Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Adventures in Parenting: Month 11

Weight: 24.5 lbs
Teeth: 8

Eating:  He eats just about everything.  We still haven't tried crunchy vegetables, but he eats table food at day care and pretty much everything we eat for dinner.  

Life Changes: Last month I mentioned that we were house hunting.  Well, now we've house-found, house-bought, and are house-fixing up so that we can house-move-in.  I'm pretty excited and nervous at the same time...it was my first home buying experience.  I was constantly certain that everything was going to fall through, and since it was a For Sale By Owner, at least once or twice I had the thought "this guy doesn't even OWN this house...he's a con man and he's fake-selling us someone else's house.  Have we checked his ID???"

The new house is very similar to our house upstairs--we're pretty sure it was the same building plan/builder.  BUT--now we have a basement, extra bedrooms/bathrooms, storage, a tornado shelter, and a ton of other little extras.
New Living Room

We bought the new place from the original owners, who lived there for about 13 years with their 3 kids--meaning it's well lived in.  So we'll be spending the next month or so fixing dings and dents and repainting and cleaning carpets and whatnot. But I'm excited to move in.  We've already met some of the neighbors and it seems like a great, family-friendly neighborhood.  We've even been invited to a neighorhood BBQ.  Yay!

Finding a New Day Care:  *sigh*  This is no fun.  Seriously.  Trying to find a space for a kid under 2 is SO frustrating.  One day care we called didn't have openings until NEXT summer.    So we may be shuttling Lil' Man to his current day care for a while, which is really out of the way (like, in another town out of the way) until we can find an open spot.

First Plane Ride:  Over Labor Day week, we flew down to Louisiana so my friends could meet Lil' Man for the first time.  I was anxious about the plane ride, but he did great, both there and back.  We had a connection in Dallas, so each leg was about an hour long, which was pretty manageable.  He would sleep for one of the flights, and then be awake for the next, but was pretty easy to entertain--we'd feed him puffs or applesauce and let him play with the seat buttons and latch for the tray table, or sit and watch out the window.  I downloaded a bunch of games and videos onto my iPad, but we never had to use them--ah well, they're ready for the next time!
In Dallas we had a little bit of a layover, so he even got to play in the kids area!

We stayed in Lafayette for 3 days, Morgan City 1 day, and New Orleans 3 days.  It started out a little rough: we tried to visit an alligator farm, only to get there and find out they weren't doing tours, but they did let us see all the wild-caught alligators that had come in that day (it was a LOT, despite it only being about noon).     Then we tried to visit a tap room and got kicked out because they were having a private event (but hadn't put a sign on the door). The next morning, I had planned for us to do a nature walk at one of my favorite spots in Lafayette, only to find out it had flooded in the recent rains and was teeming with mosquitoes.  Needing to fill some time and let my restless child crawl around,  I enlisted help from my local friends and they pointed us to Kart Ranch, which has a special play area for little ones under 5.
But from that point on, it went pretty well.  We got to see most of my friends, eat lots of good food--Lil' Man had MANY firsts:

  • grits
  • cajun sausage
  • rice dressing
  • boudin
  • beignets
  • jambalaya
  • snoball
  • shrimp
  • and probably others that I'm forgetting.
Nommy nommy beignet from Morning Call at City Park.

Sleeping...was rough.  All of our hotels provided either Pack 'n Plays or a collapsible crib (we confirmed this ahead of time before booking), but Lil' Man had a hard time sleeping in so many new places, and would inevitably end up in bed with us sometime around 3am. Which means we were all a little sleep-deprived for the entire week.  I brought some sheets from home so they would smell familiar, which probably helped, but apparently not enough.

"Yeah, I see the crib.  I'm good right here."

We played tourist and visited Avery Island Tabasco factory, City Park in New Orleans, and did a walking tour of the Garden District (for free, using the self-guided tour in that link).  Note:  The sidewalks in New Orleans are...choppy, at times, which can be rough for stroller travel.  You've been warned.
Brace yourself, kiddo...

Initially, I spent a lot of time planning our trip by trying to find kid-oriented activities for us to do.  And then I realized--when your kid is under a year, and still sleeps a fair bit, and can't walk, and won't remember any of the trip, it's a little silly to spend a lot of time (and money) trying to do activities he can't really participate in and won't remember.  Our son can still spend nearly half an hour being entertained by a PLASTIC SPOON.  So, aside from making sure the places we went had high chairs, it was pretty easy to travel with him and still do the things WE like to do--which is mainly eat, drink, and walk around and see stuff.
Snoozing while Mom & Dad try some new brews at Second Line Brewing in NOLA.

I realized about halfway through our trip--this is actually a pretty easy age for traveling with him (aside from the sleeping arrangements).  He's still portable in the infant carrier/stroller, he's not nursing anymore so we can feed him a bottle anywhere that has warm water, and he's eating table food so we don't have to cart around a bunch of baby food. Each morning before leaving the hotel, we filled a bottle with hot water (and put the bottle in a coozie to help keep it warm), and grabbed some yogurt, a banana, and made him a jelly sandwich from the complimentary breakfast fare--bam, there's lunch and snacks for him, if we don't happen to eat at a sit down place with choices for him.  

And New Orleans was very kid-friendly, everywhere we went.  We particularly liked Urban South Brewing, which has a kids area for little ones to play at.  Lil' Man loved the train table and the tote full of Mega Blocks.  They usually have food trucks, but none were there the evening we visited, so the bartender recommended ordering pizza from Slice & having it delivered. I loved eating at Slice when I lived in NOLA, and I'm happy to say it's still delicious. (I highly recommend the Flying Hawaiian.)
Not really thinking, I put our kiddo down in the kids play area without socks (because it was pretty warm out).  And it wasn't long until I noticed his bare feet were pretty dirty.  And some Mom Guilt started creeping in.  "You put your son down on a dirty old warehouse floor, and let him play?  When were those blocks last cleaned?  He's totally going to get lead poisoning, or Zika, or some other disease from touching all this dirty stuff."  

And then, in a moment of fate, a 20-something girl walked over to our table and said, "I just have to tell you...you guys are doing life RIGHT.  I mean...seriously." And she gave us a little bow. I laughed, and thanked her, and pushed the Mom Guilt aside as I looked at my happy child, contendedly playing, and smiled.  Yes...yes we are.  Kids are meant to get dirty.  And later after we finished our pizza and beer, we went back to the hotel and plunked him into the pool, which took care of all of that soot just fine. :)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Adventures in Parenting: Month 10

Weight: 22 lbs
Teeth: 7

Birthday parties: I'm probably supposed to start planning this, right? O_o

Mobility:  Kid is everywhere.  We're crawling, cruising, and essentially getting into every nook and cranny where his tiny body and giant head can fit.  Baby proofing required some padded corners, cabinet locks, and moving of some furniture to prevent access to some spots.  

We also have this uber-wide entryway between our living room and kitchen--too wide for any available pressure-mount gates and we don't want to put holes in the walls.  So a coworker gave us their 6-panel play yard--we're using 4 panels to block off this entry and the other two near the fireplace. 

Sleep:  Now that he can move around in his crib a lot, this is requiring some adjustment for all of us.  Sometimes he wakes up, sits up, cries or babbles for a bit, crawls around, and then within a minute or two, plops down in a new spot and passes out. Sometimes in some really strange positions.  On at least one occasion, he just flopped forward while sitting up and fell asleep doubled over.

I envy your flexibility, kid.

Or sometimes he stays awake for 10-15 minutes, just sitting there playing with a pacifier quietly, and it's a 50/50 shot as to whether he'll eventually lay down on his own or one of us will have to go in there and soothe him back to sleep.  It's a crap shoot, really.
A particularly rough night, but passed out at 10:04pm.

We've learned to just be wary.  If he's got a cold, we mentally prepare ourselves to get up every couple hours...and then sometimes he surprises us by sleeping through the night.  5 nights in a row.  But we KNOW it's coming--the night when he wakes up 3-4 times.  So we just try to assume that we're going to have to get up at some point EVERY NIGHT, and then if we don't, it's a nice surprise.

Eating:  He's doing pretty well with finger foods and spoon feeding "real" food. I can cut up pasta with some sauce and veggies and ground beef and feed it to him on a spoon, and he'll manage pretty well.  Sometimes he can't quite handle the little bits of ground beef so after he's been chewing on them forever I just fish it out of his mouth (the joys of being a mom). He loves quartered grapes and chunks of watermelon--though he'll squeeze the watermelon until all the "water" is on his high chair tray and then eat the "melon". ...so maybe he just likes "melon".

We've also tried giving him bits of banana "rolled in Cheerio dust" so they're easier to pick up.  Which is true, they are...but that "dust" eventually turns into a "crust" which doesn't seem to end up in his mouth--just all over his hands, face, the high chair....but hey, he's self feeding, and babies are messy. It's what they do.  

He's a big fan of pancakes, his cheese puff snacks...oh, and Mexican food.  Seriously... I think Mexican food is designed for sharing with babies.  Mild salsa, guacamole, refried beans, rice, cheesy bits of soft tortilla...he has a field day!
Nomming on some banana-oat pancakes.

Teeth: He's had 6 for quite a while, so we've just been waiting for his lower lateral incisors to show up.  Finally noticed one of them peeking through the other day, which probably means that #8 isn't far behind.  He doesn't get overly cranky with teething, but it does usually mean a few more wake-ups than usual, a lot more drool, and always having something in his mouth to gnaw on.

Solo Parenting:  I started talking about this last month.  We survived 2 weeks without The Hubs.  Barely. It was pretty rough. I'm glad for a good day care that's open 6am-6pm which gave me some flexibility... if he woke up super early, I could just nurse him, change his diaper, and then take him there in his PJs and they'd feed him breakfast.  Or if I was running late from work because of traffic, I had until 6pm to get him.  For the weekend that we were alone, we went to my parents' house so I wouldn't have to try to entertain him all by myself, and that was really helpful.  He loves Nana and Papa, and their boxer Joey.  

I also had to go to a conference during this time period, which involved an overnight stay.  Thankfully, the conference was being hosted at a resort that was about 45 minutes from my parents' house, so my mom came down to watch Baby J while I was in sessions.  The night before that was tough, though.  Lil' Man wasn't handling the strange room well, and after going to bed at 9pm, woke at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30... after that last one, I just said "screw it".  My hotel room had a king size bed, so I used all the pillows in the room to build a fort around the edge, and brought him into bed with me.  It took him about 5 minutes to get settled down, but he fell back asleep snuggled next to me. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to fall asleep because of being paranoid that I'd roll over on him, but eventually I found a comfortable position that ensured I'd have to wake up to turn, and I passed out too. It definitely wasn't the most restful night's sleep ever, but he did sleep until 5:30am that way.

Developments:  He's a jabberbox, with lots of "mamama-dadadada-babababa-nanananan"...but mostly only at home.  Out in public he's quieter, sitting back and watching everything around him and smiling at everyone who passes.

He's also started testing the waters of standing without holding on, and crawling everywhere (including under things, like the dining table and end tables if he can manage it). No longer content to stay in one spot, if we're not in the room with him he's on the move to come find us.

He also loves to make us smile or laugh at him. One of the newest games is him scrowling at us if we touch his forehead or nose.  Then we scrowl back at him and he immediately smiles.
Life with Kids:  We hosted a BBQ at our house for the first time in..well, a long time, but definitely the first time we've had people over since Lil' Man was born.  Many of our friends now have kids, so it was important to me that we be able to keep them entertained.  Ages ranged from 9 months - 3 years.  I pulled out all of the "toys that make noise", bought a couple big rubber balls, and a bubble machine.  I have no idea if any of the adults had fun, but the kids were definitely entertained.  

And of course, then there's Lil' Man's stalker B...who could care less if there were any toys so long as she gets to play with Baby J.

Home Repairs and Babies: So we're looking to buy a slightly bigger place and put our house on the market, which means getting our house up to snuff as well and taking care of 12 years of wear & tear.  Which would probably be a LOT easier without a kid in the house.  Generally, it means scrambling to get as much work done as possible while he's napping, and then taking turns on projects so one person can keep him entertained or work on something while in the same room as him while the other works on a bigger project in another room.  But we've made a lot of progress just in the last couple weeks with small updates:  touch up painting, replacing some worn out looking hardware and flooring, deep cleaning, etc.  There's still a lot to do, but we've got time.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thirsty Thursday: Peach Muscadine Sangria

I picked up this bottle of wine during my last trip down to Louisiana, knowing that we had an upcoming BBQ for our 5th wedding anniversary.  It seemed like a perfect way to add a little "Cajun" flair to our party!  

In the past, I've not had a lot of good luck with Louisiana wines--primarily because the grape that grows the best in Louisiana is the muscadine.  It's a beautiful, GIANT grape with a thick skin, native to the southeastern states with a slightly odd sweet taste that in my past experiences has resulted in an overly sweet wine.  However, it seems that Landry Vineyards has managed to tame the wild muscadine, resulting in a light, semi-sweet, very drinkable peach blend.  I would have been perfectly content to sip this chilled from a glass all by itself on our back porch...but I promised our friends a peach sangria!

I was really pleased with how this turned out.  Very light, drinkable, not overly sweet, perfect for a summer BBQ!

1 bottle (750mL) peach muscadine wine (you could sub another white fruit blend if you can't find this exact one)
1 cup peach brandy
1/4 cup lime juice
2 cans ginger ale
Fresh Fruit: 2 peaches, 1 apple, 1 orange, washed

The morning of the day you plan on serving (or the night before if you'll be having with brunch), slice up your fruit and add to a pretty pitcher.  Pour in the lime juice, brandy, wine, and ginger ale, stir, and then cover to help preserve the effervescence.  Place in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, then serve to your guests! Use the bits of fruit as garnish. Enjoy!