Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Baby Paul: Instilling a Love of Reading

I read a depressing article recently in my local newspaper about the steady decline of reading by teens. 1/3 of all high school students don't read for pleasure and fewer than 20 percent read every day. Compare this to the 1970s when 60 percent of high school seniors read a book, a magazine or a newspaper every day. Instead, teens spend their time playing video games and on social media.

How sad is that? As an adult, I know how tempting it is to spend times on your phone checking your social media account of choice, but I still much prefer reading as evidenced by the fact that I've already read 56 books this year despite being a busy working mom. I don't mean to toot my own horn by saying that - it's just evidence of my choice to choose reading over tv or screen time. That's not to say that I don't waste time on my phone - I certainly do. I just waste less time than I could because my love of reading keeps my phone habits in check.

Reading Little Blue Truck, our favorite book!
So far, it is very clear that Paul LOVES being read to. When he was sick earlier this month, one of the few things that would make him happy or distract him from how awful he felt was reading to him. I'm actually really surprised by how much he enjoys being read to. I didn't expect him to love being read to as much as he does at this age, but you can tell how much he loves it as he is clearly very captivated and studies each page.

Books are part of every day life in our house. We read a couple when we are hanging out before bedtime and we read 1-2 books at bedtime depending on his attention level/how close he is to an exhaustion-induced meltdown. ;)

He loves this cloth "Jungly Tails" book!

But as Paul gets older and makes more independent choices, we want to do what we can to make sure to instill a love of reading. There's so much research about how a love of reading will benefit a child throughout their life. So our quest to make sure Paul continues to read is about more than passing on our personal hobby. It's also about setting him up for success in life and instilling a curiosity about the world.

Being read to by Grandma Joan
I think back to why I became such a voracious reader, and credit it mostly to my parents and grandparents - all of which were/are avid readers. Phil and I are clearly readers, hence our book-themed wedding, and his grandparents, one of which is a retired English teacher, are avid readers. He already has a huge collection of books, thanks to my baby shower + generous gifts from friends, and I know he'll continue to receive books as gifts for Christmas and birthdays in years to come. So I think we will lay the foundation for raising a reader.

But I know the biggest challenge will be overcoming the allure of smart phones, tablets and whatever gadgets are developed in the years to come. So I know we need to be intentional about the choices we will make as parents to ensure that he continues to choose to read books. As a new parent, I won't pretend to have all the answers (or any of them, really!), but I'm determined to figure this out as Paul grows up!

What helped instill your love of reading?

Friday, August 24, 2018


The high of my week was getting together with friends for lunch twice this week. On Tuesday I met up with another friend who is the busy mom to 3 kids that are 3 and under (she has one-year-old twins!). It was nice to chat with her about mom life and the challenge of being a working mom. On Wednesday I went out to lunch with some coworkers as a coworker from Chicago was in town. It was nice to catch up face to face with everyone as I usually communicate with these girls over instant messager or email at work.

The low of my week was getting a painful flare in my left knee. This is my 2nd flare this month. I think the culprit is probably lack of sleep and being sick. Hopefully I get a break from flares as they are so painful and annoying!

The books I am reading are The Heart's Invisible Furies and How to Find Love in a Bookshop. I rarely read 2 books at the same time, but I'm reading a physical copy of The Heart's Invisible Furies and it is soooo big/heavy. I'm already hauling a lot of things back and forth to work for pumping so I can't handle carrying a big book in my purse. So I downloaded How to Find Love in a Bookshop so I would have something to read on my phone (I LOVE the kindle ap!). Both books are really good so far.

A recipe I made was Pressure Cooker Moroccan Chicken. This recipe is so good and so easy. I love that you don't have to cut up the chicken. It's so tender that it's easy to shred before serving.

The best money I spent was some items that we'll need when Paul starts to eat solids (some spoons, a bib with sleeves, and a sippy cup). Paul will be 6 months next week but he's not quite ready to start solids yet as he's still working on head control. Controlling that 98th percentile head is quite the challenge for a little guy! But once he shows that he's ready to eat, I'll have everything we need. I think we are going to mostly do "baby led weaning" which is an approach where the baby mostly eats what we eat but I'll probably have daycare give him some purees and cereal.

My plans this weekend include pretty much nothing! Woo hoo! Having a baby has cured me from being a chronic over-planner. We have no plans which is an ideal weekend for me these days. Paul isn't on any sort of schedule as the length of his naps vary, so the timing of his naps vary. As a result, it's hard to plan anything since I never know when he will be awake. He sleeps so little at daycare (less than 1.5 hours total!) that I really try to make sure he gets enough sleep on the weekends. Plus we are tired, too, since we are getting up with him during the night. My company is having their summer event tonight, which includes spouses, so we'll swing by that for an hour before doing daycare pick-up. Besides that, we need to clean the house and I need to go to my garden but that's it for 'plans'.

Bonus Paul Pics!

He's so happy in the morning!

Working on our crawling skills

Hipster baby in a Wilco onesie. Confession: I don't know any music by Wilco. Phil's coworker gave us this onesie.
What was the high of your week? What recipes did you make this week?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Currently: August

Oh boy I am on the struggle bus right now. Paul got a nasty virus that turned into an ear infection and kept him out of daycare for an entire week last week. He's on antibiotics and on the mend but he's still not quite himself and is waking up so much (as much as 6 times/night!). I caught his cough/cold so feel extra tired since my body is worn down. I am sooo ready for the weekend and it's only Wednesday. Womp womp. The only silver lining from Paul being sick is all the cuddle time. When he's feeling well, he's way too busy to cuddle with mom as he wants to be looking around/wiggling.

Reading: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I read this for a course when I studied abroad in Australia and HATED it. I gave it one star! I can't remember why I hated it, though. I was 21 at the time, though, and maybe I was too young to appreciate the concepts in the book? I'm re-reading it for book club.

Loving:  watching Paul figure out how to move. He's a ways off from figuring out how to crawl, but boy he's trying to figure it out! He's very good at rolling, though, and can spin around on his stomach so he's sort of on the move.

Feeling: really tired and worn out. These frequent wake-ups are just killing me! I'm glad that Phil and I can split the night up so I'm not handling all of the wake-ups but it's still exhausting to get woken up so much. And it's tough to see Paul feeling so tough. He coughs so hard that sometimes he ends up gagging and throwing up. :(  I keep telling myself - "this, too, shall pass."

Anticipating: the weekend. I kind of live for the weekends right now because naps are saving my life right now. Plus this is Phil's birthday weekend so we are going out for lunch at his favorite local restaurant (Marla's Caribbean Cuisine). We rarely eat out anymore as eating out with a baby is just not fun. But lunch is a good time to go out with a baby since he's in a good mood usually!

Grateful: that we were able to work from home last week so we didn't have to burn through vacation days. I took Monday off as I didn't have my computer at home with me and then worked from home on Wednesday and Friday. Phil worked from home on Tuesday and Thursday.

Working:  on canning some of the produce from my garden. I've been skinning/freezing tomatoes as I pick them and have enough to make some marinara. I'm hoping to can it this weekend so I can free up some freezer space. 25 pounds of tomatoes takes up a lot of room!! I've also been freezing roasted/pureed tomatillos so I can make salsa verde again.

Listening: to the second season of Slow Burn. The first season was about the Watergate scandal. The second season is about the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I was so young when Bill Clinton was in office so I really don't know the ins and outs of what happened.

Wishing: for some cooler temps. Don't hate me, fellow Midwesterners. I'm just over the hot/humid temps we've had lately. I just want to be able to sleep with the windows open!

And here are some bonus pics of Paul!

Looking handsome in his dino outfit - 5 minutes later he puked up his amoxicillin dose. :(

He can hold his bottle for about a minute!

Super smiley even though this was day 2 of being sick.

Daddy's future golf partner

We got our photos back from our 2nd session with our wedding photographer. This is one of my favorites!

What are you loving, anticipating, and grateful for?

Friday, August 3, 2018

Baby Paul: 5 months

 It's hard to believe that our little guy turned 5 months this week. I feel like we've started to hit a 'sweet spot' with him. He's such a happy little guy now and only cries if he is hungry or tired. Otherwise he's in a really good mood. It's fun to watch him learn new things each week! I'll be honest - it's been really hard to be back at work. We get so little time with him during the week as we usually wake him up 20 minutes before Phil leaves to bring him to daycare and he's only awake for an hour when we get home from work. But it really makes me appreciate the time I get with him - especially on the weekends!


- Other kids. Paul absolutely loves watching and interacting with other kids, especially my nieces and nephews. He especially has a sweet spot for my nephew Matthew. These two had so much fun together over the 4th. Paul was just so enamored with Matthew. It was the sweetest thing to watch.

- sticking out his tongue. He often sticks it out when he smiles at us.

- his daddy. Phil doesn't have to do much to get him to smile these days.

Here are a couple of times I was trying to get him to smile for me and he was too focused on smiling at his dad to look at me!
That dimple!
 - making funny faces. He still cracks us up with his expressions!
He looks so concerned in this photo.  Ha.
What, you are going to Chicago for work? I did not approve of this!

- his activity mat. He has so much fun playing with the different hanging toys and now that he can roll and spin around on his tummy, he can get to whatever toy he is most interested in. It's kind of impressive how far he can move between rolling and spinning.

- being read to. I'm pretty impressed by how much he pays attention when we read to him. He really looks at the pages and pays attention. He seems really enjoy it, which makes this book-lover so happy!

Reading with Grandma Joan.

- Sleeping in new places. It was really hard for him to adjust to napping at daycare, which makes sense as he's used to sleeping in a dark room with a sound machine. For the first week he wouldn't nap in the crib there, but he started napping in the crib on Monday and yesterday he took 2 1-hour naps so he's figuring out how to sleep there. For the first 1.5 weeks he was only sleeping maybe an hour total which is not much for a 5-month old baby!

- The Nose Freida. He still hates this but it's a necessary evil when he has a cold (which he got during his first week of daycare).

- There's not much else he doesn't like these days. As long as he's not tired or hungry, he's a happy little guy.


- We made the controversial decision to sleep train when I got back from the lake in early July. I know that sleep training is not for everyone, but it was the right decision for us. Before sleep training he was getting up 3-4 times/night and sometimes as often as every 1-1.5 hours. Now he is up about twice a night which feels manageable now that Phil and I split the nights. Because Paul is so small, we know it's not realistic to expect him to sleep through the night so I think this is as good as it will get until he is a little bigger. His pediatrician said it's not realistic to expect him to sleep through the night until he is 15+ pounds and we are months away from him getting that big!

- The best part of sleep training is that Paul can now put himself to sleep. We just set him in the crib for naps and night time. He might fuss a bit or roll around and coo but he settles down after 3-5 minutes most of the time and falls asleep. He tends to roll over and sleep on his stomach. You put babies to sleep on their back, but once they can roll from back to stomach, it's ok to let them sleep on their stomach.


- Daycare/being cared for by others. I returned to work on July 12th so he was cared for by family and a friend until his daycare spot was available on July 23rd. He handled the adjustment to daycare really well. He never cried with I left him, even when I dropped him at daycare the first day. So that makes leaving him with others much easier! His daycare teachers all said he is a very sweet, happy, "chill" baby. He must take after his dad - ha! (I'm not really described as being chill by anyone!). He's always happy when we pick him up. Like I said in the sleep section, he has struggled to nap at daycare but they said he's still super happy even on days when he wasn't sleeping much.

Hanging out with his buddy Gus while my friend watched him for an afternoon.

- Discovering his feet. Paul found his feet last month and often sucks on them.

- He's gotten much better at tummy time. You can see the progression in the next 2 photos. He has figured out how to prop himself up on his forearms.

He's trying to figure out how to crawl but right now it just looks like he is swimming because his legs don't make much contact with the ground when he moves them. But it's cool to watch him try to figure things out. I think he must be picking things up from other kids at daycare because he's made so much progress in getting up on his elbows since starting daycare. I still think we are a ways from him crawling but I'm ok with that!!

All in all, the past month was a great one for us and I think things are only going to get better and more fun!