Thursday, February 28, 2013

Alphabitty Moments - The Letter G

Welcome to Alphabitty Moments! I started this project in 2009 as a memory keepsake method that didn't require to me to record memories chronologically. It appealed to me to be able to pull from my archives or take new photos of those little moments that are just as important as the milestones that typically make it into baby books or photo albums.

 Over the years I have shared finished books and as much as possible shared photos weekly for each letter of the alphabet. This time through the alphabet I have chosen to use mostly Instagram photos (I'm 4MamaBear) as those phone cameras are slick for capturing the every day moments. Today is the perfect example:

G is for Grocery Shopping Snack.

I joked on Instagram (I use the hashtag #AlphabittyMoments if you want to see more photo ideas or click on the Alphabitty Moments label on my right side bar) by titling the photo Grocery Shopping (Survival) Snack.

I do 95% of my grocery shopping with Elsa because there is a consistent 45 minute window for me to do it and it helps me stay on track with our meal planning. She is with me then so we make the best of it. If I can sneak the food into the cart without her seeing it I can sometimes make it through a store without having to open a container, but since I get produce first there isn't really any place to hide it much of the time. Bananas are the worst as they have to be weighed (though sometimes Target sells them individually for 39 cents). Our usual gas station sells them individually too so every time I pay for gas inside she goes bananas. Literally! There are worst things to flip out over so I try to talk her down before she gets too worked up about them. As she gets older she's starting to understand that she needs to wait until we pay for them before we can eat them.

Berries are another story since we pay for the container whether there are 30 left when we get to the check out or only 3. Today Costco was our last stop of the morning so it was time for her to eat anyway. I'd rather her eat berries under a watchful eye than in the car on the way home.

Some day as I wander the aisles of the grocery store by myself while all the kids are in school I know I will look at the blueberries, raspberries, apples, bananas, and oranges with fond memories of a little girl with one chubby hand on the cart handle and one reaching in the carton of fruit.

What AlphabittyMoment do you want to remember this week?


Saturday, February 23, 2013

sleep training a toddler who is still nursing

First let me prefface this post with, I am not an expert. Maybe if I were, I would have been getting more than 1-2 two hour chunks of sleep in my own bed each night for the past six months. Since I am not, I can only offer a little hope and encouragement to other nursing moms who are having trouble getting their babies back to sleep at night. I stumbled by accident onto a method that has worked twice for Elsa and I. I say twice because sickness/teething/job change caused me to fall back into the pattern of staying in her room until she fell asleep every time she woke to nurse at night. Here's what that looked like:

 Head upstairs for bedtime routine of nursing/snuggling around 6:45/7pm.

Nurse until she fell asleep or until I ran out of milk and it was time to put her in her crib.

Curl up on the floor in her room using three pillows for 'comfort'. (She didn't need me to do anything, just be there. She would go so far as to point to the floor and make her 'uh-uh' sound or nod her head if I asked her if she wanted Mama to stay with her until she fell asleep. What can I say? It's nice to be needed!)

Wake up 30min-3hours later when either the CD pulled me out of my exhausted sleep state or Elsa woke to nurse. On the rare occasion when I managed to not nod off, I would go downstairs to spend some time with Sam and Julia before their bedtime.

Repeat 2-4 times until 5/5:30am when she starts to sign "exercise" or "change diaper"  

IF I was lucky enough to wake up before she did during any of those 2-3 hour stretches of sleep I would creep back into my bed to grab as much decent sleep as possible.

On Monday at 4am I reached my breaking point and decided that the consequences of her crying and waking others was better than living in a haze and Elsa not getting the rest she really needs.

Here is the method I went back to:

After she nurses I leave the room. 
Silly how something that simple can be so effective. I was caught up in the all-or-nothing of letting her cry it out.  I had such a hard time with the Ferber method because I know how much she counts on nursing. I just couldn't go cold turkey on night nursing AND not being in the room when she fell asleep. The neatest part of how everything played out for us is that she slept for 6-9hour stretches instead of 2-3hour stretches so we have cut down on the night nursing effortlessly.

We went from (day 1) Monday 4am cry fest for I don't know how long since I fell asleep - remember that haze I've been living in? - to (day 2) crying 5 minutes when I would leave, to (day 3) crying 20 seconds, to (day 4) 2 seconds, to (day 5) complete confidence in her ability to fall asleep on her own.

Last night I reminded her as I put her in her bed that Mommy sleeps in her bed and Elsa sleeps in her crib. She curled up at the same end of the bed she always sleeps at, nodded her head, and that was that.

Not a peep. Not a whimper. 6 1/2 hours later she woke to nurse and again, not a peep when I put her back in her bed.

Getting more rest has been glorious. I can manage with one wake up in the middle of the night - especially because I'm sleeping in my bed in between! But the very very best part is Elsa's behavior during the day has changed. She has always been a happy girl, but very very clingy with me. This week she has spent more time playing near me without asking to nurse or to be picked up than she has in the past 3 months combined.

I can only imagine how much better SHE feels getting way more uninterrupted sleep!

One thing I know for sure, it doesn't get much sweeter than this!

What sleeping 'training' method worked for your family? 

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Show Us Your Life - (Favorite Picture Ideas) Weekly Photo of Baby in Their 1st Year

My youngest, Elsa, was born during a thunderstorm in the summer of 2011. It was a Friday night. The power went out about 6:15 (which was 1 second BEFORE the women next door gave birth - Never thought I'd be glad to still have a couple hours to go yet!!!) The generators kicked in after 10 seconds and Elsa was born later that night. For the next 52 Fridays I set Elsa in this wicker basket for a little mini session to show her growth. I'm sharing this series as part of Kelly's Show Us Your Life Friday posts. Click here to see lots of other photo ideas!

The top photo in this collage was taken at 1 week and the bottom one was taken at 52 weeks. As you'll see in the later collages she quickly spilled out over the basket but for some reason she wanted to curl up for this particular photo. As soon as she did  I knew that it would be perfect opposite her 1 week photo in her baby book for the Letter W. (Her baby book is an A-Z book called Alphabitty Moments that is a style of book I make for my other children as well. You can read more about them by clicking on the Alphabitty Moment label on my side bar.)

Around 15 weeks I started putting a hat on her for one of the shots. I had a lot of fun finding hats at garage sales, making some (The Cat in the Hat one is felt for Dr. Seuss' birthday.)

If the weather was nice enough I would change up the angle of my shots and get more of the close up/detail shots.

This came in handy when I was making her book and needed clutter free background shots for the bigger pictures on the left.

In case anyone is wondering which bookmaking software I use, it is the free Booksmart program from I use them for all my book projects, both personal and professional.  Feel free to contact me if you would like YOUR family's photos turned into an album or for some more inspiration check out this post from a recent blog book project.

Here are a couple of other progressive style photo series ideas for you as well:

I take a photo of Elsa in front of the same tree in ever season - Here is the post with that photo.

I also have continued beyond her 1st year with this monthly series of photos taken with a desk calendar:

This is a fun series to do, but not exactly portrait material so I have incorporated a white chair into each of her monthly photoshoots of her second month.  There is something about having a constant in the photo with a little girl who is changing so much that I really like. Besides, the photographer in me likes things to be coordinating. I have already begun plugging some of her 2nd year photos into a book series I call, "You are Loved."  inspired by one of my Pinterest pins with numbers and the word "you".

So there you have it....many of the photo ideas that I use...some are in print and others are still in draft form on my computer, but I am determined to make headway this year so my kids have BOOKS to look at and not just slideshows on the computer. :)

Do you do progressive photoshoots with your kids?  I'd love to hear about them!

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Alphabitty Moments - The letter F

Welcome to Alphabitty Moments! Each week I share a photograph/word combo that preserves the ordinary moments of childhood. Often times fleeting and if we are not mindful of them - they are gone before we can truly appreciate them. Feel free to join me in this adventure by linking up in the comments or tagging photos on Instagram (I'm 4MamaBear by the way) using the hashtag #AlphabittyMoments. This week I'm sharing a photo I took of Elsa looking out the window of our playroom this morning. Her Finger dimples are already starting to fade so I wanted to make sure I used F is for Finger Dimples this time through the alphabet. I'm so used to my kids being off the charts for height and weight but she's been holding steady around 50%. Even her rubberband wrists aren't nearly as pronounced as they once were. What a difference a year makes!!!

Scratch that. My phone won't upload the Instagram photo I want so I grabbed this from an online album instead. I like how it shows the faint remnants of her tan lines in her wrists and rolls.  Besides...with 3-5 inches of snow on the way tonight/tomorrow, I'd much rather look at a picture like this anyway!!!!

 What Alphabitty Moment do you want to remember this week?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Half Birthday!

Amelia is 6 months old today! 

She is the easiest going baby I have ever met and so quick to share a smile. 

Elsa LOVES to interact with her when she can get past Amelia's protector (her big sister, Josie). 

 We love you sweet pea!!!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Alphabitty Moments - The Letter E

Welcome to Alphabitty Moments! Sharing a photo and a fleeting moment from chilhood for every letter of the alphabet once a week is how I keep up with my memory keepsake projects for my kids. This time through the alphabet I am using mostly Instagram photos (I'm 4MamaBear on Instagram) because it's quick and easy. If you would like to join me, you can leave a link in the comments or use the hashtag #AlphabittyMoments.

This week E is for...ECFE. We are huge fans of Early Chilhood Family Education here in BearCountry. I look forward to the opportunity to learn parenting skills, talk to other moms, & get out of the house just as much as Elsa looks forward to the Bang Bang Song, playing with different toys, and seeing her cousins every week. We are such big fans, we take two classes a week!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

zoo visit october 2012


Christmas Morning

Still catching up on entries for my 2012 blog book :)

When I kissed PapaBear goodnight on Christmas Eve and we went our seperate ways per our best chance at a goodnight's rest, I told him it felt like we were dating, kissing goodnight at the end of a date - except for the three kids sleeping upstairs. I slept in a bedroom with Elsa, the older two slept under the tree, and PapaBear took the cave in the basement. We awoke (rested!!!!) on Christmas morning to find that Santa had left gifts in/near stockings by the fireplace. It didn't take long for the kids to get busy spying or coloring dinosaurs.

As usual Santa only nibbled on the cookies that Sam and Julia picked out specifically for him. He has a LOT of cookies to eat in one night we always tell them! My first attempt at something other than canned cinnamon rolls went in the oven about 8:15 then we sipped coffee and juice while we waited for Sharon and Jamey to arrive for family gifts.

The breakfast bakes were a success and I have already filed the recipes away to make again next year. We opened gifts by the warmth of the fire and then Sam, Julia, Daddy, Grandpa, Josie, and Jamey headed out to try out the new sleds. Elsa had fallen asleep in my arms and I enjoyed a Christmas Day snuggle with my angel. We hung out the rest of the day until it was time to head home to unload bins and reload them with gear for our drive to Grandma Gayle's the next day.


January Journal

When I finally get around to designing my 2013 blog book I plan to make a collage of the following photographs to compliment the 31 entries I made in my planner about each day of the month. It is abundantly clear that as much as I LOVE to blog, I just don't have the time to keep up with it. This is my solution and I am so glad to not let any more funny things my kids say, adventures we've taken, & lessons I've learned get lost in the cobwebs of my mind.

So once a month I will dump a sampling of the photos in a journal post - mostly from my phone to make sure they get in the right spot before getting lost amongst the thousands of others on my phone.

I have no intention of changing my sporatic blogging habits - I've been at this 7 years now and treasure this space and the friendships I've made here. I am only trying to do a better job of staying true to why I started this blog in the first place.

Have you changed how you blog over the years?

side note:
I have chosen to type those entries into the book when the time comes and not share them on the interwebs to protect my family. I have always been cautious of sharing some details about our life that pertain to our schedule, daily routine, and our jobs. I hope you can understand that I'm not hiding anything, I try to be as transparent as I can in this space, but I don't think the whole world needs to know the name of the school our children attend, the hours my husband and I work, and when we leave town for a few days.

School Spirit Beanie Crochet Pattern

Beat those winter blues and cold winds with this a FLEECE lined brimmed hat! It seems like everyone is wearing a beanie these days - me in...