And then they…

the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the tag “babies”

Friday gratitudes 14

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Friday the 4th:  Fridays.  I was really feeling gratitude for having fridays.  It could be because I had worked a full week, and was just very happy to be home for a whole weekend with my family.

Saturday the 5th: Henrys.

Sunday the 6th: Jerry’s.   We started working on our fun shelving project!

Monday the 7th: BBQ.  Yay spring!

Tuesday the 8th: Gram’s House. I know.  Two words.  But one idea.

Wednesday the 9th: Sunshine.

Thursday the 10th: Magic. I had a wonderfully magic day with my students – full of social justice, self advocacy, hijinks, and hilarity.  Then I got to go meet the magic that is baby Ashland.  My sweet and talented friend Evynne and her husband, Peter have a new baby. I was lucky enough to take them dinner, and hold Ashland while they ate.  I was blown away by the positivity that all three of the Hollens were exuding.  And I was blown away with the realization of how fast this flys by.  My baby was Ashland’s size mere months ago.  My oh my.

 

Baby Led Weaning: How To Do It and What You’ll Need

And then They - Baby Led Weaning

Oh, the exciting time when your baby is old enough to sit up, interact with you, smile, laugh, and eat!  I’ll be honest with you.  I’m not really a baby person.  I like the little babies, sure, but I am always so excited for them to grow up a little and become more interactive and fun.  Six months is an amazing age – they are doing such fun things, and becoming more of an active part of the family.

In our family, we love dinnertime.  It is a time of day that we all gather and spend time together.  I remember long, lingering dinners growing up.  We sit at the table every night.  We light candles every night.  We use cloth place mats, and cloth napkins every night.  These are important to me

It is also important to me that my kids eat what we eat.  There are many reasons for this.  It’s nutritious, it broadens their palates, and most importantly, it’s easy.  I don’t need to cook three different dinners, and keep track of minute dietary details.  This leads us to Baby Led Weaning.

And Then They - Harriet BlueberriesFirst of all, I want to clear up a misconception.  The term weaning in this sense isn’t how Americans typically understand it (as in the taking away of something, like nursing, or bottles).  It means that you will start introducing foods to a baby’s diet, in addition to breast milk, or formula.  The baby should still be getting the huge majority of their food and nutrition from breast milk.

If you start your baby on pureed foods, you need a huge number of things:  food mill, food processor, jars, spoons, time, planning, processed baby food, money.  If you make your own purees, it is time consuming, messy, expensive.  If you buy pre-made baby food in jars, it’s also expensive, and you don’t really always know what’s in the jars.  You also always need to carry pureed food with you.

If you do Baby Led Weaning you need three things:

  1. A baby
  2. Food
  3. A sense of humor (and maybe a bib or two)

Seriously.  that’s all you need.  For real.

We did this with Alma, and she’s two now.  She’s the best eater I know.  She eats Thai food, Mexican food, vegetables, soups, and her favorite food is Sushi.  So, we are doing it again with Harriet.

And Then The - Alma Sweet PotatoI like to start with sweet potatoes, or yams, cut into French-fry shaped sticks, and roasted.  The shape is good for beginning eaters because it is easy to grasp and get to the mouth.  It’s important to only try one kind of food at a kind, and wait a couple days before trying the next, to make sure your baby doesn’t have a reaction.

We’ve been doing it for about a month with Harriet and she loves it.  Her favorite foods are roasted, then frozen cauliflower bites, blueberries, sweet potatoes, peas (so cute to see her pudgy little fingers pick up a pea and get it to her mouth), rice cakes, yogurt, applesauce, green beans, asparagus.

And Then They - Harriet EatingAnother plus to BLW is that it really encourages independence and fine motor skills.  Harriet can pick up a tiny pea, and get it to her mouth just fine.  She’s also getting pretty good at using a spoon to get applesauce from a bowl to her mouth.

It’s pretty amazing to see a little baby feeding herself.  She only has the beginnings of her two bottom teeth, but she can chew up all her food, work it around in her mouth, and swallow it, no problem.  It is so natural and instinctual (not like purees, if you ask me).

And Then They - 1 Harriet CauliflowerAnd Then They - 2 Harriet CauliflowerAnd Then They - 3 Harriet CauliflowerOne thing to be aware of is that babies will sometimes gag (this is the case in BLW, and with purees).  It is really important to understand that gagging is very different than choking.  Gagging is a sign that they are figuring it out, I see it as a sign of success when Harriet gags a little.  It teaches her how to keep the food in the right part of her mouth until she’s ready to swallow it.

One of my favorite parts of BLW is that we get to eat dinner as a family.  We each sit up at the table and eat.  Jesse and I get to enjoy our meals.  We’re not constantly focused on Harriet, trying to force feed her.  Harriet eats until she doesn’t want to eat anymore.

And Then They - Harriet CauliflowerI think it’s empowering.  Harriet gets to choose what she eats from what’s in front of her.  She gets to choose the pace in which she eats it.  She gets to choose when she’s had enough.

And Then They - Harriet popsicleShe’s a happy eater, so we’re a happy family!  Let me know if you have any fun baby feeding stories, or if you have any questions!  Cheers!

Harriet’s Baptism

And Then They - WaterHarriet was Baptized today at our wonderful church.  We are so blessed to have a lovely church to attend.  We couldn’t ask for a better priest than Bingham, and are so glad that he was able to baptize both Alma and Harriet. And Then They - OilHarriet did really well.  You can see in the photo above that Alma was a little concerned about what Father Bingham was putting on her forehead.  It was oil, and part of my favorite part of the baptism ceremony.  The priest puts oil on her forehead, eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and feet and says:

I bless your eyes that you may see God’s image in everyone.
I bless your ears that you may hear the cry of the poor.
I bless your lips that you speak nothing but the gospel of Jesus.
I bless your hands that everything you receive and everything you give may be a sacrament.
I bless your feet that you may run to those who need you.

And Then They - LightOur dear friends Stu and Jacque are Harriet’s Godparents, and we are so lucky to have them.  Their son Edison is just 9 days older than Harriet, so it is extra special to have them be such an important part of her life.

And Then They - CelebratingNot only do we love Father Bingham, but we also were blessed to have a retired priest be the Celebrant at the service.  Father Ted was my priest all growing up, and even married us.  It was really special to have him be a part of the service for Harriet.

And Then They - Harriet's Godparents

Photo by Katrina Henry!

And Then They - Alma's GodparentsI realized that we never got a photo of Father Bingham, Alma, and her Godparents, so we took this as an opportunity to correct this oversight.  Just a couple years after the baptism.  We love Kenton and Katrina and are so blessed to have them in our lives.  They are beautiful Godparents to Alma.

And Then They - PartyAfter the service, we had lots of friends and family over to celebrate.  I love when our house is filled with so many loved ones.  Alma and Harriet are so lucky to have so many great friends who love them so much.

And Then They - Best FriendsThese are Alma’s best friends, above.  Rach was her nanny last year, and is her best friend now.  Rory is her best similarly-aged friend, who also had the pleasure of having Rach as his nanny.  This threesome is pretty great.  They are so bonded in such a fun, lovely way.  Rach’s mom came up and was able to help Rach baby sit Alma, Harriet, and their cousins on Saturday night so we could go to a concert.  They came to the baptism, also.

And Then They - In a FortRach is a pretty talented fort builder.  All the kids loved playing in it, and Alma’s cousins even got to sleep in it on Saturday night.

And Then They - Video GamesOf course, video games are always a big draw.  These guys deserved it since they had just done a wonderful job at church during the baptism.

And Then They - Sweet HarrietCongratulations, Sweet Harriet.  Your enthusiasm and joy is so wonderful.  You are so, so loved.

* All photos (unless otherwise indicated) were taken by my mother-in-law, and edited by me.  Thanks for being our photographer!

More Baby Gear… Stroller Dilemas

You know what they say about hindsight.  Well, when it came to picking a stroller, we didn’t make the right decision for our family.  As with everything else, I did a ton of research, got people’s opinions, test drove strollers, basically did everything right.  We ended up with a Baby Jogger City Mini.  And we loved it.  I mean, really, really loved it.  I would totally recommend it to anyone.  It’s lightweight, folds up beautifully, the steering was lovely.

And Then They - City Mini with Baby AlmaBUT, it’s a single stroller.  We knew we were planning on having more kids someday soon, but we still bought a single stroller.  I think we just decided to figure out the double stroller if, and when, it became necessary.

Here’s the deal.  This totally wouldn’t be a problem if you space your kids out further than we did.  With only 19 months between Alma and Harriet, I knew we would need a double stroller.  I have friends who have added a standing board for their older kids, or just had them walk.  Not an option for Alma.  And we also like to use the stroller to go on long walks.  I can’t expect Alma to walk the whole way, or want to strap a big baby or toddler to my body.  This isn’t just for the grocery store or the mall.  I basically have two babies to push around.  Double stroller necessary.

What I wish I had known the first time around:  There are stroller options that convert from single to double!  What?!  Ha!  After doing lots more research, asking, test driving this time around, we came to the Baby Jogger City Select.

And Then They - City SelectThis stroller is ah-mazing.  It can be configured a gazillion different ways.  I’ll, again, refer you to the website so you can see all the beautiful things this stroller can do.  I love that both kids can see out when they are both front facing.  Since we go on walks, I like to use that time to show them the world.  Especially when we’re down by the river, or downtown.  I also love that they can face each other.  I think they love that, too.  I also really love that it can also be a single.  This is good for quick trips, when I just need to have Alma contained, and can carry Harriet in my Ergo.  The fact that it can be a single will extend the life, too, since we can keep using it when Alma has outgrown strollering.

The down side is that it comes with a pretty hefty price-tag.  We were able to get it when they were offering a deal where you got the second seat for free.  We were also able to sell our City Mini (Baby Jogger strollers hold their value really well!), so that helped a lot.  I *wish* we had just bought the City Select single when we had Alma, then we would have just had to buy the second seat when Harriet came around.  That would have stretched the life of the stroller for us.

Well, that’s my opinion, for whatever it’s worth.  Nobody paid me anything to write this.  I didn’t get any free strollers or anything.  I just love the products, and wanted to share!

If you missed my run-down of other baby gear, be sure to check it out here.

Baby Gear That Will Last For Years – Plan Well and Spend Wisely

I’ve been mulling over this post for a while.  I’ve been trying to come up with some of the things that I would tell newly pregnant friends that they must have.  There are so many things that go into making choices when it come to everything, but it seems especially difficult when it comes to baby gear.  Probably because you get it all at once.  While working on this post, I came to the realization that our main criteria was definitely whether or not the baby would grow out of it quickly.  If we felt like it wouldn’t last for at least the first year, we tried to find another option.

And Then They - Baby Gear That Will Last For Years, Plan well and spend wisely  A list of things to buy for first time parents

I don’t think we were consciously thinking of this, but it was definitely a selling point if we could see the usefulness of an item for quite a while.  Obviously, borrow things from friends where you can, or buy used gear!

So, here are some of our recommendations:

And Then They - CribMini Crib:  While this doesn’t sound like something that will follow your baby into childhood, this is one of the best things we bought.  While it is (as its name implies) smaller than a regular crib, many mini-crib models can be converted into twin beds.  Some full size cribs can be converted into full size beds, but that doesn’t make sense to me.  Knowing the size of my daughters’ rooms, a full size bed wouldn’t be very useful.  They will eventually need twin beds, so might as well buy something when they are babies that can work for that.

I know that one of the draws of full size cribs is that they often convert to toddler beds.  I can understand the convenience of this, but not the necessity of it. As of today, Alma is still in her mini-crib.  She’s over 2 years old, and was just about 3 feet tall at her check-up last month.  She fits comfortably, and I think she will for quite a while.  She hasn’t been able to climb out of the crib, either.  I imagine when we’re ready to move on from the crib, we’ll get a twin mattress, and put it on the floor for a few weeks or months, then bring the head and foot board in to make it a real bed.

And Then They - Two in a Mini CribThe crib we bought for both girls is the Da Vinci Emily Mini.  It comes with a “mattress” that is about an inch thick, and not suitable for sleeping in my opinion.  Da Vinci also sells mini-crib mattresses, so we got those too.  They also sell a converter kit to make it into a twin bed, but as far as I can tell, it is just a long 1×4 with another ledge attached.  I think we will DIY this when the time comes.

And Then They - ErgoErgo:  There are soooo many different kinds of baby carriers out there.  I’m sure there are other great ones, but I really love our Ergo.  It has carried us (ha! that’s a pun!) from teeny tiny newborn, to full on baby, into toddler-hood and we’re still going!  We also have a Moby, but I use the Ergo much more.  The infant insert was great for when the babies are super small.  My favorite carry for when Alma got bigger is the hip carry.  It’s great because Alma can see everything, but she is still cuddled up next to me.  It’s also nice to throw the baby on my back (as seen above) for a longer walk.  I’ve even put Alma on my back like this, and had Harriet in the Moby on my front at the same time.  Pretty great if you ask me.

Convertible Car Seat:  Oh man, car seat shopping was the most overwhelming part of baby gear buying for me.  I went on Consumer Reports, made spreadsheets, read forums online.  Holy cow.  I knew this was an important safety decision, but also quite an expensive purchase, so I wanted to make sure we’d be happy with it.

We went with a Britax convertible seat.  This basically means that the car seat works from the time your baby is a newborn, until they are huge.  They can be both rear, and front facing.  They don’t come in and out of the car like infant only car seats.  This wasn’t an issue for me, since I always had the Ergo.  I do have to say that we got to borrow my nephew’s infant car seat for Harriet, and we really appreciated the convenience of it, but we have already switched to the convertible for her.  It got to be way too heavy once Harriet got bigger.  So, if you can borrow an infant seat, go for it!  I just don’t think it’s worth the money so buy two car seats when you can easily get by just buying one that will last for a few years.

And Then They - DiapersCloth Diapers: This is our biggest money saver.  For sure.  We did the math when Alma was a few months ago, and after buying 18 diapers (our magic number), we had them paid off (in terms of what we would have spent on disposables) in about 3 months.  Can you even believe that?!  We could have kept our child diapered for only 3 months with what we spent on buying cloth diapers!  Even with the extra laundry (one load every 3-4 days for us), they are way cheaper than disposables.

I know there are lots of other great reasons to use cloth diapers (environment, health, cuteness, etc) the money was really what sold us.  But they are pretty damn cute!

[Also, you can expect to see a longer post on cloth diapering and how we do it coming soon!]

And Then They - High ChairTripp Trapp high chair:  To fully understand the genius of this chair, I will refer you to the Stokke website.  This chair grows with your child.  The seat, and the footrest are adjustable, so when they grow, you can just lower it.  This allows your kids to always be able to sit right up to the table, have proper posture, and have a firm place for their feet.  The most important thing to me was having out kids at the table with us.  Dinnertime is important to our family.  Harriet is already sitting in her Tripp Trapp at our table, even though she’s not eating solids yet.  I like that both kids are right there, part of the family, not off to the side.  Clean up is easy, too.  We just wipe down the table or place mat.  I love it.

There you have it!  These are my favorite ways to save some money and spend wisely.  I have lots of other recommendations if have any questions.

What are some ways you saved some money or made some decisions when it came to baby gear?

[Note: None of these companies asked me to write about them.  They don’t have any idea who I am or that I wrote this.  These are all just my opinions that I thought I would share with you.  Some of the links are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase from the link, you are helping And Then They.]

[Another Note:  Check out what I have to say about stroller shopping here!]

Sleeping/ Sleep Training/ Sleeping?

New babies love to sleep.  It seems like that’s all they do.  So why are parents of new babies so exhausted?  New babies have some weird, mysterious way of sleeping just enough that the look like they are always asleep, but waking up just enough that their parents get no sleep at all.  It’s just the way it is.  Tricky, sneaky babies.

Luckily I no longer have a new baby.  My baby is an old baby, which means that I get to do the tricking.  I have successfully tricked her into taught her to sleep through the night, and to have pretty regular and kick-ass naps (are you kidding me?  Right when I typed this, I heard Harriet wake up…. damn hubris!) during the day.

My main advice in all things parenting is to not read any books, or if you simply must a book, please, please, please only read one.  Books are notorious for giving conflicting opinions and making you think you are doing things right, while simultaneously making you think you are killing your child.  Yuck.  My second piece of advice is to never listen to advice.  It only messes with your head.

If you want to know how we trained our daughters, I will refer you to this blog post.  I know some people think it is mean to sleep train babies in this way.  I would say to them that it is mean not to, but I’m not going to say that.  It’s just what I would say.  But I’m obviously not saying that.  I’m not trying to start any ‘mommy wars’ here, just trying to share my truth and reality.  If you don’t agree with this, feel free to close the browser, or tab, or phone, or what-have-you.  I’m not trying to change your mind, just trying to share what worked for both my girls.  Besides, if you feel strongly that what I did is wrong, your mind will never be changed, now will it?  Nope.  And anyway, that is totally not the point of this post.

Co SleepingThe point of the post is to deal with my feeling after having sleep trained.  I love that Harriet has learned this amazingly important life skill.  I love that Jesse and I were able to teach her this amazingly important life skill.  I have no regrets as to how or when we sleep trained both girls.  I am confident in all of this.  I am proud of this.  I am proud that Jesse and I are able to teach and guide our kids.  I am proud of my daughters for taking this small, no huge, step towards independence.

With Alma, we had her in bed with us every single night until she was four months old.  I loved sleeping with her, and being able to nurse her whenever either of us wanted to.  I loved the connection and cuddles.  But I was so ready to move on to the next step when she turned 4 months old and we got the go-ahead from our pediatrician.  I don’t remember feeling sad to have her out of the bed in those first few weeks.

With Harriet we had her in the co-sleeper, up against our bed every night until she was about 4 1/2 months old.  I loved this, too.  It was great having her close enough that I could nurse easily.  I loved being able to hold her little hand while we slept.  I loved hearing her little baby noises, and watching her little baby breathing.  Again, I was so ready to move on to the next step.  But, this time I have been a little sad in the weeks that followed.

Maybe it’s because she’s our last baby.

When I go to bed, and turn off the light, it takes me forever to fall asleep.  I don’t know if it’s that I miss the white noise of her breathing, or the nightlight that is now in her room, or something more visceral.

All I know for sure is that it is called sleep training for a reason.  Harriet seems to be trained, but I’m still learning.  I guess that is what it means to be a parent.  And that can’t be found in any book.

Just like Mary

I sort of love Pope Francis.  This past year, he has done and said so many great things, but I think this one is the best.  He is encouraging women to nurse their babies during his services.

We go to an Episcopal church, where I have always felt very supported in my parenting.  Our priest has a daughter a few months younger than Alma, and they are (mostly) good playmates.  I’m sure being a father himself adds to his attitude on children, but he encourages all participation from children.  Even the noisy participation is welcome.  Even the occasional spilling of communion supplies is tolerated.

I have been to churches where they have separate rooms off the sanctuary where moms can take care of their children.  This doesn’t make sense to me.  I love hearing kids of all ages during our services.  It makes the church feel alive.  People enjoy when children respond and interact.

For a while, we were trying to get Alma used to the nursery, and Jesse would spend the entire service with her while Harriet and I would attend the service.  This past week, we decided to just take both girls with us.  I was amazed and humbled.  I held Alma during the processional, and she sang along to the hymn.  She was very serious about it, and even hit a few of the notes.  Somehow, she even knew when to say ‘amen’ after the prayers.  It felt right to all be together during the service.

I love that I have always felt welcome and comfortable nursing Harriet during the services.  I love that I can look a few pews up, and see another mom nursing her baby.  I love that it is what Mary would have done with Jesus.  What is more magical, beautiful, or spiritual than that connection?

Thanks, Pope for understanding this.

Go Nads!

On Saturday I woke up bright and early (4:40am) to help my friends do a race in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We met some great friends in our birth class when I was pregnant with Alma.  We have loved having such a wonderful group of friends who all have kids within a few months of each other.  One of the dads from this group does these races that are sort of hard to explain.  It is sort of like the show The Amazing Race.  Tyler has a team (go Nads!) that competes all over the country.  And they usually win.  It’s pretty cool.  I have started helping out with the races by doing clue solving with some others.  It is really fun, and really intense.  They get the clues and send them to someone, then we all get the clues and solve our assigned ones.  Then the racers on the ground have to run around, and complete challenges at each of the locations.  Makes perfect sense, right?

I have helped with races that were in New Orleans, Portland, and now San Juan (maybe Denver, too?).   Anyhow, on Saturday, the championship race was taking place in San Juan at 9am, which meant that I had to be up to help with clue solving by 5am.  No big deal, I’m up then anyway (thanks, Harriet).  My clues were super easy and I was confident with my answers.  This is a huge relief, because I would hate to send the racers to the wrong place.  In a heartbreaking turn, the racers didn’t make it to the final round, despite being very fast and generally awesome.

The final round was going to happen at about 10 am our time, and Tyler and I agreed to help with the clue solving for another couple teams.  Tyler and his family decided it would be more fun to all be together for a clue-solving-toddler-and-baby-wrangling party, so they braved the snow to come over to our house.  Tyler and I were on clue duty, while Jesse and Leia were on kid duty.

Clue Solving

The clues for the final round were a lot more difficult than the ones from the preliminary race earlier in the day.  There was one clue that included an audio/picture file that had us totally flummoxed for awhile.  The teams we helped came in 4th and 5th, so it was a bit of a disappointment.  But still fun, and I think Tyler really enjoyed the beer he drank shortly after I took this photo of him in our clue solving room.

Jesse and Leia had a more successful kid wrangling time.  How could they not with these adorable babies and toddlers.  Leia and Tyler are just as awesome as we are (some would say crazy, others brave, I say awesome), and they have two kids under two just like us!  Max is a couple weeks younger than Alma and Desmond is about 5 weeks younger than Harriet.

IMG_8301 a IMG_8307 aI love how the babies are being perfect models, while their big siblings are being typical almost-two-year-olds.

While the race results were sad, it was still a fun day of clue solving and hanging out with our awesome friends.

From Sisters to Friends

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When we brought Harriet home from the hospital, I wasn’t sure how Alma would react.  When I was pregnant with Harriet, whenever anyone asked me how I was preparing Alma, I would feel the tears very close to the surface.  I was so sad for her.  I was mourning the fact that she would be losing some of our love and attention. 

I would picture her little heart breaking as our hearts transitioned from loving just her, to loving another.  I asked everyone if it was really, truly possible to love another baby as much, and still love Alma as much as I always had.  I couldn’t understand that it was possible.  I couldn’t understand how Alma would deal with losing some of my love – because that was the only way I could fathom the transfer of love onto the second child. 

It was confusing to me, so I imagined it was undecipherable to Alma’s 20 month old mind.  How could we prepare my baby to understand that there was another baby growing in my belly, and soon she would come out and be real?  There was no way.

I totally cried as we left Alma with my parents, and headed to the hospital.  I felt like I was losing something – losing her

But, as with all things concerning love, I was wildly mistaken.  I was over-thinking it. I had Harriet, and instantly loved her as much as I have ever loved Alma – just like I was told I would.  When I saw Alma again, I still loved her just as much as ever.  Somehow, despite all my ideas to the contrary, my heart had enough room for both my girls.

And Alma?  Alma got a sister.  She came in, saw Harriet in her swing, and didn’t seem at all confused about the situation.  She went right up to her and seemed to welcome her.  Somehow she knew – she knew – this was her sister. 

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Now Harriet is three months old and I am constantly amazed at their evolving relationship.  While we certainly have our moments when I think Alma would rather have all our attention – or, rather that Harriet not get much of our attention – she is generally a very good big sister.  If Harriet is crying, Alma will run over and try to help her.  She will give her her pacifier, or her blanket, or just touch her cheek.  Harriet’s eyes are on Alma if she is anywhere near by, and Alma gets a lot of Harriet’s sweet smiles.

I think Alma is figuring out that Harriet will be a playmate someday.  She will crawl up next to Harriet when she is playing on the floor.  She will try to show Harriet how to use the toys on her playmat. She will share her toys with Harriet (I often find toys tucked into Harriet’s swing and carseat).  She gets it. 

I was so busy worrying about how Alma would react to losing our love, that I forgot to imagine how she would react to gaining the love of her sister.  I am just starting to see glimmers of their sweet friendship developing, and I am so excited to see how strong it will grow.

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12 months old…

I keep seeing blogs about babies turning a year old.  They almost make me cry.  I’m not ready for Alma to grow up.  She’s not even 7 months old, but I’m already dreading her first birthday.  While I’m really excited for all the new tricks she’s going to learn and I am really looking forward to hearing her talk, I sometimes want to slow everything waaaaay down.

Seriously.  How did she go from this:

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… to this:

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…in less than 7 months?

 

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