Bennett turned 7-months old yesterday. Granted, February is a short month, but he’s growing fast! And isn’t that picture fantastic?! It absolutely makes me melt. Bennett is a pretty happy baby, and Jon is such an amazing daddy—this photo captures all of that. I love it. If there is one pic that captures our life right now, this is it.
Anyway, 7-month-old Bennett’s current likes include: solid foods, playtime, bath time, long walks in the Ergo, Sophie the Giraffe, and cuddles. He is also incredibly ticklish, and giggles like CRAZY when he’s tickled—like, super-adorable belly laughs. He is also very long (about 28 inches), but still skinny at 15lbs. He doesn’t look skinny or anything, just not chunky. I’m not concerned. He’s in 6-9 month clothes now, 9 month onesies, and skinny jeans from the girl’s section are the only jeans that fit right (pictured below…but those are 9-12month, and I think they’re actually super cute on him). He also sits like a champ, and is working on crawling. He does full push-ups, and in the past few days he’s learned to tuck his legs underneath him by himself. I’m getting closer to having a mobile baby, which means all sorts of fun new challenges. Like baby-proofing.
His 7-month dislikes include sleeping at night, loud noises, and being alone. He has been sleeping like ABSOLUTE SH*T. I honestly don’t remember the last time I slept more than 3 hours straight. I’ve got him on a more regulated nap schedule per my last post, but now his night sleeping is ridiculous. He goes to bed around 8pm, wakes up at 1am to eat, wakes up at 2am kicking & flailing, 3:30am kicking & flailing, 4am kicking & flailing, then 6am and is wide awake wants to play, so I feed him until he falls back asleep until 7:30am when we wake up for McKenzie to go to school, then his first nap is at 9am. It is a nightmare. So unfortunately, his nap “schedule” isn’t translating to more sleep for me.
Per suggestions (I’ll try anything at this point!), yesterday after he woke up at 1am I fed him and then put him in his own crib, unswaddled. He screamed for almost 3 hours. It was not successful. The first hour, I let him try to settle himself and put his nuk in when he needed it (I could see him on our video monitor). After about an hour of screaming, I fed him again and he fell asleep nursing in my arms (in his room). When I tried to put him down in his crib, he woke up again and started screaming. So then I swaddled him, thinking he just startled himself awake, got him back to sleep, set him down, and he started screaming again almost immediately. This cycle went on until about 3:45am, when I chalked it up as a failure, took him back in bed with me, and we were both asleep within minutes. SOOOO that is not working for me right now. I don’t care if he’s in bed with me as long as I’m getting sleep, because I can’t function being awake for 3 hours in the middle of the night.
Co-sleeping makes breastfeeding at night so much easier, and getting him to sleep in his own room wasn’t one of my goals anyway. Different strokes, I suppose. My guess is that he was genuinely super-scared of being alone because he always sleeps with us. I think it’ll take some time (and I do want him to sleep in his own room eventually, honestly), but I’ll ease into it with naps in his crib first. Regardless, it was quite an ordeal and I’m exhausted. Tomorrow night, I’m going to try to dream-feed him milk from a bottle when I go to bed, and hopefully I’ll get a couple more hours that way (since he’ll be full when I go to bed). I’m just going to try something new every night until I find something that works.
As for McKenzie, she is finally adjusting to her new school and seems comfortable there. She is quickly learning all the sight words she’s supposed to, and catching up academically. She doesn’t seem quite as overwhelmed (either way, though, she will be re-doing K5 next year). Every night when we read books I give her one word that she has to read throughout the whole thing, and I’ll stop on that word every time we get to it. She also reads 5 pages of Harry Potter every night with Daddy. This week at school they celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday with “literacy week” and had fun reading-based activities and silly dress-up days each day. Today it ended with Pajama Day, which was always my favorite as a kid.
In other news, we got our “settlement” for damaged/lost goods while moving. It wasn’t much (overall I was very pleased with the movers in that regard), but enough to buy McKenzie a new bike since they lost hers, and a new high chair for Bennett so he can join us at the table. I originally had registered for a Space-Saver High Chair, but I’m not sure it’s safe with bar-height chairs. The center of gravity being higher and what-not. So I’ve been needing/wanting a new high chair for awhile. As for eating, he loves solids and I like to give him real foods—we do a combo of baby food/Baby Led Weaning. I did BLW with McKenzie and it was great, and she didn’t even have her first tooth until after age 1. They both seem to love apples. =)
Anyway, that’s life lately. Have a wonderful weekend everyone, it’s supposed to be 65°+ here. I wanna venture to the beach one of these days.
I’ve been feeling down lately, that’s no secret. I’m homesick, I miss my family and friends, and my husband’s gone A LOT. But I’m not content with feeling unhappy. SO. Here are a few different things I want to work on to make my own life easier. This list is for me, no one else, but I’m putting it out there to hold myself accountable.
Things I want to improve on:
- Get Bennett on a structured nap schedule. I don’t remember how I did it with McKenzie, but she was an awesome sleeper and scheduled from very early on. Bennett kinda just naps when he wants, often in my arms, and I think he gets overtired too frequently. McKenzie’s school schedule makes that trickier, but that little man needs his sleep to grow, and I want to make sure he gets as much as possible. So I want to work on that, and I think it would make my life much easier.
- Get in the real world. The loneliness/homesickness I’ve mentioned (multiple times now) makes me turn to “online” company too often. But is that really company? Every time McKenzie says, “Momma, put down your phone.” I get a reality check. Ouch, that hurts to even admit. But obviously, I need to be more present with my kiddos, so I want to work on limiting my online time and using that time more productively.
- Cook & Eat Healthier. I eat way too much cereal and things that are “easy,” but not necessarily healthy. And I’m totally guilty of letting McKenzie’s eating habits fall to the wayside due to my own lazy approach to nutrition lately. SO. I want to cook more meals & make a concerted effort to eat healthier for McKenzie’s sake. She’s “picky,” but only because I let her get away with it. That’s going to change. Whether it’s meal planning, or just having a day of meal prep every week, I definitely need to emphasize healthier eating habits. And meal planning would probably save money, too.
- Be a better listener. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’m one of those people who sometimes is a terrible listener, waits to talk, and interrupts other people. Unflattering qualities, I know. But it isn’t because I don’t care. It isn’t my ego, or me thinking that what I have to say is somehow more interesting or important. Nevertheless, it’s embarrassing, and often I don’t even notice. In an effort to be a better person/wife/momma/friend, I want to work on being a better, more attentive listener.
- Find a workout routine. I’m a much happier person when I’m active, and I’ve literally been given the gift of a clean slate—you see, since Bennett was born I’ve lost 40lbs (-25lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight…I give all the credit to breastfeeding). That’s almost 20% of my body weight, so obviously I’m pretty excited! I haven’t talked about it because I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I don’t want to mess up this opportunity to feel better about myself and get fit. I’d like to carve out a time to work out every weekday while McKenzie’s at school, and I want to focus on toning and building muscle. I need a routine, and I need to stick to it. I’ll start making afternoon appointments and leave my mornings clear. Maybe I’ll make use of Bennett’s new nap schedule (^^from #1)!
- Keep the house cleaner. Lately, I’ve found myself being lazy about housework. And I don’t care about this because I think people will judge me—it honestly just makes me feel stressed-out & overwhelmed living in a mess. For my own sanity, I want to start doing more small things everyday, so I can avoid the crazy cleaning sessions and the stress of living in a messy house. I bet #2 ^^ will help with this, too.
- Go to bed earlier, wake up earlier. I relish my alone time after the kiddos are asleep—maybe too much. I end up going to sleep too late (like midnight), and then I’m either tired or cranky during the day, neither of which lend to being the best person I can be. On the weekends, I’m totally guilty of sleeping in while McKenzie watches the iPad. If I simply manage my time more wisely and get more sleep, I’m confident I can achieve more throughout the day and feel more rested. Win-win.
I’m confident that if I make sure that these things happen, I will be a much happier, healthier, and more productive person. And I don’t think these little goals are too lofty, but they’ll definitely take some effort, so I’m going to really try and make it work. If you have any suggestions (meal planning, working out with kiddos, sleep schedules), please do share!
I’m slowly adjusting to life here in North Carolina. I’ve been here about two months, and Jon has been away training 1/3 of that time. Needless to say, it’s pretty lonely and I get stir crazy with just me and the kiddos, especially being in a new place. I’ve been lucky to have a visitor (thanks Kim!) and make some great friends, so I try to keep my days busy-ish with that. I had lunch at a yummy Italian place with another wife today, which was really nice.
I drop-off and pick-up McKenzie from school every day. The move has obviously been hard on her, too—the school is far more advanced than she’s used to for kindergarten (too much, if you ask me). I think we’ll be holding her back next year, which we wanted to do eventually anyway. With her birthday in late-August, she’s the baby of the class, and I think there are more benefits to being older. I never want to feel like she’s struggling, though, because I think it’s so important to associate positively with education. Plus, I think an entire year difference between some of her classmates doesn’t help. She’s also sad that she doesn’t have a “best friend.” I just don’t think she feels like she clicks with the kids in her class, so hopefully a new year and new class will help her assimilate.
In the past 3 weeks, McKenzie’s had 8 Snow Days—meaning the students literally missed more school than they attended. If you haven’t been watching the news, the South has been getting slammed with snow & ice. Basically, the whole state shut down. It’s nuts! She had a lot of fun playing in the snow, though, and our little Wisconsin girl was definitely the most prepared out of her neighborhood friends attire-wise. They had multiple hot cocoa dates after long stretches outside, and warmed up to a Disney movie here and there.
As for Valentine’s Day, McKenzie woke me up by presenting me with a beautiful card that she’d made and hidden from me. She knows I love surprises! It was adorable. She truly has a heart of gold. And I’m all about building traditions, so I decided I want to get her a small gift for V-Day every year & make heart pancakes, like we did when I was little. [[I think traditions are especially important for military families because they're the constant, despite all the change.]] For her, I had a Valentine’s card made for her with our pictures on it, and she loved it. She also got two matching babies for the little unicorns she got for Christmas in her stocking, Magic and Wishful. I had to special order them from Mrs. Claus. *wink* She screamed when she opened one of them, but because of the weather & President’s day, we’re still waiting on the other—but I foresee awesome imaginary playtime with them!
On Valentine’s Day she also got to meet my friend Mallory’s adorable new puppy. And in the evening we went out to dinner with my other lovely friend, Grace, whose husband is also away training with Jon. Unfortunately we tried Crazy Fire, a Mongolian Grill that looked pretty good. But while the company was great, the wait in line was atrocious. We literally waited for 30 minutes to have our food grilled. Not cool.
Anyway, Jon comes back on Thursday. Hopefully that will help quell my general sense of malaise of late. How can I be unhappy with such amazing little kiddos? But like anything, I need to focus on myself and all else will follow. More on that in my next post. Gotta be proactive.
This whole project started because I was looking for some easy storage in Bennett’s bedroom for his baby books & toys. It’s a pretty small room (only about 8×10), so I didn’t want to take up any more floor spacewith a bookshelf. I came across some DIY Crate Bookshelves on another blog, but it involved sawing a crate in half…and I don’t have a saw, or the patience, so that would be a little tricky. Nevertheless, I went to Michael’s in search of something similar, but more simple to do. I stumbled upon the 15″ CD Crates, which were perfect! And for less than $15 total (for two+hardware/paint), this was a quick, easy little project that gave me a lot more functional space for his room. And they’re cute! Best of both worlds. ♥
- (2) 15″ CD Crates—be sure to inspect them for cracks or flaws! ($4.99/ea @ Michael’s)
- (1) thin strip plywood (to cover hole in bottom of CD crate) ($1.99 @ Michael’s)
- Wood glue
- Stain or paint of choice/paintbrush
- Sandpaper (if staining)
- (1) 4-Pack Corner Braces 1.5in (aka L-Brackets…I got them @ Home Depot)
- (4) screws
- Phillips head screw driver
- Measuring tape
Step 1: Cover hole between bottom slats & sand. To cover the gap between the slats on the bottom, use scissors to cut the thin strip of plywood to the size…you wouldn’t want books or toys falling through! Mine was not perfect at all, but it does the job. Glue the plywood to the bottom of the crate from the inside & let dry (I used wood glue, but even hot glue would probably work). Afterward, sand the crates to prep if you’ll be using stain.
Step 2: Stain or paint the wood. Spray paint would honestly be easiest! But I ended up using Minwax Dark Walnut stain so it would match the crib. If you decide to use stain, be sure to do thin coats, wipe it off, and let it dry thoroughly in-between coats. It was my first time staining, and I would have saved a lot of time by using thinner coats. What a tedious process! Let the crates dry completely before Step 3.
Step 3: Affix brackets to wall. Measure & affix the Corner Braces to the desired height on the wall, one for each end of the crate as shown in the pictures. Be sure to use your level and measure properly, as the crates can be slightly different sizes.
Step 4: Attach crate to brackets. Mark with pencil where the screws will be and pre-screw holes into the bottom of the crate (otherwise, it’s really difficult to attach the crate to the bracket from the bottom). Be sure to get the brackets into the thick wood on the ends, or they might be visible on the inside. Note: mine were not perfect and ended up breaking through the wood on the inside of the crate…it’s covered by books, though, so not a deal-breaker (you can sorta see it ^^). But learn from my mistakes & try to line them up better!
Step 5: Secure to wall. After the crate is completely attached to the L-brackets, screw 2 screws (one would probably be fine) through the top-rear slat & into the wall. After that, it should be firmly attached to the wall. Repeat with other shelf (or shelves) and you’re done! They’re ready for books, toys, or whatever your heart desires!
If you make one, I’d love to see a pic of your final product. =) And if you have any helpful suggestions feel free to share.
Tips for Buying Hunter Boots
Since I’ve gotten lots of questions on my original post, I figured I’d do a compilation of all the things I’ve learned from the input on Hunter Boots! I am by no means a Hunter expert, but hopefully this helps a couple people choose the best “fit.” To be on the safe side, I’d always try them on first in a store before ordering online—it will save a lot of time! Nordstrom carries them if you’d like to try & buy in-person, and the online retailer Zappos has wonderful customer service and free shipping both ways if you decide to go that route. Here’s some helpful info:
- Size down. Hunter Boots only come in whole sizes, and consistently run large (at least for the US). Size down. Personally, I had to send back my first pair because I got a 10 (I’m usually a 10.5) and they were enormous. The 9′s were more snug, but I can still wear them with socks, no problem.
- Hunter Original Tall vs Huntress. I personally have both versions in glossy red, size 9 (pictured), and there is a huge difference. Huntress is a larger calf (16″ vs 15″), and is exactly 2 inches shorter than the Hunter Originals. Initially, I chose Huntress because my calves were larger—at the time, it was the right choice. But after losing some weight, the Huntress became much too large in the calf area and they would slide around in the ankle. So I purchased the Original Tall boot. Personally, I think the higher boot of the Original is more flattering on the legs (if you can swing it), but both are a quality boot. From experience, I would definitely go for fit. I loved both pairs. To see a pic of me in the Huntress, view the original post.
- Need portability? Go with Hunter Original Tour. The “Tour” boot is great for travel since it rolls up, and is a much lighter boot than the Original or Huntress boot. After reading some reviews it seems to run on the narrow side (a little tighter), so as with the Original, if you have larger calves this boot would not work for you. For shorter women, this might be a good compromise from the Originals, because it’s more flexible and is less likely to chafe at the knee. But be aware, Hunter’s standard 12-month warranty does not apply to the Tour boot because of the flexible design.
- For smaller feet & calves, you might be able to pull off a kid’s size—for almost half the price! On my original post, one commenter suggested kid’s sizes for women with smaller feet/calves (7.5 or below). Genius! Usually a Women’s 7, Kat said the kid’s size 6 fit her and she is “happy and loves [her] boots.” These might be ideal for very petite women whose knees are chafed by the Hunter Original Tall. And for $75, that’s an awesome steal. However, there are a few differences, including a shorter shaft (that’s what she said…), small reflective patches at the top and bottom, and the calf is much narrower at 14″-15″ depending on the size. If you try this out, let me know how the sizing works…if I could pull this off, I’d have a whole closet of Hunters!
- Hunter Welly Socks. These socks are made for the Original boot. They have awkward foot-seams, but you get over it, and they are definitely more for looks, not warmth. They will fit the width of the Huntress, but are 2″ taller accordingly. I tucked them in and they were fine with the Huntress. If you find that your boots are too loose, these socks can help make them more snug. They start at $30, and fold over the boot nicely. And if any ladies can pull off the kid’s sizes, they start at only $20 and hide the top reflector of the kid’s boot.
- Warmth. These boots are awesome in rain, obviously. They are also great in snow/slush, but not the warmest. I would happily use them for walking shoveled sidewalks or errands (like, a quick jaunt to Target for example), but not for something like the dog park or shoveling. If they are immersed in snow, there is no insulation and my feet get cold fast.
- Hunter Boots Rubber “Blooms” As you might notice from the pics, over time a white film may develop on your boots—this is known as “blooming.” According to the Hunter Care website, this is “completely normal for natural rubber products… [and is] a known characteristic of high quality, natural rubber and nothing to be concerned about.” This happens on both the glossy and matte finish. Phew! They suggest that you purchase their care products (of course), but according to this blogger, Armorall Wipes work like a charm…yes, the ones for your car! They will give your boots a glossier finish, though, so be careful if you’d like to keep them matte. Mine are glossy anyway, so it doesn’t matter.
Hope this helps! Best of luck on your quest for the perfect Hunter boot!