Sunday, December 30, 2012

Aven Hope - 4 months

Little Miss is 4 months old! Honestly, I have to say that this past month was a harder one...the transition back to work was tough, coupled with some sleeping issues. Thankfully we seem to be back on track now as I've had the past 11 days of holiday break at home with her to spend some quality time and tweak the schedule a bit. Now I'll have to adjust AGAIN to being away from her, haha! Anyway, here's what we've been up to the past month:


Feeding - Little Hippo is still a good eater! For the first half of the past month we were on a 3 hour schedule (6 feedings), but are now on a combo 3-3.5 hour one (5 feedings). Nursing was different this month as she is now waaaay more aware of her surroundings and gets distracted quite easily. She'll eat steadily for 5 minutes, but then stop and smile at me, talks, look around. It's really cute but at the same time, I want her to eat a full meal! She is more efficient at eating now too, so it really only takes her 5-10 minutes per side to finish. She still goes back and forth between bottle and nursing very easily, so I am lucky! I am able to pump at work and do 2-3 sessions, averaging 15 oz. total, which is more than enough for her next day's meals. Now that we are doing 5 feedings a day, she'll get 3 nursing sessions and 2 bottles. She's now up to 6 oz. of breast milk in a bottle and sometimes does 7! I know we can think about rice cereal this month, but since it's not really nutritionally necessary and just something else to add to the plate (no pun intended!) I think we'll wait until 6 months to try.

Love that little smirk

Look at those legs!

Weight - 15.5 lbs.
Length - 26 inches
Head - 14.5 inches

I had to pack away most of her 3 month clothes the other day *tear* as she's outgrowing them in length. She's in mostly 3-6 month clothing and a size 2 diaper now - just finishing up a pack of 1's then will move fully to 2's.

Awake time - We are still following the Babywise method of "eat/play/sleep" and she does so well with it. She can definitely stay awake longer now, but it's not the same every time. Sometimes she can make it 1.5 hours before hitting her wall, other times it's an hour and 10 minutes. There has also been a few times where she hasn't napped in between feedings so gone 3 hours being awake - that's not good and she gets fussy. Usually the magic number seems to be around 1.5 hours before she gets grumpy and it's time to swaddle. Her awake time is so much more fun this month - she is getting more and more alert and interactive! She LOVES to show off her beautiful smile and chat and coo along with it. She has the cutest little giggle, and loves to talk to us all the time. We got out her highchair and she'll sit in it while we eat and just hang out playing with her toys. She still loves Sophie the giraffe and will put any toy (or anything - burp cloths, mom's hair, etc) we give her right in her mouth. Speaking of mouth, she drools a lot so we have to keep a bib on most of the time! Little Miss got spoiled over Christmas and got some great new toys! She loves ones that light up and make sound, and will stay entertained by them for awhile. Since she loves standing so much we set out her jumperoo and though she doesn't quite get it yet, she'll enjoy it soon! She also likes to sit in her Bumbo chair, though her thighs are a bit chunky and she gets stuck out the way out. :) She tolerates tummy time much better this month and I think likes it now! She'll squeal and play with whatever is in front of her. She does well with tummy time but still hasn't shown any signs of rolling over either way, but that'll come. Maybe once we stop the swaddle she'll figure it out. :) 

Big little girl in her high chair!
Very serious in her Bumbo
Tummy time!
Getting stronger!

Sleeping - This was a rough month for I said in last month's update, at 10 weeks she started sleeping through the night for about 3 weeks, then I went back to work. And from 13 weeks until just this past week (17 weeks), she's been waking twice a night! I think it was for a few reasons...1.) The change with me going back to work and not being with her all day affected her, and I think she misses me so maybe wanted to see me more at night? 2.) She is more distracted during eating so may not fill up as much during the day, leaving her hungry at night. 3.) Teething? 4.) We were putting her to bed too late. Whatever the reason, she would wake at 2 or 3 AM then 5 or 6 AM, like clockwork. Some nights we just let he cry at the 2 or 3 AM one - my limit was 10 minutes. Normally she settled down before then, but if not one of us would go pick her up and rock her for a few minutes to get her back to sleep. Then at 5 or 6 AM I knew it was probably hunger, so I'd feed her from one side then put her back down, only to get her back up at 7 or 7:30 before I went to work. That second wakeup was really rough, because I get up at 6 AM to get myself ready so if she was up at 5, I was up for the day. (diaper change, nurse, swaddle, lights out, sing Cuppycake song and rock)

So once I was home for Holiday break, we started a new schedule for sleeping, basically taking away one catnap and moving her bedtime back an hour. It's worked really well for the past 10 days, praise the Lord! She's been sleeping through most nights with this new schedule so I think we're on to something.

Loves her toys

She is still a great napper and with our new schedule is down to 3 naps a day and sometimes one catnap in the evening. Around 14 weeks we moved all naps to her crib and that's worked out great! One Saturday I tried one nap in there and it went well, so we haven't looked back since. Because she is getting more distracted, the lights and Keely barking were inhibiting good sleep, so I think being in her room really helps. That being said, if we're NOT home during her nap, she's a lot less likely to do so. She used to sleep anywhere in her carseat or my arms, but now she's much more social and wants to be a part of whatever is going on, whether it's a Costco trip or being at someone else's house. For naps we do a shortened bedtime routine where I swaddle her in an A&A blanket, turn the lights off, rock for literally a minute, then put her down. She usually puts herself to sleep quickly. We rarely use the swing anymore, and if we do it's for her evening catnap before bed, if that's not in our arms. :) I think we may put it away soon...


Temperament -  She is still such a happy little girl! Rarely fusses unless she is overtired. Smiles all the time. Loves her puppy. Has the cutest little giggle and makes "mmmm" sounds often. She makes the most hilarious faces! She is ambivalent about baths - doesn't love them, doesn't hate them. We only give her about one a week for now. And her faces - oh my! She makes the most hilarious faces that crack Tyge and I up. She is still a drool factory and chews on anything and everything in front of her, but I don't think she's full blown teething just yet.

Such a ham!

Best buddies!
Chewing on Baga's hand

Outings/Firsts/Other -  With me being back at work, we've really pared down outside commitments as all I want to do is be home with her. :) We had her first Christmas which was more fun for us than her I think - she'll enjoy all the magic more in years to come!  We also had a play date with my friend Chelsea's son Jack who is 5 weeks older than Aven - I look forward to more of those to come! She started sitting in her high chair with us during dinner at the end of the month and does really well in there. We also got out her exersaucer after we put away the Christmas tree and she doesn't quiiiite know what to do with it yet, but will get there.

Future Mr. & Mrs?

As for me: Not gonna lie, this was probably the toughest month for me since she's been born. Going back to work was much harder than I thought and I'm still having a hard time adjusting to life as a working mom. I do miss her during the day, but I had prepared myself for that (and Stephanie sends pics!) so it's not so much that, but I'm just having a tough time getting it all done. Working all day I often feel like I'm not giving 100% because I'm thinking of her, then being at home I sometimes think about work and don't give her 100% so it's a weird balance that I've yet to figure out. When I walk in the door at 5:30 or so I have to change, put away the day's pumped milk, wash supplies, feed Aven, get dinner started (Tyge does this most nights, thank goodness!) - it all sounds piddly but it's a lot at the end of then day when all I want to do is snuggle my little girl. Again, once it becomes more of a routine it'll get MUCH easier but for now it's still a lot. And everything is amplified when you're sleep deprived, which we are.
Selfie snapped after our Christmas Card Photos - she looks terrified!
Schedule - Like I said, we do the eat/play/sleep thing and have been settled into the routine below since around 10 weeks:

  • 7:00 AM - Wake up and nurse followed by playtime
  • 8:00 or 8:15 AM - Nap
  • 10:30 AM - Nurse/Feed and playtime
  • 11:30 or 11:45 AM - Nap
  • 1:30 PM - Nurse/Feed and playtime
  • 2:30 or 2:45 PM - Nap
  • 4:30 or 5 PM - Nurse/Feed and playtime
  • 5:30 or 6 PM - Catnap in swing while we eat dinner, if she wakes she lays there quietly and stares at the tree :)
  • 7:30 PM - Nurse and less stimulating playtime
  • 8:30 PM - Doze in our arms or bunny swing
  • 9:30 PM - Nurse followed by bedtime routine - usually in crib by 10 or so
  • Starting at 13 weeks she'd get up 1-2 times (3 and 5 AM usually) and we'd either rock her, feed her, or let her self soothe depending on her cry.
And for the past 10 days (around 16 weeks) we've done this routine, which seems to work really well:
  • 8:00 AM - Wake up and nurse followed by playtime
  • 9:30 AM - Nap
  • 11:30 AM - Nurse/Feed and playtime
  • 1:00 PM - Nap
  • 2:30 PM - Nurse/Feed and playtime
  • 3:45 or 4:00 PM - Nap
  • 5:30 PM - Nurse/Feed and playtime
  • 7:00 PM - Catnap in swing or in our arms while we watch TV
  • 8:30 PM - Nurse followed by bedtime routine - usually asleep by 9:00
  • And she's been making it until morning without a peep!
We continue to be blessed each day by our sweet Aven Hope!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Aven's First Christmas!

We had two weekends in a row of Christmas celebrations, which were made that much more special with Miss Aven being around! I think we enjoyed her first Christmas more than she did, but she was such a happy girl, even though she didn't fully realize what was going on.
We celebrated with Tyge's family the weekend before with a large family gathering. Aven got dressed in her Christmas finery and was the hit of the party! :)

With her cousin Saylor and Santa

She looks a bit scared, but she's not crying!

The new mommas opening some gifts for the babies

Aven and Great Grandpa Carl - I love the look on his face
With Maga and Baga B - she really loves them, despite the look on her face. All the other pics I snapped were blurry....
Grandma G made Aven her own Christmas tree, but looks like she'd rather eat her dress?

Since we were up North last year, we celebrated with my folks this year and had them over to our house since it's easier for them to come to us, with a baby and all! I sang at church on Christmas Eve so was at practice most of the day, but they all met me at church for the service then we headed back to our house for a beef stew dinner and presents.

Grandma and Grandpa G

Are all these for ME?!

They taste pretty good anyway...

Oh boy I am so spoiled.

Sweet Keely girl isn't the center of the attention anymore...
Then we woke up on Christmas Day and hung out in our PJ's while watching A Christmas Story before getting ready for our big Christmas celebration. We had arranged to cook and serve a Christmas meal for 50 homeless people at a shelter in Minneapolis, and I can't wait to make it a yearly tradition. What better way to celebrate Christ's birth by showing his love and serving others, right? My mom made 50 pounds of ham and planned all the side dishes to go along with, so we arrived armed with food. I was on baby duty while my parents and Tyge prepared the food, then we all served together. It was such a blessing to be able to speak with these folks - they were so thankful for the little they had and so kind to us. I'll admit I was nervous to bring Aven at first, but she brought so much joy to everyone there, wearing her little Christmas headband and smiling away. She was awake the whole time we were there (like 5 hours - a LONG time for her) but didn't get fussy at all! I can't wait to serve again next year, and every year after, to help teach Aven the true meaning of Christmas. 
And our 2012 Christmas card - my favorite one yet!
Photos by Callie V Photography

Friday, December 21, 2012

That He gave His only Son...

I heard a story on KTIS driving into work the other day that made me cry and touched me so much. Being a parent now, things about children affect me more and this one was no different. For Christmas this year, we are planning to serve dinner to 50 people in a homeless shelter downtown, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit I was a bit nervous to bring Aven. After hearing this story it just put things into perspective for me that Aven isn't solely MY child. She is a child of God,  entrusted to my care while she's on earth. Thinking about it that way is so different than the worldly way of looking at our children as our possessions or our prizes. I don't want this to come across as that I don't view Aven as my daughter - because I do - but I recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from above, including her.

My point is that this story really hit home for me and helped me to feel more at ease with bringing Aven to a different and perhaps uncomfortable environment on Christmas. What better way to show the love of Christ than through the smiling eyes of a little baby.

Read the story below...

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly Erik squealed with glee and said, ‘Hi.’ He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter as he wriggled and giggled with merriment. I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled.. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists as he said ‘Hi there, baby, hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,” the man said to Erik. My husband and I exchanged looks, ‘What do we do?’ Erik continued to laugh and answer, ‘Hi. ‘Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, ‘Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo!’ Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously intoxicated I thought. My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence, all except for Erik who was running through his repertoire for the admiring transient, who in turn, reciprocated with his comments. We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. ‘Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,’ I prayed. As I drew closer to the man I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby’s ‘pick-me-up’ position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.

 Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby shared their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man’s ragged shoulder. The man’s eyes closed and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

 I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, ‘You take care of this baby.’ Somehow I managed, ‘I will,’ from a throat that contained a stone.
He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, ‘God bless you, ma’am, you’ve given me my Christmas gift.’ I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, ‘My God, my God, forgive me.’ I had just witnessed Christ’s love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment, a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, ‘Are you willing to share your son for a moment?’ when He shared His for all eternity. How did God feel when he put his baby in our arms 2000 years ago? The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, ‘To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children. Sometimes it takes a child to remind us of what is really important.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A few firsts!

We had a few firsts this weekend in our family!

Saturday was Aven's first Ugly Christmas Sweater party at the Vershums! Tyge and I got decked out in our ugliest, but she looked adorable in her Santa suit. We had a little photo shoot before the party:

Our festive family!

And today was Aven's first big snowfall! We toyed around with the idea of laying her in a sled and dragging her (or hooking it up to Keely!) around the yard, but thought better of it - next year. :) We did, however, dress her up in her adorable North Face snowsuit and fuzzy winter hat, and snap some pictures:

I'm so excited to get outside!
It sure is bright out here...
And cold, brrr!
How long are we gonna be out here?
Hello, blue eyes!
Okay, time to go in!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Aven Hope - 3 months

Wow...I'll probably say this every month but I can't believe my little girl is already 3 months old! One quarter of a year! And I know the next three quarters will fly by in the blink of an eye. Here's what we've been up to the past month:

Feeding - Little Hippo is a good eater! We are still on a three hour schedule, and sometimes go 3 1/2 hours between feedings. She nurses really well and now does 10-15 minutes per side. There are times when she only wants 5 minutes or less and it worried me at first, but then she just eats more the next feeding. She is definitely more distracted and aware during feedings - no more needing to keep her awake! Leading up to going back to work, I started feeding her more bottles and she goes back and forth with no problem, which I am so thankful for. On a workday, she'll get 3 nursing sessions and three 4-5 oz. bottles. I'm pumping at work which so far is working out just fine!
I love her lil' baby gut!
Awake time - We are still following the Babywise method of "eat/play/sleep" and she does so well with it. Her max waketime is still only about an hour, sometimes a bit more, but she starts to get fussy around the 60 minute mark after being awake. Though her awake time is so much more fun this month! She is growing so fast and seems to have a new "trick" every day. I'm not sure if she's teething, but she has her hands in her mouth all.the.time. and is drooling a lot. She loves to suck on toys, especially Sophie the Giraffe! We now keep bibs on her most of the time due to the drooling. :) She is getting much better at tummy time and doesn't mind it as much - her head is so strong! She can now sit in the Bumbo chair and hold her head up without support. Her favorite thing to do these days is "stand" - she loves to bear weight on her chunky little legs and can stand with some support from us for a surprisingly long period of time. We tried her out in the doorway jumper thing but she's still too little and just slumps in the seat. Tyge is so excited for the day she can play in that - maybe next month!

Hands always near/in my mouth!
Hanging out with Sophie in the Bumbo
Tummy time with Dad
Standing! Look at those cute chunky thighs...
Sleeping - Getting much better! Right after our trip to SD, when she was a little over 8 weeks, we started sleep training. Basically, we started a more consistent bedtime and routine (diaper change, nurse, swaddle, lights out, sing Cuppycake song and rock) and had her learn how to self soothe. She only cried for 2 nights (I know, we are SO lucky!) and now we can lay her down in her crib drowsy but awake and she puts herself to sleep. Right at 10 weeks, she made it from 9 PM to 6 AM without waking, which was amazing! The next night she did 9:30 PM to 7 AM! And from every night on she went from 9:30 or 10 PM to 7 or 7:30 AM with NO PEEPS - it was incredible. And we'd usually wake her in the morning! She needs to get up at 7 AM on workdays for me so I can nurse and have time with her in the mornings, so we usually try to have her in bed by 9:30ish. I was worried that the change with me going back to work would mess up this amazing sleeping through the night, and I was right. Every night this past week she got up once at 3 or 4 AM to feed, but would go right back down after 10 minutes of eating. I know it was really early for her to be STTN anyway, but I'll take it whenever she does.

She is still a champion napper (3 naps + 2 catnaps a day and sleeping 1.5-2 hours in between feedings) but that also changed when I went to work, and she didn't nap well for Stephanie (our nanny). I know she's been getting up in the middle of the night because she's not sleeping as well during the day, but it'll just take time for her to get used to Stephanie and not me, and we'll be back on track! She does still nap in her swing and I want to transition her to her crib eventually but with me going back to work, I figured one change at a time was enough for now. :)

Daddy and his daughter...melts me heart! Her hair looks so red here :)

Temperament - Oh my goodness is she a happy little girl! During her awake time she we get so many good smiles out of her! She loves to talk and coo, and we caught her first giggle a week ago. I was tickling her teeny neck and she let out this adorable giggle! We haven't heard it since, but it was precious. She really only cries when she's overtired (so we try to get her down before that point) or has gas. Her reflux seems to be gone, though she still spits up a normal amount after some feedings. And she only goes #2 every other day or so now so when it's been awhile she can get a bit fussy until she goes. Usually when she's fussing, it's for a reason, and we know how to make it better. It's so nice to have the witching hour and fussiness somewhat behind us, and we are loving our sweet, snuggly, smiley little girl!

Just look at that grin!

Outings/Other -  We've been in town this month and have really been able to hang out at home without many commitments, which has been so nice. Aven celebrated her first two holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving) and I can't wait for her first Christmas! Tyge's folks were here for Thanksgiving and it was nice to spend some quality time with them and Brian and Naomi, as they don't get to see her too often. We also went to a baby shower for cousin Alison and her baby Saylor, and met a few friends/family for lunch this month. Knowing that I was returning to work soon though, I really just stayed at home with her!

She had her first cold around 11 weeks, which was so sad to see! She had such a stuffy nose and could barely breathe. We sat in the bathroom with a hot shower running for steam, put a dehumidifier in her room, and used saline spray in her nose with the snot sucker bulb. I also fed bottles for a few days as she had trouble nursing and breathing, poor little thing! I didn't mind the extra cuddles at all, though. :)

Decorating the tree!
Posing for Christmas card photos
As for me: The biggest change for me this month was going back to work, which I just posted about. We also decided this month to scratch the daycare option we had selected before she was born and look for a nanny, so I spent the last month of my maternity leave interviewing. I am so happy to say we found someone (Stephanie) who is just amazing! She is seriously a gift from God and I am so thankful for her. It makes my days at work so much better knowing that Aven is in her own home, with someone loving to care for her. She also texts me pictures to get me through the workday and keeps a log of her schedule, which will help as she grows and changes and I'm not with her 24/7 to notice. I haven't been working out at all and now that I'm back at work, have no idea when I'll do that! The baby weight number is gone, but I'm shaped very differently and still have 20 pounds to lose, as I was a bit over my target weight when I got pregnant. Surprisingly though, I'm not as hard on myself and it doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I guess I realize what am amazing thing my body went through and am have a little more grace for myself than I did before. Nursing hasn't "melted the weight off" for me at all and I think I'm actually holding on to some because of it, but providing for her is more important to me than crash dieting and working out so hard that my supply drops. That being said, I COULD and SHOULD be watching what I'm eating a bit more. :) I'm not sleeping well at all lately...despite being really tired, I just can't seem to fall asleep when my head hits the pillow. I also sleep really lightly when I do fall asleep - I guess I'm waiting to hear her cry! If I do wake to nurse or hear her cry in the middle of the night, it takes me FOREVER to fall back asleep. Like over an hour. And now that I can't nap during her naps (being back at work) it makes for a long day, so hopefully I can learn to fall asleep better! I also haven't had much quality time for Tyge lately and know I'm paying way more attention to Aven than him, so will work on putting our marriage first this next month.
Schedule - Like I said, we do the eat/play/sleep thing and have been settled into the routine below since around 10 weeks:
  • 7:00 AM - Wake up and nurse followed by playtime
  • 8:00 or 8:15 AM - Nap
  • 10:30 AM - Nurse/Feed and playtime
  • 11:30  or 11:45 AM - Nap
  • 1:30 PM - Nurse/Feed and playtime
  • 2:30 or 2:45 PM - Nap
  • 4:30 or 5 PM - Nurse/Feed and playtime
  • 5:30 or 6 PM - Catnap in swing while we eat dinner, if she wakes she lays there quietly and stares at the tree :)  
  • 7:30 PM - Nurse and less stimulating playtime
  • 8:30 PM - Doze in our arms or bunny swing
  • 9:30 PM - Nurse followed by bedtime routine - usually in crib by 10 or so 
  • And she usually makes it until morning without a peep! Some nights she cries out around 4 AM but if it's not her hunger cry (that's an obvious one!) I leave her be and she settles herself back down after 10 minutes. If she is hungry, we nurse on one side for 10 minutes and she goes right back down.
Life with our sweet Aven Hope gets better each day, and I am so blessed to be her Mommy!