11 Things I Have Learned from my 11 Month Old

My baby turned 11 months old yesterday, marking August the last month with our infant before we embark on toddler-hood. As we reached this milestone, it made me think of how much he has grown in the past year and how much we adapt as parents as they grow through each stage. Between the walking, baby proofing, and exploring; I feel that this last month Owen has taught me a few things about parenting and life:

  1. Observe both my body language and chatter, mom! During the newborn months we focused on decoding every cry and wail. Then, we began watching his eyes intently for information. Now that gibberish, a few words, and motions are in the mix, this little guy has reminded me that no matter what age, it’s important to listen to each other’s verbal and nonverbal communication. 
  2. The world is sometimes scary. It has been tons of fun watching our little guy discover new foods, sounds and people. With such an adventurous nature, it’s easy to forget that even noises and places are often brand new adventures. Even the smallest animals and bugs are scary when they are new to you; just like it’s okay for new jobs, homes and activities can be scary to us, adults.
  3. Kisses and hugs are going to be slobbery. and, that’s okay!
  4. With greater independence comes greater need for security. Now that Owen has really taken off running, he has leaned on me less and less for balance. But, he still seeks for a familiar presence behind him. I strive to give enough space to experience independence, but also close enough to know that he can always find me.
  5. We are born with a sense of play and discovery. We don’t teach our little ones how to love toys, noises and pretending… but, they do and they love it. And, we do it again and wonder “when did we stop playing?” Passing the ball around, reading a picture book or making funny faces is instant stress relief. 
  6. We don’t know our own strength. Owen grabbed the glasses off my face the other day and scratched my cheek. He also pulled himself off of his feet by gripping the table above. These actions surprised the both of us of his strength and ability. It made me wonder how many things, like running or lifting, because I haven’t just tried.
  7. Stretching out and rolling on the floor is the best. We recently bought a new house and splurged on a new comfy couch, but any night of the week you can find the 3 of us spread out on the floor in a pile of blankets, toys and books – even after the little one goes to bed. Spreading out is essential for little ones and adults.
  8. Practice sometimes hurts, but it’s worth it. Over the past two months, I have watched Owen fall time and again learning to walk and run. And, as much as I want to protect him from every fall, I know that he needs to learn that despite the pain, ya’ gotta get up and try again.
  9. New perspectives are new experiences. People, furniture. appliances and art work all look different when you move from sitting to standing. I sometimes wonder why an everyday routine startles or excites my little one, but I need to remember that it may feel like a brand new experience than last time. This is a reminder to me that when I get stuck with a problem or need to give a project or bad day some new life, it’s as easy as looking at something in a new light. 
  10. The owner’s manual is helpful, but not always right. In the beginning months, I read every discussion board, chapter, and article about newborn sleeping, feeding, play, and development. It was certainly helpful, but not always right. This was difficult for me, as a student and employee that have always ‘played it by the handbook’ for years. However, breaking away from the boards and books was one of the best choices for me to learn about instinct in parenting, as well as personally and professionally.
  11. Fun is just a hike, stroll, or blanket fort away. We have found that the best times we have had in the last 11 months didn’t cost a cent. Right now, it’s just about exploring and being together.

Cook it Your Way – Easy Breezy Lasagna Roll Ups

I love baking and I am slowly getting more into cooking over the past few years. However, nothing frustrates me more  than finding a recipe for a scrumptious dish to find out that I cannot identify half of the ingredients or buy them in my local market. In many cases, I just cannot afford the pricey goods. 

Okay, some things frustrate me more, but I do get kinda irritated.

Back in February I shared a little of my style of cooking. In a nutshell, it’s taking very common ingredients, translating it into how busy and very real people cook on a week night, and making something yummy. Very simple.

One of my go-to’s because it’s so easy to customize is Lasagna Roll Ups. You can add  any veggie, protein, or sauce and it always tastes great. I will provide the basics here and urge you to run with it on your own.

Easy Breezy Lasagna Roll Ups

Essential Ingredients:  

  • 5-6 Lasagna Noodles
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Pasta Sauce (This time I used marinara, but Vodka or White sauces are good, too!)

Optional Add ins:

  • Italian Seasonings
  • Parm Cheese
  • Protein: Sausage, Ground Turkey, Chicken, Beef
  • Veggies: Mushrooms, Spinach, Shaved Carrots, Tomatoes, Zucchini.. etc… 

Steps:

Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees

Boil Lasagna Noodles (about 5-6 per 1 sauce jar and 12 oz of ricotta)

If you are going to add veggies or protein, begin sauteing or baking them now. 

While the oven heats and the noodles boil, stir together ricotta cheese and choice of seasonings (I like heavy salt, pepper and Italian seasonings and a pinch of garlic powder). The trick is to taste it as you add it, as it’s a preference choice. I also like to add about a third cup of breadcrumbs and parm cheese to the  mix. Because, it’s fancy that way.

Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When your veg and protein are done, chop them up or shed them to your taste. Remember that it needs to roll into the noodle, so smaller pieces (1 inch or less) are better. You may choose to stir them into the cheese or add them separately – either way, is good!

Next, drain your lasagna noodles and one-by-one lay them on a flat surface. Add your cheese mixture, protein, and veggies. Be sure to spread it flat. Then you roll the noodle like so:

Image

Continue until your noodles, cheese and extra add-ins are complete. As you roll them, add them to a deep dish (or, whatever you have available!). Add your sauce up top. You may wish to add cheese on top of the sauce, as well.

Image

 

Place your dish into the oven. Cook for about 45 minutes, or so. Take out and enjoy!

Your family will love it so much, they will be exhausted from cleaning up your mess (and all of the laundry, scrubbing the floors, bathroom scrubbing) they will go straight to bed and leave you to relax with a glass of your favorite beverage (that’s red wine for me).

Ha… just kidding. I have an 11 month old and 6pm – 8pm looks something like this:

Image

 

For those unsure, he is pretending to sleep only to jump up two minutes later and cry, laugh, and “bark” at the dog all in two minutes to only repeat himself.

Please note… this recipe is not meant to be perfect. That’s why there are no exact details, fancy ingredients, or fuss. This is for real people with real ingredients in their real homes.  You really can’t mess it up. You can even do all pre-oven steps ahead of time and freeze the roll-ups for cooking later. It’s that awesome. I make a version with spinach, mushrooms, chicken and alfredo sauce and other times with turkey sausage, marinara and basil. 

Doing Less, With Less

I attended graduate school during the peak of the recent recession in 07-09. We spent many hours, especially in my business class, discussing spending cuts, resources and lay offs. It was not uncommon for us to have discussions on how to “do more with less.”

One day after a lengthy discussion, our professor declared that we were all wrong. If you cut off people or you have less resources i.e. time, you don’t try to do more with less. Instead, you do less with less. You prioritize, select your tasks on what makes the most impact, and don’t burn out your reduced staff.

This always stuck with me, and years later as I started writing this blog – I had to take a brief hiatus to do exactly that –  less, with less. 

I was running short on time and energy and was thrown a few curve balls along the way. I decided that I needed to take the time between April – July to focus on my priorities, do higher quality work on a few less things, and rebound. So, here I am renewed, and ready to increase my load (just a little!).

So, while my blog has been quiet, here is what I have been up to:

– Moving into our new home – err… unpacking

– Cleaning, painting, decorating, landscaping, furnishing our home

– Having the norovirus (awful. just awful) on the day we got the keys to our home

– Getting laid off from my job 2 weeks after getting the keys

– Watched (who am I kidding, run after) my son as he went from crawling, to creeping, to walking and running in two months

– Baby proofing

– Starting a new job at a start-up nonprofit 2 days after getting laid off

– Writing blog posts about pro-bono service while I did some of this, too!

– Giving some old furniture, like a craft table, chalkboard tray and farm table some new life

– Made a burlap wreath while my 10 month old took a nap

– Took a week to DC for a conference for my new gig

– And, recently invited our first guests over for a weekend of picnics, in-laws, Owen’s Baptism and a housewarming party

 

While the last few months have had some great highs (new home, guests, parties!) and lows (sick, getting laid off) and some time for myself (crafting); I had to take some time to say no to some volunteer gigs, traveling and social media to take care of my top priorities: family, creating a home, and work. 

I urge you to take some breaks here and there to do Less, with Less – but make the most of those items you focus on. If you are the type of person that is always going to push yourself and try to “do more” you need to take some down time, even if just a month or two every once in awhile. You may be surprised how much you can actually get done while enjoying it!

Momsomnia

This post is 3 days in the making and this is the third time I sat down to write it. The first two times were some how deleted and lost all of my witty insight about momsomnia.

  • Day 1: I got this. Sleep deprivation can’t hold me back!
  • Day 2: Kinda tired, but can job about it. Extra coffee and ready to go…

I am now on day 3 of momsomnia and not feeling so cheeky.

What exactly is momsomnia, you ask? It’s a made up name for a very real condition that has developed during month 7 of parenthood. It’s a very specific case of insomnia. Symptoms include obsession about sleep, over dramatizing everything, sleep deprivation, giggles, sobbing, the grumpies, and zombie-like activities. Let me share with you this downward spiral (this outline is only insight from my own personal experinece, I don’t care that your baby started sleeping through the night at 7 weeks old, liar):

  1. Baby is born. Life = bliss for a week while the baby sleeps. Then, parenting begins. The baby wakes – at all hours. Cries… alot. You don’t sleep for the next three months. When you do sleep, it’s sitting up, in the shower, at work on your lunch break…
  2. By months three and four baby begins sleeping better. Still waking but a system is down, you can generally expect when he will wake and work out a turn taking routine with your spouse. Sleep happens. Many tired mornings, lots of coffee, but generally longer stretches. The function of 5 (hours of sleep) rule is in play.
  3. Months five and six are spa like bliss! Baby wakes once a night, minus a few nights of regression. You and your partner work out a system to take turns sleeping through the night while baby wakes once and is back down.
  4. Month seven. Teething. Regression. Crawling. Baby has a rough week and mom regresses to step 1. Then, as quickly as baby regressed he reverts back to step 3. Great for baby – awful for mom. My body is now on full blast stage newborn. I can get the baby back to sleep quickly when we wakes, but now I am also wide awake. Sleep does not happen. Thus commences all symptoms mentioned above: obsession about sleep, over dramatizing everything, sleep deprivation, giggles, sobbing, the grumpies, and zombie-like activities

This blog post is dedicated to the worst of all momsomnia symptoms: obsession about sleep. And, maybe some over-dramatization. This post has no solutions or witty insight that my first two posts originally did. This is just a glimpse into momsomnia, my very real condition with a silly name.

The 7 Month Old Dinner Experience

In our house we appreciate all of the simple things (like a yummy dinner with the family) and fine moments (watching our lil guy explore new foods – the faces are priceless).

But, even appreciating all of those fine moments over the greater part of a year that little Owen has joined us, it’s hard to believe that he turned 7 months old yesterday! How is it that he already has favorite foods? Opinions on toys? He’s crawling around (oh, I now understand the fuss about baby proofing). It’s such a strange feeling dealing with the mixed emotions of extreme excitement to experience all these new activities and discoveries with him; but also a sense of sadness that some moments of newborn newness have already passed.

Since solid (well, kinda solid, mostly just super mashed and pureed) foods have been apart of our guy’s excitement lately, I gave him lots of time last night, and took tons of pictures, to just watch him explore, experience, be a little dramatic and giggle as he chowed down on some peas and bananas.

Image

It’s so easy as adults to forget that for an infant, even one that is crawling, babbling and has preferences, every experience is new. And, even the introduction of pureed peas is something to celebrate and experience.

Happy 7 months Owen – it was a fine moment!

What Came First, the Blanket or the Paint?

As my partner and I are navigating the jungle that I call the FHA Loan process (also, while living with my parents until we close) I can’t help but get excited for the upcoming move! We have rented until now, so it’s finally time to make a house OUR home, with all the furnishing and fixtures that speak to our style.

During this process we need to consider resale value, our budget, merging two design strong design aesthetics, and not getting too far ahead of ourselves and finishing one project at a time.

While we still have a few weeks of waiting, I am starting to get my feet a little wet and figuring out what we want to do with the master and baby boy bedrooms. I have my pinterest board full of ideas… but in reality I still need to narrow it down. It may be a bit difficult to fit a country-style, contemporary, spa like, feminine-masculine-gender neutral, blue-green-purple-yellow-neutral-bright-calming-loud design all in one space. Seriously, folks – It can’t be done.

I spent some time browsing the local do-it-yourself-er store and I got stuck in a huge dilemma… do I start with a paint color or a fabric? Most advice says paint… I am leaning fabric… or paint…

If I start with the paint, I need to find a blanket and fabrics that compliment the paint. The paint is a bit more permanent. Or, do I search around until I am inspired by a fabric.. and then find a paint that compliments the design??

Please send me your design tricks and ideas! I would love to feature some of our renovations and will give a shout out to any ideas you send my way. I plan to do this all on a tight budget – so, $$savvy works best for me.

Next Time, Bring Your Own (Secret) Chocolate!

Temporary living arrangements can be frustrating. Where to send your mail? Should you get a PO Box? Which storage facility do you hold your items? What to pack for one month? I could go on…. What I didn’t imagine would be the most frustrating is, finding the candy stash!

Let me back up… I am working from my parents home (our temporary home for March/April) and I am alone in the house mid-afternoon when my sweet tooth starts to act up. I check my parent’s fridge… no ice cream. The pantry… no cookies. I wonder… where is the secret candy? Doesn’t every adult hide some candy, just in case they get a sweet tooth attack?! Until finally I stumble on this little gem:

Image

Much to my disappointment, these little candies are about as tasty as they look… bleh.

I thought that this temporary living arrangement would be difficult for a multitude of reasons and I was wrong. Everything was going smoothly until I had 2 major realizations. 1. There is no candy stash in this house, and 2. Not everyone keeps some (good) chocolate hidden somewhere.

Word of advice.. if you are prone to sweet cravings… especially chocolate… and you have a month or so temporary living arrangement on the horizon: forget the mailbox and packing worries and BYOSCS.. bring your own secret candy/chocolate stash.

Follow up note to anyone worried about my chocolate craving: I made some hot chocolate and realized that this was not as big of an issue as I once declared, however I am still disappointed that I am the only adult in my family – and possibly ever – that has a secret candy stash. However, I do stand by my BYOSCS advice.

Creating Spring: Inside Swing Edition

If you follow just about anyone in the Midwest or East Coast of the United States on Twitter or Facebook lately, you will know that the very anticipated beginning of Spring came and went without much warmth and lots of snow. Looking out the window of my parents home you will see remnants of a recent flurry and miles of grey, dreary skies.

Since desperate (for Spring) times call for desperate (for any feeling of Spring) measures, my parents brought a little bit of Spring indoors. For those of you who follow my blog (haha… who am I kidding?) you now know that me and my little family have moved back into my parent’s house until we close on our house (one month to go!). In excitement for our little one to be around my parent’s home for Spring and Summer, they bought a swing to hang from the tree in my childhood front yard. But, with no sign of Spring in sight, they took matters into their own hands and hung the swing indoors!

Image

Unconventional? Yes. A little silly? You bet! But, being able to share our baby’s first swing without having to wait for Spring was awesome. And, he loved it – the price? A few (sturdy and safe) hooks in the ceiling, but they could also now serve as hanging plant holders, too! Sometimes you have to go outside the box a little bit and get a little crafty. Make your home exactly as silly, fun or goofy as exactly to reflect the you and your family! Its those out of the box and personalized items that really make a house a home… and I can’t wait to get started with our own next month!

Do you live in the Northeast Ohio area and looking to install a baby indoor swing put up in your house? Send me a little message and we can arrange to have it professionally done.

No Running Water, No Cry

Over the years, my hubs and I have had to “roll with the punches” on several occassions. Our choice method of coping is equal parts laughter and sarcasm. So, when we arrived home after a five and a half hour road trip of this (on repeat):

Image

to a yard full of mud, no running water, and a little bit of chaos, we had to laugh… again. It could have been worse.. much, much worse.

Two years ago while living in a small apartment outside of Washington, DC – we made that same roadtrip (the 5 and a half hours between my parents house to our home outside of DC). It was late, cold, and we were exhausted but only to find we were locked out, couldn’t get ahold of the landlord to get in, and had to call a locksmith. After waiting an hour for a locksmith who didn’t show, we broke into our own apartment, only to find that the power was out, the food in the fridge was rotted (along with a pool of grossness around the fridge), and freezing. So, we laughed, cleaned it up and got the power on a again. Then, we lay down in bed to veg-out in front of the TV, when we started to smell smoke.. yes, the TV was smoking, something to do with the power surge when the power went out, Again, we cleaned it up and laughed it off.

So, after a roadtrip of crying, screaming, laughing baby and a car-sick dog, to come home with no water, we just had to laugh and roll with it. It’s been two days without running water (oh, and I left my laptop powerstip behind so I had to McGuyver some work space, washspace and cleaning)… but, we got it.

So, even though my front yard looks like this:

Image

And, I haven’t had a hot shower in two days (don’t worry folks, we washed and there are various plumbers walking through the house while I work from home, and my dog is barking and crying at the plumbers… things are looking up. We still have the TV🙂