Sunday, July 31, 2011

9 Months

Wow! Another month has passed already! Sometimes it feels like time is going so fast and other times it feels like it is so slow. And sometimes it feels like both at the same time. That's how this month was. It seems like forever ago that Micah turned 8 months, but it also feels like the month of July has just flown by! Micah is busier than ever. He just amazes me more and more every day with what he can do. He is such a happy, go-with-the-flow kid. We are so blessed to have him in our lives and both Brad and I just love celebrating all of the little milestones in his life. So, here's a look at his 9th month:

*Micah celebrate his first 4th of July. We had a BBQ at our house with some family and friends then headed to New Lenox to watch the fireworks. Micah had a great time playing with everyone and he really enjoyed the fireworks.

*We went to the Oak Lawn Children's Museum for the first time. We met his cousins there and had a great time playing. There was so much for Micah to do! He also got his first black eye while there. :(

*Micah got to play with his friend, Colby, while at the church block party. Colby is only 2 days older than Micah so it was really fun watching the two of them together.

*We've been doing some baby signs with Micah. This month he started signing "milk" back to us. We're so proud of him every time he does it!

*Mommy and Daddy volunteered at VBS at church one week so he had a different baby sitter each night. He did a great job with all of the baby sitters.

*Micah has finally learned how to sit himself down when standing up. That means no more getting "stuck" while standing on things! Yay!!

*He learned how to wave "bye-bye." We stand at the door and wave "bye-bye" whenever Daddy goes to work and one day Micah did it all by himself.

*Micah has learned how to climb the stairs. I swear, one day he just went up one step and the next he made it up 6 steps. That boy is a mover!

*Micah got to play with all of the kids from our old small group. It was the first time we were all together with all of the kids. There were 5 families total: 10 adults and 5 kids. It was so neat to watch all of the kids playing together.

*Daddy, Mommy, and Micah went to West Beach. Micah loved playing in the sand and chasing after the waves.

*Micah got his first real haircut. We took him to a place that specializes in children's haircuts and he got a faux hawk. He looks so cute! And so much more grown up!

*Micah officially has a playroom. I was getting sick of having to tell him "no" all the time because he was getting into things that he shouldn't be. So, we turned my scrapbook room into a playroom (my scrapbook stuff now sits in a closet and we moved the office part of the room up to the former guest room). Micah loves having a big space to play in. We also brought out more toys that we've been storing up until now. He's having lots of fun in his new playroom!

*Micah, Mommy, and Grammy went to Tinley Pool. He had so much fun splashing in the water and trying to catch the sprayers. He really just wanted to swim on his own. Looks like we're going to have to sign him up for swim lessons this winter!

*He tried a lot of new foods this month including lunch meat, Swedish pancakes, cottage cheese, berries, tacos, mostaccioli, and hot dogs. This kid will eat anything!

I can't believe Micah has now spent just as much time outside of me as he did inside of me. I know it's weird, but I was really looking forward to this. He's getting to be such a big boy and he has just filled our lives with so much joy.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July Dates

The monthly dates have returned. Technically they never went anywhere, we just haven't completed them all. Yet. In May we were supposed to go to a drive-in movie. When I was originally planning the dates I even found an drive-in theater. But I didn't realize just how far away it was. Two hours just wasn't worth it to us. Do you know what time we'd get home?! Besides, we went on vacation in May and that ate up a lot of our time. So, we were okay with our vacation time instead.

June. Well, I'm not even going to tell you about June yet. We're halfway done. And on our way to completing both of our June dates. It will happen. Soon. So, I'll leave you in suspense as to what those dates were.

But we did complete our July dates. Our "in" date was a game night. Many people know that Brad and I love to play games. When we first got married we usually played either Sequence or Yahtzee every night (it's hard finding two player games!). We even tried hosting a monthly game night. Our friends know when they're invited to our house they can always count on us to pull out a game to play. Well, since having Micah we just haven't had much time to play games together. Usually by time we put him to bed we're both so tired we just want to sit on the couch and not think. But we miss it so much. So, we had a fun game night. First, we played Yahtzee. I won (best 2 out of 3). I should point out at almost any game we play (with the exception of Speed or Speed Uno) Brad typically wins. He's a much better strategizer, I just don't have the patience to think things through enough. I hate thinking past my current turn, but Brad knows what impact each of his turns has and he has some idea of what I could do and then what he would do in response, yada, yada, yada. Anyway, Brad usually wins. But not this time. I won Yahtzee. So, I got to pick the next game that we played. MarioKart, something we haven't played in a LONG time. Even though it's not a strategy game, Brad usually wins. I'm convinced it's because he's a boy and boys have some innate talent when it comes to video games. So, he did win MarioKart (2/3), which meant he got to choose the last game we played (I should pause here to say someone always has to come out the big victor of the night so we couldn't possibly leave it at each of us winning at one game. One couple we play with always has stakes going on a game. The losers always have to do something for the winner. We should have thought of that before we started playing, but we didn't so this game night was just for bragging rights.). He chose our old standby, Sequence. We both have a deep love for Sequence. Seriously, great game. And I won. Yep. I came out the victor of game night. Poor Brad. Looking forward to our next game night already so that he can take the bragging rights from me. Regardless of who won (did I mention it was ME?), we both had a really great night. It was so nice to just play games together and have fun. Definitely reminded us of how much we enjoy that and that we need to do it more often.

So, we went on our "out" date last night. We hired a baby sitter and went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 at Hollywood Palms. It's a bit of a tradition for us. We've seen, I think, 3 of the Harry Potter movies at Hollywood Blvd. It's a great experience. Not only do you get to see it on the big screen, but you get to eat dinner at the same time. We always love going, and it's honestly very reasonably priced (seriously, movie tickets way cheaper than Marcus!). The movie was awesome. We both read all of the books beforehand (years before) so were really looking forward to the movie. I can't comment on how the book compared to the movie because the book is so full that I forget a lot of the details (and really you can't expect them to all be included in the movie anyway), but the movie was really excellent. Another great night out just the two of us. Seriously, we need to do that more often.

Here are some pictures from our game night. I forgot to take some from Harry Potter.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Day at the Beach

Micah is a fish.


This kid loves any kind of water.

And dirt.

And mud.

He is all boy.

At least I see many days spent at the beach in my future!

Friday, July 22, 2011

How We Spend Our Tuesdays

I know today is not Tuesday, but I've been thinking about this post since Tuesday. Today's just the first chance I've had to sit down and really write. So, even though it's actually Friday, I'm still going to talk about our Tuesdays.

Tuesdays are my favorite day of the week with Micah. In general, they go by the fastest. After Micah's morning nap we typically head out for a walk to the library. Micah loves going to the library. Everyone knows him there and they fawn all over him. He soaks it right up. He smiles at the little old ladies, he smiles at my former students, he smiles at the librarians. Seriously, you'd think he thought it was his smiles that were getting those books for free! Micah loves picking out books to read, too. Okay, honestly, he just loves grabbing anything that's within his reach, but I like to think that he enjoys finding a good book just as much as Mommy does. When the weather's nice, we'll walk around the neighborhood a little bit more before heading home, where we read our new books and play before Micah's afternoon nap. Usually, by time he's up from his second nap it's not too much longer until Daddy comes home and then the day gets really fun!

However, I love Tuesdays for another reason. Once a month, Micah and I go to Cuttie Poops for our LaLeche meetings. I love going to LaLeche. I started going when I was pregnant just to get some information on breastfeeding. I went back when Micah was about 2 months old because I desperately needed to get out of the house and didn't know where else to go. Now, I go because I've met a nice group of moms that I enjoy catching up with. Moms who have similar parenting styles as me. Moms who love breastfeeding as much as I do.

I don't want this to get into a formula/breastfeeding debate because I truly believe that either option is fine. But, personally, I love breastfeeding. I love knowing that it's me who is giving Micah the nutrition that he needs. When I look at him and see how big he is, it's because of what I've given him. That's pretty amazing. Not to mention just the great feeling I get whenever I feed him. I love holding him close to me and snuggling, watching him eat with his eyes closed, listening to the sound of his quick breaths in between swallows. I know it's not for every mom, but it's definitely for this mom. And, while I have no real objection to it, I'm proud to say that Micah has never had formula. My ultimate goal is to make it to 1 year so that if something were to happen to my supply he could have cow's milk instead of formula. However, I would love to continue nursing Micah beyond a year. I know that some people think it's weird, but I think it's completely natural. As long as Micah still wants to nurse, I want to nurse him. I love the comfort that it brings him, the sense of security. And I love that we belong to a group of women that feel the same way.

No, meetings are probably not what you think. We do not all sit around, feeding our babies without any coverage. Nor do we talk about how wonderful breastfeeding is and how evil formula feeding is. It's a group of real women with real problems. Women who can't get their babies to suck. Women who are having a problem with their supply. Women who have babies that are easily distracted (*cough* Micah *cough*). Women who want to know how to wean their child. Yes, at any given moment a mom could be feeding her child, but I've yet to see anything that I don't want to see. It's truly a great support system and a wonderful time to get out of the house and just be with other moms. Oh, and Micah loves showing off all of his new tricks b/c with the exception of one little girl, he's the oldest kid there by about 3 months.

So, that's how we spend our Tuesdays. We love it.

Of course, I have to leave you with a picture of my cute Little Man:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Keeping a Budget

Okay, I'm stepping away from all of the Micah talk for a minute here. :)

I truly feel like part of my job as a stay at home mom is to help us save money. Since I'm not bringing in any money, I should find ways to save us money. That's my way of contributing to our household finances. There's a lot of ways that I do this.

The first is by keeping our budget. Last year both Brad and I read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. It seriously changed the way we deal with our money. We started by keeping track of every penny we spend. This was easy because we pretty much exclusively use our debit cards (with direct deposit I don't know how anyone carries around cash!). After two months of that, we sat down and took a good look at where our money was going. We were shocked that we were spending so much money on some items, but we never even realized it! Then, we created a monthly budget based off our bills and spending habits. However, we made some adjustments, realizing that it was silly to be spending so much money in certain areas. Now, every month we sit down together and plan out the next month's budget. I always keep a little notepad where I write down upcoming expenses that I know we will have (such as birthdays or weddings, Brad's license renewal, etc.) that are not part of our regular budget.

One thing that's difficult about budgeting for us is Brad's work schedule. Brad is technically hired for 32 hours a week (he gets paid hourly), but often works 40 hours. We can predict with fairly good accuracy how many hours Brad will work each week, but it can change. In addition, he's paid weekly. This seems nice except that it seems like our bills due dates are clustered so that they're all due either the first or the third week of the month, not leaving a lot of money left for groceries, gas, or whatever else we need that week. But we're learning how to make it work.

Setting up our budget like this has really helped us. I won't lie and say that we stick to it perfectly every month, but it has definitely helped us to curb our frivolous spending! I will also admit I have a weakness. I like to buy Micah clothes (and toys and books, but mostly clothes). Since babies are always growing, I'm allowed to spend a little bit on clothes for him each month (this is also good because really it's something I do anyway, no use fighting it just to get upset that I spent money we weren't planning on!).

Another thing I do to save us money is cut coupons and meal plan. I am by no means an expert at this. However, I typically save us anywhere from $10-20 each shopping trip. I think that's pretty good for a beginner! Meal planning also helps because it forces me to use what we already have. Then, when I go to the grocery store I buy only what we need for that week/next two weeks. I'll write another post about couponing and meal planning soon as this one is starting to get kind of long.

Anyway, that's what we do to help save us money. What are some tips you have to save money?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Children's Museum and Splash Pad

Last week, Brad and I met my nieces and their baby sitter at the Oak Lawn Children's Museum. I was supposed to go there for a playdate with the playgroup that I joined, but I didn't actually see anyone from the playgroup there.

Anyway, Micah had a blast. He loves spending time with his cousins. There was so much for him to do there. They had a nice, play area for babies with tunnels and mats. We also listened to a story, Micah sat so quietly while the lady read. After a while, Brad found the building area and immediately brought Micah there. There were giant legos and building blocks. Brad was so excited to see Micah playing with Legos! Overall, it was a really fun time. I'm sure we will have many more visits there in the future.

Brad, Micah and I also met some friends of ours at Philip's Park. Daddy and Micah had a blast in the splash pad! Micah seriously loves the water! He sat in front of one of the fountains and tried to catch the water. He didn't even care when it shot up in his face! If he could have, I think he would have jumped out of Brad's arms. I think we're going to be in trouble next year when he's running around! After the splash pad, we walked around the little zoo they have set up there. Then, we played at the park a bit. It was a great day spent with great friends!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Enjoying the Moment

I've been reading this blog for some time now. The blogger, a mom of two daughters, writes about how she's trying to enjoy the small things in life amidst all of the craziness. She's inspiring. But I have to admit I usually just read her blog because she takes amazing pictures and does fun things with her kids. Makes me wish we lived in Florida.

But last week was a rough week with Micah. Thursday night for some reason he decided to wake up every two hours and be up for 1.5-2 hours. He was inconsolable at times (something we've never had to deal with--Mommy or Daddy can always calm him down). Even as an infant Micah was not up that frequently at night. To say it was a long night is an understatement. But Friday morning came, he took his usual naps and seemed to be his usual self. Brad had to work in Munster Friday night so it was just me and Micah. We went to my mom's briefly and ran to Archiver's so I could get some stickers to put in his scrapbook. We got home at bedtime. I was already feeling guilty because I hate keeping him out past his bedtime. But I thought maybe he'd be so tired he's just fall right to sleep.

I was wrong.

I fed him. I held him. I rocked him. I walked with him. I put him in his crib and let him cry for a few minutes. Nothing was working. When Brad called around 9:00 to see how bedtime went I pretty much bit his head off. "This is your fault! You told me it'd be okay if we went out!" (In actuality I knew it wasn't his fault, but I was so angry and needed someone to blame...getting mad at Micah wasn't helping.) I hung up with him to go try to console Micah and get him to sleep. Again. Then, as I was holding him in his room, feeling his body go limp and listening to his breath go from hard, fast sobs to the more slow, rhythmic breathing that only sleep can bring I started thinking about how precious this moment is. I was reminded of the Kelle Hampton blog. I should be enjoying this moment, not resenting it. Micah is my firstborn. The baby I've longed for for so long. He's so mobile right now that he barely slows down long enough to just let me sit with him in my arms so I should cherish this time.

And I did. I was no longer mad that I couldn't go downstairs and read my book. Instead, I was savoring the time with my son, thinking about how fast these past 8 months have gone and how much quicker the next 18 years will go. Someday I will look back on his life and the time we've spent together. I don't want to wish that I'd spent more time holding him, cuddling with him, telling him stories, getting dirty. I don't want to wish that I'd gotten off the computer, put down my book, or saved the chores for later. I want to enjoy every minute. I want to be reminded even in the trying times of how blessed I am to hold my little boy. I want to remember what a wonderful feeling it is to know that sometimes I am the only thing in the whole world that can bring him comfort. There are moments when all he wants is me. That's pretty amazing. For so long all I wanted was him, I don't want to forget that.

So, once he fell asleep, I held him for a little while longer, just stroking his head, thanking God for this wonderful gift, staring at him, kissing him, reminding him that Mommy loves him and always will. And suddenly the night was a lot less stressful.

Friday, July 8, 2011

4th of July

Okay, I know I'm a bit late. I've tried to write a post about the 4th of July several times, but I kept getting interrupted. That's what happens when Little Man takes short naps.

Anyway, Micah's first 4th was full of family, fun, food, and fireworks (the 4 F's of the Fourth). For the past five years, Brad and I have planned a 4th of July BBQ. Originally, it was at my parents' house, then when we moved to our house we started hosting it at our house. As is pretty typical for our parties, we invite a lot of people and only 4 or 5 come. But that's okay because we love hosting get togethers, doesn't matter how many people come! This year, we found out Brad's oldest brother (who lives in Wisconsin) would be in town for the 4th so we decided to have a little family BBQ since none of our friends could make it. So, Brad's brothers and their significant others, his mom, my mom, my sisters and nieces all came over for a good-old fashioned BBQ. We ate lots of food, played some bags, and enjoyed each other's company. Later in the afternoon, our friends Victor and Jessica, ended up joining us for the 2nd year. Micah had a great time with everyone. When he wasn't napping (which he did for two hours while everyone was here!), he spent most of his time outside, playing with his cousins, aunts, and uncles. He was in Heaven.

Family left around 7:00 and we talked with Vic and Jess for a while, put Micah down for a nap. Then, we woke Micah up and all headed out to watch the fireworks. It was a great firework show. Very family friendly and beautiful, not too loud, which is what I hate about fireworks. Micah did great with the fireworks, wasn't scared at all. He sat in Daddy's lap for the first 5-10 minutes, just staring up at the sky. Then, he got antsy and started to crawl all over me and Brad. Guess fireworks weren't that exciting.

We were worried about waking Micah up for the fireworks, but he did great. I fed him when we got back home and he went right back to bed. All in all, a great day spent together with family and good friends. A great way to celebrate this great country that we live in, and a wonderful way to spend such a beautiful day.

Lilie and I were twinkies!

Watching the fireworks with Daddy.

Happy 4th of July!