Monday, July 28, 2014

Cousin Fun

Last week, we were finally able to have cousins come visit!  My sister and her three little girls came to spend a few days at chez Ackerman.  We had plans of going and visiting a local water park (which we've tried to do for the past 2 years); but yet again it didn't happen.  Even though it is the end of July, the weather was in the low 70s -- not water weather!

We did have a day of outside play, and even discussed pulling out the trusty slip'n'slide, but I didn't believe the girls would actually play with it.  I figured I'd set it up and they'd get cold in 10 min.  Instead, I set up Uncle Steve's sprinkler (it's his because he uses it to water the yard) and let the girls run around it.  They played for longer than I thought they would.  After getting good and wet, they finally believed us that our decision to not pay for a water park visit was a good idea!

While they were here we had an afternoon of lunch and shopping, played American girls, watched movies, took a trip to our favorite ice cream stop, painted crafts, and fought over shared playing with Bean!  Of course, I got zero pictures while they were here.  I'm not very good at remembering to take photos, then put that on top of being responsible for another human being and trying to have fun with 3 nieces made it impossible.

Every time the girls come, they dream of having a huge American Girl playing party.  (I can finally say their collection is bigger than mine!)  Usually, we drag all the stuff out, set everything up to play, and then move on to some other activity.  This time, since we could only play when Bean was sleeping (she wanted to play with us and the pieces were too small and dolls too delicate) we were intentional with our doll playing time.  It was one of the best doll play times we've had, complete with dance class and a formal dance party. With many lessons on how to properly share doll clothes. . .

We always try to do some sort of "special" event when the nieces come to visit.  This trip's special event didn't disappoint -- we took the girls to "Christmas in July" at our favorite ice cream place.  Uncle Steve was the one who really wanted to go!  Pete's Ice Cream had a fundraising event that involved Christmas decorations, Santa in a summer outfit, and a ridiculously good deal on ice cream on July 25.  All six of us got our own ice cream for $5!  Can't beat that deal!

It was nice to have all the help (and entertainment) for Bean, even if there were even more lessons on sharing!  We had to set up a "help feeding" schedule so that each niece knew when it was their turn to help with Bean.  I especially loved having my sister here!  She is an obvious baby pro, and even got up and relieved me of Bean at 3am (Steve and I had already been tag teaming for almost an hour!).  One evening, she even made dinner while watching all 4 girls, so that Steve and I could go to the dentist.

(Emily-11; Bean - 9 months; Allie - 8; Gabbie - 5)

Bean loves her aunt & cousins and can't wait to see them all again soon!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Our New Normal

This is our new normal:

Lots of pulling up, standing for long periods of time, and reaching for items on higher surfaces.  All of this means we've entered a new phase of baby toddler! We are now having to pay attention to what we leave on the coffee table, where our power chords are, and what is in her vicinity that could hurt her if she falls from a standing position.  

(We had a rough day of refusing to nap.  I heard her on the monitor, looked at her on the video feed, and discovered her standing in the crib.  Usually, she'll just hold onto the rungs and be on her knees.  Not anymore!)

(Look what I can do mom!  Oh, and I'm not taking a nap, either!)

(She's only "cruised" once by inching towards the wall using the baby gate.  Walking is just around the corner. . . )

Sunday, July 20, 2014

9 Months!

Our little (or should I say big?) Bean is 9 months old weighing in at just a little over 17.5 lbs (25th percentile) and just over 27" in length (just under 75th percentile)!  It seems like yet again she has changed and grown up so much in the last month.  I'm constantly in awe as I watch her play and just see her developing into this sweet independent little person.

She now spends a lot of her time playing and learning new things.  She has a basket of toys in the living room that she constantly dumps out, goes through, and moves the toys around.  A couple times a day, I pick up all the toys and put them back int he basket, just for her to dump again later.  She has also discovered that she can open up the bottom drawer of our cabinet with dvds inside.  She'll take them out one by one and drop them all around the floor.  I am constantly putting them back in the drawer, just so she can take them back out (and note, I keep the dvds alphabetized and still put them back in proper order.  Someday i'll crack over the process and just throw them back in.)  Another favorite past time is taking all the diapers out of the diaper box (which I constantly put back in).  Just before nap times, our living room looks like a war zone with diapers, toys, and dvds.

Nap times are my favorite times of days because it is a time of recharging for both Bean and myself. When I'm smart, I take advantage of the time and clean up the house - do the dishes, do a load or two of laundry, vacuum/mop (it's amazing how a crawling baby's clothes teaches you how quickly floors get dirty!), work on my latest craft project, pick up toys, or even work outside and mow.  When I'm not smart (or shall I use the word more like lazy) I'll lay down and take a nap (or maybe it is smart to sleep when baby sleeps?); or sometimes, I just sit and listen to the quiet house and do nothing (I like to think of this more as a mental nap, ha).

Her schedule is still about the same as last time, just with different activities:

4-5am: Wakes up, nurses and goes back to sleep
7/7:30am - Wake up, eat a yogurt for breakfast along with a bottle of formula; then plays with toys and crawls around like crazy.  She won't sit in her jumper anymore, but likes to pull up on it and play with the toys still.
9 - 11am: Nap time!  Nurses to sleep & typically she naps around 1.5-2 hours
11:30pm - Lunch - veggie puree, a little fruit puree, pieces of fruit (like banana)
2-4pm: Nap time! Again nurses to sleep
4:30pm - Snack time - watches Arthur and eats some puffs and bottle of formula
5:30pm - Dinner - eats leftovers (like mac'n'cheese) along with fruit puree
6:30pm - Grazes food off of mom/dad while we eat
7:15pm - Cereal (like oatmeal)
7:30pm - Bath time
7:45/8pm - Bottle of formula, then nurses to sleep

If you didn't notice in her schedule, we are substituting a lot more formula.  Since I've cut back on breastfeeding when introducing food, my supply went down.  I just recently realized that with my supply going down, she still needs milk; thus, the supplementing with formula.  About a couple weeks ago, we first just started giving her formula before bed.  It definitely helps her sleep better.  I hadn't pumped in a very long time, so that's when I realized my supply was way down.  I thought she was fine with just loading her up with more baby food, but discovered at her recent doctor's appointment, that's not he case.  Haha, sorry little girl you've been a little milk deprived which is why she's dropped a percentile; but don't worry, we are back on track now!

Her sleeping has finally turned a corner.  We haven't figured out the exact winning combination, but we are definitely moving in the right direction.  The first improvement was giving her 6 oz of formula (versus the 2-3 oz of breastmilk she was getting).  Formula lasts in the tummy longer, which I think has helped her sleep better.  Another thing that has really helped is the addition of a camera in her room.  It didn't really change anything, other than allowing me to check in on her while she's crying and giving me peace of mind that she's ok.  If she's still laying while crying, I'll let her cry it out and typically she's back asleep within 5 minutes.  If she's up pulling on the crib, I'll go in, feed her, and she'll go back to sleep.  We are down to only 1 feeding at night (and I won't feed her before 4am).  There are some nights where she'll cry out 2-3 times throughout the night, but those are definitely fewer than they had been.  Our current normal is her getting up only once between 4-5am.  I'll take it!

She's become really mobile and has definitely mastered crawling (or technically 'creeping' since it's on her hands and knees, but who is getting technical?).  It seemed to happen overnight her ability to just pull and drag herself around to actually zooming on hands and knees.  She's even started to pull up on things (like the coffee table, couch, and daddy's Ikea chair) which has resulted in some bruises.  Although, she's a pretty tough kid and doesn't cry at every spill.  With this new mobility, we've had to make some changes to her play space in the living room.  A lot of times have gotten the boot (like a plant on the floor that she loved to tear off and put in her mouth and magazines from the bottom of the coffee table).  Some things have been duct taped to avoid being hazardous (like a random face plate hiding a hole in the wall - the screws are loose and kept falling off.  So now it is duct taped to the wall and no worries about loose screws!).  The biggest change arrived a couple weeks ago -- a baby gate!  We got a "play yard" which allows you to form a series of gates into different shapes to fit specific spaces (or to just create a circle).  We've positioned it to pin off a location between the couch and fireplace.

We were going to just use the baby gate to separate the living room from the foyer, but discovered a non-conspicuous hazard behind our couch -- an old trunk from WWII era.  One day while playing behind the couch, I saw her grab at some loose leather pieces on it (that used to be a strap).  I swatted her away from it, but didn't realize she had some in her hand.  I quickly learned she'd gotten a piece by the choking/gagging sound that ensued.  I quickly dug the leather out, but she did swallow some small flecks.  I called poison control (just to be safe) and learned that I should be more concerned about her exposure to the paint on the trunk (which is most likely lead based) -good to know!

Bean is eating just about anything and everything (don't worry, I've stopped the leather consumption).  Her favorite food is definitely bananas.  She will eat either the baby food version (or any combination like banana/berry) or a plain banana cut into chunks.  I've tried to give her blueberries, but she thought they were too sour by all the faces she was making.  She's really gotten into feeding herself and loves things like macaroni and cheese, stuffing, cottage cheese, rice, puffs, pieces of bread, etc.  Feeding her has gotten much easier since she now eats "people food".  We typically always have some sort of a leftover in the fridge that she can eat.

Sometime in the past few weeks, she has seemed to have grown out of a lot of her clothes.  The weather has been cooler, so she's been in more onesies and pants.  Now that it has warmed up, I went to put her in a summer outfit that she wore last month, and it barely fit. She can still do a few size 6-9 months.  But is more comfortable in 9months or 12months sizes.  Sometime this month she graduated into size 3 diapers, but I definitely don't remember when that happened! She's drooling like crazy and constantly wearing a big; however, she still just has 2 little teeth on the bottom.

(This girl is so happy after her naps! Sometimes she'll just play in the crib for a little bit before I go and get her.)

(Bean typically ignores the tv when it's on, which I'll admit is most of the time.  But if I put cartoons on for her, or a commercial comes on with music.  She will just stare at the tv.  I also must note that the playmat has been retired- which was hard for me to do!  She still plays with the toys that hung from it, but the arc and mat have been put away.)

(Another way I find Bean in her crib.  It was rare that this time she was smiling.  Typically she is crying in this position.)

(Notice a common trend in the last two photos?  She's pulling up on everything!)

(Showing off her bruise on her right cheek.  She tried to pull up on daddy's chair and lost the battle with the wood frame. She got this lovely bruise right before 4th of July, just in time for everyone to see her and say, "what did mommy and daddy do to you?!")

(Did I mention she's eating everything?!  I'm not one who graciously shares food.  Steve has really helped break me of my selfishness with food; and now, I get to share with him AND Bean.  Her cute little inquisitive faces she makes as I'm eating something help me want to share.  Here she's eating some of a poptart.  Only easy thing about sharing this with her is that I gave her the crust pieces!)

(I've always wondered how Bean sleeps, since she's usually sitting up when I go and get her.  Until our recent addition with the camera, I was left in the dark to only guess that she sleeps on her side or maybe tummy.  One day, I went in to wake her up and found her all huddled in bed on her tummy.  She sleeps just like me!)

("Helping" mom with dishes.  Did I also mention she's pulling up on everything?!  While I'm making dinner or doing dishes, she'll typically play on the kitchen floor with a measure spoon.  Now that she's able to pull up, she's found a new game of reaching for items in the dishwasher and pulling silverware out.)

(This picture definitely doesn't look like it was taken in mid July, but it was!  For a few days, we had windows open and sporting sweatshirts, pants, and socks.  We've still been having cool weather and not running the AC, but at least now we're back to wearing tshirts and shorts.)

(Big girl now sits in a high chair when we go out to eat!  How in the world did she get this big?!)

(Everyday I say, "she looks so much like her daddy!"  This picture pretty much secures that statement.  They both even zone out the same!)

(She typically plays in the living room without even realizing she's gated in.  But today, this happened - she's pulling up onto her tippy toes!  She even "cruised" a little by grabbing the next rung and scooting over.  She'll be walking before we know it!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer time!

We LOVE summer.  Maybe it's the warmer weather or the longer days?  All I know, is that in the summer, our schedule somehow gets overloaded and summer flies by.  I can't believe it is already mid July! We've been pretty busy this summer with all our outside work, but we've managed to squeeze in some fun time too!

For Bean's first 4th of July, we headed over to our friends' cookout.  They live close to our local park that has a huge 4th of July event complete with a fireworks show.  We got to visit with lots of friends from church and our small group while feasting on delicious food.  We chose not to head down to the park this year, but instead go great seats on our friends' front lawn to see the fireworks.  We had a great time!  Bean did amazing.  Didn't even flinch at the load fireworks that were shot off next door!  She loved watching all the bright flashes in the sky.  She stayed awake until we got home (which was surprising to me!).  Maybe it was from all the sugar that was fed to her from some friends ;-)

This past weekend, we got to mark another summer first for Bean -- a county fair!  We headed back home to good old Indiana to visit the county fair with my family.  In Ohio, county fairs cost admission per person.  Back home, you only pay for parking.  By hitting that fair instead of our local one, we were able to splurge on the food - corn dogs, elephant ear, and homemade strawberry cheesecake ice cream.  Yum-o!  Bean played her cards right and ended up being hungry at the fair without me having food for her.  So she and I split that delicious elephant ear.  That's right, I fed my 9 month old elephant ear goodness, and she loved it.

While we were at my parents' house for the weekend, my dad put Steve to work on a big project he has been working on. He has been rebuilding the engine/transmission on his van for the past few weeks.  Steve was there along with my brother-in-law at just the right time - putting the engine back in the car.  While the guys were out working, all the girls enjoyed time with Bean!

I had been hoping to get in some pool time while at my parents, but it didn't work out.  That's okay, because just the day before heading to Indiana, Bean and I snuck in some local pool time with my good friend Sara!  Sara has a membership to a pool and we were able to bum off of it.  This was Bean's first pool experience.  At first, Bean thought the water was too cold in the kiddie pool and didn't want to go in.  Eventually she warmed up to the water and didn't want to get out! What a fish :)

(Looking all cute at the 4th of July cookout.  She was sporting a cute blue bird shirt from Sara, but I couldn't get Bean to cooperate and show it off.  It was pretty chilly so we had to keep sweaters on, too!)

(The best view of the bird shirt I could muster up from her.)

(I forgot to throw this photo in with our yard work post.  On our work weekend, Bean called most of the shots and demanded a popsicle to cool her down while she watched mommy & daddy work.  How can I resist that cute face?)

(At the fair, there is this crazy old puppet called Grandpa Cratchet that does a puppet show.  Notice how Steve and Chris - and no nieces - are the only ones sitting and watching the puppets?!  The show was over, but you could pay $$ to get your picture with Grandpa Cratchet.)

(Bean soaking up Ahm & Abo time with Bean!)

(Waiting for the piggy races.  This was a first for us at the fair.  At certain times, they'd race little pigs and apparently give the winning pig an oreo.  I didn't get to see the races.  Too many people crowded around and I couldn't see through them all.)

(Working on the engine.  There were parts all over the garage, haha.  My dad had taken pictures as he took it all apart so that he'd know how to put it all back together.)

(So apparently, my dad took the engine all apart and bought a simple maintenance kit to revamp the engine.  The kit just had new washers, seals, etc.  Chris spent a good amount of time taking off old seals, cleaning parts with kerosene, and putting on the new parts.)

(It's hard to tell but the engine is hanging over the van, waiting to be lowered down into place.)

(Check out all those parts.  I especially loved the fact that there are parts sticking up out of that Dr. Pepper box. Haha.  Steve had a good time getting to work with the guys and learning more about cars.  However, he did not approve of the workplace environment.  He said safety from the plant was too ingrained into his head - my dad even called Steve OSHA.)

(Just hanging out at the pool with mom!  Bean did really well hanging out with us at the pool!  After spending a long time in the water, I made her sit on the pool chair with me.  She got a little stir crazy, but overall did well!)

(Too cute!  Thanks Sara for letting us crash your pool day!)

(We went to the pool around nap time.  I wasn't sure how she'd do, and she of course was a superstar! She did eventually get tired and crashed.  I had the stroller with us, so she just napped in it while we lounged around!)

(Now if only it would warm back up!  We are wearing sweatshirts, pants, and socks and still cold! We hope to get in some more pool time in, but for now, we will enjoy our fall like weather!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Big Mulch Porject

We got really lucky when we bought our house, in the fact that all the front landscaping and been professionally done.  Unfortunately, not all of it had been kept up.  The first summer we lived here, I spent a lot of my time outside pulling weeds, laying landscape fabric, and putting mulch (purchased in bags from Menards) all around.  Then the next summer, I spent zero time on the landscaping since I was pregnant and had other things to accomplish.  This summer, we kicked it into high gear and both of us spent a lot of time outside working!

We had a goal to fix all the landscaping just in the front of the house.  For a couple weeks, I would spend a couple hours each day outside working on pulling up the landscaping fabric I laid a few summers ago (weeds were poking through and we deemed it a lost cause), pulling weeds, and trimming all the bushes.  On the weekends, Steve would work outside with me and he would cut and prep all the edges for the mulch.  We had most of the area ready for mulch by the July 4th weekend.  We took advantage of that 3 day weekend and had a huge truck load of mulch delivered from Resource Recycling the Thursday before (we got a discount for advertising for them on Facebook!).  We were able to spread the mulch quickly in that same evening.  Only, we didn't even make a slight dent in the mulch pile! We quickly changed our goals and busted our butts to get a ton done that weekend!

We ended up getting the entire front landscaping done, as well as the landscaping that rounded around the side of our house.  I'm pretty sure that area hasn't been touched in 5+ years.  Steve cut out about a foot of grass along the edge while I spent my time weeding.  After a section was all weeded and edged, he'd lay Preen down and then mulch.  There were a couple of bush/trees that drive Steve crazy.  They were overgrown and hide the house.  He wants to just tear them out, but I compromised with trimming them way down.  This project wasn't even on our to-do list, but after a quick decision and an hour of work.  That area looks tons better!

So what about Bean?  Well, she is an absolute trooper!  She is pretty adaptable to going with the flow.  On the days where I'd work out in the yard during all the prep work, I'd take her jumper outside. She'd play in it for awhile.  Then I'd put her down for a nap and continue working while she slept.  On the weekends when Steve and I were both out in the yard.  I'd work along with him during her naps.  When she was awake, I would have her play on a blanket in the yard for a little bit.  But the blanket play wasn't the best solution.  She liked to pull at the grass and swallow/choke on it. So usually one of us was playing with her while the other was working.  A couple of times while we were outside, the neighbor's grandkids would come and play with her on the blanket.  They all loved it!

So usually I'm fairly good about doing before and after photos, but I didn't get many before photos.

(Bean hanging out on the blanket playing.  The first couple of times we had her outside, she wouldn't go off the blanket.  She didn't like the feel of grass so we didn't have to worry.  But then she got adventurous and would not only go off the blanket, but would eat the grass!  Or at least try.  She had one attempt that resulted in a huge gagging fit that nearly put Steve over the edge.)

(Before photo of the mulch freshly dumped!)

(Here's a good in action shot.  You can see Steve's edging and my weeding!  Notice all the weeds in the back corner?  The entire landscaping from this edge all the way around the house was just covered in hundreds of weeds.)

(Close up of the weeds.  We also tore out a bush that wasn't doing much since it didn't get good sunlight.)

(Debating on whether or not we should tackle these bushes. There are three of them that hide the side room on our house.  We've tried to trim them in the past, but haven't had much luck.  We decided to really cut them back, just wasn't sure how to get it done.)

(Steve started with using the loppers, but wasn't having much success.  He went to set up our little chainsaw while I took over the loppers.  He was able to cut through the thicker branches with the chainsaw while I continued trimming one branch at a time. )

(The finished product.  We wanted to trim them down even more, but then they just wouldn't been heaps of sticks.  So we decided to leave some leaves on, even it it looks strange.  Ha.  Notice how half is mulched and half is awaiting mulch.  Steve also had to finish the edging along the side on the right.)

(After doing all the landscaping on the front and right side of the house, and even putting some in the back.  We decided we were done with the project for this year.  We were burnt out from all the work.  We probably spent about 3 weekends and two solid weeks on this project.  I could've gotten it done quicker without Bean, but we still exceeded our goals! Our neighbor took the rest of the mulch off our hands.

(We still have a few things here and there to work on - like weeds popping up in the patio sidewalk.)

(When we worked on the landscaping a few summers ago, we only got the landscaping done just to the right of the blue door.  We never got to in front of the window, or around the side of the house.  Our original goal was just to get done to the front living room window.)

(This opens up the house so much!)

(We got the mulch all done along the side.  If we were overachievers, we would have continued in the back around the patio with the grill, but that didn't happen.  I guess there's next year?)

Monday, July 7, 2014

We've Been Busy!

The past few weeks have flown by, and I'm not sure exactly where all the time has gone.  What I do know, is that it feels like we've been going non-stop with no immediate end in sight.  A big chunk of our past few weeks have been consumed with tons of yard work, but you'll have to wait for more info on that in another post ;-).

A couple of weeks ago, Steve had to go to Wisconsin for business for a few days.  Since he went with some other guys, it didn't make sense for us to tag along (shucks, haha).  So instead, Bean and I headed over to Indiana for a few days with my family!  While we were there, we packed in lots of time with  my friend April, family, and even got to have a play date with one of my childhood friend's kids!

(I love this picture for how freakishly long it makes cousin Emily's legs look!  She is pretty tall and lanky, but this picture makes it look crazy.  It also makes Bean look like she only has one leg.  Ha!)

(Getting some love- and learning to pose - with cousin Allie!)

(Cousin Gabbie can't get enough of Bean.  She's constantly wanting to hold her, even though Bean just wants to be playing with toys.  Pretty sure someday, Gabbie is going to wish Bean would leave her alone, but for now they are inseparable.)

(Mmmmm, Ahm learned the hard way to keep the container of food away from Bean's reach.  Doesn't bother me any since I didn't have to clean it up!  Did I mention how much I enjoyed having all the help and not being responsible for Bean?!)

(April and Bean playing with a crazy playset.  Bean loved the playset so much, that we stole it from Ahm's house!  April kept raising a platform up and Bean would immediately pull it back down.  So funny!)

(Playdate with my childhood friend's kids! I hadn't seen my friend in a couple of years.  But I did get to see his daughter last year at my baby shower.  What a little cutie she is!)

(And playing with my friend's son.  His son is just a couple months younger that Bean, but they were nearly the same size!)

(Throwback photo -- here are me and my friend in my crib a ridiculously long time ago.  I am a couple months older than him - which is the same age gap of Bean and his son!)

(We recreated that moment from our babyhood for our kids.  We had a couple of other good photos, specifically Bean crawling all over him, but this is one of my favorites.  It's like he knew she was about to crawl all over him and was hoping to keep her away. Haha.)

Bean and I returned home on the same day that Steve got back; however, we didn't return alone.  We had a hitchhiker join us.  Okay, not a real hitchhiker, but my mom came back with us!  My parents are scheduled to teach a few Sundays in our class at church.  So mom was able to come spend a few extra days with us, and then my dad joined on the weekend.  While she was here, I was able to get a lot done and even enjoy a nice lunch out with a friend sans baby!

Time always goes by way too fast when you're with family, but we tried to soak up and enjoy every minute of it.  I especially took advantage and was able to "take a break" from a lot of my mom responsibilities for almost an entire week! With all the extra help, I didn't have to worry about diaper changes or food feeding.  Bean especially liked all the attention- especially during play time!  I was afraid she was going to be too spoiled from all the extra attention and that it would take days to get her back into a routine.  However, it ended up working in my favor because she ended up sleeping through the night a couple nights after things "returned to normal".  But that was short lived.  If only we could get this sleep thing figured out!