, finally, we have a good sleeper!  All the training and the staying home and the crying and the frustration were worth it.  We still have our bad days (and nights), but sleeping is going well around here.  Ava thrives on her schedule, and when she is put down around her normal time, she has no problem at all going right to sleep, usually with no crying.  She takes two naps a day - usually at 9:30 and 2:30.  On average, she sleeps 1 hour and 15 minutes at each nap.  Sometimes she takes a power nap lasting 2+ hours and sometimes she wakes screaming after 20 minutes, but these times are the exception, not the rule.  We have a solid bedtime routine that starts around 6:50 and ends in a 7:15 bedtime.  Ava LOVES taking baths and reading books before bed.  Usually, she sleeps straight through the night until at least 6:15, but often until 7.  12 hours, baby!!  Never though I'd see the day.  Never.  It is amazing.  She does stir and cry out multiple times in the night, but usually she's just rolling over and she's fine going right back to sleep.

We now have 8 big-girl teeth!  I loved her toothless grin, but the teeth are pretty darn cute.  I wouldn't say teething was horrible, but it wasn't great either.  She was definitely fussy and woke up a lot at night when a tooth was coming in.  And the drool........Oh, the drool.  We're talking multiple outfits a day kind of drool.  Between the spit up and the drool I was about to go crazy from the constant wetness!!  The drool has finally slowed down, and I think we are now waiting on the one year molars to come in next.  I'm going to try and start brushing her teeth this week - fingers crossed that goes well.

Ava is a good eater overall.  Depending on the day, she can be a great eater or an OK eater.  Sometimes she devours everything on her tray, and sometimes she refuses to touch one bite.  I haven't quite figured it out yet!  She definitely has preferences and makes them clearly known.  Even when she doesn't like something, I keep offering it, and sometimes she randomly starts eating it!  Ava is eating 3 meals a day.  We usually offer her both purees and finger foods at each meal.  She LOVES the organic puree pouches, and she has learned to suck them out herself which is great for eating out at restaurants!  I'm also making my own purees here and there, but in general, she prefers finger food.  Her favorite foods right now are any kind of bread, tortillas, pancakes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pears, bananas, grapes, oranges, cheese, hummus, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and yogurt.  She does not love meat, apples, broccoli, beans, or avocados.  I'm trying new "big girl" foods for her like quesadillas, chicken nuggets, and lots of the meals we are eating.  The results are mixed.  She is drinking water really well out of a straw sippy cup with every meal.

We are still breastfeeding, though we are almost weaned.  I truly can't believe that we made it this far.  It's been a roller coaster, but overall a VERY positive experience.  It's been great to see the weaning process happen so naturally.  It hasn't been stressful and only a little painful.  At 10 months, I was still nursing her five times a day.  First I dropped the 10 pm dreamfeed we were still doing.  Then then I dropped the mid-afternoon feed.  At 11 months, I dropped the mid-morning feed and was left with just early morning and bedtime feeds.  A few days ago, I dropped the bedtime feed, so we are now nursing only once a day, first thing in the morning.  I expect to drop that last feed within a few weeks!  I am sad to think about this phase being over, and I will probably cry, but I know that it is time.  She does not enjoy it like she used to, and she is showing almost no interest.  I am excited for the new post-breastfeeding chapter, and I will always remember the sweet times we had for the last year!

Playtime has gotten a lot more fun as she has shown much more interest in a variety of toys.  She loves anything that lights up and makes music and has started to "dance" and bop around when there is music playing.  So cute!  Girlfriend LOVES a dance party (always has), and we dance daily to music on Pandora.  She just laughs and laughs.  She never adopted a security object, blanket, or pacifier.  Instead, she has made attachments to very random objects.  She has a play remote control that she carries around  It kind of drives me crazy, but whatever works.  She also loves her new baby doll she got for Christmas, a puppy that sings, her trusty music table, a fake cell phone, a pop up toy, a "my first purse" toy (she carries the debit card in her mouth), and a set of play keys.  


Now that she is walking, her very favorite thing to do is just walk around and explore, picking up random objects and seeing what they do.  She especially loves our coasters and coaster holder.  She's starting to get the hang of stacking cups and loves to knock down towers of blocks.  She still enjoys making noise and loves to bang on pots with spoons.  We recently purchased the Ergo carrier, which we LOVE, and she likes to be carried around the house when she's fussy.  Blazer is still her buddy, and they always play side-by-side.  I'm trying to get her to play around more babies, so we started a play group in our neighborhood.  Of course they don't really play together at this age, but they love looking at each other, and it's always fun to play with someone else's toys!  She is still not very interested in TV and will only watch a minute or two of Micky Mouse Clubhouse or Dora.  She is still loving Praise Baby, though!!  Best $8 I ever spent and the only way I can get a shower some days!

Ava, you are a joy and a delight and the cutest baby on the face of the Earth!  (if I do say so myself)
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