Not Quite Meeting Goals

In the Spring of 2012, I had been on the hunt for a great pair of white skinny jeans for at least two years. Every new season, I would try on the new stock at every store and leave in disappointment. The culprit was the abundant cellulite (a genetic curse that I have come to terms with since I also got pretty great skin and hair from my chromosomes) on my thighs, which most white jeans not only showed but somehow amplified through a layer of denim.  So when I finally found a pair that fit perfectly and hid all my lumps and bumps (just because I have come to terms with my cellulite doesn't mean I'm okay with showing it off anywhere besides the pool or beach), I contemplated buying multiple pairs in all different sizes, but of course, I just bought one pair in my then current size, and now (and last summer right after having a baby) I am kicking myself because I just tried them on today, and they barely fit over my hips. But there is hope! Keep reading for my monthly update on my New Year's resolution.

Starting Weight: 168 (and four weeks ago)
Current Weight: 160.2

So... I know it looks like progress, but I have actually been hovering around 161 for the entire month. The day after I posted my last weight, I was down about a pound, and then the next day, I was down another pound, which means it took me a month to lose one pound. Or more accurately, I lost and gained and lost the same pound all month long. Although I have still been working out regularly, I have not been eating all that great on a consistent basis. I have lots of excuses like Valentine's Day and parties/get-togethers (I never thought we went to that many parties until I started having to get a babysitter every time we go to one.), but the truth is, it just has been a lot harder for me not to give into my cravings this month. And so, I did not meet my goal of losing one pound a week. I was actually surprised this morning when I looked at the scale and was so close to my goal. Secret Weight Loss Tip: Posting your weight on the internet has a way of motivating you to eat well... at least, the day before you plan to post your weight.

But during this past month, even though my weight didn't change all that much, something else did, my pant size! I'm happy to report that at one of the soirees this past weekend, I comfortably sported the skinny "skinny jeans" that just barely zipped at the beginning of the month.

So... I'm pretty motivated to fit back into those white jeans by the time it's again the appropriate time of year/temperature to wear white jeans. Starting Monday, after a special dinner at Dewey's tonight and an Oscar celebration on Sunday, I am once again going to track everything that I eat on the MyPlate App, and I am going to reach all my goals and rock those white skinny jeans (even though my mind is telling me that white jeans plus William is going to equal orangish-yellow spotted jeans).

Also, just in case you are wondering/interested, I have been loving T25 and plan to dedicate an entire post to my experience with the workouts very soon.

Super Will

Do you have a favorite time of day? Walking into Will's room to pick him up from his crib in the morning or after one of his naps is mine. Usually, he's jumping. Sometimes, he's chomping. But as soon as he sees me, a huge smile spreads across that rosie-cheeked face, and everything is so right in our little world. Mama and baby together again. My heart swells as I pick him up, and we dance around the room for a bit before assessing the diaper situation. The peculiar thing is, though, that right before I walk in, when I first hear him on the monitor, I always hope that he isn't really awake, just transitioning to his next sleep cycle and settling in for another thirty minutes or so.  

The feeling is similar to when Will plays with my eyelashes, so sweet and intimate and uncomfortable. Or when he wants to feed me his food, so considerate and communal and slimy. Or when he is into e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g all day long. I love that he is so curious and active and determined. I don't want to quash those traits, but at the same time, I don't want him to run (crawl) wild. Being consistent and following through with boundaries has become more and more challenging for me. Just when I think Will knows and respects a boundary, he goes and tests it again, and I feel like a failure as a parent.  

Luckily, I have a great partner in Jason, many great parental role models in my family, and the best example in my Father. Because of His example, I know that providing discipline and limits and consequences are an important part of loving Will. I know that it is important to tell Will over and over "not for baby" and pick him up when he doesn't listen and heads for dog bowls/fireplace/dog toys and not give into his crying. I know it's important, and I know God will provide me with the strength and patience and motivation to follow through.

Also, I know this is probably just the beginning, and most of all, I know that disciplining William is a truly a privilege. And mercifully, Will is more parts sweet and silly than frustrating. I mean, just look. Those cheeks. That perpetual motion. That mullet. Those cheeks!

GooseWaddle Giveaway

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, Jenny! I'll be contacting you by email.

As Will has become more and more mobile, it has been fascinating to see what he is most interested in crawling over to. If we are in his room, the first thing he always goes for once we set him on the ground is his blanket, which is usually hanging on the side of his crib. His blankie is his comfort object, his "lovey," and it works wonders to put him to sleep or dry tears after bonk on the head. We were given so many blankets--gauzy blankets, heavy blankets, hand-made blankets, store-bought blankets, and little blankets with stuffed animals attached--but the blanket that eventually became Will's lovey was the one that I gave him over and over because it stayed soft and didn't get all pilly after being washed over and over again.

As soon as I realized that Will really seemed attached to his blankie, I went on what turned out to be a shopping-wild-goose chase looking for a second blanket just in case anything every happened to the first. I feel like if I have one great skill in life, it's shopping, but I could not find another version of Will's blanket anywhere. After further investigation, I eventually found the fabric, and my oh-so-talented mom sewed another blanket so that Will can always have a clean one with which to play, read, and sleep. If we are ever blessed with another child, there will be no more wild-goose chases. I am going to help him or her attach to the new GooseWaddle blankets.

GooseWaddle is a new line of luxury baby blankets. They generously sent us a gift set including a blanket, blankie, and stuffed goose toy that Will and I have been testing out for the last two weeks. The blankets are even softer and fluffier than they look in the pictures and are still like-new (no pilling!) after multiple washes. I loved that the set came with a big blanket as well as a smaller blankie, perfect for packing in the diaper bag and pulling out at church. And I love even more that GooseWaddle has a one for one campaign. For every blanket they sell, they donate a receiving blanket to a child in need.

The great news is that GooseWaddle is going to give away a Blanket/Blankie Gift Set to one of you to try out for yourself or gift to your favorite new mama. All you need to do is visit their site and then comment below on this post letting me know what color you would like. For an extra entry, you can also like Also, That's It on Facebook and share this post. I'll announce a winner on Friday, and GooseWaddle will send the set directly to that lucky person.

Also, the gift set comes wrapped just like you see in the picture above. Wouldn't it be a great second, third, or fourth baby gift for those special people in your life? I imagine sending this to each of my friends after they announce they are pregnant with their next babies. They'll already have all the requisite items from the first baby, but these blankets will be perfect for welcoming home the new love of their life.

All opinions here are my own. I was not compensated for this review beyond items being provided to me at no cost. Good luck!

A Perfect Way to Start the Week

The first season of Too Cute! is streaming on Netflix right now.  If you are not familiar with this program, each episode starts off with a warning that the show you are about to watch might be "too cute" and viewer discretion is advised. It's a documentary style show that follows puppies and kittens from birth through the first few months of life, and it. is. awesome. It's also the only show that everyone in our family loves to watch. Will, who normally ignores all television (besides Jeopardy!), giggles and squeals at the kittens and puppies, and Lola stands in front of the TV, wagging her tail and issuing low barks. We used to recommend it to everyone as stress-free family television until my dad tried to watch an episode and had to tell my mom to turn it off because in the episode he was watching, the puppies were being taught how to swim, which was, in fact, stressing him out. Spoiler Alert: All the puppies learn how to swim. No one gets hurt, and it's all freaking adorable.  

Happy Monday! I hope your week is just the right amount of cute.

Also, these pictures are all from the day we adopted Lola. She was already three months old, and in those first few years, Jason and I would often talk about what her first three months of life must have been like to try to explain away some of her idiosyncrasies. We often referred to it as her origin story

Four Reading Habits to Start in the First Year

As a high school English teacher, I get to see the results of what years of reading or not reading to a child can do for his or her vocabulary, intellect, creativity, and attitude. There are of course exceptions and other factors, but most of my students who are actively involved in their own education are also active readers. As a parent, I have been delighted that Will already loves reading, but over this first year, my husband and I have also worked together to start some positive reading habits that will hopefully instill a lifelong love of reading in Will (and probably also make him the most patient, tenacious, inquisitive child ever).

Habit #1-Finish What You Start

This first habit is short and simple. Just finish the books that you start. William loves to sit on our laps and read, and he's been an active participant for months now. But he also loves to reach over and pick out a new book and can get distracted by Lola or his urge to never stop moving, so we have a rule that if we start a board book, we have to finish it. With a little redirection, he can usually focus long enough to finish the book we started. Sometimes we have to delay our own desires in order to accomplish our goals, and my hope is that this habit will help start to teach William some of that necessary patience and self-control. And it's a pretty easy rule to follow...with board books, at least.

Habit #2-Read Challenging Books

As a teacher, I believe in providing students with challenges that are just out of their comfort zone.  I know that with my guidance and their hard work, they will be able to accomplish much more than they would if I kept everything in their comfort zone. I think the same idea can work well with some aspects of parenting. This habit is also pretty easy to establish because in the first couple years, your child can't actually read. Every book is a challenge, right? Not exactly... Will can't read, but he can sit still and follow along with most board books, so why not challenge him a bit.

I knew that I eventually wanted to make reading one chapter of a book each night to Will part of our routine but was unsure of when to start that tradition. Then, I realized that I could start it now even if Will can't understand all the words or even sit still for an entire chapter. So after dinner and before bath time, Jason, Will, and I all head upstairs to play and read. Jason and I take turns reading a chapter (or two or three) each night while Will sits with his own books on the ground or plays with his toys. Every few weeks (or if he crawls up and asks), we try putting him on our lap to listen, but so far, he still just wants to rip the pages. Right now, we are just modeling reading longer books for him, which is an important part of him learning to read.

Another great thing about reading "challenging" books with your kids is that it can make reading a family activity. Last night at dinner, without any prompting from me, Jason announced, "We're going to finish Edward tonight," and then went on to tell Will and me how he thought the story would end. (I had begged Jason to let me finish it the night before. It's that good!) We spent the rest of the dinner discussing The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and then we got to go upstairs and finish reading it together.  I think my little English teacher heart almost burst! My family was reading and discussing literature without much prompting from me, which brings me to the next habit.

Habit #3-Question and Make Connections

At the beginning of each semester, I review an entire list of different reading strategies that can help my students be more effective readers, strategies that we hone throughout the semester, but really, I feel like asking (and answering) questions and making connections are the most effective reading strategies that you can easily get into the habit of using. And you don't have to make it a chore.

Questions are easy. Most nights, before we start the next chapter of our "challenging" book, Jason or I will ask William what happened the night before (and then one of us answers... and sometimes the other of us adds stuff on). Or when we are reading a Hippo Says "Excuse Me" for the second or third time, I'll ask Will if he thinks there is going to be any room for the chick in the elevator, and then I'll ask him to show me on the picture where there might be room. And then, I'll ask how it must have made the chick feel when the animals said, "No room." I don't ask questions every time we read a book, and I'm still the one doing most (okay, all) of the answering, but at least he is hearing the dialogue and starting to think about the characters. And I know it won't be long before he starts answering me.

As far as connections go, just start thinking about them yourself and talking to your child when you notice any. After reading Charlotte's Web, I always think of Lurvy giving slop to Wilbur every time I clear off Will's plate and put it in Lola's bowl, so I talk to Will about that. When we see a truck on our walks, I ask Will if he thinks it's bigger or smaller than the Little Blue Truck. Again, something that is really simple that I know will help in the long run, which bring me to our final habit.

Habit #4-Make Reading Routine

Read before bed, before naps, after breakfast, after lunch. Play an audio book every morning on the way to school or the babysitter. Do whatever work best for you, but try to make reading part of your daily routine. In the first few months, Will and I would read during his first round of quiet alert time for the day after his first morning feeding. Now, we read before each nap and before bed as well as any other time he brings me a book. When nap time eventually goes away in a few years, I'm hoping to read with Will every morning or every afternoon, not just before bed. (I can't tell you how many times a student has told me that something I assigned was "so boring that I fell asleep while reading," and when I ask where and when they were reading and they answer, "in bed around 10 o'clock," I have to repeat the same chat I had with them at the beginning of the year about different times and reasons for reading. This little tirade is to tell you to teach your kids that reading doesn't just have to happen before bed. Now, back to routine.)Libraries and bookstores should also be part of the routine. Every afternoon/evening, weather permitting, my sister Maggie and her daughter Piper take a walk to the library, return books, check out new ones, and visit their librarians. When I learned about this, I was so jealous that my library is not within walking distance of my house. So instead, I have been trying to make it to the library or book store at least once a week. Over the winter, we have visited three different libraries in towns all around us, and Will has had fun reading and playing at each one. We also love to visit our local used bookstore Afterwords. I eventually want to make going to Afterwords' story time part of our routine, but for now, we just go once every two weeks on a free afternoon.  Will literally giggles with delight when I set him down in the children's room and always finds a new book or Melissa and Doug toy that we just can't leave without. (The great thing about Afterwords is they have both new and used books, and you can sell any books you no longer want to them for a store credit, which means everything I ever buy there is cheaper than anywhere else. Also, Luann and her store remind me a bit of Kathleen Kelly from You've Got Mail, which is just so much fun, and Luann is the one who recommended The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which is the best book I've read this year.) Allowing children to have a chance to explore, discover, and pick out books on their own is a great way to get them to love reading. So there they are, four easy reading habits that you can start in the first (or second or third or fourth) year of your child's life. I'd love to hear if you have any other reading habits or traditions that you have started with your children (or spouse!).
Also, I love reading, but Jason does not. Both of us have been able to easily implement these habits with Will. I don't think you have to necessarily love reading to help your child be a successful reader...but I do think Jason is enjoying our "challenging" books more than he thought he would, so you never know, helping your child become a successful reader might just make you a lifelong reader too.

Baby Olympics

Is it just me, or are you all narrating everything your child does as if they were competing in an Olympic event? Above we have kitchen curling. (He was looking good past the dog bowls, but that narrow passage between the island and pantry is tough to navigate.) And below are some stills from giant chair skating, which I not only narrated but also recorded and sent to my parents because who else was going to indulge me? (You'll notice, he's lost his sock but still finishes his routine with elegance and style, a true Olympian.) 

Also, if you don't have a busy baby around, this could probably work with significant others and dogs too. U! S! A!

This is the Week

Even though there is has been snow on the ground for what seems like the last four months, and it is still there at this very moment, this week is the week that it is all going to disappear. The creeks and lakes are going to thaw too, and we are no longer going to get to scout the fresh evidence of woodland creatures when we look out the window each morning. Instead of bright white, we'll see many shades of brown, but it won't be for too long.  And with this change, I'm betting that this week is also the week that we are going to get outside for a walk more days than not and I am going to get to stop lugging our space heater around and my hands will stop cracking open. It's just a feeling I have that the weather app on my phone seems to corroborate.  

Also, we got a momentary glimpse of it last week...and then we got another dose of snow...and then some ice. But I'm hoping my instincts (and the weather app) are right, at least for Lola's sake.

A Perfect Way to Start the Week

He was upset because I wouldn't let him eat dog food. In fact, I had just taken one of Lola's kibbles out of his mouth, but within seconds he was happy because he got to see that cute baby in the phone again. This moment reminded me of the website Reasons My Son is Crying. Have you seen it? It's good for a laugh, especially if you are a parent that has just turned your back for a few seconds to wash your hands after feeding the dog only to turn back around and find your only son eating dog food.

Happy Monday and Happy President's Day! We are enjoying an extra day home with Jason today. I hope any moments of distress this week are quickly rectified...maybe by a cute baby in your phone.

Also, Humans of New York is another great site that I follow on Instagram that usually puts a smile on my face. The pictures of the people are sometimes interesting, but the short interviews of each person are almost always compelling. 

Bath Games (for the 'rents)

In the true Miller (that's my maiden name and the mythical source of my competitive nature) spirit, I found a way to make bath time into a competition. I came up with the first game one night, not long after we got these bath letters. Basically, Jason or I picked a letter and a specific thing and went back and forth naming those specific things that started with that letter until bath time ended or someone was stumped. I figured it would be a good way to get in our 30,000 words a day with Will and a chance for me to kick Jason's butt with my knowledge. But I was ridiculously bad at the game, not just in that I couldn't come up with as many things as Jason but in that the things I came up with were kind of lame. For example, one night we played things that are red that start with S. I said things like Skittles and Starburst while Jason named things like stop signs and wagons and cardinals. After a few weeks of losing, this game lost it's luster, but just in time, I came up with a new game. A friend of mine had recommended Do Cows Meow? when I asked about her daughter's favorite books, and when I saw it sitting proudly displayed at the bookstore, I picked it up. You can see the premise of the book on the back cover below. 
My idea for a new bath game was based on this, but centered on Will. One person makes up the first two lines and the other person has to come up with the rhyme. For example...

Is William fast?
Is William sneaky?
All I know is that William is...

Or, my best one so far...

Does William have a gun?
Does William have a bullet?
All I know is that William has a...

I pleased to report that I am also ridiculously bad at this game, but now it's funny. Last night, Jason said, "Is William tall? Are his finger nails long? All I know is that..." And I thought for a couple seconds, and said, "William has a dong." Jason looked at me with an exasperated expression and said, "Strong. William is strong." Which is true, but so is my rhyme.

Also, we have been experimenting with no baby bathtub at bath time. We have a strict no standing rule, but even on his bum, William was slipping all around without his baby bathtub. I ordered this safety mat, but in the meantime, we went back to the baby bathtub inside the big bathtub.  Is that what all you other parents are doing?  Is there some other product I don't know about to keep kids safe in the bathtub? 

Word of the Day: Icicle

I've been campaigning hard for Will to say his first word, repeating car and book and block and Lola and Mama and Papa to no avail. Yesterday, with some inspiration from our wonderful winter weather, I decided to make icicle the word of the day. There are some pretty impressive specimens that we have been observing from the breakfast nook, and I knew there had to be some more around the house. I briefly thought about bundling us up to go for a short walk around the yard, but then I checked the temperature on my phone (15 degrees) and decided just to peer through each window on the main floor to see what gems might await us. As you can see, we were not disappointed. Icicles on the gutters and icicles on the shrubs and icicles on the trees and icicles many places that I could not get pictures of without turning into one myself. After about ten minutes, the word icicle had pretty much lost all it's meaning, but I never got tired of looking at them, and Will never got tired of banging on the windows. So...even though he didn't repeat the word, I feel like it was a successful walkabout.

Also, I've been videoing Will completing various feats of strength (a clean and jerk of his block bucket; crawl-sprinting), and I feel like that footage combined with his first word being icicle would make for a great P&G Olympic commercial in about 20 years. Maybe today's word of the day will be halfpipe.

Happy Birthday Jam!

Happy Birthday to the woman who taught me how to be a Christian, a friend, a teacher, and a mom through her amazing example every day! I love you, MoM!

Also, from the Mister:

We Like To Party

Yesterday, we threw a "Fifty Is Fine When You Look Twenty-Nine!" birthday party for my beautiful mom, whose big 5-0 just happens to be tomorrow. After cleaning up all the food and doing the dishes and putting Will to bed, I decided that instead of taking down the decorations from the party, I would address the invitations for our next party, Will's first birthday. When I woke up in the morning and saw the partially deflated balloons in our living room, I knew I had made the right decision. All day, Will, Lola, and I have been enjoying the balloons and all the extra golden light that they and the other decorations have been casting about our abode.

I'm really excited for Will's party. I've been perusing my two favorite party blogs, Oh Happy Day and You Are My Fave, for a little inspiration. Pinterest is always a nice source, but I have found many easy, fun, cheap, and completely doable DIY ideas (like this and this) on both of these sites. They also have great ideas for themes like a Welcome to the World baby shower and random reasons to throw a party like Kite Flying Day. So check them out if you need some party inspiration!

Also, if your baby has a gigantic head like Will, you might be interested in the pullover he is wearing.  The head opening is quite large, which has been really nice when getting him dressed. The weight of the shirt is quite lovely too, lighter than a sweatshirt but heavier than a t-shirt, a nice transition piece for spring. AND! It's on sale! Now, enjoy some before and after hair pics and have yourself a nice sunny day.

We're Sick

The eau de Vicks, green snot, find random tissues in the bed, amoxicillin in the fridge, cancel the play dates type sick. Not the teething sick. And the irony is, a few days after Will started showing symptoms, when I started feeling crappy and realized that we both were legitimately ill, I actually wished that it was teething... because then at least we would have something to show for it at the end. The good news is that Will seems to have made the turn for the better, and I am just a couple days behind him, which is doubly good because we are almost out of tissues.

Also, in an incredibly scary moment, the morning after Will refused to drink anything for about 30 hours, I finally got to experience what a mellow, snugly baby is like when Will was basically in a stupor all morning. I'll take my perpetual motion machine every day if it means I've got a healthy boy... even if I'm running after him in my own stupor of sickness. 

An Anguishing Way to Start the Week

What's a baby to do? Cry, apparently. What's a mama to do? Take advantage of the photo op, unhook the pacifier, tell him, "you're fine," see if he settles down, then console. I've said before, and I'll say it again. Parent of the Year! Let me know if you have any other parenting quandaries that need solving.

In the meantime, while we're on the subject of anguish, maybe you can explain to me why this song was used for this commercial...and for that matter is even popular at all. I may be sleep deprived from caring for a sick and teething ten-month-old, but I'm pretty sure that the commercial is about best (animal) buds who will go to the greatest lengths to be together and the song is about a vitriolic person singing about some other person who is incapable of loving and has really bad timing. Again, I am spending a majority of my time taking pictures of and caring for my sick and teething baby, so maybe I missed the point or some one out there has already covered this topic. If so, please let me know so I can stop bothering Jason about it.

Happy Monday! I hope you only need the light when your batteries are full, only miss the sun when the weekly forecast calls for mostly sunny skies, only know your lover when you first see him or her like that puppy and horse in the commercial...

Also, I hope you only have a baby whose teeth magically appear without cold/flu-like symptoms and sleeps through the night every night.

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