It's official. At 13.5 months, Truman has taken his first steps!! Sure, it's only about 5-6 in a row at this point. He definitely prefers to crawl as his primary mode of locomotion. And really, he only does his new walking trick when the mood hits him just right. But no matter what, this is a HUGE milestone to hit for any baby and it deserves it's own post right now.

On Monday, we noticed that Truman was doing a great job with his balance as he walked between the ottoman and couches. For a few weeks now he would get to the point where he'd want to let go of one surface to make the trek across the room to the other. But he was scared and cautious and always preferred to hold our hands, and we happily obliged. Then on Monday we noticed he would make the journey without our hands and better yet---he wouldn't even fall forward, face planting into the couch! I whipped out the iPhone for some video action feeling like although this milestone felt a little ambiguous, not carved out in stone for an exact date, it seemed like he was taking his first steps.

And then tonight, on Tuesday, we noticed that he was REALLY into making these little trips between furniture. And just within one day he has already doubled the distance he can tackle. To say that we are proud first time parents is a huge understatement, obviously.

Truman has never been a fan of walking with rolling toys, it's just not his thing. But at the end of that clip you'll see we tried it out again and he apparently loves to pull the thing backwards, at least!

While I was filming all of these videos it started to hit me: "My baby boy is walking!" I immediately got choked up as I stared at my growing son, realizing he is just working so hard at becoming a big boy now. I mean, how awesome is it that he is trying his hardest to walk? It just boggles my mind how fast they change and how every baby is so different and yet, so similar. Of course I knew he'd start walking one day but we didn't want to make it a big deal. And now we are here, on the verge of having a true toddler, and I just can't take the sense of pride. Do you see how proud he is of himself in those videos? Heartwarming.

Tonight after he did his walking tricks over and over again, we got ready for bed as always. Bath, jammies, books, bottle. I laid him down to sleep and instead of hearing him talk for a few minutes then passing out I heard him start to cry. The REAL cry. Like, 'Something is wrong' cry. Nate and I sort of looked at each other and wondered what was wrong, since Truman hasn't done this sort of thing in ages.

So I went back in his room armed with more milk, thinking maybe he was still hungry. He didn't want the milk and I was sort of at a loss. So I just picked him up, carried him to the rocker, and sat there as he laid his head on my chest. His little cheek against my collar bone, his left arm holding onto Monkey for dear life while his right arm wrapped around my left arm. He was cuddling with me, simply breathing in and out while resting on his mama, and it was the most precious thing I've experienced in many months. I rocked with him, humming him a tune, trying not to cry AGAIN, as I wondered how in the world I ever got so lucky to be this child's mother.

We rocked and he snuggled into me some more, turning his head every now and then to readjust himself. After awhile he started to perk up again, although I thought he had gone to sleep. He pulled his head off my chest and stared up at me with those big hazel eyes as if to say, 'Oh, hi, Mom!'. Then he started to laugh with the biggest grin ever. He kept laying his head back down then lifting it up again to laugh, over and over again. Is it possible that this child knew I was feeling sad about my baby boy growing up before my very eyes? Maybe he knew I needed some cuddle time, to reassure me that I am still needed and he still loves his mama. And after the giggles came the best part ever: he lifted his head off my skin, tilted his head back, opened his mouth a bit, and requested a genuine kiss from me. Not once, but about five times. I can't remember the last time he offered a kiss without me begging for it and of course I soaked in that moment with every ounce of my being.

I'd love to say that after our special moment together he drifted off to sleep in my arms. But instead, he woke back up and got squirmy so I decided to try laying him down again. After a little bit of rebellion he did finally fall asleep and I am left with the sweetest memory of my big baby boy, working so hard during the day to be a toddler, and then showing his mommy that he can still cuddle with the best of them.

I am so blessed it really hurts my heart sometimes. Thank you, God, for this gift of motherhood. It's moments like these that are worth every single second of the hard times.

Balancing Act

I've been feeling very reflective lately, especially when it comes to my journey as a working mom and all the ups and downs that came along for the ride. I'm sure it has something to do with my brand new job being awesome and only requiring three days a week from me (although I'm still doing that extra half day on Thursdays at the old job, too). But I feel like I have to share my thoughts on this one.

During my maternity leave with Truman I was literally panicked about returning to work. I just didn't think I could muster up the strength to leave my precious bundle of squishiness all day long. The typical phrases like, 'Leaving the baby with strangers,' and 'Paying for someone else to raise your child,' and 'You'll miss out on so much,' are like daggers in the heart to any working mom. I dug myself into a hole of 'I can't do it, it will be too hard,' within the first month of being home with Truman. And as the 12 week countdown continued my anxiety increased exponentially, although I made a conscious effort to enjoy each day and not spend time worrying about the end of the blissful time off. The week before I returned was the hardest: the anticipation was absolutely horrendous and I just couldn't stop crying about it. But you know what? My first day back to work was honestly not as bad as I had made it out to be in my mind. I tell every single new mom who plans to return to work that the anticipation is one hundred times worse than the reality of it. Or at least it was for me.

But then again, it was still SO hard to feel like my heart was being pulled in two different directions. I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom with every ounce of my being and it just simply was not an option. As the breadwinner, insurance carrier, and sole income I had no choice but to work to provide for my family: a fact that I was well aware of before we had Truman, and something that I totally signed up for when I wanted to have a baby before Nate was finished with school. And yet, I'd be lying if I said that those first few months back to work were easy because they absolutely were not. My heart wanted to be at home and my mind knew it was ridiculous to think about that idea. I was tired from lack of sleep, working on my feet all day, pumping a ridiculous amount of milk from my body, and trying to juggle it all in the evenings, too. It was hard and I constantly dreamed of a day I could stay at home forever.

And then something weird happened: I took another job in a flexible setting, that allowed me to work only 30 hours a week instead of the 36 I was putting in before. I didn't have to work every other weekend anymore. And I was almost always finished for the day by 4 at the absolute latest. All of a sudden my mindset changed and I started to feel the swing towards the 'mommy' role in me, moving away from the 'PT' role as my primary title. Truman also started sleeping through the night around that time (finally!) and I'm sure that had something to do with the new ray of sunshine coming out of my rear. Sleep makes everything better you know.

Then a little bit after the holidays I got a call from another home health company and I took a leap of faith to make yet another job change. I definitely made the right decision although it was a tough one and now I'm in a place where I can feasibly work just 20 hours a week if I so choose. Amazing, right? I have not felt this balanced when it comes to my PT career and my mommy career since....ever. It's just so nice to have the ability to bring home a paycheck, wear that PT hat and help others in need, and then have some recoup time at home with mister man afterward. I am incredibly blessed to be in this position and feel totally at peace with where I am in the working mom world right now. It sure did take awhile though, and it sure as heck wasn't easy along the way.

I'm not saying that working moms have it harder than stay at home moms by any means. I know that just using the words 'working mom' that will surely stir up some defensive thoughts from the moms who work hard inside their homes, raising their children. I hate that it always seems to be working moms versus stay-at-home moms because we really don't have to be on opposite teams. I'd like to think that I am truly split down the middle on this one, working 3.5 days and home 3.5 days per week. I give mad props to SAHMs out there and if anything, my new part time career woman/part time mommy gig has really broadened my view on both sides of the coin. Neither camp has it harder than the other. Neither has it easier. But they are just different with their own sets of challenges, mommy-guilt, and rewards.

For instance: on my days off with Truman I am in LOVE with the fact that we do not have to answer to the clock. We don't have to rush through our morning to hurry out the door to make it to daycare/work on time. But on those days I have to be totally on top of my game to keep little man entertained and out of trouble. Gone are the days when I could plop him on the activity mat and let him bat around a shiny object for an hour. Yes, it definitely gets harder as time goes on.

In case I haven't put this sentence in enough twinkling lights lately, 'NATE GRADUATES NEXT MONTH!!' and I simply cannot believe our time has come to have two salaries. Of course, part of me likes to toy with the idea of saying, 'Okay, honey. Your turn to work and now I'd like to stay at home, okay?' But in reality, we have financial goals for our family that include buying a home, having more babies, continuing to save for emergencies and for the future, and possibly get a new car someday. I just can't see us reaching all of those goals on one salary and so I'm basically committed to continuing my three day work week. I think Nate wants to get that in blood but he'll have to settle for my word at this point. We are really going to crunch some numbers this summer once the two paychecks are rolling in to get a feel for what we can and cannot afford. But I've already decided to embrace my part time working mom role as long as our family needs it. Truman loves Lori's daycare, it's so good for him to get the social interaction, I enjoy my job outside of the home, and extra money never hurts. I've come a long way since my maternity leave mindset of 'I cannot handle leaving my baby with strangers' and I'm proud of this evolution.

And by the way: daycare workers don't have to be perceived as 'strangers.' Once you put some effort towards getting to know them, and if you have the right daycare provider, they will start to seem like a part of the parenting team and not at all like outsiders. The term 'strangers' in regards to daycare really bugs me in case you couldn't tell. I think daycare workers have the toughest job of all---and it's quite possible that no matter how good they are, they will never live up to a mother's standards for their children. I tell Lori all of the time that she has big shoes to fill because I am definitely one of those moms who wants things done my way and I really believe I know my child better than anyone. As time goes on I see that it's completely healthy for Truman to have another authority figure in his life beside family and I am grateful for our daycare situation, for sure. Enough rambling about daycare....pretty important subject around here I guess!

I'll end this tangent with some new pictures of my growing boy. I seriously think he looks like he's 16 years old in this baseball hat and summer outfit. Sigh.




Oh, and then there's this new fave---my new computer desktop:

Hopefully there are some working moms out there who find comfort in the idea that you really can feel balanced in your life roles. It definitely helps to drop to part time, though, if that is an option for you. :)

A little bit overdone

Major accomplishment over here, folks. I finally finished Truman's first year album and I just have to gush about it a bit.

You see, I've always been really into documenting life in photobooks. I scrapbooked my life since age 15 and have a yearly album starting with high school all the way through 2009. I switched to digital scrapbooking in 2008 and have never looked back and even had my own little side business for a bit making wedding albums for others. So basically, all that is to say I really really like photo albums. :)

I turned a lot of my blog posts into pages with our family yearly albums in 2008 and 2009. Then I did a whole 'pregnancy journal' book compiling all of my pregnancy posts and pictures into one fatty book. I knew I had to do a baby book for Truman but I honestly felt rather overwhelmed with this project because of the sheer number of pictures (I think I took over 10,000 in the first year of life) and blog posts (can't even count them anymore) dedicated to Truman.

During my maternity leave I took the plunge and started Truman's album. I used lots of blog posts and even some personal journaling I did in Word those first few weeks. I didn't want to forget a second of that newborn magical time and also I succeeded in taking a ridiculous amount of pictures to commemorate it. I'd work on this album periodically, mostly in spurts. I would get really far behind, by months and months, and then I'd focus on catching up to the present moment. By Truman's first birthday I was caught up to November which wasn't too shabby.

And now? I have officially completed the largest, most ridiculous baby book ever. It has 174 pages in it. It's a 11x13 size and huge and rather pricey but I absolutely love it, you guys. I am so glad I took the time to do this for Truman but also, selfishly, for me. A few spreads for your viewing pleasure---pretty colors, my baby boy's face, and lots of pictures!

I'll try to post a link to an edited down preview version here. There are 'only' 81 pages I selected here so that your eyes don't actually bleed from staring at the screen.

Oh, and major shout out to Blurb yet again. I love this company so much and have never regretted using them as my only choice in albums. You cannot beat their quality for the price and apparently they are MUCH quicker than they used to be for printing and shipping. I got the book in my hands within a week of hitting the 'purchase' button and I know I used to wait for 2 weeks when I was whipping out wedding albums like nobody's business.

So anyway, that is that. I really think a lot of moms get overwhelmed by the idea of making a photobook for the baby years and I totally get that. But my best advice is just to take the plunge and get started. It doesn't have to be fancy, it doesn't have to have a million pictures or a ton of text---anything you do will be special.

And with that I better get started on the second year album asap... :)

Thirteen months

Lucky number thirteen. I'm still going strong with these monthly updates but the onesie stickers are a thing of the past. I cannot fathom the torture of continuing that series past one year---the last 7 monthly photo shoots have been completely ridic. I'd rather not break out into a sweat anymore trying to keep my mobile son on the chair and not lunging towards the diaper pail, the sticker on his shirt and not in his mouth, and his eyes focused on the camera instead of every other possible object in the nursery. So yeah, it was a great project but no more of that, okay?

So what is new in this thirteen monther's life?

Truman has gotten really into playing pretend and it's probably one of the funniest things I've seen him do yet. It will be my life's mission to get this on camera (along with about 10 other things I've been meaning to capture before he stops doing them) but I'll try to explain it for now. Truman LOVES to pretend that he is holding a little bit of food between his fatty thumb and forefinger and then he will offer it out to us and 'force' us to take a bite. Then we'll tell him to eat some and he dramatically puts the imaginary morsel of food into his mouth and says, 'MMMmmmmm'. Mostly he loves to feed Henry the fake food because the old dog falls for it every time. Also, we've caught him pretending to pull pretend food out of his toys, out of drawers, out of his shoes....and then he'll act like he's scarfing it down, totally satisfied by this invisible meal. It's freaking hilarious, you guys. He'll also pretend to drink out of random objects, like stack-able cups and Tylenol bottles. I cannot help but laugh at this little mysterious mind and wonder if he'll be a kid that has about 10 imaginary friends; maybe he'll be a dreamer with a mean creative streak?

Besides playing pretend, Truman is officially obsessed with dancing. The boy has moves and rhythm and a passion for mad beats. I have no idea where he got these dance skillz but they are amazing. All of a sudden we noticed that he started to dance with his hands up in the air, usually making at least one of them into a 'duck head' and usually one of them with a pointed finger as if to emphasize the bass. We tried to catch the hand gestures on video and this is the best we have thus far. I asked Lori about his hilarious moves and she said they have dance parties all the time at daycare and Truman loves to steal the show---I wonder if he learned the hand motions from one of the kids there?

I'll go ahead and address the hottest question to ask all mothers of a one year old child: 'Is he walking yet?' Not by himself but he has to be getting close. He moves between all the furniture like it's nothing anymore and lately his new thing is to reach out for one of our hands, and when we let him hang onto our fingers he will strut all across the house and we are barely helping with his balance. I'm sure he COULD take a few steps if he wanted to but he's really not that interested, other than holding onto us to explore the house by food. Honestly? I'm totally fine with that and not freaking out just yet. I mean, this is my son who didn't even crawl until he was 9.5 months and didn't pull to stand until he was 10 months old. Again, he must be on his own time line and soon enough he'll be running all over. But for now it's super cute to see him reaching for our hand for assist.

Other cool things on Truman's trick list include:
-responding by patting his tummy when we ask, 'Where's your belly?' and then he'll stare at his belly button in admiration. Also he can point to his nose when we ask and SOMETIMES to his ear. Most of the time 'pointing to his nose' actually means that he digs for gold but whatev.

-in the same vein, when we ask him how old he is or say, 'Truman are you this many?' holding up our finger, he will smile really big and do the same. I know that is something Lori taught him because I had nothing to do with it. Super cute, though. Love that trick.

-He's starting to sign a lot more now, too. Still loves the 'more' sign, and he has his own version of 'all done.' This week he started to sign 'milk', which was new and exciting for this mama. I swear he looks at me like I am deranged when I get all uppity about him doing new things. Like, 'You are SUCH a first time mom, lady.'

-He will reach and point and grunt and whine to show us what he wants and we can usually figure it out. Trying to communicate with us has to be a frustrating task for Truman, though, since he doesn't have the words to do so and can't sign everything just yet. He specifically says, 'DaDa' for Nate (or all men, but whatever), 'MaMa' for me, and 'Duh-Duh' for doggie. I think he also said 'Ni-Ni' a few times referring to night-night and Nate thinks he said, 'Na-Na' for banana one morning. Probably a big stretch there, huh?

Truman is such a loving little dude it's sick. He will give us kisses now without us even asking. Sometimes he will get into a giddy/happy mood and becomes really cuddly and kissy and it's absolutely heart-melting. His face lights up when he hears our door open in the evenings and he immediately squeals, 'DA DA!' knowing that Nate just got home. I cannot handle the cuteness of my son loving his dad so much. 'Tis too much!


Besides loving his daddy to death, Truman is becoming quite fond of brother Henry, too. He loves to chase Henry around (by crawling towards him, of course) and will play tug-of-war with any dog toy of choice for abnormally long amounts of time. Henry dies for the attention, too, so really they are quite the pair. I've caught Henry rubbing up against Truman and even laying down with his butt on Truman's lap. I love thinking about Truman growing up with Henry as the family pet, knowing he's going to be so attached to old Hank and they'll be best buddies for many years to come. Doesn't that just warm your heart?

In other news, Truman just started playing alone for longer than 10 seconds at a time!! We still have to be in the same room, but now he can entertain self for minutes at a time. This is big news, people. He will just move from toy to toy and play with intention, not requiring me to be actively involved. I don't even need to be within a 2 inch radius anymore to avoid a meltdown---progress! Still some tears at daycare drop offs but not every day anymore and one day this week he even waved at me with a straight face as I left. Again, progress!

Truman loves books more than before, because he is perfectly content to sit on my lap and flip pages for me while I read the words. He even has a few favorites that he requests nearly every day (by grunting and pointing until I pick the right one) like: Llama Llama Red Pajama, anything by Sandra Boynton, Biscuit's Pet and Play Christmas (yes, even in March), and Mommy Hugs. Doesn't it show that you are a total mom when you can recite kids' books word for word with your eyes closed? I'm totally that mom now. And I love our reading time, so that is okay.

Big milestones this month include: the official end of nursing :( , weaning off the pacifier:) , and attempting to move from bottles to cups :/.

Truman nursed through the first week of March but then on our trip to Missouri he just sort of phased it out, without me even noticing too much. Our morning session got shorter and shorter and then I just stopped offering and he didn't complain. I honestly wasn't as sad as I thought I would be either because it was such a gradual process. I'm pretty sure my post-breastfeeding hormones hit the hardest right before his first birthday when I stopped pumping. THAT was a roller-coaster ride from hormonal hell. Note to self: don't stop pumping, plan a first birthday party, and get your first 'real' post-baby period all within the same week and expect to be an enjoyable person. But we made it through, Truman nursed for another two weeks and now we are done. Sigh. It was a good run, no?

Getting rid of the pacifier was a breeze, really. I mean, he didn't even take a paci except for in the car and occasionally with sleeping---but he'd always toss the darn thing out of the crib within 2 minutes anyway. He did enjoy having the paci clipped onto his shirt at daycare, though, and he'd suck it when he 'needed' it there. So basically after his birthday I wanted to try life without it and it was painless for us at home. Lori took it a little more slowly there but that's fine by me. One less thing on my worry list---whether or not he'll still be sucking a paci when he enters Kindergarten.

Speaking of that, I know you are 'supposed' to wean off a bottle and onto a cup at one year. I get that, I really do. But dang, this one is proving a lot more difficult than expected. He's drinking all whole milk now and usually takes in about 30 ounces in a day (five 6 ounce bottles). Boy loves his milk, I guess. I'd love to see him just drink a nice little cup at meals and maybe one snack but I worry that he will be missing lots of wonderful, healthy calories that way. He will drink from a cup but only a VERY small amount and only when he's really hungry. So basically we are starting with the daytime bottles, moving those to cups first, and then the first morning bottle and the nighttime bottle will be the last to go. I'm sure it's normal for moms to worry that their kids aren't eating enough but that is the name of my game right now. I just know that if we take away all bottles he'll only drink like 4 ounces of milk all day and will wither away into a stringbean of a child who is unhealthy and unhappy. Also, I am convinced that taking away all bottles will spell disaster for our amazing sleep habits lately. See? Isn't that a positive thought? :) I'm good at anticipating the worst, you know.

So any advice on moving from bottles to cups appreciated.

Also, what is with the lack of pictures in this post? Pathetic! I blame the fact that we had to move my camera to a very discreet location, out of the way of one curious toddler. So now that it's not right in front of my face all the time, I think I forget to snap away. Either that or I'm photo'd out after this past year of thousands of pics. I'm working on Truman's one year album and it's freaking insane---up to page 158 and I still have a month to go. Lord help me. :)
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