Monday, July 25

the case of the terrible yogurt.

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learning machine.

It has only been two weeks since Iris' 9 month post, but she's already learned so much more! Last week, she played "peek-a-boo" with me for the first time! We'd just taken a bubble bath together, I had wrapped her up in a towel and put the hood over her head, which she can't stand. She grabbed the hood with both hands, pulled it up and grinned at me. She pulled it back down... then pulled it back up with another grin and repeated as I asked "wheeere's Iris? ...there she is!" It was so adorable I could have just squished her! 

She holds onto the couch and coffee table and walks herself along them. If we hold her hands and move quickly, she can literally run down the hallway! She turns the pages as I read stories and lets out breathy "peh" sounds in reaction to her favorite pictures. Today she started imitating me giving her kisses - when I purse my lips, she will do the same. She imitates sounds as well! 

In the bath this past weekend, I put a few toy links in the water and she immediately learned that she could use one hand to pick them up, while using the other hand to hold multiple rings. She loves picking up two objects at once in one hand and that was the first time she'd made the connection that she can hold more than two at one time.

I'm so impressed and amazed by this little girl!

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music monday.

Thursday, July 21

definitely the same baby!

What a difference eight months makes!
...or not!

a trip to the park.

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Iris' little face lighting up with delight was the highlight of last weekend.
Swinging was one of my favorite things to do as a child.
Even now, I will run excitedly to a swing set and play at flying.
It was so wonderful to see our baby reveling in the same sensations.
I love being able to ignite that bubbling giggle of hers!
There will surely be many more trips to the park!

Wednesday, July 20

nine month old nursling.

She's been putting the back of her hand against me like that since she was born. 
It slays me every time.

I could nurse this little baby forever...

wordless wednesday.

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Friday, July 15

being awake.

Iris was a brilliant sleeper when she was first born up until about four months old. Being of the school of thought that parents should respond to their baby's cues and not the other way around, I never imposed any kind of schedule on her. Luckily, she seemed to grasp the difference between day and night right away and was even sleeping in 8 hour stretches for a couple of weeks. That is, until the dreaded teething began.

I've mentioned recently that I was reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley. Well, I finally caved and bought this highly recommended book a few weeks ago because Marius and I could not figure out what was going on. I was perfectly happy to wake up three, four and even five times a night to nurse Iris back to sleep. It honestly didn't affect me much. I so enjoyed cuddling with her on the couch during those quiet, dark moments. I did this for about three months. I'm one of those lucky people who can function normally on less sleep but when she started waking me up every 15 minutes at night, I just couldn't do it anymore. I was awake round the clock and neither of us was able to complete a full sleep cycle. I just couldn't do it anymore. 

The first step was to change where she slept. Instead of the Rock 'n Play Sleeper which seemed to be cramping her new desire to move in her sleep, we brought her crib mattress into our room and pushed it up against my side of the bed. There was another week or two of waking very often, leaving me a teary-eyed and frustrated wreck. The next step was to get her sleeping on her own for nap-time because after months of sleep deprivation and a whining, crying, teething baby all over me at every hour of the day... well, I needed some time to myself. I will do everything reasonable that is within my power to nurture her and give her everything she needs. Parenting is not an easy job. However, as Marius often has to remind me - I need to take care of myself too. I often don't realize how badly I need to change something until it's right in my face and I break down. When I am highly informed or feel passionate about a certain topic, I may be very obstinate. I like to make things work my way and will dismiss other input because "I am right dammit!"

So, I gave in to buying the book. It offers gentle solutions to getting your baby (up to 2 years old) to sleep better and longer. Many of the suggestions were things I was already doing but it did enlighten me to one very simple yet important idea. Iris was screaming for a schedule. After the great number of hours of research I did while pregnant, I know how important it is for newborns to be fed and allowed to sleep on demand, no matter the hour! However, I have recently neglected to remember that Iris isn't a newborn anymore and has different needs. One of these is based on her new level of awareness of the world - she wants to know what to expect or in other words have a routine.

We all have our daily routines, for if we didn't our day would be chaos. I have daily routines of course, but being a stay at home mom means my day is relatively unstructured and I tend to just do what I want, when I want to. I missed Iris' cues for the need of a structured routine in her life. Since I developed a solid plan as to how our days go, she is sleeping so much better. It would sometimes be a 2-5 hour ordeal to get her to sleep. Now, it takes an hour at most. She naps within a half hour of the same two times every day. After morning naps she has a bath and gets dressed for the day. We have play time most of the day and by evening she is actually ready for bed. These were such simple changes which made us all much happier and more rested!

Situations like this remind me of why it's so important to be a conscious parent. We need to listen to what our children have to say and look at things from their point of view. I learned a lot about myself both as a mother and a woman. I didn't see what she needed because I was too wrapped up in my own agenda. I so desperately want to do what is right for Iris but in allowing my emotions to control me, I blind myself to what she's truly asking for. I suppose that is the great conundrum of parenting! Here's to living life Awake!

PS. These pictures were taken tonight within a span of about five minutes!!

you want some kisses?

Show me the money!
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Thursday, July 14

we have a winner!

After three months of offering food, 
I've finally found something
Iris genuinely enjoys
opens her mouth for
tries to get her hands on
wants more of...

hummus on a carrot

She was so excited to dip her carrot into the container of hummus!
It was adorable!

Wednesday, July 13

montessori style in motion.

I did a little bit of reorganizing today. I've been really liking the idea of giving Iris full access to exploring the house (minus the kitty's litter box and electronics). I have completely baby-proofed her room so that she is free to play unsupervised.

I got a little creative and made four of her shelves into a happy, friendly place for her. I put two pictures against the wall to bring a little but of color and art into her shin-high world. I pushed the paperback books to the back and put more appropriate board books in the front, along with Sophie the giraffe! The ears of the bunny in the top left shelf are her comb and brush - her absolute favorite things to tote around. The bottom left pink square is a box of small stuffed animals and other toys for when she learns how to pull it out.


She has toys in the living room where we spend most of our time, and I plan to clean out my kitchen cabinets and dedicate one drawer to her. I'll place a few pots, wooden spoons, measuring cups and other safe kitchen items inside for her to freely pull out and play with. It will keep her out from under my feet (literally) while cooking, and she will feel involved in what I'm doing as she gets older. 

She also has her own section of the coffee table where we keep books.
She loves to sit there and pull them all down, flip through them and push them around on the floor.

Eventually, Iris will move to her own bedroom to sleep. But for now, it is still just the playroom and Kitty's room. Considering how small she is, it's amazing how keeping toys placed strategically around the living room are redirecting her from the things we don't want her to touch. She is beginning to learn which things are hers to do with as she pleases, and which things are not to be played with. 

In the last week, not only has she physically developed in huge strides but she has bloomed mentally as well. She understands words that I say, even phrases.
She knows:
go get that kitty!
over there
come over here
dance baby!
put your head back (to wash out the shampoo)
I love you

It's really quite amazing. I love watching her explore and learn! I'll be doing some more work on her room this week and Iris' nine month check-up at the doctor is on Friday! Luckily, she won't be having to get any shots (thank goodness, I take it worse than she does!) Then hopefully we will have time for a play date with her little friend who is the exact same age!

Looking forward to when Daddy comes home! 

wordless wednesday.


dear uncle,

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Please be safe on your deployment to Iraq.
We will be thinking of you.
We love you!

Tuesday, July 12

my 3 keys to good photography.

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Iris at 3 months old.
It feels so good to be shooting with my Canon Rebel again. I have no classroom experience with photography, nor have I taken any online courses. I've browsed some tutorials here and there, but naturally failed to retain any of the information. All of my pictures are taken with the auto and preset modes without a flash. I really should take the time to learn about everything that can be tweaked but to be honest, it's low on my priority list right now. You know, somewhere below reading the book I've been trying to finish for 2 weeks and taking a nap. All of my experimentation has lead me to three keys which unlock the door to improving my photography.
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Taken with Marius' old camera at the aquarium in Atlanta.
Most importantly, you need to take a lot of pictures. You've heard the phrase "if at first you don't succeed - try, try again." You shouldn't expect to take a perfect picture the first time you point and shoot. When taking pictures of Iris, I will take about 50 photos per session and of those, maybe 10 of them are worthy of posting here. It's especially important to do this when shooting a an object in motion, or while trying to capture an expression. The more pictures you take, the greater the chance is that you caught something beautiful.
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One of the two good photos, out of the 18 actually taken.
Move around. Change your angle - take pictures from above, below, behind and to the side of your subject. Take pictures from far away and from close up. Take pictures of the little details you'll want to remember 20 years from now, like the lines in your husband's hands or your baby's sleepy eyelashes resting against her plump cheeks. Only use the zoom if you have a high quality lens.
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Iris' toes when she was a month old.
My most important key to taking great pictures is to always use natural light. I hate the way a flash washes out people's faces and makes the entire atmosphere of the picture look flat. I think the flash destroys the personality and character of a photo, unless you're using it to create a sterile feel on purpose. Remember that your lighting (or lack thereof) creates the mood of your photo. You can capture the subject's emotion, you can evoke emotion in your audience - or both.
This was taken with my iPhone when Iris was only a few days old.
It's proof that you don't need a fancy camera to
be successful with these keys!
I'm certainly no professional, but I do get better every day. I somewhat recently discovered that bringing the camera up to my face to shoot instead of using the display screen to guide my eye changed the quality of my pictures immediately. I try to think constantly about perspective and composition. While I can be very successful, I am not always!

I'm very grateful that I've taught myself to take some truly lovely pictures that I will treasure always! If you're interested in bettering your skills with a camera just let yourself experiment, be creative and remember to move around, play with lighting and take lots of photos!

Monday, July 11

a bright morning.

This morning I tackled Iris' messy wardrobe. She's outgrown tons of clothes that needed to be boxed and put away. The drawers look so bare now but at least now I can see everything she has! I had two good helpers, so they job got done quickly! Afterwards, we played and read stories before nap time. I've been reading "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" which has helped me help Iris to sleep better during the day (we're still working on the nighttime bit). Mama and baby are much happier! This morning was a lot of fun!

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