February 27, 2015

Portrait 8.52

Portrait 8.52 
My little explorer

"A portrait of my daughter once a week, every week, in 2015."

The end of a very sweet era

I officially weaned Claire from nursing this past Sunday.  I've been slowly weaning her since she was 11 months old.  She has always loved to nurse so I was worried it would be a difficult thing for her to let go of.  At 10 months I was nursing her 4 times a day (about every 4 hours).  At 11 months we cut down to nursing only 3 times a day, once in the morning, after lunch, and then before bedtime.  At 11 1/2 months I cut her down to nursing only two times a day, first thing in the morning and before she went to bed.  Claire actually did much better than I expected she would.  She didn't ever want nurse more than I offered and seemed really content with cutting back.  The whole time I was nursing her I always thought I would wean her all the way when she turned a year old.  However, when her first birthday came I was still nursing her twice a day, and I didn't feel like either of us were ready to be done yet.  I decided I would continue nursing her for another month or two and just kind of see how it went.  
     This ended up being such a good decision because Claire was sick almost the whole month of January and part of February.  She got a really bad cold, ear infection, and then was getting really high fevers of 103 for about a week for no apparent reason (but possibly from teething).  She has slept through the night since she was basically 4 months old but when she got sick she started waking up around 3 a.m. when her tylenol would wear off and her fever would spike again.  The only thing that would help her go back to sleep was nursing.  
     A couple of weeks into February she finally started feeling better and started sleeping through the night again so I decided to cut down to nursing her once a day in the morning.  She still loved her morning feeding and it was always the first thing she wanted to do when she woke up.  I woke up Saturday feeling a little sick, but I still nursed her in the morning after she woke up.  A few hours later I got hit full force with a case of the stomach flu.  After throwing up all day Saturday and again Sunday morning I was so sick I had no energy to get up out of bed when she woke up.  I had Bryce get up with her on Sunday and he just took her out to the kitchen and fed her breakfast.  Once she got some food she was fine and didn't even seem to mind that she had missed her morning feeding.  Monday morning came along and I was finally feeling better, but had only eaten crackers and sprite in 48 hours so I wasn't even sure if I would even really be able to nurse her.  I decided not to offer it to her and just take her out to the kitchen and feed her breakfast like Bryce had the morning before.  I was a little sad because I hadn't actually planned on weaning her but the stomach flu just kind of made it happen.  Even if I wasn't ready I felt like Claire was and decided it was time to officially wean her.
  When I was pregnant with Claire I was a little apprehensive about nursing.  I had read a lot about all of the great benefits of nursing and really wanted to nurse, but it still seemed a little weird to me.  I wasn't sure if I would really like it let alone enjoy it.  When Claire was born nursing did not come very easily in the hospital.  Claire was so tired and neither me or the nurses could ever get her to wake up enough to nurse.  I was also experiencing the stress and fear of having paralysis in my legs still, more than 24 hours after delivering Claire.  The doctors were trying to figure out why I couldn't move or feel my legs yet and they had no idea of when or if I would be able to walk again.  I remember a time on the second day in the hospital after trying to nurse Claire I just started crying.  The lactation specialist had been in trying to help me get her to latch properly and stay awake long enough to nurse but Claire had no interest.  The lactation specialist patted my shoulder and said it was okay, that we could let her get some sleep and try again in a half an hour.  I swaddled her up and had my mom who was with me place her in the bassinet.  I was crying from frustration, fear, and I'm sure lack of sleep.  I remembered telling my mom maybe I should just formula feed her.  I didn't know what I was supposed to do if I wasn't able to get out of bed and if I couldn't walk.  I was thinking of how much help I was going to need and thought it might be easier if I just did formula so other people would be able to help feed her.  My mom said to do whatever I felt was best.  After a good cry I recomposed myself and decided not to give up yet.  I had to leave and get an MRI done but decided when I came back I was going to nurse her successfully and keep her awake for the whole feeding.  After my MRI, I came back and had Bryce get me all situated with Claire so I could nurse her.  I successfully got her to latch and was able to keep her awake long enough to nurse on both sides for a full feeding.  I'm sure my determination played a tiny part of it, but I really feel like it was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father.  It was exactly what I needed to give faith that things would be okay during my hospital stay.  After that feeding nursing just kind of clicked for both of us.  Claire started nursing great every two hours and I loved getting to be the comfort and sustenance she needed.  The next morning I was able to feel and move my left leg again so I was fitted with a walker and was able to be discharged that evening.  Even though there was still a lot of uncertainty about my recovery I felt confident in being able to take care of Claire and provide what she needed.
     After that nursing became an incredibly special experience.  I felt like it helped create such a special bond between us.  I loved getting to cuddle her and stare at her perfect little face.  I loved that as her mama I was the only one who could take care of her that way.  I loved everything about it.  I loved that every time I nursed her was reminded that being a mother was the most important work I would ever do.  It gave me the motivation and conviction I needed, especially on the hard days.  Although I hadn't actually planned on Saturday being the last time I would nurse her I do feel like it was time and that she was ready.  We officially reached the end of a very sweet era.

February 18, 2015

Portrait 7.52

Portrait 7.52
She can't possibly get any cuter, yet somehow she does every single day.

"A portrait of my daughter once a week, every week, in 2015."

February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015

I started off our Valentine's Day this year with a festive breakfast in the morning for my two loves.  I made egg-in-the-hole toast for Bryce and I & used heart cookie cutters to cut out the hole.  Then I used the extra heart pieces of toast for Claire's breakfast and cooked her some scrambled eggs.  We also had strawberries and orange juice.  Bryce and I enjoyed our breakfast thoroughly...and Claire decided to be a stinker and only ate her toast & some yogurt.  (If I keep offering it, one day she'll start eating more of a variety of foods, right??!!)
I surprised Bryce with a box of chocolates and the card in the earlier post from Claire.  My mom has a tin box in her toy drawer that Claire absolutely loves.  She plays with it every time we go there.  She loves to put things in and take them out and put the lid on and off.  I found this little Valentine's tin at Michael's and I thought it would be perfect for her!  And I was right, she loves it.  We gave her the little tin filled with Teddy Graham's and the Romeo & Juliet board book.

Bryce had to work in the morning and also had to take a biochemistry test, so Claire and I spent the day together at home until he was done.  When Bryce got home that night we had my parents babysit Claire while we went to dinner.  My grandparents gave us a gift certificate to the El Matador for Christmas so we decided to use that for our date.  Our food was really good and it was so nice being able to spend some one on one time with Bryce.  After we got home we finished off the night sharing some chocolate covered strawberries I made and played one of our favorite trivia games together on Bryce's iPad.  It was a really fun little holiday for us.  Valentine's Day was officially the start of Claire's second round of holidays, as crazy as that is!  I'm so lucky that I have two Valentine's to celebrate with!

February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Cards

I made these fun cards with Claire this past week to give to her grandparents and her daddy on Valentine's Day.  I wish I could say I came up with them by myself, but I found the idea on this cute blog.  I know I'm posting this after Valentine's Day but I had to wait until everyone received their card so I wouldn't ruin the surprise.

Here is Claire admiring her handiwork.  The cards were really simple to make.  I painted her hand with red acrylic paint and stamped a bunch of handprints on white card stock.  I did two sheets so I would have several handprints to choose from.  Most of them ended up being smeared red blobs, but I did end up with three good ones!  Once Claire was napping I cut out the handprints and pictures of her face and put the cards all together.  They were super easy and I love how they turned out.  They are definitely an idea to keep filed away to use for any occasion!

February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day from my little Valentine, Claire Olivia! 

(Valentine's Day post last year, can you believe how much she's changed in one year?!)

February 9, 2015

Portrait 6.52

Portrait 6.52 
Her eyelashes are a mile long.

"A portrait of my daughter once a week, every week, in 2015."

February 8, 2015

Newfound Freedom

I took advantage of the warm weather yesterday afternoon and took Claire outside to play in our yard.  It was Claire's very first time getting to walk around and explore outside.  She was a little unsure at first but very intrigued with this newfound freedom of getting to walk across such large expanses of grass when she is just used to walking from room to room in our house.
(She had to bring Princess Aurora along for the adventure.  We rarely find her without one of her princesses clutched in her little fists.)
Playing with leaves and twigs, trying to figure out all these new textures.
Rory, of course, joined us on our adventure too.  I snapped this picture of her patiently waiting by the door for me to lead her to the yard. She loved having company and excitedly sprinted circles around the tree in our backyard until she was able to bring her energy level back down to normal.
Haha this was Claire's face while she watched Rory sprint around in circles.
I loved seeing Claire's curious little mind at work discovering this new-to-her outdoor world.  She studied everything around her very carefully, but I think she gave the experience a good verdict.  As disappointing as this winter has been for a girl who loves her snow, I have to say it wasn't such a bad thing getting to play outside with only jackets on in February!  

February 6, 2015

Updates in Claire's Nursery

I thought it would be fun to do a post on Claire's updated nursery.  Previous posts of her nursery here and here.  As she's grown this past year it has been fun to add little updates as she's entered the toddler stage.  We store her books and a few toys on her bookcase.  Once she was mobile and started crawling (and then walking) I had to rearrange her bookcase and move some of the breakable decorations to the top shelf.  I like to rotate out the book on display every now then to switch things up.  Most of her toys are wooden or handmade ones which double as decor (win, win!).
We store all the rest of her toys in this chest and in the baskets on top.  I also switched out the white & black rug that used to be in here for the gray one we used to store under our dining table.  We ended up getting tile under our table so I stopped using our gray rug there and it got more difficult to keep her white rug clean once she was crawling around and playing in the nursery. I actually think the gray rug looks cuter in her nursery anyway.
I bought Claire this little owl backpack a couple of weeks ago.  Now that she is older we don't need to pack nearly as much stuff as we used to in the diaper bag.  I thought a little toddler sized backpack would be perfect for outings to the park, library, or trips to grandma's house when we don't need or want to lug the big diaper bag around.  She also looks ridiculously cute wearing a backpack that's almost as big as she is.
I didn't want to get rid of the tassel garland I made for her birthday party yet so I hung it above her crib temporarily.  I'll probably leave it up for a few more weeks and then try and figure out a way to store it without ruining it.
We still use her dresser as a changing table and it works so well!  I don't know how people can survive with out a changing table of some sort.  Trying to get her to lay still while changing her diaper on the ground is nearly impossible, but she'll lay totally still on her changing pad without trying to roll or crawl away.  

And I can't forget the cute little girl who lives here.  She's definitely the cutest part of the room (and her fluffy little buddy is pretty cute too).  Her room is my favorite room in our house, which is probably a good thing since it is easily where we spend the majority of our time!   

February 2, 2015

52 Week Portrait Project

It's no secret that I love weekly photography projects as I've done one previously for our dog Rory & Claire's 1st year of life.  Weekly portrait projects are all over blogland and I think they are so great.  I love them for a few reasons.  One being that it gives me a reason to pull out my camera and document at least once a week.  I usually take a lot of pictures anyway, but the extra motivation and obligation definitely helps especially during the busy weeks.  Second, I like that it gives me an opportunity to continue to practice and improve my photography skills.  Third, and probably most importantly, it documents growth through the year and it is so fun to look back through the pictures and see how much Claire has grown and changed.  If you haven't already guessed I've decided to commit to taking a weekly portrait of Claire in 2015.  I won't really be doing big updates with the pictures, unless something significant happens, just a little synopsis of what is going on in the picture.  I've already been taking Claire's picture at least once a week anyway, so here are weeks 1-5:

Portrait 1.52 
A portrait from Claire's 1st birthday photoshoot.
Portrait 2.52 
Claire playing on our bed.
Portrait 3.52 
Claire reading stories in the nursery.
Portrait 4.52 
Claire helping me dust
Portrait 5.52 
Having a little tea party with her bear and doll.

"A portrait of my daughter once a week, every week, in 2015."